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Hello!

Welcome to the June 2015 edition of the Literacy Coalition of New Brunswick newsletter! We've got some updates about the organization, news related to literacy in New Brunswick and information about some excellent community initiatives and professional development opportunities.
Help us make our vision a reality!

Literacy Coalition Update


The past few months have been busy at the LCNB! Here are a few of the highlights:
2015 PGI Literacy Dinner

On April 13th, 2015, we held the second annual Peter Gzowski Invitational Literacy Dinner at the Delta Fredericton. Thanks to the generous support of our many sponsors and attendees, we were able to raise over $40,000!

We were fortunate to have Hall of Fame goaltender Ken Dryden as our guest speaker as well as renowned CBC Broadcaster Shelagh Rogers as our Poet Laureate and special guest Marshall Button as emcee.

Photos of the event are available on our Facebook page.

 
The Peter Gzowski Invitational (PGI) events for literacy are major fundraising events held in every province and territory. The Literacy Coalition of New Brunswick has raised more than $1.6 million dollars for literacy since the inception of PGI in NB.
 
Lower Lincoln Elementary

On May 29th we had the pleasure of participating in a "Royal Affair" at Lower Lincoln Elementary School. We got to meet a number of amazing students and better yet, were able to give out close to 200 books for them to take home!

Thanks to the students, faculty and staff of Lower Lincoln Elementary for inviting us to participate in such an awesome day!
New Team Member

It’s our pleasure to introduce to you our new Communications Officer: Ben Whitney.

Ben has just completed the first year of his law degree from the University of New Brunswick. He also has a BBA in marketing and entrepreneurship and a certificate in contemporary ethical theory. He has most recently worked as President and CEO of the University of New Brunswick Student Union, representing over 6,000 full time students. In this role he has worked with student advocacy organizations, universities, government and many others. Additionally, Ben has worked in marketing and has held positions on numerous boards and committees.

Ben is excited to be joining the team and looks forward to working with the LCNB!

In The News


The last three months have featured a significant amount of literacy news. Top stories include the creation of a new provincial literacy strategy, the final days of the bookmobile program, and a number of success stories from across the province. ​

No Limits on Learning
Mon Apr 20 2015
Lori Gallagher


Roxanne Reeves is a success story, as she's overcome challenges and achieved goals she admits she never dreamed possible.

She recently shared her experiences as the guest speaker at Laubach Literacy Fredericton's 2015 annual general meeting and appreciation event.

That in itself was an achievement, as she says she kept her learning disabilities a secret for a long time.

"I was so ashamed, but then I realized I had nothing to be ashamed of," says Reeves.

Last week, she sat down for an interview at the Laubach Literacy Fredericton office to discuss her journey and how it has changed her life.

"I teach at (the University of New Brunswick). I'm an adjunct professor at the leadership faculty of Renaissance College, and I graduated with a PhD a year ago this spring," says Reeves. "My connection to literacy and Laubach is I was diagnosed in my 30s - finally - with learning disabilities, and it was only attributable to the diagnosis that I was able to finish university."

In fact, she had started and failed three times.

"The fourth time, I went back in my 30s and I was failing out again, and I was so heartbroken because it was a step in life I was really committed to. I understood the value of education," she says. "Then on the day I was going to withdraw, I went to my favourite coffee shop."

The place was full, so the coffee lady sent Reeves to sit with another woman and introduced the two.

"I sat down and Lee Ellen Pottie made the fatal mistake of asking me how I was," says Reeves, and though this was a complete stranger, she told her, including some specifics about the struggles she was having at school.

That's when Pottie told her she worked at the learning centre on campus.

"She said, 'You may have learning disabilities and should get checked,'" says Reeves. "I had been overseas for 10 years, so I missed the whole dialogue about learning disabilities and the advancement in science around it. I really didn't even know what a learning disability was."

Reeves got tested and discovered Pottie was right. With the diagnosis in hand, she began working with the UNB Accessibility Centre, a learning centre for people with disabilities.

"They supported me. Lee Ellen ultimately became my tutor and my mentor and my champion, and I learned how to manage my brain. I was then able to read and write ever so slowly at a capacity that I always sort of understood somewhere deep that I could," she says.

Her experiences have given her a deeper appreciation of the work being done by places like UNB's Accessibility Centre and Laubach Literacy Fredericton. She spoke of this and more in her keynote address called "Learning has no limits" at the AGM on April 9.

"I wanted to share the path that I had taken. I also wanted to share the importance of courage and asking for help. Both of those things take a lot of practice," says Reeves.

"I once heard the grace is in the receiving. I'm a key volunteer, I volunteer all the time, I have my whole life, but it was only when I was diagnosed that I needed to learn to ask for help."

She found asking for help was more difficult than giving it to others.

"I think that's why her speech resonated so much with our tutors and learners," says Deborah Humble, the executive director and the tutor co-ordinator with Laubach Literacy Fredericton.

"One of the things that happens for adults with illiteracy is they often hide the fact that they have difficulty reading or they can't read from almost everybody in their lives."

It takes tremendous courage for them to take that first step and contact Laubach Literacy, she says, to ask for help.

"We all have that negative inner voice we have to cope with," says Humble. "We need to acquire that positive inner voice."

To do that is so important, says Reeves.

"It's important for the individual who's striving to read and be personally proud of their abilities," she says. "It's also critical for society in general because if our society can't read at a higher rate, then our productivity is compromised and everyone can see the ripple effect of that."

Humble says one of the reasons they combine their AGM with an appreciation event is it gives them the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of their learners.

"And there are many," she says. "We can also recognize and thank our volunteer tutors who have had the courage to volunteer."

After all, it takes courage to undertake new challenges, she says, and teaching others literacy can feel like a big challenge as it requires someone to believe they are up to the task and can make a difference.

"They're afraid of failing, but here they are coming forward to bring change and joy into someone else's life," says Humble. "They have the courage to accept the challenge and jump in."

The result can be a wonderful two-way relationship between the tutor and the learner.

"I had a chance to meet several tutors and learners at the celebration, and the relationships I had a chance to witness were so rich and so deep and so heartwarming," says Reeves. "It was a true celebration of both the learners and the tutors, and the bonds that can be built."

It can be life changing to all involved.

"Once you become a champion of education, the level of passion that you have is unprecedented. One of my greatest joys is this year, my students nominated me for the Allan P. Stuart Award for Excellence in Teaching at UNB," says Reeves. "I was blown away."

Is she amazed when she looks back at her own journey to get to this place?

"You know who's amazed? My mother. As amazed as I am, I would say she's twice as amazed," says Reeves. "I think she still, more vividly than I do, remembers all the tears shed at the kitchen table, struggling and not succeeding."

Success in not achieved alone, however. In the case of Laubach Literacy, says Humble, there are many people and organizations in the community who help make the work of the non-profit organization possible.

Then there is the ripple effect that comes when those who begin as learners go on to become literacy promoters, she says, and sometimes become literacy tutors and mentors themselves.

"Literacy is an issue that impacts all aspects of life and it's important for everyone to be more aware and more sensitive and more supportive of literacy challenges," says Humble, whether it's friends, family members, co-workers or themselves that are experiencing the challenges.

Reeves agrees, noting that she wouldn't be where she is now if people hadn't been gracious enough to tell her of the potential they saw in her.

"To get an undergraduate degree was my big dream, and then when I finished my undergrad, my then professor Linda Kealey said, 'Roxanne, you should make an application to do a masters and study under me,'" says Reeves.
"If she hadn't have said that to me, I never could have dreamed that big for myself. It would have been utterly impossible."

The same thing happened when she finished her masters and another professor encouraged her to go on and do her PhD. Her PhD supervisor was Patricia Peterson.

"The importance of having people tell you the potential they see in you is invaluable," she says.
That is what Laubach Literacy is all about, says Humble.


"We want our learners to realize and acknowledge the potential in themselves to succeed and to learn," she says. "The tutors recognize the potential in their learners, and are working with them towards this."
© 2015 The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton)

Frye Festival names writing contest winners
Sat May 2 2015 

The Frye Festival is honouring young writers though the 2015 Frye Festival writing contest.
All high school students in New Brunswick, English and French, were invited to participate in the contest, which received more than 100 entries this year. Students could display their literary talents through an essay, a short story or a play.

Winners in each categories receive $500 (1st place) and $300 (2nd place). The public had the chance to meet the winners during this year's Soirée Frye, a Frye Festival signature event, on Friday night at theatre l'Escaouette.

Participating schools also had the chance to win $500 towards the purchase of books. This year's winning schools are Sussex Regional High School and École Mathieu-Martin in Dieppe.

The winning pieces will be published in the Times & Transcript starting today. All can found online at timestranscript.com.

The winners are:

English essay:
* 1st place: Lauren Mullaly, Bernice MacNaughton School, Moncton, Grade 12. Title: Present Values of the Past.
* 2nd place: Robyn Larracy, Moncton High School, Moncton, Grade 12. Title: The Price of Fame.

French essay:
* 1st place: Eméraldine Libert, École Odyssée, Moncton, Grade 11. Title: D'hier à demain.
* 2nd place: Yanis Saheb, École L'Odyssée, (Moncton), Grade 11. Title: Apparence trompeuse.

English drama:
* 1st place: Yuna Im, Bernice MacNaughton School, Moncton, Grade 11. Title: The Price To Get On The Bus
* 2nd place: Rachelle McAllister, Cambridge-Narrows Community School, Cambridge-Narrows, Grade 11. Title: That Broken Girl.

French drama:
* 1st place: Érica Jomphe, École Sainte-Anne, Fredericton, Grade 11. Title: En lettres d'or
* 2nd place: Émilie Bourgeois, Mathieu-Martin, Moncton, Grade 12. Title: La révolution du français.

English short story:
* 1st place: Xinyu Feng, Bernice MacNaughton School, Moncton, Grade 11. Title: Life From A Different Perspective.
* 2nd place: Eric Gulf, Bernice MacNaughton School, Moncton, Grade 11. Title: 8:16 AM 23/1/2175

French short story:
* 1st place: Paul-Henry Glinel, Mathieu-Martin, Moncton, Grade 11. Title: Les déshérités
* 2nd place: Sara Abdessamie, École Sainte-Anne, Fredericton, Grade 11. Title: On lit tes rayures.

© 2015 Times & Transcript (Moncton)

Students hope to keep Maliseet language alive
Mon May 4 2015 
Rebecca Howland 


Running your own business or publishing a book is an accomplishment for anyone.

However, four George Street Middle School students went a little further - they did both.

Grade 8 students Amber Solomon, Theo Polchies, Brooke Sacobie and Baillie Sacobie all created a book that teaches children the Maliseet names for different animals.

"(The title is) Weyossisok," said Theo Polchies. "It means animals in Maliseet."

The book was made as part of the Anglophone West Entrepreneurship Adventure Program.

"Basically what that involves is a number of Grade 8 classes doing projects and starting their own businesses," said Mark Taylor, communications manager with the Joint Economic Development Initiative (JEDI).

"The kids here are from Kingsclear First Nation attending George Street (middle school and they) decided they'd do something a little different. They decided to start their own publishing business and they decided to publish their own children's book that is written in Maliseet."

The students began their work two years ago.

Baillie Sacobie says making a book wasn't the first thing that came to her mind.

"I really wanted to do smoothies because I thought that would make enough money," she said. "But they wanted to do a book."

The group said the idea came from a suggestion that was given to them by their First Nations literacy teacher Megan Young-Jones.

"Mrs. Jones suggested we do a Maliseet book," Amber Solomon said.

Theo says after they all agreed on creating a book, they had to come up with the rest of the details.

"(When) she (Young-Jones) pitched the topic of doing a First Nations book we didn't have a title at first," Theo said. "But we put our minds together and thought, 'Oh, why don't we just do animals in Maliseet?' and we chose that topic to be the title of our book."

Brooke Sacobie says they decided on the topic of animals because it was something simple.

"Animals are easier to learn," she said. "It can be for anyone, but (since) it's for children, it might be easier for older people to start learning it (Maliseet)."

Theo says they also decided on making a children's book because they didn't have anything like Weyossisok when they were in elementary school.

"When we were in elementary school we didn't have any good First Nations books," he said. "We decided we want kids to learn Maliseet so, we decided to do a children's book."

Taylor says that JEDI was excited when it heard about the students' project.

"When JEDI heard about what the kids are doing, we got excited about it because JEDI's mission is to encourage aboriginal entrepreneurship across the province," Taylor said.

"We heard about this (and) we thought it was a great thing to get involved with, so we contacted George Street, came down, had a conversation with Mrs. Young-Jones and the kids about how we could help out and they invited us to pitch in on it."

Bryan Harn, an economic development officer with JEDI, ended up joining the group as their mentor.

"Part of the Entrepreneurship Adventure program is to have a business mentor," Taylor said. "So, my colleague Bryan Harn who is the economic development officer at JEDI took that on."

Harn gave them advice on how to run their business throughout the project.

"Throughout the whole project we learned a lot of valuable skills like how to do business plans and resumes," Brooke said. "It helped us out a lot, I think."

The students say there is a lot of work that goes into making a book, but one of the hardest tasks was finding a publisher.

"We didn't know if we were going to get a publisher on our own," said Theo. "We emailed a certain company and asked how much a publisher would be and they didn't really email back."

But they quickly found a solution.

"Then we asked one of our teachers if they knew any (publishers) and they mentioned MixBook," Theo said. "So we tried it out and found out it is easier to do and you self-publish it."

They also had to translate the sentences in the book from English to Maliseet, but they had some help.

"My grandmother and Walter Paul from St. Mary's First Nation helped us, too," said Theo.

The group also got to work with First Nations artist Natalie Sappier.

"She showed us a lot of new and different techniques to use for drawing and stuff," Theo said.

Baillie says she has learned a lot from the whole experience.

"I learned that you have to be really persistent with stuff," she said. "Like, they won't answer you, you gotta do it again. So, that helped. I learned a good skill."

Young-Jones says as their teacher, she has seen her students grow throughout the project.

"I've noticed a huge gain in their confidence and self-esteem," she said.

Theo, Baillie, Amber and Brooke say it's important they created this book because they want to keep the Maliseet culture and language alive.

"The Maliseet language is being lost," Brooke said.

Baillie agreed and said they don't want it to fade away.

"We don't want our language to - I don't want to say (go) extinct - It's kinda like we don't want the language to fade," Baillie said. "So, we figured that if we just taught like, the basics, that people would learn it and kind of pass it down."

Young-Jones says she couldn't be prouder of what the kids have achieved.

"I'm very excited for them," she said. "They have been putting in so much work for two years and now that they have their product, they're able to go out and be celebrated for all the work they've done. I'm just very excited and proud of these students."

The students are now reaching out to various schools in the Anglophone West District to see if they would like to purchase books. Proceeds from the sales of Weyossisok will go towards buying books for Wulastukw Elementary School.

If you would like more information about the book or how to purchase one, contact Megan Young-Jones at Megan.Young-Jones@nbed.nb.ca.
© 2015 The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton)

Liberals name new literacy co-chairwoman
Fri May 8 2015 
Chris Morris 


FREDERICTON * The Liberal government has announced that Liane Roy, a longtime public servant, is the new co-chairwoman for the development of a provincial literacy strategy.

Premier Brian Gallant said on Thursday that Roy will join previously named co-chairwoman Marilyn Trenholme Counsell in studying and reporting on ways to tackle the province's chronic low literacy levels.

"It's a tight timeline," Roy said in an interview shortly after her appointment was announced.

"We hope to have a first draft of our findings by the end of August or early September. The premier wants us to work very quickly."

Roy replaces former co-chairwoman Marie-Claude Blais, who was appointed by the federal government to the Court of Queen's Bench on Tuesday.

"To support job creation, increase productivity and combat poverty, we need a major focus on literacy," Gallant said in a statement.

"Ms. Roy is a tireless advocate for literacy and education, and I am honoured she has accepted to lead this initiative for our province."

Roy has served as president and CEO of the francophone community college since 2010. Prior to that, she was an assistant deputy minister with the provincial department of post-secondary education, training and labour.

The appointment does not affect her position with the community college.

Trenholme Counsell is a former lieutenant governor, a former minister of state for Family and Community Services and a retired senator. She was named to the Order of New Brunswick and is an officer of the Order of Canada.

She was also a family physician, a nutritionist with the governments of New Brunswick and Ontario and has an extensive legacy of community involvement.

Improving New Brunswick's low literacy rates was a cornerstone of Gallant's election bid, and it remains a priority for the Liberal government.

"For us, the literacy strategy is very important," he said in a recent interview.

"We need people who have a lot of experience and an expertise that will be able to help push the literacy strategy to get us the results that we need."

He has pledged to develop a 10-year plan for all stages of education.

"I'm very pleased I have been asked to fill such a position," Roy said.

"It is very important for New Brunswickers and for New Brunswick as a province. It will be a big job. The premier has said he wants us to work hard and quickly to give him recommendations. It will lead well into the 10-year education plan."

Gallant has said an overhaul of New Brunswick's education system is unlikely to be completed by the end of 2015, including a decision on when early French immersion will return to Grade 1.

© 2015 Telegraph-Journal (New Brunswick)

Province's bookmobile program being cut
Sat May 9 2015 
Adam Huras 


The Liberal government is ending the province's bookmobile service, saying it will mail New Brunswickers books in rural areas as requested.

Post-secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Francine Landry said the move saves $170,000 per year and takes advantage of a cheaper mailing service offered by Canada Post.

Finance Minister Roger Melanson said the move evolves how books are being offered to New Brunswickers.

But education critic Jody Carr said the move is contrary to literacy initiatives and is an "attack" on rural communities.

There are currently three bookmobiles that travel across New Brunswick delivering library services to roughly 120 rural communities.

Coined a "library on wheels," the retrofitted trucks offer books, magazines, newspapers, CDs and DVDs from the provincial catalogue.

Landry said more than 2,000 people were registered to use the bookmobile service.

But she said there were roughly 800 active users.

About 40,000 books are signed out through the bookmobile each year.

The service was provided to any New Brunswicker more than 10 kilometres from any of the province's 63 public libraries.

Landry said on Friday that book-by-mail service is already in place, adding that Canada Post charges provinces only one dollar each way to mail library books.

"We're very fortunate for that," she said.

Landry said the service for rural New Brunswickers will be enhanced, people receiving books to their own mailbox rather than having to meet up with a bookmobile at set times.

She said inclement weather would often cancel bookmobile trips, throwing schedules off.

"The service was not reliable," Landry said. "Now it will be much more efficient."

Landry said New Brunswickers can either select from the library system's catalogue online or call a hotline where you can ask for specific books or reading on a particular subject.

Multiple books can be sent at a time.

Three employees have had their positions terminated, but they will be redeployed within the Department of Post-secondary Education, Training and Labour.

The bookmobiles are older vehicles that would eventually need to be replaced.

"It is a service that has been offered for many, many years," Melanson said. "We believe we need to evolve how books are being offered to New Brunswickers. We have made the decision that when New Brunswickers want to receive books - we absolutely want to have more New Brunswickers to be able to read and have access to books - we will mail them the books.

"We believe it's going to be more efficient."

Melanson also stressed the ebook selection the province's electronic library has.

"There are different ways we can be offering books to New Brunswickers in a more efficient way using new technologies and by mailing the books for people who desire to have books to read," he said.

Carr is critical of the move.

"I thought I saw all the crazy cuts already," Carr said. "I didn't think I could see anything worse.

"To cut the bookmobile to rural areas of New Brunswick, I just can't believe it."

He added: "It just goes so much against what the government has said their priorities are. It goes against literacy. It's another example of an attack on rural communities. How can you say you're in favour of literacy and cut the bookmobile?"

Carr said the bookmobiles were recently refurbished, questioning whether they would now be auctioned off.

He said getting the book in the mail only addresses one part of the service; the bookmobiles offer a selection of literature and the experience of choosing new options that you can leaf through in person.

"The bookmobile was a way to have an extension of service out into rural communities to have that same experience (as a library)," Carr said. "Is this another poor choice not backed up with facts?"

© 2015 Times & Transcript (Moncton)

More work needs to be done in New Brunswick to reduce adult literacy deficits, says McCain
Thu May 14 2015
Elizabeth Fraser


Former New Brunswick Lt.-Gov. Margaret McCain says more work needs to be done to reduce adult literacy deficits in the province.

McCain was in Fredericton, addressing the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development to improve literacy deficits within the province, Wednesday.

The presentation focused on the linkage between early childhood education and adult literacy in New Brunswick.
"It's educating the public that we need to do this," said McCain after Wednesday's meeting.

Nationwide, McCain said about 42 per cent of Canadians are functionally illiterate, while about 59 per cent are from Atlantic Canada.

"You cannot thrive as a province, you cannot thrive as an individual with illiteracy," said McCain, founder of the Margaret and Wallace McCain Family Foundation, an organization that works with early childhood education programs, providing equal opportunities for children across Canada. "Literacy is fundamental to job skills, we bring in jobs but we don't have the workforce to do it."

About 25 officials from the Department of Education were part of McCain's address.

"The best way to improve early childhood development outcomes is through the school system, through early childhood education because it includes care and all children have access to care allowing parents to work," she said.

McCain said the province will improve adult literacy by attaching childhood education centres to schools across the province, where children between two and five come together on a regular basis with an intentional program guided by educators in early childhood. The facilities will help children learn through their environments by developing language skills, negotiating with other children through play and developing imaginative play.

"We're not talking about putting kids behind desks, it's playing with a purpose and guided with an evidence based curriculum," said McCain, who noted the project might take years to complete and needs help from both provincial and federal governments.

McCain said these facilities will improve literacy in New Brunswick, displaying a reduction in access to social services, reduce schools dropout rates, less criminal behaviour in teens, less mental illness.

"There are many benefits to early childhood education," said Jane Bertrand, program director with the Margaret and Wallace McCain Family Foundation. "Our goal is to improve literacy amongst the population, starting early with a solid foundation before kids enter school. It's the most cost effective way to go forward and to make a significant difference."

Throughout the meeting, McCain also applauded New Brunswick's improvement from the foundation's 2014 Early Childhood Education Report.

The report showed New Brunswick had the best improvement since the 2011 report.

Currently, New Brunswick has a score of eight out of 15 points, up from 4.5 in 2011.

The highest is P.E.I. and Quebec, sitting at a 10 points.

"Mrs. McCain has great knowledge of best practices in early childhood from around the world, and provided officials with some lessons learned from other countries and jurisdictions," said a statement released by the province's Department of Education. "Mrs. McCain was clear that high quality early learning and child care is directly linked to stronger literacy achievement later in life. We support this belief and will consider it as we establish policy and planning for our early childhood education system, moving beyond simply counting child care spaces and towards a quality early childhood education system."

Bertrand said the province has reorganized their administrative infrastructure and brought things together within the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. They've also set up regional structures with the new amalgamation of the school district.

"Change isn't easy, and having a vision, a good backup plan and a blue print is about 10 per cent," said Bertrand.
"The other 90 per cent is about implementation and that's always a complex, messy job between community base, government and regional government. It always takes times and involves a lot of change."

Bertrand said the province has reorganized their administrative infrastructure and brought things together in department of education early childhood. They've set up regional structures with the new amalgamation of the school district.

© 2015 Telegraph-Journal (New Brunswick)

Students have their say on books
Thu May 14 2015 
Lori Gallagher 

Thanks to the Internet, reviews of books are pretty easy to come by, but honest reviews of young adult books by actual young adults? Those can be harder to find.

That's why Westminster Books has teamed up with area schools, putting books in the hands of a classroom of students in exchange for a review.

"This is our sixth year," says Norine McGinn, a bookseller at Westminster Books and the children's and young adult book buyer for the store. "It's one of the ways we thank our loyal customers and promote literacy with kids."

The hope is that through the wide selection of books offered, the students are encouraged to try something new.

How the program works is that McGinn approaches a literacy-loving teacher of any grade, at any school, to see if they're interested in having their class take part in the project.

"It's an exchange. We donate the books to the class and in return they provide us with the reviews of said books," she says.

In most cases, the project is one the students are marked on in class as well. McGinn is always excited to see the reviews, as she really wants to know what students thought of the books.

She says she hopes the students will try the new books that come out and see the new trends in the young adult genre.
"It will hopefully foster a love of reading," she says.

This year, 27 students from Amy Bourgaize's Grade 11 English class at Fredericton High School took part in the Young Critics project.

The Grade 11 class dropped by Westminster Books on May 8 to read from their reviews and to celebrate the completion of th project. Among them were 16-year-old Carcyn Lemon, Mallory Murphy, 17, and Patricia Nancekivell, 17.

For the project, Carcyn read The Truth About Us by Janet Gurtler and says she enjoyed it.

"I'm not really a big reader and I find it extremely hard to get into books, but I flew through this book," she says. "I liked that it was so relateable and it was just easy to connect to."

Mallory read Breakthrough, a work of non-fiction by Jack Andraka.

"I enjoyed it for the most part," she says. "I thought it was really inspiring because he started doing science fairs in middle school and he started going to an advanced science and math school, but he was bullied throughout his middle school career."

The book talked about issues like suicide and depression.

"I thought it might have been triggering, so I added that in my review," says Mallory.

While she liked the novel, she says, the language could be technical in places, especially when the main character was explaining his experimental procedures.

"I ended up skipping over a lot of that part, but for the most part it was inspiring and I liked it a lot," she says.

Mallory was a big reader going into this project, but says it's been harder to find time recently because school is so busy.

"I liked getting back into reading and into a novel," she says.

Patricia read Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard.

"I enjoyed it, but I wouldn't say it's my favourite book. It was very typical and had lots of clichés in it," she says. "It had this concept with social conflict, where there was a higher class and lower class, and the higher class was very clearly oppressing the lower class."

She found that disturbing to read about.

"But it was an interesting concept and makes you think about how they're treated, and how you can apply that to real life and how people are treated," says Patricia.

She says she liked to read before taking part in the Young Critics project, but didn't have a lot of time to do so.

All three ended up enjoying the project. Mallory says she was excited going in.

"I've never done anything like this at school before, so I thought it was a really good opportunity," she says. "Especially since the books were so new."

As someone who wasn't a big reader, Carcyn admits she wasn't super-excited to take part because she knew she would have to read a book.

"But thankfully I was able to get a book that actually interested me and I started slowly reading it and it held my attention," she says.

Thanks to that, she ended up really enjoying the experience.

"Now I feel pretty good knowing I can help someone else pick a book," says Carcyn.

"I liked it. Where I don't have time to read, this was an excuse to read as it was for school," says Patricia. "Instead of being too busy to read, I could actually read and get into it."

She admits she's someone who regularly shares her thoughts on books she's read, what she likes about them and what she doesn't, so the Young Critics project was a good fit.

Their teacher says she enjoyed getting boxes filled with newly released books - and some not yet released books - from Westminster Books to share with her students as part of the Young Critics project.

"It was just great to have students reading books that they were enjoying," says Bourgaize, as well as having discussions with them about what they liked or didn't like about a book. "That was all valuable."

An added bonus is that not only will this one class benefit from the books, they'll stay in the classroom for the enjoyment of future students.

"I think what I'll do as well is I'll have the reviews available to future classes, so they'll be able to choose what they want to read based on what other students are saying," says Bourgaize. "I think that's really important. Adults reviewing books aren't necessarily living the same experiences as teenagers."

If you're interested in checking out the student reviews, drop by Westminster Books on King Street. The reviews and the books will be on display for a couple of weeks.

© 2015 The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton)

Early literacy efforts worth investment
Tue May 19 2015 
Editorial 


Former Lieutenant-Governor Margaret McCain gave some valuable advice last week to the provincial Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. Mrs. McCain stressed the link between early childhood education and adult literacy. If we don't start improving literacy skills at the pre-school age, we pay the price in the adult years.

We think Mrs. McCain has zeroed in on the nub of the problem which causes chronic illiteracy in New Brunswick -- literacy training must start very early in life. The latest statistics show more than 50 percent of people in our province are "functionally illiterate", meaning they cannot read and comprehend more complex text. This doesn't mean they struggle with the latest paper from theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking; they cannot read basic instructions on a form or manual.

The economic impact of poor literacy and numeracy was shown again this week in a new report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).The report said the quality of schooling in a country is a powerful predictor of the wealth. Canada ranks 10th in the world in the OECD study of mastering basic skills, but over the next eight decades the study suggests we could see seven percent real GDP growth if all students mastered basic skills. Canada as a whole does relatively well on international literacy tests, but New Brunswick is perennially at the back of the pack among provinces.

Mrs. McCain suggests creating early childhood education centres attached to schools so children as young as age two receive the rudiments of literacy instruction through play-based activities. Too many students enter the school system lacking those basics. If a student can master basic literacy skills by the end of Grade 2, they stand a much higher chance of becoming lifelong readers.

The Liberal government plans to build a 10-year education plan. Our education system has been turned upside down, reinvented and tinkered with continuously over the last 50 years, with little improvement in outcomes. The government should consider pre-school literacy as a fundamental building block in their new strategy. A small initial investment can bring substantial long-term results.

© 2015 Telegraph-Journal (New Brunswick)

Province can help students with learning disabilities, says report
Wed May 27 2015 
Ginabeth Roberts


A new report calls on New Brunswick to adapt a Nova Scotian program that helps students with learning disabilities or certain behavioural disorders attend school at designated private facilities.

Paul Bennett, director of Schoolhouse Consulting, published a new study on Wednesday with the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS).

The study, "Extending the Education Lifeline: The benefits of adopting Nova Scotia's Tuition Support Program (TSP)," suggests New Brunswick should adapt this program, which helps families whose children attend specialized learning school when they can't be served at their local public school.

Bennett makes several recommendations at the end of his report that are directed at all Atlantic Canadian provinces, but his major target is New Brunswick, a jurisdiction that doesn't have a program like this in place.
In his research he found evidence that "demonstrates a gap that exists in New Brunswick's Special Education safety net" and that this program "would help offset the social and economic costs and burdens on those communities in need."

Firstly, he suggests all Atlantic Canadian Departments of Education and Early Child Development study the Nova Scotian model and its benefits.

In another recommendation, Bennett uses a Moncton school as an example of a specialized learning disabilities school that would benefit from the program.

He suggests the "recently elected New Brunswick government takes a closer look at Riverbend Community School and considers establishing it as a provincial pilot alternative school (Grades 4-9) that utilizes public-private partnerships and offers specialized, intensive evidence-based programs for children and teens with SLD (Severely Learning Disabled) and complex needs."

He says extending tuition support "would certainly help broaden accessibility in New Brunswick, a province where an estimated 1,000 children suffer from these challenges."

The program's original purpose, Bennett says, was to financially help students at private education facilities in the short term before they transition back into the public school status.

"It is now recognized (as) an essential component of the full continuum of provincial special education support services," he says.

The program costs the government $2.5 million a year, broadening accessibility by covering most of the tuition costs for some 225 students to attend three approved designated special education private schools in Nova Scotia.

This year, eligible students receive a funding unit of $7,900, according to the Government of Nova Scotia online TSP information page, and parents can apply for a supplemental grant, the amount varying.

In another recommendation Bennett calls on education departments and school districts to allocate $1.5-million in tuition support "for the first 100 students deemed to be in need of such intensive, all-day learning support."
School districts should develop closer partnerships with special education advocacy groups and other schools, he recommends, "to ensure that students with (learning disabilities) do not slip through the cracks in the system."

Francophone and anglophone universities should introduce special education training programs for prospective teachers of those subjects, and all education departments should develop a service model to promote specialized education schools and the tuition support subsidy eligibility.

AIMS president and CEO Marco Navarro-Genie says, "It would serve New Brunswick well to look closely at this study and learn from the positive experience in Nova Scotia."

The Times & Transcript requested comment from Department of Education and Early Childhood Development as to whether government has ever thought of implementing this program, or a similar one, providing them with an embargoed copy of the recommendations.

"The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development will review the recommendations from AIMS once we have received the full report," department spokeswoman Leah Fitzgerald said in an email response. "It would be premature to comment before evaluating the research in the report and how it relates to New Brunswick's inclusion and other educational policies."

The Times & Transcript also requested comment from the Official Opposition, but they did not respond by deadline.
© 2015 Times & Transcript (Moncton)

Parents set to turn the page on summer reading
Thu Jun 4 2015 
Peter Johnston


SAINT JOHN * Prince Charles School and its parents are taking steps to ensure children won't close the book on literacy this summer.

Heather Trecartin, teacher and literacy lead at Prince Charles, said the progress can't end at the classroom.
"It is important for parents to understand literacy doesn't stop when school stops," she said Wednesday. "It is a daily exercise that their parents need to participate in and support."

Parents Raising Readers is an initiative that encourages parents and teachers to work together with students to improve literacy skills.

The group held its last session Wednesday afternoon, meeting with parents to set summer reading goals with their children.

Greg Paterson, literacy co-ordinator with Anglophone South School District, helped set up the initiative in the fall. He said connecting communities with schools helps engage parents with student progress.

Students at Prince Charles also have a Come Listen to Me Read Day for elementary students and a Come Listen to Me Share My Reading Day for middle school students, with support from ELF (Elementary Literacy Friends), a mentoring program, and PALS (Partners Assisting Local Schools).

Paterson said though Prince Charles is piloting the project, he would love to see every school in the district participate.

"Schools will have to take this on school by school. We hope other schools will take this on the same way Ms. Trecartin did at Prince Charles," he said. "It is up to the schools."

Dr. Pamela Dodsworth discussed with Prince Charles parents on the crucial role they play in the success of their children in school.

She said there is a multitude of little things parents can do to help such as keeping a positive tone when engaging with reading.

"There are lots of things parents can do with their children even before they enter school. They can read with their children, encouraging reading, even use of language helps, encouraging children to talk about things will help towards literacy," said Dodsworth. "Talk about different words while driving with kids, like how some words sound the same but have different meaning."

Dodsworth acknowledged the low literacy rates in the province.

"Some parents may not feel comfortable themselves with reading," she said. "Schools are trying to do all they can with what they have and I know they are putting lots of programs in place."

With high poverty rates in the city, Dodsworth said being able to provide the tools of education to children is often a struggle for parents.

"Today when the parents leave we've got some books donated that parents will be able to take with them," she said.

The group has shown promising results at Prince Charles. Students are encouraged to engage in a 100-book challenge where they read 100 books within the span of a few short months.

Elizabeth Doucet said her son Kyle, a Grade 2 student, has completed the challenge and will do it again over the summer.

"They were excited to actually read to each other. It has been amazing help to get that one on one. They get it at home but it's always easy to slack a little bit with mommy," she said.

Janis Walker, program co-ordinator at ELF, said the best part of the program is seeing students' self-esteem improve, which is important when learning to read and continuing to do so as they get older. She said they also become more willing to participate in class, having that confidence in their ability to learn.

"I really see this program as a way to make use of volunteers and bring them into the schools and get that community partnership going," said Walker, who is a retired literacy teacher. "It's about just feeling good about themselves because they've practised it."

Dodsworth shared the same sentiment, telling parents and teachers alike engaging with each other is paramount to student success.

"The two influencers on a child's learning is school and the other one is home," she said.

© 2015 Telegraph-Journal (New Brunswick)

Encouraging early literacy
Fri Jun 5 2015 
Lori Gallagher 


A moose wading through water, maple leaves dancing in the wind and puffins smelling a plate of tasty muffins are just some of the treats to be found in Bedda-bye Maritime Rhyme.

The book by Beth Weatherbee, featuring illustrations by Chrissie Park-MacNeil, was launched on May 29 at Government House. It's the latest addition to the Born to Read New Brunswick program, which provides little red bags of books to every newborn in the province.

"It's a great honour to be here launching the fifth book the Early Childhood Centre has produced in conjunction with Born to Read," Pam Whitty, co-director of the Early Childhood Centre at the University of New Brunswick, told the gathered crowd.

"Shirley Downey and the IODE are largely responsible for support of Born to Read in New Brunswick, as well as the Hon. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell when she was the lieutenant-governor."

Whitty says the idea of made in New Brunswick books was really Downey's brainstorm.

"She called one day and said, 'We really need more books by people from New Brunswick. What can we do about that?'"

What they did is begin creating their own, with some help from talented writers and illustrators in the province.
Since the program began, the Early Childhood Centre has held a manuscript contest every two years.

"We've held it six times and have produced five books," says Whitty, including this recent release.

The group produced four books, then had a contest where none of the manuscripts submitted were what they were looking for. To give people a better idea, the group decided to hold workshops on the baby book genre and what it looks like. This turned out to be a great idea.

"We were very delighted with the quality of manuscripts that were submitted last year, but also the number and quality of the illustrations that were also submitted last year," she says.

The result is Bedda-bye Maritime Rhyme.

"I did want to say that the jury selection is anonymous. We don't know until we meet and decide which manuscripts we think are the best, so it's always a surprise to us as well," says Whitty. "Then we go through the illustrators and we pick out the illustrators we think match the text or could and we ask for a submission this time from two of the people."

The author of Bedda-bye Maritime Rhyme says that being part of this project was a thrilling opportunity.
"The first time I got to hold the book is this morning and I'm absolutely thrilled, it's so beautiful," says Weatherbee. "I can't tell you how exciting it is for me."

She attended one of the workshops offered by the Early Childhood Centre and says she found it enlightening. One of the things she learned is that organizers were looking for a book along the lines of Jabberwocky, a nonsense poem written by Lewis Carroll.

"I spent a lot of time with Jabberwocky and there were about 150 different Jabberwockys up on YouTube, so you can hear all different kinds of performers performing it and how fun it is to read," says Weatherbee. "So I sat down one day with lots of tea and several cats and we just tried to play with the words and have lots of fun and this is what came out."

Though directed at writers, Park-MacNeil, a Fredericton-based artist, also found the workshops helpful.
"My husband is an artist, too, so we both sent submissions to them," she says.

A couple months later, they both received emails letting them know they were each one of the top two artists chosen and they had to resubmit.

"We talk to each other all the time about art, and I couldn't even talk to him about mine until both of us had our ideas and were started," says Park-MacNeil. "He's a completely different kind of artist than I am, so it was nice."

And when they learned her work had been chosen? He was as happy as she was.

She says when she got Weatherbee's manuscript, she found the words fun and easy to illustrate. But like the author, she decided to wait until the launch to see the finished product.

"I didn't see the book until today, when everyone else saw it," she says. "We're really happy with how it all turned out."

On top of her work as an artist, Park-MacNeil runs a home child-care centre, while the author teaches music to kindergarten through Grade 8 at Port Elgin Regional School. Both see firsthand the importance of reading to children from an early age.

"As a teacher, I know the importance of literacy. I know the more books we put in the hands of children, the better it's going to be for everybody," says Weatherbee.

Her advice to parents?

"Read to your children, and if you can't read to your children then find somebody who can," she says. "There are lots of ways nowadays to do that."

During the launch, Weatherbee had the chance to read her story to a group of children against a backdrop of the colourful paintings done by Park-MacNeil.

"I love reading to children, to see them realize what's going on, and they loved the pictures and the words," says Weatherbee.

Park-MacNeil says she believes her paintings will soon be on display at the Fredericton Public Library, giving people who were unable to attend the launch a chance to see them.

Lt.-Gov. Jocelyn Roy Vienneau was happy to be able to host the launch of Bedda-bye Maritime Rhyme at Government House on May 29.

"I believe this national and provincial historic site is a fitting location for what is certainly a history-making event. I am pleased to see so many here in the name of literacy, an issue to which I have pledged my support since becoming lieutenant-governor just seven months ago," she told those who attended the event.

"Since 1828, Government House has been the scene of political discussions, community events, political debates, concerts, receptions, medal presentations and so much more. Since becoming lieutenant-governor, I have tried to continue the tradition."

On top of her duties as lieutenant-governor, Roy Vienneau is also the honorary patron of Born to Read N.B.
"I believe strongly in this program that sees the parents of newborns receive books so that the process of reading starts at home at the earliest possible age," she says.

"I believe that simple act of parents sharing a story with their child, nurturing their child, is incredibly beneficial, not just to the parent-child bond, but to start the child's imagination, to help him or her find comfort and curiosity in the pages of a book, to discover joy in the pictures and to find power in the printed words."

While there are lots of scientific reasons for why reading benefits newborns, she says, it boils down to the fact that if we can start a love of reading at the earliest age, a child will also find self-esteem, imagination, creativity, self-control, intellectual capacity and independence.

"Our culture, our society, our province all benefit from this program," says Roy Vienneau. "There is a great power in this red bag and the books it holds."

© 2015 The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton)

KVHS students publish book of war stories
Fri Jun 5 2015 
Peter Johnston


Saint John * It began with an idea Mark Perry, a teacher at Kennebecasis High School, had after a Canadian battlefield tour in 2007. He came back with a vehement determination to tell stories of local soldiers from the First and Second World Wars.

"I wanted to do something meaningful with my students," said Perry.

Perry and a group of 25 students have recently published a book profiling and chronicling stories of soldiers of the Kennebecasis Valley in a book called Soldiers of the Valley. The self-published book has 300 copies in print with half already sold. The book is on sale at Sobey's.

For Grade 12 student Elise Vaillancourt, the project wasn't just about getting published, it was about making connections to the community.

"I did the story of a man named Charles Thomas Smith, who died three months to the day after his son was born. We found his son, and while I was writing it, we had a nice back-and-forth going on," she said.

The students were able to track down more than 100 letters of the soldier, using them to depict his story using his own first-hand experiences.

"The best part was just having his father's story in his own handwriting," said Vaillancourt.

Vaillancourt said that these stories are important to tell future generations because veterans will not be around forever. The more time goes on, the fewer left there will be to tell the personal stories.

"More and more we are losing veterans. I don't think there are any from the First World War, and there are only a few from the Second World War," she said. "It is one thing to learn dates and stuff of Canada's history but it is different if you learn of individual stories from your own community. It is more personal."

Taylor Campbell, a Grade 10 student and the youngest of the KV Memory team, said that because her grandfather went to war and died before she was born, she felt obligated to find out about things she was never able to hear first-hand.

"I don't have anyone to tell me these stories and I have always been kind of a nerd with this kind of stuff so within this journey I got to learn so much," said Campbell.

Though she was hesitant at first to join, Campbell pushed herself and gained the confidence to join the team.
"I thought if I didn't do it, I would never have another opportunity to write a book or even learn this stuff other than just in a classroom learning history instead of being completely involved in a project," she said.

Matthew Smith, a Grade 11 student, spent his time researching battles in Europe led by Canadians in Holland and Belgium.

"I had written about eight pages, but I had to cut it to a page and a half because that was the maximum," he said. "I wrote it in a week. Most of it was refining. It was a lot of time spent on research and editing and refining."

After tracking down files from archives in Ottawa, students worked directly with primary documents, interviewed family members and researched regimental history to construct the stories.

Smith said it was interesting to see how the events, such as the liberation of Holland, came to form the basis of the relationship Canada has with the country today.

"Several soldiers we worked on died in Holland or Belgium, and it is a really interesting part of history because we still have really close connections," he said. "That's kind of the basis of the bond that we have. It was all set up by the soldiers who liberated them."

Books have been donated to local schools in the valley so that younger students can have access to the history of their own community.

Perry, though the idea was his, said he didn't want to help students too much. For Perry, it was about the students' experience.

"I'm paid to do what I do. My job is to initiate projects and engage students to the best of my ability," said Perry. "But I have to tell you, even though the idea came from an idea I proposed, there is no better feeling as an educator than watching the student go to work."

He said students take more away from learning and working on projects when they can see the value in what they are doing.

"For them, it's a project, it's a club," he said.

"But for them, they did it intrinsically, not for pride or rewards. They did it because they wanted to contribute to the community."

"As an educator, it doesn't get any better than that," said Perry.

© 2015 Telegraph-Journal (New Brunswick)

Book club coming to Dorchester Penitentiary this September
Sat Jun 6 2015 
Kayla Byrne 


The simple invention of words tied together on pieces of paper can make us weep like we've never cried before; make us fall in love over and over again; and can make us so mad that all we just want to do is rip up every little word.

But most importantly, books have the ability to make us empathize with the world around us.
It was this fundamental idea of empathy which lead a former Ontario English teacher to start up her own charity, Book Clubs for Inmates. The club got its start during the summer of 2009.

As Carol Finlay was enjoying the season, an unshakable idea started to formulate in her mind. That day she decided she would take her idea to the nearby Collins Bay Institution, a medium security penitentiary in Kingston, Ont.

Armed only with good intentions and a copy of Angela's Ashes, a memoir by the Irish author Frank McCourt, Finlay marched down the prison's hallway of cells, and told a small group of inmates she wanted to start a monthly book club. To her surprise the men indicated they were interested and would like to start right away.

By August, about 15 inmates found themselves in a circle with Finlay and one other volunteer. As a group they started on Angela's Ashes, and by the second meeting, every single member had something to say about the memoir.

Since that summer, Finlay's idea has expanded to more than 22 prisons across Canada. Now Book Clubs for Inmates is looking to have New Brunswick's first club set up at Dorchester Penitentiary by September.

"Our vision was to bring book clubs to as many federal penitentiaries as possible - with some luck we'll be in every federal penitentiary in the country," Book Clubs for Inmates program coordinator Jake Brunt said.
Brunt will be in charge of setting up Dorchester's book club.

"In a short time I'd say we've done a pretty good job. We're now in just about every province."

Right now the organization is focusing on getting book clubs established in women's institutions, but Brunt says Dorchester's medium security section of the prison was selected as one of New Brunswick's first clubs because of its large population.

"We coordinate with Correctional Services Canada to see if the book club is possible and then we look for core groups of about 10-18 members," Brunt said.

Étienne Chaisson, the Atlantic media advisor for Correctional Service Canada, confirmed that the New Brunswick prison was approached by Brunt back in March.

The institution agreed to start up a club in the medium sector of the prison if there was interest from the inmates.

Chaisson says at the present time, the Dorchester Penitentiary is in the process of getting inmates to sign up for two programs or groups, one in English and one in French. Right now, about 15 inmates have showed interest in the future book club.

While Brunt will play a crucial part in helping to launch this local club, he says clubs are basically run by community volunteers and the inmates themselves.

"We find volunteers from the community because we believe it's important to connect inmates inside with the surrounding community," he said. "We want to start building those bridges." Rather than simply throwing their opinions around and lecturing - like one might find in a stereotypical book club - volunteers are expected to act as monitors and facilitators. Volunteers go into the prisons once a month and sit down with the inmates to have lengthy discussions about their chosen stories.

Both the inmates and volunteers work together to pick books that will fit best with the group.
"It's more about guided conversation into deeper issues, and connecting the inmates to the context and characters within the novels," Brunt said. "Our volunteers need to be understanding of that - they need to see that not all problems are black or white."

Brunt says some popular book titles over the past year have included everything from The Iliad and The Odyssey to The Book Thief and The Book of Negroes.

"The idea is to get key human themes out of these books - themes that both the inmates and the volunteers can take and chew on," Brunt said,

Although, a challenge Brunt has noticed is not everyone in these clubs are on the same page - especially in regards to reading levels.

"For some inmates they've never been a part of anything like this and that can be difficult, but there's also a lot of excitement," he said. "Once we start talking about books and bringing in authors, and about them having a voice in the process, they get excited."

While the book club is ultimately about exposing inmates to great works of literature, Brunt says in his experience it's actually the act of being able to discuss the stories that resonates most with the inmates.

"It doesn't matter if they loved the book or hated it," Brunt said. "It's these conversations which allow them to cross boundaries of race, socioeconomic status, culture and religion, and just begin to have these universal conversations.

"Having this dialogue is really the crux of what we're doing."

While many people aren't too fond of inmates, Brunt says it's never been difficult to find volunteers.

"Usually if we find the right place to advertise then people get really excited," he said.

He's already received a string of emails from potential volunteers for the Dorchester club. However, not everyone is as eager to support the literature initiative. Brunt says in his time with Book Clubs for Inmates he has come across plenty who disagree with the program - saying prisoners are undeserving of this raw entertainment.

To that, he says there is incredible diversity within institutions - adding that people end up in prisons for all sorts of reasons.

"Most inmates are going to get out at some point and when they do would you rather have people who sat around all this time discussing their crimes and playing cards or would you rather someone who has been involved in a book club and learning all these skills?" Brunt said. "Books are the things that connect us all and I think that's something most people can agree with and that's really what we're trying to do with Book Clubs for Inmates."

On top of the benefits to inmates, Brunt says the club can also be an eye-opening experience for volunteers.

"I've only been a part of Book Clubs for Inmates for two years and it has completely changed my view of the penal system," he said. "This is about goodwill and community engagement."

© 2015 Times & Transcript (Moncton)

Literacy key to success, says district education council
Thu Jun 11 2015 
Ginabeth Roberts


While literacy scores in Metro Moncton and southeastern New Brunswick schools are improving in some areas, there are concerns recent government cuts to teaching positions and changes to provincial assessments will stymie all progress that's been made.

The Anglophone East district education council received the most recent literacy results from district staff at its meeting on Tuesday night.

The results aren't new. They were first reported last fall, but the council's literacy report needs their approval twice a year. But the council is now reviewing the data in a different context.

As usual, some schools and some grade levels in 2014 performed at or above provincial levels, while others didn't.
"It can be difficult to maintain that when you go from one group to another because it's a different grouping," said Sue Wilmot, the district's Early Years Literacy subject co-ordinator. "But one thing we are seeing with the targeted plans that we have is that schools who were performing at a lower level are showing an upward trend, and some of the schools that have been at that higher level, in the 80 or 90 per cents, are finding it difficult to maintain that and are actually dropping.

"The positive piece for us is that the lower-performing schools - the schools that we've really targeted - have shown an increase in their results," she said, speaking of early years literacy results.

The province's goal is to have 90 per cent of the students, in their program of study, achieve the expected level of language, mathematical and scientific literacies on provincial assessments.

But many council members voiced concern any progress made will be stalled by recent cuts to support staff.
This coming year, the school district will have 34 fewer teaching positions as part of the 249 province wide teaching position reduction.

Some classroom teaching positions are being lost because of declining enrolment. But other cuts are non-classroom teachers, including literacy, science and math leads, and mentors that work throughout different schools.
The staff that filled these itinerant positions aren't losing their jobs and have been reassigned to classrooms, where they'll bring their expertise.

This didn't comfort many council members.

"When we're looking at trying to increase our scores ... and have our kids do better in the classroom, and we were struggling at different times with these people in effect, what's going to happen when they're not there?" Coun. Alan Jones said.

"I think we need to have a new plan," said Liz Nowlan, the district's director of curriculum and instruction. "We will certainly work toward sustaining the same level of support for our teachers."

The budget for literacy, numeracy and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) has fluctuated throughout the past few years, reaching $1.6 million in 2010-11 and sitting at $917,330 in 2014-15 (that, including a bump of $384,000 from the original budget of $600,000).

In an email, Education Department spokeswoman Leah Fitzgerald reiterated that "subject experts leaving the school district level will return to the classroom with knowledge and experience that can be shared directly with their fellow teachers."

In an interview on Wednesday, Nowlan reinforced the other ways students are assessed. Teachers use classroom-level and district-wide assessments to track students' progress, as do principals, monitoring progress for the entire school.

Another strategy used by teachers and the district is following a cohort of students through their provincial assessments.

"When we follow a cohort through the grade levels ... they may not be showing the results we're looking for at a certain grade level ... but we see steady progress when we measure those cohorts as they move through the years," she said.

Strong 2014 Grade 9 English Language Proficiency Assessment (ELPA) results show this, she said. In the assessment, 87.6 per cent of students met or exceeded the standards in writing, and 81 per cent did so in reading, both improvements from the previous year.

Council made a point to mention this to Education Minister Serge Rousselle when they meet with him in the coming weeks. Their related concerns on the province's changes to its provincial assessment will likely be raised during the meeting as well.

The provincial assessment framework shifted this year at the request of teachers, Fitzgerald said. This "will better align the assessments with those at the national and international levels.

"Without minimizing the importance of evaluating our student's quality of learning, we believe that the focus should be on classroom assessment," she said.

The provincial assessments for Grade 6 saw students write a blended booklet for math, science and reading.
Writing is no longer part of any assessment, including the Grade 2 literacy assessment. Formerly, an entire section of the literacy assessment was devoted to writing. It was a complement to the reading section.

Both the district and province saw success in the Grade 2 writing assessment in 2014, growing to 82.3 per cent of students reaching or exceeding appropriate levels from the mid-70s the year previous.

"Writing was one of the areas they were very weak in, and we were beginning to see those strides happening," Coun. Robert Brewer said.

There's no longer a literacy assessment for Grade 4 immersion students, and no longer a Grade 7 literacy assessment. The ELPA will continue to take place in Grade 9 (with reassessments in Grades 11 and 12).

A pilot project for a Grade 6 French as a Second Language (FSL) oral proficiency interview took place in March. The Grade 12 FSL oral proficiency interview is still happening.

© 2015 Times & Transcript (Moncton)

Lucky Glen Falls students gain bikes for books
Fri Jun 12 2015 
Simon Whitehouse 


SAINT JOHN * Shrills of delight and gratitude filled the Glen Falls School gymnasium as 10 students took home brand new bicycles during an assembly on Thursday.

Eleven members of the Hibernia Lodge No. 3 of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of New Brunswick dropped into the east side elementary school to draw the winners of its year-long Bike for Books campaign. The program encourages young people to read as much as possible with the possibility of winning a bike.

Each local lodge representative pledged 60 dollars this year to buy 10 bicycles for the school from manufacturer Huffy Corporation. From September to June, students voluntarily read books both at school and at home. For each book, pupils wrote their names with the title on a ballot in hopes of being drawn for one of the bicycles - one for a girl and one for a boy for each grade. Winners included Grade 1 students Andrew Wallace and Carmen Lanteigne, Grade 2 students Peter Flanagan and Marcie Parent, Grade 3 students Tyler Butler and Madison Malley, Grade 4 students Zach Henry and Abbigail McDougall, and Grade 5 students Reilly Cleary and Doris Laviolette.

The school was the first in the Saint John area to participate in the program which was started 10 years ago by the Masonic movement in the State of Maine.

"It is really amazing and I really wanted one and needed one," said Flanagan, noting that his recommended book title is Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey. "I have read so much and probably more than 50 books this year."

In some cases, students admitted they didn't necessarily have a lot of ballots but came away with a win anyway.

"It was really surprising when I won the bike," said McDougall, adding her favourite book is Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends by Shannon Hale. "I read a lot but for this I only read three books. I bike a lot everyday because I have another one in my barn at home."

A number of the students have not been riding bicycles for very long and in some cases haven't owned many in their lives.

"I feel awesome," said Wallace, recounting how he first began learning how to ride and the injuries the process has entailed "I'm not that good of a biker. I started last year and I'm pretty bad at it. But I'm pretty happy today."

John Watson, chaplain of the Hibernia Lodge No. 3 and main organizer of the event, said it was important to him and his members to launch the program during the school year. This year, Watson worked with the program founders at the Grand Lodge of Masons in Maine, who purchased 1,500 bicycles for their schools. A deal was arranged where 100 of those bikes would be sent to New Brunswick. Ninety were distributed to all of the elementary schools in Charlotte County by the Saint George Masonic Lodge, while 10 went to Glen Falls by Watson's initiation.

"Glen Falls School was my school in 1952 to 1958 so I chose to bring the program here," Watson said, adding that he felt that by providing a bicycle, he could help families. "It encourages biking because some kids are in a (priority neighbourhood) and it kind of tugs at your heartstrings. I think the kids appreciate it but I wish we could do more. This is just our first step and we will be back next year."

Watson said he was happy to see that the program was well received and that students were enthusiastic in reading. As a result, he hopes to see the program spread throughout his Masonic district as it is a positive incentive for reading.

"Every one of the pupils took part and the earlier grades are really into it," Watson said. "I'm very pleased it went as well as it did because I was worried some of the kids wouldn't take part, but they did."

Principal Colleen Sullivan said the event was "like Christmas," but also helps to set a healthy habit of reading daily for young people.

"We are always looking for ways to engage the kids to read and this was a nice little incentive for them and a way to reward them," Sullivan said. "It is a great way to engage parents, too, because we encourage the parents to read with the kids at night and get them involved."

She said of the 162 students, there were probably over 1,000 ballots collected during the year, but a final count was still to be completed. Sullivan said the school will have its annual year-end family barbecue next week which will feature a community police officer providing bike safety tips for the young cyclists.

© 2015 Telegraph-Journal (New Brunswick)

Community Initiatives


Elementary Literacy Inc. (ELF)
If you are interested in working with elementary students to improve their literacy skills, consider becoming a volunteer with Elementary Literacy Inc. To find out more and to register as a volunteer visit their website.
 
Frontier College
Frontier College is Canada’s original literacy organization. Located in Moncton and Fredericton, they offer homework and reading clubs, youth programs, one-to-one tutoring, teen programs, an adult literacy program, summer camps and much more! To find out what programs are available in your area call Frontier College at 450-7923 or visit their website.
 
Laubach Literacy New Brunswick (LLNB)
Laubach Literacy New Brunswick (LLNB) is a non-profit, charitable organization whose trained volunteers help New Brunswick adults improve their basic reading, writing and math skills through a free, confidential program. LLNB volunteers work one-to-one with learners, using materials relevant to learners’ literacy levels and daily lives. To learn more about Laubach Literacy New Brunswick and to become a volunteer please visit their website or contact them at 1-877-633-8899.
 
Learning Disabilities Association of New Brunswick (LDANB)
LDANB is proud to be offering the Barton Reading and Spelling System in the greater Fredericton area. This literacy program aims at improving the reading, spelling and writing skills of those who have a reading disability or reading difficulties.  Barton is a specialized one-on-one tutoring system based on the Orton-Gillingham method that teaches the phonemic structure of our written language using a multi-sensory approach. LCNB is proud to support LDANB by providing funding for financial subsidies for low-income families to be able to participate in this program. To find out more about this great new program click here.
 
Saint John Learning Exchange (SJLE)
The Learning Exchange is Saint John's leader in adult education, training, and career development. They are a non-profit organization that has become an authority on innovative programming that meets the unique needs of everyone that walks through their doors. If you or someone you know is looking for support to meet academic or employment goals, they have the programming and resources you need. To learn more about the Saint John Learning Exchange visit their website.
 
LCNB Calendar of Events
The Literacy Coalition has a website calendar available on which you to share your community literacy events. To submit events to our calendar please send event information to lcnb@nbliteracy.ca. To take a look at our calendar, click here.
 
Do you have community literacy initiatives you would like us to share?
If you are involved in or know of a literacy initiative that should be shared across the province we want to know about it! Send us an email or give us a call and we will include the information in an issue of our newsletter. We can be reached at lcnb@nbliteracy.ca or 1-800-563-2211.

Professional Development Opportunities


SkillsNB
The 
SkillsNB program provides free online training available 24/7 to the citizens of New Brunswick. With SkillsNB, New Brunswickers can improve skills, build on existing education and work toward career goals. The SkillsNB online library includes over 6,000 resources including courses, videos, simulations, and books, with content in English and French. SkillsNB resources cover the areas of Business, IT, Desktop, Leadership, Management, Well-being and more! Visit the SkillsNB website at and click “Register”. Follow us on Twitter @skills_nb. Questions about the program or registration? Call the Program Manager at 1-844-462-1203 or email skillsnb@skillsoft.com.
That's it for this edition of the Literacy Coalition of New Brunswick Newsletter! We'll be back soon with more exciting news. Thanks for reading! 
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