Great Geo Tools from the California Geo Teacher Institute

From Natalie C., Reference & Digital Resources Librarian

The California Geo Teacher Institute is taking place in San Francisco this week. Many TDSB teachers have been sharing what they’re learning at the Institute on Twitter, including some exciting tools that can help students explore far-off places without leaving the classroom.

Some that I’m looking forward to exploring further:

  • Google Earth EducationFind lessons & activities to help use Google Earth in the classroom
  • AugmentEdu: A new project that leverages Pokemon Go technology to allow students to create augmented reality tours
  • Google Spotlight Stories: Augmented Reality stories that allow students to drive across the country, experience a sunny day in London, take an adventure with The Simpsons and more
  • Visit Vimy: A 360 degree tour of Vimy Ridge with Peter Mansbridge
  • Walk With Us: A storytelling project where students will capture street-view imagery of northern Ontario Indigenous communities
  • Google Earth Engine Timelapse: See how the Earth has changed over the past 32 years

Check out some of the conference tweets below from star TDSB teachers:

July 21, 2017 at 9:17 am Leave a comment

Canadian Books in Ontario Schools fund launched to encourage use of CanLit in schools


From Natalie C., Reference & Digital Resources Librarian

The Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Sport has recently announced the launch of the Canadian Books in Ontario Schools Fund. The fund will devote $250,000 over 3 years to the development of lesson plans, activities and discussion guides that will support the teaching of works of Canadian literature.

An exciting opportunity to promote the use of CanLit in the classroom. Learn more about the fund here

July 20, 2017 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

June issue of Educational Leadership (ASCD) is all about change

ASCD’s June issue of Educational Leadership is a theme issue on change and includes a bunch of free articles including an interview with Michael Fullan about collaborative professionalism, and another article with the great title How to Keep Mutiny from Sinking Your Change Effort by Lee Ann Jung.  Check ‘em out and enjoy some easy summer reading

July 20, 2017 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

OLA Forest Kid Committee Summer Reading List: The Explorers – The Door in the Alley

The sixth in our blog series on the OLA Forest Kid Committee Summer Reading List. Selected by kids for kids, the list has 20 great books for students grades 5 through 8. Follow along on the blog as I attempt to profile as many books on the list as I can before the school year starts up again.
I just finished reading The Explorers – The Door in the Alley by Adrienne Kress

The Haiku Review

Explorersstep off the right path / do something against the rules / open doors: explore

Major Players:

  • Rule-following Sebastian, whose first break from the correct path will change his life
  • Orphan Evie whose seemingly boring life conceals a secret past
  • An adventurous pig who wears a teeny hat

One-Sentence Summary
When 12-year-old ultra-logical Sebastian decides to one day break the rules, he ends up meeting Evie, a young girl with a mysterious grandfather who leads him on the adventure of a lifetime.

Authorial Anecdote
It looks like Adrienne Kress is planning a series of Explorer novels — and a good thing, too, as this one definitely ends with you wanting more! This may be the first book I’ve read that actually ends on a cliffhanger. I’ve read books in series that end with unresolved plot points or mysteries, but never books that actually end in the middle of the action.

Quick Quotes
“I’m not a rule-breaker. I never would have willingly broken the rules. I believe in order. In logic. In following the correct path.” Oh, the correct path, the beautiful, happy, appropriate, correct path. The one that when you veered off it, you landed in stupid, thrilling society buildings with stupid, thrilling names.
With that now-familiar nod of hers, the woman stood up. “Well then. That settles it. You absolutely need to be punished.”

What’d I think?
7/10 pigs in teeny hats
A rollicking adventure and a really promising start to an inventive series that encourages questioning, inquiry, and stepping off the beaten path. I was immediately drawn in by The Explorers’ narrator whose dry sense of humour, witty asides and over-explanatory footnotes are reminiscent of another highly involved narrator, Lemony Snicket from The Series of Unfortunate Events. While this narrator is perhaps not quite as fully-formed as Snicket, I always found their insertions enjoyable, adding a bit of flavour to what could have been a more traditional adventure tale. I also really appreciated the book’s message, which promotes the value of breaking the rules, highlighting that sometimes the best ideas happen by accident. One of the novel’s main characters, Sebastian, has a hard time breaking out of his regimented routines and as a fellow lover of rules, I’m always happy for the reminder that sometimes it’s okay to take risks. I was less a fan of the action-heavy sequences near the novel’s end, and likely could have done without hints towards a romance between Sebastian and Evie — the novel’s other lead. But otherwise, I was wholly along for the ride, and look forward to seeing what other messes Sebastian and Evie get into in future installments.

Check out the other posts in this series:



And stay tuned for more posts on the OLA Kid Committee books.

July 19, 2017 at 9:52 am Leave a comment

New from EduGains: Equity, Well-Being and Assessment

From EduGains: “Promoting Equity and Well-being Through the Assessment Process : 3-part Virtual Learning Series for Classroom Educators and System Leaders

Join us online to learn with your like-role colleagues across the province in a 3-part series of interactive and engaging sessions about how to use the assessment process effectively to get to know and understand students, so that together, we can improve learning while promoting and sustaining equity and well-being for all learners in Ontario! Click < here > for additional information and registration.

From the pdf description: “By the end of our time together, we will be able to:

  • Deepen understanding about the connections between and supports for “equity”, “well-being” and “assessment for and as learning”
  • Understand how to collect, analyze and use a variety of data
  • Differentiate assessment tools and strategies for diverse learning and assessment needs
  • Identify key learning, strengths, growth in learning and next steps for our students, and communicate these in appropriate and relevant ways throughout the learning cycle
  • Use technology effectively to support and enhance the assessment process”

July 18, 2017 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

New study finds that teaching emotional intelligence can improve mental health

From Natalie C., Reference & Digital Resources Librarian

A new study in the journal Child Development found that programs that focus on teaching emotional intelligence “can improve educational outcomes while reducing anxiety and behavioural problems.”

The study also indicated that the results of these programs were long-lasting. Students who participated in “emotional education” were 6% more likely to graduate from high school and 11% more likely to graduate from university.

Read the full article from CTV
Read the full study in Child Development

You can find more information about emotional learning programs & strategies through the Professional Library:


July 17, 2017 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

OLA Forest Kid Committee Summer Reading List: Optimists Die First

By Natalie C., Reference & Digital Resources Librarian

The fourth in our blog series on the OLA Forest Kid Committee Summer Reading List. Selected by kids for kids, the list has 20 great books for students grades 5 through 8. Follow along on the blog as I attempt to profile as many books on the list as I can before the school year starts up again.

Next up: Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen.

The Haiku Review

OptimistsDieFirst“You oughtta look out” / Turned to “You only live once” / The key: trust and love

Major Players:

  • Petula De Wilde, the novel’s cautious heroine
  • Jacob Cohen, described as a “bionic man” who’s “just this side of handsome.” Jacob helps Petula face her fears.

One-Sentence Summary
Still trying to cope with a family tragedy that has left her fearful of everything, Petula finds a useful ally in the mysterious Jacob who forces her to step outside of her shell until a surprising revelation makes her question their friendship.

Authorial Anecdote
Susin Nielsen has written another book on the OLA Forest Kid Committee list: We Are All Made of Molecules. Both are marked by Susin’s excellent sense of humour and sprinkled with relevant pop culture references.

Tough Topics
Optimists Die First deals with death and grief, depression, divorce, mental illness, homophobia, alcoholism, drug use and drunk driving. It presents a refreshing depiction of sex and sexuality from the perspective of 16-year-old Petula whose first sexual encounter is safe and consensual. Petula talks to her mom about her experience and they go together to the doctor to get a birth control prescription. Petula also doesn’t shy away from her desire to have sex and the book alludes to masturbation.

Kids List Connections
Like Bent Not Broken, Optimists Die First features a protagonist grappling with the death of a sibling, and the guilt felt by the family members left behind. Both books also address the marital challenges faced by parents whose child has died or experienced trauma. In Bent Not Broken, Madeline’s parents divorce after an accident leaves her with brain damage. In Optimists Die First, Petula’s parents attend marriage counselling after her sister’s death.

Quick Quotes
“Mr Watley thought for a moment. Then he pointed at a mug on his desk.
‘Look at me and tell me what you see.’
‘A half-empty mug of coffee.’
‘I see a half-full mug of coffee.’ He smiled triumphantly, like he’d just said something profound.
‘And that’s why you’ll die before I do’” (p. 7).

“I learned some lessons that day:
1. Life is not fair.
2. Tragedy can strike when you least expect it.
3. Always expect the worst. That way, you might stand a chance of protecting yourself and the ones you love” (p. 23).

What’d I think?
9/10 cats named after literary figures
Susin Nielsen has outdone herself. Optimists Die First is amazing — my favourite book on the OLA Kid Committee List so far. Petula DeWilde, the cat-loving, granny-dressing protagonist who wears a safety vest to go out with her friends and can’t shake someone’s hand without fully desanitizing, could easily have become a caricature. Instead, Nielsen draws the reader into Petula’s mind and fully outlines her motivations, allowing the reader to wholly identify with her circumstances. Even though the novel deals with some tough topics, Nielsen never lets things get too heavy. The book is also laugh out loud funny and all of the pop culture references are on point. To top it off, Nielsen crafts a totally believable love story and narrative of self-discovery that never comes off as trite. Definitely my kind of book

Check out the other posts in this series:
Month of Mondays
We Are All Made of Molecules
Every Hidden Thing
Bent Not Broken
And stay tuned for more posts on the OLA Kid Committee books!


July 17, 2017 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

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RSS New Books in the TDSB Professional Library

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