summer reads


Hit up the library yesterday for some NZ authors and some ed books to complete my summer reading list.  Quite fancy these covers. Some books from summers past but I am determined to finish them all this time round…or perhaps two thirds of the lot may be a more attainable and realistic goal ; ).

What’ll you be reading? Any good recs from the past year?


bookmaking at ETC 13

Visual Arts was one of the strands this year at the EARCOS Teachers’ Conference in Shanghai so I had the opportunity to run a bookmaking workshop.

all set up in an art room at Concordia International School

We had a great turnout that morning. It was hard to gauge how many people would be there and the bulk of my luggage did end up being materials and tools for the session but it was well worth it. What I enjoyed seeing most was the wonderment in discovering the potential of a sheet of paper and participants teaching each other and sharing techniques along the way.

Post-it® thoughts and ideas from the bookmakers…

What is a book?
  • a visual representation of ideas
  • it’s a life mirror
  • my lover
  • an exciting TRIP
  • a means of sharing information
  • everything
  • educator
  • entertainment
  • a written form of communication that is purposeful and organized
  • companion
  • ideas, opinions, moments ready to be shown
  • a promise…a journey
  • a paper trail to/thru another world
  • inspiration
  • a learning experience
  • a friend
  • an access to learning
  • something to share
  • creative process
  • a new world and a great resource for all
  • a place for documenting art/thinking process
  • a reference source
  • a collection
  • early form of information
What is your relationship with books?
  • We are friends since I became literate
  • Books–are like finding a friend..check, look and discover ♥
  • the only long term relationship
  • I love my large collection of picture books
  • Love children literature. I started my children book library 25 years ago when I have my first child. Write and or illustrate children book is one of my dreams.
  • the physical interaction–tactile experience and smell of books
  • Good! Useful! Entertaining!
  • read, travel, and experience life with characters
  • the physical feel
  • I get students to love
  • Books take me away from the stress of life! They nourish me!
How can we use bookmaking in our classrooms?
  • Camp Taiwan Journal for kids to record their experiences
  • field sketchbook
  • to have my students write a book for their 1st grade reading buddies
  • In my classroom–PERFECT way for: expressing ideas, showing what was learned, keeping reminders
  • to showcase student ideas
  • student expression & accomplishment
  • Teaching kids about beginning, middle, & end. Also how some story patterns repeat ie. If you Give a Pig a Pancake!

Thanks to the participants who contributed to the workshop with their ideas, creativity and enthusiasm. I learnt a lot from you and appreciated our time together.

Workshop photos can be found here and book structures we worked on here.

collected from summers past

books to read and some other things that caught my eye…

the power of reading

Stories and storytelling are powerful.

Read for pleasure.

Bring Me a Book Hong Kong presented a talk by Dr. Stephen Krashen on literacy and language development this past Saturday. It was a very engaging talk and one that I wished went longer.

I appreciated his candidness on his 30+ years of work and research and how current he has stayed in his field and with popular culture.  Made for an entertaining morning.

Some learning points:

  • Language acquisition, which leads to fluency is much more important than language learning, which leads to accuracy.
  • Language acquisition is effortless and involuntary.
  • Comprehensible input is key–we acquire language when we understand it.
  • The best kind of comprehensible input is beyond interesting, it needs to be COMPELLING.  This kind of input is difficult to find.
  • Free voluntary reading (self selected and can be narrow) is the most effective for language and literacy development.
  • Access to books results in more reading.  Children, especially those of poverty, need access to books.
  • Rewards given for doing something that is already pleasant (eg. reading) sends the wrong message.

There needs to be a shift in thinking in how language is “taught”, especially here in Hong Kong where everyone pretty much is learning a language of some sort whether it be Mandarin, English, Cantonese, or in my case, Spanish. The video of Dr. Krashen’s talk is supposed to be posted on the Bring Me a Book site soon–which I will make sure to encourage everyone at school to watch.  Along with my four colleagues who also attended the talk, am looking forward to sharing our love of reading :) and new learning with the faculty.  It will be interesting to dialogue about how our students learn language.

“We are so intent on achievement we are doing things that are anti-achievement…we all need time for creativity.” –Krashen


After Dr. Krashen’s talk, Dr. Christy Lao shared about her work with second language acquisition and a summer Chinese reading program in San Francisco.  She talked about how it was set-up/run and focused on the use of comic books/manga to draw kids into reading. She also touched on the challenges and successes of using technology like iPads.  I am always keen to hear and learn more about various programs taking place around the world and to see what the possibilities are.  Am passionate about literacy, particularly in regards to how it ties in with art and what better way to share our stories than through picture making, writing, and book arts.  Will need to work on a plan.

reading makes me happy

The Wheaton Public Library was a frequent hangout during my elementary school days. I remember sitting in there one Saturday morning and realizing halfway into a book that island is not  is land but i land and suddenly the story making sense. I am quite certain there were no pictures! ; ) The joys of learning to read.  Favourites from my childhood: Encyclopedia Brown, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle and The Get Along Gang.

Libraries are wonderful community spaces and resources and you really need to get a library card if you don’t have one already. Did you know there are 67 public libraries in Hong Kong and also several mobile libraries? I was sad to discover that you can only have out six books in one go, though that might really be a good thing in disguise as I have a habit of reading way too many books at the same time. Currently, I am working my way through Story-Steven James, Newspaper Blackout-Austin Kleon, The Arts and the Creation of Mind-Elliot Eisner,  Experience and Art-Nancy Smith, Missed Connections-Sophie Blackall, Infinite City A San Francisco Atlas-Rebecca Solnit, Cassette from My Ex-Jason Bitner, Talking about Student Art-Terry Barrett, and The Lover’s Dictionary-David Levithan. Always taking recommendations so do tell if you come across an exceptional read.

Reading should be celebrated everyday! We had book character day at school this past Friday and it was great seeing the kids so excited about reading, their character and sharing about the book they selected. Seeing as I’ve been the same character for at least the past 6 years, I still have kids asking if I’m a cat or rabbit. But this year was the best…a first grader with much certainty said to me: I know what book you’re from. Which one? The yearbook.

I guess he didn’t really see me in costume at all, which makes me question what I normally wear to school. I either need to work on another character for next year or get a pig snout and larger ears.

Book character day a few years back…couldn’t resist trying on my first grader’s costume.  It was not easy getting out of it.

This year with Miss Viola Swamp.

Visit a library, keep reading…and learning!