Fostering Reading Cultures in Schools

Until children figure out what incredible knowledge, adventure, excitement and new worlds reading can share with them, it seems like a never-ending struggle for teachers to get kids to read.  And, I have double the challenge as I am trying to get my students to read in French, as well as English.  For my more advanced grade 4 and 5 readers they just simply don’t want to read in French anymore.  They have discovered the joy they can get from reading (in English) and find it onerous to have to read a less interesting book to accommodate their French reading abilities. So, the challenge for me is to continuously find ways to incite my students to want to read in both languages.

At our school, the culture of reading, as an avenue for researching and for enjoyment, is promoted by our school librarians and our teachers as a whole and, quite regularly.  Just this past Friday, we had one of our “family read-in” mornings where parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters and various other relatives are all invited to read at the school for 30 minutes first thing in the morning. Mats are laid out in the hallways and the gym, and classrooms are open for children, and adults alike, to lie on the carpets and read.   It’s wonderful to see my students lying on the floor with their younger siblings, reading to them.

Our librarians also ensure that the staff is aware of all new publications to the library which, I feel, is a crucial component to school literacy.  After all, if the staff has no idea what’s new then how can we promote it with our students.  Our librarians place the new publications around the tables during our staff meetings and they follow it up by sending an email with pictures of the books, magazines etc.  They also send emails to inform us of themed-books that are available.  For example, most recently, we were sent pictures of books that connect with Orange Shirt Day and residential schools.

I also appreciate that when we, students and teachers, enter the library there are many books on display.  Some are grouped into themes and others by genre.  Since I observed that many children will pick up the books on display, even just to flip through, I recently rearranged my classroom books by genre with placing books on display.

As mentioned in my first blog, I have discovered that graphic novels and comic books are my “gateway” books to better things… hopefully even chapter books! Recently, the excitement my students had over the new Amulet 8, Supernova graphic novel was a sight to be seen.  I actually had to go buy another one!  The most exciting part for me was watching the “Amulet fans” spur on the other children to read the series…even the French versions.  Which brings me to a strategy that seems to work well in getting my students to read more in French: I provide them with the French versions of many of their favourite English graphic novels, such as, The Babysitter’s Club (Le Club des Baby-sitters), Amulet, and DogMan (Super Chien).

Another strategy that I use to encourage reading with my students is to read the first book in a series, whether in English or in French.  I like to find books with cliffhangers at the end of each chapter and book, like Masterminds by Gordon Korman.  My students couldn’t wait for each chapter and were even more excited to find out it was a trilogy.  The other day I read The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl and, as of Friday, every Roald Dahl book in our classroom library is being read!

For my students still struggling with French reading, I encourage them to use Tumblebooks, (available through the Greater Victoria Public Library free of charge), and read along with the narrator.  In class, partner reading and levelled books on similar topics allow students of all French reading levels to take part which selecting literature appropriate for their reading abilities.


What I loved about this YouTube clip is how it demonstrates that teachers can make a difference in a student’s reading career by making simple gestures:

  • Offer choice of literature: books, magazines, comics, graphic novels, poetry etc.
  • Make suggestions to your students about book choice
  • Show that you are interested in them and what they are reading
  • Make reading relevant to your students
  • Have students share what they’re reading
  • Ensure they have time to read and practice reading
  • Show students what they are learning from reading

Finally, the strategy I use most with my students is MODELLING.  Yes, I have marking and other such teacher-things I could be doing during silent reading time but, my students appreciate seeing me read with them.  Many will ask me what I am reading and if it’s something the class would enjoy.  Modelling reading is one of the most valuable lessons my students can learn: that I love reading as much as they do.



Cushman, Kathleen. 2010, May, 24. Building a School Culture of Reading.  Retrieved from



Makerspace + Science = Cool Inquiry learning

“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul.”  Elder Uchtdorf

Summarizing and Sharing

There was absolutely no shortage of research, articles, videos, blogs etc. relating to Makerspaces on the internet which, actually, made my decision-making process more difficult than I imagined…so much choice, yet so little time!

When researching Makerspace information for Part B, I accessed resources that pertained to my areas of interest, such as, technology and Inquiry.  Considering the plethora of information on makerspaces available, I then connected my areas of interest to the following questions that would help focus my research:

How could makerspaces and technology connect?
How would makerspaces be successfully integrated into school library programmes?
How could makerspaces spur of curriculum-inspired inquiry-based learning?
And finally,
How could a “mobile” makerspace work in an elementary school environment and what would be the benefits to the teachers?

Key learnings/takeaways

So, I have some questions and ideas, which is all fine and wonderful, but not if they are not workable in MY school with our available resources, which is why makerspaces and technology was quickly removed from my “ideas” list.  With 420 students and 24 Chromebooks plus 8 ipads to go around, I needed to walk away from this concept.  After discussing the space (area) we will have for our new library learning commons (in the process of being constructed), quite remarkably, it’s going to be slightly smaller than the previous one; hence, a library makerspace was also taken off my list as space is already at a premium.  I am now left with two ideas: a mobile makerspace and inquiry learning based on curricular objectives. With the latter being HUGE (one cannot make a makerspace to address all areas of the curriculum or, at least, I cannot do that!) I spoke with teachers at my school and asked them which curricular areas they found the most difficult to teach and sciences (physical, life, and earth and space) won by a landslide.

In wanting to make a tool that was useful to the staff, I have decided to focus my inquiry on a mobile-makerspace with the view to promoting inquiry-based learning in the sciences.

What’s next?

Now that I have an inquiry concept, the focus needs to be on how to plan, develop and execute it while ensuring that the research backs up my ideas and can guarantee success in its implementation.



BC Ministry of Education. (n.d.). Instructional samples. BC’s New Curriculum. Retrieved from

Fourie, I. & Meyer, A. (2015). What to make of makerspaces: Tools and DIY only or is there an interconnected information resources space? Library Hi Tech, Vol.33(4), 519-525.

Gierdowski, D. & Reis, D. (2015) The MobileMaker: an experiment with a Mobile Makerspace. Library Hi Tech, Vol. 33(4), pp.480-496.

Kurti, R.S., Kurti, D. L., & Fleming, L. (2014). The Philosophy of Educational Makerspaces Part 1 of Making an Educational Makerspace. Teacher Librarian; Bowie, Vol. 41(5), 8-11.

Lamb, A. (2015). Makerspaces and the School Library Part 1: Where Creativity Blooms. Teacher Librarian; Bowie Vol. 43(2). 56-59, 63.

Moorefield-Lang, H. (2015). When makerspaces go mobile: case studies of transportable maker locations. Library Hi Tech, Vol. 33(4), 462-471.

Redey, V. (2017, February, 14). Every childhood deserves a makerspace. TEDxTalk. Retrieved from

Rendina, D. (2015, April, 02). Defining Makerspaces: What the Research Says.  Retrieved from

Smay, D. & Walker, C. (2015). Makerspaces: A Creative Approach to Education. Teacher Librarian; Bowie Vol. 42(4), 39-43.

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” Carl Sagan

The myriad questions I asked in my last blog post keep swirling in my head and they are screaming for me to do my own research to see if Makerspaces can combine technology and inquiry-based learning?  How else to quieten them but to start researching…and, this is what I found:

Makerspaces and Libraries

Image result for makerspace and libraries

Accessing this article from UBC’s Library, I chose to include it as a viable resource for two reasons: 1) it provided me with an excellent understanding of the potential of makerspaces in the library; not just the physical aspect of how a makerspace can be set up but how it can empower children both emotionally and academically.  2) The article offered real-life examples of ways in which makerspaces were successful and why.  It also provided suggestions to explain why makerspaces are needed in libraries and ways to get both teachers and students alike to acknowledge the value of these spaces.

Ina Fourie, Anika Meyer, (2015) « What to make of makerspaces: Tools and DIY only or is there an interconnected information resources space? », Library Hi Tech, Vol. 33 Issue: 4, pp.519-525, https:// Permanent link to this document:

Makerspaces and Technology

Image result for makerspace and technology

Diana Rendina is a librarian at a grade 6-12 prep school in Tampa, Florida who has created the most incredible Pinterest page on the uses of technology in makerspaces.  She completely redesigned her school library to be a makerspace and is willing to share her expertise, ideas, successes etc. with all educators.  She is obviously very well-thought of and skilled in her craft as not only does she have an excellent Pinterest page, but she also have her own web page, blog and has published two books on makerspaces.  From perusing her various multi-media sites, I am in awe of her expertise and would want to implement some of her ideas in my “future” library.  It is a little overwhelming because she is so well-versed in her area of expertise that I am a bit intimidated by her media sites but, I know that once I achieve a higher level of confidence as a librarian, her ideas will propel countless activities in my library makerspace!

Diana’s Pinterest page:

Diana’s Website:

Diana’s Blog:

Makerspaces and Inquiry


After at least three hours of being sucked into the world of TEDx Talks I could safely say that any one of the talks I listened to would be an excellent resource in demonstrating how makerspaces beget inquiry.  That being said, there was one TEDx Talk, presented by Vipul Redey, entitled Every childhood deserves a makerspace, that really got my creative juices flowing.  The example he offered of how children, researching online Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions, were able to construct a chosen invention, made me connect to our grade 5 science curriculum where teachers are to develop learning around simple machines.  How wonderful it would be to make a mobile “da Vinci” makerspace?  Redey went on to express how makerspaces afford children the opportunity to create something solid to an abstract idea and allow students to come to his or her own discovery.


Makerspaces and Teachers

Image result for mobile makerspace

As I was researching articles on UBC’s Library website, I came across this article called “When makerspaces go mobile: case studies of transportable maker locations” and I thought that this was such a cool idea.  As a hopefully new up-coming librarian, wouldn’t it be great to be able to create a mobile makerspace for teachers to use/check out in their classrooms at any time?  This article is actually a series of case studies of the success and failures of mobile makerspaces around the world from Canada to the Netherlands to the US.  What I appreciated about it was how it structured the information which easily allowed me to view the challenges, the successes, how funding worked and more.

Heather Michele Moorefield-Lang, (2015) « When makerspaces go mobile: case studies of transportable maker locations », Library Hi Tech, Vol. 33 Issue: 4, pp.462-471, LHT-06-2015-0061 Permanent link to this document:


To makerspace or not to makerspace? That is the question I have for my “future” library.

When thinking of what my future Elementary school library could look like, I immediately considered the physical aspect of the library because, let’s face it, that’s what kids would see.  If the area is inviting, comfortable, aesthetically appealing in space and colour and loaded with interesting books then I might have a chance of luring children in so that, unknowingly, they could learn something and, hopefully, check out a book or two.  So, I had to consider what I could possibly do that might interest them.

Graphic novels!   At the moment, they are the answer to a lot of my questions!  My student is learning to read and struggling, what can I do?  Graphic novels.  My student doesn’t like reading, what can I do?  Graphic novels.  I can’t get my students to read in French, what could I possibly do?  You got it…buy some French graphic novels (FYI, they are loving the Babysitter’s Club in French!).  But, I can’t keep relying on graphic novels to solve all my ills; although, in all fairness to today’s graphic novels, they are far more complex than the love triangle between Betty, Veronica and Archie.  Eventually, the graphic novel charm will wear off and my future library will need to offer something of greater substance to maintain excitement and engagement of learning.  So, I had to think of something else children love that would keep them learning and engaged and, not surprisingly, my mind went to computers.

Computers…good or evil?  Well, maybe a little of both.  Can computers help learning?  YesJ  Can they hinder learning?  Yes L  This is the constant struggle classroom teachers have when allowing computer use as it’s difficult to monitor 25-30 kids at once.  Thus, I know that my challenge would be in developing activities that would promote proper usage of the computers and/or internet so that the children would not be tempted to sneakily pop over to an online games website.   Of course, it always benefits the students when a teacher is really passionate about an area of teaching and for me, that’s science (well, I also love teaching grammar but it would be a struggle to sell that concept as fun and engaging!).  Ok…I think I’m getting somewhere.  The library is full of science books and I know kids love computers so it begs the question, how can I combine these two ideas and I came up with …a Makerspace.  But, I need to more.

When I started researching more about Makerspaces I realized I knew very little and questions started swimming in my brain: does it have to be a digital/computer-based makerspace?  Should it address kinesthetic learning?  How about combining technology and digital learning?  How would I go about that?  How big is a Makerspace?  Can it help teachers cover some of the science curriculum?  Does it need to be guided inquiry?   If it’s not guided, how do I ensure meeting the curriculum outcomes?  What kind of materials do I need to develop provocation of thought/ideas?  And, the questions keep coming.

So, this is where I am leaving this blog with the question: To Makerspace or not to Makerspace?  Next, I need to figure out if this would be a viable option for my future library and how I would go about developing this space.  I also need to discover if I could create a Makerspace that could connect digital and hands-on learning.  And, if all of this was possible, how we (students, teacher and me) would go about evaluation this learning?  Sans oublier, que j’aimerai le faire en anglais et en français!

Stay tuned…I’ll be back soon with some answers to those questions!



Welcome/Bienvenue to my Bilingual BLOG for my Teacher-Librarian course at UBC called LIBE 477: Special Topics in Teacher Librarianship – New Media and Technology in the School Library.  Here’s to discovering how to be a successful librarian!  Espérons que ce n’est pas trop difficile!