Teachers and Homeschooling Parents! A Remote Storytelling Unit for grades 4-6

Dear Teachers and Homeschooling parents, We understand that emergency remote teaching and learning is a challenge.  We want to help.  My student, Sarah Freeman, and I have prepared a remote unit for you based on the Ontario curriculum expectations for Language and Drama. It features personal and traditional storytelling as a means of building community, self confidence and self expression. This 10 module unit includes 16 original videos, many hyperlinks to sites and traditional stories from around the world, and 3-4 activities for each module. You can assign the entire unit or pick and choose whichever modules you think are more suitable for your students and children.  All modules are student friendly and can be read by them independently.  The unit was designed for students in grades 4-6 but the unit is very family friendly so siblings and parents can also be involved.

We know how much you care for your students and how hard you are working. Parents, we know how hard this is for you, especially if you are also working from home while trying to cope  with disengaged children. We hope this unit relieves you of some of this enormous burden. We also sincerely hope your students and children love doing this.

Click on the Junior Storytelling Unit page at the top right to get started! (Menu top right on a smart phone). Primary unit is yet to come.

Please, stay safe. Be positive. And smile.  We are getting though this together.

Dr. Cathy Miyata and Sarah Freeman

 

Research Study and Professional Development in Cairo, Egypt

First Published in Wilfrid Laurier Newsletter:

“We don’t want it to end,” states the senior-school educator, sitting on the floor with papers and markers still strewn about. I smile, because I’ve been delivering professional development to educators for 30 years and have never witnessed such enthusiasm. Alas, time is of the essence, the staff bus is leaving, Cairo traffic at rush hour is a nightmare, and security is tight with the president’s residence only a block away. So, vacate the school we must. We quickly pack up the workshop materials and sweep down the magnificent marble staircase into the grand foyer for final farewells. Hugs, selfies, and double cheek kisses.

The Egyptian educators here are as warm and affectionate as they are enthusiastic. A joy to work with. Our two days of professional development with the staff at the Dover American International School in Egypt has sadly come to an end, yet, friendships and bonds have been formed. Facebook and email addresses exchanged. It is not an ending at all. It is a window of opportunity and growth for both the facilitators and the staff. We are all excited, charged, and renewed.

Bruce Alexander, his wife Sherry, myself, Cathy Miyata, and my husband Kaz were invited guests at the Dover American International School through the Educator and Leadership Institute (ELI), a brainchild of Dr. Steve Sider, Associate Professor at Laurier’s Faculty of Education. ELI’s mission is to build teaching and leadership capacity in communities all over the world, including Haiti, Nepal, Ghana, China, and Egypt.

At Dover, Bruce, Sherry, Kaz, and myself each facilitated six workshops to 100 teachers (K-12) focusing on our areas of expertise.

Bruce and Sherry are experts in G Suite applications for education by Google. They had a chance to share their technological experience and demonstrate how to improve student learning with the use of technology.

I am a literacy and drama specialist with a penchant for storytelling and children’s literature. My husband Kaz is a primary specialist who specializes in the reading process. He worked exclusively with the Kindergarten teachers and co-teachers.

Dover is a private international school in El Shorouk, a suburb of Cairo. The building was originally designed to resemble a resort, which explains the magnificence of the structure, manicured grounds, lush courtyard garden and football, tennis and basketball courts. The school Director, Chuck Reid (former education director with the Avon Maitland District School Board in Ontario) and his wife Suzanne Tsuchida (former school principal in the Grand Erie Board) undertook management of the school in 2012. Identifying staff development as a priority, they began their partnership with ELI. In six years, their student enrollment and reputation has quadrupled. Chuck and Suzanne anticipate hosting many more professional teams and also welcome Laurier student teachers seeking an international placement. I highly recommend the experience. Not only were the staff wonderful and the school gorgeous, but our visit also included a guided tour of the pyramids of Giza and Saqqara, the Cairo Museum, shopping at the Khan-El-Khalili Bazaar and of course, a camel ride.

By Dr. Cathy Miyata – Assistant Professor of Literacy, Faculty of Education

Been busy…

I have been remiss about blogging on my web site.  The biggest reasons have been my preoccupation with my dissertation and being on my supervisor’s SSHRC research team.  These have kept me very  busy.  I have been blogging weekly on another site  http://literacyteaching.net/  with my research team though.  Look it up.  It’s excellent.  There are five of us (academics) that post, and occassionally there is a guest blogger, so the content is varied; always informative, often intriguing,  and sometimes funny.  I enjoy reading it.  Perhaps it’s time I shared some of my posts from that site, here.

When I look back at my earlier posts on this site, and on the other site, and review my academic writing over the past three years, I can see such changes.   My concept of literacy has changed, just as the literacy landscape has changed.  Its so broad now, and wonderfully, wildly creative.  Multimodal!  It’s exciting.  Something I love being part of.

The dissertation writing goes well.  It’s been a journey and I feel I’ve come a long way.  Attaining a doctorate has not been what I expected, but all good learning.  Several new identities and communities have emerged.  I’ve developed a deeper understanding of theory and its role in education.   I certainly have more respect and appreciation for  social science and research.  I actually love the research.  My analytical side is thriving.  Thrumming.  Working over time.

My creative side is not dormant, just not as large right now.  I feed it by decorating the house, entertaining, and baking fancy cupcakes, and that’s all right.  As long as I DO something.

Below are some of my more recent accomplishments in academia (enormous spread sheets of my data) and my recent versions of my expressing creatively!

spread sheetsBpartytable

 

 

 

 

Growing Through Research

Embedded within my passion for literacy is my love for developmental drama.  I do love theatre as well (I as a professional actress for a couple of years), but developmental drama is fundamentally different than theatre.  Theatre is about performance.  Developmental drama is about developing human potential, and that is my heart song.

I was recently asked to present a Literacy Workshop for the Royal Conservstory’s new Smart Start Programme .  This Early Childhood Education (ECE) programme uses a multiple arts approach to develop four specific cognitive skills: attention, memory, perception, cognitive flexibility.  It was my role to model and lead a group of ECE leaders through creative drama experiences so they could experience first-hand how developmental drama can and does develop cognitive skills. We explored many drama strategies in the workshop: storytelling; role play; group drama; teacher-in-role; voice over narration; hot seat; tableaux, and; story drama.  My favourite of the eight listed is story drama which uses the events and characters in a story to stimulate the drama experiences, plus, I got to use my storytelling skills.   We became the characters; good and bad.  We learned about a culture from the other side of the world.  We asked questions.  We problem solved.  We also had fun.  The participants left with many practical ideas and felt they were inspired to explore this world with the children they are responsible for.  But, in all honesty, I think I was the one who left with the most insight.

I used to present this kind of workshop regularly, but have not done one in a few years. Due to my dissertation work in multiliteracies (Cope & Kalantzis, 2000), I discovered I was seeing the experiences through new eyes.  I was identifying modes instead of arts disciplines and using critical discernment instead of point of view.  The experience was a literacy event that we constructed within a social paradigm and the participants contributed their own knowledge and expertise in an environment that supported situated practice.  It wasn’t just a new set of vocabulary; it was a much more informed and theoretical perspective of the work.  Vygotsky, Luke, Peabody, Vasquez, Kress, Cope and Kalantzis occupied every corner of the room.  I was well supported.  I recognized a noticeable difference between my role as  intuitive drama leader and informed theoretical guide.  It was progress and it felt good.

drama

Cope, B. & Kalantzis, M. (Eds.) (2000). Multiliteracies: Literacy Learning and the Design of             Social Futures. New York: Routlage

Workshopping Literacy in East Germany

Last month,  I (Cathy) was invited to present a workshop on literacy and the arts in Gotha, Germany, for a group of educators.  At the beginning of the workshop, one of the teachers admitted, “I really don’t know what literacy means.” I wasn’t really surprised as interpretations of literacy are so varied. When a few others also admitted they were not sure, I invited them to find a matching-shoe partner and share with them what they thought literacy meant.

Once the discussion was opened up to the whole group, it was interesting to hear what they came up with.  They started off with the traditional reading and writing interpretation and we decided together these were forms of communication. From there, the definition really expanded. One participant suggested literacy included reality, while another suggested emotion. As we probed deeper the idea literacy was a view of the world was introduced. Eventually I asked them to look around the room at the fabulous paintings hanging on the walls. They were painted by local school children and they were emoting wonderful narratives. Yes, they decided, the paintings were also literacy. Throughout the rest of the workshop we explored ways to use storytelling and drama as literacy.

It was exciting to witness the development of a deeper understanding of an enormous concept like literacy. I like to think this encounter helped these teachers to see meaning-making in a new way. I wonder how it will affect their use of literacy in their classrooms.   On the chart we created together, it was also suggested literacy was fun.  It was.  Hope it is for their students too.

photophoto wall

 

My First Academic Article

I belong to a research team at OISE.  We are studying 28 Literacy Teacher Educators from four countries (Canada, U.S., Australia, and UK).  The work is fascinating.  Our first paper from our study has recently been published in the Journal of Education for Teaching.  The paper, A Foot in Many Camps: Literacy Teacher Educators Acquiring Knowledge Across Many Realms and Juggling Multiple Identities, is attached.  So excited!  Let me know what you think!

Foot In Many Camps

Presenting at the OADE Conference

The Ontario Association for the Development of Education Conference was held Feb 21st and 22nd at York University.    Nice setting.  I was presenting with my PhD supervisor on some of our recent research findings regarding the spheres of knowledge literacy teacher educators must develop in and how they go about making the developments happen.  I found it fascinating, so the presentation was easy.  Lots to say. Narrowing it down for a one hour presentation was the hard part.  I tend to find academic presentations a bit dry.  But this wasn’t.  This work is so insightful for new teacher educators, mid and late career teacher educators and administrators of teacher ed programs.   This is one of the most exciting and poignant articles I have ever read, let alone research and write about.  As the research is not published yet, I will not go into detail as of yet.  But thank you to the participants that came to hear us present.  I could tell how excited you were too and that was so encouraging.  More to come, dear reader, more to come.