Featured Activity Kit: Let’s Go Code!

Coding is a hot topic in education, but access to digital resources and technical know-how in the classroom can often make this subject challenging to teach, especially to the littlest of learners! This month’s featured activity kit, the Let’s Go Code! Activity Set, is a game that supports the introduction of coding principles in the classroom without screens or technical knowledge. It’s a game appropriate for ages 5+ that gets young learners up on their feet, physically moving through coding puzzles as they build and navigate mazes with their peers.

The Let’s Go Code! Activity Set consists of 20 colourful foam mat tiles that are laid on the ground to create “mazes” for students to navigate. These tiles map a route from a starting-point arrow to an end-point robot. To navigate the route to the robot, students can only move from one tile to the next by following a sequence of coded actions laid out in additional coding cards. There are 20 reversible coding cards included in the set, each indicating an action like “move forward” or “turn to the left”. Students must devise a sequence of these coding cards that will move them from the start of the maze to the finish.

This game uses kinesthetic learning to introduce learners to coding and programming ideas. As the Let’s Go Code! activity guide notes, “the real building blocks of coding are found in critical thinking, sorting information, mapping routes between endpoints, and in helping children break down large problems into smaller mini-puzzles that they can think through logically.”

The puzzles possible through this activity are endless, and they can be customized with the addition of special objects and special action tiles that can be incorporated into the maze, requiring additional problem solving. For instance, blocked tiles with a big “X” on the surface are impassable, unless students include the special action “Jet Pack” tile in their coding sequence to fly above it! Many ideas for maze layouts and related games are included in the Let’s Go Code! activity guide.

Let’s Go Code! is a chance for creative and kinesthetic learning in Kindergarten and early grade classrooms. It can be used just as effectively during periods of free play as during scheduled activities, existing as one station among many exploring coding and programming themes. For more introductory coding activity ideas, check out some of the OISE Library’s other resources, including Coding as a Playground: Programming and Computational Thinking in the Early Childhood Classroom and How to Think Like a Coder Without Even Trying

To see the Let’s Go Code! Activity Set and related books about coding (and to try it out for yourself!), find them on display in the Display & Play area on the third floor of the OISE Library.

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October Lobby Display: Environmental Education

The OISE and TDSB Environmental Education in Action Conference will take place on Oct 26, and was created with teachers and graduate students in mind. There will be keynote talks, interactive workshops, and an EcoFair to provide ideas, strategies, and resources. OISE has many resources on environmentalism in education, but here are some highlights in the spirit of the conference!

The Environmental Toolkit for Teachers written by Neil Fraser and illustrated by Hanna Forsgren

While this book is geared towards those teaching in the United Kingdom, environmentalism is worldwide. This book was published with the goal of reducing the ecological footprint of the school, as the UK has tasked schools with being sustainable by 2020. Schools have opted to do this by appointing an eco-teacher, who can use the appointment to involve students in learning. This toolkit contains information and ideas that: make the best use of time, set out fun and educational eco-projects, provide opportunities to practice active citizenship, and save research time by listing the most helpful resources. The Environmental Toolkit is divided into 4 chapters that discuss principles and background, waste, litter, and energy. This book is an excellent resource for educators looking to engage their students in environmentalism.

Aquicorn Cove written and illustrated by Katie O’Neill

Lana and her father travel to visit their seaside hometown to help clean up after a storm and to visit Lana’s Auntie Mae. One day while walking along the beach, Lana discovers a unique, seahorse-like creature. This discovery leads to Lana learning about her aunt’s adventures on and under the sea, including Mae’s visit to the home of the Aquicorns. Thanks to the Aquicorns, both Mae and Lana learn the importance of ocean conservation and the difference one small village can make in bettering the environment. This richly illustrated graphic novel is best suited to students in grades 5 and up due to the discussion of the loss of a parent.

Occupy Education by Tina Lynn Evans

This book represents the author’s attempt to theorize and practice forms of education that rise to the occasion in which the world finds itself at the opening of the 21st century. The author asks what should sustainability educators teach, and how? This book attempts to answer this question through the author’s theories and examples of practice. There is a higher education focus throughout this work, and Evans also draws on Western and Indigenous theorists. This book contains chapters that explore the critical social theory of sustainability, a critique of globalized political economy and theory of enforced dependency as a pillar of the late capitalist system, and local food sustainability, among other topics.

Teaching Secondary English as if the Planet Matters by Sasha Matthewman

This book examines the potential for English to respond to the issues raised by the planetary emergency. The author posits that the environmental crisis is about cultural responses. Infusing English with a sense of value of the natural world encourages environmental activism and ecocritical awareness. This book presents thought provoking material about both English teaching and environmental questions. Topics featured in this work are connections between reading texts and reading the environment, the re-examination of the history of teaching English from the perspective of environmental education, and sustainable cities. This book is an excellent resource for ESL educators looking to infuse environmentalism in their teaching.

Natural Curiosity 2nd Edition: A Resource for Educators by Doug Anderson, Lorraine Chiarotto, and Julie Comay

The second edition of this book was created after the incredible success of the first edition. There were high rates of downloads in both French and English, and thousands of paper copies were sold. The impetus for a second edition came from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendation to bring Indigenous perspectives to Canadian education. The concepts in this book have been rethought and refined. For example, the theoretical section is followed by stories written by the teachers, in their own voices. In the first edition, one of the authors was writing the teachers’ stories on their behalf. This book is an excellent handbook for educators who wish to bring Indigenous perspectives on environmentalism into the classroom.

These books can be searched through the OISE catalogue, or visit the 2nd floor service desk for help locating these titles.

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Indigenous Histories

This October, our Ground Floor Display celebrates Indigenous Histories. Describing the events, experiences and heritage of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, this month’s collection includes narratives, biographies and creation stories from Indigenous authors, as well as resources on treaties and historic events. Common throughout these resources are themes of celebration of identity and resistance.

This Place: 150 Years Retold Foreword by Alicia Elliot, with stories by Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm and 10 others

This brand new anthology of graphic narratives showcases Indigenous histories, focusing on the last 150 years. In its pages, you will find the stories of “Annie of Red River” – a glimpse into the life of Annie Bannatyne, a prominent charity organizer whose rebellion against a newspaper article attacking Métis women in Red River that may have very well inspired Louis Riel; “Migwite’tmeg: We Remember It”, a story recounting the salmon raids during the 1970’s and 80’s in the Lisstuguj First Nation; and “Warrior Nation”, describing the Oka Crisis, the 78-day standout between Mohawk protestors, Quebec police and the Canadian army for the land between the Haudenosaunee of Kanesatake and Oka in 1990. Other stories include “Like a Razor Slash”, following resistance efforts against the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline led by Fort Good Hope Chief Frank T’Seleie in 1975, and “Kitaskînaw 2050”, a story of Indigenous futurism in a post-apocalyptic world. Each of the ten graphic narratives is prefaced with a contextual description by the author, and a timeline of events framing the emergence of each story.

Thunder in My Soul: A Mohawk Woman Speaks by Patricia Monture-Angus

At the time of its publication in 1995, Monture-Angus’ biography was the first collection of essays from a Canadian university to specifically address Indigenous experiences with education, racism, feminism and criminal justice. Drawing on her life as a Mohawk lawyer and professor, Monture-Angus uses storytelling to reflect on her experiences of the injustices faced by Indigenous people. Beginning with the essay “Flint Women”, the first section of the book tackles Monture-Angus’ troubling experience at an academic conference, leading on her to reflect on her sense of self and community. Other sections of the book focus on law school, women and politics, and justice for Indigenous peoples, making Thunder in My Soul a multi-disciplinary reading that can be used in a variety of post-secondary classrooms.

Nation to Nation: A Resource on Treaties in Ontario produced by the Union of Ontario Indians

As described in the introduction by Maurice Switzer, “First Nations believe…that their rights to govern their own affairs were given to them by the Creator. These rights include the rights to land, resources, the right to self determination and self-government, and to practice one’s own culture and customs”. This handbook explores how these inherent rights are affected by treaties – agreements between First Nations and colonial governments on sharing land and resources. Nation to Nation unpacks the history of treaties in Canada and Ontario, carrying readers from first contact the present day. Accompanied by photographs, maps and illustrations, this handbook is a useful guide to navigating historical and contemporary issues surrounding the rights of Canada’s Indigenous peoples. The French version De Nation à Nation is also available at OISE.

Travellers Through Empire: Indigenous Voyages from Early Canada by Cecelia Morgan

Beginning in the late 18th century, an influx of Indigenous travellers voyaged across the Atlantic Ocean, arriving in the British Empire. Focusing on the histories of Ontario First Nations, Travellers Through Empires explores the stories of Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabeg, and Cree people who journeyed to Britain in pursuit of advocacy, missionary and fundraising work, as well as education. Examining the written remnants of their travels including letters, logs, and diaries, Travellers Through Empire relays a narrative of resistance. Stories of the Mississaugas of New Credit peoples including Anishinaabe Methodist minister Peter Jones (Kahkewāquonāby) and missionary Catherine Sutton (Nahneebahwequa) are also recounted.

To borrow these titles and more, visit the Indigenous Ground Lobby Display case on the first floor of the Library. You can take books out directly from the display, or ask a librarian for assistance.


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New Titles for Autumn!

Tetris: The Games People Play

A very interesting read: this book dives into the complicated history of one of the most recognizable and beloved video games. It is a graphic novel that is all about the history of Tetris and traces how Alexey Pajitnov created it during his spare time while developing software for the Soviet government. Furthermore, it is not simply a linear history of how the game was created; rather, it uses Tetris as an opening to explore the role of video games in our culture and society, as well as looking at the science and psychology behind our enjoyment of them. Perfect for young adults and older who are into pop-culture history, science and psychology or just looking for a fun read!

A quick & easy guide to they/them pronouns

This book is a graphic novel that is an accessible and easy resource for both people who use they/them pronouns as well as those who want to learn more about they/them pronouns. The book is written by two best friends: Archie a “snarky genderqueer artist” and Tristan, a “cisgender dude” who discuss in this comic why pronouns matter, what they are and how to use them respectfully. A helpful book for those who have questions about using they/them pronouns.


As long as grass grows: the indigenous fight for environmental justice, from colonization to Standing Rock

In this book, Dina Gilio-Whitaker—an Indigenous researcher and activist explores the fraught history of Indigenous environmental justice by looking at the histories of treaty violations, food and water insecurity, violation of sacred sites and much more. She also highlights Indigenous women and their ongoing involvement and leadership in the Indigenous resistance throughout the centuries. The overarching argument from Dina Gilio-Whitaker is that modern environmental movements need to acknowledge and learn from the history of Indigenous environmental defence and resistance.

The Witch Boy

Written by Molly Ostertag, the plot of this YA graphic novel is centred around Aster who is unable to shape-shift like the rest of the boys in his family. However, he is also not allowed to practice the magic that he’s actually interested in because it is only for girls. This book is an excellent resource to use to talk more about gender roles and expectations and is beautifully illustrated. It is a good read for children around 8-12 years old.


United University Professions: Pioneering in Higher Education Unionism is a book that traces the history of United University Professions (UUP) which is the largest higher education union in the United States. Growing from humble beginnings, this book details how the UUP grew from its early accomplishments to become a leader in the struggle to preserve academic freedom and tenure. The book is divided in chronological order detailing how The State University of New York was prior to unionization, the decades that followed as the UPP matured, while also keeping an eye on future challenges.

You can find all of these titles in the New Books shelf that is across from the Reference Desk on the main floor!

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October Lobby Display: Women’s History Month

October is Women’s History Month in Canada, and this year, we celebrate the women who have made lasting impacts in their fields under the banner #MakeAnImpact. Here at the OISE Library, we’ve pulled a number of books highlighting examples of women and girls who have made an impact, both past and present, in this month’s lobby display.

As an education library, we’re particularly struck by the impact that women have had on education. Women Teaching, Women Learning: Historical Perspectives, edited by Elizabeth M. Smyth and Paula Bourne, is a collection of scholarly essays exploring the histories of various women involved in education through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, simultaneously tracing the trajectory and development of the discipline. Building on the work of feminist historian and OISE professor emerita Alison Prentice, these essays examine the roles of formal and informal education in women’s lives in Canada, Australia, and Sweden. They are divided into three thematic sections: 1) The Lives of Women Teachers, 2) Regulating Women: Social Work, Teaching and Medicine, and 3) Women’s Public and Private Lives, and provide a launching point for various studies into the history of education, women’s social history, and feminist history.

OISE has a strong connection with feminist history, and Feminism in Canada: From Pressure to Politics, is just one title among many produced by our faculty. The book is co-edited by OISE faculty member Angela R. Miles and Geraldine Finn, and it contains a collection of essays exploring the ways in which feminism can and should be applied to a number of academic disciplines, of which history is only one. This powerhouse collection includes an extensive bibliography for further feminist reading, and would be well-paired with titles exploring other intersectional feminist issues, like Making Space for Indigenous Feminism, edited by Joyce Green.

For younger readers, feminist stories and the histories of women who have made an impact are beautifully described and illustrated in Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women, by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo. This crowd-funded book contains one hundred stories of inspiring women throughout history and from around the world, written in a charming, fairy-tale style that always begins, “Once upon a time…”. Featured women include Queen Elizabeth I, activist and politician Eufrosina Cruz, supermodel Alek Wek, orchestra conductor Xian Zhang, and geneticist Nettie Stevens, among many others.

Women’s history is constantly unfolding, and countless girls and women are making an impact today. Titles like I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, by Malala Yousafzai (another girl featured in Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls!) and Vital Voices: The Power of Women Leading Change Around the World by Alyse Nelson, emphasize the international scope and attention being given to women’s rights and the support systems that are being built by women for women around the world. Vital Voices, in particular, explores the work of the Vital Voices Global Partnership, an NGO with its roots in an initiative fostered in 1995 by Hilary Clinton and Madeleine Albright in the United States that has since grown to support the work of twelve thousand women leaders in 144 countries. In its pages, it details the work of many women who are making an impact.

These books are only a few among many currently on display in the OISE lobby, across from the cafe. Please ask a library staff member for assistance if you would like to check out an item from the display case!

For more about Women’s History Month in Canada and the women it celebrates, see the Government of Canada’s new digital gallery, Women of Impact in Canada, showcasing photos, maps, and timelines of women who have made significant contributions to the arts, sciences, politics, human rights, and more. This digital gallery also includes a learning toolkit with useful resources for educators seeking to share women’s history with students of all ages.

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