New Titles for August: A Mindful Classroom

Fostering mindfulness : building skills that students need to manage their attention, emotions, and behavior in classrooms and beyond, Shelley Murphy

This resource by OISE instructor Shelley Murphy is a must-have for any educator curious and committed to building practices of mindfulness into their classroom culture. The useful templates, sheets, scripts, and images contained within this resource allow it to easily guide your classroom’s developing and ongoing mindfulness program. The content of the text is appropriately scaffolded – the first chapter beginning with a clear, concise, and current definition and discussion of mindfulness in general, and building in the context of emotion, attention, behaviour, and the benefits to the greater world community. Each of the seven proceeding chapters surround specific classroom strategies, grounded in the practice of mindfulness, and accompanied by a definition of terms, multiple sections of practical advice and strategies, as well as designed classroom activities and activities to ensure that every educator has the opportunity to incorporate these stress-relieving practices as stress-free as possible. While on the surface it appears the majority of the classroom activities discussed and handouts provided are best suited for primary grade students, the author provides many clear extensions to each activity or idea that allow them to easily be integrated into junior and intermediate classroom spaces.

50 strategies to boost cognitive engagement : creating a thinking culture in the classroom, Rebecca Stobaugh

Rebecca Stobaugh’s resource is rich with activity ideas and templates that allow educators to easily access and incorporate mindfulness practices in their K-12 classroom. The content is divided into 8 chapters that introduce and contextualize critical thinking and cognitive engagement and extend these ideas to specifically address processes of: understanding, analyzing, evaluating, and creating level thinking. The content focuses on cultivating a classroom focused on a culture of thinking, rather than stand-and-deliver instruction. The targeted skill development aims to enrich the students’ engagement and critical thinking to benefit their lives above and beyond in-class success. This text provides strategies to create an active learning environment that provides an infrastructure for a thinking classroom culture – tackling the disparity between 20th century pedagogy and 21st century real-world skill demand. These 50 strategies are a fantastic and cohesive addition to any K-12 classroom through the variety of clear objectives, diagrams, classroom examples, and checkpoints!

Educating for the twenty-first century : seven global challenges, Conrad Hughes

This is a fundamentally important text for educators concerned with the future of educational policy and its implementation modern classrooms, looking for philosophical refuge and meaningful exploration. Despite the book’s title, it is not catered solely towards those involved professionally in education – Hughes argues the education is, and increasingly should be, a universal concern. Hughes positions education at the forefront of social change. He addresses the conflicting perception of education existing simultaneously as a hub for societal development and the source of societal unpreparedness in light of the rapid technological, environmental, and socioeconomic changes. He calls attention to many of the over-used and under-effective buzzwords that have emerged in the field, and that have unsuccessfully combated the disparity between what is being taught in schools, and what is needed to exist in this changing world. Through this lens, he addresses mindfulness, singularity (artificial intelligence), terrorism, sustainability, post-truth politics, knowledge, and character. Each chapter provides experience-driven advice from a current administrative professional to ensure students are informed and prepared for the world they inhabit.

Mindful little yogis : self-regulation tools to empower kids with special needs to breathe and relax, Nicola Harvey

Educators have the unique opportunity to provide their students with increasingly important self-regulatory techniques at a young age – allowing them to build and connect with their emotions and manage stress in healthy ways. While the content of this new resource is created to benefit children with special needs, any classroom culture can benefit from the tools, techniques, and activities discussed in Harvey’s work. Mindful Little Yogis aims to guide and provide parents, teachers – or anyone interacting with children – with the tools they need to recognize, acknowledge, and celebrate their various feelings and emotions. Rich with diagrams and student-ready work sheets, each of the five chapters serve as a practical guide that carries young people through breathing exercises – and other useful self-regulation tools – that can be easily integrated into any classroom setting. The book begins by introducing and contextualizing SEN (special education needs), and how the ideas and practices introduced throughout the resource can provide benefits to this population. The second chapter introduces healthy breathing exercises, followed by an introduction to yoga-breathing activities in chapter 3. Chapter 4 delves into self-regulation tools, and chapter 5 provides additional helpful strategies that go above and beyond the “textbook” understanding of SEN students and their unique classroom experiences. Excellent additional sources of information, such as a developmental skills glossary, additional resources, and references, are located after the conclusion. This is a must-have for teachers aiming to start their school year with cultivating a calm and centered classroom culture!

Listening to my body : a guide to helping kids understand the connection between sensations (what the heck are those?) and feelings so that they can get better at figuring out what they need, Gabi Garcia

Gabi Garcia has created a colourful and insightful picture-book that takes children (and parents!) on a process of connecting physical sensations and emotions through exploration, vocabulary development, and self-monitoring exercises. The book opens with “A note to parents and teachers” – encouraging parents to show up for their child by participating in this guide, and modeling positive self-monitoring and body-listening. Garcia includes additional opportunities for continued learning through listing extension activities for parents and / or teachers and children to work through together. Each page is covered with vibrant images depicting common body sensations and is accompanied by a “Let’s Practice!” section – inviting the child to participate in an activity that connects their physical sensations to verbal descriptions and activates a process of total physical recall. The book closes with a vocabulary list divided by “sensations” and “feelings”, and an invitation to add to this list with your child or student – as well as a list of “practice” activities to continue to build. Listening to my body serves as an excellent resource for all parents and teachers looking to foster positive body-consciousness and a strong sense of emotional intelligence in their child or student!

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Featured Activity Kit: Baric Tablets

This very simple looking activity kit is an excellent tool for promoting concentration and experiential learning. The Baric Tablets are a sensorial activity that can be used for children age 4 and upward. They are a Montessori-developed manipulative, but can be used anywhere! It helps create awareness of the sensory perceptions that we are constantly taking in. These tablets are made up of three separate boxes which each contain about 6-8 wooden tablets. Although all of the tablets are the same size, each box contains tablets made of different types of wood (such as pine, beech and oak) and therefore they differ in weight.

These tablets can have multiple uses as an educational tool. They teach children how to exercise baric sense and differentiate between weights. The tablets are also useful tools to teach children how to use superlatives: heavy, light, heavier, lighter, heaviest, lightest. Finally, they also teach children to be mindful and observant about their environments.

Typically, the baric tablet is used by the teacher showing the student how to hold their hands (slightly above the table, palm up) and placing the light tablet one hand and the heavier tablet on the other hand—the student is then asked which tablet is heavier. This continues as the teacher continues to place different light and heavy tablets on the palms of the student. As the activity continues the student is also encouraged to wear a blindfold so they won’t be able to tell the weights by the colour. Soon the student should be able to mix the tablets and sort the weighted tablets on their own. Once they have mastered the heaviest and lightest weights, the teacher can then introduce the medium weight tablets to finely develop the student’s baric sense.

There are plenty of exercises that one can do with the baric tablets: such as ordering all of the tablets, and placing them back into their piles in the boxes, and playing with different combinations. These tablets are useful to build up to more complex math activities, and can also be a meditative tool to emphasize observation skills as well as focus.

If you’d like to play with them, you can find them in the Display and Play section of the library on the third floor.



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Indigenous Futurisms

This month’s Indigenous display features works on Indigenous futurisms. This genre, explored through a variety of mediums including literature, art, film, and music, expresses Indigenous identity by exploring possible or potential futures for Indigenous peoples. Though many works of Indigenous futurisms are set in the future – where elements of science-fiction such as space, apocalyptic narratives, and alternate reality are often present – stories from this genre can also span the past and present; they are narratives that place Indigenous voices from across time and space into our present consciousness.

Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction edited by Grade Dillon

The first anthology of Indigenous science fiction, Walking the Clouds helped define the genre of Indigenous futurisms by identifying science fiction as a platform through which Indigenous writers can “renew, recover, and extend First Nation voices and traditions”. Dillon suggests that through Indigenous futurism, writers can confront contemporary issues and explore them on an alternative and empowering world stage, changing how both Indigenous writers and the science fiction genre as a whole are traditionally perceived. Contributions are divided into six sections; native slipstream (time travel, alternate realities, alternative histories), contact, Indigenous scientific literacies and environmental sustainability (understanding sustainability as a rightful science), native apocalypse, revolutions, future reconstruction of sovereignties, and “Biskabiiyang” or “Returning to Ourselves” (how Indigenous peoples are personally affected and their process of recognition, healing and resurgence).

Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich

Set in the near-future, Future Home of the Living God outlines the beginning of an apocalypse where evolution has not only ceased, but is actively reversing. Cedar Hawk Songmaker, the novel’s heroine, is faced with a dilemma; adopted as an infant from an Anishinaabe nation in Minnesota, Cedar is now four months pregnant and longs to know the genetic history of her biological parents. As Cedar begins her journey home, the government declares that all pregnant women must turn themselves in for the good of future mankind – or they will be hunted down. Cedar conveys her story through letters written to her future child, using quick wit and dry humour to deliver a captivating and unsettling tale.

The Night Wanderer: A Native Gothic Novel by Drew Hayden Taylor

For fans of vampire stories, The Night Wanderer is a thrilling sci-fi horror story set on an Anishinaabe reserve on Otter Lake. When Tiffany Hunter’s mother abandons their family, her father rents out a spare room to a strange man named Pierre L’Errant. Tiffany soon learns that her roommate’s affinity for darkness and sleeping aren’t quirks, but survival tactics; Pierre is a vampire, and has returned from France to his boyhood home in Otter Lake to conduct an unspeakable mission. While an excellent sci-fi tale in its own right, The Night Wanderer is also a coming-of-age story, in which Tiffany must learn to address relationships with her family, boyfriend, and identity. This novel is adapted by Taylor from his own 1992 play, A Contemporary Gothic Indian Vampire Story.

Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection, Volume 2 edited by Hope Nicholson

Following up on the success of Moonshot, Volume 1, Volume 2 offers a collection of Indigenous comics focused on what author Michael Sheyahshe describes as “Indigenous continuance” – focusing on Indigenous peoples and cultures as they exist in the present. In its objective to represent Indigenous peoples “in the now”, Moonshot, Volume 2 brings together a collection of stories that transcend time and space, ranging in genre from historical to sci-fi to other-worldly and representing elements of the past, future, and everything in-between. Among the 14 comics included are Jeffrey Veregge’s Journeys, blending futuristic intergalactic travel with the present values of the Suquamish community, Steve Keewatin Sanderson’s Where We Left Off, a post-apocalyptic narrative based in Plains Cree roots, and Michael Sheyahshe’s Do Wild Turkeys Dream of Drums, a  modernized version of the Caddo “Turkey Dance” tradition. Each comic is accompanied by a background paragraph explaining the story’s origins and inspiration, and readers will appreciate Moonshot‘s engaging mix of narratives and artistic styles.

A Girl Called Echo, Volume 1: Pemmican Wars by Katherena Vermette

In the first graphic novel of the series A Girl Called Echo, Pemmican Wars tells the story of Echo Desjardins, a lonely young Métis teenager who finds herself unable to cope with life at her new home and school. Overwhelmed by her surroundings, Echo frequently resorts to closing her eyes to block out the world around her. One day, Echo is surprised to open her eyes and find herself transported to the Souris River in 1814, at the onset of the Pemmican Wars. Armed with the gift of time travel, Echo crosses back and forth between the past and present, learning about her ancestral history both in school and on the front lines of the war. Using time travel, Echo discovers that she is able to reconcile past narratives of Métis history with her own personal truths to create a new and powerful identity. A Girl Called Echo relies almost exclusively on illustration, encouraging readers to immerse themselves in the images before them. The book also includes a timeline of the events surrounding the Pemmican Wars.

To explore more books on Indigenous futurisms, be sure to visit the Indigenous display on the ground floor of OISE Library.

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New Books for July: Some Hot New Reads

Teaching English Language Learners: A Handbook for Elementary Teachers by Ann Morgan
Teaching English Language Learners is a handbook for elementary school staff who work with English Language Learners but who might not have specialized training. This book is a handy tool for reference that describes all the stages of learning English and how home language and culture affect English Language Leaners in school. Morgan provides a thorough guide English Language levels, adjustment behaviours, family interactions and expectations, non-academic areas of need, and how to discern whether students learning difficulties are language-based. Morgan also offers practical strategies for teaching writing and describes activities for both large and small learning groups. This book is an excellent resource for classroom teachers, para-educators, volunteers, teachers in training, specialists, and other adults working with elementary English Language Learners.

The Arabian Nights: Their Best-Known Tales by Kate Douglas Wiggin and Nora A. Smith, Illustrated by Maxfield Parrish
Douglas Wiggin and Smith offer a fresh new selection from the famous Tales of a Thousand and One Nights. In their own words, there must always be favourites from among the two hundred and sixty-four bewildering and unparalleled stories. They have chosen ten tales of which they consider the most delightful. These ten tales have been beautifully illustrated to further capture the mystery and enchantment of these Arabian nights. Douglas Wiggin and Smith, like other editors, have shortened the stories here and there to omit tedious repetitions, but have “removed no genies nor magicians, however terrible; have cut out no base deed of Vizier nor noble deed of Sultan; have diminished the size of no roc’s egg, nor omitted any allusion to the great and only Haroun-al-Raschid, Caliph of Bagdad, Commander of the Faithful, who must have been a great inspirer of good stories.” The Arabian Nights offers readers insight into the realm of the impossible and ensnare both old and new readers.

Share Your Smile: Raina’s Guide to Telling Your Own Story by Raina Telgemeier
Graphic novelist Raina Telgemeier offers tips, tricks, and inspirational kick-starters for putting your own story down on paper. Telgemeier wrote Smile and Sisters, which are both graphic memoirs and based on true stories from her life, friends, family, and her experiences growing up in San Francisco. Each of her books are different but are influenced by some aspect of her real-life experiences. Share Your Smile explores the behind the scenes process of creating those graphic novels, as well as offering insight into how you too can create your own personal graphic novel. With pictures, drawings, and quirky writing, Telgemeier provides an easy and fun guide for you to share your smile with the world.

The Good University: What Universities Actually Do and Why It’s Time for Radical Change by Raewyn Connell
While universities may be booming, with over 200 million students enrolled in universities and colleges, Connell explores why these institutions have never been unhappier places to work. Cost-cutting governments and strikes by disgruntled workforces have taken their toll in almost every country around the world. But what is a ‘good university’ and what should it look like? Connell challenges readers to rethink the fundamentals of what universities do. Connell outlines practical visions for how universities can become more engaging spaces and more productive places. Connell draws on examples offered by pioneering university and educational reformers around the world.

Mobile Subjects: Transitional Imaginaries of Gender Reassignment by Aren Z. Aizura
Mobile Subjects examines transgender narratives within global health and tourism economies from 1952 to the present. In 1952 Christine Jorgensen, the first famous transgender person in the United States, travelled to Denmark for reassignment surgery. Aizura draws on archives of trans memoirs and documentaries, as well as ethnographic fieldwork. Aizura positions transgender travel as a form of biomedical tourism and shows how understandings of travel and mobility depend on the historical architectures of colonialism and contemporary patterns of global consumption and labour.

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Featured Activity Kit: Botany Cabinet

When the weather gets warmer, kids cannot wait to get outside and explore! One way to foster this excitement and incorporate it into continued learning is by using the Botany Cabinet to teach young children to recognize and differentiate between various leaves.

This activity kit encourages students to make classroom-to-world connections through matching the shapes provided in the cabinet with the shapes of leaves they locate outside. Learning doesn’t end in the classroom – nature is an excellent tool for discovery! While this activity kit is designed for the Montessori classroom, it can easily be incorporated into any classroom as children are given the opportunity not only to seek out information outdoors, but to cultivate a sense of independence and curiosity.

Spending time in nature provides young children (and adults!) with a grounded feeling and an appreciation for their surroundings. The botany cabinet nurtures and encourages the child to explore their surroundings to locate and identify different leaves. This tactile kit fortifies the child’s ability to recognize the leaf shapes through tracing. The puzzle pieces are made of natural material (wood), introducing the value of environmental consciousness within the child – an additional benefit to incorporating this tool into a child’s shape recognition. Children are witnessing many environmental changes – providing children opportunities to take their learning outdoors, seeking out information through exploring, and using learning resources that are kind to the environment helps to instill the value of environmental stewardship within children of all ages.

Combine this manipulative with the botany cards and leaf cards for even more plant-based learning!

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