Welcome to the crazy wisdom parade.

This is where Literacies readers shared their literacy wisdom until July 31, 2008. We had a great time. Please feel free to explore and comment and continue to add floats.

Friday, July 18, 2008

wordy wisdom

Go to wordle:

Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.

Type in your literacy wisdom words. Type the most important times 2 or 3 times so they show up bigger. Click go and play with the colours, font and layout until you get a picture you like, Save your literacy wisdom wordle to the gallery and then post the link in the comments below so we can all see it.

This wordle is here: http://wordle.net/gallery/wrdl/76243/literacywisdom_tm
I saved the image above as a screen grab (command + shift + 3 or 4 on a mac, and this or this on windows) and then saved it again as a jpeg. They give you code for a thumbnail version but it is very small.

P.S. I forgot that you have to write the link code to make them active in the comments. Just copy the link into the comments and I will maintain a list here that has active links.

Sheila and Tracey: Meeting

Tannis: Literacies 9

little birds of wisdom
by e.e. cummings as seen on emily's blog

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

learning juice

I came in quite hot this evening and plonked on the sofa with a cool drink to regroup. As I was scrolling through the tv channels, I saw this:

"Expand my brain, learning juice."

Now I am not suggesting that beer is the best way to expand your brain, but what is your learning juice? What gets you going? Tell us all about it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

We are one

Sitting on a plane
Black couple seem different
Souls as one with me

by Atalia Soliai

I am a student of caregiver's literacy class at Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate, in Otara, Manukau City, New Zealand.

Friday, June 6, 2008

For Sale

Trade me for a Car
Just feed me, love me, save me
I’ll take you anywhere

by Dianne
Caregiver's Literacy Course
Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate, Otara, South Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Loosing Control

Parents not aware,
Fists are high, emotions low,
Kids watching and scared.

by Diane
Parent Literacy Class
Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate, Otara, South Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Close To You

Rainbows appear bright.
Just when skies are darkened grey.
Feel God near by you.

by Loise
Parent Literacy Class
Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate, Otara, South Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Sister plays Rugby
Rally cheers Canterbury
Auckland is mourning

by Lee
Caregiver's Literacy Course
Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate, Otara, South Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, June 2, 2008

reading faces

In response to reflective reading anonymous wrote:

Could we pick a non-book? As a non-practitioner, I find this poem by Barbara Adler very moving. It tells the story in words and pictures of Florence's experience in a literate world. I'd like everyone who wonders "What do you mean, there's a literacy problem?" to see it. It's here and you need to turn on your speakers to hear it.

Thanks Anonymous. I have never seen this before. I am going to use it in my ESL Literacy for ESL teachers workshop.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Saying who we are


I thought I'd add a poem about saying who we to this crazy wisdom. Saying who we are seems like an important part of literacy work to me. Sometimes we discover who we are by saying it. But, of course, we have to keep saying it, and saying it differently, learning by saying.

Saying who we are

We’ve built
shelves for

for need,

tried to stop
wanting more
than we have.

but we still
want, need,

We can
die, become
the coolness
that clings
to the earth
at night,

or say
who we are.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Reflective Writing

wendell dryden
They / we asked "How are we using our research skills on the fly? What happens?"

Here's one answer: My boss thinks I'm smarter than I am.

She asked me for some year-end highlights and good news stories for the Annual General Meeting. I had some stuff at hand [key point here - more in a moment] and quickly pulled together a six page report with text and images.

She was pleased and impressed, seeing my report as an example of "good ideas" and "a way to share". She decided to circulate copies to other staff - who now hate me with some cause. (Just kidding!)

Here's the thing: that "stuff at hand" was my blog postings.

wendell dryden

I've always written stuff down in a sort of daily journal. I started because I was wretched at imposed paperwork. I've always scrambled before each reporting period to complete monthly attendance forms, official workplans and so on. I'm just plain bad at filling in all those little boxes.

But, it's easy for me to create a daily narrative. So that's what I do. Only, now, I also blog some things as well.

When I blog about my work, I build up a record of ideas that worked and ideas that didn't work, of my own reflections and those of my learners. Because it's a blog, this rich information is already typed, digitally available in a searchable format, and often accompanied by appropriate images. This allows me to quickly draft up a thoughtful overview of the year, or - maybe - a paper for a journal like Literacies.

Of course, I record far more than I blog. It is inappropriate to share some things. When I do share, I still need to preserve the privacy and dignity of both my learners and my employers. I also need to reflect on the meaning or significance of what I'm writing, what I'm seeing - I need to draw some conclusions.

In any case, whether I blog or simply write notes to myself, this daily recording of thoughts and observations allows me to look back on and appraise my work. That's the other, more important answer to the question, "What happens?" I get to look back, think, maybe change my mind. Do better. That's valuable to me.

What you think and learn and do is valuable to me too.

If you don't journal, why not consider it? If you do, why not think about starting your own literacy blog? Think of how you could add to our nation's store of literacy wisdom and wonder by sharing even once a week.

Think about it.


peace words

small words make meaning

some big words expand my mind

and peace words make peace

by juditcalm

Thursday, May 29, 2008

here is one

Scattered words on white
I crave to know your meaning
Speak to me out loud.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

job satisfaction

Love my work, hate my job.
(sent in anonymously)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Letter Writing Project

Letters to Kenya,
Sharing, learning, hope
New inspiration.

Grace Santeramo Beckles

Friday, May 23, 2008

Reflective Reading

They asked (We asked) "What do you do when you come to something in your literacy work that is puzzling or problematic? How do you work to solve the puzzle? How does the process of research, experimentation and reflection enhance your practice?"

I'm a reader, and so, when I've got troubles, I hit the books.

Several weeks back, Ballet Girl and I were musing about the books we read for professional reasons. In writing and thinking about that, I realized I have three different book lists in my head.

The Officially "Important" Books

One list is made up of the books I think I ought to read - books I've learned second-hand to call "important". Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970) is a good example of one. Everybody around here says its a good book, an important book. So, I own a copy. But, truth is, it's not that important to me.

The Books that are Important to Me

The important (to me) books are books that help me reflect on my work and this field in a general way. Most of Denny Taylor's books fall into this category. I re-read, say, Learning Denied (1990) or Toxic Literacies (1996) or Beginning to Read and the Spin Doctors of Science (1998) because they help me make sense of my efforts by setting them in a larger, often conflictual framework.

James Herndon's The Way It Spozed To Be (1968) and How To Survive In Your Native Land (1971) fit under this heading. So do Ivan Illich's admittedly dense Deschooling Society (1970), and Jonathan Kozol's The Night is Dark and I am Far From Home (1975).

I notice these are mostly American books about schooling or the literacy development and education of children and youth in the U.S. Where are the Canadian books on adult literacy? Is basic adult education in Canada still too fragile a field to produce comprehensive, practice-based critical reflection?

Two books that do come to mind are Something to Think About - Please Think About This (1997) by Susan Hoddinott, and Literacy and Labels: A Look at Literacy Policy and People with a Mental Handicap (1990) compiled by G. Allan Roeher Institute (pictured above). Yet, neither of these books reaches me the way I'm reached by the stories and simply worded self-reflections in (American school teacher) John Holt's How Children Fail. The second edition of How Children Fail (1983) is a wonderful example of how to share on-going reflective practice.

The Books I Don't Stop Reading

Then there are the books I return to every few weeks or months because they help me reflect on specific challenges. There are may be a dozen of these, I suppose. Jenny Horsman's Too Scared To Learn (1999) is one. Another is Tracy Carpenter's The Right To Read (1986). Another is Pat Campbell's Teaching Reading to Adults (2003). Another is Anabel Newman's Adult Basic Education: Reading (1980).

There are other books. I won't make a complete list here. I'm not sure how well these books translate: they are valuable to me partly because they match the way I scaffold reading and basic education. Also, they have value because they address the sort of things I've been reflecting on over the past couple of years.

For example, at one time, last year, 100% of the female learners in my learning group were being actively harassed or abused by current or former male partners. Not surprisingly, I re-read Horsman a lot that year. I spent a lot of time re-reading William Glasser's Choice Theory / Reality Therapy books as well. I read, wrote side-notes, reflected, tried things, read more....

Does that mean everyone should read these books? No. These just happen to be the books that have helped my reflection in practice.

Your Turn

What about you? Never mind the "officially important" books - tell me about the books or essays out there that support your reflections. What books and essays you re-read? Do you mine them for ideas or encouragement? for grand overviews or specific challenges? Are they the same titles you would put on a recommended reading list for a new literacy worker or your Member of Parliament? How many are Canadian titles?

Let us know in the comments, or post then here. (Instructions are over there in the right-hand sidebar under "How To".)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Community Literacy

no stiff necked test scores,
just sunlight, soft chairs, stories
someplace we can read.

[second draft :P]