Category Archives: Recent Workshops

Celebration Saturday – Snow, Gold Medal and RFTLOI Celebrations!


I’m happy to be joining Ruth Ayres @ ruth ayres writes and others to celebrate and appreciate the goodness of the past week.

Here are the things I’m celebrating this week:

1)  SNOWFALL –  We had a significant snowfall here in Vancouver – unusual for the Westcoast, particularly at this time of year.  The best part was that the snow did not turn to rain and wash away.  We enjoyed some sunny days with a lovely white blanket!  More snow  is expected next week so likely I will be doing another snow dance in my kitchen!  Even my 15 yr old got outside to enjoy some sledding and snowball fun with his friends!

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2) REPORT CARDS – Report cards are finished!  This is always a huge relief when all the comments and marks complete and handed in!  Hooray!

3) BOOK LAUNCH – This Tuesday, March 5th, Vancouver Kidsbooks will be hosting a book launch for my new book – Nonfiction Writing Power!  It should be a wonderful evening with family, friends and colleagues.  Will post more about this next week!

4) GOLD MEDAL GAME:  The men’s Olympic gold medal hockey game aired at 4 am our time – so we set our alarm and got up to watch.  Although it doesn’t look like my 3 boys are excited (photo below) – we were thrilled to win the gold medal!  It did feel a little anti-climactic after the Women’s gold medal game and the Men’s semi finals… and of course nothing can beat Sydney Crosby’s overtime goal to win gold in Vancouver in 2010!  We are proud of our Canadian hockey teams and all the athletes who kept us on the edge of our seats for 2 exciting weeks!

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4) READING FOR THE LOVE OF IT CONFERENCE – Last Thursday and Friday I attended the 38th Reading For the Love of It Conference in Toronto – the largest reading conference in Canada.  Close to 4000 teachers attend from across the country and the line up of speakers, authors and presenters each year is incredible.  I was honoured to be invited to present two sessions – one on Reading Power and the other on Writing Power.  The sessions went so well and I was overwhelmed by the positive response from everyone!  It was truly an experience I will never forget – and certainly one of my most “celebrated” moments of the year so far!

Below are my highlights and some photos from the conference:

  • Dinner with my publisher Mary Macchuisi from Pembroke, along with other Pembroke authors including;  Kathy Lundy, Larry Shwartz and David Booth.  Mary brought along a copy of my new book, Nonfiction Writing Power, which I got to see for the first time.  Always a thrill to see all your work complete!

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Mary and me with my new book Nonfiction Writing Power         Me with Pembroke author David Booth (my hero!)

  • A full house at my first session!  I wasn’t sure that very many people would come to my session, since this was my first visit to Toronto and most of my work is in on the west coast. It was exciting to see a great turnout at both of my sessions.   (Before I started, I took a photo of the keen crowd! )


  • During my session on Writing Power – I was speaking about the difference between editing and revision and when I spoke about the fact that editors can do the editing but only the writer can do the revision because it is their “vision” – someone from the audience made a sound I couldn’t quite make out.  It turns out she had just experienced a huge “ah-ha moment” with her “outside voice”!  It was beautiful!


  • Listening to illustrator Steven Kellog talk about his experience collaborating with Patricia McLachlan on Snowflakes Fall – the book written in honour of the children and teachers of Sandy Hook Elementary school.  Steven Kellog lived in a farm in Sandy Hook and his children went to that school.  It was a moving presentation – not a dry eye in the house.

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Steven Kellog signing my book.

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Meeting Jon Klassen – a most unassuming and humble and very young man!  And of course he wore a hat!  His presentation was on “words and the spaces between”.  LOVED it!    Here he is signing my book.


  • Meeting my editor for the first time!  Kat Mototsune has been my editor for all four of my books.  She is AMAZING at what she does.  Because we live on opposite sides of the country, we have only corresponded through email.  At the Pembroke reception on Thursday night – I got to meet her for the first time!  What a thrill it was to sit and talk with her about her side of the publishing process.  And I now have a face to the name!  (for my next book!)

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  • Pembroke author Kathy Gould-Lundy (author of Creating Caring Classrooms and Teaching Fairly in and Unfair World as well as many other books) received a special award at the banquet dinner for her contribution to the conference over many years.  Kathy teaches in the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Fine Arts at York University.  She is smart, humble and kind and I adore her.  (in the photo is Kathy and her son on the right, me on the left and Stenhouse President Dan Tobin in the back)
  • My cousin lives in Toronto with his fiancé and their brand new baby.  I spent a few hours visiting them and meeting baby Oscar for the first time.  An added bonus to my amazing trip.  baby oscar

I had an amazing week, filled with many things to celebrate and be grateful for!  Thank you for reading my blog!


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Saskatchewan Reading Conference




On April 25th-26th I had the privilege of presenting at the 2013 Saskatchewan Reading Conference in Moose Jaw  Saskatchewan.  They have had the snowiest winter in history in Saskatchewan and there was still snow on the ground when the plane landed!  The venue for the conference was a hockey rink – home of the WHL Moose Jaw Warriors.  I made a lot of connections as I spend many hours in hockey rinks with my boys!   This was a first for me, however, presenting a workshop in one!  When I saw the back doors opening up during my presentation, I thought “Uh-oh – the zamboni is coming!”  When I told my son Oliver about the venue the only thing he wanted to know was:  “Was your face on the Jumbo Tron?”  

The event was attended by over 300 teachers and several extremely well respected speakers with whom I felt privileged to be among – including  Kylene Beers/Bob Probst (authors of Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading)  Sue Jackson (Scholastic’s National Literacy Consultant), David Booth (author of Reading Doesn’t Matter Anymore and MANY others!)   Aimee Buckner (Author of Notebook Know-How), Kathy Cassidy (author of Connected From the Start: Global Learning int he Primary Grades)   I was fortunate enough to attend Kylene and Bob’s presentation and am excited about trying some of these ideas out with my students when we are reading our novels for Lit. Circles.  

Although my workshop sessions were focused on an Introduction to Reading Power, I was amazed at how many teachers already knew and were using some of the strategies in their classrooms.  The response I received  was extremely positive and many teachers were kind enough to come up to me and tell me personally how Reading Power had changed the way they thought about reading instruction.  I could not have received a bigger compliment. 

Thank you to Tana Arnott and Amanda Hassen and their team for all their hard work to organize this event.  I look forward to visiting Saskatchewan again very soon!  

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School Visit

Auguston Demos

Auguston Demos

Auguston Traditional School – Abbotsford

On April 24th, I was invited to Auguston Traditional School in Abbotsford to do some Writing Power demonstration lessons with K-5 classes. This was a follow up session to a Writing Power workshop that the staff had attended last year.  Most of our classes have been using Writing Power and I went in to help move their learning foward.  I focused on some important writing lessons including Walking Stories and Climbing Stories with the grade 2’s, 4 Corner Picture Planning with the Grade 1’s, Personification with the grade 5’s and Organizing Ideas in writing with the Grade 4’s.  The principal, Woody Bradford, the staff and the students welcomed me with warmth and hospitality and made me feel right at home.  The school is beautiful and is fully equipped with Smart Boards, Mac Computers and Ipads!  I had to put my very limited Smart Board skills to the test!  Workshops are good for overviews, but the real learning I feel happens in classrooms with real students doing real writing.  I loved watching the students respond so positively to the lessons and seeing how they tried out what they had learned.  Thanks for a wonderful day, Auguston!

Learning together

Learning together


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