Fort High teacher receives $ 1,300 grant to diversify his book collection

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Fort Saskatchewan High School is adding 130 books to an English class.

This addition is the result of the hard work of English teacher Renetta Peddle, who spent her summer writing a 32-page application to the Book Love Foundation.

The organization provides classroom libraries – consisting of hundreds of books, carefully chosen to meet the interests of adolescents – to teachers who are committed to instilling a taste for reading in all students.

“I had to address my philosophy and how I grow as an educator and what I think is important for an English language class,” she explained. “We had to talk about the student-teacher ratio and we had to talk about our own professional practice in the classroom. So, things we are doing in our classroom every day to improve the literacy skills of teens.

When she received the $ 1,300 grant, she was able to select 130 books by various authors with a wide range of scripts. This includes Stamp by Jason Reynolds, Ashes by Jesse Thistle and They called us enemy by George Takei, Steven Scott and Justin Eisinger, to name a few.

“It’s not just a ‘one size fits all’ approach to literacy,” said Peddle. “Students need to read books that reflect their own point of view, their own experience, their own culture, their own identity.

She added that books like Lord of the Flies are outdated and uninviting to adolescents.

“They don’t want to read what people in their 50s or 60s want to read. Or women in their 30s, what interests me doesn’t interest them,” she said. laughed. “Studies show that when children are interested in what they read, their reading level doesn’t really matter because if they are interested, they will be motivated to find what they need to do to understand. the text. .”

During its virtual lessons, students spend part of the class reading followed by discussions and thoughtful follow-ups.

“Reading books from a person of color’s perspective can be very valuable to someone who may not have this cultural diversity,” said Peddle. “And sometimes that means having uncomfortable discussions or difficult discussions, where people develop their mindset.”

She is only one of three teachers in Alberta to receive the scholarship this year, and one of 68 in North America.

Although high school students currently learn at home, Fort High offers socially remote curbside pickups to ensure they can still access reading materials.

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