Hi there tout la gang,

We don't have much to say about research in practice at the Café right now

but we are talking policy and practice over here now: Literacy Enquirers.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


At Literacies we will be closing up for Christmas tonight. For all of you who are having holidays this week, have a wonderful, festive time. We are feeling especially celebratory because Canada could see its first cross-country white Christmas since 1971!

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Merry Christmas babies.
You surely treat us nice.
Now we feel like we're living in paradise.

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This has been another challenging year to be a literacy worker. Long before bankers and auto-workers were feeling the effects of this recession, we saw many good projects and programs lose funding. We see more and more learning communities struggle to sustain themselves despite diminishing resources and too many colleagues struggle to make a living from the work they love and do so well. But through it all we see your unwavering commitment to learning, community, and justice. You strengthen our backbones, tickle our funny bones, and light up our wishbones. Thank you babies. You are paradise.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

the triple triple

I hope you all had a magical winter solstice and managed to stay warm and cozy on the longest night of the year. Here in Toronto, we were told to expect, as a follow up to the hyperbolically dubbed snowmageddon, a snowpocalypse. It turned out to be more of a snow calypso; scattered flurries of giant swirling flakes that made the big city feel like a tiny snowglobe.

I have noticed that a lot of the literacy folks who are also Facebook friends seem to enjoy playing the Scrabble-like games available on the 'book. For all those word-loving literacy workers, please enjoy this video called Craziest by Liz Dubelman of VidLit.

Friday, December 19, 2008

fanatics in the attic

happy weekend!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

help 4 those trying to keep up

Butterscotch.com is "a portal into the world of technology." Like the CommonCraft Plain English Series (a big favourite here at the café), Butterscotch can help you do more with the technology you know about and learn about new developments. Butterscotch's tutorials offer demos, tours, tips and tricks and a step-by-step guides for the software, Windows, Mac and online services in plain English, without the jargon.

Butterscotch also hosts a number of shows:

The A-List Show at Butterscotch "does the leg work, trolling hours of YouTube footage, email forwards and silly sites to find the best soon-to-be viral videos, Internet memes and bizarre online trends. ... We're wasting time online so you don't have to."

The Lab Rats Show "demystifies technology;" the hosts "discuss everything from practical ways to combat identity theft to keeping kids safe online, from wall mounting a flat panel TV to fixing a broken iPod."

The Miss Download Show "gives the scoop on ... fresh, powerful, fun and useful software that's worth the download."

And the The Noob Show "offers tech 101 for newbies and interesting info for seasoned veterans... important tech questions are answered in friendly, approachable and easily understood language."

cartoon by Hugh MacLeod,
retrieved from gaping void on December 10, 2008.

Monday, December 15, 2008

keeping up

Overheard: Facebook is so 2004.

Please note: I joined facebook in 2007.
And only then because my 20something relative invited me.

cartoon by Hugh MacLeod retrieved from his site: gaping void.
(sorry - i have lost the url for the exact post.)

Friday, December 12, 2008


happy weekend!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

help 4 procrastinators

Not that there is anything wrong with procrastinating but just in case you are getting sick of it, or need to get something done, here are two sites that may help.

First, Write Or Die from Dr. Wicked, a proponent of writing quickly.

"Write or Die is a web application that encourages writing by punishing the tendency to avoid writing. Start typing in the box. As long as you keep typing, you're fine, but once you stop typing, you have a grace period of a certain number of seconds and then there are consequences."

Warning: Kamikaze mode erases your words if you stop. But Gentle or Normal mode are much less destructive and might be fun for some students. Some people might enjoy trying to beat the clock.

Second is a special formula found at 43 folders, "a website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work."

Procrastination hack is "a squirelly new system to pound through my procrastinated to-do list. ... It’s called (10+2)*5 and here’s why:

  • 10 - Work for ten minutes with single-minded focus on moving toward completion on a single task. Ten minutes, and that’s all you’re allowed to do is work, work, work. No cheating, because (DING!) you actually get a break when you’re done…
  • 2 - After ten minutes of sweaty, dedicated work you get a 2-minute break to do whatever you want—drink coffee, call your bookie, whatever. When the two minutes are up, it’s back to work on the next task on your list. This is important.
  • *5 - You’re going to iterate this four more times for a total of one hour’s working/breaking."
Visit the web page to find out what supplies you need and the important squirrely rules that ensure success. Warning: The language on this site is a bit hipster and colloquial. Students may enjoy working to this formula.

Monday, December 8, 2008

election day

happy election day quebec. bon chance and all that.

'tis the season

For those who give gifts at this time of year, here are a couple of websites that can help answer the questions, "What do I get for Aunt Alice?" and, "What do I do with this strange trinket from Aunt Alice?"

At Kiva.org you can join a community of lenders (people from countries with relatively robust economies) that supports a community of entrepreneurs (people from countries with less robust economies). Kiva gift certificates allow your friends and family to browse profiles of entrepreneurs looking for financial support, and choose someone to lend to. Kiva collects the funds and then passes them along to a microfinance partners who distribute the funds to the entrepreneur. Over time, the entrepreneur repays the loan. Repayment and other updates are posted on Kiva and emailed to lenders who wish to receive them. When lenders get their money back, they can re-lend to another entrepreneur, donate their funds to Kiva (to cover operational expenses), or withdraw their funds.

DreamBank.org is a Canadian gift registry website where you can post your dream gift - something special that you'd like friends and family to contribute to for your birthday and holidays, instead of giving you "stuff" that you may not need or really want. DreamBank provides a way for your friends and family to help you do, or have something special. DreamBank uses PayPal to process dream funds but has worked out the best possible fee schedule for users and promises to continue to enhance these discounts as they grow. Contributors pay $2.25 Canadian transaction fee on each contribution and Dreamers pay a 2.5% cash-in fee (on dream fund total). DreamBank gives 10% of all net transaction revenue to a group of selected charities. Shopping at DreamBank can help the planet by reducing the waste caused by packaging, manufacturing and transportation.

These ideas and more from this post @ publicbroadcasting.ca.

Friday, December 5, 2008

normally carefully immediately

happy weekend!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

research into practice

"Research has helped us to understand the impacts of violence on learning and to identify ways to address them. How can we move this research more widely into literacy practice? This question was a starting point for research by eleven practitioners from across Canada."

In Moving research about addressing the impacts of violence on learning into practice they describe their research and share what they learned in print and multimedia presentations.

The launch for this website, the book and the DVD is here in Toronto on Friday, December 12, from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. If you can make it to the launch you can meet the Ontario-based researchers for this project and watch some of the multimedia pieces, listen to readings and join in the discussion.

If you will not be in Toronto on Friday, don't worry. You can watch the multimedia pieces and find the readings by visiting the website. It is a great place to stop, learn, reflect and explore.

The Toronto launch will be held here:
OISE/UT, 7th floor, in the Peace Lounge
Department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology
252 Bloor Street West, Toronto (St. George subway station)

Monday, December 1, 2008

playing chicken on parliament hill

Well things are getting politically exciting here in the icebox. Our current minority Conservative government proposed a mini-budget that left many confused and perplexed. In amongst a few proposals to ease financial were the following items: Civil servants would have their right to strike suspended for a year; the public funding for political parties, a measure introduced as a campaign funding reform measure aimed at limiting the influence of private interests, would be eliminated; and the right to appeal pay equity rulings would be removed.

The opposition parties responded that they cannot support the proposed financial statement because it addressed economic issues too lightly and included measures that reflect a particular brand of conservative ideology.

Thomas Walkom calls Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's economic update, "a bizarre document that bears no relation to either reality or any of the current prime minister's recent statements" and that "downplays [Prime Minister Stephen] Harper's fears of a lengthy economic depression, ignores his stricture not to cut back at a time when governments should be doing more and singles out seemingly random targets in an effort to solve problems that don't exist."

Now the opposition parties are working to form a coalition that can replace the Conservatives after a non-confidence vote and the Conservatives are backtracking on some proposals, calling the potential coalition undemocratic, releasing excerpts of covertly made tapes of opposition party meetings, and questioning the leadership of their party.

What does this all mean for federal literacy policy and funding? Who knows. The Conservative Party has restricted funding for research and development in literacy and has stated a number of times that it is not the federal government's role to provide remediation for people who failed in the past, which of course says more about their lack of understanding about adult literacy than the people to whom they are referring.

We will keep watching this story and once the dust settles we will try to figure out if literacy work will be better supported by the potential coalition government of if we will be looking at more of the same.