Climate Justice Week 2017

The NWSS Library hosted Climate Justice Week on May 1-5. The week-long event showcased the science, the economics, and the social impact of global warming. There were 12  guests speakers and presentations with over 1000 students attending.

BROKE (Burnaby Residents Opposed to Kinder Morgan Expansion) opened the week detailing the environmental consequences of the KM expansion.

Entrepreneurs can be green and successful –  this was the message from Jerry Kroll, CEO of Electra Meccanica  and Erik Olofsson, owner of Olofsson Construction, a company that builds energy-efficient Passive Homes.

Youth have always been agents of social change.  Geoff Dembicki, lead sustainability writer for The Tyee, guided us through stories from his upcoming book, Are We Screwed:How a new generation is fighting to survive climate change.  Climate Justice through action by youth – this is the mission of Be The Change Earth Alliance. This non-profit organization has developed more than 40 classroom-ready lessons based on the principles of climate justice and concrete actions youth can take.

Climate Justice is an ethical issue. This idea was was introduced by Sheri Lucas, Phd candidate in Philosophy. Sheri Lucas, in collaboration with molecular biologist, Dr David Steele invited students to join the growing movement towards a plant-based diet. See their organization Earthsave Canada for compelling arguments and delicious recipes.

Global issues of migration and conflict were echoed by Padang Relief Society who  collected $300 from our students to relieve the famine in South Sudan. New Westminster  Sanctuary Schools policy was explained to us in its mission to  ensure access to school for children with precarious immigration status.


The politics, economics, and social impact of climate change where discussed by two candidates running for MLA in the the riding of New Westminster. Judy D’Arcy, campaigning for the NDP and Jonina Campbell, candidate for the Green Party,  encouraged students to exercise their democracy muscles by casting their ballots the following week in the Student Vote.  NWSS alum, Peter Julian, MP, gave a Canadian perspective on Climate Justice – social justice and environmental sustainability for all.

Thank you to everyone who attended Climate Justice Week and we look forward to seeing you in the Library soon  – Save the date for the first NWSS Library Maker Fair May 30 at lunch !

Ribbet collage climate justice week

2015-2016 NWSS Library Report

2015-2016 was an exciting school year at NWSS Library. Ms. Jones and Ms Wethered’s overarching goal for the year was to move ever closer to the Learning Commons model. While our core values remain the same – resource-based learning, information literacy, and a love of reading, our journey into the question of what is a Learning Commons quite literally took us across the Fraser River and the Salish Sea. We visited schools in Saanich and Surrey , drawing inspiration from innovative colleagues, ready to share and support our change. Thank your SD40 Innovation Grants, BC Association of Teacher Librarians and NWTU for supporting our study.

DSC_0337We implemented new technological innovations so that students could be ever more creative in how they express their learning. Ms. Wethered led students through the creation of video book trailers while Ms. Jones used green screens , coding, and computational thinking. We made steps towards creating a Maker Space as well. Students constructed homesteads for Social 10 and our volunteers upcycled the materials for future projects. Ms. Jones taught basic parallel circuits to Planning and English classes so they could “illuminate’ their thinking in various ways.

We continued to advocate for social justice and provide a safe haven inclusive of all. Global Issues Week 2016 attracted 1500 students. On a daily basis, we worked alongside our industrious volunteers and shared laughs and experiences with the Star Wars, Dr. Who, and Movie clubs. We would sincerely like to thank NWSS PAC, parent participants, and community members (Vancouver Writers Festival, NWTU) for their fine contributions towards our resources and events. There’s an open invitation for parents to come to the library and see what’s new – perhaps participate as a guest speaker? Wish list : guest speakers, Maker Space materials.

Library events:

mining presentation (26)All candidates meeting for youth: NDP, Liberal Party, Green Party
Global Issues Week Speaker Series: Justice Theatre, BC ALPHA, Sexual Health, LNG Pipeline, Earthsave, Peter Julian , MP.
Foundations program Spring Tea
Mr. H. Marsden: Exploration Geologist
Hour of Code – in English, Spanish, and Japanese
Reader’s Theatre: Colin MacKay Memorial Bursary Fundraiser
Library Olympics
3 new art murals painted by students

Author visits:

Arno Kopecky. Oil man and the sea.
Elizabeth Stewart. Blue Gold
RC Weslowski. Spoken word poet and storyteller.
Julian Legere. Actor, director, & playwright.

Ribbet collage authors 2016





Reading programs:
hyack teen read award 2015 2016Hyack Teen Read Award. Hyack Book of the Year: Sisters by Raina Teigelmeier.
Million Page Challenge
Reading Challenge


Library-sponsored clubs:
Dr. Who club
Star Wars club
Knitting club
Library volunteers
Movie club
Cultural Universe club

Collection Development:
198 Fiction books
62 Non-fiction books

Some collaborative lessons and units:

homestead forestLibrary Science. Z block – 4 credit course.
Japanese History
Blind date with a book
Computational thinking and coding
Authentic First Nations Resources
Novel Study: Blue Gold
How to make a book trailer
Student-produced Library Orientation Video
Canadian mapping and geography for ELL.
Greatest Living Canadian of the 20th century
How to illuminate your thinking using electric circuits
English: Understanding Literal vs. Figurative meaning in picturebooks
Chicago, MLA, and APA citation requirements for IB Diploma Program.


Ribbet collage library report 3

Global Issues Week 2016

1400 students attended Global Issues 2016. Ten members from the community addressed maximum capacity crowds in the library. TelusWise Ambassadors reminded students about Internet and Smartphone safety.  This message was underlined by  the actors of Justice Theatre who re-enacted a real Canadian trial about cyber-bullying.  For the second year in a row, Amy Patterson answered youths’ top 20 questions about their sexual health. PatParungao, retired Teacher Librarian, delivered two participatory presentations on behalf of  BC-ALPHA , an organization that promotes an  awareness of crimes against humanity committed during WWII in Asia. Environmental Journalist, Arno Kopecky, took students through a masterfully narrated and visually rich journey from Peru’s Amazon rainforest through to BC’s Great Bear Rainforest. PACE Society educated us about Sex Workers’ safety issues and their rights as workers. Dr. David Steele, molecular biologist and president of Earthsave Canada informed us of the environmental impacts of animal agriculture. The Honourable Peter Julian, MP for New Westminster-Burnaby concluded the events by encouraging students to take a leadership role in their community. His message included the importance of participating in civic life, awareness and action through attending events like Global Issues Week, and unswerving dedication to school.

Peter Julian 2016

Peter Julian, MP

telus wise 2016 (5)

Telus Wise

Arno Kopecky

Arno Kopecky

Justice Theatre

Justice Theatre

BC Alpha

BC Alpha

BC Alpha

BC Alpha

Global Issues Week 2015

photo of posterDid you know that in addition to being the best selling author of Daaku, Ranj Dhaliwal, also….

-Restores Harley Davidsons
-Works as a legal researcher
-Was invited to run for political office
-Is a Red-Seal electrician
As an expert on IndoCanadian gang violence, Ranj Dhaliwal is a highly sought out speaker by police and community groups vested in stopping youth from joining gangs. Ranj’s presentation shared his teenage years growing up in Surrey with friends who joined gangs and his road to educating and improving himself by getting a trade, working full, juggling family life, all while finding the time to write (ie: on the Skytrain and on his Blackberry).

Run by the People’s Law School, Justice Theatre re-enacts Canadian trials in order to educate the public about their legal rights and responsibilities. This year’s re-enactment of a gang related kidnapping was timely due to the recent violent shootings in BC this spring. Students formed part of the jury and the rest of the audience was invited to ask questions.

Ribbet collage bc alphaBC-ALPHA delivered two presentations related to human rights violations committed during the Asia-Pacific War (1931-1945). The topics, “Biochemical Warfare and Human Experimentation” and “Japanese Sexual Slavery” examined concepts of exploitation, propaganda, and restitution. Powerful visuals, art, and interactive participation strategies engaged students in small and large group discussions about these important historical events, the root causes that continue to be relevant, the interpretative nature of history, and what values are important in democratic societies.

Ribbet collage AI 2015Amnesty International’s BC coordinator, Don Wright explained the origins of Amnesty International and its grounding in the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Don informed students about current campaigns such as freedom for journalists, girls’ access to education, and privacy issues. He also included various avenues for student involvement in Amnesty’s work through volunteer opportunities, campaigns, and the AI Book Club.

Ribbet collage mmiwFormer NWSS Student Teacher, Emily Menzies, created an interactive workshop for our students on the topic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Classes participated in cooperative activities which gave them to chance to explore the the importance of the women in their own lives to understand the extent of the tragedy of violence against First Nations women. The students of Ms. Sacco’s English class were inspired to take action and wrote letters to Prime Minister Harper asking for more action on this issue.

Ms. Amy Patterson, NWSS English teacher and Certified Sexual Educator, spoke to 300 students on the topic of Sexual Health. Her principal messages were that accurate vocabulary about our bodies protects our rights and it is important for individuals to recognize and respect their values. Ms. Patterson also answered questions she collected from students and covered 20 key points that students want to know. Ms. Patterson suggested some books for further information, available in the library, and through the website

ashley littleTwo-time BC Book Prize winner Ashley Little concluded Global Issues Week. She spoke about the process of researching Anatomy of a Girl Gang, which included living for three weeks on the Downtown East Side and researching youth gang involvement. Ashley Little has just completed her MFA in Creative Writing and shared with students the rigors and discipline of the writing process.

Célébrons la Journée internationale de la femme

The library is celebrating International Women’s Day with book displays and promotional materials.  Note that the Government of Canada Status of Women has prepared a series of resources  to highlight the contribution of women to Canada’s economy in a range of areas.  Aussi disponible en français

ribbet collage intl womens day

Climate Reality Project 2015

The Environment Club hosted a return of the  Climate Reality Project presentation by UBC Sociology professor David Tindall on January 15, 2015 in the school library.  The event was attended by 150 students and their teachers – interest was high as the event “sold out” in one day. Dr. Tindall spoke about Climate Justice: how global warming affects the future of youth and to consider sustainable energy practices as a human rights issue.  Thanks to Environment Club member, Sophie Labrosse,  for organizing this ! climate justice (1)

Climate Reality Project – Environment Week 2014

climate reality (9)Sadie Lacoste, member of the NWSS Environment Club, invited Dr. David Tindall to speak about global warming and The Climate Reality Project.  The Climate Reality Project is an educational and advocacy initiative founded by Al Gore. Dr. Tindall’s presentation highlighted the urgency of taking individual and political action against global warming, emphasizing the dire consequences for our environment, economy, human rights, and quality of life.  In particular, Dr. Tindall presented us with the idea of climate justice, which asks how climate change is affecting the quality of life and human rights of vulnerable communities, including youth.climate reality (3)


Global Issues Week 2014

The fifth annual Global Issues Week occurred during April 7 – 11 2014.  Thanks to all of the presenters and students and teachers who attended and participated in the workshops.

Blanket Exercise. Betha Lansdowne led students through a participatory activity that questioned  the historic relationship between Europeans and the Indigenous nations, and in the history of colonization in the lands we now call Canada.

REEL Canada is a travelling film festival that showcases Canadian film and identity.

Out in Schools engages youth through film in the promotion of safer and more diverse learning environments, free from homophobia, transphobia and bullying.

Linda Gray read from her book, First Nations 101 is an easy to read primer that provides readers with a broad overview of the diverse and complex lives of First Nations people.

Justice Theatre is a six-member troupe who staged a scripted dramatizations of an actual hate crime.  12 students participated as members of the jury.

Don Wright, regional coordinator for Amnesty International,  gave an overview of AI’s campaigns to protect and promote human rights.

giw 2014 (1) giw 2014 (3) giw 2014 (5) giw 2014 (6) giw 2014 (8)

Gallery Walk using Inquiry structures

“How much does the class already know about social justice issues ?” “How can we broaden the topics of research for students in a way that goes beyond just handing out a list of topics?” In order to find answers to these questions I consulted two resources given by the BCTF Program for Quality Teaching.  Making Thinking Visible is a book of reasearch-based thinking routinesthinking visible designed by Project Zero at Harvard.  Groups at Work  is a book of strategies and structures for generating dialogue.

Using these two books,Demetra, who teaches Social Justice 12, and myself, as teacher-librarian, designed a Gallery Walk of social justice stations, each with print, digital, or visual resources depicting a social injustice.  Sample stations ranged from the death penalty, ocean groups at workcontamination, and consumerism.  Groups of students visited each station and went through the “Think / Puzzle/ Explore” protocol described in Making Thinking Visible.  Once the activity and class discussion were completed, we concluded with “Go to your corners” from Groups at Work. In our variation, the corners were Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Save the Children, and the United Way.


key questions:

What is the collective knowledge of the class about the social injustice ?

What questions does the class have about the social injustice ?

Where can we find answers to these questions besides just looking them up on the internet ?

You have been offered a one-year intership by one of these NGOs.  Which one will you apply to ? Why ? What qualities or experiences do you possess that make you a good candidate for this NGO ?


Youth Initiative in the library: Say No to Coal

saynotocoalThe Youth Initiative club held an information session on November 19 in the library about the shipping of coal through Fraser Surrey Docks.   Youth Initiative leaders,  Fiana Liu and Grace Ji , informed us of a  Port Metro Vancouver proposal to handle up to 8 million metric tonnes of coal per year as it moves from the US to China. The Youth Initiative had a visual presentation illustrating the scale of 8 millon tonnes of coal and the consequences of allowing such amounts  to pass through New Westminster and the Fraser River. Key concerns are noise pollution, air quality, health hazards, jobs, and global dependency on coal and other non-renewable  energy sources.  The Youth Initiative enlisted the support of
the NWSS Environment Club as well as encouraged the school community to become more informed, sign petitions, and engage in actions to demonstrate their views
on this issue. More information is available at