Read any Good HUMAN BOOKS Lately?

Pre-service teachers in the Research Institute for Personalized Learning (RIPL) were back in the Curriculum Library to read five human books in two hours. The human bohum_lib10ok participants included: Erika Germanos, Sarah Wright Cardinal, Jeff Horncastle, Mike Irvine, and Wei Wang.  RIPL instructors Kathy Sanford, Kristin Mimick, Bruno de Oliveira Jayme and David Monk pre-selected these “texts” to provide pre-service teachers with an opportunity to encounter a variety of diverse perspectives regarding real-world educational research.

Browsing the Human Books


Wei Wang, recently graduated with a Master’s degree from UVic Faculty of Education.  Wei was a high school English teacher in Beijing, and used her Masters’ study to develop an auto ethnographic and narrative account of the ways in which curriculum reform impact the body as well as teachers’ thinking and emotions.

hum_lib5Sarah Wright-Cardinal, doctoral student, adult educator and mother, shared how she came to her research through a personal journey and how she uses a decolonizing framework. In order to do this, Sarah has drafted a theoretical framework that describes her process of shifting from a hegemonic discourse to one which is spirit-based. Her upcoming research will look at the reclamation of Indigenous identity for individuals who experienced the sixties scoop.

hum_lib7Erika Germanos has a Master’s degree in Biodiversity and is a PhD candidate in Education and has taught for Training Teachers since 2006.  Erika’s interests include teachers’ initial and continuous education. She spoke about the importance of the relationship between researcher and participants through developmental processes.  She researches knowing and learning based on societal-historical activity theory as initiated by L. S. Vygotsky.

hum_lib9Jeff Horncastle teaches Math and Science at Parkland Secondary School.  His master’s research examined ways to make physics  more interesting and accessible to students.  Jeff hopes that by introducing students to hands-on inquiry-based experiences in electronics classes, students will become engaged with science before learning the more difficult mathematical concepts that are a large part of the Physics curriculum.  Jeff also spoke about gender biases in Science Education and encouraged readers to provide a gender balance in the role models we choose to introduce.

hum_lib12Mike Irvine  is the founder of the Fish Eye Project,  an initiative to bring the ocean and diving experiences into classrooms via webcams for interactive live dives.  Mike shared his recent experience in defending his Master’s thesis underwater.  Mike’s graduate project to promote ocean literacy has made headlines in several newspapers and TV outlets including  CBC news and the Discovery Channel.

Human Book Event Tips

hum_lib4Last year, when the RIPL team held their first Human Book Event, I wrote a list of Tips for Organizing a Human Book Event.  Having now been part of this second event, I’ve found it’s very important for educators to remember that:

1.  Selection is key.  As with the gathering resources for any lesson or learning event, you want to carefully select your human books to match the goals and needs of your students.  In this case, all of the texts were chosen because they could share their experiences of research with the pre-service teachers.

2.  Expectations are shared.   Human books are different than having a traditional guest speaker in your classroom.  With human books, much of the questions and talk (and therefore the learning) is directed by the students/listeners.

3.  Skipping the Debriefing is a Rookie Mistake!  I’ve done this – rushed or ignored the debrief in order to provide “MORE TIME” for the speakers.  Trouble is, this also eliminates the opportunity for the learners to come together as a community to think about the bigger picture and put all the pieces together.hum_lib3

Last year, the human books were given the final word. This year, everyone circled up and shared Two Words to express what they learned or would take away from the human book readings and experience. During the circle participants were deliberate and thoughtful, often going beyond the bare minimum in order to provide context for their chosen two words.  Ending the event in this manner was like offering a gift of gratitude back to the human bhum_lib8ooks, and it also served as a unique assessment opportunity for the instructors.

My own two words were these:  “two words;”  reminding me to plan for such events so that the human book participants, students and instructors can create high levels of engagement, understanding, community, and thoughtfulness as we learn together.

Hope to see you in the Curriculum Library!

Carol N.


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