May 11, 2018

Dayna Hart | Movers & Shakers 2018 – Change Agents

Dayna Hart


Teacher Librarian, Constable Neil Bruce Middle School, West Kelowna, BC


M.Ed., University of Victoria, 2003


@Bookfin on Twitter; #yabookchat on Twitter; A Teacher Librarian’s Musings blog

Photo courtesy of Dayna Hart


Images, Words, Action

Dayna Hart was inspired to bring project-based learning (PBL) to Constable Neil Bruce Middle School, where she’s been a teacher librarian since 2006, after attending a workshop in Texas in 2011 with Jillian Cornock and Ryan Holly, both teachers at the school. The trio put together a ninth grade social studies graphic novel unit looking at historical wrongs. “We felt that the structure of the graphic novel with the visuals, chunking of text, and condensed information would make the historical wrongs topics accessible to all students regardless of reading ability,” Hart says. “We had no idea how powerful this unit would be.”

Students quickly began probing why men were so against women’s equality and why Japanese Canadians were denied rights. “Clearly students were questioning, inferring, and critically thinking,” Hart recalls.

When the unit was over, they asked students whether they preferred the graphic novel or a more traditional textbook. Some liked both. One student said that the illustrations in the graphic novels improved her comprehension, while the textbook provided depth of knowledge. “I think using both sources will be a great way to learn,” the student commented.

This diversity of sources is key to Hart’s approach to handling the large group of struggling readers in the school. “She’s introduced students to…analyzing subtleties such as author bias and purpose for writing [and] helping them to draw inferences,” which is challenging for middle school students, says Cornock. “[Such] skills are easily transferable to other types of texts such as social media posts and traditional media articles.” Hart has cocreated big PBL projects around finance, genetics, Canadian history, bias, and prejudice. For her collaborative project with Cornock and Holly on imperialism and aboriginal identity, Hart won the 2016 Diana Poole Memorial Award for British Columbia Teacher-Librarian of the Year and, with her colleagues, the Government of Canada History Award for teachers.

“Because Dayna is constantly coteaching and co-assessing and thus…in the trenches of daily classroom struggles, her [work reflects] the needs of today’s teachers and students,” says Cornock.

Hart engages students outside of school as well. She’s heavily involved with CIVIX Canada, a nonpartisan nonprofit that develops civic participation among youth. She’s acted as a facilitator and created lesson plans for CIVIX’s Democracy Bootcamp, a professional development conference focused on improving teachers’ ability to give lessons in democracy, government, and elections.

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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