Teachin' Books

Teachin' Books

A podcast all about the ways people teach, learn, and work with literature. Host Jessica McDonald talks about how she teaches with literature and interviews folks from traditional and non-traditional educational contexts to find out what they're doing with literature these days. Episodes released weekly on Tuesdays.

Episodes

June 22, 2021 35 min

Today I'm talkin' FAILURE.

With contributions from friends, colleagues, listeners who shared their stories and thoughts about failure, as well as my own experiences and ideas, this episode gets into: the "meta" experience of failing to read enough about failure to do an episode on it; learning in theory versus learning through practice; sharing failures with students as "parting gifts," as icebreakers, as a ...

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On today's solo episode of Teachin' Books, I'm talking about the work of acclaimed poet Louise Bernice Halfe, whose Cree name is Sky Dancer.

In particular, I'm talking about an excerpt from Blue Marrow and a short poem called "Body Politics" from Bear Bones & Feathers. For the former: I get into the topic of prairie poetry, prairie literature, and prairie identity, complicated as these formations are, an...

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We're back to teachin' Shakespeeeeeare today! This episode features an interview with my lovely friend and brilliant human Dr. Lucy Hinnie! Lucy is currently Wikimedian-in-Residence at the British Library, and is completing her postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Saskatchewan. 

In the course of our convo about the second-year Shakespeare: Comedy and History class that Lucy taught in 2020, we get into: how to demysti...

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Teachin' Books is back with an exciting interview with Khodi Dill, who is author of the picture book Welcome to the Cypher (available for pre-order now!) and a Bahamian-Canadian writer, spoken word artist, and anti-racist educator living and working on Treaty 6 territory in Saskatoon. Check it out, y'all! :)

Khodi and I chat about spoken word poetry (& its role in education and social justice); his poem "Grey" a...

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April 13, 2021 29 min

How do you wrap up the term in a good way? What do you do in the final days of class, whether remote or in-person? What atmosphere do you try to create? 

This episode includes thoughts in response to those questions, featuring fantastic tips by Ashley Gagnon-Shaw, Jocelyne Vogt, and Catherine Nygren, as well as some ideas of my own. :) Hope you enjoy!

  • Listen to Jocelyne's episode of Teachin' Books, on Harold Cardinal's &#...
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    Heeey y'all! On today's episode of Teachin' Books, we're talking about something a bit different: research, writing, and publishing as forms of teaching and learning. 

    The episode features part of the book launch for The Next Instalment:  Serials, Sequels, and Adaptations of Nellie L. McClung, L.M. Montgomery, and Mazo de la Roche, written by Dr. Wendy Roy, Professor of Canadian Literature at the University of Saskat...

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    March 23, 2021 22 min

    Today's episode is a bit of a catch-up / breather: I'm answering a few listener questions and emails and, along the way, returning to some of the podcast's ongoing topics of interest.

    Topics like... statue activism, book clubs (I ask: why do some last and some don't?), recording the podcast, teaching challenging texts, and the often energizing circumstance of teaching students who think English is a whole bunch of bu...

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    It's heeeeeere! I'm so excited to share this Teachin' Books episode on Dungeons and Dragons, featuring Dr. Jordan Bolay, who is an instructor of English at Pearson College UWC.

    Even if you're not a DnD player, I think you'll like our chat! We get into: DnD as an experiential learning practice, and as a text to be studied in literature classes (plus, as a language-learning tool); games and play in the classroom; a...

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    On today's episode, I'm talking about the public poetry installations of London-based poet and artist Robert Montgomery. 

    I use Montgomery's work in my first-year undergrad poetry class to consider important dimensions of and questions brought up by public poetry, such as: how these poems blur the line between "art" and "the real world"; how materiality and physical position shapes meaning; where poetry b...

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    Heeeeey y'all! We're back to talkin' about book clubs today as Ph.D. candidate Rebekah Ludolph shares her experience reading Hiromi Goto's novel The Kappa Child (2001) in a book club that encourages the goal of reading to learn. At the same time, Rebekah complicates the idea of reading for "social change" and draws from her doctoral research to discuss the nuances, limitations, and possibilities in the act o...

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    I've been really excited to share this episode with you: today, I talk about teachin' Janelle Monáe's song/music video "Pynk" in combination with Vivek Shraya's song/music video "Part-time Woman"! This is always a fun combo to teach. 

    In this episode: teaching students methods of reading the visual dimensions of texts (moving from identification to meaning to significance), facilitating discussions ab...

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    On today's episode of Teachin' Books, undergraduate student Taylor Brown shares her experiences working as a tour guide while she was also reading and thinking through Thomas King's 2012 non-fiction work The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America.

    Topics from our chat include: being subversive despite/versus the constraints and norms of a profession; navigating Canada's history and g...

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    January 26, 2021 34 min

    January sucks and I am here to talk about why! :D If you need a more positive tagline than that, I can't help you.

    In this episode, I talk about teachin' Jes Baker's memoir Landwhale: On Turning Insults into Nicknames, Why Body Image is Hard, and How Diets Can Kiss My Ass.  Topics of interest include: memoir, rhetorical appeals (logos, ethos, pathos), "health" and "wellness" (heavy scare quotes), body pol...

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    Teachin' Books is baaaaack! It appears it's a new, but still garbage, year --  yay?!

    On today's episode, I chat with my friend Tara Chambers about a novel we both teach in undergraduate classes: Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis.

    Tara talks about teachin' this novel in a class themed around the question "What is humanity?" or "What does it mean to be human?", and I chat about teachin' it in a class th...

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    December 26, 2020 45 min

    I'm back from hiatus to share with you this sweet and joy-filled Holiday special episode, which I recorded with my mom Kathy and my cousin Whitney!

    We planned to just "shoot the shit," as they say, about topics like books and reading, family and parenting, and the holidays. And shoot the shit we did, indeed! :D

    Listen in if you'd like to hear us share some warm memories, reflect on "raising a reader," and talk...

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    It's the last official episode of 2020! As I mention in this episode and the last, I'm taking a break from producing the podcast, and I'll be back in January 2021.

    On this episode, I'm chatting with Jocelyne Vogt about teaching Harold Cardinal's essay "A Canadian What the Hell It's All About" in her high school English Language Arts classes in the Francophone school system in Prince Albert, Saskatchew...

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    December 8, 2020 34 min

    Nearing the one-year anniversary -- if such a term applies -- of my dissertation defence, I am taking this opportunity to mark the occasion by chatting about an author I've spent around a decade of my life studying: Douglas Coupland.

    In this episode, I talk about teachin' Coupland's novel JPod (2006) in a third-year Canadian literature course. Of note, from the episode: feeling unprepared but doing things anyway; forms ...

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    We’re talkin’ Shakespeare today! 

    In this episode, I chat with theatre artist Anita Smith about her production of William Shakespeare’s As You Like It for Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan’s 2019 season. 

    We talk about the parallels between directing and teaching, about why she chose Alice in Wonderland as a "hook" for the show, about directing As You Like It in the era of Trump, and about how the practicalities of labour and b...

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    Y'all. Today we're teachin' VIDEO GAAAMES and I'm so excited! I'm not really a big gamer, but I loved chatting with Catherine Nygren about the ways she incorporates The Stanley Parable into her intro to literature classes.

  • To download The Stanley Parable, or to access a free demo and/or watch the trailer, find it on Steam. You can find out more about the game on its Wikipedia page, but of course beware of spoiler...
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    November 17, 2020 31 min

    Heyyy all! I’m talkin’ about Instapoetry in today’s episode of Teachin’ Books. 

    In particular, I share three short exercises I use to teach Instapoetry, two of which (in response to a listener request (!!!)) were designed for online teaching environments. I also chat a bit about the debates that surround Instapoetry and why the question “what counts as poetry?” matters.

  • If you’re not familiar with Instapoetry, see work by Rupi Kaur, ...
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