Tag Archives: texts

Authentic experience: Students writing for real audiences

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I was a first year teacher writing on the chalkboard, simultaneously trying to keep an eye on a room of rowdy secondary 2 students.  Suddenly, I heard the words that always  make me shudder.  “Sir, you spelled a word wrong”.  The implication of this phrase is that I, the teacher may not be all-knowing; a fact I was trying to keep hidden until later in the year.

The word in question was learned and my student, a young man of Jamaican heritage, shook my confidence by telling me the correct spelling was “learnt”.  Standing in front of 20 students, I was unsure what to do.  On one hand, I was fairly  confident I spelled learned that way for my whole life.  But on the other hand, “learnt” looked strangely correct.  Needless to say, the whole issue was dropped when I asked him to look it up in one of our dusty dictionaries.

But I was shaken.  After class, I looked up the word and learned/learnt that both spellings are correct.  The British use learnt and Americans, learned.  Being Canadian, we were free to vacillate between the two.

I tell you this story to underline how authentic experiences cement knowledge and competency.  I certainly won’t forget what I learned that day.

Reflecting on that experience got me thinking: in what ways can teachers allow students to have authentic writing experiences, where student work culminates into something that is actually read by people other than just their teacher?   If students are writing for an authentic audience, will it increase engagement? Will it change the way they write?

There are two Quebec examples of students writing in English for an authentic audience that have recently caught my eye.  Secondary 1 and 2 students at Metis Beach school were given the opportunity to produce a special edition of the Heritage-Lower St Lawrence newsletter. HLSL is a community organization dedicated to serving the English population of their region. I invite you to click on the link and observe the quality of student writing.  Highlights include a history of the school and community, an article about bullying and a feature on a class project inspired by the “freedom writers”.  It quickly becomes obvious that the students worked hard to write, revise and rewrite compelling and clear articles because they knew their words would be read by the community and beyond.  Their teacher, Erin Ross, said her motivation in setting up this opportunity for her students was feeling that it was ”important to have my students have a new learning opportunity in their English class.  It is all about the process and showing them that they have a voice.”

I spoke to Melanie Leblanc, the Executive Director of Heritage Lower St Lawrence and she raved about the student-produced newsletter for her organization.  She said members “loved knowing what was going on in the school” and noted that since the newsletter was published, the community has an “increased sense of belonging to the school”.

A second example of authentic writing comes from the infamous GrEAU project.  GrEAU is a hydroponic based agricultural business founded and run by a group of students from Mecatina School, located in La Tabatiere (a village on the Lower North Shore of Quebec)  The project is a sight to behold, in part because of the authentic need the business is fulfilling along with the strong marketing and communications website.

The students involved in the project worked collaboratively to develop a very clear website to share information about how the garden grows along with recipes to get the most out of the fresh produce. The students also had numerous opportunities to be interviewed on CBC radio and Radio Canada communicating clearly in English and French.

I spoke to Ben Collier, one of the founding members and he agreed that collaboratively developing the website allowed him to learn how to present scientific findings and better understand how to communicate what was accomplished.  I asked Ben about the editing process and he laughed, remembering how in normal school projects he did not always proofread assignments before handing them in.  But with the GrEAU project there was no leniency for errors, the group wanted to make sure everything was perfect.

These two examples show the potential of developing authentic writing opportunities with students.  If you are inspired to co-develop opportunities for students in your own schools, please share the results.

If you want to learn more about authentic writing contexts for students, I encourage you to check out a new resource site from the MELS called Literacy Today QC. It includes positive evidence of integrating authentic contexts in your curriculum and examples of authentic classroom activities.

Follow me on twitter @ELA_LEARN

The Power of Poetry

(c) haley8 under CC License
(c) haley8 under CC License

Crowded Tub

There are too many kids in this tub.
There are too many elbows to scrub.
I just washed a behind that I’m sure wasn’t mine.
There are too many kids in this tub.

– Shel Silverstein
© Shel Silverstein, reprinted from A Light in the Attic published by Harper Collins


For the past couple of years now, this is the poem I use to start my lecture on teaching poetry to my second year elementary pre-service teachers at McGill University.  Reason being….it makes me laugh and I can recite it by heart with lots of emotion.  It is then followed by a couple more silly ones such as this gem.


Falling Asleep in Class

I fell asleep in class today,
as I was awfully bored.
I laid my head upon my desk
and closed my eyes and snored.

I woke to find a piece of paper
sticking to my face.
I’d slobbered on my textbooks,
and my hair was a disgrace.

My clothes were badly rumpled,
and my eyes were glazed and red.
My binder left a three-ring
indentation in my head.

I slept through class, and probably
I would have slept some more,
except my students woke me
as they headed out the door.

– Kenn Nesbitt
Kenn Nesbitt, reprinted from If Kids Ruled the School published by Meadowbrook Press.


And then, very quietly, I change the slide and start to recite another poem. The boisterous and giddy group suddenly, as if by magic, simply stops chatting and laughing and moving around in their seats.  You can actually feel the mood change in the large auditorium.  I swear it almost even drops a degree or two.  And as they sit and listen, you can see them deep in thought.  Many of them transported to another time and place.


On Turning Ten

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I’m coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light–
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.

Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.

– Billy Collins
© Billy Collins Included in the book, Sailing Around the Room: New and Selected Poems.


And when I read Billy Collins’ final line, the sad, sorrowful stillness that hangs heavy in the air is broken only by a sigh or two as the young soon to be teachers consider the power that his words hold.  It is at that moment they begin to understand that there is something so special about this genre.  This is important since “poetry—merely whispering its name frightens everyone away.” They start to see and feel that poetry can affect a person and touch their very inner self in a way like no other form of writing can.

Kenn Nesbitt, the great children’s poet whose poem you read above has written five reasons why he believes that poetry is important and should have a central place in our classrooms.  Here is my take on how we can use these reasons as springboards for classroom practice.

Good poetry always makes you FEEL something.

“A good poem will give you goose bumps or butterflies in your stomach, or it will make you cry, or it will make you laugh. Or a good poem will make you feel better when you are sad or grieving.”

As a teacher, consider poetry as medicine for the soul. What ails your class, or a particular student? There is probably a poem or a poet that will help open your students to the emotions that they keep to themselves. Or maybe you want your students to become passionate or empathic about something – like peace or the environment – or make others passionate about something. Reading and writing poetry about the things that move us allow us to move others.

Poetry has power.

“How many people remember, to this day, a poem they learned as children? Well, imagine if your children became little poetry sponges. What would stick in their brains? New vocabulary. New ideas. What would be the result? A bigger imagination. More fun reading. Possibly a lifelong addiction to books. Possibly a desire to write.”

No doubt, poetry has sticking power. The sheer joy of reading poetry aloud, and of reading it well, of feeling the rhyme, meter, alliteration, rhythm wash over you, is equaled only by its ability to stay in your head. Reading poetry to your students, or allowing them to read powerful poems and learn them by heart, are the pathways to a multitude of  personal poetic experiences.

Poetry is intimate.

“With poetry, you can express your love, your disgust, your giddy elation, your mild bemusement, your wild imagination or any other feelings you have roiling around inside you.”

After a disaster or other tragedy, teachers all over the world reach for poetry and the arts as a way of getting students to come to terms with what they have experienced. Unfettered by sentence structure and punctuation, poetry allows for the immediate release of pent-up words. Writers at all levels can write out their feelings in a way that resonates with them, and share with others something deep without worrying so much about form.


Poetry is something you can share.

“Sharing poetry doesn’t just mean reading it aloud together either…A poem you wrote can make a better gift to a friend than just about anything money can buy.”

As learners discover the poems that move them, they can share these poems with each other, and with others in their family. The Poetry Foundation’s Record-a-poem initiative asks people to record themselves reading their favourite poem, paying hommage to the idea that poetry is meant to be shared as a way of providing insight not just into the heart and meaning of the poem, but also insight into the reader who made the choice.

Poetry will get your kids reading and maybe even writing.

“You see, kids don’t just read poetry once. They read it again and again and again.”

The immediacy and ease of writing poetry (at least, that is what it can be, if you present it as such) can lure reluctant writers into the realm of words. A gateway to self-expression with words, poetry will appeal as a genre for both reading and writing. Poems can be short, but loaded with meaning, and thus appear non-threatening and manageable.


The discussion in my class then goes on to recalling the way that so many of these bright eyed future teachers were they themselves taught poetry when they were so young and impressionable.  Sadly, many of them share that they were instantly turned off of this beautiful, rich genre because all they were ever asked to do was to deconstruct the poem to discover the hidden meaning.  They became so sick of this procedure, especially because they were often told time and again that their interpretations were wrong, that they simply didn’t want to ever consider bringing this delightful form of literacy learning into classrooms of their own.   I reassure them, and tell them that I understand why they feel the way they do.  I then recite for them Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, a classic from my grade 5 years that I as a student had to pull apart line by line.  They sit and nod empathetically, and then I put up this poem


After English Class

I used to like “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”
I liked the coming darkness,
The jingle of harness bells, breaking—and adding to
-the stillness,
The gentle drift of snow. . . .

But today, the teacher told us what everything stood for,
The woods, the horse, the miles to go, the sleep—
They all have “hidden meanings.”
It’s grown so complicated now that,
Next time I drive by,
I don’t think I’ll bother to stop.

– Jean Little
Hey World, Here I Am! published by Kids Can Press

Another burst of laughter and then we talk about how traditionally, poetry was introduced by analysis, and interpretation of the poem; that this dissection of the poem’s meaning and structure was meant to provide insight.  Unfortunately, we know it only alienated many people from the world of poetry.  Famous children’s poet Lee Bennett Hopkins has explained that he hated poetry in school because he was taught by this same method that he refers to as the DAM approach: dissecting, analyzing and meaningless memorization.  So many of us were taught to question why did Robert Frost stop by the woods on a snowy evening and why then did he write a poem about it. Well, who cares–the only one who knows why is Robert Frost. What’s important is that we bring our own experiences to the poem. The real question is, what does the poem mean to you?–not what it meant to him.

The first step in getting your students to read and write poetry is to choose and read poems that are immediately accessible, non-threatening, and relevant to the students’ lives.  The goal is to ensure that every one of your students has a positive successful experience with poetry.  Do not begin with the most difficult poems but rather select poems that show a range of emotions and a variety of subjects so that your students will get a sense of poetry’s possibilities.

I always end  my poetry lecture with the story of a thought-provoking piece by Shirley McPhillips where she discusses an interview of poet Robert Bly. In it, she points out that cultures other than ours have found ways to weave poetry into the fabric of both daily life and ceremony. She shares how Bly was fascinated with the little school children in Iran who would stop by the grave of the famous 14th century poet Hafez and sing his poems to him.  He then mused why we didn’t do this here.  Why we don’t bring the poets into our hearts as opposed to bringing them only into our heads.


There is a country
where children kneel
at the graves of lost poets.
In the morning they come
to the tomb of Hafez
and sing his poems back to him.
In this way, they get associated
with the heart early on,
breathing in messages.

The pull and tear
as the outside world stirs
the linings of some inside sky,
growing orbits of fuel
and fire, outvoicing words,
they become messengers
to the world.

– Shirley McPhillips

This is the power of  poetry. This is why it needs to be in each of our classrooms; so that each and every one of our students can for themselves experience what only poetry is capable of doing to our mind, our heart and our soul.  It is indeed something to be celebrated and cherished as part of our daily lives…rather than a chore that must be endured.


For further reading/viewing:

A Note Slipped Under the Door: Teaching From Poems We Love by Nick Flynn and Shirley McPhillips
available from Stenhouse Publishers – http://www.stenhouse.com

Bill Moyers interview with Robert Bly –  http://youtu.be/e9by9LB-tqY

The Poetry Foundation’s Learning Lab – http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/

“MacGyvering” Low Cost Alternatives to Assistive Technologies

“Necessity is the mother of invention” may be a highly overused phrase, but that is probably because in practice it is often true. When presented with challenges and obstacles, we often come up with surprising and innovative solutions. Sometimes, the fix is a “Plan B.” In some instances, however, it opens doors to new ways of doing things, as I found out on a recent trip to the Lower North Shore of Québec.

St. Paul River, Québec
CC image “St. Paul River” courtesy Robert Costain

This year part of my work is to provide part-time RÉCIT services to the Littoral School Board. For those unfamiliar with Littoral, it is a “special status” school board whose remote geography and sparse demographics make it one of a handful of school boards in Québec not defined along linguistic lines. About a dozen schools both English and French are home to a total of about 570 students. The schools are in small villages spread out over 460 kilometers along the Lower North Shore of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, from Kegaska on the western end to Blanc-Sablon in the East near the Labrador border (as well as a school in Port-Menier on Anticosti Island).

The focus of my mandate for this year is to support the use of interactive whiteboards and assistive technologies in the classroom. I am based in Montréal, but have visited seven schools so far to provide face-to-face accompaniment. The visits provide an opportunity to get to know the staff and culture in each school, and to perform an informal needs assessment that guide the support I provide upon returning to Montréal.

One major preoccupation of schools is supporting students with special needs. In small communities with limited resources and access to support services, schools often rely heavily on technology to help students with learning or physical disabilities. The finer points of this approach are open to debate, but the fact is that assistive technology has been added to the Individualized Education Plans (IEP) of many students.

One assistive software program that has made its way into many schools is WordQ. Although originally intended to assist with writing, WordQ is often used for its text-to-speech functionality in the place of dedicated software like Natural Reader or Kurzweil for students who have great difficulty reading because of a visual impairment, dyslexia or dysgraphia.

A common practice is for a teacher or class helper to use a flatbed scanner to digitize pages or selections of printed text. Then, using an optical character recognition (OCR) software such as OmniPage, ReadIris or FineReader, the scanned page(s) are converted into readable text that can be read aloud by WordQ (or another program).

Each step in this multistep procedure must be working for the student to have access to the text. The process is too complicated for many students, especially those who need it the most. The OCR is imperfect and requires careful proofing. Furthermore, technical glitches are common. For example, in one school I recently visited, the use of text-to-speech to help students read was brought to a grinding halt because the scanner had stopped working. As a result the teachers were stuck and unable to provide their students with texts.

CC image "Smartphone performing OCR" courtesy Robert Costain
CC image “Smartphone performing OCR” courtesy Robert Costain

It so happened that just before visiting this particular school, I had been experimenting with OCR options for my iPhone and downloaded a basic OCR program called ABBYY TextGrabber. The app uses the built-in camera on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch to photograph printed text. It then connects to the Internet to perform text recognition. Since text-to-speech is standard in iOS devices, I wondered if this might be a stopgap solution for the non-functioning scanner, so I did a little experiment with one of the teachers.

We photographed a selection of printed text with TextGrabber. The app was able to extract the text from the photo with about 90% accuracy. With a little bit of proofreading, we were able to recreate the printed text. Unfortunately, TextGrabber itself does not support text-to-speech unless the selection scanned is copied or exported. However, we were able to copy and paste the text into the iPhone’s built-in Notes app and read the selection aloud using text-to-speech. The procedure is demonstrated in the accompanying YouTube video.

Another approach is to use TextGrabber (or a similar app) in conjunction with WordQ by emailing the scanned selection to a computer with WordQ software installed. Similarly, if a flatbed scanner is available, but OCR software is not, Google Docs can be used to perform basic OCR provided the source text is clear enough. WordQ, Natural Reader on Windows or the built-in text-to-speech in Mac OS X will read text from a Google Doc quite well.

What makes these procedures compelling is that iOS and Android devices are becoming commonplace, even in remote locations like Littoral. Students and their parents have access to the technology, the apps are not expensive, and as a result this relatively easy text-to-speech solution is quite accessible to many.

There are some caveats that should be noted when using text-to-speech with students:

  • The appropriateness of using assistive technologies is based on the needs of individual students. There is no “one size fits all” solution and each student should be evaluated carefully before an assistive device is assigned to his/her IEP.
  • Optical character recognition (OCR) is rarely 100% accurate. Scanned text MUST be carefully proofread before using it with students.


Mon expérience scolaire!

Pour cet article, j’ai décidé de laisser la parole à un expert du domaine de l’éducation, un de mes élèves de 5e secondaire et ce, afin qu’il témoigne de son expérience dans notre système scolaire québécois!

Samuel Psycharis est un élève de Laval Liberty High School de la commission scolaire Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Cette école publique située dans la région de Laval se classe dans la moyenne des écoles québécoises avec une clientèle multiculturelle. En fait, elle s’apparente à plusieurs écoles de notre système scolaire.

Là-dessus, je vous souhaite une bonne lecture! Et un gros merci Samuel!

***Le texte n’a pas été modifié afin de garder son intégrité.


Depuis l’âge de 5 ans, je suis un élève à temps plein. Cela veut dire que depuis une décennie, ma vie quotidienne consiste à suivre des cours, faire des devoirs et interagir avec des enseignants. Au cours de ces expériences variées, j’ai beaucoup appris; non seulement à propos du système scolaire, mais aussi sur mon éducation personnelle et les différentes méthodes d’apprentissage. Cela est un voyage qui continue après l’école, puisque l’éducation et l’apprentissage sont des aspects de la vie qui ne se terminent qu’avec la mort de l’humain. Comme l’a si bien dit un proverbe chinois : « L’apprentissage et l’éducation sont des trésors qui nous suivent toute notre vie ».

Au cours de mon cheminement scolaire, j’ai eu plusieurs expériences différentes. Selon moi, le système scolaire de notre province est un des meilleurs à ma connaissance. Les différents enseignants dont j’ai eu le plaisir et le privilège de côtoyer à travers les années m’ont aidé à grandir de plusieurs façons. Non seulement ai-je eu l’aide nécessaire pour devenir mature et grandir comme un adulte éduqué, mais j’ai aussi eu une formation qui est primordiale pour mon succès dans mes études postsecondaires. En ayant été élève dans une école publique, j’ai pu me placer au centre de notre système éducatif. Cela signifie que mon environnement scolaire m’était donné par le gouvernement et n’était pas un produit de mes dépenses financières. Cela ne fait que confirmer mon plaisir d’avoir pris cette décision il y a cinq ans.   Mon école possède des enseignants très dévoués à leur métier et qui viennent en classe avec la même passion de jour en jour. C’est grandement grâce à eux que mon vœu de poursuivre des études supérieures est né. La combinaison de cela avec un curriculum très élaboré m’a fourni les outils nécessaires pour pouvoir atteindre mes objectifs éducatifs et professionnels. En conséquence, j’espère qu’un jour je vais pouvoir retourner ce cadeau inestimable en étant un membre impliqué dans la société. De plus, la culture et la diversité présentes dans mon école m’ont aussi appris plusieurs leçons et ont accru ma sensibilité à propos de mon entourage. Cela est très important puisque, de nos jours, le monde est de plus en plus multiculturel et je crois que mon éducation m’a adéquatement préparé pour ce phénomène.

Étant un élève avec des intérêts très variés, je suis très content que mon école ait pu me fournir des outils pour développer ces passions. Des exemples de cela sont ma passion pour l’art et l’illustration, dont j’ai eu la chance d’utiliser à travers plusieurs projets, tels une murale et le chandail des finissants. En plus, ma passion pour le sport a été satisfaite par le programme de concentration sport, auquel j’ai participé pendant la majorité de mon séjour au secondaire. Finalement, mon amour pour les sciences a été développé grâce à l’expo-sciences d’Hydro-Québec et par mes cours dans le programme scientifique. Grâce à tout cela, j’ai pu gagner une bourse à l’université Concordia, preuve du succès de mon expérience scolaire.

Bref, je suis très reconnaissant de la qualité de formation que j’ai eu la chance d’obtenir. Pour moi, chaque matin était le début d’une journée pleine d’apprentissages variés et d’expériences précieuses. Le système en place et ses enseignants sont d’une qualité exceptionnelle et je vais toujours garder d’eux d’excellents souvenirs, puisqu’ils m’ont permis de grandir et devenir un homme.

Sam Psycharis, élève de 5e secondaire

Making meaning, making media

photo by Jon Ragnarsson

Schools and many homes today are equipped with at the very least some rudimentary form of media-making device. My own two-year old loves grabbing the iPad and going for the camera icon, clumsily taking pictures of her thumb, her lap and sometimes Lucy the Cat. And although she hates having the lens turned on her, she loves watching the result, with her favourite clips and photos the ones where she is frantically trying to wrest the tablet from my hands. These she will watch or browse through over and over again, relishing each squeal of anger and looking to me with delight. There is little doubt that my daughter is growing up in a world where the meaning we make is multi-modal (I don’t want to use the word multimedia, with its associations of presentations and complicated playback hardware). Where we respond to a video in a social media space with a photograph or a song that sparks comments, weaving a tapestry of meaning from the various modes.

Children make meaning because it is what we do as humans. Give us a stick and we’ll look for a surface to mark. We have a desire to tell stories and have stories told to us. In schools, the intertwined acts of reading and writing are a matter of course for all of us educators. We know the intricate dance of meaning hidden in the mechanics of learning to decipher words and sentences and shaping one’s own letters in turn. Not only is literacy, the ability to both read and write, a cornerstone of our education system, but we have spent decades perfecting how and when we introduce young learners to various aspects of reading and writing. Although we value reading and writing somewhat above other means of communicating, this does not mean that we should be avoiding teaching students how to ‘read’ complex media texts or how to craft intricate messages of their own.

In the past, educators who introduced media into their classrooms often focused on media critique. They went looking for biases, hidden meanings and subliminal messages, no doubt as a reaction to insidious advertising and news media techniques. While there is no harm to this approach, it is certainly a single-faceted view of media education, as though teaching someone only how to read, and not how to write. For is it not the very act of writing that brings to light a lot of what we read? The creating of characters, the choosing of words to convey emotion or lack thereof, the structuring and pacing of sentences…are these not the acts that allow us to fully appreciate what we read? It is the same with media: the act of making media, of crafting a message from beginning to end, inevitably results in some new awareness, some new understanding of how media messages impact us.

Deciding on the best effect for their purpose

Making media is about making meaning through images, characters, sound, words and motion. Like with reading and writing, there are discrete and often quite mechanical skills to be taught: as we learn how to grip a pencil, we also learn how to hold a camera and press the shutter. As we begin expressing our ideas in sentences, so too can we be taught to express our ideas in a series of shots or movements across the screen. As we play with sentence length and the legato or staccato of certain words, so too can we learn when to effectively deploy a slow pan or zoom in. And as we become inspired by what we read and want to try some of the writing devices for ourselves, we can also find inspiration in the media messages that move us.

The issue, often, is that making media is time consuming. But this is only part of the truth. When children begin writing at first, we do not expect them to come up with pages filled with writing on their own. They illustrate key words, they invent spelling, they tell their story aloud. These approaches are also effectively used for making media. Students can take photographs of events going on in the classroom, such as a sprouting bean or a special visitor.  They can also record oral reactions to what they watch or read. They can create animations that play with colours and shapes. Just as we do not expect them to write an essay in Cycle 1, so too should we cut them some slack when it comes to media production. Cut them some slack, yes, but provide them with daily opportunities to hone the craft of making media. So when they do take a photograph or record their voice or make an animation, we can take a look at form along with content. Is the photograph in focus? Is the framing good? Is it a tight enough/wide enough shot that you can see what is most important? Is the recording clear? Are there any distracting background noises? Is the animation too fast? Little by little, over time, students learn the craft of making media by taking small regular steps. Like the layers of literacy that begin with the first board books and lullabies and continue into the school years, the skills involved in ‘reading’ and ‘writing’ media texts need to be honed over time.

And you, how are you using media with your students? How are you working with teachers to make media with students?

Here are some highlights from the Quebec scene:

Tuned into Culture (Culture à l’écoute)


Animation on the LEARN website


Free Animation Software Giveaway – until January 31, 2012