Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

Soupy Saturdays with the Pain and the Great One by Judy Blume June 30, 2009

Filed under: book reviews,kidlitosphere — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:54 pm
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Soupy Saturdays with the Pain and the Great One was a great audio-book that my children and I enjoyed recently. We listened to the other Pain and the Great Ones by Judy Blume in succession and loved them as well. We had enjoyed the Superfudge books read by Judy Blume herself, but also really enjoyed the voices used to portray sister (aka-The Great One) and brother (aka-The Pain). I’m not sure which of the three of us found the stories the most amusing (I”m guessing me, since my daughter and son don’t recognize that they do so many similar things to The Pain and The Great One!) but we were driving around laughing at many of their episodes.

This book began the series started by Judy Blume’s picture book. I missed the books with my daughter so I am VERY excited to know about them for my son.

soupy saturdays

 

Hard to Believe June 27, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:06 am

This morning I woke up and realized that in exactly two weeks I will be waking up back in Ohio after having my brain filled to overflowing with Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Institute. Wow! I’m geekily excited!

 

The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School by Laurie Halse Anderson June 26, 2009

Filed under: book reviews,KidLit,picture books — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:31 pm
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hairzoeThe Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School is a great new picture book by wonderful author, Laurie Halse Adnerson. Poor Zoe has wild, out-of-control hair that has a mind of it’s own. Not only does it have a mind of it’s own, but it can perform tasks  such as setting the table or cleaning. Now it wasn’t always poor zoe-her parents loved her hair. She loved her hair. Her kindergarten teacher loved her hair. But come first grade, Zoe became poor Zoe with a teacher that believes in RULES and order. The hair is attempted to be controlled, but it fights back. Hats-nope. Eventually scrunchies, barrettes, clips, headbands, rubber bands, bobby pins and duct tape-all at the same time are able to keep the hair under control.  

The story reminds me a little of Plantzilla by Jerdine Nolen and Brian Kielher and illustrated by one of favorite illustrators-David Catrow. In Plantzilla the plant, not the hair, has a life of its own and is able to perform some amazing feats. It would be fun to read the books back-to-back and look for similarities or differences.

I think kids (especially kindergartners and first graders) will find The Hair of Zoe very funny. It would be a good first week of school book when some students are apprehensive about their teacher. They, like Zoe, will find common ground with their new teacher and have a very good year.

 

Can’t Decide What to Read? Check out Princeton Book Review

Filed under: Uncategorized — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:08 am
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I just found the Princeton Book Review thanks to Jen Robinson‘s and ReadingTub’s Tweets. In the first two minutes of clicking around, I found six books I really NEED to read-none of them my “regular” type of pick. 

If you need something to read, check it out!

 

Post in Progress…continued from yesterday… June 25, 2009

Filed under: Calkins,reading,reading workshop,reluctant readers — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:36 am
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 I am embracing the idea put forth by Lucy Calkins in The Art of Teaching Reading regarding independent reading-(Oops-you can tell I got distracted during writing. The reference to Calkins’ Chapter 17-September in a 2-8 Grade Reading Workshop: Reading with Stamina and Comprehension)-One of the sections is titled “Reading Easy Books with Understanding”. Calkins recommends that “every teacher of reading starts the year by steadfastly directing children toward reading a lot of easy book, and reading these books fluently and smoothly, with clear comprehension, and at a good pace” (p. 339). Calkins states that this is a TEMPORARY goal-I loved this section! It so clearly puts in words what I have known about students, but had a hard time explaining to parents who fret about their fourth grader loving Babymouse or insisting that they are ready to reading Twilight at the beginning of fourth grade.  Often parents’ sense of self is so tied to their child being a good reader that they have a hard time seeing the trees in the forest. This has continued to be a big issue every year I taught fourth grade.

Calkins also has a great section in this chapter about how often students use their desire to be a good reader by picking books to “read” that showcase their future selves, rather than their current reading selves. “Teaching children to read books they can understand with ease will have dramatic payoffs, so this is an especially effective lesson for the September of a reading workshop”. September also is when teachers should do everything possible to make sure that students are reading for “longer and longer stretches of time each day, and that they are making time for reading, and they begin, continue through, and complete books at a good pace. These are not small goals“.

Other really smart subsections of this chapter are:

Reading a Lot of Books with Stamina

Reading with Fluency

Reading with Friends

Celebrating Reading

Reading in a Way That Allows Us to Retell

Holding Readers Accountable to the Text

The last couple years teaching fourth grade I started the year with a read-aloud of The Field Journal (The Spiderwick Chronicles Book #1) by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi. It was always a huge hit and has always gotten everyone from my most reluctant reader to the gifted students and everyone in between hooked on the series. For some it is the first book they have been excited about reading, for others they can read the whole series of five in a week.  The common thread-all students were excited about reading, reading with stamina, and reading with friends (I must have been channeling Lucy Calkins without knowing it :) ) . My classroom library collection included four copies of the first three books in the series and two or three of the other three. (It was tough springing for the same book, but I did find used copies very inexpensively on E-bay that I supplemented my collection).  

These two reasons are why I picked collections of “easy” books for classroom libraries that I knew did not already have Babymouse, 39 Clues, Diary of Wimpy Kid, and books that tie into a series such as Warriors or Septimus Heap.  

When I visited schools is New York City during my Spring Break, one of the principals had a “Book Club” where he would personally deliver a copy of a selected book to every classroom in the building, do a little book talk, and invite students to read the book and join him for a celebration. I’m sure you can guess how popular the program was! Students waited eagerly for their chance to read the principal’s book club book. He also did a GREAT job of selecting books that were hot off the presses or were part of a series. This is an idea worth emulating!

 

Books for Teachers June 24, 2009

Filed under: books,Calkins,independent reading — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:25 pm
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I had the privilege (really read-giant blast) of purchasing books for teachers again. I’m not sure there is much greater fun for me in the world! These are books for fourth, fifth, and sixth grade independent reading within classrooms. 

AlvinHoHere are some of the newest gems I am so excited about:

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking and Other Natural Disasters by Lenore Look

Mudshark by Gary Paulsen

The Kind of Friends We Used to Be by Frances O’Roark Dowell

Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me by Nan Marino

Extra Credit by Andrew Clements

City I Love by Lee Bennett Hopkins

The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School by Laurie Halse Anderson 

Billie Standish was Here by Nancy Crocker

Septimus Heap: The Magykal Papers by Angie Sage

 

 I am embracing the idea put forth by Lucy Calkins in The Art of Teaching Reading regarding independent reading-(Oops-you can tell I got distracted during writing. The reference to Calkins’ Chapter 17-September in a 2-8 Grade Reading Workshop: Reading with Stamina and Comprehension)-One of the sections is titled “Reading Easy Books with Understanding”. Calkins recommends that “every teacher of reading starts the year by steadfastly directing children toward reading a lot of easy book, and reading these books fluently and smoothly, with clear comprehension, and at a good pace” (p. 339). Calkins states that this is a TEMPORARY goal-I loved this section! It so clearly puts in words what I have known about students, but had a hard time explaining to parents who fret about their fourth grader loving Babymouse or insisting that they are ready to reading Twilight at the beginning of fourth grade.  Often parents’ sense of self is so tied to their child being a good reader that they have a hard time seeing the trees in the forest. This has continued to be a big issue every year I taught fourth grade.

Calkins also has a great section in this chapter about how often students use their desire to be a good reader by picking books to “read” that showcase their future selves, rather than their current reading selves.  

 

Here are some of the other titles I bought for their classrooms.

Percy Jackson and the Olympiads series by Rick Riordan

The Warriors: Code of the Clans by Erin Hunter

39 Clues Series   

Babymouse Series by Jennifer Holm

Castaways of the Flying Dutchmen series by Brian Jacques

The Mysterious Benedict Society #1 & #2 by Trenton Lee Stewart

Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism Series by Georgia Byng

Patricia Reilly Giff books

 

For my own reading pleasure I picked up When Readers Struggle by Pinnell and Fountas and plan on reading all the new books I can before giving them to the teachers in August. 

My daughter picked News for Dogs by Lois Duncan, the sequel to Hotel for Dogs and The Pocket Daring Book for Girls: Wisdom & Wonder by Andrea Buchanan. news for dogs

My son picked by Roscoe Riley Rules #6: Never Walk in Shoes That Talk by Katherine Applegate, Magic Tree House #34, and The Curious Boy’s Book of Adventure by Sam Martin. He is still obsessed with us reading all the Hardy Boy original books aloud to him, but he sometimes takes a break for other things :)

 

Tunnels by Brian Williams & Roderick Gordon

Filed under: book reviews — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:03 am
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tunnelsTunnels by Brian Williams & Roderick Gordon was a great read. I had an ARC of Book Two and certainly wasn’t going to read Book 2-Deeper without having read the first! Tunnels was one of those books that I kept seeing around, but not ever going ahead and making the purchase. During my last trip to Cover to Cover, I picked it up again and was caught by ‘Soon To Be Made Into a Movie’ on the back cover and thought, “That does it. I have got to read this before trailers for a movie come out that RUIN the experience for me”. I’m obviously not a huge fan of books being made into movie for a whole lot of reasons. 

I really enjoyed the characters of Will Burrows, his bumbling father Dr. Burrows, and the rest of Will’s dysfunctional family. His friend Chester made me think, “I hope this is the only Harry Potter similarity”. Fortunately for me, it was. As the story unwinds, other great characters are introduced as well. 

The idea of an underground Colony of people was something that had never crossed my mind before so I really enjoyed how Will’s adventure through the layers introduced new worlds. The idea that humans are “Topsoilers” is a great description of many citizens.  

It wasn’t until I finished the book and started poking around on their website that I became aware that Tunnels was supposed to be the next “Harry Potter” with big royalties for the authors (How do two people write a book together?).  That’s a lot of hype to have to live up to. I’m glad I didn’t know that ahead of time, because it allowed me to read it without that type of critical lens. 

As I was reading, I was quite surprised when I came to Part 2 “The Colony” because I hadn’t anticipated as a reader that that was the direction (ha,ha-not meant to be a play on words) the authors were going. Even though the inside cover starts with “Where the End is Just the Beginning…” the strength of the story kept pulling me along so there were quite a few surprises that in retrospect, I might have been able to pick up more clues as I read.

I’m looking forward to reading Deeper later this summer. If you are a fan of 100 Cupboards or other fantasy books, Tunnels is for you!

 

Ohio Residents-Write your senators and representatives! Save our libraries! June 22, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — bestbookihavenotread @ 11:26 am
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At a news conference Friday, Ohio’s Governor Ted Strickland proposed cuts to state funding, including more than 50% of Ohio’s Public Libraries. Read the article here and then e-mail your local representative and senator. It is easy to find their e-mail address using this site.  It took me less than 5 minutes to e-mail both my senator, my representative, and send a comment to the governor.

 

Paper Towns by John Green June 20, 2009

Filed under: book reviews,KidLit,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:43 pm
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papertownsThis is my first John Green book, even though it is his third published book. Like Franki at A Year of Reading, I didn’t have much time to read YA as I did the elementary and intermediate fiction. I have always enjoyed YA, but since it is for older kids, I wanted to be reading things I could recommend to students. Since I changed jobs last summer, I now have middle/high school students I can talk YA books with so I am making an effort to read quite a bunch this summer. I have a few middle school teaching colleagues that have raved about John Green books, I’d read some “reviews that made me want to read the book”, and he’s a graduate of close-by Kenyon College. 

I loved the book (although there were a few parts that I didn’t feel read as smoothly as the majority of the book, which surprised me some. I also could have done without some of the teenage boy commentary, but reminded myself that they are the target audience, not me. The characters of Quentin, Ben, Lacey, Radar and Margo Roth Spiegelman are greatly developed. Although I wouldn’t have necessarily wanted to be friends with all of them, I could imagine them running around  my high school or a modern high school. For people in my age bracket, think 16 Candles or Breakfast Club kind of relationships and characters. I love that what I thought was going to be a strictly realistic fiction book has a great mystery flair throughout! I will be adding his other books to my pile for summer.  

John Green’s website with his brother can be found at nerdfighters.com. I know I’m going to need more time to explore it than I’ve had!

 

The Art of Teaching Reading and Assessment June 18, 2009

I know I have mentioned  The Art of Teaching Reading by Lucy Calkins, but I feel it  is a book I feel all K-8 teachers would benefit from reading if they have not done so.

Last night at baseball (I’ve figured I can get one chapter of something in if I leave my finger in it and read as the teams switch for in and out field without missing anything) I finished rereading the chapter on Assessment (pp. 137-157) and it, like everything else in the book makes so much sense. Here are some of the highlights:

Assessment is the thinking teacher’s mind work.

“Have you ever tried to change the tire of your car while driving along a mountain road? That’s what it’s like trying to assess your readers in the midst of classroom teaching.” (pp. 137-138)

The chapter is not about ideal methods of assessment, but offers guidance to teachers who find it difficult to fit assessment into the very real-world of classroom teaching.

Calkins strongly urges schools to support two days of one-to-one appointments between all teachers and all children before the first day of school. Wow! Wouldn’t that be fantastic?!

Schools need to develop a gradient of assessment expectations for teachers–first year teachers might need help determining which assessments are critical.

Calkins advises starting with a lean system of assessment and then moving the world to be sure that this assessment affects teaching and learning (the spot where many assessments or assessment programs fall down!)

According to Calkins, “What is the bottom rung of reading assessment?”

Every teachers must accomplish the following goals:

  • An efficient means of quickly and roughly matching readers with books so that the class is engaged in productive work from the first week of schoo and we can begin to assess individuals more closely.
  • We need to underand and support children’s habits, values and self-perceptions as readers.  If every converstaion with every child is all about weighing and measuring the child’s place within our leveled libraries, we end up teaching lessons we did not intend to teach-that we are trying to line up children according to whether they are better or worse readers.          Children should immediately and always sense our interest in the wholeness of each of them as a reader. teaching them  to not simply get through text, but to compose richly literate lives.
  • We need to understand the strategies and sources of information individual readers use and don’t use and need to tailor instruction to each child’s strengths and needs.
  • We need to take early note of (and then understand, teach, and track the progress of) children who are failing to thrive.
  • We need to hold our teaching accountable as we work toward clear and public goals
  • We will achieve a classroom system of assessment that forces us to develop multi-level teaching plans
  • Even the above goals are ambitious.  

Here are her starter questions for getting to know your students as readers:

What should I know about you as a reader?

With whom do you share your reading?

When has reading really worked for you in your life? Tell me about that time. When as reading really NOT been a good thing for you in your life?
What are some neat things you do with reading at home?

Can you walk me through a day and tell me about the reading you generally do? 

Goals: (students help form them-not just having them set by us)

What kind of reader are you right now?

What kind of reader do you want to become?

What do you plan to do to become that kind of reader?

How did this plan help you grow as a reader? Be specific.

What is your next goal? What is your next plan?

What texts will finish your fiction standard?

“It is too easy to become lulled into believing that by suggesting, mentioning, or assigning readers to do something, we’ve accomplished the job of teaching. “

Calkins also recommends that each grade level identify certain observeable signs of reading progress and look for them across the grade, and that we systemically collect data according to these indicators and bring what we learn to meetings and study groups with our colleagues. (We would all learn so much!)

Our assessment system should provide us with a constant source of feedback on our progress toward our goals. Our teaching should be more powerful when we hold ourselves accoutnable for having a real effect on our students’ work. Instead of teaching in a whole-class fashion to a hypothetical average students, we need to take into account thte range of development within our classrooms, designing a curriculum that meets all our children where they are and takes each child further.

I LOVE Lucy Calkins and Teachers College-they just make so much sense out of a very difficult job-teaching reading and writing to a whole class of individuals.

art of teaching reading

 

 
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