Best Book I Have Not Read

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

What to Keep? What to Pitch? June 10, 2012

Filed under: school — bestbookihavenotread @ 1:16 pm
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A sample of what’s currently in my recycle box:

  • memoir rubric
  • using prior knowledge to understand unfamiliar text
  • 5 year Strategic Management Plan from 2010-2015
  • certificate of attendance from Ohio Resource Center
  • Ohio Academic content standards with notes
  • thank you note from Ronald McDonald House for former fourth grade economic project
  • Reading Level Correlation Chart

 A sample of what’s currently in my keep pile:

  • Elementary Gifted Service Matrix and Advanced Learner Specialist file
  • PD notes from Promoting a School’s Literacy Community
  • 32 Text Structure notes from Katie Wood Ray
  • Where You Are From George Ella Lyons poem
  • Suggested Expectations for conventions K-12 document
  • pacing guides
  • curriculum maps
  • a copy of the first day of school letter I sent home for all 15 years
  • a xerox copy of an amazing piece of student art work

Do I need any of it?

  • Will I remember what I want to use from what I’ve recycled or kept?
  •  Does it really matter to my remembering if I have “it” or not?

When I was a teacher I used to keep things in case I needed or wanted to replicate or modify something I had done in the past.

When I was a curriculum coordinator I kept things to show work in progress and keep us moving forward.

With a change in administrations twice in nine months, I kept things because no one else would have ever known things existed.

In many ways I am a blank slate, starting over. I bring with me my prior knowledge and background of experiences.

No one from my new school is going to ask me to see something from my old district because they won’t know it existed, nor would it be relevant.

Why am I re-sorting for the twentieth time, rather than just pitching it all?

It took me three years to part with all my fourth grade files, and I should learn from that. Never once did I go back and use anything in those files.

Part of my brain still thinks, “When I write a book about this….”, I will want hard copies of things to help with my writing.

I want to just dump it all as I look forward, but I still just can’t make myself do it…

 

So I’m a Little Sad December 23, 2011

 

I am in my fourth year of my current position and it officially will not exist next year. This makes me a little sad (okay-more than a little). I usually have a very positive outlook on most things, but I’m having difficulty with this one. I hate to say I knew it was inevitable, but I did. I might say more on that some other time.

So what am I doing next year? I’m trying to figure that out every day. Here’s what I do know:

  • I do have a position within the district I’ve worked in for nineteen years (good news), even if it means bumping one of the new teachers I’ve mentored the past several years out of their position (super yucky news).
  • I do have a licensure as a principal ages 3-14 now (good news)
  • I have been accepted by an international educationn search organization for educators as an administrative candidate (good news)
  • I had a Skype interview with a school in Asia this week (good news) (oh, by the way-I started my career in an International School in Luxembourg and am considering returning to international school education-more on this later)
  • Filling out job applications is a full-time job (bad news)
  • Getting ‘ding’ letters is no more fun at my age than it was when I was waiting on college acceptances (yucky :( )
  • I’d really like to be spending my time reading books and cleaning my house, but am a little hyperfocused on what I’m going to be doing next year (bad news)
  • There are very few blogs out there about educators in international education, at least that I can find. I have met several great international educators through twitter, NCTE, and more and they have been very helpful.
  • I could refocus on writing the professional book I’ve been outlining for the past several years (good news)
  • I am partially finished with coursework for my superintendent licensure (good news)
  • I have enough reading material from NCTE to keep me busy for the first half of 2012 (good news)

Holiday Break goal-get a good idea of first steps, second, etc.

 

I Wonder… A lot… Do you? October 8, 2011

Filed under: school,Teachers — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:51 am
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I wonder about things alot. Not like Wonderopolis wondering (which I think is a fabulous site), but other big life issues and educational issues.

I’ve always considered myself settled in my career and hometown. I grew up here. My husband grew up here. Both our families are still here. I’ve been working in my childhood school district for nineteen years. I love it here.

In Ohio (and I think it’s same to say in America), once you are a teacher who has taught more than four or five years, it is typically very difficult to get a job in another district because you are “too expensive”. It’s not unusual for districts to have an “unofficial” cap on hiring anyone with more than three years of experience unless it is harder to fill area (not so much of an abundance of let’s say librarians, or high school science teachers or music teachers). So even if I didn’t love it, live here, etc., going to a different district was really never an option (as a teacher).

Until…

I had a realization this summer.

Just because I love it here, doesn’t mean that I can’t love it somewhere else.

What if…

I opened the cover of the book of somewhere else???

What if…

 

Once Upon a School January 1, 2010

Filed under: authors,reading-writing connection,school,writing — bestbookihavenotread @ 10:05 am
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My husband came home talking about the Pirate Supply Store and their tutoring center sometime in the past year. He is a big fan of TED “Ideas Worth Spreading” tv and had seen the video of author Dave Eggers’ 2008 TED award acceptance speech. In addition, one of the guys who works for him has a friend who is affiliated with the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company. I’m surprised I haven’t posted about it already.

“Founded in 2002 by author Dave Eggers and educator Nínive Calegari, 826 Valencia is dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their writing skills, and to helping teachers get their students excited about the writing. Our work is based on the understanding that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success and that great leaps in learning can be made when skilled tutors work one-on-one with students.”

I love his dream!

 

Make My Day September 13, 2009

Sometimes I worry about Facebook.

Is it mentally healthy to be able to stay connected to your childhood friends especially when you live in your childhood town?

Do I really want everyone who is my Facebook friend to be able to read my blog when that is not the audience I intend it for?

All kinds of other silly worries… I know I shouldn’t worry, but…I am me.

But on the other hand I recently received a message from a friend that I haven’t seen nearly enough in the past year (names changed for privacy). That is a positive of Facebook!

Subject: good feedback…

“I’ve been wanting to share with you…  last week I was asking the girls what their favorite part of the first week of school was.  Sally said that your writing time was her favorite, as she proceeded to tell me all about three stories that she started writing (along with a story that you had shared with them).  I didn’t even have to coax her beyond recess!  Thanks for your dedication to all of our kids and their education!  We are so fortunate to have educators and friends like you!”

How much do I LOVE that!

Not that I was her favorite part of her first week of school, but that WRITING was her favorite part! Presentation and storytelling is so important in inspiring young writers! Getting to kick off writing workshop in multiple classroom over multiple weeks has been a blast! It doesn’t matter what the age, their stories are so great, and the ability for kids to learn quickly how to shape words to pull their reader in is darn amazing. I’ve gotten to hear/read during writing conferences with students about how the wind blows your hair back from your face as you go up the incline of a roller coaster and how to feels to pull back the string (so not the actual word) on the bow of your first deer hunt while your dad whispers in your ear and lets you take the first shot (I hate hunting but was able to marvel at his words.).

Pretty amazing. I love my job and I love that most every work day includes a happy, waist-high hug, and enthusiastic silent waves from students on their way from one part of the building to the next.

 

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 :)

 

Assessing Young Writers by Carl Anderson February 5, 2009

51mc6ahuwkl_bo2204203200_pisitb-sticker-arrow-clicktopright35-76_aa240_sh20_ou01_I just finished reading this 2005 book by Carl Anderson and it is great! I wish that I had read it the year it came out at the same time as I was first reading Units of Study by Lucy Calkins. It would have been so helpful to me as a classroom teacher and really has helped gel my thinking about writing workshop. 
I highly recommend you add this book to your professional reading list! 

 

This review at Amazon sums it up very well:

I wouldn’t be as good a teacher of writing without this book. No kidding. It provides the daily nitty-gritty practical solutions to common writing workshop problems, and has great ideas for conferring, unit planning, troubleshooting, and more. This is for the every day teacher and college folk alike. 

Some of the blacklines from this book are ESSENTIAL to my organization of workshop. I can’t imagine trying to do it without his advice and guidance. His book was the “Miracle Grow” to my Calkins kit experience. The piece I needed to REALLY pull it off and feel good about it. Heworked in the project with Ms. Calkins, so his ideas line right up with the ideas I already have in motion. I don’t work for anybody, but I heartfully encourage you to help yourself by getting this one (and I love his How’s It Going? too…)

 

Kindergarten Author Study Eric Carle January 17, 2009

Filed under: school — bestbookihavenotread @ 11:33 am
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img_13442Parent Project as part of Eric Carle author study. Done in two phases in small groups with parent volunteer while teacher did small group reading. Tissue paper and watery glue to make the caterpillar body.

 

Star of the Week November 5, 2008

Filed under: school — bestbookihavenotread @ 12:18 am
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I know I have mentioned Beth Newingham’s fabulous website for her Michigan classroom, but if you haven’t had a chance to check it out, I am uploading a document I got from her. We have used it very successfully in our fourth grades this year and last. It’s a great motivator and also a nice way to involve parents.
My daughter is Star of the Week for her class this week (her teacher uses the same format as well) and Maggie has been so excited. In a nutshell, the format is this: Monday-share poster, photos, and special items; Tuesday-share favorite childhood book (A great chance to have older students practice a little fluency-even the most reluctant reader is almost always willing to read a picture book aloud); Wednesday-parent letter shared with classmates (see below); Thursday-Lunch Buddy-a parent comes and eats with their child; Friday-star friends-a small poster that has the child’s picture is surrounded by nice comments/compliments from all classmates.

The document is here:
Star of the Week Letter

 

Authentic Learning-Book Bistro-book talk at its best! October 26, 2008

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Several years ago I found this idea in a Booklinks magazine and modified it to use in my classroom. Imagine my pleasure to have my fourth grade daughter bring home an invitation to participate with her class in a very similar Book Bistro. I’ve added pictures from the event, but they don’t really do it justice.

Imagine an adult book club-ususally a small group of people, chatting (and eating or drinking) about a book they have read or are reading. It might be the same book, or it might be different books. Usually it is a relaxed time and the participants leave feeling energized and maybe with a new title or two jotted down for future reading.

That’s what the Book Bistro is for us. Instead of a contrived oral book report, students gather in small groups with a volunteer adult and talk about their independent reading book. The adult brings a book to share as well-maybe it’s one they are reading, or an all-time favorite. Students see that reading and talking about their reading is a life-long skill.

The students have had lots of modeled book talks by teachers, librarian, and parents so it is comfortable for them to follow that same format. The parents have a little rubric the teacher has talked them through ahead of time-it really just helps keep the conversation flowing as some parents are more comfortable asking authentic questions or helping dialogue flow than others.
We finish with snacks and usually kids walk around to other groups to see what else they might want to know more about.

A great activity that I can’t recommend enough. Thank you Laura and Susan!!

 

 
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