Best Book I Have Not Read

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

What I’m thinking about September 13, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — bestbookihavenotread @ 2:27 pm

What if there was the daily equivalent of motivational personal development for teachers through a technology platform, similar to those that exist for business leaders?

What if there was a daily podcast or video that gave you a motivating uplift on the writer’s workshop lesson you were getting ready to undertake later in the day?

What if there was a daily mentor call that a new (or veteran) teacher could subscribe to and have delivered right to their phone?

It seems crazy that someone can find a plethora of personal development for business people, entrepreneurs, or sales people, yet I have yet to find the equivalent of one for teachers/educators. Is it because the other is for profit and schools are not?

I’m not sure of the answer but I’m pretty sure we need to figure out a way to bridge the resources for business people for teachers. There are some wonderful Twitter chats that happen, such as #tlap or #edchat, but I honestly have a hard time committing to a certain time each week. As much as I’d like to be able to have things be that consistent, the force of children’s schedules has a big impact.

It will probably involve some embarrassment and discomfort but I’m trying to figure out how I can use Periscope or Zoom to get this idea started so then people with big brains can help modify it to be even better.

What do you think?

Intro to Periscope:

find me on Periscope @bestbook


And I’m Back…..New School Year, new position August 31, 2015

I am very excited to have the opportunity to focus on curriculum and academic achievement for a new school district during the 2015-2016 school year. While I loved my position of the previous two years, doing curriculum AND special education did not leave much, if any, time for reading, much less reviewing or posting.

I am fired up for A School Leader’s Guide to Excellence: Collaborating Our Way to Better Schools by Carmen Farina and Laura Kotch. Hence the desire to start blogging again!


School Leader's guideThis updated edition from 2014 takes a proactive look at how school leaders must work to involve the stakeholders they “lead” if there is to be any positive change. In an era of teaching under attack and decisions, often appearing random and not well thought out by the state legislatures, governors, and department of education, this book is a breathe of fresh air. The power of relationships and consistency is emphasized again and again throughout this professional resource. One of the highlights of my first several years in curriculum was when I got to be the “book fairy” and delivered books with a short book talk to elementary classrooms each month. Farina & Kotch have their own version of “book fairy” for their staff. Each month with a book and an inspiring letter explaining how the book ties into the ongoing work their team is involved in. A great read for a Literacy Coach, principal, superintendent, or other administrator who supports teaching and learning.










NCTE Reflections and more January 4, 2015

I’ve been wanting to write for what feels like forever, but time keeps running out. This evening, as my children work on their homework, my husband coaches basketball, and the dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer are all full and running, I’m choosing to write.

That also means I’m choosing NOT to: read, knit, walk the dogs, answer e-mails, sweep, etc… Doing, not doing, it’s always a choice.

NCTE was a wonderful learning opportunity. The sessions, the learning, the reading, the BOOKS, the former and new professional colleagues I met and talked with, all of it. Such a great way to recharge the professional battery. Exhausting, but so great.

Listening to my professional heroes, such as Lucy CalkinsHearing new (to me) amazing speakers such as:

  • Sonia Nazario

Have you read Enrique’s Journey? No? Go buy it NOW and start reading. The timeliness of the book in relation to the national conversation about immigration could not be more perfect.

  • Marian Wright Edelberg-Children’s Defense Fund

“America, we have work to do. Our children can’t wait any longer!”

“If teaching is not a calling and a mission for you, go do something else!”

“The U.S. Government spends 3x more money per prisoner than per pupil.”

Seeing my graduate school advisor Dr. Evie Freeman and THE amazing Rudine Sims Bishop from the wonderful Children’s Literature program at The Ohio State University.

Sitting next to someone with a name tag from the Ouagadougou–not only knowing where it is, how to pronounce it, but having hosted students in a WAIASL (West African International Activities School League) athletic meet when we lived in Dakar, Senegal. Had colleagues at ISD who used to work at the school he is currently working in Burkina Faso.

Passing a friend from high school-we edited the High School Literary Magazine together-on the escalator bright and early in the morning–he lives on the west coast and is a professor of education

Having the opportunity to talk with current graduate students from Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, while waiting in line for an autograph from Christopher Paul Curtis.


In the past all the ARCs (Advanced Review Copies) and books that I’ve gotten from NCTE I would try to read and post a review. I would then pass them onto to teachers to have in their classrooms. I LOVE BOOKS! I LOVE READING!


This time, I have set aside four or five that I have a chance of getting read in the next month or two prior to their publishing date. Those I hope to read and blog about. All the others I have separated by age group and have started delivering to classrooms in the very poor county I work in.

Tonight I came home and cried. I told my family about the first classroom’s reaction. There are only two teachers who teach reading at this grade level. This fall when I first walked in with some books that my son had out-grown, I became recognizable to the students. Not just some other adult who is in and out of their classroom and building. The second time when I delivered a bigger bag of books from a Facebook friend’s hand-me-down donation, I became somewhat of a rock star in their minds. As I find books, buy books at Half-price books and auctions, or have books donated to me, I put them in the classrooms of students, the majority of whom have very few books of their own. At the beginning of the year, students from multiple classes were sharing the same book with different bookmarks marking their spots. No one could take the book home since so many students were all wanting to read it.

A couple of the students helped me carry the books in for their classroom and I was instantly surrounded by the students, exclaiming over the books-showing each other, showing their teacher, authors, series or titles they recognized. Once I explained that some of the books were autographed to their class and others were advanced review copies which meant THEY HAD NOT EVEN BEEN PUBLISHED YET and that THEY HAD THEM BEFORE ANYONE ELSE DID IN THE COUNTRY and that THEIR REVIEWS WOULD BE HELPFUL, the excitement went up even another notch!

That’s not what made me teary. A student came up to me and asked “Is there any way you could get Rick Riordan’s autograph? I’ve read all his Percy Jackson books and now am reading….”. He was SO earnest.I turned around and another boy, in a huge over-sized man sweatshirt, slightly dirty, known- but not for his reading habits, just as eagerly asked if I could try to find some graphic novels. He went on to tell me how he loves graphic novels but there aren’t very many in the school and he has read them all already.

Such small things.

So, @ArneDuncan, #imagineif, the money that has been spent of assessments, PARCC, and privatizing public education, was spent on helping children out of poverty.


Wow! It’s been forever October 11, 2014









The Literacy Connection


teachers spending a beautiful Saturday on their own free time inside

Columbus, Ohio

Jennifer Serravallo

The Literacy Teacher’s Playbook

Formative Instructional and Reading Instruction

Independent Reading



I can’t actually believe I remember my password.

Sitting at a table with former colleagues (So happy to see Lisa and Lori) and current colleagues (so happy that 2 last year became 4 this year)

book bloggers on site

Literacy Hero! Carol Price

Teachers’ College connectionf


image image image image image





You know it’s been too long August 9, 2014

Filed under: book clubs,reluctant readers,school,Teachers,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 11:51 am
Tags: , , , ,

when you can’t figure out how to post on your blog

you can’t remember the title of the last children or YA book you’ve read

you’ve only been to your favorite children’s bookstore once in 6 months


Somehow I find a reference

to a couple of women

who were written about in Reading Today

and summarized on Marshall Memo

who have a blog

and the most awesome ideas ever!
and now I want to be just like them

which means…

I need to come out of the world of district administration for at least a little while each week

and read more books

and talk to more kids

and get them as excited about reading as I am reading about their brilliant ideas.

Check out Crazy Reading Ladies at their blog or on Twitter!



Student Led Conferences/Goal Sharing April 7, 2014


Two of my former colleagues from the International School of Dakar (currently residing in Saudi Arabia and Dakar/Texas) put together this wonderful website as part of presentation they gave at the  AISA conference of 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

ISD had started with student-led conferences as a pilot the year before and had then added the goal sharing portion to the school year last year. The student-led conferences had been quite successful and well received by families.

The Goal Sharing portion of the conference caused a fair amount of nerves by some teachers, especially those in the primary grades. No one was resistant, but there was a great deal going on at the time and the teachers wanted their students to be well-prepared.




The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban June 23, 2013

Filed under: ALA,authors,book reviews,books,YA,Young Adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 9:53 am
Tags: , , ,


Wow! It’s been a long time since I’ve read through a book non-stop and then felt compelled to write immediately about it. The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban is the book that has done that for me. I LOVE this book. I love it so much, that I want to start reading it again tpfrom the beginning right now. I love it enough that I have already ordered the book that the author references in the “A Conversation with Elizabeth Laban” section at the end of the novel. I love it enough that I think high school English teachers should strongly consider making it required reading along with their student of Shakespeare. It would help their students understand tragedy at a level that classics can not bring to life for them.

I love it as a reader and I love it as a writer.

I wish I could have written it.

It has a map of the setting. I love when there is a map in a book, yet I didn’t even really look at the map. I just love that it is there.

It’s set in a school. I love books set in schools, especially for teens, since everything in their lives revolves around their friends and social contacts.

I love that one of the main character’s, Tim’s, parents are referenced so slightly, almost as if they were an annoyance to him. Yet you can tell he loves them, but just can’t be bothered by them. So dead-on with young people of that age.

I love the details about the locally-grown food throughout the book. Subtle references to the farms and locations the food came from-unnecessary details to the plot of the book, yet so detailed, it allows the reader to be there with the students of Irving School.

I love that I had to just keep reading it from the first page until the last. That it made me stay up late and wake up early, just so I could finish it.

I love the characters. I love that the tension you experience in the first couple chapters is still there, driving the characters on, driving the reading on, through the last page. Never is there a dull point, where you find yourself skimming, to get back to the main plot. I love that it’s set in a boarding school. I have a fascination with boarding schools.

It’s just that good.

Is the author going to be at ALA? I need to meet her and tell her how amazing her book is.





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