Best Book I Have Not Read

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

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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!

I HAVE AN ADDICTION!

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.

 

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.

https://sites.google.com/a/isd.sn/student-led-conferences/

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.

 

 

 

So excited about…. Professional Reading Groups February 18, 2012

Hey all you Nerdy Book Club Readers! I’m so excited!

The International School of Dakar (where I will be heading up curriculum next year) is planning and ordering for their Professional Reading Group titles for next year.  The groups are voluntary, meet monthly, and  teachers get to pick what interests them (the book is provided for them by the school). Last year they read Digital Natives by Mark Prensky and Sir Ken Robinson’s The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. I voted for Lucy Calkins’ newest title (due out in April) Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement. Everything I’ve ever read that has come from the Teachers Reading and Writing Project at Columbia has been so thoughtfully written and helpful. I’m also interested in reading Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness. I really enjoyed the Heath Brothers’ Switch, and Nudge keeps getting suggested to me by Amazon.

What books are you reading with a Professional Reading Group this year that you would recommend? Wish you could read? 


 

TCRWP Reading Institute excitement May 30, 2010

Filed under: Calkins,professional learning community,reading workshop,TCRWP — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:38 am
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I’m so excited that I am attending TC’s 17th annual Reading Institute, July 5th-July 9th. While traveling on the Fourth of July is not ideal, in my mind, it does open up some fun possibilities. Maybe we’ll see the Macy’s New York City fireworks. Maybe the Statue of Liberty?

I’m even more excited as my former teaching partner was just accepted off the wait list this past week to attend as well! She will be attending a fourth grade section, another colleague will be attending a second grade section, and I’ll be attending the advanced sections. We’ll have information galore to share!

The sections I will be attending are:

  • Help Readers Progress Along Trajectories of Comprehension Development: Using Formative Assessments to Make Our Teaching Data-Based and Powerful (3-8), Lucy Calkins and Cory Gillette.
  • Design Units of Study That Can Move More Readers from Levels K, L, M to P and Q: Humor and Series, Inference and Monitoring for Sense (2-4), Emily Smith.
I’m thrilled that I’ll be learning information relevant to grades two through eight! I also think both topics are ones that will really help me help teachers.

David Booth,  Lucy Calkins, Kathy Collins,Tim Rasinski, and Jon Scieszka are the scheduled opening presenters. Of the five, the only one I haven’t heard before is Kathy Collins. Tim Rasinski, a fellow Ohioan, is a great speaker on fluency; last time I heard David Booth he made me laugh and think; Lucy-you all know what I think; Jon Scieszka-love that guy-so funny, was a great first ambassador, love his Guys Read project.

Three colleagues are attending the Reading Institute in August, representing second, fifth, and sixth grade. I’m so excited that we will be able to share information with each other, our buildings, and our district.


 

Reason to Click My Heels Together! April 29, 2010

What event could bring  Franki from A Year of ReadingKaren from Talkworthy, Karen from Literate LivesKatie from Creative Literacy , Stella from My World-Mi Mundo, myself and others under one room tomorrow?

Could it be a sale at Cover to Cover?

The announcement of the Newbery?

NCTE?

OCTELA?

Good Guesses but wrong.

We will all be in one room to hear and watch Samantha Bennett , author of That Workshop Book: New Systems and Structures for Classrooms That Read, Write and Think, work in Katie’s second grade class and Karen’s fifth grade class. I am very exciting to have colleagues from three different grade levels that will be attending tomorrow, as well as a student teacher from the building. What a great professional development opportunity that would not be possible without the hard work of the volunteers for The Literacy Connection, including my friend and guru, Carol.

While we won’t all fit in Karen’s and Katie’s classrooms, the rest of us get to watch over close-circuit television, with debriefing sessions in-between.


 

Unit of Study Fiction Writing Grades 3-5 October 27, 2009

Here are my notes from my first session at TCRWP Reunion Weekend. The presenter was a dynamo!

Writing- Short Fiction

Quick Look at Writing Process:

  • Generating (3-4 days)
  • Choosing (1 day)
  • Developing (5-6 days)
  • Drafting (1-2 days)
  • Revising (3 days)
  • Editing (2 days)
  • Publishing (1 day)

 

Generating (3 days; 4 if not enough blurbs to choose from Writing Story Blurbs-what the story could be about (do for 3-4 days)

  • Chart: Writers Generate Ideas By:
    • Paying attention to the issues (problems) in their lives –don’t let them pick too big of an idea
    • Imaging stories we wish existed in the world
    • Rereading their narrative entries in their writers notebooks and asking themselves, “How could I turn this into a different story?”
      • be very focused-specific-don’t pick whole story (example-playground)
        • 3rd grade-friendship-what happens at recess, can relate to through many times
        • Stories should match their age!!

3-4 days of Story Blurb Writing-We are filling up our notebooks!

Don’t worry about spelling and grammar at this point

Immediately draw a line and have 10-12 pieces (story blurbs) to choose from

  • Story Blurb examples:
  • Maybe I could write about these two girls competing…
  • Maybe I could write about a boy who goes to summer camp…
  • I wish I could read a story about a boy named Josh…

Writers, you are always saying there are no good stories to read in the library and…

  • Somebody…Wanted…But…So

          Pushes them to develop problem

Somebody Wanted (Feared, cared) Because But/so
Jade Cared about her dog Scruffy Because Scruffy was very special to her Her dog ran away and didn’t come back
Bill Wanted to find out why his mom was going out at night Because his mom had just gotten divorced He followed her and found out she was dating

Pick one from chart and stretch out into a story blurb

Mentor Text-Those Shoes

          Not “perfect” ending

          Not she wanted a dog so her mom bought her a dog

  • Choosing (1 day to select)
  • Developing/Nurturing/Rehearsal-need to spend more time on this so 1 day on story mountains or timelines 
  • Drafting
  • Revising
    • Dictionary definition-
      • to prepare a newly edited version (of a text)
      • to reconsider and change or modify-put on a different set of lenses
      • Editing
      • Publishing (1 day)
Possible Teaching Points for Generating with some Predictable problems and strategies

  • Trouble Coming Up with a Story Idea
  • Story Doesn’t Match the Genre
  • Students writing stories about themselves
  • Students Do Not Understand the Problem Arc

 

  • Trouble Coming Up with a Story Idea

                    Bring in mentor texts—that you could take and change-example Those Shoes

                   If you were reading this book what would you say about it? Is it interesting. Would you tell me what isn’t interesting. Let’s make something happen! Make idea stronger and working with it.

  • Story Doesn’t Match the Genre (flying, ghosts-we will do fantasy later in the year)
    • Ask Yourself, “Can it happen to you?” no superhero magic endings
  • Students writing stories about themselves

          How Can we tweak this?
                   Maybe different problem

                   Never say, “bad idea”-say “great idea-Let’s try tweaking it.”

  • Students Do Not Understand the problem arc-they solve the story immediately
Possible Teaching Points for Developing with some Predictable problems and strategies

  • Choosing a story they think is strong enough, one they want to work on and one they think they can write well
    • Which one do you want to work on and which one do you think they can write really well.
    • Writers can develop their internal and external traits and not holding on to the problem in the story—

 

  • Choosing a story they think is strong enough, one they want to work on and one they think they can write well
    • Which one do you want to work on and which one do you think they can write really well.
    • Writers can develop their internal and external traits and not holding on to the problem in the story—
Struggle Problem Internal (limit the #) External
He wants to be popular so he lies and says he cheated when he didn’t Bob has let his friend cheat from his test. He gets caught because teacher thinks
  • Usually honest
  • Good student
  • Smart
  • lonely
medium heightbrown hair

only child

freckles

  • Think about problem first
  • Shy girl problem-wouldn’t be super friendly and loud
  • 3rd Grade-booklets
    • Storytelling using story booklets-touch page and say aloud-do at least twice each
  • 4th/5th Grade
    • Creating story mountains with small actions
    • Breaking down their story mountains into smaller scenes by thinking about:
      •  change of setting
      • change of time
      • when new characters enter or leave the scene

Sketching our scene

  • Use a sentence strip
    • Rules: have to show time of day by including a clock or night/day
  • Bigger scenes-more happens
  • Smaller scenes-make boxes reflect that
  • Notebooks away-no looking during sketching the story
           
1 2 3 4 5 6

Story Mountain example- Illustrate how to put—Boxes around scene

On Choosing Day:

  • have them bring notebook and put a little star next to which one they think is strong enough
  • thumbs-up when you have your idea
  • give post-it note to thumbs-up and quickly see/assess ideas
  • 10-20 minutes on rug to choose
  • Let strugglers take notebook home the night before to pre-pick
Predictable Problems During Choosing/Developing

  • 1 dimensional characters
  • Story doesn’t have a clear plot
  • Struggling with creating a scene
  • The solution is without struggle
  • There is no tension building up

 

  • 1 dimensional characters
    • Really evil or really nice
  • Story doesn’t have a clear plot (story doesn’t make sense)
    • Bring them back to Somebody, wanted, but, so
  • Struggling with creating a scene (what could happen before she got what she wanted)
  • The solution is without struggle
  • There is no tension building up
    • Teach how to slow scene down
      • Add: show don’t tell
        • Show internal thinking
        • Add action or dialogue

ALL BEFORE DRAFTING!!!

What does drafting look like:

          Big scene-full sheet of paper

          Small scene-half sheet of paper