Best Book I Have Not Read

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

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.

 

My Favorite New Quote March 19, 2012

Filed under: reading — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:49 pm
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“Independent Reading is, in fact, not independent at all. It is actually interdependent.”

Love that- I think renaming it interdependent would help people realize it’s not just something to fill time with- it’s an essential part of instruction!

Calkins & Colleagues -A Curricular Guide for the Reading Workshop-Grade 4

 

Where I’m Hiding February 21, 2011

Filed under: assessment,background knowledge,blogs,books,kidlitosphere,professional development,reading — bestbookihavenotread @ 12:36 pm

Where Have I Been Hiding?

In plain sight, but off the blog-o-sphere.

Wishing to be blogging rather than yearning to blog.

I tell myself, it’s all worth it.

I’m hidden:

  • Under a pile of professional books both for grad classes and for
  • “catching up” (Building My background Knowledge) with the point of view our new superintendent brings with him to our district

Good thing I find his thinking right in line with my own, and also as a positive for our district 🙂

 

Recently finished:

Leading Change in Your School: How to Conquer Myths, Build Commitment, and Get Results by Douglas Reeves

Inside the Black Box: Raising Standards Through Assessment by P. J. Black & Dylan William


My current professional reading list:

The Leadership Challenge by Kouzner & Posner

Guided Instruction: How to Develop Confident and Successful Learners by Douglas Fisher

Ahead of the Curve: The Power of Assessment to Transform Teaching and Learning by multiple authors (Reeves, DuFour, Marzano, Stiggins)

 

In progress:

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

The Things that Keep us Here by Carla Buckley

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex (audio in progress)

 

Wish List (What I wish I was reading!)
Every Last One by Ana Quindlin

Linchpin: Are you Indispensible by Seth Godin

 

Alas, I must stop procrastinating the revision of grad papers so I can get them crossed off my to-do list. It doesn’t seem like one type of writing should count as procrastinating for another type of writing, but it sure is for me.

 

 

 

100 Things About Me as a Reader-or at least the beginning of the list October 31, 2010

Filed under: books,reading — bestbookihavenotread @ 9:04 am

Inspired by Franki and Mary Lee over at A Year of Reading, I decided to start my own 100 Things About Me as a Reader list. It will have to be a work in progress, but now is as good a time as any to get started.

1. A reading goal is still motivating to me.

2. I used to keep track of every book title and author I read as a child. I probably shouldn’t admit that I would start copying the list over again if it got messy. What can I say. I wasn’t allowed much tv as a child.

3. The Betsy-Tacy books are ones I could buy over and over again with new covers.

4. I often think about characters or books many years after I have read them.

5. I really don’t enjoy nonfiction unless it’s professional work related.

6. I read every biography in my school and public library more times than I can count, but now can’t think of the last time I read a biography.

7. I dream of going on literary themed vacations. Just typing Betsy & Tacy makes me want to start researching trips to Minnesota to see the homes.

8. My first bedroom had been my father’s study. It was lined from floor to ceiling with books on all walls.

9. My father just finished writing his first book. It grew out of his research that he did back when I was in that nursery.

10. There is something so cozy about reading aloud to my son, that I used to fall asleep in the middle of the book. He’d wake me up when I started reading nonsense.

11. I love audiobooks because it feels like I’m sneaking a quick reading break in when there is no time for quick reading breaks.

12. I’m trying to figure out how I can reread Harry Potter #7 before the movie comes out. I’m not sure I want to see it until I do.

13. My husband and I love many of the same books, but there are others that each of us read that the other can’t even stand to think about reading.

14. I love nothing more than helping a child find a book to read that they love. There’s no better thrill in the world.

15.

12.

 

Just Right books September 6, 2010

Filed under: reading — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:00 pm
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I love, love, love when something I know to be true comes out of one of children’s mouths-not from me, but from repeating something they learned at school.

I wish I’d had a video camera to capture this moment.

Simon-“Mom, can you help me find a just right book? It’s really important to my teacher that I read just right books. She complemented me for picking a just right book at school.”

Me-“Sure Simon. What book did you pick at school.”

S-“It was a Geronimo Stilton, but it might be a little too easy for me.”

Me-“Simon, I’m so proud of you. Knowing how to pick a just right book is an important skill. Even if Geronimo feels a little bit easy for you, you can still get better as a reader by reading it and others in the series.”

S-“Okay. What should I pick tonight?”

Me-“Let’s take a look (going through his book shelf with him, pulling books and sorting them into piles). Would you like me to get some books from my study that I think you would be interested in?”

S-“Sure. Wow! Look at all these books I can pick from. Which one do you think I should start first?”

(We talk through pros of each book). He then decides he needs his older sister’s advice to decide for sure.

S-“Maggie can you help me find a book to read?”
Maggie-“Sure. Do you have some picked out?”

He shows her the pile. They sit on his bed together and sort through and put them in a pile. He starts to put the others away on his shelf when Maggie stops him. “No Simon, don’t put them away. You need to have a stack next to your bed so that you always know what you are going to read next.”

Thank you Mrs. Krebehenne!

Thank you Mr. Morris!

You are helping my kids be readers for life and I can’t thank you enough!

 

ELL Resources September 5, 2010

Hello Blogging Community,

I’m looking for some input.

What are the best resources that you turn to when you are preparing for ELL students in your classroom or your school. I have my “go-to’s” for reading, writing, literacy, etc. but need to have a couple “go-to’s” that address this topic.

Please leave me a comment and let me know what you consider the best out there.

THANKS!

 

Upcoming Teachers College Reading Institute June 30, 2010

I’m trying  to make my brain think of things I need to remember to pack /tidbits I’m glad I know for the upcoming TCRWP Reading Institute next week. I’m attending with two teachers-both of whom have not attended before. One is a second grade teacher and one is a fourth grade teacher.

Here are some tips I shared with them:

Pack a little umbrella-trying to find one in a store when it is raining is no fun
Plan on LOTS of walking. Columbia is spread out and it won’t be unusual for the keynote to be at one end of the campus and then the small group session to be six blocks away. Also lots of four+ story buildings with stairs.
They do give us a tote/bag with needed binder/books, etc. the first moring. It is a nice size and has a pocket for a water bottle-which we will want to carry with us.
Many times I would buy a bagel/sandwich or something like that when I bought my coffee in the morning before the keynote-then carry it with me to eat for “lunch”–Even though there is a lunch break, it isn’t terribly long to have bathroom break, get to next session site, and try to stop sweating –some days I would sit outside in the campus quad, eat whatever I’d picked up, call the kids, and watch the interesting things going on.
There is an AMAZING farmer’s market outside the keynote hall, but I dont’ remember which day.
 
Bring a notebook and pens for your own notes. I filled an entire five subject spiral last summer.
I’ve been told I might want to bring Amber Brown is not a Crayon, Because of Winn Dixie, and Tangerine along for one of my sessions which focuses on assessment. I was also encouraged to do an assessment using Skylark ahead of time.
In the advanced section, we will all be receiving Lucy’s new Guidebook from the newly published Reading Units of Study. I’m expecting my two colleagues to receive The Art of Teaching Reading.
 

4th Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge May 24, 2010

Filed under: reading — bestbookihavenotread @ 6:31 pm
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Coming up in two weeks (June 4th -6th) is Mother Reader’s 4th annual 48 Hour Book Challenge. I’ve been working on my TBR pile for a couple weeks now, but keep reading the books that I meant to read that weekend! I’m also looking forward to taking a break to have breakfast with Central Ohio KidLit bloggers and a trip to Cover to Cover. It doesn’t get much better than that in my book!

 

Units of Study Across the Year in Upper Grade Reading, Grades 3-5 November 18, 2009

“Years from today, if you were to gather close around you the children you teach now and ask them about their reading lives, would they name your teaching of reading as a turning point? Would you like it to be? Does your teaching of reading have the potential to change not only your students’ lives but also your own life? It could, if you let your teaching be a course for you, and not just for your kids. Your life as a teacher, as a reader, and as a person, could be changed in big and important ways, if you let it.” —Lucy Calkins

I’m pretty excited about the upcoming Units of Study for Teaching Reading: A Workshop Curriculum (Grades 3-5) by Lucy Calkins and Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. Originally the predicted release date was Winter 2010. Now it’s Spring 2010. I want it now!

I’m trying to decide if the Heinemann one-day workshop by Lucy Calkins on UOS in Upper Grade Reading will be beneficial to attend in January even though I won’t be able to have my hands on those books. Will it be beneficial to hear Lucy Calkins explain the UOS ahead of time? OR Will it be frustrating because the books aren’t available for purchase yet?

I’ve never attended a non-beneficial Heinemann Professional Development session and certainly LOVE Lucy, so I’m leaning towards attending.

Oohhh-I did just find that at the Units of Study website, there is an audio of Lucy Calkins giving an overview of the new Teaching Reading series. If you have never seen her speak, you should listen to this. Just hearing her voice makes me want to be a better teacher!

Here’s the transcript:

Units of Study for Teaching Reading: A Series Overview

A transcript of remarks by Lucy Calkins

Founding Director, Teachers College Reading & Writing Project

Teacher’s Guide

I’m excited to be able to tell you about Units of Study in Teaching Reading and to walk you through all

that’s there for you. The first thing is a book called “A Guide to Reading Workshop”, an overview of the

reading workshop. It describes the essential methods that will inform your teaching. In this guide to the

reading workshop, there is a chapter on conferring and small group work to support readers. There’s a

chapter on assessing readers and tracking their development and using data to inform your instruction.

There’s a chapter on the methods that are important to leading effective minilessons that explains how you

can explicitly teach the skills of powerful reading. There are chapters on the skills of powerful reading that

identify what it is that proficient readers do that we need to be able to teach all kids. All of the other main

questions that you’ll ask about methods of teaching reading are there in the guidebook, including what do I

do to support struggling readers. The guidebook is deliberately lean and meant not to overwhelm you but to

enable you to get the essence of all of these methods and this content, because in fact, the unit books

themselves illustrate them. So, there’s the guide and then there are four units of study books.

Unit of Study Book 1

If you know the series The Units of Study in Teaching Writing, the Units of Study in Teaching Reading are

patterned exactly after the units in writing. The first unit is a book which really helps you to launch the

reading workshop and to teach readers those essential skills that are so foundational that you really need to

address them in September. The first book teaches readers how to read with stamina, how to monitor for

sense, how to do the kind of retelling that shows a basic level comprehension. It helps you to assess all your

readers, to match them to books, to teach them the rituals of taking books between home and school, of

keeping logs of their reading. All of that is contained in book one. But I think the challenge of book one is

that there’s a lot of really essential work that you as a teacher have to accomplish. Of course, you want to

do it in a way that inspires kids and makes them see themselves as readers. You want them to feel that they

are authoring lives as readers and that their whole community of practice this year is going to be different

than any other year. This year, reading may in fact be the best thing that they’ve ever done. This book has a

whole lot of very practical work in terms of helping you with classroom management and getting your

methods going: getting the kids assessed, getting all of them going on their trajectory as readers, and then it

also does this inspirational work.

Unit of Study Book 2

The next unit of study book is a book on character. And of course character is one of the most important

things for a reader of a fiction text to be thinking about. All of us when we read fiction are thinking about

character. So it’s a book on character, but, for you as a teacher, what you know is that you’re really

following character into higher level comprehension. That’s really what this second book is about.

Specifically, you’ll see that it helps you to teach three different main reading skills. First of all, it helps you

to teach envisionment, and as sort of an extension of envisionment, prediction. What I have come to believe

is that so often we think that some kids are born as readers. Those are the kids that are sort of nose-in-the-

book readers and you can’t take them away from books. As teachers, we sometimes think that that’s in their

DNA or something, that they just come to us that way. What this book sets out to do is to help you as a

teacher challenge that notion, that some kids are born readers and some aren’t, so that you can do

everything you possibly can to help all of your readers be nose-in-the-book readers, who read, envisioning

and on the edge of their seat predicting. The other thing that it does is take envisionment and prediction and

talk about these as skills that unroll across a trajectory. There are ways of being a novice predictor, an

intermediate predictor, and an advanced predictor. You’ll see prediction and envisionment concretely laid

out so that you have a sense of what are the real specifics that you can be teaching to move kids from where

they are to where you want to take them. So the first half of the character book begins with teaching

envisionment and prediction. And then the book makes a real turn and tackles, instead of nose-in-the-book

reading, kind of lost-in-the-story reading; it aims to help readers grow theories as they read. You could

almost say that the second half teaches how to read a little bit like a professor with literary theories that you

can support with evidence. It’s helpful to think about that as teaching readers to have a different kind of

relationship to characters. So in the first half of the book, they almost are the characters. In the second half,

it’s a more expository relationship to characters where they’re looking at characters and thinking, “What

kind of person is this? What are the character’s traits? What are my theories for the character? What is my

evidence for those theories?” All of that work is supported in the second book.

Unit of Study Book 3

The third unit is a book on navigating nonfiction. It’s hard to choose a favorite book, like it’s hard to

choose a favorite son, but at least at this moment, it may be my favorite because I think it does such

important work on the entire field of thinking about nonfiction reading. Essentially, what Kathleen and I try

to do in this book is to help readers read nonfiction. I argue that a lot of times our instruction in nonfiction

has helped readers generate some questions and shown them how to open up a nonfiction book so that they

can skim and scan it to find answers to questions. Although I think that kind of nonfiction reading is really

important, we also need to teach kids to read nonfiction; to give themselves over to a nonfiction text and to

comprehend it. To take in what a nonfiction author has said in its entirety, not just finding cool facts.

Instead of, “When the Egyptians built the pyramids they didn’t wear underwear. Isn’t that cool?”,  we want

them to comprehend the main ideas that an author’s putting forth. So the book on nonfiction forwards the

role of structure and suggests that when we’re reading nonfiction texts that are organized as expository

texts, we need to be able to use the expository structure to help us to find big ideas, to find the specifics that

support big ideas. And that when we’re reading narrative nonfiction, or nonfiction that’s written like a

story, as for example biography is, that we can actually bring all that we know from reading stories, to bear

on reading that kind of nonfiction. We can read it in a way where we synthesize the whole text by bringing

that structure to bear on it.

Unit of Study Book 4

Then the fourth book, the last of the units of study books, is a book on reading historic fiction and doing so

in book clubs. The kids will think of it as a book on reading historic fiction, and you will as well, but the

real work of this book is that it’s teaching you to help kids tackle more complex texts and to read with

higher level comprehension. In fact, the main skill work in this last book in the series is that of teaching

interpretation and critical reading. And with it, teaching kids to write about their reading. So the historic

fiction book has a lot of work to do, because it’s teaching kids to tackle more complex texts, to read with a

more literary consciousness. To take their skills and ratchet them up even higher, to specifically read,

thinking, “What is this text really about?”, to try to figure out what the theme is in a text, and to be able to

talk and write about that in ways that are powerful and compelling. All of this is done while the kids are

working not with partners, which is the social structure that supports the first three books, but instead in

book clubs, where four kids are reading shared books. And, of course, the nonfiction book has added power

because it helps students think about nonfiction in relation to historic fiction. So that kids are also learning

that you not only read a couple historic fiction books that are set in a particular era, and think across and

among those books, but also bring in nonfiction texts that relate to those books. The other work of this unit

is helping with this intertextuality, looking across books including both fiction and nonfiction texts. Those

are the main elements in the units of study series.

Resources for Teaching Reading CD-ROM

Those of you who know the CD-ROM full of resource materials in writing won’t be surprised that there’s

resource materials in reading as well. But this time we really felt, because of having listened to teachers and

their requests, that we needed to provide extra resources.

Alternative Units of Study

So we’ve got a whole other book which is designed to help teachers tailor their teaching to kids. This book

supports teachers in developing alternate units of study. It lays out in a slightly more abbreviated form, but

still with all the minilessons there, four or five other units and then in yet more abbreviated form, another

half dozen units. This final book is one that helps you not just have minilessons that you can draw on as

you author your own curriculum, but also whole units of study that you can draw on as you author

curriculum in response to your kids and in conversation with your colleagues.

 

TCRWP continued… July 7, 2009

Filed under: Calkins,reading,TCRWP — bestbookihavenotread @ 9:54 pm
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Two days and I have taken so many notes that my thumb is killing me from clutching my pen. 

A friend joked this morning about Lucy Calkins was going to take out a restraining order against me. HaHa. I arrived early to the first session, already having planned and scoped out where I was going to drink my latte and read my book the day before. Arrive happy to not have spilled latte on my white shirt, walk to comfy chair area, and notice that someone else is sitting there already-she looks up and who is it? 

I know you know.

 

But I’ll still tell you.

 

 

It was Lucy Calkins.

 

She was obviously going over her notes for the keynote address so I very casually pivoted past the comfy chair, left her to her privacy, and went and found a hard bench. 

I’m not stalking her-I just channel her energy and it pulls me magnetically to all things TC (just kidding!) . 

 

Homework tonight was to read The Art of Teaching Reading (ATR) Ch. 3, 5, & 6 as well as some handouts. I was glad to I only needed to read the handouts since I had read ATR in the past couple weeks.

Decided to reward/challenge myself to see if I could get myself from Columbia to Central Park and then to Times Square by public transportation (and not get lost!). Probably seems like nothing to many of you, but a BIG deal to me. Found the TKTS booth after a light rambling around and got a ticket to see 9 to 5 the musical. I LOVE musicals and it was a great one!