Glee is My New Favorite Show!

Totally not kidlit related, but at least school related-  I love GLEE.  It is without a doubt, my new favorite show!

The combination of the school setting, show choir, amazing Broadway performers, and the send-up of the high school caste system is awesome.  I just can’t believe I have to wait until fall to watch more!  I foresee watching the pilot over and over on the Fox website this summer.  :)

Summer is Here!

It’s just a little early…

I had an awesome day at Ag Field Day, a part of Rutgers Day here in NJ.  Spent the day with my fiance, my best friend, and her 3 month old daughter.  Other than the extreme heat (it hit 90 degrees!), it was a wonderful day!

I didn’t get much reading done, but I did have a wonderful day!

Back to School….Over the Hump!

Tomorrow it is back to school, after a wonderful spring break. Only 2.5 months of school left- summer break here we come!

I am looking forward to jumping back into our poetry unit, telling my students about my coffee date with Kathi Appelt, and continuing our Holocaust read-aloud and book clubs. That alarm is going to sound awfully loud, awfully early tomorrow! It’s always a jolt when you spend a week and a half relaxing. But back to the grind we must go. :)

No Post Today!

To everyone celebrating a holiday this weekend, enjoy!  I will be spending time with family, eating lots of hard-boiled eggs, and just relaxing!  Hopefully you will be doing the same.  :)

cimg0110Our eggs a few years ago.  :)

Spring Break!

I am officially on spring break!  I can’t wait to rest, recharge, and read.  :)

If you are on spring break, what are you planning to read over the next few days?

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller

This is a review I have been struggling to write for about a week now.  Honestly, I was overwhelmed- where could I even begin?  A large part of me wanted nothing more than to post a review that consisted of, “GO BUY THIS BOOK NOW!” but I realized that wouldn’t be very helpful to my readers.  So I will attempt to review Donalyn Miller’s amazing new professional book about the power of reading in the classroom and somehow make sense of the over 100 post-its flagging various pages, passages, and chapters!  (See the picture to the right to look at all my flags)cimg3434

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child is a slim book packed with information. Donalyn Miller shares her strategies for connecting all of her students with books and helping them become lifelong readers. As someone else who firmly believes in in the power of choice and independent reading in the classroom, her thoughtful and thorough look at how we can do a better job for our students is a joy to read.  

One of my favorite parts of the book is Donalyn’s reworking of the types of readers.  Schools of education teach future teachers about reluctant readers, struggling readers, and other labels for reading.  Donalyn disagrees with these labels and has come up with her own.  As she says, there is no hope in “struggling” or  “reluctant”.  As teachers, we should use positive terms to describe these readers.  

Instead of struggling readers, she refers to developing readers.  These are students who are not reading at grade level for any number of reasons, usually out of their control.  They have the ability to become great readers if their teachers give them the opportunity to read, read, read (with support)!  And instead of reluctant readers, we have dormant readers.  These are students who are passed over by many schools because they can read and they pass the state tests.  But they aren’t readers.  They need teachers and classmates who engage them in reading, helping them to become lifelong readers.  Finally, underground readers are gifted readers who see the reading that they do in school as a necessary evil and very separate from their own reading lives, which are usually rich.  I was an underground reader- reading at my desk while the teacher lectured, reading ahead during whole-class reading, and getting A’s on “reading tests” without even bothering to read the book.  Donalyn points out that districts spend most of their resources on developing readers but we let gifted readers and dormant readers fall to the wayside, so long as they can pass the federally-mandated tests once per year.  What a shame.  (I love these terms and have started using them as part of my own professional language and I think that is something more teachers need to do.)

Donalyn Miller also provides plenty of ideas for integrating independent reading into even the most rigid of schedules.  My own teaching schedule will be changing drastically next year and I was thrilled with her ideas.  Every idea she mentions promotes reading as as a lifelong habit and pleasure, ingraining it into her students’ lives.  She also models her own reading curriculum and the ways she appeases both her district ( gotta pass those damn tests!) and her own principles.  She truly is an inspiration!

In this day and age of standardized tests, scripted curriculums, budget cuts, and teacher layoffs, Donalyn Miller’s The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child is truly an inspiration.  This is a book that MUST be put into the hands of every teacher in the nation.  And we NEED to get it to those who make policy in this country- from state senators to President Obama himself.  This book must be read, it must be discussed, and many of the ideas absolutely must be implemented if we are going to reverse the sad course our educational system is taking this century.  Like Donalyn, I too am a book whisperer.  I have seen the growth in my students in just 10 short months when they are given the opportunity to read, to grow, and to become lifelong readers.  And I have seen the results of just a few months in a traditional, rote reading class the next year.  They lose that spark.  They forget that love of reading.  And that is the saddest part of teaching right now.  

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child is sitting on my shelf right now, in a venerated spot right next to my other teaching bible, The Reading Zone: How to Help Kids Become Skilled, Passionate, Habitual, Critical Readers. This is a book that I know I will be turning to again and again.

Share a Story – Shape a Future, A Blog Tour for Literacy

Share a Story – Shape a Future, A Blog Tour for Literacy

 

 

There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.
~ Jacqueline Kennedy ~
    

Stories encourage dreams – reading helps kids make their dreams come true. That singular idea – that we can help kids realize their dream – is the foundation of Share a Story – Shape a Future.    

Share a Story – Shape a Future is a blog event for literacy. Throughout the week, blogging librarians, teachers, parents, authors, illustrators and people passionate about literacy will offer ideas on ways to promote reading and books. You won’t find statistics, academic analysis, or judgments that tell you why you should read. Instead, we are using the power of the web to share ideas about ways to engage kids as readers.

Each day, bloggers will talk about different aspects of literacy and reading. Themes include raising readers, selecting suitable material, tips for reading aloud, using audiobooks, and how to use the library as an ally. The organizers have several giveaways planned, and will offer free, downloadable content.

Share a Story – Shape a Future is an opportunity to share ideas, encourage each other, and spread the word about children’s literacy. Share a Story- Shape a Future aims to build a community of readers. Please join us and share your story.

The 2009 Share a Story event will take place March 9 to 13, 2009

 This is an ensemble effort not only to celebrate reading among those of us who already love books, but to encourage each other to reach beyond ourselves and do it in a way that we are neither judging nor instructing others. This is a venue for communicating practical, useable, everyday ideas.

The event begins March 9, 2009 and lasts one week. Each day we will have a group of bloggers sharing ideas around a specific theme. There are a number of book giveaways and free downloads that will be announced by the various hosts as we get closer to the kickoff. Here is the tour schedule.

Day 1: Raising Readers
hosted by Terry Doherty at Scrub-a-Dub-Tub, the Reading Tub blog

Day 2: Selecting Reading Material
hosted by Sarah Mulhern at The Reading Zone

Day 3: Reading Aloud – It’s Fun, It’s Easy
hosted by Susan Stephenson at the Book Chook blog

Day 4: A Visit to the Library
hosted by Eva Mitnick at Eva’s Book Addiction blog  

 

Day 5: Technology and Reading – What the Future Holds
is hosted by Elizabeth O. Dulemba at Dulemba.com

Through Share a Story – Shape a Future we hope to build a community of readers, by sharing ideas and encouraging each other. When the event opens on Monday, March 9, 2009, there will be plenty of opportunities for you to join us and share your ideas.

In the meantime, we’d love for you to start spreading the word.

Huge thank yous to Elizabeth O. Dulemba and Susan Stephenson for creating images we can use to promote Share a Story – Shape a Future!

Ugh

Too sick to review today.  I promise reviews tomorrow!

Swamped with report cards

This past week has been one filled with report cards, report cards, and more report cards.  And on top of that, I now have an awful cold!  But now I am relaxing while watching the Westminster Dog Show, one of my favorite events of the year.  While I relax, here are some random bits I picked up around the web this week:

  • The Library of Congress’ Flickr Photostream- So many cool photos, with more being added everyday.  
  • This phenomenal chalk art is absolutely stunning.  My favorite is the monarch, of course.  But all of them are awesome.  Thanks to the London Paper.
  • Classroom 2.0 if full of ideas for using technology in the classroom.  I’ve only explored a little bit so far, but I love what I have found.

The Principal’s Office

Anyone watch The Principal’s Offce on TruTV?  It’s one of my new favorite shows.  They show principals dealing with discipline issues all over the country (and our local high school is on frequently).  If you haven’t seen it, you should definitely try and catch some of the repeats.

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