Posted on March 8, 2011 by thereadingzone
Tonight, my friend Brian will be Jon Stewart’s guest on The Daily Show! He will be talking about his new book The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive. (My review coming soon )
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Posted on January 25, 2011 by thereadingzone
Today was my last class with my seniors (they spend 1 semester with me and then swap to another English teacher for the next semester). We spent the last few minutes of class reflecting on what worked and what they would change for my next group. It was a productive conversation and they had some great ideas.
As we wrapped things up, I reminded them that they can always come borrow books and to email me if they want any recommendations or want to share books with me. They started chatting amongst themselves as they packed up and one student stopped me as she got ready to leave the room. She said one simple sentence and continued on to her last period class.
“Thank you for reminding me that I love reading”.
Needless to say, I smiled for the rest of the day.
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Posted on July 12, 2010 by thereadingzone
For the past few days I feel like I have been walking in the shoes of some of my more reluctant readers. As a voracious reader, it is often difficult for me to imagine not enjoying a book. I read constantly and widely, across many genres. However, suddenly I am that reluctant reader. During the summer I enjoy reading some of the adult books that I put aside during the school year in my quest to read the award winners before they are chosen. This year, one of those books is Justin Cronin’s The Passage. I had heard a lot about this book and downloaded it onto my new iPad after school ended. I have been attempting to read it for the last week and I feel like I am getting nowhere!
It is such a strange feeling for me, someone who loves reading. I don’t know how to handle this. The book is dragging for me. It’s not that I don’t like the story- in fact, I love the world Cronin builds and the premise is fascinating. Yet, I drag myself over to the book and have to force myself to read. Once I read for a little bit I find myself pulled in again, but I also find myself constantly annoyed. It’s a huge book and despite reading for a week, it’s like I have barely made a dent in the pages. I am just under page 400 and there are 1400 pages in my ebook. It’s like it will never end, which is discouraging as a reader. I love the book and hate it, all at the same time.
As I’m reading I am trying to put myself in the shoes of my reluctant or struggling readers. Is this how they feel when they are given a book? How discouraging must it be to read for an extended period of time and feel like the book is never ending and you haven’t made any progress! A lot of my colleagues and friends have read or are reading the book and I feel like there is peer pressure on me, making me want to finish the book. But I also feel like I shouldn’t force myself to keep reading! It’s quite a conundrum. I also feel like the odd one out, because all the reviews I have read praise the book and refer to the edge-of-your-seat action. Yet, I have to force myself to pick it up.
I do plan to finish the book, because the plot does fascinate me, even if the execution is dragging on forever. I want to know what happens at the end! But I am glad that I have been placed in the position because as teachers, I think it is important that we identify with all of our students. One of the best ways to do that is to put ourselves in their shoes as often as possible. I look forward to sharing my experience reading this book with my students once school starts up again. I feel like it will serve as a bridge between myself and some of my reluctant readers.
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Posted on January 19, 2010 by thereadingzone
A few links from around the blogosphere that you might be interested in:
- Betsy Bird was awesome enough to film the ALA Awards live. Want to see what it’s like to be in the room when the awards are announced? Check out Part One of her videos. I know I plan to show the Newbery and Sibert portions to my students later this week.
- If you are anything like me then you are trying to find a way to teach your students how to do research without copying sentences word-for-word from any old website. I.N.K. has a great idea for teaching students how to research and I can’t wait to tweak it for use in my own classroom.
- The Reading Countess asks, “What would our classrooms be like if we didn’t have standardized testing mandated by NCLB?”
- Donalyn Miller, aka The Book Whisperer, shares an email she recently sent to her student’s parents about the importance of completing at-home independent reading. She says so eloquently what I always want to say. Just because there is not written work with independent reading each night does not mean it’s optional or less important than any other homework!
- Be sure to check out the latest edition of the Children’s Literacy Round-up at The Reading Tub!
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Posted on January 15, 2010 by thereadingzone
This morning I decided to toss my plans for the day to the side and completely revamp our day. Instead of spending the day working on persuasive entries in our writer’s notebooks and how to take notes from nonfiction, I printed out two news articles about the earthquake in Haiti, pulled up this slideshow from the NY Times on the smartBoard, and printed out the one-pager from the NY Times.
As a class, we located Haiti on Google maps, read the article together, and discussed what the students had been hearing/seeing on the news and in the papers. The whole lesson was eye-opening for them, and they were stunned by the photos of the devastation. They asked what we could do to help and are spending the weekend brainstorming ideas as part of their Article of the Week activities. Next Friday we will come together again and settle on a way for our team and school to hopefully make a difference.
Were my lesson plans important? Of course. Was it more important to seize upon the devastation happening and Haiti and open my students’s eyes to the tragedy? Absolutely, As teachers, we need to be ready to change our plans at the lsat minute. We need to grab teachable moments and broaden our students’s world views. We need to teach them to be global citizens.
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Posted on January 10, 2010 by thereadingzone
The latest issue of Choice Literacy has a great article about schoolwide literacy activities that is a must-read. My personal favorite is the story of the middle school where students broadcast their current reads on their lockers. I’ve spent a lot of time today trying to figure a simple way to do something similar with my own students. I love the idea, but I know it would be very difficult to keep up with the covers that would need to be printed for the idea described in the article. I’ve come up with a few ideas and will be experimenting tomorrow.
The idea I think will work best is laminating a sign for each student that will read “I am reading _____________” and they will fill in the title of their current book. Most of my students have whiteboard inside their lockers so we will try to use Expo markers. Needless to say, I will be playing around with the idea a lot tomorrow.
In the event this doesn’t work, does anyone else have any suggestions? We have tall lockers that line both sides of the hallway. Due to privacy/theft concerns, I am hesitant to have students place their names on the signs. Also, we have a serious lack of printers (especially color printers!) so printing the book covers probably isn’t an option. Any ideas?
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