Book Yente

“If we as teachers truly want to support teens as readers, we must develop broad, deep, personalized book knowledge” (Buehler 2016 p. 73).

“Dr. Schmidt took my daughter who would only read because she had to, got to know her, figured out what she might like, and spent months going through book after book after book until she found the type of book that my daughter liked. She reads four to five books every week now and is an exceptional student because of Dr. Schmidt” (Davis, FRSD BOE Meeting 6/12/17).

“Matchmaker, Matchmaker, make me a match/find me a find/catch me a catch” (Harnick 1964).

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Life in the Now

Let’s face it, middle school is hard. Not necessarily academically—although for some kids that is true. But it’s hard because of the place it is: the middle. Students aren’t little kids even though things like recess and stickers and “potty humor” still tickle them. They aren’t true teenagers focused on college and careers. They are literally stuck in the middle. Socially, they’re trying to figure out who to be. Physically, I might have a 6’4” boy sitting next to a 4’9” boy. Some of my girls may look like they’re nine and others 19. Middle school is hard for my students. When I tell most adults what I do, they take a step back and say how awful middle school is, usually because they’re reflecting on their time in that space.

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And that’s what happens when you assume…

I recently sat with some department colleagues discussing curriculum. The conversation turned to teaching shared texts and requiring independent novels. I was surprised to hear my colleagues struggled to get students to read a choice book at the same time a shared text (whole-class novel or lit circles) was being read. They were surprised to hear that my students read both. My colleagues said there was no way their kids would do both. I replied, “But mine do, so what am I doing differently?” My students were no more the avid reader than theirs. They weren’t any brighter or any more in love with ELA than theirs. We sat around a group of desks pondering that question, and no one had an answer. We threw some ideas around but really came up short.

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“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other” (JFK)

Leadership [lee-der-ship] – n—the act or ability to lead, guide, or direct a group

I recently finished An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. The novel, at least for me, was a page-turner. I found myself engaged in the protagonists, Laia and Elias. Tahir crafts rich, full, round characters. Their development makes sense. Their choices, while difficult, make sense because of the people they are becoming. I found myself rooting for them and cringing when I thought they were making a bad decision. While not always likeable, they are believable.

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Escape in a World of Mirrors

I have two broad goals for my ELA classes: 1) I want my students to become life-long readers and 2) I want them to be able to communicate clearly in writing. In order to try to achieve goal 1, I model what it means to be a reader. I read with them, talk books with them, recommend books to them, take their book recommendations, and talk about my reading life. I think it’s important that kids know that Readers read for a variety of purposes—one of those might be for escape. I read for entertainment, as well, but in my mind escape is different from entertainment. Reading for escape happens when life gets too intense or causes too much stress or anxiety. I use books that I can fall into as my coping mechanism. These escapist reads might have strong setting, strong plot, strong characters or any combination of those three. If I struggle to get into the book in the first 10 pages, it is put aside until my brain is quiet enough to return to it.

Posted in Dystopian Fiction, Independent Reading/SSR/Reader's Workshop, Read the World, Series, Window or Mirror | Tagged as: , ,