Category Archives: Window or Mirror
I have a stack of books sitting on my desk.
Okay, who am I kidding pretty much everywhere I go I have a stack of books within arm’s reach—even in the kitchen (of course the kitchen’s book stack is cookbooks). But the stack of books sitting on my desk right now is a little more important to me than the other stacks of books in my house. These books, with the exception of Prairie Fires and The Great Halifax Explosion are all books I’ve read before—most numerous times—and were formative in some way. The top two books are lovely leather bound Word Cloud editions of Anna Karenina and The Wizard of Oz (full disclosure, I have only read Anna Karenina one time, but it really sealed my love of Tolstoy’s writing). The next two books are anniversary editions: Little House on the Prairie (75th Anniversary Edition) and Harriet the Spy (50th Anniversary Edition).
At the start of the summer, I signed up for a NetGalley account. Quite honestly, I didn’t think I’d be approved for an account, but I figured my role as an ELA teacher and YA blogger might help. I was quickly approved, found myself requesting titles, and then I waited. The first book I requested was rejected. I figured, “Oh well.” I certainly have a million and two titles sitting here to read. My friend Kate
is an enabler recommends great YA for me to read and passes along ARCs for my classroom. I certainly wasn’t going to go without books to read.
The dagaz rune is the rune given to Magnus on his room key at the Hotel Valhalla. It symbolizes new beginnings. I think this is a fitting way to start this post since this is the follow up to “My Reading Journey” post.
In August of 2007, I started a new beginning. This August I will also start a new beginning, as I add graduate instructor to my titles. 10 years after I first started classes at UPenn, I’ll return to teach a secondary ELA methods class at GSE. I’ve been back on campus since graduation, but when I returned for the instructor institute in late June, it was like returning home. It truly is a new beginning for me. From being told I wouldn’t get be accepted into the doctoral program to now being a teacher at America’s oldest university, it has been a road I only dreamed of.
This summer I’ve participated in two book study groups. During June, I had the pleasure of studying Teaching Reading with YA Literature: Complex Texts, Complex Lives by Jennifer Buehler with a group of very smart, very thoughtful educators. Starting the end of June and continuing through late August, I’m participating in the Book Love Summer Book Club. We are currently studying Disruptive Thinking: Why How We Read Matters by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst. I have the pleasure of studying with an equally smart and thoughtful group of educators. I love that the conversations have pushed my thinking. It’s caused me to reflect on my practice and the practices in the field. I’ve thought about why we do what we do in the classroom. I’ve thought about how my reading practices have shaped my teaching practices.
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.