Category Archives: Teacher Tips
On Friday, the opening writing activity (OWA) asked my students to think back on their first month (3 weeks really) of school and set some goals for the trimester and the year. It also asked them to write down some steps for achieving those goals.
On Saturday morning, a colleague and I presented at NJCTE. The theme of the fall conference was writing, and our topic was building a writing life and strengthening your teaching. The presentation explored five revisions teachers can make to improve writing instruction in their classrooms, one of which was actually writing—not the students but the teacher. We asked participants to interrogate their writer identity. As I presented my writer identity, one of my statements was I am a writer who gets cranky when they don’t write.
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.
“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).
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.