Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Finally ... a day of reading!

It has been a busy break, lots of cleaning and cooking, then cleaning some more!  At last, a day with no obligations but one, to start/continue reading the books that have been on suggested Newbery lists.  I am currently reading, "Keeper" by Kathy Appelt ~ not far enough along to make a judgement but I do like what I have read so far.  I like her descriptive language, I can see those blue crabs with markings on their backs, and the dark swirling waters.  (I still don't know why she is called Keeper, hope there is an answer!)  I am finishing the "Night Fairy" by Laura Amy Schlitz which was very different than I expected.  Usually fairy "tales" (sorry, couldn't resist!) are light hearted, even if the fairies are mean or indifferent; but this one is darker, and yet intriguing in a fairies version of survivor way.  Left in my stack are "One Crazy Summer" by Rita Williams-Garcia and "Out of my Mind" by Sharon Draper.  Other titles I need to at least skim are "Just Like Falling off the World"  (I have it somewhere in an ARC) and "Dreamer" by Pam Munez.  My now lofty goal is to have all of these read completely before I get to the ALA Awards ceremony on Monday, January 10th, but if I can't read them all, to have at least skimmed them so I have an inkling of what they are about.  Of course, I am prepared to be totally surprised if some book comes out of nowhere to win, isn't that the fun this whole thing, but at least I can chat and commiserate with other folks in the awards audience.
So, if you don't hear from me for a while you know I am happily ensconced in front of my fireplace (on or off) indulging myself in my own read-a-thon! 
And if you are in my Librarians Who Read book club, you can probably guess what titles I will be talking about at our next get together!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Basking in the glow, or wallowing in complacency?

I don't make New Year's resolutions.  But I do like to stop, step back, and reassess my goals.  These are both my personal and professional goals, and require some serious reflection on my part.  Over the next few days I will be "talking" through my thinking and welcome your comments. 
For today, Happy Christmas to everyone!  I hope you recieved all the books you wished for!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

One week left before winter break!

It is cold and snowing and is expected to be this way all week.  For those of us in education we know this to mean the dreaded " indoor recess!"  I am actually excited for this because I am hosting a pre-Caldecott viewing and voting.  Students will be able to visit during recess to read and evaluate 2010 titles that were chosen by the public library next door and the titles I have in my collection.  I have been working with 3rd grade on an extention of the idea "what makes writing worth reading" to include "how do illustrations tell the story."  We have been looking at past winners in small groups (differentiation) and are critically viewing these to help decide what makes an award winning title.  I am opening up my library to grades 1-5 at recess, and am really curious to see if the 3rd grade vote is any different than the rest of the grades because of this study we have been conducting.  Then in January the library next door will post both the winners from our school and the winners according to the ALSC Caldecott committee.  My students are excited, my question is: will this impact their book selections in the coming months?  Will they take the time to review and analyze a book once they choose it?  Will they think more critically about the choices they make?  Only time will tell.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Reaching the whole child; beyond differentiation

It is early on this snowy morning and I am mentally going through the day ahead, what still needs to be done, how will I approach this group of learners?  I am having some real issues trying to reach the whole child while racing up the mountain of "race to the top."  Because our media centers have several purposes, reaching and supporting individual students as well as whole teaching class/grade/department standards/indicators we have multiple levels of instruction occuring often at the same time.  I can handle that, I was given my super librarian cape along with my degree, didn't you?  My struggle is in another arena, supporting those disconnected students during the all too brief time I have them in a class setting.  With one eye on the clockand the other moving that lesson along so it gets done in the alloted time, how do I quietly move to that student to find out exactly where the disconnect is?  How do I find the time to pull that student back in to find another way to provide the necessary teaching and learning for that one or two?
I am exceptionally lucky, with a flexible program, and a supportive staff.  I can usually carve out a mutually acceptable time to work with those students.  I guess my question is this: what can I do while I am teaching the FIRST time to keep that reluctant learner engaged during my teaching, so I don't need to find that time.  How do you handle the able student who is just disengaged from the whole learning thing?