Monday, January 17, 2011

Do you have an individual professional development plan?

I do, two actually.  The first is my own professional goals, where I see myself in 5 years, 10 years.  The things I want to accomplish, including articles I want to write, that book idea that is percolating in the back of my brain, roles I want to play in my professional organizations.  I also have my plan for my teaching and learning year with my students, my plan for collection development, and more. 
My other IPDP is the one required by my district.  I'm not complaining, I agree fully that I should have a plan in accordance with district goals.  My issue is with the format for this plan, it is very much like pushing a square block into a round space.  It would be so much easier for me to craft a narrative that describes my ideas and goals. 
Oh well, back to work ... wish me luck!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Update on my Newbery contenders

I want you to know that I did read the books I listed, and be fore any winners are announced I thought I would share my thoughts.  I loved "One Crazy Summer".  Period. The characters were so believable I felt as though I was there in California in the height of the Black Panther movement.  The author did an amazing job of juxtaposing the traditional behavior of the time for African Americans with the attitudes of this "new" group.  Here were 3 sisters swept into the middle of it all.  With this as the setting, the story is actually a quest to connect with the mother who left them right after the youngest sister was born.  This opportunity is ever so slowly developed throughout the summer, leaving the reader to implore the mother to "act like one!"  Excellent book all around, and certainly deserving of the Newbery.
I kept putting "Out of My Mind" to the bottom of the pile.  Hard as it is to believe, I don't always enjoy Sharon Draper's books.Finally it was the last book yet to read, so I picked it up.  Wow! Melody is someone I will continue to think about forever.  She is has Cerebral Palsy, essentially a quadriplegic, and cannot talk.  I know this sounds like a real downer, but talk about amazing character development~I know this girl.  She is in 5th grade, and finally is getting mainstreamed into classes.  This is great because she has a photographic memory and is brilliant.  Melody is also a 10 year old with the concerns and ideas that come with the age.  Definitely not a character to pity, she is feisty, and determined to find a way to have a "voice" to share her thoughts and ideas.  You, the lucky reader are privy to these and so share with her wishes,  dreams, and frustrations.  If this book doesn't win, I will be shocked; but I know that Melody would rise from that disappointment as well, an even stronger character!
Other quick mentions, "The Night Fairy" grew on me.  I really wanted to love it, I'm a sucker for fairies, but initially she was such a self-absorbed creature it was really hard. When disaster strikes, we get the opportunity to see her true character develop.  In much the same way Edward Tulane grows, so does this tiny creature.  A very nice job of describing the setting from the point of view of a tiny protagonist.
More later, and I will share my thoughts about ALA Midwinter .....

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Back to school tomorrow!

I believe I am ready.  Clothes chosen, alarm set, attitude ~ great!  My plan of action, to find the joy in little things, and little people. This means sharing books I love, web sites I find interesting, and technology that will spur curiosity.  I do realize this will be difficult as we are so tied to data and testing scores, but I have been thinking, reflecting actually, and I think that making this small difference daily in the lives of my students will enable them to better handle all the content and stress that is present in their school lives. 

This week at school I have offered to teach a quickie picture book evaluation lesson and then have students use that to vote for the book that they think will be the Caldecott winner.  Many teachers have accepted the offer, so my days leading up the the ALA midwinter will be immersed in Caldecott discussions, fun! 

I am also opening at selected recess times for students to learn about websites with great activities.  There is never enough time to share these in a formal setting, so I'm going to try this.  Maybe I'll even bring back the Lunch Bunch book clubs.  Whatever I can to do to bring joy into my teaching day.  I'll bet I will learn more about joy from these activities with students than I can possibly teach them.