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Saving Summer: Book money.

This is a “before” picture while cleaning up my classroom before summer break. This represents about 1/3 of my classroom library. It did get organized, eventually.

I buy books. I buy too many books — well, there are never enough books, but yes, I do wish my district would buy more. The tug-of-war between the decision makers and the stakeholders (teachers and students) never seems to end. And while I scour for on-line freebies, curate as many titles as I can, nothing beats a new book, and especially, the right book, in the hands of a student who says they don’t like to read.

This thread on Twitter got my attention:

This idea that children want their own things shouldn’t be overlooked or dismissed. It seems parents hand them cell phones instead of books. Understandable. I have no issue, nor should anyone, ever say one word about a student having things that make them feel special, included, and just plain good: cell phones, new shoes, the right snapback or glitter pens. This isn’t about how parents spend their money. Or teachers. It’s about how districts view books and book lending. It becomes punitive and constrictive. How many times have I heard “I hate to read!” when it may be more of a function of “I hate worrying about other people’s *!*$!” It is the NEW book, the ownership of a book, that makes a huge difference. No one to boss or manage the time spent reading, or being given “responsibility” of reading in class, bringing the text to and fro, possibly being charged a fine if it’s lost or damaged. (I have had countless copies of Cut by Patricia McCormick go missing.)

Next year I’m looking at spending around $180 on enough copies of Lord of the Flies. I can go to Donor’s Choose and maintain that post, and jump through new bureaucratic hoops my district set up. I can ask GoFundMe for some money, which feels awful since the last GoFundMe I gave to was a young man murdered by police. Yes, he was one of ours.

So, tell me, this community of mine, how do I get new books that children can choose, keep, and read without operating in my own bank account in the negative (yes, I do). Is it possible to change the mindset of the spending at the district level to alter how they distribute funds for books? Am I just asking naive and pointless questions? Probably.

It’s easier just to fill up the Amazon cart with what I want and move on. And I know why I’m always broke. But hey, if that new copy of The Hate U Give I gave to a student before the summer showed her how much I adore her, it’s a small price to pay.

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Pledge.

These are to re-read, read, and organize: the binders need to be gutted and reorganized. Oh, sticky tabs and Sharpies: how I love thee.

I always have this summer break lag–it takes me a bit to realize it actually is break time, and not only relax, but reflect. And just not think at all.

Last summer I had everything planned out, and offered my time and expertise to go over the CCSS and come up with a menu of critical ones I knew our PLC should take a look at and consider for the common/formative/assessments. Well, that didn’t work, and that’s okay: the team decided to focus on one skill through the lens of one or two standards. Am I going to stop coming up with ideas? Did I learn my lesson? Nah. I can’t help myself. I love designing good curriculum.

Next year I’ve been tapped to construct Computer Essentials for 7th grade, and will be teaching only one class of 8th ELA. (Just can’t quit you, Humanities….). To say our students need the computer skills is an understatement. (I’ll post my ideas on that later.) In the meantime, this post serves as a pledge to myself to read: I have the trifecta of my summer: a hammock, sometimes blue sky, and time. My focus is to create a curriculum map that is more reflective of what ELA students are truly expected to know. The horizontal, silo-approach doesn’t work. I’m actually envisioning a circle map, updated, and global: a way to teach units that are connective and authentic, with a heavy dash of choice and design. Give me a week or two, and I’ll have something figured out.

 

Oh, and I need to add some new videos to the list:

What is one thing you taught more than one year, and feel it is a “must?”

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Because….books.

Love this idea from Cult (and am jealous of her cute little hair flippy-do)! To my ELA local peeps–if you have ideas about books we can share with a middle level/YA book club, I think we should do some home-grown discussions. One of our issues is the…

BOOK ROOM!

So…how about we take some time, meet over appetizers and beverages, and figure out just what do we have, what digital resources we have, how to get audio books, etc. for our students? Our best brains work better together, and mapping out what our students need and want (even if they don’t know it yet) would be invaluable. Consider yourself tagged!

 

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Read or perish.

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This week I posted ten educational books that have helped me. That list could be pages long. But it made me think — while those books help with lesson structure or instructional strategies (recipes and formulas) they haven’t necessarily shaped who I am as an educator.

Here’s a short but impactful list of books that have shaped me, in chronological order:

Harriet the Spy

Are you there God, It’s Me, Margaret

To Kill A Mockingbird

East of Eden

The Shining

Great Expectations (specifically Miss Havisham)

1984

Still Life with Woodpecker

The Handmaid’s Tale

Life of Pi

 

Keep reading. Keep questioning. Keep thinking.

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Keys to the kingdom…

kelly love

Great post from Nerdy Book Club on books adolescent boys may enjoy. Most I’ve read, but there are quite a few new/surprises:

Top Ten Books to Give to Adolescent Boys*

And not only that: that blogroll. Talk about some link love! Check out the blogroll on that site–so many good resources.

I’m not accepting students not reading anymore. This is a ridiculous and terrible situation. After watching #13th, I’m more convinced than ever that access to knowledge, literacy, is the only thing that changes anything…along with the grand conversations, which is creating new knowledge.

*Postscript: I admit – it does make me question the practice of finding ‘books for boys’ or labeling books as girl books or chick-lit. Not sure what to do with that right now, so I’ll just leave it there for the time being.