Tag Archives: books

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.

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.

Chivalry isn’t dead.

galahad

Here is my attempt to help students using the Notice and Note strategies for one of my favorite short stories, ‘Chivalry‘ by Neil Gaiman.

 

N&N

Or:

n and n pinterest

Wait, you know what? I think you might enjoy doing this yourself. I don’t want to spoil the story for you.

I believe there is an example of every signpost in this story. Read it out loud to your students in your best English accent (if you don’t have one already). Enjoy.

This book of short stories is well worth it:

Make a note of it.

This is a portrait of me done by a student: I added the glasses. All the better to see you with, my dear.

Two Thoughts:

*Annotating the world

Here is a follow-up list for my Duly Noted post:

More annotating on-line tools: (some of these aren’t available)

Diigo

A.nnotate

Bounce

Annotateit

All this stuff is great, but turns out writing annotations by hand is best. Meh. I still say this is pretty cool stuff. But all these annotation tools don’t help me with my real problem, and that’s how to capture all my ideas that pop in my head?

*Annotate my brain

Well, I guess I have this blog. I am getting quite a rep as an idea person. Ideas are great, but I also possess a skill for follow-through, too.

Here are just some ideas I need to remember to see through for next year–most are done, but I don’t want to lose them:

  1. Grading calendar with mid-quarter progress report dates
  2. Staff training on brief writes across content areas
  3. Digital citizenship
  4. Room clean up and design
  5. Planning new units
  6. Planning books, short films, etc.
  7. Planning writing projects
  8. Planning project based learning
  9. Technology integration
  10. Reading skills that are engaging
  11. Cleaning out my digital hoarding
  12. Field trips?!
  13. Book/author talks?
  14. Pacing?

Okay, that’s enough for now.

How do you keep track of ideas and design for teaching?

 

 

 

 

WIHWT: Americanah

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(Note to self: ask Cult of Pedagogy if she makes any cash from her links to Amazon.)

This “Wish I Had Written That” is stretching a bit here — this novel is meant for grown-ups. This is not a recommendation for secondary students, although if seniors in high school, or even my own children, wanted to read this novel or anything by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, I’d be proud. (As it is, my older son is trying to get me to read Goncharov and my younger one understand the mastery of Dungeons & Dragons, and geological surveys–good luck with that, kids.) But it does need a little life experience under one’s belt. A little bit of context. And full disclosure: I couldn’t have written this. The protagonist has her own story, and for me to make even presumptions or connections about race, love, family, or hair would be disingenuous. (The protagonist is a blogger, but makes a living from it. I’m also not quite there yet!)

But I still think it should be required reading. Wait–scratch that. Read if you want to know about race, love, family, and hair. And surviving yourself through your twenties, and finding your way. Or, if you’re beyond your twenties, how you found your way, which you surely did.

Tomorrow night is night I look forward to–it’s Book Club night. This month’s selection was my choice–I chickened out and gave the ladies a choice, between this book and J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy. When the book club members overwhelmingly chose Rowling’s book, at first I was a little disappointed because I really want to read Americanah. (That’s what I get for my chicken-ness.) However, I was not disappointed after reading Rowling’s first ‘grown up’ book. I loved it. She is a master of characters, connections, and layers of plots that are never ‘sub’ to anything, but partner plots that hold the whole story together. The only thing I may regret is that I will not have another grown-up to talk about Americanah with.

And what a concept: that I’m truly sorry I have no one in real time to discuss a great book and author. And that–that is what I want to ignite in my classroom. Not just “read it” –but read it so you can talk about it. A book shared is a gift from our inner lives, our inner thoughts: what others come to believe or interpret about literature is sublime and…it’s love.

Last night I was out to dinner with my husband, and telling him about my Renaissance with ‘The Raven‘ by Edgar Allan Poe and 7th grade students. I am not the same teacher I was so many years ago, and have learned over the past four to five years to let the students do most of the heavy mental lifting. Being in on their discussions as they grapple with stanzas and translate early 19th century gothic poetry is so fun. My husband brought up that Poe was not a favorite of his until he heard ‘Annabel Lee.’ Being the modern woman I am, found the poem on my phone, and he looked it over again, and offered new insight to the beauty of some of its lines…how beautiful a concept that angels, who are supposed to be so beatific and perfect, could be jealous of  humans’ love…

The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
   Went envying her and me—
Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,
   In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
   Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

By talking about a poem, I learned something new about my husband, even after 23 years.

Now I’m not sure how to tell students what this all means, how to show them what’s in front of them, and what beauty is around the corner for them, too. I’ll try to figure out a way though–look through my old scrolls and tomes of quaint and curious lore, of long forgotten lesson plans of book talks and sharing of tales, and see what they create. These experiences, too, add to their own stories.