Sunday, August 25, 2013

Summer Reading List

This summer a number of blogs I followed mentioned lists from bloggers about what they had read during the summer, or the reading challenges they were participating in, or the 10 best books to make you laugh, etc. And all these books weren't the adult literature that I was focusing on (see my previous post), they were picture books (like I read to my little girls each night), children's books, and chapter books. Since I work at the elementary (K-5) level I began to feel like I was missing out on something. I should be modeling reading with the students around me - sharing books appropriate for them.

As I thought about how to do this I came across a post by the fabulous Pernille Ripp. Since I am not in the classroom, her first idea about showcasing her reading was the perfect way for me to share with the classes around me. So this week my fabulous wife helped me set up a display on my office door showcasing the books I have read this summer plus the books on my to-read list. Hopefully this will bring up some discussion with the students around my office and we can share some enthusiasm for the world of reading.

In the spirit of list making (and making myself accountable for actually getting the display done), here are the books I have read and the books I hope to read in the near future.

Summer Reading
Books I am currently reading
Want to read
How was your summer reading? What did you read?
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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Joys of Reading Again

Ever since I was a young student I have been a voracious reader. I remember my mother taking me to the public library and I would bring home a stack of books taller than my head. I would finish those books well before the due date. My mother often teased me about walking around the house with my nose in a book, pouring myself a glass of milk to drink without ever lifting my eyes from the book. I don't remember every book I read, although Judy Blume was a favorite author for awhile. For a few years my all time favorite book was The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles. I remember finishing Ivanhoe one year and feeling especially proud of myself.

I still have a tremendous love of books, although the number of books I've read has dropped precipitously since work, six kids, and life have taken over my time. For many years my reading consisted mostly of the daily newspaper and trade magazines - with very small doses of novels every now and then (Harry Potter and Twilight)

A few years ago, after I got my first iPod, I discovered audiobooks. At my previous school I had a 30 minute drive each way. So I started checking out audiobooks from my public library and ripping them to my iPod, listening to them in the car during that hour drive each day. I was able to enjoy books again! I listened to books that I never would have had the time to read: Moby Dick, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Les Miserables, and Dune. I tried authors that I hadn't even heard of before: Phillip Dick, Robert Jordan (still need to listen to the last volume in the Wheel of Time!), John Grisham, Orson Scott Card, H. G. Wells, and Marion Zimmer.

Then I got an iPad. I discovered iBooks and all the free classic books I could ever want! Now I have a to-read list from Henry Rider Haggard and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Since my iPad is with me wherever I go, I now have a good book to read at any moment!

But I still feel guilty for not having a stack of books (real, honest-to-goodness, physical books), sitting on my nightstand ready for me to devour. Are audiobooks and iBooks real books? Somehow I need to make the time again to just enjoy reading while doing nothing else. How have you kept up your reading?

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Connecting Readers with Global Read Aloud

Are you looking for ways to engage your students in reading? Maybe help them discover that books and reading are popular anywhere in the world? Would you like your students to become a part of something bigger? Become a part of the Global Read Aloud 2013!

The Global Read Aloud is a project started in 2010 by 5th grade teacher Pernille Ripp because she wanted to expand her global collaboration. Since that time more than 30,000 connections have been made. Students and teachers have joined in this successful project to prove that the world can be joined together by a common thread - a love of reading!

Participation in this project is completely free - you only need to purchase the book to read to your class. This year the books to read are:
  • Eric Carle Author Study - ideal for kindergarten
  • Marty McGuire by Kate Messner - ideal for 1st through 3rd
  • Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper - ideal for 4th and up (can go as high as you want)
  • Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach - Middle School and High School (although some will be reading it with their 5th graders)
Dates for the Global Read Aloud this year are September 30th through November 8th. Classes will read specific pages/chapters each week and then connect with other classrooms around the world to discuss and reflect on their reading. How you connect is up to you - Edmodo groups, Skype, email, snail mail, Twitter - the possibilities are endless. More details can be found here.

You will want to sign up so you get all the latest information.

Become a part of the Global Read Aloud and connect your students with the world!
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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Empowering My Daughter and Saving My Sanity

About mid-July my family was at Toys R Us shopping for a birthday present. We came across some great deals on backpacks and decided to take advantage of them. Angry Birds for Adam, my soon to be 4th grade son, Doc McStuffins for Abby, my daughter just entering 1st grade, and Disney princesses for Maddy, my preschooler.

The very next day is when it started. "Is it school yet?" "Can I see my backpack?" "I wish it was school time!" School doesn't start until the last week of August! For the next few days it was cute to see their excitement for school and the chance to use their new backpacks. But the incessant questioning soon began to wear on me. My preschooler would fall down on the floor crying because she wanted to go to school and I wouldn't let her! My first grader pouted because she really really wanted to try out that backpack! School couldn't start soon enough for them! Or me!

I realized that to save my sanity I would need to find a way to help my daughters understand how many days were left before the first glorious day of school. I printed out a calendar for July and August. I showed them how the calendar worked with the days of the week and a number for each day. Together we marked the first day of school with an apple and the words "School starts". I showed them how to draw a big X across each day, indicating it wasn't a school day. We then hung the calendar on the fridge and Abby said she would mark the X each day. 

It's been a week now, and she has faithfully marked an X each morning when she wakes up. By the time I come home from my morning jog, the X is there showing we are one day closer to school and backpacks!

Since we started that calendar I have not been questioned once about the backpacks and school! Now she can look and see how many days there are.

That is my philosophy on my role as a technology integrator. Rather than have teachers always coming to me to do technology rich lessons for them, or believing that I am the only source of techno knowledge, I need to empower the them. I believe that showing teachers how to use technology, how to use it as part of their everyday instruction, and the value it adds to their instruction empowers them. I can't be the only one using Edmodo with their students, or finding great apps for the iPads, or helping students tell their next great story with Toontastic. The teachers have to be just as engaged as the students. When they are they own it and extend the learning and integration far beyond what I initially did. Kind of like the proverb about teaching a man to fish.

Now if I could just figure out a way to teach my first grader how to read a clock so that she knows not to wake up at 5 o'clock each morning, then I'll have it made!
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