Summer Reading 2016

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I’ve finished six books so far this summer and have many more on my summer reading list.  The books in the pile on the right are up next.  Plus, I am reading all of the fifth grade LC Units of Study for Writing and Reading to prepare for my grade level move.

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Me Before You

I planned to read this one before seeing the movie, but it just traveled in my purse for ever and I never got past page three.  Instead, I read and finished about eight other books!  Sometimes I’m just not ready to read a book – it isn’t the right time.  I am always reassuring my son that it is fine if he isn’t interested in reading a book right now.  Just put it on the shelf and eventually, when the time is right, he’ll read it.You’ve had this issue before, right?

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Ready to read it now!

 

 

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Thank you, Jenny Lawson!

I listened to the Furiously Happy audio book read by the author, Jenny Lawson.

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I laughed. I cried. I realized that I may be crazy – but I am not alone.

I laughed out loud at the absurdity of her train of thought. (In part, because it isn’t far from what happens in my head.)

I mumbled, “What the…” to myself more than a few times.

Then, all of a sudden, chapter thirty hits me. And I’m bawling in the car, driving down the expressway.

Yes.  That’s exactly it.  THAT is how I feel.  It’s not just me.

This is how it feels – this is what I have never been able to put into words – will never be able to put into words even in my head. 

I’m not sure that I ever truly understood.

And then I heard her words echo through my car.  I heard her explain to her readers what my life feels like some days.

Tears fell.

But, instead of sadness, I felt relief.

So, thank you Jenny Lawson.  Thank you!

 

 

Win!

My co-teacher, Christina, is a competitive person.  She likes to win!  (How have the two of us, both very controlling, made it this far into the year without killing each other?)

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Yesterday, she was subbing in another room.  The kids and I started trying to read Fox in Socks without making a mistake…not as easy as they thought.  I got to page 12 and most of the brave souls who tried got to 7.  One young reader tied me and stumbled on page 12. 

Today a few students wanted to try before we started our read aloud.  When I explained that we did this yesterday, her hand automatically went out for the book.  She NEEDED to get past page 12.  I knew it, and reluctantly handed over the book.  I did not want her to beat my page, but she just might…

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Anxiety built in my stomach…page 5…6..7…8…9…10…11…12

YES! She messed up on page 12…on the same word as I did!  I’m pretty sure I jumped up and down in excitement.  She, however, was not excited that we tied.  And that is why I win!

Random Slice Plus a Thought

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hI listen to audio books on my commute.  This morning I plugged my headphones into my newest Playaway and…it was a narrator with a British accent!  I can’t put into words how excited I was by this discovery.

I love books, but a British accent just adds to the magic of the text.  It just does!

So my thought about this slice of my life:  Libraries should organize their audio books by the accent of the narrator.  Yep.  Life changing.

One Right Answer

Growing up, there was always just one right answer in school.  I had to know that one right answer, but that isn’t how I teach.  Sometimes there is one right answer, 2+2 is always 4.  However, sometimes there can be more than one right answer, if you can defend your answer with evidence.  This especially applies in reading.

For a week and a half, we focused on fables in reading.  We taught students the characteristics, practiced sequencing events, and modeled inferring morals.  When we got to inferring morals, we found that students didn’t always get the same message we did out of them.   Students saw a different message and were often able to support their opinion with evidence.  It made sense.

We not only tell them there can be more than one answer, but we also encourage the idea.  Students have learned that they should share their ideas, but they need support.  This became clear when I was grading summative assessments this weekend.

This is a great answer…

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But is this answer wrong?  Personally, I don’t think so…

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Academic Parent Teacher Teams

Thanks to our Literacy Coach the entire third grade team (three classes) is participating in Academic Parent Teacher Teams.  You can read more about these teams at our coach’s blog, BigTime Literacy.  We decided to focus on reading data and strategies this year.The idea behind them is to share data and give parents strategies to help their kids.

At our first meeting we gave parents their child’s reading level and strategies to help with inference and character traits.  We noticed while doing the initial F&P testing that this was a major weakness across the grade.  You can see our presentation here.

Last week we had our second meeting.  Ten out of our twenty-five families were present.  We shared the student’s reading data, information about Standards Based Grading, and strategies to help students with evaluating texts.  You can see our second presentation here.Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 3.19.57 PM

Parents were able to learn strategies and set goals for their children.  Most parents were able to see that their child met the goals they set in the fall.  So exciting!  Our third meeting is set for May where we will focus on ways for parents to help prevent a summer slump.    We are not getting paid for these meetings, they are not part of our contract, and they require a huge amount of preparation and planning.  However, the fantastic progress students are making is worth it!

Some questions…and one piece of advice

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Dear Mr. Sparks,

     Why do you always kill off one of your characters?  That isn’t exactly what I needed this morning, but I should have known better.  I have been listening to The Best of Me for the past few days.  At first I saw a lot of similarities to The Notebook: star crossed teen love, pretentious parents, letting go to come back together later in life.  Eventually I stopped thinking of the similarities, but why does death of a character need to be in every book.  But, I guess the better question is, why do I keep reading your books when I know it will end with me crying?!

                                                                                                                         A fan

 

Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 9.39.16 PMDear Education.com,

     How did you know that I am short?  When JennieB was taken, you gave me “shortJennieB” as an alternative.  How did you know?

                                                                                                                    Sincerely,

                                                                                                                    ShortJennieB

 

Dear Self,

Why did you not wake up to your alarm this morning?  I know that you set your alarm, but it wasn’t set this morning when you woke up, LATE.   Did you turn it off in your sleep?  Whatever happened…DON’T let it happen again!!!

                                                                                                                  Me

 

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Dear New Teachers,

     I know that this job we love is difficult.  There will be days that you feel completely inadequate, ready to break down and walk out.  We all have them and I can’t say that these days stop with experience.  (They don’t.)   But, I promise, there will also be days that you will break through walls and help turn on light bulbs.  There will be days that you get emails from former students that make every day they made your head ache worth it.   Work hard, don’t forget you always have room to learn, and most importantly, please don’t give up.  These kids need us and you can do it.

                                                                                                              A Sixth Year Teacher

 

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

– Martin Luther King Junior