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28 May 2016 @ 10:34 am
Followed a link to a post about Secrets of the Library at the 5 Minute Librarian blog: http://www.5minlib.com/2016/05/10-insider-secrets-librarians-only-tell.html?m=1. As someone who came to work in a Library Science Department without an MLS or even school librarian certification (LONG story), I have learned many other secrets. I am revealing a few today. I know that anyone who works with a school librarian will not consider these secrets. But for those of you who do not have a close working relationship, these might be secrets to you.

Librarians do much more than check books in and out of the library. They build the collection and curate it. This requires constantly working to ensure that the collection meets the needs of the school. They weed books that are outdated or no longer meet the needs of the students and staff. The add to the collection. And they solicit input from the school in doing this.

In addition to issuing the "overdue offender lists," they help students find books that match their needs, interests, and preferences. They are adept (or they SHOULD BE) at finding another book "just like this one."

On top of doing inventories at the end of the year, librarians can help kids find the answers to their questions, find resources for their research needs and interests, find reliable sources. There are a series of memes on Facebook attesting to this ability.

In truth, I could spend much more time and space on what it is that librarians can do. Find out for yourself, though, by talking to her or him.
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Current Mood: relaxedrelaxed
27 May 2016 @ 08:51 am
I have lost count of the number of times I have spoken about the power of reading aloud. I doubt that I have ever delivered PD without mentioning the power of reading aloud. So, I was thrilled to see this post today: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/features/reading-aloud-classroom/.

I am doing a short workshop next week, and have devoted a piece to reading aloud. Here are a few of the links I will share:

Jim Trelease, the guru of reading aloud, has tons of stuff available at his web site here: http://tinyurl.com/k9j3uzv.

http://tinyurl.com/kb8sw5qBill Teale

Article: Reading Aloud in Classrooms: From the Modal Toward a "Model” by James Hoffman, Nancy L. Roser & Jennifer Battle. Reading Teacher (1993) Vol. 46 (6): pp. 496-507.
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Current Mood: happyhappy
26 May 2016 @ 06:10 pm
I loved this article about a parent reaction to banning books: http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/romano-banning-a-book-is-the-real-obscenity-in-this-case/2278971. Here is a reasoned piece about the challenge to THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER. Here was a case where a book was required reading despite it being inappropriate for the intended audience. But despite the fact that the book needed to be given to older readers, the author (John Romano) still persists in objecting to those who would seek to ban a book. Here are the two key sentences:

"So, no, I have zero problem with a parent deciding the book is inappropriate for their child.

But I have a huge problem with a parent deciding the book is inappropriate for my child."

Selection: making sure your child reads books you deem appropriate. This is your right (and responsibility) as a parent. We might disagree about what I deem appropriate (especially since I let my own residents of the back bedroom read without restrictions except in rare circumstances), but I will not allow someone else to dictate what my kids read. That is censorship.

I also appreciate the references to the fact that some will permit kids to watch TV shows with questionable content but object when milder content appears in books. I also agree that, prior to assigning a book to be read by a class, the teacher should read it him or herself.

There is a lot to like in this piece. I wish we had more cool heads when it comes to challenges over books. I would go one step further in some recommendations:

1. If you decide to use a book with "mature" content (and remember that your definition of mature content might differ from the next person's), you might want to assemble a rationale for that book. For an example of how to write a rationale and for links to existing rationales check here: http://www.ncte.org/action/anti-censorship/rationales.

2. Consider not requiring an entire class to read the same book. CHOICE should help reduce if not eliminate challenges.

3. I waver about getting permission from parents in advance of reading. Ted Hipple wrote about this years ago in English Journal in an article entitled "Somnolent Bulls, Red Flags, Dirty Books, and Censorship Pedagogy." Here is the link to the piece: http://www.ncte.org/journals/ej/issues/v90-3.

There have been plenty of challenges of late, and there will be more. But the ability to speak up, to listen to the voices of others, and to be prepared can assist all of us who continue to fight the good fight.
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Current Mood: pleasedpleased
25 May 2016 @ 12:36 pm
Here is a link to a story posted to Facebook yesterday: http://www.mlive.com/news/saginaw/index.ssf/2013/03/freeland_fifth_grader_amasses.html. I am thrilled to see a kid praised for reading. I just wish it were not in the context of Accelerated Reader. Sigh.

Here is the telling part about this reader: "Matthew has a Nook and about two hundred books at home, along with a library card at the Thomas Township Library, said his mother, Monique Staley of Freeland."

What would happen if we cou8ld make sure each and every kid had a Nook or Kindle or device? How much might they read if they had access to hundreds of books at home, particularly now that summer is approaching and access to books will be difficult for so many kids? What might improve if kids could not only have library cards, but have a way to get to the library? I know the answer to these questions and so do you.

They might not amass thousands of AR points in hopes of prizes (although it sounds as though Matthew is in it for the reading), but if the books they have access to are books they have selected, and if parents help set aside time to read during the summer (I love that Matthew's mother has to take away his glasses and Nook so he will actually sleep at night and remember my own mother exhorting me to go outside and play), then I suspect they, too, will read lots of books.

What else might happen? We might stave off the "summer slide." See this for more information: http://ideas.time.com/2013/07/01/do-kids-really-have-summer-learning-loss/.
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Current Mood: feeling point-sy
24 May 2016 @ 11:55 am
The headline reads that the Gates Foundation is doubling down on CCSS: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/gates-foundation-doubling-down-on-common-core/article/2592035. Last week, Campbell Brown was throwing around data (incorrectly), now we are being teased here that Kentucky is showing more CCR thanks to CCSS without any reference to data. This is par for the course. And I suspect it will take some time for the real (actual) and long term data to demonstrate otherwise (see RtI and NCLB debacles, for example), but this is what caught my eye: "When educators have clear and consistent expectations of what students should be able to do at the end of each year, the bridge to opportunity opens," Desmond-Hellmann writes. "The Common Core State Standards help set those expectations."

Somehow, this implies that before CCSS, there were no clear and consistent goals and expectations for students. I have to wonder, then, what was being done in all those classrooms for all those years? It seems to me that I had a curriculum (from the state) with objectives I was charged with covering in my classes. I had a scope and sequence; I had course materials (textbooks, etc.) and, surprisingly I had expectations. I still do.

1. I expect my students to continue on the road to lifelong learning, lifelong reading, lifelong writing. For some, this will be a new journey, a new road. However, for most, this is a road well-travelled; I will travel it along with them.

2. I expect my students to deepen their appreciation of the written word. This will not happen in arduous lessons of close reading. This will happen through read alouds, booktalks, conversations, and conferences.

3. I expect my students to share their authentic responses with me.

4. I expect that my students will share what they are learning in a variety of ways (and they get to personalize that way, mode, method, product).

5. I expect my students will develop their own reading interests, preferences, habits.

I do not need a corporation to design aligned materials for me. Believe it or not, I am capable of doing this. It was part of my teacher education program, and it continues to be part of my learning every single day (for instance, today I am going on a data scavenger hunt across campus to begin a course in using social media data in new ways).

I resent the tone, intended or not, of this piece. It suggests that, if CCSS reformers only knew what would happen with a shift in standards, they might have been better prepared. Could this oversight be explained, in part, by the fact that the chief authors of CCSS did not have much teaching experience or background?
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Current Mood: angryangry
23 May 2016 @ 04:49 pm
Campbell a brown, a self-appointed guardian of education engaged in a Twitter war with an actual educator. Here is the link to the story: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/05/23/why-a-social-media-fight-between-campbell-brown-and-her-critics-matters/.

In this day and age, there are many spewing data to prove a point whether or not the data actually does apply. We need to call it BS every time we encounter it.
22 May 2016 @ 08:45 am
Happy Sunday. Yesterday was a blur as BH and I took the red eye from San Francisco to Houston. We are struggling a bit with readjustment to the time change. As we head off to church, I thought this commencement speech would be a perfect way to celebrate Sunday.

21 May 2016 @ 08:47 am
It is possible to take any story and rewrite it. I used to do this with my middle school students back before Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith gave the world The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. So, lo and behold, the NRA has done a rewrite of fairy tales with a tad of their bias showing. I bet they are unaware that Roald Dahl did it years ago in REVOLTING RHYMES, too.

20 May 2016 @ 09:35 am
Two years ago, Kylene Beers posted this on her blog. Now, as we approach summer, it is time for another reading of some wise words.


And let me add my two cents from a Knowledge Question article I wrote last year:

Four Key Qualities of a Successful Summer Reading Program
​In this article in Knowledge Quest, Teri Lesesne (Sam Houston State University) salutes the idea of getting students to read over the summer but doubts that requiring certain books is an effective strategy for countering “summer slide.” For example, entering pre-AP ninth graders in one school were asked to choose from among these books: The Crucible, A Farewell to Arms, Cannery Row, Antigone, and Siddharta, and regular ninth graders had to choose from these: Speak, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie, The Outsiders, and The Chocolate War. Instead, she suggests that we CARE about readers:

• Choice – When teachers give students a narrow choice of books, says Lesesne, they are in effect saying they know the best books and students can’t be trusted to find any. She suggests letting students choose from a much wider range of literature, including the Best Fiction for Young Adults lists www.ala.org/yalsa/best-fiction-young-adults or the Outstanding Books for the College Bound www.ala.org/yalsa/outstanding-books-college-bound. “Readers are more likely to read and to be engaged,” she says.

• Access – Some students find it difficult to put their hands on books over the summer, and schools need to create alternatives: loaning books from classrooms and the school library, partnering with public libraries, organizing transportation to libraries, and holding book drives as a service initiative. But in addition to physical access to books, Lesesne believes there’s an equally important second kind: “Books should be ones our readers can access intellectually, morally, culturally, and socially without assistance from an adult.”

• Response – How will students be held accountable for doing their summer reading? Traditional formats – book logs, quizzes, essays – run the risk of being an onerous turn-off. Lesesne has no specific suggestions for how to escape this trap but believes we need to experiment with better ways to allow students to enjoy and get immersed in their reading while still making sure they do it.

• Enthusiasm – Brief, high-energy booktalks are the best way to pique students’ interest, says Lesesne. She’s worked with colleagues to present as many as 50 of these in a half-hour (15-30 seconds for each book). She also suggests organizing Twitter chats, a Facebook page, and Google+ Hangouts among students to share books and build buzz.
Lesesne closes by citing the Katy Independent School District in Texas for its exemplary summer reading program (entirely voluntary). You can find information on this program at http://elasummerreading.weebly.com.

“Summertime and the Reading Is Required?” by Teri Lesesne in Knowledge Quest, May/June 2015 (Vol. 43, #5, p. 18-21), no e-link available; Lesesne can be reached at doctorL@shsu.edu.