Showing posts from November, 2016

Why I Accept Late Work for Full Credit

As I sat down to work on lesson plans on a cold, dreary Sunday afternoon, I thought a lot about my students and my beliefs about education.  I've been listening to an Eleanor Roosevelt biography, and right now in the book, Europe is in World War II and the U.S. is preparing. While others want to focus solely on stopping dictatorships in Europe, Eleanor wants to focus on defining and defending the principles of democracy. In times of uncertainty and fear, it is easy to see everything we're against.  However, I think the stronger way to proceed is to get clear on what we are for. If you've read many of my posts, you know I deeply believe in choice reading because I believe that all kids deserve to learn and grow.  I believe strongly that literacy is a right for all.

I also believe that teachers need to be vigilant about practices in our own classes that become gatekeepers, allowing success for some, and holding others back. This post is dedicated to exploring one such gate-…

Creating A Peaceful, Productive Classroom...Even with Resistant Teens

Over Thanksgiving Break it was my daughter's birthday. She's now twelve. My son is 13 and my youngest daughter is almost 11. We are officially living in the preteen/young teen years in our house. For those of you unfamiliar with living with children this age, here are a few things we experience daily:
rampant child genius/parental stupidity "That's not fair!" "You are the strictest parent ever! All my friends' parents let them _____." When the kids were little, I discovered two books that became my sanity. The first was
Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood: Practical Parenting From Birth to Six Years by Jim Fay and Charles Fay, and the second was Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline: The 7 Basic Skills for Turning Conflict into Cooperation by Becky Bailey. I was by no means perfect at keeping my calm, but let me tell you, our house reverberated with the Uh-Oh Song, and I recited "What you focus on, you get more of" inside my head like …

Let Them Read!

I laughed out loud on Saturday morning at NCTE when Donalyn Miller said that Gary Paulsen didn't write Hatchet so teachers could do a camping unit.  You mean authors' sole purpose, hours pouring over drafts, revising and editing, and finally publishing their books, is not so that teachers can have units?

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not saying we shouldn't use books in our classrooms.  We absolutely, 100% should use books in our classrooms.  I'm not even saying that we shouldn't create units of study in our classrooms. However, I think we need to consider the crazy notion that sometimes books just need to be books, so that readers can just be readers.

After all, it is readers we teach, not books.

So, what might a classroom that allows books to be books and readers to be readers look like?  Here are four ideas:

1.  Classrooms would be places where students have lots of choice in books.  A student could select a book that's just right at that moment - maybe …

The Tribal Effect: NCTE

Sometimes you just have to know you are part of a tribe, a tribe who cares and supports your vision. This weekend I'm at NCTE in Atlanta.  And I am with my tribe.  I am surrounded by people who love
books, who love writing, who care passionately about kids and authentic learning.  I have run into authors - I met and HUGGED Jason Reynolds...JASON REYNOLDS!!  I have gone to sessions and listened to Penny Kittle, Kelly Gallagher, Kylene Beers, Bob Probst, Linda Rief.  I sat in the main hallway charging my iPad and watched Ralph Fletcher and Tanny McGregor walk by.  And that, friends, is just Day #1.  I have two more to go.  (Insert squeal here!)

I so needed this infusion of energy, this swaddling in the comfort of my people.  I needed to be part of a community where I feel taken care of, pumped up and nurtured, like I am in good, safe hands.  I needed to be around people that made me feel like I'm on the right track, like they've got my back. And, like if I get lost in this b…