Friday, June 29, 2012


I know it has been awhile, but I've been busy. In between several meetings and a week long conference, I had to pack up 13 years worth of teaching materials---including a huge classroom library. It is so weird to even type these words, but I am leaving Maplewood Middle School. I took a position as the Menasha High School Literacy Coach. Same district: new office, new principal, new staff. However, I won't be leaving Maplewood completely as part of my job is to help bridge the two schools. The best part is I still get to work with Barb Novak, the current Literacy Coach at Maplewood! Love her!

Now that I have had to condense a classroom and decide what to bring to my new 8 ft by 12 ft office, my home office is overflowing with young adult literature. I left some books behind for my former colleagues but I have a plethora of great books that could be used at the high school and am donating most of them to English teachers who expressed interest. I would rather my former students have the opportunity to read them than sell them at a garage sale or even to Half-Price Books.

So now that my belongings are moved from one school to the other, the new furniture has been chosen and picked up by our wonderful district maintenance staff and is resting peacefully outside of my new office--which is waiting to be painted and re-carpeted., I have another list to tackle. My summer reading list. It has taken a different spin.

My summer reading list:

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck (Just finished!)

Instructional Coaching: A Partnership Approach to Improving Instruction by Jim Knight

Unmistakable Impact: A Partnership Approach for Dramatically Improving Instruction by Jim Knight (Amazon says it is arriving today. Note that this title says "Dramatically Improving Instruction" and the first one by Knight just says "Improving Instruction.")

Coaching Conversations: Transforming Your School One Conversation at a Time by  Linda Cheliotes and Marcela Reilly.

Developing Readers in the Academic Disciplines by Doug Buehl (I started this one back in March or April and the book binding fell apart, IRA sent me a new copy and I just haven't gotten back into it yet.)

Text Complexity: Raising Rigor in Reading By Doug Fisher, Nancy Frey and Diane Lapp (I also started this one but haven't been focused enough to finish it.)

I am both overwhelmed and excited--and not just because of my reading list!  This blog may end up taking a tiny spin in a different direction, but I do have several blog posts that I had been working on with activities and ideas that I planned to develop and will still share.  Rest assured that through this blog I will continue to share the lessons, the struggles, and the learning that develops from this new endeavor!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Share This! Connections, Myths, and Other Randomness from my Basement.

Sometimes I am not very quick when it comes to making connections.  When I began my obsession with Twitter a few months ago, I started following @ProfessorNana also known as the "YA Goddess."  Not long after, my school Literacy Coach told me I should check out a "really great blog" full of book reviews and recommendations by a woman named Teri S. Lesesne.  Imagine my surprise when I put two and two together and realized I was already following her and reading her blog. Teri S. Lesesne IS @ProfessorNana.

Anyway, a few years ago, I borrowed a really good book from a former colleague entitled Naked Reading: Uncovering What Tweens Need to Become Lifelong Readers (Stenhouse Publishers, 2006).  The reason I bring this up is because I was cleaning my basement. (I have since halted that task so I could distract myself with THIS one.) Due to my phenomenal organizational skills, the book had somehow fallen into a random bin--and I swore I had returned this book to that former colleague. (Sorry, Heather.)  Guess who the author is? Teri S. Lesesne.

Flipping through the book, I noticed I had a few pages tabbed.  (It's what I do.) On one tab I had written "Share This!" Unfortunately, I didn't note who to share it with and since I certainly like to encourage myself to follow my own directions--I figured it was imperative that I take the time out from cleaning the basement and share it with YOU.

Exploding Some Myths About Reading 

Myth #1 Kids must read only "good" books and not be allowed to wallow in popular fiction. She adds that another myth often follows this one and that is: "It is not quantity but quality that matters in reading.  How much we read does matter."

Myth #2 Readers are easy to spot; they always have their noses in books.

Myth #3 Readability (reading levels, lexiles, etc.) is a good way to match books to kids.

Myth #4 Canned reading programs can create readers.

Myth #5 Once kids are independent readers, reading aloud and shared and paired reading should become activities and strategies of the past.

Myth #6 Kids can automatically distinguish between good and bad literature.

Myth #7 Reading is a science that can be broken down into component parts easily for quick consumption.  (Blogger's Note:  Once upon a time we actually tried to do this as an English department.  I am so ashamed, but in our defense we didn't know any better at the time.)

Myth #8 Reading is the same no matter what we are reading or why. So wrong it it almost laughable.

Myth #9 Having grade level lists is a good idea.

Myth #10 One size fits all, and the corollary: one book is good for all kids.(p. 3-5)

She adds the word "WRONG!" behind each of these myths and explains why they are indeed so.  It's worth the read and I say this because I have several more tabs and nuggets from the book I deemed as important.  However, I need to promptly review the tabs of my thoughts so I can return the book to its original owner.

Fact:  Sometimes cleaning your basement can lead to something completely random and cause you to make strange connections. However, it can also lead to a blog post that forces you to avoid cleaning the rest of it altogether!

By the way, you can find the link to Teri Lesesne's blog here.

Naked Reading

More information about her book can be found here.