It is a special thing when a book affirms your most fundamental professional beliefs and practices, but when you can also take new learning and new inIt is a special thing when a book affirms your most fundamental professional beliefs and practices, but when you can also take new learning and new inspiration from that book as well. This was the case for me with Peter Johnston's Choice Words. Even though it has been three years since I first read Johnston's book, it still resonates with me strongly and impacts my teaching. I often find connections to and examples of things I read in the book as I go about my daily work. This is a book that really did impact my life, and one that has great "staying power." All teachers could benefit from reading this book about how the way we communicate with students can empower them or tear them down....more
I've been reading about Mindsets for several years, but had never read Carol Dweck's book. I felt that it would be important and insightful to hear al
I've been reading about Mindsets for several years, but had never read Carol Dweck's book. I felt that it would be important and insightful to hear all of Dweck's thinking about her research and findings from her point of view. The book is powerful. Dweck explains how she came to the understanding of mindsets and then tells numerous anecdotes and illustrations to make her point. I especially liked how Dweck pointed out that people can sometimes have a fixed mindset in some regards of their makeup, while in other areas they may have more of a growth mindset. Additionally, I appreciated Dweck's thoughts about how to make changes in your own mindset, and how to positively influence the mindsets of those you work most closely with. Excellent book! (/p)
Dueck definitely echoes many of the beliefs and concerns I have regarding traditional grading and assessment practices, and he also recommends ways to
Dueck definitely echoes many of the beliefs and concerns I have regarding traditional grading and assessment practices, and he also recommends ways to address this topic- providing some solutions to the "but what about..."s that are often asked by educators. Dueck writes from the point of view and philosophy that what we are doing in assessment and grading is a remnant of what we experienced as students, and that it doesn't serve us or our students. It is very apparent that for him, ensuring that students learn is the most important thing about being a teacher. To that end, he considers what is necessary for learning to take place, and he addresses the issues of poverty, relationships with students, the high pressure to succeed placed on some students, etc. Within the book, Dueck shares issues and strategies related to grading, homework, unit plans (syllabi/ rubrics/ unit "goals"), retesting, and creativity.
I found some great validation of my own personal beliefs and philosophies about teaching, grading, and assessing in Dueck's book. Dueck has conducted thorough research of the topic and has an extensive number of references and works cited, but he also shares personal anecdotes of what he has tried and what has worked or not worked in his own classroom. There are a number of rubric, checklist, and "contract" examples in the book that may be very helpful to educators. This book is a bit more directed to teachers teaching middle and high school than elementary, and that made it only a little less relevant for me. One other thing I sensed was that, even though he believed differently, Dueck found a way to be within the range of what was "accepted practice" at times. It was as though he knew if he went too strongly, people would be turned off and wouldn't read the book. I get this, but there are times when I wish he would just "stick it" to the people who use "gotcha" practices in grading (assigning zeroes, never allowing retests or second chances, etc.). All in all, this was a good read with some practical applications.
A go-to book and a go-to mentor for being a successful teacher of reading and writing-- particularly in a workshop setting. Nancie Atwell is one of myA go-to book and a go-to mentor for being a successful teacher of reading and writing-- particularly in a workshop setting. Nancie Atwell is one of my professional "heroes"! I've referred to this book since it was in it's first edition!...more
Nancie Atwell's book,In the Middle, was one that I read early in my teaching career, and it convinced me of the importance of the workshop model in laNancie Atwell's book,In the Middle, was one that I read early in my teaching career, and it convinced me of the importance of the workshop model in language arts instruction. Still, it seemed to me to address writing more than reading (maybe that was the influence of the professors and instructors I had when I was reading it). Fast-forward over 15 years and I was browsing the "educational" section of a Barnes and Noble store when my hand fell onto this amazingly thin book! (For an educator who never has enough time to read all the professional books, children's books,-- much less personal books in my ever growing "to read" list, a thin book was a good thing!)
I have read The Reading Zone: How to Help Kids Become Skilled, Passionate, Habitual, Critical Readers several times since I bought it in the spring of 2007. It is a short but powerful book about the importance of having kids truly engage with books that they choose and they care about. Atwell spends time on her philosophy-her thinking-on this topic, and then moves to some very practical "how-tos" that can help guide teachers in the logistics of managing reading workshop, assessing student progress, and helping kids find their way "into the zone" when they are reading.
For those who love Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer, this book is a nice companion. Atwell's and Miller's philosophies are very similar, and The Reading Zone is a nice, short reminder of why we do what we do as teachers in a language arts classroom, and ways to implement practices that will help us achieve our goals of making real readers of our students....more
This book was a great read and the ideas in it were fresh and useful for me. I really am excited about using the signposts and key questions with my sThis book was a great read and the ideas in it were fresh and useful for me. I really am excited about using the signposts and key questions with my students. I just wish that the authors already had these developed for informational texts! I look forward to when that book comes out!...more
After reading Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer, I was definitely a fan. I was excited when Reading in the Wild was published, yet it appears that iAfter reading Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer, I was definitely a fan. I was excited when Reading in the Wild was published, yet it appears that it has taken me a year to read it. That isn't exactly true. What is true is that this book speaks to me deeply, and I found myself reading, making notes, and rereading it over the last several months. I am so grateful for Donalyn Miller. She puts in print so many of the things I've thought, wondered, and felt in my 25 years of teaching. Her book validates me, inspires me, and gives me new ideas and insights to consider.
So much of what happens in schools happens because of policies, legislation, and other decisions made far away from the classrooms and children most impacted. Reading in the Wild is a voice of reason from an educator who is "in the trenches", who constantly works to refine her craft, and who is never satisfied to do something just because "that's the way it's always been done", or because someone else "said so".
The bottom line of this book is that, in order to nurture readers so that they become lifelong--"wild"--readers, we have to build relationships with our students, help them build relationships with each other, and then find books that meet their interests and needs. Once these things happen, our readers can begin to support one another as they become a community that talks, shares, reads, (breathes, sleeps,...), and loves books together.
Many of the ideas in this book are ones I've implemented during the year as I've been reading. I'm excited about getting back into the classroom with my kids next week and putting some more of Donalyn Miller's recommendations into practice as we launch the second half of our year.
If you are a teacher of readers, you need to read this book....more
I am a teacher of elementary students, but the parent of one of the "teenage brains" referred to in the title of this book. I originally bought the boI am a teacher of elementary students, but the parent of one of the "teenage brains" referred to in the title of this book. I originally bought the book thinking there would be good information I could use with my teen. The book gave me great insight, and some information that is helpful. The real audience for this book, though, is middle and high school teachers. The greatest messages for teachers include: all students can learn; areas that need attention in students who are underachieving are attitude, cognitive capacity, effort, and focused strategies; if students are not successful, it is up to teachers to help them become successful; attitude, effort, and cognitive capacity are all areas that can be "grown" and improved.
In a time when there's such emphasis on formative assessment, allowing students to make mistakes and learn from them and working to make school about the learning, this book has good advice and information. Unfortunately, there are always some teachers who feel that teaching students how to organize, plan, study, and manage their learning is not their job. This book has good research to support the fact that this is exactly what teachers should be doing and includes strategies for how to go about it.
This book is very practical and quick to read. Those working with teens can learn a lot from the information shared in this book....more
A hugely powerful book for any and all teachers of reading and writing! Katie Wood Ray helps us to see reading in a new light, and guides us in usingA hugely powerful book for any and all teachers of reading and writing! Katie Wood Ray helps us to see reading in a new light, and guides us in using the writing and writers around us to learn how to become better writers ourselves. Partly philosophy and research, but mostly practical ideas for helping students become Writers (yep! With a capital W), whose writing is REAL. I found myself returning to this book over and over throughout the year for inspiration, practical lesson ideas, and advice. Even if I were not teaching writing, this book is so beautifully written that it makes me "read like a writer" and appreciate the craft of writing "wondrous words" in my daily life!...more
Rick Wormeli presents his ideas and beliefs about grading and reporting in such a sensible and reasonable way. This book focuses on identifying and deRick Wormeli presents his ideas and beliefs about grading and reporting in such a sensible and reasonable way. This book focuses on identifying and defining assessment, grading, rating, and reporting--how they are similar, and yet how they serve very different purposes. It makes the reader consider what grades really mean and what they should reflect. The book makes perfect sense to me and to many of my elementary level colleagues. I find, however, that many middle and high school teachers argue with the ideas in the book- primarily because they are still very vested in the idea of grades being the way they control students, and they rule their roost with the almighty ZERO. Hopefully readers of this book will realize that grades need to be reflections of what students know and can do. Behavior and compliance to deadlines, etc. must be handled in some other way than grades.
The first in a series..., I know I'll be going back for more. This is a dystopian- sci-fi type of book. I believe it is totally accessible for my 3rdThe first in a series..., I know I'll be going back for more. This is a dystopian- sci-fi type of book. I believe it is totally accessible for my 3rd and 4th grade G/T students, but boy does it pack a punch! This deals with a time in the future of our country when a fear of a food shortage pushes the government to become totalitarian and to control population, food production, etc. Families are restricted to having only two children-- yet third, and sometimes fourth, children do occur. These "illegals" must be hidden lest they be taken by the Population Police. Luke, the story's protagonist, is one of these third children. Fascinating and thought- provoking!...more
When visitors enter a classroom, they can immediately sense specific things about what goes on in that classroom. Peter Johnston and his colleagues stWhen visitors enter a classroom, they can immediately sense specific things about what goes on in that classroom. Peter Johnston and his colleagues studied classrooms where students appeared to have a sense of agency, were strategic thinkers, viewed themselves as literate readers and writers, and treated one another with empathy and respect. Johnston found that there was a definite commonality that could be detected in these highly effective and productive classrooms. That common piece was the way that the teachers use language to help their students build narratives in which they are readers, writers, poets, people with good ideas and strong skills, and members of a community that discusses, wonders, examines, and learns together in a respectful way.
Choice Words is all about bringing these examples of the effective use of language to our attention. Throughout the book Johnston shares specific examples of teacher language and the effects this language has on students. He also explains why this language works the way it does.
As a teacher, I know that there are things that I say and do unwittingly that may have positive or negative effects on my students. Johnston's goal is to make teachers more aware so that they can incorporate the effective language into their daily dealings with students until the language becomes a part of who they are and how they interact with students.
While the focus of this book is supposed to be the language arts, it has much farther reaching implications. It is really about creating intellectual environments in which students successfully become competent, more knowledgeable, and more able, but also become more confident, caring individuals who can think critically and logically, problem solve, and collaborate with others to make something greater than they could on their own.
I found this to be a very powerful, thought-provoking book. I'm sure that I will be revisiting it often in the future!...more
Excellent book for clearly laying out the information about the strategies good readers use and that ALL readers should be taught. The lessons includeExcellent book for clearly laying out the information about the strategies good readers use and that ALL readers should be taught. The lessons included are wonderful, and can serve to guide a new teacher or as a "jumping-off" place for an experienced teacher. This book is marked as "read", but it is on the shelf next to my desk and I pull it out every week as I plan lessons!...more
Excellent resource that gives explicit directions and examples of how to successfully establish reading/writing workshop in your own classroom. HighlyExcellent resource that gives explicit directions and examples of how to successfully establish reading/writing workshop in your own classroom. Highly readable, and based on research-proven practices. I really appreciate this book!...more