teaching takes courage

Day one of being a real live English teacher.

I set the stage last week: “You will need a book to read on Monday. I’ll take attendance by asking you what book you are reading. Bring it with you!”

For the past month I fortified myself with Twitter,  the Nerdy Book Club,  and “What are you reading?” posts. I sent out notes to parents announcing the reading challenge. I told them about good fit books and growing independent readers.

Still I had doubt… what if I have stubborn students that just will not bend? What if they just refused? What if they just won’t read?

What if I do it all wrong and the reluctant readers stay reluctant. What if the passionate readers fold to peer pressure and stop reading.

Do all teachers worry so much?

Teaching takes courage.

Second hour – I have a mix of 7th and 8th grade students. It’s the promised reading time and… they are actually doing it. They have books.

My already voracious reader has agreed to try something new – The Hobbit – she want Rick Riordan back…

Another reader pointed out that the “Lightening Thief costs $18.95 according to the book jacket, so it should be good.”

Another smiles as he begins “The Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” I can’t wait for him to get to the part about the thank you notes and the pants – it always makes me laugh.

I’m going to start reading,” The Tales of Beedle the Bard,” because it was donated by a students who said I would like the humor.

Teaching takes courage, trust, my own stubbornness… but for now all I have to do is model, share my passion, and be brave… I can do that…


Monday Reading Check – In

It’s Monday… I’ve been reading like mad, but have to slow down long enough to blog about it 🙂

Here is what I read:

  The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor – It took a few chapters, but eventually I could not put it down. I will read the rest of this series and recommend it to students. It’s Star Wars meets Alice in Wonderland – danger, action, good vs. evil, and even the hint of romance. Perfect for middle school readers.

  The Disappeared by Kim Echlin – This beautiful prose takes the reader on a journey between Canada and Cambodia. I don’t think I would suggest it for middle school – but High School would be fine – lots to think about and discuss.

The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. by Kate Messner – I really liked this book. It was so moving and relevant,  yet a really fun read. This is an instant favorite!

  Capture the Flag by Kate Messner – Another note worthy book by one of my favorite authors. Great characters, a fun adventure, and just a touch of history! This will go with my “Pre- Washington D.C. Trip” suggestions for the 8th grade.

Next week I have a few professional development books to finish and I hope another batch of books to share with students.

My kids are helping me set it up my classroom library – so excited! Last week I requested gently used books be dropped off in my new classroom – I can’t wait to see what arrives, but not in any hurry to say good-bye to summer… at least not for a week or two!

Be sure to check out what other teachers and librarians are reading at Teach Mentor Text…

It’s vacation reading Monday!


It’s Monday and I’m enjoying some beach reading at a beach on the Baltic Sea. Mix in some site seeing and this should be a great day!

I finished Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham. It was a fun, fast read- especially if you like mystery Grisham style. The only problem I see is that it ended in a cliff hanger that takes you right to the next book. If you are looking for a tidy ending you won’t find it… If you want to get kids reading a book and then immediately picking up the next I think it’s great.

Happy vacation reading to all- enjoy your week! Here is what I’m reading now…




Monday Reading: Mindset by Carol Dweck

I spent the weekend with Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck. It was a wonderful journey. My husband and I had a quick – child free – road trip to visit friends and I found myself reading and talking to him about the ideas in this book. There are chapters about  parenting, leadership, coaching and even how to reach that shy student in the back of the classroom. The book was recommended by within Angela Maiers’ book The Passion Driven Classroom and provides evidence for having a growth rather than a fixed mind-set.

I feel much more able to handle the students who say, “That’s too hard,” “I’m not one of those smart students,” or “Why do you want us to work so hard?” I am also ready to take on teachers who refer to certain students as “losers” and that coach who judges kids more than he inspires them! Watch out world!

On a more humble note, I have to work on how I talk to my kids to get them excited about working hard – and this book provides many useful ideas for just where to start.

Reading Logs Kept and Shared – Inspiration

This s20120702-080559.jpgummer I began keeping a reading log. Inspired by a pretty notebook, I began writing all the thoughts that come up as I read. It’s not formal. There are doodles and notes, quotes and questions. In addition to books, when checking out a blog or in a discussion that seems relevant to my reading life I’ve found myself pulling out my notebook to record that too.

So today when I happened upon Jessica Johnson’s Sharing my Reading Life blog I just had to smile. In her blog she shares a batch of ideas on how her reading log has inspired her students and teachers to read.

Isn’t it cool when you happen upon the next stepping-stone in a journey? It’s like stopping at the gas station and receiving directions to your next destination before you even get a chance to ask.

Similar to Johnson, when I talk about books other readers and soon-to-be readers share what they are reading or what they want to read. I do talk a lot about books. My fellow teachers pass books around, I’m in a book club with my girlfriends, and I love seeking out books that my husband and I will both enjoy reading. I also know that the more I get my students reading the better they do in all their classes.

Johnson has taken my inspiration to the next level. In addition to a notebook of reading inspired thoughts – I think it’s a great ideas to keep a record of what I am reading, when, and what kind of book it is. Like Johnson I believe this will help me see and understand my own reading habits and be better able to share and model them with my kids and my students.

In fact, the kids and their cousins just spent a weekend together. Between swimming and firefly catching, there was lots of reading. My sister and I are both teachers, but we didn’t have to do anything to inspire them except load them up with books and time. The questions and ideas they shared sounded just like the book group discussion I enjoy with my friends. Now I wonder what would happen if I handed them each a journal for writing and doodling and remembering…?

I think I’ll do that right after I finish Forged by Laurie Halse Anderson as I promised it to a student who saw me reading and writing about it at the pool last week. Happy reading!

If you want to visit Jessica Johnson you’ll find her @PrincipalJ on Twitter and at Reflections from an Elementary School Principal on blogger.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 18 June 12

Happy Monday! I’ve been reading like mad – Here’s what I have to share from this week…

Teacher Type  Books:

Reading Rescue 1-2-3  By Peggy M. Wilber- My day job is in a Middle School, but the rest of the time I’m mom to four. #3 is a reluctant reader (RR). How we go into that situation, I’m not sure, but were here and one of my big goals for the summer is to help him improve his reading. Reading Rescue has been a big help. The book provides strategies for level 1, 2 and 3 readers. My RR is at the level 3,  so we were able to gloss over two-thirds of the book. Even so there are LOTS of great ideas and a blueprint for what we do everyday. The cartoon stories jive with his sense of humor so both mom and RR are happy customers. I’d recommend this book to anyone who want’s to help their child become a better reader and needs a blueprint to do it.

The Passion Driven Classroom By Angela Maiers and Amy Sandvold – This one will get you excited to for the fall. I am so not there yet, but as I read I found myself writing down all kids of ideas that I will be using when it’s time to get back to class. The authors set-up a plan for using Learning Clubs in the classroom. They advocate a style of teaching that I love; emphasizing group work, book reflection, independent leaning, and creativity. The resources and quotes are great, but I especially appreciated the framework for keeping what my looks like a crazy classroom running smoothly.

Books for my classroom:

I will be teaching US History and Geography this year using novels. I’d like to give the students a choice in what they are reading, so I am stocking up on choices for each unit. This week I got started on the Revolutionary War…

Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen – The war is starting in the east, but Samuel and his family who live on the edge of the wilderness are directly affected. Each chapter has a “teaching moment” where Paulsen provides an explanation for what historically is going on. It’s a page turner that includes some really interesting characters and a meaningful adventure.

Johnny Tremain  by Esther Forbes – This is a bit longer, but I likes that there was time to really develop the main character and see him through the personal challenges that he faced. The book is set in Boston before the war starts. Johnny finds himself interacting with historical figures like Paul Revere and Sam Adams. It’s a coming of age story with a generous dose of history thrown in.

I just started Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson and looking for more – so if you ideas please send them my way!