Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday Five - September 4, 2009

Happy Friday! So I thought I was going to be able to post everyday in September but that is not going to happen. So I will stop making promises and just post as often as I can!

Anyway, it's Friday! I went to a literacy workshop with some of our teachers this past week and it was so affirming. We talked about practices that keep students engaged in reading, writing, listening, and speaking in all classrooms not just language arts and not as something additional but as a part of teaching. I also enjoyed meeting teachers from our other two middle schools. Some of the books that were talked about this week will make up my Five.

All summaries are from Amazon unless otherwise noted.

1. The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller - the Gifted and Talented Coordinator told me I needed to read this. I ordered it for my personal library and will tackle it this month. Here's a starred review - Miller, a sixth-grade language arts and social studies teacher and blogger, has enabled students of many different backgrounds to enjoy reading and to be good at it; her students regularly score high on the Texas standardized tests. Her approach is simple yet provocative: affirm the reader in every student, allow students to choose their own books, carve out extra reading time, model authentic reading behaviors, discard timeworn reading assignments such as book reports and comprehension worksheets, and develop a classroom library filled with high-interest books. Her students regularly read more than 40 books in a school year and leave her classroom with an appreciation and love of books and reading. Miller provides many tips for teachers and parents and includes a useful list of ultimate reading suggestions picked by her students. This outstanding contribution to the literature is highly recommended for teachers, parents, and others serving young students.

2. In The Middle by Nancie Atwell - our 8th grade ELA teacher mentioned this as one of the books that changed him. From Heineman - When first published in 1987, this seminal work was widely hailed for its honest examination of how teachers teach, how students learn, and the gap that lies in between. In depicting her own classroom struggles, Nancie Atwell shook our orthodox assumptions about skill-and-drill-based curriculums and became a pioneer of responsive teaching. Now, in the long awaited second edition, Atwell reflects on the next ten years of her experience, rethinks and clarifies old methods, and demonstrates new, more effective approaches.

3. Why Don't Students Like School by Daniel Willingham - This was mentioned a few times and is said to go beyond brain research theory and into how to put it into place in the classroom.
Kids are naturally curious, but when it comes to school it seems like their minds are turned off. Why is it that they can remember the smallest details from their favorite television program, yet miss the most obvious questions on their history test? Cognitive scientist Dan Willingham has focused his acclaimed research on the biological and cognitive basis of learning and has a deep understanding of the daily challenges faced by classroom teachers. This book will help teachers improve their practice by explaining how they and their students think and learn?revealing the importance of story, emotion, memory, context, and routine in building knowledge and creating lasting learning experiences.

4. The Number Devil by Hans Enzensberger - mentioned in the Subjects Matter book we were studying and sounded like it would be an interesting read. Young Robert's dreams have taken a decided turn for the weird. Instead of falling down holes and such, he's visiting a bizarre magical land of number tricks with the number devil as his host. Starting at one and adding zero and all the rest of the numbers, Robert and the number devil use giant furry calculators, piles of coconuts, and endlessly scrolling paper to introduce basic concepts of numeracy, from interesting number sequences to exponents to matrices. Author Hans Magnus Enzensberger's dry humor and sense of wonder will keep you and your kids entranced while you learn (shhh!) mathematical principles. Who could resist the little red guy who calls prime numbers "prima donnas," irrational numbers "unreasonable," and roots "rutabagas"? Not that the number devil is without his devilish qualities. He loses his temper when Robert looks for the easy way out of a number puzzle or dismisses math as boring and useless. "What do you expect?" he asks. "I'm the number devil, not Santa Claus."

5. The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease - each day before lunch they read a short story to us. We loved it. I want to work this back into library time or convince teachers to do this in class. This will be one that I buy for my personal library also. Jim also lists the Read Aloud of the Week. I think I'll start there.

Have a great weekend!

1 comment:

  1. great post! I loved reading the Book Whisperer this summer. It was so inspirational. I was sad that the NY Times article last Sunday didn't mention it.

    You might also check out a new book: Reading Together by Diane Frankenstein. It's all about reading together with children, asking questions and stimulating discussions to engage children in what they read. It's a great resource.

    Good luck with the beginning of school!


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