Thanks, Kent and Millie, for reaching out and continuing the discussion.
December 20th, 2013
Thanks, Kent and Millie, for reaching out and continuing the discussion.
How dismissive. In other words, I should not even deign to look at these approaches because they are, in effect, void of meaning. I can hear the sneering issuing from the words on the screen. But for something that has no content, complexity, or value, the author does spend some time continuing on with her diatribe calling it: "the most egregious example of a content-free, text-neutral, skills-focused version of reading instruction." I am not certain why the author has elected to go after reading workshop, but she does so with a vengeneance. Her grasp of reading workshop and its underpinnings seems woefully inadequate as well.
Enjoy Jonathan Lovell and the Jabberwocky.
In you, and scrawled their manuscript!
Have shared their secrets, told their cares,
Their curious and quaint affairs!
Your pool of ink, your scratchy pen,
Have moved the lives of unborn men,
And watched young people, breathing hard,
Put Heaven on a postal card.
- To a Post-Office Inkwell by Christopher Morley
View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.
View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.
Learn more about Poetry Friday.
1. I gave my last school visit of 2013 this week in beautiful Brookfield, Connecticut. This was my third time visiting Whisconier Middle School, and every time I go, the kids are fabulous.
2. My daughter comes home today for Christmas! I'm so excited to see her and have her home.
3. While I was in Connecticut, I found out that Half A Chance (Feb 2014) was chosen as a Junior Library Guild selection! This is my first JLG book, and I'm thrilled. :)
4. Also, Hot Rod Hamster: Monster Truck Mania (March 2014) received a glowing and fun review in Kirkus! https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-revi
5. My family is hosting two Christmas parties this weekend and now the weather says freezing rain on both days. Nooooooo! We have lobster (which is how we lure our families to make the drive to Maine!), but now I'm thinking if the weather is bad, there may be no one here to eat it!
December 19th, 2013
Dalek Week 2013, the Deviant Art celebration of all things Deryn and Alek, is about halfway over (depend ending on one’s timezone), and there are some lovely pieces up.
This work by Thisoneofmarvels is for the “Scotland” theme, and uses the Scottish and Austrian flags as motifs:
Very beautiful! I love how serious Deryn is.
There are many more to see, so head over to the Dalek Week 2013 folder to feast your eyes and leave your praise.
Edited by Christopher Golden, DARK DUETS features an extraordinary lineup of collaborative stories, with the authors of each story collaborating for the very first time. Here are the duos and the titles of their tales:
TRIP TRAP by Sherrilyn Kenyon & Kevin J. Anderson
WELDED by Tom Piccirilli & T.M. Wright
DARK WITNESS by Charlaine Harris & Rachel Caine
REPLACING MAX by Stuart MacBride & Allan Guthrie
T. RHYMER by Gregory Frost & Jonathan Maberry
SHE, DOOMED GIRL by Sarah MacLean & Carrie Ryan
HAND JOB by Chelsea Cain & Lidia Yuknavitch
HOLLOW CHOICES by Robert Jackson Bennett & David Liss
AMUSE-BOUCHE by Amber Benson & Jeffrey J. Mariotte
BRANCHES, CURVING by Tim Lebbon & Michael Marshall Smith
RENASCENCE by Rhodi Hawk and F. Paul Wilson
BLIND LOVE by Kasey Lansdale & Joe R. Lansdale
TRAPPER BOY by Holly Newstein & Rick Hautala
STEWARD OF THE BLOOD by Nate Kenyon & James A. Moore
CALCULATING ROUTE by Michael Koryta & Jeffrey David Greene
SISTERS BEFORE MISTERS by Sarah Rees Brennan, Cassandra Clare, & Holly Black
SINS LIKE SCARLET by Mark Morris & Rio Youers
Dark Duets will be published by Harper Voyager in January 2014.
If you're connected with a bookstore, please pass along that Dark Duets is not canceled. In the words of editor Christopher Golden, "Apparently there is some confusion because it was originally announced as a hardcover and will now be a trade paperback. Distributors are notifying stores that the hardcover is canceled without explaining that it's been replaced by the trade. This could be very detrimental to sales, so any help spreading the word to stores is deeply appreciated." Spread the word, booksellers!
I am not the only one who suffers from tunnel vision, of course. One of the people who wishes to reform education, Bill Gates, seems to have some problems with his blinders as well when it comes to technology and his belief that it will cure all ills if only applied correctly. Take, for instance, his insistence on using MOOCs (http://chronicle.com/blogs/onhiring/th
It also, though, demonstrates a tunnel vision of what technology can and cannot accomplish. Anyone who knows me knows that I love gadgets. Smart phones, tablets (yes, I have more than one), iPods, laptops, apps, you name it, I have probably bought it or it is on my list. But the gadgets I have actually play a role in my "career." Career Girl was texting me about the wonders of her mini iPad (she is a PC and Droid person but is slowly seeing the benefits of other devices). She was extolling the virtues of some of her recent experiences with apps for note-taking. I know. I use my tablets for note-taking, for social networking, for writing, for reading, and more. Have them supplanted more "ancient" tools totally? Nope. I use them as tools. And herein is one of my issues with the technology items on the newly designed CCSS assessments which tout technology when, in reality, the technology is not necessary.
Some of the new assessment examples ask kids to drag and drop sentences into a box in sequential or chronological order. How is that technology? Why not number the statements from 1-5? What does drag and drop really measure that cannot be measured by a numbering system? Take a look at apps, too. Some book apps simply have the book on screen. Some have extra bells and whistles. Look at those bells and whistles. Does unscrambling a word really help a kid enjoy and maybe comprehend a text? Games and activities are worksheets on the screen. We do not need one more worksheet, than you very much.
It is time to look at the big picture when it comes to books and reading. There is so much more to reading than the "pillars" of the National Reading Panel's findings (especially since they decided to ignore certain areas of reading in favor of their pillars) or the 4 corners of the text of CCSS, or the one book fits all approach now being promulgated in a risk to teach close reading or another standard or skill. We need to look right, left, up, down, sideways, catty-cornered, and more as we search for the best practices, the best books, the best approaches for our kids.
December 18th, 2013
Mirrored from Janni Lee Simner / Desert Dispatches.
Here's an excerpt New Year's entry from January 2013. Notes in blue.
Inspired by , who creates a theme for each year, I've decided that my 2013 theme is "Make the Time." Too often, at the end of the day I find myself wondering where the time went (mostly it's been spent playing with small people on the floor of my living room). So I'm going to be more mindful of the time I have and how I'm spending it.
In 2013, I will Make the Time to:
1. Read - I read about 15 books this past year; I'd like to increase that to 20-25. I'm also on the awards committee for the Boston Author's Club, so I'm doing a lot of reading for that. I'll probably exceed that goal, come to think of it. Whoo! I did! I read over 30 books this year. Not as much as my pre-kid, days, but I'll take it.
2. Write. Every day. - I typically write in big chunks, or steadily when I'm on deadline. This year, I'm going to write something every day--working on a book, or short story, or journal. I want to see what material I have at the end of a full year of writing. I'm giving myself a total of 30 passes for the year, though--30 days I can take off. So far, I've used two of them (unless you count this blog entry). Um. This didn't happen. So, I'm carrying it over to 2014. Writing. Every day.
3. Walk - There's a new-to-us treadmill in the basement. I can't wait to start using it. I'm starting slow at first, with just 30 mins, 3 times per week. Whoo!! Not only did I walk, but I RAN. I started galumphing through the Couch to 5K program with my friend, and worked up to FIVE 5Ks this year. I've made time to take care of myself, made time to commit to it. Success!!
4. Work - My day job is pretty demanding this year. I'm a department head with hiring and budgeting responsibilities, and then there's the regular grading and prep and teaching. Needless to say, I find myself scrambling on Sundays, or Tuesday nights before class. Not this year! I'm going to make the time to get through work in a timely manner. This happened! Although the January semester was hectic, this fall was much more manageable. Having our babysitter come once a week for a couple of hours really contributed to keeping life sane. I plan to continue in the spring.
5. Connect - From conferences and workshops, to just seeing friends more, I want to be more present in the communities I'm part of. Last year I hibernated a little (see "new baby," above), and I missed being part of the groups I love. So far, I'm signed up to present at the Whispering Pines retreat in March, the NESCBWI conference in May, and I have a proposal in for another conference. My girlfriends and I have also talked about getting together more regularly--without kids. Bring it on! Again--success! I got out. Whether it was promoting MOXIE, or attending conferences, or seeing friends, I was "out there" a lot more, post-baby. At times, maybe too much. This fall I felt a little over-extended. Okay, a lot over extended. Lesson learned.
So, 2013, I was more mindful of you. I also made a conscious effort to change my language--whenever I went to say, "I didn't have time to X," I stopped myself and rephrased it: "I didn't make the time to X." A small difference in verbiage, but it actually made a big change in the way I thought about my days and decisions. I made the time to do things that were important to me, and I managed to fit more in than I could have expected.
I've chosen my theme for next year, one that will hopefully piggyback on this year's and keep the momentum going. And I'm not going to wait until January to get started.
I am hopeful, when I read postings from other folks, that perhaps the word about CCSS is getting out there ahead of some of the giant PR machine they have built. Then, I see something like the promo ad "60 Minutes" did for the NSA and realize we have much more to do to change the tide in educational policy. So, from time to time, I will try to post links to other voices aside from mine. I am hoping we can create not just a cacophony but a symphony. To that end, here is a link to one person's response to the Arne Duncan comment about white suburban women and their consternation over discovering their darling children were not as smart as they believed them to be (and, really, where was the heartfelt apology for that comment which was wrong on every single level possible?): http://www.cameronblazer.com/dear-secre
Let's make sure that the voices being raised in concern over CCSS are not from a "silent majority" to borrow a phrase from the past. We are becoming mired in press coverage, ad machines, and voices who have a national platform. Many of those who are getting the spotlight have less classroom experience than even the newest teachers in your school (5 weeks for the TFA folks). Lift YOUR voice. Talk about the great things you are doing. Tell parents. Tell administrators and school board members who might listen. Share ideas. Call out BS when you spot it. Become part of the symphony.
December 17th, 2013
So as not to spoil any surprises, I’m not going to reveal which books they were, but I’ve been reading many fine books lately, and I’ll mention a few of the stand-outs.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie—I love books set in foreign places, and while most of this hefty novel is set in the United States, it’s seen through the eyes of a Nigerian expatriate. It does make you think about race and the consequences of privilege.
The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman, illustrated by LeUyen Pham—This is a picture book biography about a boy who grew up to become a famous and influential mathematician. I am glad there are books like this one in the world.
Cat Girl’s Day Off by Kimberly Pauley—Like the next book on this list, this fun novel has voice in spades. Truly original and oh, so funny! What if your superpower was the ability to talk to cats?
Chronal Engine by Greg Leitich Smith—Time travel and dinosaurs, what’s not to like? What takes this book over the top is the laugh out loud humor. Consider this passage:
They only leave two toe marks, because they hold the one off the ground.
The switchblade one. The one that could disembowel you and leave your intestines on the outside so they could eat you at their convenience while you watched.
I didn’t say this aloud, though, because sometimes you don’t have to tell everyone everything.
I sure hope there’s a sequel.
Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week by Isa Chandra Moskowitz—Yes, it’s a cookbook, by the author of the classic Veganomicon. I am vegetarian, my eldest daughter is vegan, and a couple small and medium sized relatives have severe food allergies, cutting out whole categories of foods. This cookbook is easy enough for even me to follow (I’m easily distracted), and the recipes are indeed as yummy as promised.
Just One Evil Act by Elizabeth George—I listened to this one at the gym and while doing housework, which insured that I did both, otherwise, I would neglect everything. If you read mysteries, you should read Elizabeth George.
December 16th, 2013
Would my list be different? It is. My list is designed for a graduate course for school librarians. I change books each semester, letting one go (with regret) and adding something new. Here is the list for the Spring 2014 semester in YA literature:
Alexie, S. (2007). The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian. NY: Little Brown.
Anderson, L. H. (1999). Speak. NY: Penguin
Angel, A. (2010). Janis Joplin: Rise up singing. NY: Amulet.
Angleberger, T. (2010). The strange case of Origami Yoda. NY: Amulet (any book in this series is fine as well)
Booth, C. (2007). Tyrell. NY: Push/Scholastic.
Bray, L. (2009). Going bovine. NY: Delacorte.
Canales, V. (2005). The tequila worm. NY: Wendy Lamb Books/Random House
Cormier, R. (1974). The chocolate war. NY: Delacorte.
Crutcher, C. (1991). Athletic shorts. NY: Greenwillow
Deutsch, B. (2010. Hereville. NY: Amulet.
Engle, M. (2008). The surrender tree. NY: Holt
Garden, N. (1982). Annie on my mind. NY: FSG.
Gidwitz, A. (2011). A tale dark and Grimm.
Green, J. (2005). Looking for Alaska. NY: Dutton
Harris, R. (2009). It’s perfectly normal. Boston, MA: Candlewick Press.
Heiligman, D. (2009). Charles and Emma: The Darwin’s leap of faith. NY: Holt.
Korman, G. (2002). No more dead dogs. NY: Hyperion
L'engle, M. (2012). Wrinkle in time, graphic novel. (Hope Larson edition). NY: Harper.
Myers, W. D. (1999). Monster. NY: Harper.
Ness, P. (2008). The knife of never letting go. Boston, MA: Candlewick Press
Sartrapi, M. (2004). Persepolis. NY: Pantheon.
Scieszka, J. (ed.). (2010). Guys read: Funny business. NY: Walden Pond Press
Trueman, T. (2000). Stuck in neutral. NY: Harper
Westerfeld, S. (2009). Leviathan. NY: Simon Pulse.
Yong-bin, K. (2010). Twilight, the graphic novel. NY: Yen Press.
One of the screen casts for the course discusses each book and why it is included on my list of essential books. Some are here because school librarians need to know the history of YA, to read from the beginning decades to contemporary selections, to understand the appeal of popular, to comprehend the worthiness of award winners, and more. It is not a perfect list; I doubt I will ever be satisfied with the list. I would also note that I am limited by the 15 week semester and, thus, require only 30 books (ONLY, you say? To know only 30 books and work in a school library is insufficient. I would require more, but this is a good place to begin).
So, here are two lists of essentials. I wonder, what would your essential list look like? Right now, committee members are re-reading over and over again, the books they believe are worthy of Newbery and Printz and other awards. They have their essential lists, lists that have to be narrowed even further before the January announcements. What would be in those essential stacks, I wonder? I will find out, along with the rest of you, in January. Then, I suspect, I might be revising my lists for children's and YA literature for the next semester.
December 15th, 2013
Here is my favorite part of the article (though I am thinking of laminating it and hanging it next to my computer): "The experience of reading is where unique reading intelligence intersects with a book. The meaning is formed by the reader communing with text. This meaning is unique to the individual and impossible to quantify. This is not math, but alchemy, and it is awesome."
This is why talking to someone else about a book is not about the "4 corners of the text." It is about how I felt, what I thought, and who I think might be someone who would also appreciate the book. Let's leave numbers to the mathematicians when it comes to books. Let's stop worrying about exiles and levels. Let us focus on reading as much as we can so we can better connect readers to books.
As I am finishing my reading for this year, I cannot believe the wealth of books that crossed by desk, that caught my eyes, that touched my heart.