My classroom is not a quiet, orderly place.
Students are constantly moving, thinking, talking, reading and writing.
I do my best to help my students find success.

May 26, 2011

Thankful for my Twitter PLN

I think it's the first time in my 10 years of teaching (how did that happen?) that I'm not ready for the school year to end.  I'm usually the one who sneakily manages the countdown calendar in the teacher's lounge.  This year, I've been completely consumed by my Twitter PLN (personal learning network).  I haven't even counted the days we have left.

I'm not ready for the year to end! I still have lots of books and instruction to share with my students!

How does a Twitter PLN connect to my reading instruction?  Well, because of my PLN, I've done the following this year:
  • follow & tweet with nearly 100 authors, teachers, librarians, and other book-minded people
  • participate in a monthly #titletalk to hear about books I should be reading.  Then I post them...
  • on my Goodreads account (in 2011 I've read and rated 40 books)
  • tweeted with authors about their books and how much my students enjoyed them
  • started KidBlogs for my 3rd, 4th and 5th graders (with additional encouragement from Michelle)
  • follow a bunch of book-centered blogs
  • created this blog to reflect on my teaching and books I love
WOW!  I plan to continue sharing and receiving ideas for books, using technology and planning great instruction throughout the summer for next year.  Thanks to Twitter, I can tap into the minds of resourceful people around the world anytime.

May 23, 2011

Pam Allyn's Best Books for Boys

Throughout my ten years of teaching, I’ve had the opportunity to teach a great mix of boys and girls.  I really strive to find the best books for each student, looking for titles that they will connect to.  I find that I can quickly rattle off many great reads for girls (I’m raising two daughters), but I don’t have the same knowledge when finding books for boys. 
Pam Allyn's Best Books for Boys: How to Engage Boys in Reading in Ways That Will Change Their LivesJust when I was looking for a resource to help fill this gap, I was given the chance to read and review Pam Allyn’s book, Best Books for Boys:  How to Engage Boys in Reading in Ways That Will Change Their Lives.  This book is an excellent compilation of ideas for getting boys reading that includes a complete, resourceful annotated list of books, organized by categories.
Allyn starts the book with her reasons for the focus on finding books for boys and how detrimental our country’s focus on standardized testing has been to our boys.  She then gives advice, through a question and answer section, for helping boys become more engaged in reading.
As I read the question and answer section, I was thrilled to find many ideas for helping boys (and all readers) find that reading is a worthwhile activity.  Allyn urges teachers to provide social opportunities for readers, encourage reading across genres and formats, and above all, give students “reserved, protected time to read every day.”  YES!
Allyn created a wide-ranging, annotated list of books that will appeal to boys at emerging, developing and maturing reading levels.  The books are organized into categories, including standards like Sports and Humor, but she then delves into specific categories including Expeditions and Mechanics and Technology.  I was pleased to find a great number of appealing books, and I plan to use Allyn’s list to guide my summer reading and book purchases.
Best Books for Boys:  How to Engage Boys in Reading in Ways That Will Change Their Lives is a great addition to your teacher resource collection. 
*Electronic review copy provided

May 13, 2011

Year End Stress

I admit it. I usually have less stress than my fellow teachers at this time of year. I'm a resource teacher, and I've had the same role in my building since I arrived. Our classroom teachers have not been as fortunate. Over the years, they have switched grade levels, teams and classrooms. I try to be supportive, offering kind words and chocolate to those who need it.

Sometimes the teacher who faces change has a positive, glass-half-full attitude, but others are downright anxious and miserable. I have more to offer the positive teacher, and I try my best to steer clear of the negative teacher.

Change is hard, but the teachers who show the most professionalism leave the drama out of their classrooms. These are the people I admire. These professionals make sure that their students are getting the most learning in the final month of school, regardless of what's happening with teacher assignments.

Our students are the reason we teach. They deserve our time and energy until the final minute of the school year.