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Monday, October 3, 2011

Books That Inspire Me

It's relatively easy for me to write about books!  I love to read.  I will give up sleep, a clean house, and clean clothes in order to read.  My family doesn't always appreciate my devotion to books, but that's okay!  At least one of my kids is an avid reader as well.

When I think of Reader's Workshop books, I immediately think of Aimee Buckner's book, Notebook Connections.  This is the book that got me thinking about changing my reading instruction to a reader's workshop.  Buckner's book isn't the only book that I've read; I want to share a few others.

Tanny McGregor's Comprehension Connections book is wonderful!  I resisted reading her book all school year last year because I was rereading Strategies That Work and Notebook Connections.  Thanks to a great deal of prodding by my friend, Kathy (a spec. ed. teacher at my school) I picked up Comprehension Connections over the summer and had a hard time putting it down.  I made notes, highlighted sections, and found mini-lessons throughout her book.  Now I'm reading the 2nd edition of Mosaic of Thought.  I found the first edition of the book to be insightful; but now that I'm older and, I dare say, *wiser,* the book has a new meaning for me.  I was especially appreciative of the sections that dealt with "Deep Structure" teaching and found myself marking areas to reread and use when I am deeper into strategy lessons this school year.  I say this every year, but I want to improve my conferring with students.  I believe that Mosaic of Thought will help me do just that!  I highly recommend the book and especially chapter 3.

If I could I would REQUIRE all new elementary teachers to read these books within their first year of teaching, form a book study group, and challenge each other monthly as teachers and scholars.  The books are that good, and will affect teaching that much!


My home office is too small and is the only reason I've given any thought to moving in the past few months.  What will probably happen that I'll be adding shelves! (God Bless, Ikea!) I've become a lending library of sorts when friends are in graduate school.  If it's a book about reading and literacy I probably have it on my shelves!  My children's books are taking over our basement and my professional books are in my office, on my bedroom table, in the living room, at work, in the car...


In the past week we covered a lot of ground regarding fantasy and characters.  Two very different ideas in reading, but equally important.  First, we did discuss fantasy and our reading of the genre.  Next, we discussed characters--specifically how we describe characters.  Are they honest or greedy, friendly or selfish, generous or evil?  We learned how to find proof for our character analysis and also how to record this information in our reader's journal.

As students study characters this month they will develop a character project.  Students will choose one character from the book and analyze that character's traits.  They have the choice of three projects--create a trait poster, write a report, or dress and act as that character!  Students have a choice in their project, as long as they share their learning about the book and its characters.

One final comment:  We have started our first chapter book read aloud. (Prior to this we were reading short chapter books or picture books.)  We are reading, 101 Ways to Bug Your Friends and Enemies by Lee Wardlaw!  Our class will be using this book as our main mentor text for the next few weeks of reader's workshop.  Of course, we will read other books and study other authors but this books will be our read aloud as well as our mentor text.  It's "exciting stuff!"