Primum non nocere- “First do no harm.” This tenet of the medical profession reminds doctors to consider the negative consequences of any medical intervention alongside the advantages. Quality of life for the patient overrides all other benefits of a course of treatment. I believe that the teaching profession needs this lesson as much as doctors do. Little children love to read, or at least be read to. Even the most dormant readers in my classes can remember a book they have loved, even if it was Green Eggs and Ham. How sad that they have to reach back to their ...


Schools spend a lot of money purchasing reading programs to increase achievement for their students. The logic behind this quest for the perfect program is that administrators will no longer have to worry about the variables of teacher quality or student preparedness because this “research-based” program will create a level of idiot-proof (that’s us, by the way) consistency that guarantees better instruction. The fact that few, if any, of these scripted programs have been “research-proven” to work consistently with any groups of readers is glossed over by the publishers of these programs who stand to make a lot of ...


Staggering out of bed at 5:00 am, I boot up my laptop and start typing sub plans. I hate to be absent, but my swollen throat and painful ear leave me no choice. I begin my plans with the same opening paragraphs I have used before: Dear Sub, Thank you for coming to my class today. The students are great and I know that you will have an enjoyable day with them. Please talk with my teaching partner next door if you have any questions about my plans or need help. When students enter the classroom, they should get ...


I promised last week to provide solutions and compromises for how to best teach whole class novels or share common texts with your students. Many of the comments posted to last week’s entry suggest a range of methods for approaching this issue. This advice, from fellow classroom teachers, includes many practical ideas. Go back and read their comments along with my suggestions. If you have to read a specific book with your students: Read the book out loud to them. Your ability to fluently read a text that may be inaccessible to many students increases their comprehension, vocabulary development, ...


My seventeen year-old-daughter is what we call here in Texas, “a long, tall drink of water." I, on the other hand, have a full-figured glass that has overflowed. When shopping, we laugh when we see clothes sporting tags that claim “one size fits all” remarking, “Not us!” Stretch this t-shirt over the ubiquitous practice in reading classrooms of teaching whole-class novels, and you can see that it doesn't fit most readers. Teachers build elaborate units of instruction around novels--breaking down a text into discreet concepts for closer study. As a new teacher, the best you can hope for as a ...


Ah, the New Year, it’s a time for looking back on what has worked, what we would like to do differently, and what plans we can commit to in 2008 (at least for a while). I personally believe that you can make resolutions any day, any time. Hey, I have resolved to teach a lesson differently between first and second periods! Along with my personal resolutions to exercise more and spend less of my weekends working on school stuff (same resolutions as last year), I am also looking back through my reader’s notebook to make my reading resolutions. ...


It is almost time for the holiday break and my class is antsy. Getting out only four days before Christmas, my students are in a frenzied state of holiday excitement which cannot be contained by a squadron of teachers- especially this tired one! They could not settle in to read today- a first! Determined to engage in some sort of literacy event, I steered my chatty sixth graders into a conversation about the book exchange that will take place as part of our Winter Holiday party this Friday. Each child has been asked to bring in a gently-used book that ...


Amazon has released its e-reader, the Kindle, the NEA has released its report, “To Read or Not to Read”, and the Internet is flooded with debate about what creates 21st century readers and the role that technology will play in redefining literacy. Former IRA president, Timothy Shanahan, makes a case for school reform when he claims that reading has become a “duty” for students rather than a joy. Daniel Henniger, of Opinion Journal, comments on the possible impact of Kindle, asking, “Does Reading Matter?", and countless bloggers and teachers have jumped into the fray to describe their own reading experiences ...


“To Read or Not to Read” that is the question, and the title of the National Endowment of the Arts analysis of the reading patterns of Americans. Released last week, the NEA report compiled data from federal agencies and educational institutions in an effort to explain the role of reading in the lives of American children, teenagers, and adults. The findings of the report indicate that reading for pleasure is on the decline among Americans of all ages with the exception of elementary school children. As students move through the educational system, they read less. Americans 15-24 years old spend ...


My first NCTE conference was a blast! Seeing the experts who have so impacted my teaching practices was the equivalent of a four day rock festival. I felt like such a groupie! After running into Janet Allen, my idol, at three separate events, I am pretty sure she thinks I am a stalker. One of the vendor booths was passing out “I Love Janet” buttons. I snagged three! Not only were the literacy gurus there, droves of book authors attended. I stood in line to get Neal Schusterman’s autograph and told him (and anyone else standing by) how much ...


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  • Rawley: I can remember getting a summer reading list in middle read more
  • Connie Giovanini: Our school system gives our 6th graders a suggested list read more
  • Jeanie: I agree with you 100%. When I taught in West read more
  • Kate Messner: Thanks for the link, Donalyn -- and for the note read more
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