Tuesday, February 23, 2010


When is reading reading, when is it not reading?  I recently saw this cartoon posted on one of my feeder blogs, and it made me laugh:
The reading teacher and I have prepared a parent information night on reading for our school.  It will be held the evening of the March 2nd, Dr. Seuss' birthday (as well as my daughters!) and a day many of the schools in our country celebrate Read Across America Day.

On of the topics I plan on discussing is how to engage your Middle School student in reading. One way I hope to encourage parents to encourage their children to read is through electronic media.  Many of our children own the "newest, coolest" mp3 players, and smart phones.  Is listening to a book "reading"? Heck yeah!  Does the teacher in me want the student to be reading along with the text, so they not only hear a fluent reader, but begin to associate what the words sound like with what the words look like? Yes.  But being an avid audio book listener myself, I know the benefits of listening to beautifully written ( and read) words and using my mind to transform them into the picture in my head all readers create, no matter what the medium.

Whether you are buying an audiobook subscription, or checking out audio books free from the local library: Reading is reading.  Listening is reading.  E-readers are reading.  Step out into the 21st century and encourage your child to read... 

Well, at least that's my perspective!

By the way, did you know: Any person who lives, works, attends school or pays property taxes in New York State is eligible to receive a New York Public Library card free of charge. Having a card will give you access to their electronic media which will allow you to download ebooks, audiobooks, music, video, talking picture books, and more.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday is book club day....

Monday's are the longest day of the week; if not already damned by the simple curse of being the first day of the work week, my day is blessed with only a lunch and a 20 minute planning period at the very end of my day. My planning period falls at 9am on Tuesdays, which is a better option than my marathon day, but leaves me questioning my desire to stay after with a group of 5 or 6 students for an additional hour to discuss books...

Then we start talking, and talking, and talking. I have given up trying to think I am in control of the conversation. We all read the same book (which someone has "convinced" the others to read the week before) and we try to talk about the characters, or why we liked the book (or didn't) or the message the author was trying to share, but we never stick with that one book. As all good readers know, everything is connected, this character reminds you of that character, this passage reminds you of that movie, and this movie reminds you of that book... somehow we end up far from the book we started with. It is beautiful. I laugh; we share our lives, the characters lives, our dreams, the characters dreams. I laugh, I even cry a little (usually from laughing so much, but sometimes just because I'm moved).

Then we try to decide on a new book for next week.

Today's conversation went like this:

Joe: Mike thinks we should read Rules.

Mary: Mr. K likes that one too

Sue: Okay, but can we take two weeks to read this one, I have this (plop) pile of books I want to read this week too! How 'bout we read to page 89.

Joe: hmmm, page 120

Sue: page 104 (She really doesn't understand how to negotiate I thought)

Joe: okay, 89, I want to read this (plop) pile of books
Me: (lol) Rules it is.

The students leave, and I reflect on my day, thankful I stayed.

Teacher post script... In the 2 hours before book club I received an excitement filled hug from a girl who had "lost" the book she was reading. When I told her the chorus teacher had found it she leapt across the room and gave me a bear hug. A reluctant read, who hasn't read a whole book in months, finished off Skeleton Man by Joseph Bruchac, a book I handed him yesterday with the instructions "Read chapter 1 tonight and come back and tell me about it."

What a day! I think I will go back tomorrow!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Photographs: The Power of Images

On a recent tour of my Google reader, I found myself propelled into the Library of Congress. I have visited this page before and even used some of their photo analysis worksheets. Today, however, I found a Professional development module that was very informative and inspiring.

The description:

Analyzing Primary Sources: Photographs and Prints

Learn how photographs and prints from the Library's collections can increase student engagement in the classroom. Topics covered include:

* The power of images
* How to analyze photographs and prints
* How to find images from the Library of Congress
drew me in. I have used Real Photo Postcards in my classroom lessons, and used them in my Western New York Writing Project lesson.

Photographs are something that touch us all. It's why we scrapbook, and keep photo albums. We oh and ahh over photos of our childhood as well as our parents parents childhood, even though we have no memories connected to them. We create stories in our imagination, a springboard for the writer in us all.

I was excited to be reminded of this with this great tutorial. Take a stroll, even if you are not a teacher, the photos and resources will inspire you.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Project 12 Post

"The Project 12 challenge is simple. The idea is to create a layout on a monthly basis which recaps what you’ve been doing. Whether you took 31 photos, no photos, or 100 photos, simply choose your favorites that best described what you were doing that month, and create a layout."

I liked this idea because it gave me a chance to write-admittedly I do not journal enough in my scrapbook pages. This one forced me to.
Posted by Picasa

My Snow angels are my family and friends. January was filled with both. I usually worry about driving in the snow, but it was smooth sailing this year. The Hilliker Christmas on Saturday the 2nd was filled with games. Screams of triumph & defeat could be heard from participants of Wii, Euchre, and Left-Right-Center. We celebrated Grandma Bylbie's 86th birthday on Friday the 22nd. Fish Fries at Cookies (courtesy of Uncle Paul) then on to Grandma's house for brownies and ice cream. After the men pulled the truck out of the snow (Dad, Howard, Pat) they spent the night at the cabin, while the girls (Ginny, Jessie, Karen) & Dan spent the night at Ginny's so they could get to the January crop early. The month ended with an outing with our "outside of school" friends Lisa and John. We played games at the Sabella's on the 9th, and then went to Pizza Hut & bowling on the 30th. Looking back, for a month when I could have stayed inside sipping hot chocolate, I was blessed to spend time with my SNOW ANGELS.
Hopefully I will get next months done, I have already started taking pictures.

New Years Resolutions...

Its a new year.  Well technically, its the second month of the new year.  I have started exercising, and now I am mastering turtle exercise...slow and sure.  I have spent enough time with family to be annoyed, and not enough time being "the best teacher in the world."  So the one thing I am sure of is the best intentions do not necessarily mean the job will get done.

Now I will try to back up those best intentions with peer pressure. 

I plan to:
Read more (including adult fiction which I've ignored lately)
Exersise a few times a week (at least enough to burn off that extra slice of pizza)
Journal more (I have decided this can be on this blog, in my scrapbook, or in my writing journal)

Keep me honest.  Call me on it.  Or at least praise the little things I do, positive reinforcement, no matter how small or deserved, will keep me going for months!

Okay, I'm off to do one of the things I said I'd do.