Monday, May 19, 2008

Spirituality and Reading

From an interview on Speaking of Faith:

"You know, we don’t usually think of reading as a spiritual exercise, but I think it is, because in order to hear a story you have to quiet yourself, and you have to empathize with the characters in the story. And isn’t empathy part of the spiritual life? Isn’t quietude part of the spiriitual life?

And you also discover in the story that you don’t have control. You might like the characters to do one thing or another. You might wish they would make one decision or another. But you can’t control the situation. And part of the spiritual life is learning that we are not always in control.

Also, if we are truly listening then all the details matter. It matters what the color of her hair is or what he’s wearing or what the time of day is. Paying attention to the details of life is part of a spiritual life.""

-Sandi Sasso

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Series Series Series

My students read lots of series. Some of my students' favorites this year have been: the Twilight series, the Uglies, Pretties, and Specials series, the Warriors series, the Deltora series, the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, the Cirque Du Freak series, the Percy Jackson series and the Hank Zipzer series. Yeh, my kids are all over the map on both their reading and interest levels.

I don't have any questions about the value of reading series. Of course I know they're rarely spectacular literature, but they hook kids into reading, build their vocabulary and fluency, and I think they're actually quite wonderful for my kids who are still mastering English because they are fairly predictable and you don't have to learn new characters and settings for each book. A Children's Literature professor once had us put our heads down and answer two questions: Did you read series books as a kid? Are you an avid reader today? Usually, adults who answer yes to one question, answer yes to both.

For the series that my students love I often wonder how many books in each series I ought to read. I like to be able to talk to my students about the books they're reading, but I can usually only handle one or two books per series, and once I've read enough to "hook" my kid readers, I don't feel motivated to read the entire series myself. What about you?

Also, what are some of your favorite series, or ones that are big hits with kids you know?

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Getting to Know Me MEME

A fun meme from Megan at Read, Read, Read.

What were you doing ten years ago?

I was looking forward to coming home after being in the Philippines for 16 months.

What are five things on your to-do list for today (not in any particular order):
1. scan baby pics of 6th graders for the promotion video
2. brainstorm and research great speeches for same promotion event
3. turn in form to order sack lunches for two year-end field trips
4. read with Easter
5. grade spelling tests
6. conceive

What are some snacks you enjoy?

  • Haagen Daaz Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream
  • blueberry muffins
  • Dove chocolates with almonds
  • Hot Cheetoes
  • oranges
  • taquitoes

What would you do if you were a billionaire?
1. Take my girls to Disneyland
3. Make a college scholarship fund for all my students
4. have a bigger classroom library
5. pay to develop roads, hospitals, and schools in Yei, a village in South Sudan

What are three of your bad habits?
1. impatience
2. leaving lights on
3. being unorganized

What are five places where you have lived?
1. West Bountiful, Utah
2. Centerville, Utah
3. Salt Lake City, Utah
4. In the WIND RIVER MOUNTAINS in Wyoming
5. In the WASATCH MOUNTAINS above Park City, Utah

What are five jobs you have had?
1. Teacher
2. Physics TA
3. Boys and Girls Club Director
4. Bookseller
5. Babysitter

What six people do you want to tag?
Um, whoever wants to respond!

Friday, May 09, 2008

May Blooms

We've had a helluva winter here in Salt Lake City. Snow storm, after snow storm. I swear, I woke up to find my tulips dusted with snow flakes just two weeks ago. But we've finally landed on the other side of the gigantic winter chasm and spring is really, truly here to stay.

This week we've also landed on the happy (read: FINISHED) side of all of our high-stakes testing. And we did fine. Just fine.

This is a really satisfying time of the year with a class of sixth-grade students. They've worked so hard, all year, and they're still learning each day, but not with the same stress-filled urgency as a month ago. They are a community of friends and peers who know how to be gentle and kind with one another and as long as they don't get completely overwhelmed by their fears of middle school they constantly delight in finishing off both a good year and a whole life season as they say goodbye to elementary school. These days my students are making memoir collages, still reading lots and lots of great books, building toothpick bridges, looking forward to field trips and year-end rituals, and solving interesting math puzzles.

Me? I can't help it. I always start dreaming about next year during May: day-dreaming, imagining forward, growing a vision of how things will be. This summer I can't wait to dive into the Nancie Atwell Writing Workshop materials that I recently received. And, I'm really looking forward to MotherReader's 48 Hour Book Challenge, which is coming up the weekend of June 6 - June 8, 2008. I've started a list of books to read and I'm trying to temper my fierce competitiveness.

I'm also posting lots of book blurbs over at GoodReads.

Happy May, y'all.