On the blog:
- A slice about a confusing breakfast request: Butt Cake
I love #cyberPD but didn’t participate very fully this summer. I only posted once, in fact. I did read Being the Change and took detailed notes and thought about how I might adapt some of the lessons for my college students. I had every intention of posting about it. So much of the work is grounded in students’ own identities, lives, and experiences, which I found provocative and smart as a place to begin this work–but also limited. The kinds of “tough conversations” Ahmed tries to help us have in this book are so necessary, but there is a very different burden placed on students of color during a discussion about race or LGBQT students during a discussion about gender or sexual identity or a Muslim student during a discussion of religion, and I wish that had been addressed more. I love everything Ahmed says about the importance of embracing discomfort and being okay with silence and trusting kids, but one person’s discomfort is another person’s lack of safety, and I worry about what happens when a teacher is silent in a moment when one or more students in the class feels unsafe. I think there is a lot of important thinking in Being the Change and a lot of great lessons that help move students from a focus on self to an engagement with the people and the world around them, but I had a hard time pulling my thoughts together into a useful post because I still had so many questions and felt like I needed to do so much more reading and thinking before I would be ready to use some of these assignments in my own classroom.
It’s been awhile since I read the first edition of The Reading Zone, so I’m not quite sure about what’s new for the second edition. They’re probably both worth reading! I appreciate how clearly and cogently Atwell writes about reading and how persuasively she dismisses so much of the “nonsense” that passes for reading instruction in school. Reading workshop has all of the research to support it as well as all of the common sense. If you’re already a workshop teacher, you’ll enjoy this very quick read, feel validated in your work, and no doubt find some ways to refine your practice. If you aren’t a workshop teacher, this book ought to convince you.
A superb book of children’s poetry. I loved the set-up: Irene and Charles are paired for a school writing project and over the course of writing back and forth to each other about their lives and experiences, they become friends. Which is kind of what happened to the grown-up Irene and Charles when they decided to work on this writing project together! Race and racial identity is at the core of this collection, and it’s explored thoughtfully and well. Sean Qualls and Selina Alko’s illustrations are delightful and touching.
I know everyone loves Quiet Please, Owen McPhee! but it didn’t quite work for me. Children who overtalk in the way Owen overtalks generally have something else going on–anxiety, ADHD, processing challenges, sensory challenges, etc. I kept waiting for someone to recognize his struggle and offer some help, but instead he talks talks talks until he gets laryngitis and then learns he should listen more. If only reading a clever picture book could resolve the anxiety, ADHD, processing or other challenges that might be at the root of nonstop talking! If the book’s only purpose were to amuse and entertain, I wouldn’t criticize it, because it is amusing and entertaining. But it clearly has a didactic purpose, and I think it misses the mark. I know I would hate for my own nonstop talking child to have to listen to this story in class and feel ashamed of himself and his inability to control his talking when he’s anxious or struggling to process.
Cheriee introduced me to Jan Thomas in her reading post last week, and I enjoyed several of the books in The Giggle Gang series this week. What Is Chasing Duck? was my favorite–I laughed out loud several times. This is a very funny series for early readers, and a great choice for fans of Elephant & Piggie.
Lovely story about a lost wolf pup who finds a mother substitute in a polar bear. Kate Banks’s text is soothing and Naoko Stoop’s illustrations are perfect.
Up in the Leaves is the fascinating true story of a city boy who longed for some peace and quiet and built himself a treehouse in Central Park. Of course the parks people discover it and remove it. So he builds another one. We find out in the author’s note that Bob Redman built 12 different treehouses in Central Park trees during his adolescence! When he is eventually caught redhanded in his tree, he doesn’t get in trouble: instead, he’s offered a job maintaining trees for the parks department! I really liked this story and look forward to sharing it with my students.
There are some wow illustrations in Jo Empson’s Rabbityness. Obviously the color spreads are dazzling, but the subtle choices in other spreads that convey character and mood are just as impressive. I thought this book was only going to be about creativity and imagination and following the beat of your own drum, and that would have been enough for me, but there is serious thematic matter here as well, as Rabbit disappears in the middle of the story and his friends are left to carry on without him.