Wednesday, March 8, 2017

SOL #8 Culturally Responsive Children's Literature

As part of being a Literacy Collaborative coach, I have to attend ongoing training for three days, twice a year. Today, and the rest of the week, I am at that training.

One of the sessions I attended today, was about culturally responsive children's literature. The presenter was basing her teaching on the work of Dr. Sharroky Hollie.

She began by asking us what does it mean to be culturally and linguistically responsive. It was interesting to hear responses from around the room.  One of the things we learned is there are different types of cultures. Most often we think of ethnicity of culture. But we also need to consider: orientation, national, class, religious, gender, and age. I think most of us only think about ethnicity. and we need to expand that.

When looking at books, we need to think if they are culturally authentic, culturally generic, or culturally neutral. This isn't something I had really thought in depth about so it was nice to be able to look through different books and to see where they fell in the catagories. Here are the descriptions of each:

My take-away is that culture is more than just ethnicity. While I know that, I don't think I always practice that, and I need to be more intentional.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

SOL #7 Poetry Inspiration

This evening, I had the pleasure to work with 1st year teachers on Poetry Workshop with a colleague of mine. We talked about the structure of workshop and how to start poetry anthologies. We also let them participate in some poetry centers.

I shared a lot of resources with them, one being Kate Messner's 59 Reasons to Write. In this book, she has a chapter dedicated to poetry. One of the activities, which happens to be from Jo Knowles, was to think of a theme or topic and write your 10-digit phone number down the page. Those numbers become the number of words for the line. If the number is 0, it is a wildcard and can be any number of words. So I thought I would try that tonight using the phone number from my childhood, which is no longer in service. My topic is snow days.

I feel as if Mother Nature has
cheated us this year.
I live in Ohio,
what do you mean
you won't pleasure us with beloved snow days
this year?
Do you
not understand how much we look forward to
the anticipation of listening to the weather forecast
hoping for the opportunity for our snow rituals?

Happy writing!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Reading with My Son

I am fortunate. My son is in sixth grade and he still enjoys me reading to him.

He recently came home from school and told me in reading, his class was reading Woodsong by Gary Paulsen. Yes, gasp, a whole class novel. But his school district has done this for quite some time and I know that no matter how much complaining I do, it's not going to change. I've tried... I try to find the positive, and at least, for the most part, good literature is being used.

Anyway, my son was telling me about a funny part in Woodsong. Being a fan of Gary Paulsen, I told him that if he thinks Woodsong has some funny parts, he needs to read Harris and Me. So, I brought Harris and Me home from school for him.

If you aren't familiar with Harris and Me, let me quickly fill you in. It seems I was once told that this book is based on an experience in Gary Paulsen's childhood. The narrator of the story, you are never told his name, is moved from family to family because his parents have an alcohol problem. He spends one summer with the Larson's on their farm, whom are his second cousins. Harris is about his age and he is all boy with a wild imagination, and a knack for trouble. He is one of those boys who gets an idea in his head, and he makes that idea come true, not thinking about the consequences. It does make for a hard read aloud because Harris does like to cuss. So, all these adventures make a wonderful story, where you are always wondering what Harris will do next.

This past Friday, my son was home from school sick. By the evening he was starting to feel better so I asked him if he wanted me to read some of Harris and Me. He had belly laughs by the end of the first chapter. When I finished the first chapter, my son said, while laughing, "This book is just beautiful." Needless to say, he had me read half the book that night and it was finished Sunday morning.

Now for a confession. I remember reading Harris and Me as a child. As I was reading it, there is one part where the narrator wants to get revenge on Harris for something he did to him. So he talks Harris into peeing on an electric fence. I, too, remember talking my brother into peeing on the electric fence. I now wonder if this book is where I got that idea... Oops.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

SOL #5 Sunday Mornings

Sunday mornings are my favorite. While most people like to sleep in, I like to get up early and enjoy the quiet. This is my time.

My time to read through the Sunday papers. Read about what's happening locally and around the world, look through the ads to see if there is something I can't live without, and clip coupons.

It's my time to sit with my dog and enjoy a cup of coffee. Nothing pressing to think about. No major decisions to make. Sometimes I will watch the news, other times I will read a book.

My time to think about what I want to do with my time today. Sometimes I will rustle up my family and go to church. Other times I just want to enjoy a run, walk, or bike ride. I may go into school and get some work done. Reading a book may be on the agenda. If the weather is nice, I may find something to do outside.

When I hear people moving around upstairs I know that my time has almost ended and I need to start making breakfast. Because making a nice breakfast on Sunday morning is also something I enjoy.

Sunday mornings have a slow pace to them; the only time in the week where I feel as if I can slow down and enjoy what's around me. It's my time. I hope everyone finds a time in their week where they can slow down and enjoy the moment.

Saturday, March 4, 2017


Lately, I haven't been doing so well with personal goals. I have fitness goals. I have reading goals. I have household goals. Needless to say, I haven't been meeting them and have been in a rut.

So, I am going to pronounce to all some goals hoping that will keep me accountable.

First, fitness.
My goals this week are to complete 4 workouts lasting at least 30 minutes and to walk 10,000 steps per day at least 5 days this week.

Reading this week.
My goal is to finish the book I'm reading, plus make a dent in my stack of picture books I've been wanting to read. And to read half of a professional book.

Household goals.
Simply put, I need to clean. My son has been sick twice in the last 2 weeks so I feel as if I need to do more than surface clean. And I also need to put away my snowman decorations. I don't believe they are relevant at this time.

I'll check in next week and let you know how I did with these goals. Hopefully, putting them out there will encourage me to meet them. Fingers crossed!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Tournament Time

It's that time again. Basketball tournaments. My husband is the girls' varsity coach for the district in which he teaches. Last year his team was state runner-up. They lost 4 starting seniors from last year's team. Tonight the team is playing in the district final. Which is absolutely wonderful considering losing those 4 seniors.

And I am home.

With a sick child.

Being at the game is stressful enough. Being at home is even more stressful when you can't see what is going on. I have friends who are texting updates but it is not the same.

Let's just say there is pacing going on.

And sweating.

And some cleaning.

And a lot of stress.

And maybe a glass of wine.

Here's to a win and the Sweet 16!!! Go Spartans!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Read Across America

This week our school, like so many others, celebrated Dr. Seuss and reading. Each day we had a different Dr. Seuss theme, we also read a different book each day schoolwide, and we had guest readers in from the community to read in each classroom. Our cafeteria staff even served green eggs and ham for lunch. And our principal bought shirts for the staff to wear today.

The students had fun with the themes and we had a lot of participation. They enjoyed the guest readers. Overall, it was a good week.

Yet, I feel that it was lacking something. While it was enjoyed, I felt as if the enthusiasm just wasn't there. I just can't put my finger on it. Are people just tired? Thinking about testing, which is right around the corner? Too many other things going on? Conferences were also tonight, did that get in the way?

Being a Literacy Collaborative school, we have to have a Literacy Leadership Team. Part of what we do is plan events like this. We have an upcoming meeting so hopefully we can look at this week and figure out how we can improve it for next year.

Happy writing!