Monday, February 8, 2016

It's Monday! What are you reading?

My one little word for 2016 is TIME.

For years, I lamented that I didn't have time to exercise. I have three kids. I'm a working mom. I'm exhausted at the end of the day. The list of excuses went on and on. During a conversation with a colleague about how I wished I had more time to exercise, she said “I think people can make time for what matters to them.” Powerful advice.  

I started this school year with the goal of making time to exercise each morning.  I'm a creature of habit, so my new routine involves getting up 30 minutes earlier to start my day with a workout.  I now feel lost if I choose to sleep in!  Five months later, I'm now lamenting that don't have enough time to read or write as much as I would like.  Instead of complaining, I'm creating a new routine which will lead to a habit!  My goal is to read 20 minutes a day and take time each Sunday morning to write a reflection of the week.  I tend to devour books in bursts, but I don't make time to read on a consistent basis. I'm hoping that just like exercise, my reading and writing goal will become a habit that I can't imagine not being part of my daily routine!

Thanks to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for hosting this meme!

Recent Reads: Professional Books

One of our school goals is to raise student achievement in math. During our last two staff meetings, we've connected our primary school (K-2) and our upper elementary school (grades 3-5) to discuss the mathematical shifts in this text. Our teachers have enjoyed this book because they can quickly return to their classrooms and make slight adjustments which can lead to big gains!  In our first meeting, we spent a lot of time talking about the importance of explicitly teaching math vocabulary and valuing time spent on mathematical discussions.  At the end of the meeting, teachers wrote goals of creating math word walls, taking more time for Number Talks, and using more probing questions (What do you notice?  Can you explain how you saw it? Can you show us?).  I'm looking forward to returning to this text on Tuesday with my colleagues!

I'm working my way through Reading Nonfiction in digestible bites.  Last night I finished Part 1, which focuses on ten issues to consider.  I'm continuing to ponder how to better define nonfiction for students, the connection between relevance and rigor, and the importance of our classroom conversations.  I'm looking forward to delving into Part 2, which focuses on the three key questions our students must ask when reading nonfiction closely.  I am planning to launch these Notice and Note stances with a colleague after vacation!  My plan is to participate in the Nonfiction Picture Book Event this month #nf10for10 with a collection of texts I can't live without as I launch Nonfiction Notice and Note questions!

At our upper elementary school, we have a study group that meets monthly to discuss children's literature and the importance of read aloud.  This month, we shared ideas for Circus Mirandus and Rain Reign, which were two of my favorite books of 2015. We also talked about Chapter 3 from Steven Layne's book In Defense of Read Aloud. I absolutely love his humorous, and often snarky, approach to defending read aloud! This week our teachers discussed how we must be aware of our read aloud choices so we can avoid being genre haters who tend to avoid sharing certain types of books with our students. Because we don't include enough nonfiction in our read alouds, we are planning to each read and share a different nonfiction picture book next month that can be incorporated into our read aloud block. Even if you believe in the importance of read aloud, you will love this book!

Recent Reads: Children's Literature

I'm so glad my colleague shared this amazing book with me! Peter Reynolds always has an incredible message to share with his readers.  Valerie's class discussion with her fourth graders about the Notice and Note signposts in this text, particularly Words of the Wiser, was amazing!

I finally got my hands on this Newbery Award winning title!  I absolutely love the description and word choice in this text.  In classrooms using the Notice and Note signposts, I know that students would love Nana's Words of the Wiser, "'Sometimes when you're surrounded by dirt, CJ, you're a better witness for what's beautiful.'" I can't wait to share this book with teachers and in classrooms!

For Christmas, I gave my basketball-loving son a copy of the Newbery Award winning book The Crossover.  Because it was his first time navigating a novel in verse, we read it together at night. This book and our time reading it together will stay with me forever. The poetry and the author's message are simply beautiful. We are looking forward to Kwame Alexander's next title!  

Next in My Stack

Pax has been getting rave reviews on Twitter, so I'm looking forward to joining in the book love for this title!

We loved meeting Julie Falatko at the Author Night in January.  This book will finally be delivered to us on Wednesday!

My daughter, Grace, and I can't wait to read the third book in our favorite series during vacation!

Jacob is halfway through Masterminds and is already recommending that I read it as soon as he's done.  Hopefully, he finishes it in time to add it to my vacation read stack!


  1. Nice variety of books. I'm especially interested in your professional choices. I wish our school read and discussed books like these. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

    1. We just started a Children's Literature book study group this year that meets once a month to discuss a middle grade novel. It's been such a positive experience! Thanks for sharing your recommendations!

  2. I love the look of those professional development texts - I think I have Notice & Note for Fiction reading which i have yet to get to.

    1. Thank you! A number of our upper elementary teachers are implementing the sign posts from Notice and Note (for fiction) and loving it! We've been using picture books to introduce each sign post. I highly recommend both Notice and Note texts!

  3. I don't read enough professional development texts. I would need to fit it into a routine to keep it up. I've noticed that since my mother became ill, my reading and exercise life has disintegrated. I manage to fit in reading, but the walking part has disappeared since I need a car to get to her. Thanks for the inspiration.