Category Archives: Reading

Tom Newkirk: On Writing Embarrassment—An Interview with Myself

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By Thomas Newkirk

In anticipation of the September release of my new book, Embarrassment: And the Emotional Underlife of Learning, I decided to reflect on what the book can offer teachers, students, and (I hope) other readers intrigued with the topic. We met in Tom’s office, a cluttered upstairs room of his house. From his window, you can see across Mill Pond Road to the former house of his mentor and friend Don Murray, who figures prominently in the book.

Why embarrassment?

In so much of what I read about education, the emotional life of the learner, particularly the teacher-learner, is ignored. We often get these rosy, uniformly successful depictions—all students are motivated, everything comes in on time, the teacher just loves every minute of her job. While I loved teaching, that was never my emotional reality. I regularly felt discouraged. I relived failures, often in the middle of the night. My successes seemed so much more intermittent than those in the accounts I read. I compared myself unfavorably with colleagues, and super-teacher authors and presenters—and I didn’t measure up.

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We are Readers and Writers! Setting Up a Literacy-Rich Summer

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by Anna Gratz Cockerille

For many teachers and students, the summer months are a chance to change pace, to dig into projects of personal interest, and just…breathe. But for many kids, summer is also a time when learning grinds to a halt. Students in lower socio-economic households in particular have little opportunity to practice the academic skills that began to take root and gel by the end of the year. One particular area of well-documented summer decline is in reading. When students don’t read during the months of summer, the effects on their academic progress are disastrous. 

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Shifting Class Instruction Toward Differentiation

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The research is compelling: When teachers differentiate reading instruction, students learn more. But teachers are too often given the expectation of differentiation without the details on how to make it work. In No More Reading Instruction Without Differentiation, Lynn Bigelman and Debra Peterson offer a framework that adapts instruction based on individual students' needs and interests.

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Heinemann Fellow Aeriale Johnson: To Tiana, With Love

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As a college student, at twenty, I found myself under the tutelage of an educator of color for the first time ever. I did not learn from another one until I was thirty. During my tenure as an educator, I have served students as diverse as America itself. I scoured my memory. I can merely recall fewer than ten colleagues of color among the hundreds with whom I’ve worked. In March I traveled from rural Alaska to New York City to visit Heinemann Fellow Tiana Silvas and her colleagues at PS 59. I was looking for effective instructional strategies. At forty, nineteen years into my teaching career, I found what I hope all thoughtful, passionate educators, regardless of race or ethnicity, will someday find in order to better serve our students. I found community—just as I am.

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Engaging Readers: Lucy Calkins discusses the TCRWP Classroom Libraries

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In the first two installments of this blog series, we discussed why particularly chosen books matter and how the TCRWP Classroom Libraries were selected. In this final part of the series, we will explore additional, innovative ways that the team focused on driving reading engagement.

One such way is through the tools and resources that accompany the libraries. A vast collection of brightly colored, attractive book bin labels and book level labels lure kids to bins with irresistible topics. Additionally, student sticky-note pads help promote close, active reading. Students can identify “Must-Reads” and “Watch Out!” sections for others by leaving these helpful sticky notes in the book. Watch the video below to check out these amazing resources:

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Cultivating a Love for Reading Through Fantasy Book Clubs

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by Anna Gratz Cockerille  

I have come to love fantasy novels, particularly young adult fantasy. There’s no doubt that the Harry Potter series stirred this love. Who couldn’t adore a book that got millions of children to read? The teen fascination with Twilight and The Hunger Games did the same thing—literally millions of teens are reading and talking about these books. They join blogs, they dress up like the characters, they attend the film releases, they compare the books to the movies. Fantasy has been a force for good in literacy.

Mary Ehrenworth, in Learning from the Elves: A Genre Study of the Complexities and Themes of Fantasy

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