Skip to main content

Professional Development Book A Day: Part 1

As part of my summer bucket list to-do was to finally read the professional development books that have been piling up over the years. I am fortunate to be part of a district that spends mucho dinero on developing their teachers. Last year we were privileged to have the queen herself (#istalkliteracycelebrities) Kylene Beers, spend the day with us going over her book “Notice and Note” which we received copies of. Then during the 2015 summer, I took part in the Glazer Lorton Writing Institute which hands down has been one of the best learning experiences of my career next to attending the IRA conferences. In two weeks we had presentations from the likes of Erik Palmer and Jeff Anderson just to name a few. And of course- more BOOKS!
So to go back to my point: I have books galore and I keep adding to the collection. One recent addition was “The Book Whisperer” by Donalyn Miller. This book comes highly recommend and I wholeheartedly agree. Many things resonated with me and one of those things will be the first point to discuss with my school staff those first few weeks: Unexamined Wallpaper. What are practices that we are doing in our classrooms that we really have not proven to affect student success but we keep doing it? But also most importantly, why have we not examined those practices?
I am fortunate to be in the good position of constantly improving my craft, having a supportive principal, and the flexibility of trying good, research based practices. Yes we having a pacing guide, but it is just a guide. I know my students and I have to be able to have that flexibility to adjust based on their peculiar needs.
When you work in the fifth largest school district, you have to understand law of averages. There are those students and schools in the best of neighborhoods and those in the worst of neighborhoods and each dynamic is different. Our pacing guides and resources I understand as the “average case scenario.” My school falls into the failing school bucket. My kiddos for some content cannot keep the same pace as the best in the district and at times not even the average in the district. So those practices that might work for some might not work for others especially the students I serve. Those practices that worked ten years ago, may not work in 2016. With that being said, going into this new school year is the perfect time to look at that wallpaper before putting it up again to make sure the pattern, the color, and the texture is just right for these new sets of students we are receiving.

My personal first set of wallpaper examination will be if I should use literatures circle or book clubs in my reading classes next year. I will follow up with a blogpost on how I came to my conclusion on which to use.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Must Read When Setting up Literature Circles in Classrooms

Hands-down this book is a perfect starting point if you are interested in doing literature circles or book clubs in your classrooms. Daniels and Steineke have written numerous books on this process so they would be the go- to in the field when learning how to start this necessary activity with your students. I say necessary because there are too many classrooms that teachers are forced to teach tests and skills and fail to teach the love of lifelong reading. The first chapter of the book impresses upon readers the idea that our ultimate goal should be that. Literature circles allows students to be involved and committed namely because they are allowed to have choice and voice.
I like how the book not only focuses on the Why but also How. Some of the mini-lessons discussed are tried and tested in ELA classrooms such as book passes and book talks but the book gives you how to do it correctly and why it is important to be done.

The chapters are divided into How to get started, How to get…

Keep, Change, Turn for the New School Year

Teaching requires a lot of hard work but the most important thing it requires is a reflective practitioner. The peace and slow pace of summer is a great time to sit at the pool or at Starbucks and think about what went well, what didn't go so well and what didn't work at all. I've been thinking about my teaching practices a lot over the last few weeks since school has been out because I know there are things that I need to change, keep, and do a 180 turn for the upcoming year to improve upon what works in my classroom. 
This past school year was a learning curve for me since it was my first teaching middle school coming from a high school setting and I had been out of the classroom for some time as a literacy coach. To understand my thought process, I need to front load what my typical demographics include: students with and without out a learning disability reading from K-4 reading levels all in the same class with a scripted program that doesn’t satisfy their needs. I als…

Teaching Middle School Writers by Laura Robb Review

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links; if you purchase from Amazon after going through these links, Secondary Urban Legends receives a small commission at no extra cost to you.
I have hit the ground running with my professional development Books To Read (#BTR) list starting off with Laura Robb’s “Teaching Middle School Writers.” Even though I am a reading teacher, I am not sure how you teach reading without incorporating writing. My goal for the upcoming school year is to figure out how to best do it. Truth: I do not think my current model is the best. But reading this book has allowed me to fine tune, plug holes, and create a game plan for what will work best in my classroom for my students and their needs. This book covers a lot and is an easy read with ready to go strategies and lessons. It even includes a DVD of resources!  Robb starts out by looking at research. Research that she and others have performed to understand the reasons why middle schoolers write and the gaps betw…