Moving

Well, I’m doing all sorts of moving these days. Moving furniture around to make room for a baby, moving classrooms for fall, and now, I’m moving my teaching blog to blogger. My personal blog is there, and this is an opportunity for me to combine them a little bit and keep my life a little more streamlined. So if you’re one of the 3 people who reads/subscribes to this, change everything to the new address:

http://mrsduke.blogspot.com/

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Summer Goals

I don’t know a single teacher who does absolutely no work in the summertime. Teaching summer school, working in their classroom, adapting lesson plans, creating an entirely new curriculum, attending trainings, reading up on new practices, studying common core standards, the list of things teachers do over the summer goes on and on.

My summer isn’t any different. Starting a new school at the end of the school year, teaching summer school starting from day 1 of break until mid-August, and being on maternity leave darned near the beginning of the school year (potentially at the beginning of the year) means I have a lot to do this summer. So I’m making a list of goals.

1. Determine a direction, focus and theme for this blog.
2. Write a reader’s workshop curriculum for the school year focused on interventions and test-success.
3. Write a summer-school curriculum for a 7-week high school reading workshop (implement it as I go!)
4. Write detailed lesson plans for my long-term sub to use during my maternity leave to ensure a smooth transition.
5. Get my classroom set up for an effective reader’s workshop. (Fingers crossed I don’t get asked to move rooms, I have a FANTASTIC room as of right now, and I have oodles of ideas.)
6. Get all of my classroom library books loaded into my book check-out system.

If I sat down and thought about it, I could probably  make an even longer list, but between this and preparing my personal life for a baby, I think this is plenty, don’t you?

What are your summer goals? Attending any wonderful trainings? Writing any new curriculum? Taking a class? What’s on your summer agenda?

You know what there aren’t enough of??

Middle school blogs. There are innumerable k-3 teacher blogs, many many, 4-6 teacher blogs, but I’m noticing a serious absence amongst the middle grade set. The Reading Zone comes close, but she’s moved on to high school, and she posts more about books (which is fantastic) than classroom ideas for a middle school.

This should change. I’ll try to post more classroom related things, but does anyone know of any other middle level bloggers out there?

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? Book drought edition.

I’ve been in a horrible, horrible book drought. With all the changes going on, I haven’t had time to seek out new titles, and the one I did find, I couldn’t make myself pick up. So, I wasn’t reading. At all.

Thankfully, this past Friday, a teacher friend and I went to Scholastic’s Warehouse Sale. Browsing among all those books, with a clear purpose in my head (finding books that will appeal to my new student population) re-energized me about reading young adult literature. I tried to focus on finding relevant titles to my new population along with beefing up my historical fiction and mystery sections in my classroom library.

I spent over 150 dollars. I got 25 dollars off with my coupon, but still. I came home with a big ‘ole box of new stuff. Once I got home, I didn’t even wait to start reading. So, without further adeiu, here’s what I read over the weekend:

Runaway Twin, Peg Kehret
Sunny finds herself longing to find the twin she was separated from at age 3. So she runs away from her foster home, the first one she’s felt good about in years, and sets off on a cross-country adventure to find her twin. She finds her twin, but the reunion leaves much to be desired in Sunny’s mind. A good, quick read.

Stalker Girl, Rosemary Graham
This title has been on my radar for a bit, but I never picked it up until I saw it at 50% off at the warehouse sale. This book is intense. I sucked me into the character, Carly, right away, but not because I related with her, or because I wanted to be her friend (a measure I often use with characters) but because I wanted to take her by the shoulders and shake some sense into her. The downward spiral she takes is terrifying.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Mark Haddon
I’m still working my way through this one, but It’s been around for a long time and I never got around to reading it. Is that bad of me? I’m enjoying it so far.

The Truth About Truman School, Dori Hillestad Butler
A book about bullying, specifically, cyberbullying. A good, quick read, which points the redundancy of the term cyberbullying. As one character states “Isn’t bullying bullying regardless of the form it takes?”

What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday What are you reading hosted by Teach Mentor Texts and Book Journey.

New Literacies Autobiography

As I pursue my Master of Arts in Literacy Education, we take a variety of classes. Currently I am taking a class on “New Literacies.” Our current assignment is to reflect on our “New Literacies Autobiography” a short reflection on literacy in our lives, of all forms. As the class is technologically focused, we are encouraged to write more than just a discussion post. Since I have tried (and largely failed at being consistent) to make myself into more of a writer, hence this blog, I decided that I would post mine here. So, if you’re not reading this because you’re in my small group, bear with me.

I am an only child. This, I think, has largely impacted how I view literacy. As a young child, I spent the majority of my time with adults, and when they didn’t want to hang out with a six, seven, or eight year-old, I was handed a book and told to go read. Luckily for me, I didn’t mind it. In addition to being an only child, we were a family that moved a lot. By the time I graduated high school I had moved more than twelve times and gone to more than seven schools. Because of this, my lifelong friends aren’t “my best friend “Jenny” that I’ve known since I was six!” My lifelong friends are Meg Murray, Laura Ingalls, and Claudia Kincaid. Oh, I had plenty of real-life friends, but before the advent of electronic communication as we know it now, once you moved away, communication with those left behind didn’t last long.

Books and the characters in them remained my closest friends up to high school and college. While I still enjoyed (and enjoy) reading, I was able to live in one place long enough to make lasting “human” friends. The majority of my childhood and adolescent literacy life revolved around books.

When I went to college, all of that changed. I started college in 1997, and was given my first email address. That little green-screen computer int he student union opened up an entire new world to me. Within a year, the internet was increasingly popular and forums, chat rooms, and blogs were quickly becoming the norm. As a transient kid, moving around a lot, I found these arenas to be wonderful for me. Going home for the summer? Great! All my “friends” come with me in my little grey box, as long as I hook it up to a phone line. Electronic communication quickly became my literacy of choice.

I didn’t desert my book-friends, however, they just took a backseat to electronics (and homework, it was college after all).

Now, as an adult, my definition of literacy, and it’s role in my life is evolving. As a reader and a reading teacher, I frequently forget that literacy is more than the ability to read a book and interact with a story. It’s writing, it’s even speaking, all forms of communication. These classes have helped me to expand my definition and look for new opportunities. When I realized that I was expecting my students to write, but wasn’t writing myself, I started this blog. When I discovered the number of wonderful teachers using Twitter for staff development, I joined in. Lastly, when I started my master’s coursework, I continue to discover new ways of defining and incorporating the idea of “literacy” into my personal and professional life.

Help a sister out.

As mentioned in my last post, I started a new job. It kind of fell into my lap immediately, though when I applied (and interviewed) I thought it was for the following fall. After a whirlwind, I started this past Monday.

It’s easily going to be the most difficult group of students to win over I’ve ever encountered.

A little background:
The first teacher in this class (4 sections of upper-level reading intervention and 1 section of READ 180) suffered from medical problems. She had excessive absences and in the midst of her absences the students never saw her for more than two weeks in a row. The number of subs is currently incalcuable. The school finally was able to post the position and put a long-call sub in until they could fill the position. The long-call sub was wonderful, but had no teaching experience and no reading license.

What they’ve been doing:
Curricularly: They are not even through two units in their Read 180 curriculum, the students haven’t finished more than 3 segments (at most) on the software and their idea of independent reading is sitting around chatting with friends.

Socially: Swearing is more than tolerated. The students are allowed to call teachers “f—- b—“es and other things with no disciplinary action on behalf of the administration. Phones – students have been allowed (in this class only) to not only have their phones out, but to listen to music, text, and just about whatever they want, even while the teacher is instructing or giving directions. Computers – students have been allowed to listen to youtube music during READ 180 time (which make no sense, since the software has audio), and were frequently given 15-20 minutes (in a 51 minute class) for free time on the computers.

What I need:

Help! How do I effectively intervene in this instruction so that these students are getting the most out of their class, and begin to recognize me as an authority in the classroom and begin to trust me. I’m afraid to take away all their music/privileges/etc because a: they’ll just walk out of class with no consequences from administration and b: they will riot. I have no doubts a full-scale rebellion would ensue.

So, experienced teachers, help a girl out. I have 8 weeks to turn these kids into readers.

Announcement central:

I’ve been gone forever. A LOT has gone on in my life.

1. I alluded to the reason for my tiredness here, but the reason is that I am pregnant. My husband and I are looking forward to welcoming our first baby home around September first. (Not the best date for a teacher, I know.)

2. I got cut. Again. Effective June, with a *slim* chance at returning, but i wouldn’t know until August 14th. At which point I will be 8.5 months pregnant.

3. So I started applying for fall jobs. I got one. But…

4. …it started immediately. So after a whirlwind of a super supportive principal, saying goodbye to my tightly knit students, and making my friends pack up my classroom, I started a new job.

5. At a really rough, inner-city-type school. Swearing is rampant, at students and directed at teachers. Fights are a daily occurence, and teacher’s have very little decor or books in their rooms because of the theft level. I haven’t even put up my classroom library. Which breaks my heart, but I can’t afford to replace 1000 books personally if they get stolen.

6. My husband lost his grandmother in the midst of all this so we sadly traveled out of town to say goodbye to her.

7. My first master’s candidacy class is wrapping up, so I am frantically citing things trying to get my advance to candidacy portfolio done!

whew. Feels good to get all that off my chest. Look for a post in a couple days seeking help!

It’s Monday, what are you reading?

I have a confession. I’ve been reading the same book since the beginning of the school year.

I am a proponent of abandoning books if you’re not into it.

But I feel like I should like this book. Everyone I know loves it. My twitter feed loves it.

I put it down and now I just can’t make myself pick it up again.

Because I feel like I should love it, I can’t just abandon it.

So I’m at a stalemate.

I love science fiction. The recent explosion of dystopic young adult fiction makes me giddy with glee.

But I can’t get into this book.

Please don’t judge me.

It’s Delirium, by Lauren Oliver.

Tell me it’s worth finishing?

Big stretches

*yawn*

Anyone here? I’ve been gone a couple weeks. My kids were going through testing ALL WEEK at school, SRI, xSkills, MAP testing, I felt terrible for the poor things. But it was strangely exhausting being at school watching them work their way through all the tests as well.

To top it off, my husband decided to share the joy of his most recent cold with me, so I’m curerntly snuggled up on my couch with the puppy watching television.

I know, I’m not even reading. Bad mrs duke. Shame. I think that it’s because I’m not loving the book I’m currently reading, but I’ll post more on that for Monday’s “What are you reading?” post.

Just wanted to let you know I’m still here!

It’s Monday, what are you reading?

I’m a failure at Book-a-day. As I write this on Sunday morning, I’m not even close to finishing a book per day on my break, and school starts back up on Tuesday. But that’s ok.

I just got a copy of Lauren Oliver’s “Delirium” for a book club. That book is currently at the top of my list, I put it right up in front of all my other books. This week is a busy week for me, so I may not get to any other books this week (it’s a big one! and I’m not a speed reader, I’m a savor-er) but just in case, I have some backups waiting in the wings.

I still need to read “Among the Hidden” and the others in that series, I have the Skeleton Creek books awaiting my perusal, and I’m still working my way through Terri Lessene’s “Reading Ladders” on a professional level.

On top of that, my master’s classes start back up in February, and there will be plenty of reading in those classes, for certain!

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?” is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. The Middle Grade Version is hosted by the ladies at Teach Mentor Texts.