A fine site

Challenge Accepted

So we were challenged two weeks ago to finish a professional development book. At first I thought, “No way is that going to happen with everything else I have to do.” But I am here to report that just today I have finished reading “Mini-Lessons For Literature Circles” by Harvey Daniels and Nancy Steineke. The next book on my reading list is “Literature Circles: Voice and Choice in Book Clubs & Reading Groups” by Harvey Daniels. I might even start this book after I post this blog!

minilessons for lit circleslit circles

Thank you to Elisabeth who asked our college library to order these books and then checked them out for me to read!

“Mini-Lessons For Literature Circles” is full of exactly what it boasts … tons of mini-lessons! Daniels and Steineke are very committed to modeling student literature circles off of adult book clubs. By doing this, students are provided with real life reading experiences.

Before reading this book I had a very vague idea of what literature circles entailed. Now I have a vision of how I can incorporate literature circles in my classroom. The mini-lessons in this book cover three major, overlapping topics: the social skills necessary for effective discussions, strategies that help students understand texts, and the literary lenses smart readers use to examine and appreciate what they read. I feel armed and ready with these mini-lessons.

However, I am also excited to learn even more about literature circles, so I am off to read “Literature Circles: Voice and Choice in Book Clubs & Reading Groups” right now!!





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When Kids Can’t Read – Read This Book!!

As I mentioned in my previous blog post I have been taking a class called “Reading and Writing in the Middle and Secondary Schools” and our text is “When Kids Can’t Read: What Teachers Can Do” by Kylene Beers. I have really enjoyed this book and so I wanted Beersto blog about it!

This book focuses on strategies to help struggling readers, and I mean really struggling readers. Readers who have a hard time picturing the story in their heads, who find it hard to make predictions about a story, and those who even struggle to sound out words.

Since I want to teach at the high school level I never thought that I would be faced with students reading at this level. This class has made it clear that this assumption was wrong. Although it is still crazy to me that some students can make it to high school while still reading at a third grade level, I now know of techniques I can try out in order to help these students.

At the beginning and end of each chapter Beers includes a letter to a previous student, George. Through these letters Beers shows us that in her beginning years of teaching she struggled to help the dependent readers in her class, but she has learned since then and she offers her valuable knowledge and experience in each chapter. She addresses ways to help students make inferences, pre-reading strategies, during-reading strategies, and after-reading strategies that aid students in gaining comprehension of different texts. Beers also shares activities to support reading fluency and valuable vocabulary exercises.

icebergThis is only the tip of the iceberg. “When Kids Can’t Read” is a book that I can see myself turning to again and again in the future. I highly recommend checking it out. I was also extremely excited to discover that Kylene Beers will be presenting at this year’s NCTE Conference!! You know what session I will be attending!


This was what my face looked like when I discovered the session with Kylene Beers … in kitty form!



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Say What!?!

This semester I have been taking a course called “Reading and Writing in the Middle and Secondary Schools” and our text is “When Kids Can’t Read: What Teachers Can Do” by Kylene Beers. This book is amazing and will be the topic of my next blog, so on to the point of this blog.

I was recently (today) very frustrated with a question that a classmate had posted in our forum. This classmate is taking the course for their graduate studies and is a currently practicing teacher. The following is the forum post:say what


I never loved reading as a child it was always a chore to me and I will admit even as an adult I don’t read for pleasure near as much as I should.  I feel I am too busy reading what is required which is also how I felt as a child.  How do you instill in your students that love of books and reading so that they just want to read for pleasure?  Especially when this task is so much easier to accomplish with skilled readers than struggling ones.”


I had so much I wanted to say to this teacher, but how to say it in the right way? I wish that this teacher could have been in my English Methods class because then this teacher would have had several ideas as to how to encourage reading.

Ideas such as:

  •           Students need to see us (the teacher) reading for pleasure, that all important modeling.
  •           The more books we read, the more books we are able to recommend to our students.
  •           I believe we need to have a passion for reading and share this passion with students.
  •           We need to give our students choice in what they read.
  •           We have to give students significant amounts of time to read in our classes.
  •           These are only a few ideas, there are many other ideas.

My professor’s words are echoing in my head, “We make time for what we think is important.” The above teacher doesn’t read for pleasure very often and is too busy reading what is required. This makes me question how important this teacher considers reading to be. However, at the same time this teacher is in this class and is asking for ways to help students. Thank goodness!

The forum post also made me wonder – What would I have said to that teacher had I not been in English Methods class? I don’t even want to think about that in great detail, because I know that I would not have had all of these powerful ideas to share. I have learned so much this semester and I am becoming more and more excited to get out into the teaching world. I want to share these important ideas and practice what I preach with my students.

Finally, this cat knows what’s most important!



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Be More Awesome!

Recently my amazing boyfriend Adam introduced me to this fantastic YouTube video and I shared it with my English methods class. But I don’t want to stop there. I want to share this video with the blogging world!! So check this video out!!

I find this video so inspiring!! It is time for all of us to be more awesome!! This makes me want to use hundreds of exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ok that’s enough for now …

In methods class we talk a lot about how to avoid burnout, and one of the ways is to stay away from those Negative Nancy’s. We know who they are. They lurk in the teacher’s lounge and spend their time grumbling about unruly students, school policies, and even each other. Most days I think we can easily avoid these people and keep our own grumbling and venting to a minimum. (Although I will say that sometimes venting is an absolute necessity.)

you are awesome

However, there is a much bigger threat. It is the Negative Nancy that exists in our heads. The voice telling yourself that you can’t. This is sometimes the hardest voice to shut out and something that I have struggled with a lot, something I am still struggling with. This video inspires me to turn off that voice telling me I can’t and turn on that voice telling me that I CAN AND WILL BE AWESOME!! That is my goal. I am going to work hard and learn hard to be more awesome, because I want to be an AWESOME teacher for my students.

And all of you guys out there? YOU CAN BE AWESOME TOO!!! Let’s all be awesome TOGETHER!!

Also, I just want to take a moment to give a shout-out to all of the lovely ladies in English methods!! Each and every one of you inspire me to “get my learn on” and become an amazing teacher. You offer me much needed support and guidance and I just want to say Thank You!!

thank you cat