What’s the media Feeding us?

feed

For the past six weeks, I have had the pleasure of teaching an English course to a group of highly motivated high school students enrolled in the summer session of an Upward Bound program. This summer’s book selection — Feed by M. T. Anderson — has spurred a campus conversation that I keep catching snippets […]

For not-rotten new readers

gantos_rotten ralph's rotten family

Following your dreams and dealing with family: these topics get hilarious treatment for primary readers in the following early chapter books. An added bonus? Some familiar faces from popular series. In Jack Gantos and Nicole Rubel’s Rotten Ralph’s Rotten Family, the titular kitty finds a family photo album and, nostalgic for his childhood, decides to […]

Back-to-school books

Chrysanthemum

Down South sometimes we do things a little differently… like starting back to school in early August. So while many a teacher is still enjoying their summer vacation until after Labor Day, my first day of school was a week ago. To me, the first days of school are some of the richest times for […]

Beyond biography

woodson_brown girl dreaming

With storytelling ease and pitch-perfect pacing, the following works of narrative nonfiction for older readers bring their subjects to brilliant life, elevating the sometimes-staid genre of biography to literary art form. Jacqueline Woodson’s memoir-in-verse Brown Girl Dreaming is so immediate that readers will feel they are experiencing the author’s childhood right along with her. Born […]

Go your own way

smith_100 sideways miles

Teen boys go on journeys both physical (road trip!) and psychological in these affecting YA novels. Finn Easton, protagonist of Andrew Smith’s 100 Sideways Miles, has unusual scars on his back, products of the freak accident that also killed his mother when he was a kid. He has a pretty good life otherwise: his sci-fi […]

Back-to-school basics

shea_dinosaur vs school

Kids going back to school — or just starting out there? Here are a variety of picture books, from imaginative and funny to historical and serious, to help ease the transition from the lazy days of summer. “Roar! Roar! Roar!” The diminutive red dinosaur from Bob Shea’s Dinosaur vs. Bedtime faces its newest foe in […]

Who’s doing the thinking?

teacher-point

Over the summer, I’ve been doing some literacy work with an educational consulting group here in Boston — we’re taking some of their existing professional development (PD) and classroom tools and modifying them to better address the Common Core. Last week, I went with some other members of the team to a PD session for […]

A visual life

Andre the Giant

Whether you are teaching history, English, or nonfiction writing, biographies and memoirs can be great tools. They can create a personal connection to and a deeper understanding of a period in history, or illustrate specific types of writing techniques, or showcase a person’s unique perspective. Unfortunately, some students think these books are dry or unappealing. […]

Why are we doing any of this?

bubbletest

Every teacher has heard it before: if you’re teaching students to succeed on the Test, then you’re teaching them the skills they’ll need to succeed in college and beyond. And if you’re like me, you’ve either inwardly or outwardly scoffed at this claim. As I use the summer to reflect on this past school year […]

Summertime books for middle school boys

lieberman_boys_all

Earlier this summer, my middle school colleagues and I worked on a curriculum project in our district’s comprehensive high school — a busy place during the summer. On one of those days, literally hundreds of our students lined up to participate in a teen summer job fair. As they patiently waited in line, they chatted […]