Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My growing list of people I admire.

So, I have for a while had a running list in my mind of people who possess talents, drive, and passion that I admire. It is oddly male centric, and full of writers. 

1. Dave Eggers
2. Mo Willems
3. Maurice Sendak
4. Anna Freud
5. Virginia Axline

This week I found a new person to add to my list.

6. Augusten Burroughs

I read Running With Scissors in three days and I'm just about done with Magical Thinking. Oh, and I also found his blog. His writing is captivating and I was glued to each book through out the airplane ride from NY to Chicago. I have about 45 pages left of Magical Thinking... and then I have another one of his books waiting for me...I love vacation. 

I think my list of people I admire is quite a hodge podge of different jobs. The link? All successful writers in some form. There is a variety of non-fiction writing (a lot of memoirs), Children's Literature, and psychology. 

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Taking the Role out of Role Models.

Thanks Russo for putting a comical spin on it all. See, in my interpretation TFA corp members are the models and charter schools are like the exclusive fashion parties. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Why is this puppy sad?

Mo Willems, one of the best authors of all times, has drawn a sad puppy.

Why is this puppy so sad? 

1. He lost his bone
2. He is not dirty enough 
3. Merit pay
4. I don't read Mo Willems books to my students nearly enough.
5. Classrooms need more money...for books...that Mo Willems has written.

Monday, April 6, 2009

TFA versus Boston Teachers

Dear Joanne Jacobs, thank you for an unbiased approach to a touchy subject: Teach For America and the Boston teachers. 

Teach For America has been stereotyped, 

" They come from places like Harvard, Yale, and Brown, inspired to share their energy and knowledge with public school children..." 

They have one part right, Teach For America is full of individuals inspired to share their energy and work with real children, but this elitist stereotype has got to go. TFA is filled with individuals who are often incredibly motivated to move mountains, and often do. Teaching has one of the biggest turn around rates of all careers, and TFA members are no exception. Still, there are many individuals who stay in the field, or at least meander around the realms of education for some time afterwards. 

Boston seems to be rejecting TFA, trying to throw it out before it gets there...but it is coming,  and when the new teachers get there they will be joining a union that seems to hate the sheer entity that is TFA.

What do you see when you think about Teach For America? Do you see an elite rich white student who has never worked with children and suddenly thinks they can change the world? I don't, and I'm tired of people stereotyping Teach For America. Get to know the teachers, the individuals, and then make your decision. The Boston union is doing these incoming teachers a disservice by rejecting them before they come in, no one wants to walk into a negative work environment, and remember, in the end, what the union should be thinking about is the students, and giving them the best possible education. 

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Literacy and Math

Math is no longer just about numbers. I know kids tend to dread those word problems, I hated them myself in high school, but the connection between literacy and math is very important. In New York an integral part of the state math assessment involves writing about your mathematical thinking. It is no longer enough to produce answers, but you must explain them. 

How do we start those math connections? First, we talk to kids about their answers. How did you figure that out? Why is that correct? What strategy did you use? Those are questions that should be included in every math lesson kindergarten and beyond.

Second, we read to our kids about math. Books about math are everywhere, and I find that there is no better way to get a student engaged in a math lesson than to read them a book to start. 

Here is my list of my favorite books to start a math lesson with...

1. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett. (don't be confused, this book is commonly used to teach probability to kindergarten students. It is engaging and helps students to articulate possible, not possible, and definite). 

2. Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni. I love love love Leo Lionni to begin with. This delightful book about measurement is a great way to introduce what standard measurement is to young students. 

3. Pictographs by Bodach and Vijaya K. Honestly, this whole series about graphing is absolutely excellent. There are bright graphics and simple stories that help to illuminate what most people would think is a hard concept for kindergarten students to understand. 

4. Pattern Fish by Trudy Harris. My students made some excellent patterns (in cut out fish) after reading this book. 

5. The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns. Well, I couldn't end this list with out a Marilyn Burns book. She is an amazing math educator and writer. You can't really go wrong with on of her books.