Friday, December 31, 2010
My daughter, Courtney, is a third grade teacher and she has written quite eloquently about her own challenges as a young reader. As part of her blog entry about her life as a reader she told the story about how I tried to bribe her to read more in the second or third grade. The American Girl dolls were so popular and she REALLY wanted one, so I told her that if she would read the entire series about any one of the dolls that I would buy the doll for her. She chose Molly so I went right out and bought the series. I was so proud of myself- so smug, so sure that I had the perfect plan! I think Courtney really tried, but the books were just too tough for her. I brought it up again several times over the years- as the books gathered dust on her shelf. I'd catch her looking longingly at the books but to my knowledge, she never touched them again. They just stood there as a reminder of her failure.
As the years went by, Courtney continued to really work hard. She never gave up, although it seemed she had to work harder than most of her friends. By the time she got to college she had decent comprehension skills but it still took her much longer than her friends to complete reading assignments. By then, of course, she had developed lots of coping skills such as color coded note taking, summarizing at the end of each paragraph, making notes in red on yellow note cards, dictating important events into a tape recorder as she went and then playing it back when she finished and dozens of other "tried and true " techniques that she had developed that helped her study. Things really seemed to click for her as she went through her college years and, much to my surprise, she even went on to pursue a masters degree. About two yeas ago she actually came home and read a book that my husband had finished and recommended for PLEASURE! It had been a long, hard road, but I am so proud of how she persevered.
As I was choosing her present this year, I wrote her this letter.
When you were a youngster, I so wanted you to love reading... but you didn't! I tried EVERYTHING, including trying to bribe you with something you really, really wanted - an American Girl doll. I told you that if you would read the entire set of books, I would buy you the doll. I think you tired. You read about half of one book before you abandoned the series. Always good to my word, I never bought you that doll!
As the years have passed, you have worked so hard. You never gave up. With lots of determination you really have become a reader - even reading for pleasure! You have used what you learned during those difficult years to work with and understand your own struggling students and that insight will make you a better teacher for generations of children.
I just wanted to find a way to let you know how I feel. I hope this present will say to you how really proud I am and how much I have always loved who you are but especially who you have become. You are... and have always been... my most precious daughter. I love you.
Merry Christmas, Dearest One. May all your dreams come true. Mom
On Christmas Eve, I read the letter to her before she opened the present. At least I tried to read it - more tears than words... As she opened the doll, I hoped that it would become a symbol that she would proudly display in her classroom and use to tell her own story to children that struggle. It was such an intense moment for me... and for Courtney. Later that night, her boyfriend would ask her to be his wife, so I am sure this night will always remain as a magical Christmas for her. My part is small in comparison, but seems like all her dreams really are coming true...
Friday, December 17, 2010
1. Cut a piece of fun foam 4X6"
2. Take head and shoulders picture of each child. Print out on tag board in black and white.
3. cut around the head shot.
4. Cut antlers from brown construction paper and glue onto the back of each head shot.
5. Use hot glue and glue the photo with antlers onto the fun foam.
6. Hot glue a red pom pom nose.
7. Use a hole punch and punch two holes on the top corners of the fun foam. Add a yarn hanger.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
When I think about gifts that I have received and even gifts that I have given that have meant a great deal to me, a ribbon of vignettes flow through my mind - from a favorite doll that I received for Christmas as a child that my grandchildren still play with and love today to letters I have written through the years to my children during the holidays that express the love of an entire year. Some of them still make tears well in my eyes as I remember each of them at a certain age or have specific memories of specific events in their young lives. Childhood, especially looking back, whether it's your own or that of your children is such a special gift that you hold in your heart forever.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
|This slideshow design customized with Smilebox|
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
How to Be Sneaky 12-8-10
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
The kids protested loudly, but they had to admit that she was doing exactly what the papers said. When she started spreading the peanut butter and jelly on the bread without taking it out of the wrapper, they really had a fit, but she made her point about how the lack of details can make a big difference. After the demonstration she asked the students to write directions for making peanut butter and jelly again with the details. What a difference!
Debbie Miller refers to it as creating mental images. Elin Keene refers to it as using sensory images to enhance comprehension and in her newest work Lucy Calkins calls it envisioning. Regardless of what you call it good readers create mental images as they read. For many readers, it’s more than just visual images. They also pay attention to the other senses by noting “smells, textures, sounds, mood and ambiance”. The images change as the words change. The pictures are fluid. Readers revise their images as they add new information, as they read new information, or as they discuss their images with others. Good readers are able to look at a movie of the actions in their mind or they are able to step into the book by stepping into the “skin” or “head” or “shoes” of a character. Good readers understand that visualizing the action of the story helps them understand and comprehend the words. Good readers use their mental images to draw conclusions, to make inferences, to fill in spaces. The images clarify their thinking. They combine the words from the text with their own schema to create their pictures. The images may come from the five senses and the emotions but they are anchored in the reader’s background knowledge. Good readers draw on those images to recall details after the text has been read.
Tracy has been doing lessons for several weeks trying to teach our children to visualize. We displayed two different activities on our bulletin board this month, one where the children visualized the scene from a passage in a book and another that showed how an image can change as a child talks about her image. Below are some pictures of our bulletin board and the thinking of the children and our thinking about the children's work.
It is important that children see action in their minds. If they don’t, they will never fall in love with reading because they won’t see the movie that other children enjoy. They miss the action and the details and wonder how other children can figure things out.That's what Tracy and are were trying to capture with this month's bulletin board.
Monday, December 6, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
Several years ago Auntie Claus was the December Book-of-the-Month. Thus was born a tradition of our Principal, Susan Phillips, dressing up like the character, Auntie Claus, and reading to all of the 1300 children in the school. She takes a different grade level (about 200 children at a time) each hour all day long and reads holiday books that are age appropriate, all the time pretending to be Santa's sister who has been left in charge of the school for the day. The children love it. The teachers love it. After the book is read, all of the Resource teachers, dressed as elves, serve cookies and chocolate milk. It really is one of those very simple traditions that makes a school special. How wonderful to have a school that is full of holiday traditions!