Friday Links for Educators 06.27.14

summerAs much as we educators sigh a relaxing ahhhhh at the thought of our summer months, for most of us, the months “off” are a time for reflection, reading, and deepening our understanding of all that we do in the classroom.

This week’s Links for Educators captures some of the best articles I’ve come across recently. If these resound with you, I’d love to hear from you in the comments — or share your own links (including those to your own posts), as well.

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Technology in Writing Workshop: When Students Take the Lead

Two Writing Teachers has long been one of my favorite blogs, and this post by Tara Smith shares great insight into how Google docs and other technology have enriched successes in her writing workshops.

Notes on Teaching Writing Using Tech

More along those lines… Heard of grass-roots PLN ed-camps? This document shares a list of resources that were shared by various teachers at EdCamp Chicago for using technology in teaching writing.

How to Engage Your Strongest Readers

I came across this great post by Pernille Ripp when link to it was tweeted by Edutopia. Activating gifted or advanced readers is an important class focus, and Pernille gives great approaches for keeping these readers inspired and challenged.

Are Children’s Books Darker Than They Used to Be?

Whether you’re a librarian, English teacher, teacher stocking a classroom library, writer of children’s lit or a parent… you’re bound to, at times, have questioned the themes of certain kid-lit or young adult lit today. Teens fighting to the death for the right to eat? Kids in deathly battles against evil lords? Kids telling lies that end in murder? What on earth?! This article at The Guardian is an interesting discussion of what place darkness has in children’s and teen’s literature.

Preventing Bullying with Emotional Intelligence

This article at Education Week acknowledges that bullying awareness has left educators well-versed in defining bullying and perhaps with an arsenal of approaches for clamping down on symptoms, but contends that punitive approaches do not solve the problem. Rather, educators should focus on teaching emotional intelligence, enabling potential bullies to learn to regulate their own emotional state and for bystanders and victims to better cope.  A useful definition of emotional intelligence appears several paragraphs in.

9 Questions to Optimize Your Collaboration

I loved this list of questions shared by John Wink at his Lead Learner site. If you plan with a teaching team, you can relate to how this list of questions would help optimize the effectiveness of every collaborative meeting to the benefit of teachers and students.


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What About You?

What resources are inspiring you most in reaching your summer goals?  Feel free to share your thoughts on today’s links in the comments, or share great links you’ve found, including to posts on your own blog.

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More on this site:

Boards set up by subject, unit or skill. Mrs. T's Middle Grades

Boards set up by subject, unit or skill. Mrs. T’s Middle Grades


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Teacher’s Summer Reading List 2013

reading list

While I fidget over small details like whether I really like the orange background or why I can’t load an automatic links page on this new blog site, it occurs to me that a great first post — on this first day of summer break — would be to post my summer reading list for 2013.

May Spent Assigning Summer Reading

My peer teacher and I seem to have spent the last month going back and forth with each other over exactly what we were going to assign as summer reading for the current fourth grade, as they rise up to meet us in August.

We had our one book the kids always read — Scat by Carl Hiaasen. But what to choose as the second book? Last year it was the first book in the Books of Elsewhere series — but then that was on Florida’s Sunshine State Readers list last year, so students may already have read it. We put forth one possible book and then another, shooting them down for a complicated series of reasons. I have fallen head over heels for writer Rebecca Stead and arrived nearly breathless one morning positive I’d found the perfect book: When You Reach Me. But wrong age level. There were books too advanced for the 4th graders and books too simple. Books too complicated or too specific or too close to something assigned in another grade.  I considered another new favorite — Edgar Allan’s Official Crime Investigation Notebook by Mary Amato — but Scat was already a school-centered mystery with a boy as a lead.

In the end, our “second book” has students choosing one from among 3 classic Newberry award winners. We like the opportunity to expose the kids to a book they might not otherwise pick up, while allowing them options. We differentiated further by letting them choose from options for how they would reflect their reading. My favorite is the option to write a mini travel brochure for the setting — bound to be a little tongue in cheek since the possible books are Island of the Blue Dolphins, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and A Wrinkle in Time.

Fair’s Fair: Now It’s My Turn

Now that the ink is dry on student summer reading assignments, it’s time I think about what I plan to read this summer.

My Summer Reading List 2013:

Adult Fiction

Middle Grade & Young Adult Fiction

  • The Princess Bride (1973) by William Goldman. This nearly-cult classic — often best known for the film version out in 1987 — is the topic of conversation for the month of June among a great group of writers I chat with on Twitter (#WSchats on Wednesdays). It is likely to become the summer’s first nighttime read-aloud with my boys.
  • And Then There Were None (1939), by Agatha Christie. Not originally “young adult,” but I look forward to revisiting this old favorite while reading along with my rising-7th grade son’s assigned summer reading. Language warning: in re-reading, we discovered 2 unnecessary uses of an offensive word; email me for advice if you considered assigning this one.
  • The Lemonade Wars (2009) by Jacqueline Davies. As with the one above, I’ll be reading this one along with my rising 4th grader, who selected it for his summer project. I’m glad as I’ve been curious about this book.
  • A Wrinkle in Time (1963). I look forward to rereading this long-time favorite by Madeleine L’Engle, which we included on students’ summer reading options. I may reread Island of the Blue Dolphins as well.
  • 17 & Gone (2013) by Nova Ren Suma (recommended reading level: 9th and above).
  • I, Q: The Alamo (releasing July 1, 2013). This will be the 4th in Roland Smith’s I,Q series, which has been one of my son’s favorites. I’m only braced, as Smith is joined by a co-writer on this one. Hmm.

Professional Reading

For both of those last two assigned books: I teach with a really driven, supportive group of teachers, and it’s great to have a summer “book circle” where we share what we each learned from books read while we were apart.

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Side confession: posting a quarterly reading list has become a little tradition of mine. I’ll likely post a slightly altered Summer Reading 2013 list on my writing blog.

To check out my prior reading lists on that blog, click: Winter 2013, 2012 Year of the Book, 2012 Award Season, Fall 2012 or Summer 2012.

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How About You?

What are you reading this summer — or what did you assign to your students? Parents, what are you reading with your kids?