The Lightning Thief

Okay, I have to admit much as it embarrasses me...I am a book snob. I really work hard to carve out time for reading (in the parking lot before work, while I dry my hair, in the bathtub,- NOT those two together!- etc...)so if it is not an awesome book--I don't want to waste my time! That includes children's books I read to be able to read aloud or recommend to my students.

This summer, the Today Show started a book club for kids. I didn't pay much attention to it until I happened to be watching one morning when the kids were talking about a book they had been reading. I couldn't tell exactly what the book was about, but the enthusiasm for the book was unanimous among the kids. The fact that it was recommended on TV or that it just sold it's movie rights wouldn't have caused me to seek it out, but the kids' zeal for the book grabbed my attention.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan is a story about a twelve year old boy with ADD and dyslexia who finds out he is the modern day son of a Greek God. Still hasn't caught your attention?!? Well, read the first few lines of the story in this excerpt:

Look, I didn't want to be a half-blood.
If you're reading this because you think you might be one, my advice is: close the book right now. Believe whatever lie your mom or dad told you about your birth, and try to lead a normal life.
Being a half-blood is dangerous. It's scary. Most of the time, it gets you killed in painful, nasty ways.
If you're a normal kid, reading this because you think it's fiction, great. Read on. I envy you for being able to believe that none of this ever happened.
But if you recognize yourself in these pages-if you feel something stirring inside-stop reading immediately. You might be one of us. And once you know that, it's only a matter of time before they sense it too, and they'll come for you.
Don't say I didn't warn you.

What kid is not going to want to turn to the next page? I can't wait to use this book in my classroom this year and I will recommend it to anyone who'll listen. Are you listening? Don't take after me and be a book snob.


Walk a Mile in History's Shoes

This whole blogging thing is new for me. One of the ways I am learning is by reading, reading and reading all the edublogs I can. How do you find great blogs to read? Check out the blogrolls that people list in their sidebar. I have listed my absolute favorites in mine, but check out the blogrolls on your favorite blogs.

Reading the blogs of all of the great teachers out there has also given me some great ideas for how I can make blogging an exciting and valuable experience for my students. I can't wait to get them started. Yesterday, I found a great idea thanks to the author of Bump on a Blog. He attended a session at NECC on Historical Blogging. Students studied the life of Harriet Tubman and were assigned tasks to complete a historical blog with journal entries, drawings and graphic organizers. Students not only learned about Harriet Tubman, but were able to "walk a mile in her shoes" by completing this project. What a tremendous idea! Check it out and get reading!



This morning I was scanning my newsletter from Education Week when I noticed under the heading of "Blogs" the word: Eduholic. I thought, uh-oh, I don't even have to read that to know it's me. I can predict the symptoms... getting excited about free stuff for your classroom, saving everything you ever get in case you might need it later, correcting the grammar and facts of friends and family, never having too many children's books, buying strange quanities of weird items at the grocery for experiments, working off the clock as much as you do on the clock, calling your colleagues at home to talk about the place you just left... oh, boy....I'm sure my family could add to the list.

So, is this a bad thing? Some (even some other educators I know) say I'm crazy. I say I have a passion for what I do. I live the life of a reader, writer ...and lifelong learner. I try to be the kind of teacher I would want my own children to have. So maybe my house could be a little cleaner, I could cook more gourmet meals--but I don't think I'll look back and regret not doing those things enough. I do take the time to spend with my family (check my bank account to see I spent a week at Disney) and I do things for me ( like reading fiction and getting manicures ). Do you think I need to join a twelve step program or are you an eduholic too?


Point of View

I just finished reading a book by one of my favorite authors, Jodi Picoult. The book was Songs of the Humpback Whale. It is written in the five voices of the main characters. Have you ever read a book like this? I have, but never have I felt equally for each character's point of view as I did when I read this. Usually while reading, I find myself taking the "side" of a certain character and not empathizing with most them. I side with the character that suits what my own point of view would be. Jodi has the distinct ability to make me feel like I am walking a mile in everyone's shoes.

This makes me think about my first year teaching. I began my career teaching fifth grade students with learning disabilities. Many of my kids couldn't read, had challenging home situations and had behavior problems. These were the kids I WANTED. I was going to really impact their lives...and I still feel that is my goal as a teacher. I was so certain I was "right" in all I did. I thought I knew how their parents should be raising them, how administrators should handle their shenanigans and exactly how to teach them. I wasn't wrong in all I did. In fact, I think I did a pretty good job as a beginning teacher...but I have learned to look at things from many different sides. When I'm not happy with a student's behavior, classwork, parents or co-workers I always stop and think about their point of view. As a teacher or coach, I know I am much more effective by being empathetic to others. I have even learned to consider the possibility that I may be wrong! Does this mean I'm all grown up??!


Why Blog?

I learned what the term "blog" (web log) meant only about a year ago. My understanding was that it was an online diary. My first thought was...why would anyone want to put their diary online!!!? Since that time, I have seen snippets mentioning blogs on various Education websites I peruse such as Ed Week. I began reading blogs that I found interesting and discovered Rachel Boyd's Blog. It was by reading her blog that I learned how EASY blogging can be. I began a blog for my classroom and turned many of my fellow teachers on to blogging at my school. So why this blog? Well, I am constantly saying to my friends, "Oh, I'm reading this book ....and..." I have so many thoughts sparked by the things I read and learn. So here's my new space to flesh them out, ramble on, share with so many others that have shared with me, rant and rave, whatever... I hope you check back from time to time and give me your thoughts!