Follow by Email

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

How to Police Your Child’s Reading- A Sure Fire Way to Get Them NOT to Love Reading.

As a children’s book enthusiast/literacy advocate/reading coach and forever and a day second grade teacher, I’m often fielding a core set of parent based questions about their child’s reading life, namely how to best direct it or executive produce it, that is. You might be inclined to say that’s because we live in LA – however I am going to vigorously shake my head and disagree. Whether Chicago, Brazil or L.A.- it doesn’t matter.  Seventeen years as a “seasoned” second grade educator and I’m still listening to pretty much to the same “concerns.” 

And so, a few weeks ago, in speaking informally with a colleague, the topic regarding her own child’s literacy life emerged. I was once again presented with the golden question. “So, my son still isn’t reading at home for fun. He isn’t picking up a book with regularity and independence. I mean, I make him read to me. He wants me to read to him and I do that too, but I think he needs to read, so I make him read a page then I read a page.”

I saw it coming but then again, I had opened the can of worms, I mean it was I who had asked her the question: Tell me what you do at home? I was prepared to lean in and listen. I let her share and when finished, I acknowledged that yes, having your child read aloud has its benefits and then respectfully went in and pressed. “So, tell me, has policing his reading instiledl in him a love for reading?” 
She looked at me Her now widened bright eyes said it all.

“Okay- WOW! Tell me more! she said. I smiled. Appreciating her response and  continued, “time and time again I have heard all too similar stories about this tried and true recipe for disaster method for nurturing their young readers. AND, once again, it begs me to circle back and respond in question- How does having your young reader read aloud to you, make them fall in love with books?  I mean, how’s that working for ya? 

Teacher rule no. 1- always be able to answer (or, better yet, demonstrate): WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?

If you’re having to MAKE them read to you- could this “making” very well be defeating your greater goal? Why do this? Are you listening in for fluency, accuracy, phrasing? Are you listening to coach? Or listening to police--- to mandate? 
If it’s the former, then I definitely have some tips for HOW to listen,  what to listen for, how long to listen for, and how to name what they’re doing well and effectively coach them.

But if your why is all tied up in the latter- to encourage and foster a love of reading then please stop where you are and step away from the young reader.

To lead you must learn to follow. I think to myself.

Are you following?

Thursday, September 14, 2017

CREATE and leave your TROUBLES BEHIND....

Ok, it's been awhile. A long while. I won't pretend.
I am thrilled to back on the horse and giving myself full permission to create again.

It's something I am actually thinking about a lot these days.  

My new second grade class is now in full swing.  Today officially marks one week that we have been second grading together and I am already hearing myself repeat the same mantra over and over---

I am using this as fuel not only to allow my own artist to play, but moreover, to remind my kiddos to be overly protective of their play time- of their time to imagine, of their time to dream and to create.

I don't believe that taking away their playtime is the road to getting kids to behave.
I believe the opposite- if you want an engaged, productive and vibrant group of happy students,  and I want to reinforce, HAPPY-then you have to allow for creativity- it must be intentionally planned and allotted for and you must absolutely bottom line insist that they too, become stealth guardians of their "play"  time. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Antagonist Speak.. Georgia vs. Her SELF

Antagonists Speak... if you listen that is.
An exercise.

Meet Georgia.

"I love ballet. I love cowboys. I love gladiators.  And I love astronauts and I love everything. Why do I have to choose a career anyway?
I drew a picture of me in a space shuttle wearing my cowboy hat and pink tutu. Ms. Vega told me I didn’t follow directions.  But in my own way, I did. I drew myself wearing and being all the things I want to be. 
I can’t to do my homework and I ‘m not good at deciding.  Ms. Vega didn’t like my ideas. So now everyone in class is probably just going to laugh at me and Ms. Vega will say I didn’t do it right anyway.
I know. I’m going to be sick tomorrow. I ‘m going to tell Mom that my tummy hurts and that I can’t go to school cause I will have a fever. 
Mommy will say, yes and let me stay home. She will make me grilled cheese and chicken noodle soup and rub my head and Ms. Vega will be sorry. She’ll be sad that I am sick and wonder if it’s all her fault."
- Georgia, age 7

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tread Lightly....sensory exercise take 2

Sensory Exercise- The BestPlace
God’s Country

I step onto the hot tarmac just having left the confines of a dizzying single engine plane. I don’t do well with motion sickness.Especially when it’s hot and the humidity, too thick to breathe my way to feeling better, blankets you in a stifling thermal layer. It even smells humid.Lush. Wet. Green.
My stomach does a few loops and twists before I’m able to really feel like I’m breathing again. Just being out of the plane relieves my soul. I sigh.
I gain my footing. Dizzying whirls now slow down.
It’s distinctly raw, virgin type land.
The sun pounces on us and the tarmac and yet, I suddenly can’t feel the heat anymore.
I’m lulled. Blue Hyacinth McCaw flirt and flutter above our heads. Seeming now to have announce we’ve arrived.  I smile, entranced.

Swamps, marsh, lakes, and forests, lots of forest, takeup the land. A giant magic mosaic carpet…

We aren’t alone. Foreboding creatures lay still sunbathing in the afternoon hothouse.
My heart kicks itself and its beat goes up a few notches.

Night falls.
Rain boots squish in the mud.
My flashlight spills upon redeyes set ablaze.
Where guttural barks echo through vast waterways,distinctly un-dog like;


Where am I?
I'm in God's country where you're advised to treadlightly.
In the world’s largest wetlands; Brazil’s,Pantanal.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Heart Held Dreams...

Quote of my day:

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why."

-Mark Twain

Something about that quote just makes me smile from the inside.
Take a moment to contemplate all that you are.
Then celebrate.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Join me! Sensory Exercise #2 Describe the Best or Worst Place

This writing exercise is meant to to help jog the muscles.
Writing is after all, a muscle.
So, use it.

Today I am inviting readers to write.
Please describe the best or worst place you've ever been to.
Incorporate all the senses.

Get us there.
Ready. Set. Go!

I'll write back with my version.
Please post yours :)

Here is my version...

A blood orange sky.
A single engine plane.

Humidity blankets
the wet smell of land.
Pure. Lush. Green.

I step onto the tarmac.
Lulled right in...
blue Hyacinth McCaw’s announce
I’ve arrived.

Night falls.
Rain boots squish in the mud.
A looming presence
foreboding creatures.
My flashlight falls
onto red eyes set ablaze.
Guttural barks echo
through waterways.
Distinct and un-dog like;

I'm in God's country.
Where you're advised to tread lightly.
Here. In the world’s largest wetlands;
Brazil’s, Pantanal.