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February 25, 2015


My last post was a little heavy, so I thought I'd share two of my new favorite books about reading.  A teacher can never have too many good books up her sleeve.

 The first is The Book Monster:


I love this book because of the fun illustrations.  Follow a Book Monster as he eats his way through each genre.  It is perfect for younger audiences.  My two year old son will sit through this one twice.

 The second is The Incredible Book Eating Boy:


I found this one on a list off of pinterest. Henry loves books so much that he eats them.  As he eats he gets smarter and smarter.  Until he eats too many books and everything gets jumbled. The last couple of pages were my favorite.  A great book to introduce children to reading at the beginning of the year.  I checked it out from the library and shared it with my son.   It is probably intended for a slightly older audience. (6+)

Do you have any favorite reading books?

February 23, 2015

Colorblindness and Education

It's hard to believe it's been a year since I last wrote.  Life as a mom is a crazy, busy and thrilling adventure.  My life has shifted so much in the past couple of years. I no longer learn in a classroom, but through out every day life. I continue to frequent the library and am a voracious reader.  I look forward to the time that I can return to the classroom, but until then I do my best to keep my mind sharp.

I'm part of an excellent book club, that challenges me to read things outside of my comfort zone. It encourages me to read non-fiction in areas I would not normally choose.  This month we are reading, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Have any of you read it? It was written in 2010 by Michelle Alexander. Alexander is a civil rights advocate with a long history in law.

The premise of the book is that our prison system and the war on drugs are the new Jim Crow laws of our time.   It was a fascinating book and made me think back to my diversity classes at college.

One of the ladies in my group shared this video.  When I taught my class was predominantly Caucasian with a small percentage of Latino children.   I never had any disciplinary problems, but I taught younger kids.  Have you run into issues like this?

Do you have conversations about black history month? I looked at TPT and TN for resources for black history month and realized there are very few resources that highlight modern people.  Do you bring up situations like Michael Brown?  I realize that is a hot topic right now,  but I would love to hear how others are teaching about Black History Month.

January 20, 2014

Smartest Kids in the World

I love to read.  I mainly read YA books, but occasionally a book will grab my attention and force me to pick it up.  The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way was one of those books.  I was intrigued to learn what new idea was being shared about education.  Because lets face it, there is always a new "expert" with an idea on how to fix the system.

While I don't consider Amanda Ripley an expert I found her ideas interesting.  The book follows three American teens doing study abroad in Poland, South Korea, and Finland.  I found the insights into three different countries education systems fascinating.  Ripley uses anecdotes from interviews to demonstrate the different countries school cultures, strengths and weaknesses.

Ripley used her observations of the three countries and the students home schools to hypothesize about the education system in the United States.  She theorized that Americans lack standardized curriculum, wide engagement, academic rigor and highly qualified teachers.  The over focus of sports and testing in schools was also discussed.

While her anecdotes and research method's aren't the strongest, her book still made me stop and think. The Common Core is being rolled out to fix the curriculum problem, which should help ensure students are learning the same thing across the country.  This standardization should help with the next two problems, engagement and academic rigor.  It is hard to engage students at all different levels and abilities.  If students have the same foundation to build on the teacher can continue to expand and deepen their knowledge.

Teachers play a huge role in the engagement and rigor as well.  Did you know Finnish teachers get their masters in a subject before they start a teaching program?  Teaching schools in Finland have extremely high standards and take serious effort.  While I don't consider my time at school becoming a teacher a cake walk I think I definitely had an easier time.  I wish that my schooling had been more demanding and informative.

I'm not saying I wish I took more tests.  I believe I took enough of those.  I just wish that the tests I took were used more effectively.  Testing and preparing for tests takes up a huge amount of American school time.  In South Korea students study hard because they know that their final test determines their livelihood.  South Korea education is based not on genetics, money, athletic skill or location, but on merit.

Ripley ends her book with these questions:

  • Ask the students you observe, "What are you doing right now? Why?"
  • Ask parents, "What are the schools weaknesses? How are parents involved?"
  • Ask the principal, "How do you choose your teachers? How can you make teachers better? How do you measure success? How do you make work vigorous enough?" 
  • Ask yourself, "Am I an educational coach or a cheerleader?"

Has anyone else out there read this book? 

What did you think?  

What points stood out to you most?

May 26, 2013

Einstein vs. Flashcards

One of my amazing teacher buddies recommended I read Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn-and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less. After discovering my local library had a copy of the book I placed myself on the waiting list. Once it arrived I found myself drawn to reading it. (This is difficult because my six month son is a little demanding at the moment. Any moms out there have advice for getting a little one to sleep through the night?) Whenever I got a chance I would read a couple of pages and think about what was written until I got a chance to continue reading.

Right now there is a very strong emphasis on parents and teachers preparing children to compete in a global market. Children are encouraged to memorize, read, and study before they enter preschool. Children is school are losing valuable recess time to teach all the material on the big tests. Play is structured instead of inspired. Students are having to deal with large loads of homework and extreme pressure.


The myth that we need to be preparing our children from the womb to compete is invasive. My son is six months old. I've had early childhood training and even I was buying into the idea that I was failing him by not breaking out flashcards and instructional toys. This book calmed my fears.

Parents do not need to spend a boatload of money hiring tutors, buying the latest toys and videos, scheduling their toddlers for absurd classes, or sending them to advanced private schools. Parents need to spend time with their children playing. They need to give them unstructured time to play alone, with other children, and with adults who will raise their play to a higher level.

The authors explain recent data and studies and how play benefits children in educational, social, and emotional ways. They provide small experiments you can complete with your child. Reading this book is already impacting how I interact with my son. I can't wait to apply more ideas from the book once he gets a bit older.

What do you think? Is play being pushed aside in favor of academics? Do you still have recess?