In March, my best friend and I decided to check out the Teachers College Reunion, a twice-annual event hosted by the Reading and Writing Project at TC. We’re lucky to live pretty close by plus...Jason Reynolds was giving the keynote address, and that was something I didn’t want to miss. And he was incredible, just the most amazing storyteller. I felt really, really lucky to be there.
I went to a few other sessions. One was about diverse books, getting into the weeds of how to really be intentional about how we curate our classroom libraries. Another was with Lucy Calkins herself, fearless leader of the TCRWP. While I’d done my Masters at TC, I was in a very specific special ed program, and never crossed paths with Lucy or her program, beyond waiting while the elevator doors opened on the gorgeous TCRWP mural on their floor of the building. Her workshop that morning was about finding new energy in writers workshop in the spring, and it was a really inspiring hour in which she talked about really listening to our kids to hear what’s most important to them, and celebrating BIG when we publish pieces. My big take-away, in terms of classroom practice, was Flash Drafts, where students draft their whole piece in one shot. The idea is to spend a lot of time in thoughtful preparation, then write, write, write with joyful intensity, and then have energy and motivation left over to revise and edit once the words are on the page. This is so the opposite of how drafting usually goes in my classroom, and I couldn’t wait to try it.
Well, I'm a student again! It's been more than ten years since I was last in school, when I did my initial certification and a masters in special education (autism spectrum and developmental disabilities) all at once. After I got over the initial school burnout, which really took some time, I was slow to make moves to continue my studies. For one thing, I couldn't afford it, and I wasn't willing to take out more loans. And for another, while I knew I couldn't take isolated courses, and learn, and work towards my plus-15, I wanted to do something coherent. And it took a long time for me to figure out what that was.
As I was sure it would, my book-a-day life has slowed dramatically in the school year. And while I'd love to be reading more, it's okay. I have a couple of books to catch up on from the very end of the summer, as well as the few that I've read in September and October. So, onto the books!
It's happening. I've had a good long stretch of summer since our extended school wrapped up, during which I unplugged my brain from the nitty-gritty of school life, and now that's winding down to a close. This past week, I spent two busy days putting my classroom back together. I enjoyed being in my space, walking through the annual ritual of making it ready for a new year and new kids. I liked returning to the same space as last year (I moved going into last year, so last summer's work was unpacking, reorganizing, starting completely from scratch), and finding ways to refresh it and make it new. The new spot for my calendar alone brings me probably too much satisfaction, not to mention the new bulletin board I created from nothing by fastening cork roll to the wall. Boom. So, the space feels homey and peaceful and fresh...and open, ready to be filled by my small people, with their voices and belongings and projects. And now that I have that in place, it's time for me to spend some time with these questions :
What does life in the Liberatory Library look like this year? How will we fully participate in education as the practice of freedom? What will I do to create space for liberatory education? What can I do (or not do...) to make our life and work together more liberatory?
Early this year, I was given a magical gift from a magical person. The kind you didn't know you wanted or needed or even existed until it appears in your life. This magical person said, I have a little something for you, I saw it and thought of you. When she realized we wouldn't see each other for a little bit, she put it in the mail for me, even though we live in neighboring towns. So one day I got a package on my doorstep, containing this:
I read through it slowly and gradually, and just now finished. It's amazing, in so many ways. I want to put together some thoughts about it, for myself, and for my classroom.
In case you're looking for one book in particular, or if you're looking for all the books...here they are! And if it's included on the list, then I'm recommending it whole-heartedly.
I love #bookaday!! And I'm so totally not finishing a book every day, but I'm reading a bunch (almost) every day. As we wind through August, I have a nagging bit of worry about how I'll translate it to the pace of the school year, because I don't only want to be reading seriously in the summer. But for the moment? Reading in the summer is so. Good. Here comes my second batch of books.
My summer book-a-day has been really great, and I'm already thinking about continuing it past the summer. So far I've read 20 books in 23 days, which absolutely smashes any of my previous summer reading. A good chunk of them were picture books, and a few were middle grade graphic novels. It's not a race or a contest, but I'm having such a good time. Here's a round up of my middle grade reading so far.
Every spring, our fourth grade hatches chicks. I always took my class to visit the chicks in someone else's class, but we never hatched our own until last year. Even then, my coteacher did most of the chickening. This year I was solo again, so this was really the first time that I was the official chicken mama. It all began like this, with a dozen eggs in our incubator, and twenty-one days of patience.
This is the outline to the writing fiction unit I adapted and designed this year. Here's the post that explains it and includes photos, this is just the nuts and bolts.
Writing about practicing literacy and freedom with my small humans.