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Maurna Rome

My Word for the New Year

As in past years, in lieu of a New Year’s res­o­lu­tion, I’ve cho­sen a sin­gle word to frame the year ahead. There are numer­ous web­sites and blogs that cel­e­brate this idea. This is my favorite. The fol­low­ing sen­ti­ment from the site real­ly sums it up beau­ti­ful­ly; My One Word replaces bro­ken promis­es with a vision for real change.more
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Maurna Rome

I love that you always find a bookstore!”

After post­ing pho­tos on Face­book of a recent trip to Chica­go, my friend Joanne post­ed the above com­ment. My heart soared a bit, know­ing that my pas­sion for books and book­stores gar­nered such a love­ly, pos­i­tive obser­va­tion. It’s no secret that just about any­time I find myself traips­ing through a new town, I am eager to check out the local book­store. It seems fit­ting that as 2019 comes to a close, I recap my book­store adven­tures from the past year and share a few high­lights from five favorites.… more
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Maurna Rome

Pass the Ps Please – an Evening with Dav Pilkey

Pos­i­tiv­i­ty, prac­tice and per­sis­tence… a pow­er­ful approach to over­com­ing a mul­ti­tude of chal­lenges and unbe­liev­ably bad school expe­ri­ences. The one and only, Dav Pilkey, shared sev­er­al heart­felt sto­ries to inspire kids (and adults) dur­ing his recent stop in St. Paul as part of his “Dog Man, Do Good Tour.” With humor and vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty, Dav explained that as a kid with both ADHD and dyslex­ia, read­ing was any­thing but pleas­ant.… more
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Maurna Rome

Ask Me About … My Amazing Students!

New year. New grade lev­el. Same class­room filled with same amaz­ing kids from last year (along with sev­er­al love­ly new addi­tions). Just wrapped up the sev­enth day of school and the same ques­tion keeps run­ning through my mind… how did I get so lucky? “Loop­ing” (mov­ing up a grade lev­el) with a class that you absolute­ly adore from the year before is pret­ty much like win­ning the “teacher lot­tery.”… more
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Maurna Rome

Successful

Suc­cess. Thesaurus.com offers more than fifty syn­onyms for the word “suc­cess”… accom­plish­ment, fame, hap­pi­ness, progress, tri­umph, and vic­to­ry all have a place on the list. With test­ing hys­te­ria mak­ing the rounds in schools and class­rooms every­where, the def­i­n­i­tion of suc­cess as it relates to read­ing, has like­ly weighed heav­i­ly on the minds and hearts of many teach­ers.… more
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Maurna Rome

Teaching Is an Art

I recent­ly received a mes­sage from my friend, Amir: Mau­r­na, I want­ed to get your feed­back on this arti­cle. I taught Eng­lish for 8+ years and my final M.Ed. project was on read­ing, so this is a pas­sion of mine. When I used to pre­pare NYC pub­lic school teach­ers for their licens­ing exams, they would like­ly do bet­ter on the read­ing pas­sages if they had more back­ground knowl­edge, even though that knowl­edge was not need­ed.more
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Maurna Rome

Book Memories

My first mem­o­ry of falling in love with books takes me way back to the ten­der age of five. The lit­tle “Gold­en Book Gold­en Hours Library Clock House” that I received for Christ­mas that year helped me become the pas­sion­ate read­er I am today. I cher­ished the col­lec­tion of twelve lit­tle books and one in par­tic­u­lar was extra spe­cial; The Four Pup­pies.… more
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Maurna Rome

Serendipity

I love the word “serendip­i­ty.” I also love when I actu­al­ly expe­ri­ence the feel­ing of serendip­i­ty. It shows up unex­pect­ed­ly in moments when I feel a sur­pris­ing con­nec­tion or hap­py coin­ci­dence between two seem­ing­ly sep­a­rate things. It makes me believe in the pow­er of the uni­verse and often leaves me ques­tion­ing whether these occur­rences are more than a fluke. I espe­cial­ly love when serendip­i­ty shows up in my teach­ing, learn­ing, and lit­er­a­cy life.… more
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Maurna Rome

A Match Made in Heaven

A lit­tle more than two years ago I shared a Teach it For­ward col­umn enti­tled “Books for my Grand­ba­by and Me.” As I cel­e­brat­ed the arrival of my first grand­child and mar­veled at the joy of becom­ing a first-time grand­ma, I embraced the chance to share my love of read­ing with this most pre­cious future book lover. It was a match made in heav­en … a lit­tle one to hold gen­tly on my lap while shar­ing book after book.… more
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Maurna Rome

The Beauty of Joy Writing

If you dropped into Room 212 for a vis­it between 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. you might won­der what kind of “Writer’s Work­shop” was under­way. It’s not that you wouldn’t find evi­dence of writ­ing … the ques­tions raised might cen­ter on the gen­res of writ­ing you would be hard pressed to detect. No per­sua­sive essays. Not a sin­gle five-para­graph essay.… more
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Maurna Rome

The Beauty of Imperfection

As I reflect on the start of my 27th year of teach­ing, I am struck by what an unusu­al first week of school it was. Room 212 was filled with a sense of calm that doesn’t usu­al­ly accom­pa­ny my first few days of a new school year. The fact that our school build­ing was closed all sum­mer due to con­struc­tion projects meant that I had just three days to set up a class­room before twen­ty-four eager learn­ers walked through the door.… more
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Maurna Rome

Read-Alouds That Leave a Lasting Imprint

The gift of a favorite teacher read­ing aloud an unfor­get­table book is an expe­ri­ence like­ly to leave a last­ing imprint on a student’s heart. For me, it was Ramona the Pest, intro­duced by my sec­ond-grade teacher. I’ll always remem­ber Tam­my Burns, the girl in my class who had beau­ti­ful ringlets just like Ramona’s class­mate Susan. And just like Ramona, I was always tempt­ed to give those curls a good tug to see if they would go “boing.”… more
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Maurna Rome

The Gift of Books:
Terrific Titles for the Classroom Library

As teach­ers across the coun­try take to the streets to push for ade­quate com­pen­sa­tion and work con­di­tions, it’s a won­der we still have young peo­ple enter­ing this noble pro­fes­sion. And yet, at col­lege and uni­ver­si­ty grad­u­a­tion cer­e­monies every­where, new teach­ers will be receiv­ing their cre­den­tials as they embark on what will like­ly be one of the most chal­leng­ing and reward­ing career choic­es pos­si­ble.… more
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Maurna Rome

Gifts from the Trenches

Life in the trench­es, a/k/a the class­room, is not for the faint of heart. In pre­vi­ous Bookol­o­gy arti­cles I’ve shared my take on many of the chal­lenges faced by teach­ers in today’s edu­ca­tion­al cli­mate. Lack of mean­ing­ful oppor­tu­ni­ties for the teacher’s voice to be heard, mount­ing pres­sure to pro­duce stu­dents who per­form well on high stakes tests, dis­trict man­dates to teach from a script­ed cur­ricu­lum, a desire to be all and do all for stu­dents, the list goes on and on.… more
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Maurna Rome

From Gridlock to Road Trip

If you were stuck in bumper to bumper grid­lock, head­ing south on Hwy 100 last week, you may have noticed a woman laugh­ing all alone in her car as she wait­ed patient­ly (with eyes on the road) for things to start mov­ing again. The very next day you might have caught a glimpse of that same lady wip­ing a tear or two from her cheek, again, stay­ing atten­tive to the traf­fic.… more
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Maurna Rome

Capitulate vs Conquer

As I eager­ly gath­ered up my ideas and insights for a fol­low-up arti­cle about last month’s “Mys­tery Read­er” top­ic, I found myself try­ing to nego­ti­ate two seem­ing­ly incom­pat­i­ble schools of thought regard­ing effec­tive lit­er­a­cy teach­ing and learn­ing. I am a huge pro­po­nent of stu­dent choice and voice (instead of teacher- or cur­ricu­lum-dic­tat­ed text selec­tions), teacher exper­tise (instead of reliance on script­ed pro­grams), and fos­ter­ing a life­long love and moti­va­tion for read­ing (instead of seek­ing the holy grail of high test scores).… more
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Maurna Rome

Mystery Readers

In this col­umn, I’m pleased to share a brief overview of Nur­tur­ing the Devel­op­ment of Reflec­tive Read­ers,” a ses­sion I attend­ed at “Echoes of Learn­ing,” the lit­er­a­cy con­fer­ence at Zaharis Ele­men­tary in Mesa, AZ. Kris-Ann Flo­rence and Megan Kyp­ke, sec­ond and fourth grade teach­ers, shared how they pro­mote reflec­tion and enhance com­pre­hen­sion by using a stu­dent ver­sion of mis­cue analy­sis to help read­ers under­stand the impor­tance of mean­ing-mak­ing.… more
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Maurna Rome

Spring Break 2017

I’m still rel­ish­ing the mem­o­ry of spring break. Sur­round­ed by moun­tains and plen­ty of sun­shine, I stum­bled upon a lit­er­a­cy oasis that up until then, I had only vis­it­ed in my dreams. Almost a month lat­er, I am still intrigued and inspired by what I expe­ri­enced. I knew instant­ly that this mag­i­cal place would be the top­ic of my next Bookol­o­gy con­tri­bu­tion. In fact, I believe I have enough mate­r­i­al for a year’s worth of arti­cles about this very spe­cial sanc­tu­ary of learn­ing.… more
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Maurna Rome

Isn’t It Time to Listen to the Teachers?

Recent head­lines are sound­ing the alarm: More Min­neso­ta teach­ers leav­ing jobs, new state report shows
One-fourth of new teach­ers leave with­in first three years, accord­ing to a new state report.  The statewide teacher short­age described as an “epi­dem­ic” has Min­neso­ta school dis­tricts search­ing for strate­gies that will increase teacher reten­tion. A Feb­ru­ary, 2017, Star Tri­bune arti­cle offers a star­tling sta­tis­tic that should be stop­ping school boards, admin­is­tra­tors, leg­is­la­tors and most impor­tant­ly par­ents in their tracks: The 2017 ver­sion of the Min­neso­ta Teacher Sup­ply and Demand report issued Wednes­day found a 46 per­cent increase in the num­ber of teach­ers leav­ing the pro­fes­sion since 2008.”… more
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Maurna Rome

Do Over

The notion of a “do-over” is alive and well on school play­grounds across the coun­try. Ask any recess super­vi­sor and they will con­firm this. You hear it being request­ed on four-square courts, under bas­ket­ball hoops, and on foot­ball fields… “Awwww, that should be a do-over!” Kids know that some­times you just need anoth­er chance to get it right.… more
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Maurna Rome

Windows, Mirrors, Sliding Glass Doors, and Maps

There seems lit­tle chance of devel­op­ing the humil­i­ty so urgent­ly need­ed for world coöper­a­tion, instead of world con­flict, as long as our chil­dren are brought up on gen­tle dos­es of racism through their books.” —Nan­cy Larrick When chil­dren can­not find them­selves reflect­ed in the books they read, or when the images they see are dis­tort­ed, neg­a­tive or laugh­able, they learn a pow­er­ful les­son about how they are deval­ued in the soci­ety of which they are a part.” —… more
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Maurna Rome

Books for My Grandbaby and Me

It’s no secret that I am a big fan of books and read­ing. I am actu­al­ly an even big­ger fan of babies. I am instant­ly smit­ten. I can think of noth­ing bet­ter than cud­dling an infant, blan­ket­ed by that new baby smell, read­ing to an audi­ence of one. You can imag­ine how thrilled I am to announce that there’s a new baby in town!… more
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Maurna Rome

Choice and Voice

In sev­er­al past arti­cles I’ve writ­ten about the frus­tra­tion I’ve felt con­cern­ing my district’s deci­sion to adopt a new read­ing cur­ricu­lum. In recent weeks I have had to reflect and dig deeply to under­stand my uneasi­ness and fear relat­ed to “an inno­v­a­tive and mod­ern way to teach the gamut of ele­men­tary lit­er­a­cy skills” (quote from dis­trict web­site post about the new read­ing cur­ricu­lum).more
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Maurna Rome

No, Thank You

Thank” “You Jason.” Three sim­ple words on a cake … an anal­o­gy for one of my great­est inner con­flicts as an educator. One morn­ing in March I stopped at Sam’s Club on my way to school to pick up a cake. A cel­e­bra­tion hon­or­ing a col­league was tak­ing place that day. I quick­ly found a love­ly one with cheery red flow­ers and asked the bak­er to add the sen­ti­ment “Thank you, Jason.”… more
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Maurna Rome

Words of Wisdom

I may nev­er be asked to give the com­mence­ment speech at my alma mater — or yours for that mat­ter. How­ev­er, just in case the oppor­tu­ni­ty presents itself, I am ready. After con­sid­er­able reflec­tion on my 25 years as an edu­ca­tor, I can sum up my mes­sage for aspir­ing teach­ers who are about to embark on a career in the class­room with the fol­low­ing words of wisdom.… more
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Maurna Rome

March Madness

Ask any 3rd-8th-grade teacher about “March Mad­ness” and there is a good chance you won’t hear much about bas­ket­ball. You may, how­ev­er, get an ear­ful about a top­ic that is about as near and dear to our hearts as stand­ing out­side for 25 min­utes of recess in bone-chill­ing, zero-degree weath­er. In Min­neso­ta, the acronym is MCA. In Texas it’s STAAR.… more
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Maurna Rome

Juxtaposition

jux·ta·po·si·tion | jəkstəpəˈziSH(ə)n/ | noun the fact of two things being seen or placed close togeth­er with con­trast­ing effect. Exam­ple: “the jux­ta­po­si­tion of these two images” Jux­ta­po­si­tion.  The word has been swim­ming around my head for sev­er­al weeks. The best month of my entire career filled with some of my proud­est moments as an edu­ca­tor hap­pen­ing at the same time big deci­sions are being made by the “pow­ers that be,” changes that will pro­found­ly affect what hap­pens each day in Room 123.… more
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Maurna Rome

I Love to Read Month

Why would we employ read­ing ini­tia­tives that derail inter­nal read­ing moti­va­tion and divide kids into read­ing win­ners and losers?” 
Don­a­lyn Miller I’ve been think­ing about this ques­tion from lit­er­a­cy guru Don­a­lyn Miller ever since I read it last May. It struck a chord and made me chal­lenge some of my past prac­tices as a cham­pi­on of moti­vat­ing read­ers.… more
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Maurna Rome

One Word

by Mau­r­na Rome This year I resolve to for­go the typ­i­cal New Year’s res­o­lu­tions. Truth is, they rarely make it past Dr. King’s birth­day in mid-Jan­u­ary. Begin­ning this year, I’m com­mit­ting to a much sim­pler idea. It may seem trendy with a lot of recent hype, yet a quick Google search reveals a 2007 blog post by Chris­tine Kane intro­duc­ing the idea of a “one word” res­o­lu­tion (you can even down­load a free “Word-of-the-Year Dis­cov­ery Toolk­it”).… more
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Creating a Curriculum and Culture of Kindness in the Classroom

by Mau­r­na Rome When giv­en the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.” ― R.J. Pala­cio, Won­der Wouldn’t our class­rooms be grand if stu­dents were giv­en oppor­tu­ni­ties to learn about and expe­ri­ence what being kind looks like, sounds like and feels like on a dai­ly basis? Wouldn’t life be grand if we could all sim­ply choose true col­lab­o­ra­tion with our teach­ing col­leagues to pro­mote kind­ness?… more
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The Book That Saved My Students and Me

by Mau­r­na Rome A rough start to a new school year can be unset­tling for rook­ie teach­ers. It can pro­duce feel­ings of self-doubt and immense stress.  Inex­pe­ri­enced edu­ca­tors may ques­tion every­thing from the qual­i­ty of their under­grad teacher train­ing to whether or not edu­ca­tion was a wise career choice. The lack of prepa­ra­tion for man­ag­ing chal­leng­ing behav­iors, deal­ing with an abun­dance of cur­ricu­lum stan­dards, and build­ing enough sta­mi­na to keep up with an exhaust­ing dai­ly pace is enough to make “teacher burn out” more than just a buzz word. … more
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Creating a Classroom Community with 31 Letters

by Mau­r­na Rome Long gone are the days of “Don’t do this or that or the oth­er thing” lists of class­room rules. At least I hope they are long gone… The influ­ence of “respon­sive class­room,” greater aware­ness of the pow­er of being pos­i­tive and much research on effec­tive class­room man­age­ment have ush­ered in a new approach to estab­lish­ing expec­ta­tions in our schools.… more
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Summer School

by Mau­r­na Rome The bumper stick­er reads: “Three rea­sons to be a teacher; June, July and August.” This may be true for some, but it was nev­er my mantra, at least until this sum­mer. This sum­mer I decid­ed to par­tic­i­pate in sum­mer school and what a good deci­sion that was! My class of “sum­mer kids” includ­ed the most diverse, inter­est­ing bunch of char­ac­ters I have ever expe­ri­enced in my 25 years of teach­ing.… more
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Ready for the World with Powerful Literacy Practices

by Mau­r­na Rome I believe whole-heart­ed­ly in the impor­tance of read­ing aloud dai­ly to my stu­dents. On days I fail to meet this goal, I go home feel­ing like I’ve let the kids down. I recall the fren­zy of Valentine’s Day with the excite­ment of school-wide bin­go, spe­cial class projects and more than enough can­dy — but no time spent read­ing aloud.… more
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Graphic Novels: A source of inspiration and mentor texts

by Mau­r­na Rome Flash­back to the first week of school … we were pass­ing the micro­phone around our large cir­cle of 29 third-graders. It was easy to see that many stu­dents were shy and ner­vous, but one young man was appar­ent­ly look­ing for some shock val­ue. He began with “My name is Michael” then non­cha­lant­ly added, ”I’m a slack­er.”… more
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Sandwiches

Lit Lunches:
Promoting a love of reading one bite at a time!

  by Mau­r­na Rome I admit that I am some­times envi­ous of my friends who work in the busi­ness world and get to enjoy fre­quent din­ing out excur­sions dur­ing their lunch breaks. A 20 – 25 minute rush to digest school cafe­te­ria food, microwav­able left­overs or a brown bag sand­wich isn’t the most appe­tiz­ing mid-day meal expe­ri­ence. How­ev­er, once a month I do get to enjoy a spe­cial book club of sorts, called “Lit Lunch,” with some of the most thought­ful, deep thinkers I’ve ever chat­ted with about books!… more
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Book Talk, Book Shop & Book Swap

by Mau­r­na Rome As my stu­dents pass through our class­room door, the morn­ing buzz begins. The kids are already remind­ing me… “It’s Fri­day, Mrs. Rome!” We all know what that means. It’s Fri­day Fun Day! It’s time for “Book Talk, Book Shop, and Book Swap.”  The kids in Room 132 do not seem to care about miss­ing out on the usu­al “Fun Day” menu choic­es of extra free time, videos, or games.… more
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