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Teach it Forward

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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

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It’s All About the Heart 

And now here is my secret, a very sim­ple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see right­ly; what is essen­tial is invis­i­ble to the eye.”  ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Lit­tle Prince Orig­i­nal­ly this install­ment of Teach it For­ward was going to offer my take on how to fos­ter inde­pen­dence and pro­mote sta­mi­na in the

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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

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Food for Thought 

As the first month of a new school year comes to a close, I offer some food for thought about nour­ish­ing our teach­ers. Lit­er­al­ly and fig­u­ra­tive­ly. Years ago when I was work­ing on my administrator’s license I dis­cov­ered a gem of a book called If You Don’t Feed the Teach­ers, They Eat the Stu­dents! Guide to Suc­cess for Admin­is­tra­tors and Teach­ers by

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Describe 10 Things in Your Perfect World 

Mon­ey that grows on trees. Free hous­es, free cars, free food, and free phones. More books, more pets and more med­i­cine for sick peo­ple. Clean water. Par­ents who don’t fight. These are the wish­es of JD, a sin­cere and striv­ing eleven-year-old read­er I am tutor­ing this sum­mer. The prompt that pro­duced his wish list (which per­fect­ly out­lines the

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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