Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Teach it Forward

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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 wip­ing a tear or two from her cheek, again, stay­ing atten­tive to the traf­fic.… more

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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 foun­da­tion of Maslow’s hier­ar­chy of needs) was “Describe ten things that would be present in a per­fect world.” The inter­est sur­vey offered by Don­a­lyn Miller, lit­er­a­cy guru and author of The Book Whis­per­er and Read­ing in the Wild, encour­ages teach­ers to go beyond the stan­dard “What’s your favorite book or author?” type ques­tions when try­ing to get to know stu­dents.… more

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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 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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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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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.… more

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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 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.” While I believe a num­ber of oth­er issues also deserve our atten­tion (increas­ing the num­ber of teach­ers of col­or, improv­ing teacher train­ing, and clos­ing the achieve­ment gap), we can­not ignore the fact that the future of edu­ca­tion is uncer­tain at best.… more

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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 it right.… more

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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 or laugh­able, they learn a pow­er­ful les­son about how they are deval­ued in the soci­ety of which they are a part.” —Rudine Sims Bish­op Per­haps this exclu­siv­i­ty, in which chil­dren of col­or are at best back­ground char­ac­ters, and more often than not absent, is in fact part of the imag­i­na­tive aspect of these books.… more

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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 in town!… more

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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 post about the new read­ing cur­ricu­lum).more

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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 asked the bak­er to add the sen­ti­ment “Thank you, Jason.” A few min­utes lat­er she hand­ed me the cake, flip­pant­ly men­tion­ing, “I’m not that great at cake writ­ing …” then adding the zinger “but, what­ev­er, it’s going to taste the same.”  I inspect­ed her hand­i­work and was tak­en aback.… more

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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 class­room with the fol­low­ing words of wis­dom.… more

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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.… more

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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