Monday, May 31, 2010


It might be because of my job as a "reading teacher" but whatever the reason, I am often asked, "What are you reading?" I usually have a few books that I have started (but not found compelling) laying next to my side of the bed or next to my spot on the sofa; however, the BEST reads, the ones I want to tell the world about, are usually consumed in a matter of days (or sometimes hours). For many years, I really did the bulk of my personal reading during school vacations or during those special days each summer at the beach. In fact, while planning for vacation, I spent much MORE time choosing the books I would read than the clothes I would wear or the food I would be eating. Sadly, perhaps, I do not think my children remember me as playing in the sand or swimming in the waves; they remember me as a blob in a chair huddled under an umbrella engrossed in a book.
Anyway, now that my life has morphed from its working mom status, I should have a lot more time to read year-round; however, this does not seem to be the case. My life is still busy with new and different "issues" such as parenting my parents, planning for my teaching, and commuting ( you can't read when you are driving!)>
Even now, I must admit that I still hold off starting a "new" book until I think I will have a few hours to read.
However, during this long Memorial Day weekend, I bit the bullet and consumed not one but 2 books. They were long awaited and so worth the wait.
I first spent 2 days with Christine Kline's The Way Life Should Be. I found it on a rack of books recommended by Barnes and Noble staffers. The suggestion was that Kline was a marvelous author who wove a well crafted tale of the complexity of life. They noted her style to be similar to Anna Quinlen ( a personal fave) and mentioned she was an author in residence at Fordham (my part time employer and alma matre) and so I bought the book. And yes it was fabulous and memorable and well written too! It certainly allowed me to reflect on the twists and turns of life and love. The main character's life is certainly NOT as she had expected or wanted; however, near the end of the book she notes (and I paraphrase for space, Fairy tales can have happy endings because children need to know how things turn out. Yet my life has shown me that I am comfortable living with me questions than answers. I think it was (is) a pretty wonderful place to be if you can accept the questions and know that we (here on earth) do not have all the answers. The book also encouraged me to daydream about love. I know - at my age and after many, many years of marriage I am still thinking about love. Real love, the kind that we as humans all seek, is patient and kind. It does not need to call attention to itself. It is evident in the acts of patience and kindness that we do for those we love.
Now I ALSO read Richard Allington's new text on FLUENCY (that is reading fluently and with expression). It was purchased because I am VERY concerned with the increased focus on fluency rather than on comprehension or reading passionately. I also read that book (150 pages) in about 2 days. But, this is getting long, and so I will save that post for another day. Suffice it to say, this weekend, I read fluently this weekend because I was passionate about the well written texts I wanted to read!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It's OK to read when you are not at the table


I wonder what my grad students are thinking as they leave my classroom? Do they wish I talked less? Do they understand what I am talking about? Do they know what I do on the way home?
As I drove home on the crowded interstate tonight, I did what I always do after teaching, I reflected on what I did well and what I could do better. As you would expect, my thoughts focused on the 2.5 hours I had spent with my new graduate students. They were quiet and respectful, taking notes on the ideas that I noted to be significant. They are certainly good students who will not challenge me to entertain or engage them; however, I suspect I will have to work hard to earn their trust. I also reflcted on a reading lesson with a group of 6 year olds earlier in the day. Some of them were like my grad students, listening quietly and focused on my every word. However, one little guy was not interested in reading and challenged me to find a way to engage him. He really did not want to tap relentlessly on that table to annoy me. He was begging me to find a text and scaffold his learning so that he too could be a part of that reading club that is fast growing and empowering his friends. He too wants to be part of the group of readers tomorrow. My job is to use a book that will grab his attention and to scaffold the reading so that HE is successful, tomorrow.
So, my new grad students, I will work hard to earn your trust; however, I will go to sleep tonight thinking about that little guy who really wants to learn to read- tomorrow!