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Showing posts from July, 2016

Gut-Level Teacher Reflection Part I

I am an avid follower of The Cult of Pedagogy podcast, published by Jennifer Gonzales. It is an excellent resource for all things teaching. But a few weeks ago, she put out an episode that literally blew me away. She called it, "Gut-Level Teacher Reflection." In the podcast, she goes over 5 tough reflection questions that really tap into your emotional responses to your teaching, in an effort to dig in to what is really going on in your classroom. I actually listened to the podcast three separate times, it was so thought-provoking for me.



The reflection questions are intense, so I am going to answer them in a series of five different blog posts. I will try to be brutally honest so that I can uncover my own truths about my teaching practice. 


1. Look around your classroom (or picture it in your mind). What parts of the room make you feel tense, anxious, or exhausted? What parts make you feel calm, happy, or proud?


This is super-tough for me, because I'm leaving my classroom …

Review: The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book Talk:
Lizzie Lovett leads a picture perfect life. She has friends, a great job, and a handsome emo boyfriend who adores her. And Hawthorn hates her for it, because she wants what Lizzie Lovett has...until Lizzie winds up missing. Hawthorn decides to investigate, and winds up on a crazy adventure where she learns that not everything is at it seems.

My Thoughts:
I am so surprised by the number of five star reviews. This was NOT that good. It was entertaining and a very fast read, but weak compared to other YA novels out there. Hawthorn is a whiny, self-centered character who I just wanted to shake and tell to grow up. Lizzie's boyfriend is also whiny and pathetic. The only characters I cared about were small ones, like best friend Emily who stands up to Hawthorn, and Rush, the brother who tries to protect his sister. Oh, and the hippies. I do like the hippies. Still, a very uneven novel.

My Reco…

How to Get the Most Out of EdCamp

This week I got to attend my very first EdCamp, @EdcampHershey. What an awesome experience!  I got to hang out with old friends, meet some new peeps, and even connect with some members of my PLN that, until now, I only knew virtually.  Now that I've had a few days to really reflect on my time there, I put together some tips to help you get the most out of your next EdCamp.
1. Get outside your comfort zone and strike up conversations with anyone nearby. This is so very hard for me, because although I can be friendly, I am at heart an introvert. So I had to make a very deliberate attempt to reach out to those around me. And I am so glad I did! I met a super-cool 4th grade teacher who is doing awesome things in his classroom. I connected with a tech coach who introduced me to a brand new tech tool that I am hoping will drive my instruction next year. And I figured out some new strategies for using Twitter with my students.
2. Come prepared with charged up devices AND paper and penci…

Review: Britt-Marie Was Here

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Talk:
"If a human being closes her eyes hard and long enough, she can remember all the times she has made a choice in her life just for her own sake. And realize, perhaps, that it has never happened. If a human being closes her eyes she can remember all the choices in her life. And realize they have all been for the sake of someone else. It's early morning in Borg, but the dawn seems to be holding off. As if it wants to give her some time to raise her hand. Make up her mind. And jump."

Britt-Marie doesn't want to start over. She is perfectly happy with her daily routine of cleaning, and cooking, and doing the laundry. Even when she discovers that the laundry she is doing smells like another woman's perfume. She doesn't really want to start over. But she is faced with an impending divorce, and Britt-Marie finds herself at the unemployment office looking for work. And the only place …

Review: Under the Harrow

Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book Talk: Nora is excited to spend the weekend with her sister Rachel and to do the things they always do together: drinking, eating out, and hooking up with guys. Except when Nora's train pulls into the station, Rachel isn't there. Nora walks into Rachel's apartment to find that she (and her dog) have been brutally murdered. She must now unravel the mystery of her sister's death, and in so doing, uncovers secret parts of Rachel's life.

My Thoughts: One of the reviewers on the book cover compared this novel to Broadchurch. As a huge fan of the BBC show, I was immediately hooked. Unfortunately, this was a far cry from the amazingness that is Broadchurch. Yes, it happens in Great Britain. Yes, there is a murder that has to be solved. That's where the comparison ends. I just could not follow this story line, there were too many characters. And because I was reading a paper book and not on my Kind…

Saying Goodbye

Dear Incoming Librarian,

I am handing the reigns of this place over to you. As my library hero librariantiff says:

"I’m going to go ahead and apologize now — there will be things in this library that make you wonder about me. You’ll wonder WHAT I was thinking, why did I decide to do this that way, why didn’t I make such and such a bigger priority" (para. 2).

And as librariantiff says:

"Just know that everything I’ve done here, every choice I made, was driven by a desire to make this space the best possible environment for my students and teachers...I’ve always wanted it to be about the kids" (para. 2).

That's the essence of everything I did during my tenure at Etown: it was all about the kids. My driving force was creating a 21st century space that appealed to both middle and high school students, that was functional, and that worked in the constraints of one person serving two schools without assistance.

So be gentle with me as you look around the space (and especia…

Review: Everything We Keep

Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Talk:
Aimee has everything she wants...a handsome husband, a job she loves, and a future that she has been dreaming about her whole life. In an instant, it is all taken away when her fiance is killed on a business trip just days before her wedding. Aimee believes her life is over as she buries the love of her life on the day she was supposed to marry him. But when a stranger approaches her at the funeral with a message, Aimee begins to hope that maybe James isn't dead after all...

My Thoughts:
This is a quick beach-read kind of book. I definitely got hooked in fast and wanted to get to the end. It was kind of a cheap thrills sort of book, but awesome for a summer holiday weekend (which is when I read it).

My Rating:
3.5/5 stars
Would not put this on HS library shelf (language, adult situations)

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Review: Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier

Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier by Tom Kizzia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am always a sucker for a book about cults. I don't know why, I can't really explain it. I'm not sure Papa's family could be considered a true "cult", but it's got the same feeling.

I was totally engrossed in this book. I loved reading about the tiny town in Alaska (McCarthy). I actually went and found YouTube videos just so I could get a picture in my head about the context (https://youtu.be/D23aF1T7ZtA, if anyone is interested). I also found a clip of the Hales and the Buckinghams singing together (https://youtu.be/bOY7lggriRo).

I will warn readers that some of the content in the book is dark and very sad. If you followed the court case on television, you already know what to expect.

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Review: Not Alone

Not Alone by Craig A. Falconer
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I am so disappointed in this book! I read the reviews and everyone raved about it, but most of the book was just setting up the context. There was so little action, I literally had to skim pages and pages of boring dialogue. Ugh, now I have to go find something more interesting to read!

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