Education Stuff

Good grief! I have some catching up to do since 2009! It seems I have neglected the individual sections of this blog. Let’s see what I might do to remedy that:)

So here is where I’m going to try to list some of my favorites titles- not sure how it will all shake out…I promised my students I would catalog my reference books for education as well as my children’s books so they have a list of the random things I prattle off here and there in class –

Also the random newspaper articles – that kind of thing


March 31, 2009:

I’ll share the letter from Janet Allen’s list serve…I enjoy her title choices…

Happy spring to each of you,

I hope each one of you reading this has had a great year and you are finding your work with students has really begun to show signs of many students becoming avid readers and writers.  I’m finally home after days of being away for presentations in individual schools and at conferences.  Before launching into the work that must be done while I’m here, I wanted to take time to write and respond to the many requests I have had for a listing of the titles I used in my workshops and keynotes over the past few weeks.  Some of the titles you will see listed are ones I’ve used in all workshops; others have been used in only one or two keynotes and workshops.  In order to help you find the book titles you are looking for, I’ve added the context for how I would have used the book.  So, I hope you enjoy reading these and the many other wonderful books you have discovered. 

I often begin my keynotes reading excerpts from Freedom Writers Diary (Gruwell).  There are many entries in this book that I like to use in writing and history workshops but the one I enjoy using for my opening read aloud is a student response connecting her life experiences to Romeo and Juliet.  For those of you in the workshops I’ve been doing with ESE teachers, I also used Sahara Special (Codell) as an opening read aloud. 

I then move on to talk about breaking the code and use one of two texts as examples to demonstrate the work we do as readers to break the code of words as well as text patterns.  I use Top Secret (Janeczko) and codes I have created based on those found in this book as well as a new book I discovered, Run Far, Run Fast (Decker).  Then, it is on to the topic of the role of assessing and building background knowledge as a critical piece of supporting comprehension and writing.  

This portion of the workshop gives me an opportunity to use some of my favorite texts and topics.  While I almost always use some of these titles, I also add titles and topics from whatever I’m currently reading.  In the past few weeks, I’ve used the following books:

The Blood-Hungry Spleen and Other Poems about Our Parts (Wolf/Clarke)

Disgusting Digestion (Arnold/De Saulles) (one of many Horrible Science books)

Heroes and She-Roes (Lewis/Cooke)

Mathmania(one of many in the series from Highlights/Boyds Mills Press)

Worlds Afire (Janeczko)

Oh, Yikes!: History’s Grossest Moments (Massoff/Sirrell)

If you have attended any of the workshops I have done related to teaching and learning vocabulary, you probably heard me read aloud or saw me doing modeled lessons using the following titles:

Darkest Corner (Herschler)

Food Rules! The Stuff You Munch, Its Crunch, Its Punch and Why You Sometimes Lose Your Lunch (Haduch/Stromoski)

Oh, Yuck! The Encyclopedia of Everything Nasty (Massoff/Sirrell)


Uncovered(Jennings) “A Mouthful” (This is the famous “cat poo” story but I always recommend that you buy all the Paul Jennings books you can find.)

Well Defined Vocabulary in Rhyme (Salinger/Henderson)

I hope this helps you find some new titles to add to your collections.  Over the weekend, I will try to get a separate letter together with lists of titles I use for comprehension and writing lessons (by topic) and also a beginning list of contemporary texts to use as companion texts for teaching classic literature. So, revisit the site for more titles next week.

Happy Reading!


10823 Worthing Avenue, San Diego, CA 92126, USA

And here is her May letter:

Hi everyone,

It is the beginning of May and the sheer beauty of spring always makes me wish I were an artist.  While I’m not an artist, I can recommend some incredible books for you to use to bring out the artist inside each of your students. 

I stumbled upon my first recommendation.  I was reading all of Jen Bryant’s books and found one I hadn’t read: Pieces of Georgia. After reading it, I immediately called the principal of the middle school where I work as a consultant and recommended she tell the art teacher about this book as I knew it would make a great shared reading in her art class.  The main character’s life is in turmoil and art-specifically Georgia O’Keeffe’s art-saves her.  There are many beautiful passages to support looking closely at art, imagining the artist, and making connections to our individual lives. That book led me to a picture book, My Name Is Georgia, by Jeanette Winter. After reading the book to your students, you could discuss the author’s purpose.  What does Jeanette Winter want us to know or imagine about Georgia O’Keeffe?   It’s a simple picture book but I thought it would be a great model for students so they could chose artists whose work they admire and write portraits of those artists. What would each artist like us to know about his or her childhood?  What would they like us to know about how they became the artists they are today? 

Finally, I was very pleased to discover that Jan Greenberg has a new collection: Side by Side: New Poems Inspired by Art from around the World.  I have long loved Heart to Heart: New Poems Inspired by Twentieth-Century American Art so was very pleased to see a new collection.  Each of the poems in this collection is written in the original language accompanied by a translation.  Greenberg has divided the anthology into four categories:

·         Stories: The poet looks at the work of art and imagines a story.

·         Voices: The poet goes into the piece of art and speaks as the voice of the subject of the art.

·         Expressions: The poet “talks” to the piece of art asking questions, etc.

·         Impressions: The poet describes what he or she is seeing artistically.

Wouldn’t this make a great art/writing exhibit for your students?  They could each choose a work of art and write in one (or all four!) of the categories above.  Perhaps they could write one poem for each of the four categories and choose the one that best expresses their connections to the pieces of art chosen.

I hope each of you is enjoying a beautiful spring wherever you are and that your students are becoming the pictures of reading and writing you have imagined all year.


10823 Worthing Avenue, San Diego, CA 92126, USA


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