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Summer is finally here!!

I am finally on summer vacation and life is beginning to settle down....a little!  I don't have any big plans for the summer.  I hope to get caught up on some reading, jump-start my walking regimen and spend time with my family.  The best part is....that I now have some time to get back to my blog!!  I am enjoying a quiet and peaceful morning.  My daughter is babysitting, my son is on a camping trip and my hubby has gone fishing!  Nice (I know you're jealous)!  It took me about an hour of contemplation to decide what to do first!

Every summer I have a (small) stack of teaching books that I plan to read.  I am sure most teachers do!!  Of course, I hope to get to that third book in the "Fifty Shades" series (shhhh....don't tell anyone about that).  But as much as I try to keep up with my fiction reading, I always find my mind wandering back to my classroom and all of things I want to improve for next fall.

Here are a few books on my professional reading list this summer:

Notebook Connections by Aimee Buckner is a worthwhile read about how to effectively use a reader's notebook with your students.  I say that because I've already finished that one, but if you've read this book, you've learned a little bit about the power of "re-reading".  I plan to read this one a few times this summer because I really want to internalize the ideas Aimee presents so that I can use them effectively in my classroom.  I've always had my students use reading response notebooks, even when I taught first grade.  However, I've never felt that I've used them effectively.  Next year, I really want to push the higher level thinking with my students.  I want them to get past those shallow, "It was a really good book." type of responses. (you know what I'm talking about).  I love the high expectations Aimee sets for her fourth graders and I know that I can achieve at least a bit of that same type of thinking with my thirdies.  Wishful thinking, you say?  Well, I am going to give it my best next year!!

So, as I was reading Notebook Connections, I learned that Aimee Buckner had another book about keeping a writer's notebook called Notebook Know-How.  So, I went right into Kindle and downloaded that gem!!  I have only read the first chapter, so I will let you know how I like it when I'm a little further in.  What I've learned so far is that I might want to start keeping my very own writer's notebook.  I firmly believe that in order to be a good teacher of writing, one has to be a good writer themselves.  I wouldn't go so far as to say that I'm a good writer....yet....but I am always looking for ways to improve.  So....I am already on the lookout for that special notebook so I can get started!!

Whoa....if you haven't found this book've got to get it right away!!  It is a very intense read, but well worthwhile.  This book is so full of useful and thought-provoking information that I have found that I need to read it in small chunks to digest it bit by bit.  I read most books on my Kindle, but this book is one of those books that you need to keep flipping back and forth to comprehend everything, so I bought the hard copy too!!  Now I can fill it up with sticky notes!!  I've read about this book on several I know many of you are familiar with it.  I would love to chat with you about it!!  This is another book that offers ways to tap the higher level thinking of students of all grades.  I can tell that this book will be one of those books that I will revisit for years to come (I think I've read Calkin's The Art of Teaching Writing about a hundred times since I first picked it up in 1992!!).  This book is like altering!!

Misty, over at Think Wonder Teach, turned me on to this book.  I haven't even purchased this one yet, because it is so darn expensive!!  However, I know I will eventually break down and buy it.  I will be honest, math is not my strongest subject and I need all the help I can get.  When my kids start sharing their thinking about math strategies, my mind starts to whirl, and I never know the proper way to respond, especially when their thinking is....well....wrong!  I know I'm supposed to guide their misconceptions and misunderstandings gently and perfectly into correct thinking using the zone of proximal development, but I struggle with how to do that.  I want to have rich math discussions in my classroom, but it is really hard for me.  This book looks like an other valuable tool to help me move forward in my own math thinking and become a more effective teacher of math!  Check out Misty's blog...she has written several posts about this book!

So that is my summer reading list!!  I've got reading, writing and math covered....not too bad!!

This year I applied to be part of a leadership program offered in Michigan called the Galileo Leadership Academy.....and I got accepted!!  It is a two-year program that involves a lot of work...but a lot of learning too!  I am not much of a leader...yet....but I hope to hone my skills over the next two years.  Next week, I am off to a three-day retreat that will focus on Covey's 7 Habits.  I am already very familiar with the 7 Habits....but as Covey says, "Common knowledge does not equal common practice."  This will be a great time for me to revisit my life goals and set myself up for success!!  I will be bunking with a perfect stranger....but I have a feeling we won't be strangers for long.  I use a lot of hairspray and sometimes I talk dirty in my sleep (maybe its the "Fifty Shades" before bed)....I hope my roomie doesn't mind (these are the things I worry about).  I will let you know how it goes when I get back!!

Til then.....have a great week and enjoy your summer break!!  Here are a few new products:

Love and peace,


  1. Hey Kathy! I read Making Thinking Visible also, and it's been great to implement their thinking routines into my existing classroom procedures and lessons. The kids really flourish with the routines. I love it! Have you visited Way Elementary in Bloomfield Hills? If you haven't, you've got to see it! Every inch of their building demonstrates the deep levels of thinking their students do at EVERY grade. I was partial to 3rd grade myself, but it was amazing to see even little K and 1st graders participating in Visible Thinking. You've got to check it out!

  2. Thanks Katy....I am definitely going to look into a visit to Bloomfield Hills!!