Saturday, June 27, 2009

On Reading

I've always loved to read. When I was in kindergarten, I remember bringing home a stack of beginner-reader books to read for the summer. When I was a little older, I remember being drawn in by Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown, The Babysitters Club, The Boxcar Children, and so many more. We didn't have cable TV when I was growing up - I don't even think I knew what it was until we moved to Taiwan! But I didn't need it - I had books, and I was a true bookworm. Still am, although I don't have as much time to read for fun anymore. But anyway, I found a few beautiful and profound quotes in my reading today.

From the article Reading Aloud by L. Calkins:

" We read on - dream on - not passively but actively, worrying about the choices the characters have to make, listening in panic for some sound behind the fictional door, exalting in characters' success, bemoaning their failures. In great fiction, the dream engages us heart and soul; we not only respond to imaginary things - sights, sounds, smells - as though they were real, we respond to fictional problems as though they were real: we sympathize, think, and judge."

"Our goal, like the poet Julius Lester says, is for the literature to 'link our souls like pearls on a string, bringing us together in a shared and luminous humanity.'"

"Read to them. Take their breath away. Read with the same feeling in your throat as when you first see the ocean after driving for hours and hours to get there. Close the final page of the book with the same reverence you feel when you kiss your sleeping child at night. Be quiet. Don't talk the experience to death. Shut up and let these kids feel and think. Teach your children to be moved."

Wow. The power of words and of teachers reading to their students. I hope to be that teacher!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


From the book Other People's Words: The Cycle of Low Literacy by Victoria Purcell-Gates:

"... if even one child does not learn what we believe we have taught, then we have not learned how to teach that child. The responsibility rests, ethically and pragmatically, on the shoulders of educators. This does not mean we are ill-intentioned or bad people, if we fail. It does mean that we have not succeeded; we have not taught. Schools must be places for learning - for all learners. We can no longer afford the luxury of designing curriculums and educational programs which only a favored segment of our society can succeed... we need to raise our expectations of outcomes. We must beigin to design programs whose aim is to allow students and learners from minority, low-income, and low-literate homes to learn and to become fully literate."

Powerful words in this book. This book was humbling, convicting, and inspiring all at the same time. It made me think a lot about what kind of teacher I want to be and what kind of mindset I need to develop in my time throughout this program and into the future. I'm loving what I'm reading in grad school. :)

Monday, June 22, 2009


Orientation for ELMAC was today. It was insightful and there was a lot of good advice from former students. A few funny quotes:

"Now, you can take a break in between classes and walk to the B-School, right across the street. You can see very clearly how society values business over education. (laughter) while you see business school students working out on the ellipticals in between classes. But we can take advantage too! The coffee shop there is relatively inexpensive and close by." - Cathy Reischl

About half of the people in the program are married with kids, some married, and a few just out of college like me. It's an interesting dynamic, and I'm excited to see how this will play out in the classroom. I've always loved being with people from different walks of life, so this will be really cool!

Reading a book called "Other People's Words: The Cycle of Low Literacy" by Victoria Purcell-Gates. It's a wonderful eye-opener to the world of the urban Appalachian people (I felt so ignorant when I started reading... I didn't know there was actually a group of people like this in the US). It documents the journey of a mother and her 7 year old son on the path of literacy - both of them could not read anything besides their own names at the beginning of the book. It's amazing to see their progress, but also very disappointing to see how society has failed them and written them off as "failures" before they even begin.

More on the book later!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Getting Ready

I decided to start a blog to chronicle my journey through ELMAC this year and onto future years. Just a journal to help me remember and see how I'm growing as a teacher and to share my stories and adventures with you. Stay tuned!

Grad school starts next Monday - I'm excited! :)