Monthly Archives: March 2014

Reading Before and After

I had to put a school order in recently and while I was trolling through the catalog full of binders, colored pencils, batteries, and highlighters I stumbled on some interesting bookmarks that I feel really capture the goals of librarians and language arts teachers alike. Produced by McDonald Publishing (not Big Mac McDonald’s) but a company that specializes in supplementary educational material these bookmarks stood out because of not only the skills and strategies many teachers impart on the students but they also touch on the creative and imaginary side that librarians hope the readers experience while reading.

The bookmarks are geared toward elementary and middle school readers however I feel that these are elements all readers can still use to this day (I must say I still do some of this as well.) The bookmarks are titled During and After Reading and this is a two-sided bookmark (two for the price of one! Sweet!)

*Think about your reason for reading
*Reread any parts you don’t understand
*Think about what you already know about the topic
*Read any headings, subheadings, or captions
*Figure out the meaning of the words you don’t know
*Look at any charts, graphs, pictures, or maps
*Draw conclusions about what you read
*Form pictures in your mind
*Predict what will happen next

* Write a review of the book
*Create an ad for the book
*Write a letter to the author about the book
*Illustrate and describe your favorite part of the book
*Write a newspaper article about the book
*Write a journal entry for one of the characters
*Create a poster for a movie version of the book
*Invent and explain a new title for the book

When I saw these I totally felt the need to share. Since I am always looking for ways to help my students really experience a book and foster a love of reading.

For other materials check out



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Increase Reading Capabilities

So I have been asked by many teachers, how can we help increase the reading capabilities of our students. This is a tough one since no two readers are the same.  I have tried several promotions in the library, but more often than not only die hard readers are acting on them.  It is difficult to get those who are struggling on a daily basis to not only read what is required of them, but to read another book for enjoyment.

I started to search through magazines and professional resources to see what the experts and other teachers are doing. And after reading through The Mailbox April/May 2014 issue I found two great ideas that I feel I should share.

Both ideas come from Njeri Jones Legrand, of Sharon Elementary in Charlotte NC.
TISC (This is So Cool): reading with accuracy to support comprehension
Getting students to interact with their reading material by using text-message shorthand as reading codes.  Begin by brainstorming with students abbreviations that match specific reading strategies you teach. Then create a mini poster showing each abbreviation, review and discuss the meaning.  Next, provide sticky note flag. Have each student track his/her thinking as they read by flagging specific points and coding the flag with the matching text abbreviation. When the student finishes reading, have them use the sticky notes to respond to the selection, summarize it, answer questions about it, or discuss it.
Here are the Abbreviations this teacher used:
QQ (Quick Question): Use this if the text is confusing or makes you think of a question
RUS (Are your serious?): Use this to flag information that makes you think WOW!
WOTD (Word of the Day): Use this to flag important words in the text
IDK (I don’t know): Use this to flag text that is really confusing and if you can’t figure out what’s going on.
411(Information): Use this to flag text that is important information
TSIA (This says it all): Use this to flag text that is the main idea

Ready, Set, Read!
Energize students to build their reading stamina with a daily challenge. Begin by assembling a read-o-meter (example shown at the bottom of this entry).  Next, display the meter and challenge every reader in class to read, focusing only one his/her reading material, for a set amount of time. As soon as students begin to lose focus, end the session and move the read-0-meter’s arrow to show students how long they read independently.  Begin each reading session by displaying the meter and challenging your readers to read productively longer than they did the previous day.














thank you to The Mailbox magazine and especially Njeri Jones Legrand for your amazing contributions to the reading community.

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Filed under Books, Creativity, education, Language Arts, Nonfiction reading, Reading

What a Journey

So I finished another book recently and I am sorry for not posting my review sooner.  But it was a lot to take in and the book was impressive to say the least.  I begin with…

A very big congratulations to JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst for their literary contribution.  S. was a an amazing book, actually two amazing books.  If you are bibliophile and they you must read this.  Because not only is the story well rounded and engrossing, it also touches on many feeling that only a true book lover will understand.

The story or stories center around a fictional writer named Straka, who is a mystery.  He true identity is one that is debated over, with claims being made and debunked.  The authors back story is almost a rich as the rest of the work, and could by all accounts be considered a novella of sorts since though never truly given as much page space as the other two stories, still provides a great tale of a writers life.

The next story the you embark on is the story of The Ship of Theseus.  The last book to have been written by fictional Straka, it tells the tale of a man S. who does not remember his past, does not know where his future lies, but faces a journey that entwines him with a ghostly ship, a charismatic woman, and a dastardly deed that he himself is not sure he can succeed in.

The final story follows the Eric and Jen, two lovers of the written word and obsessed with Straka.  Eric is a disgraced grad student, Jen a senior at the same college who stumbles across Eric’s copy of The Ship of Theseus and while reading it, notices his margin notes.  Not wanting to be rude, she wrote her own note and the two begin a blossoming relationship with communication taking place along the margins of the book.   While their lives begin to mirror those of Straka and S. the two young lovers set out to uncover the true identity of Straka. Along with the margin notes, stuffed with in pages are newspaper clippings,  letters, pictures and postcards, all moving the story(ies) along.

This was an intense read but a good one all the same.  I highly recommend it this to anyone. But take some advice.

1) read book first

2) read pencil, blue and black margin notes

3) read orange and green margin notes

4) read red and purple margin notes

5) read black and black margin notes

You might go through this several times but it is worth it.

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Filed under Books, Reading, Reviews

Who’s that on the radio?

Ok time for me to do some bragging.   If you are a fan of NPR (National Public Radio)  you might have heard of a little show called Ask Me Another.  This is a game show that features trivia, word games, puzzles and what-not for pop culture.  I am very excited to say that I will be a part of that show.  I will be tapping an episode on March 18.  So excited for this.  I am a huge pop culture trivia nerd (my husband thinks I am insane sometimes) but who cares! I’m gonna be on the radio.

Wish me luck!!!

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Happy 50th

I am an avid reader of Entertainment Weekly and was happy to see one of my favorite books I read as a child get a full page treatment in the Feb. 28 issue.  Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh was one of my all time favorite books  as a kid because it featured a strong female lead who enjoys to write and who EW writer Hilary Busis describes as “a jerk–but a smart, perceptive, lovable jerk, one who’s wholly relatable whether you’re 11 or several times that age.”  This is the perfect definition for a character who has withstood the last 50 years in the literary world, and who in my opinion paved the way for characters like Katniss Everdeen, Tris Prior, and Hazel Lancaster.  These are characters that don’t apologize for being strong willed and fierce.

So as a sit here an fangirl out over the classic tale, I realized that the story was getting this special treatment because it was turning 50.  I could not believe it that a book I loved so much was so old, I don’t say that to sound mean, what I mean is the characters don’t seem to age in my mind. They are still totally relatable to young readers today.  And as a librarian I am thrilled with this. My students always ask me for recommendations and I give them the classics as much as I give them new ones.

But Harriet is not the only literary character turning 50.  Check out some of the other future AARP members:

Bread and Jame for Frances  by Russel Hoben

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming

Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Happy 50th to these classic stories and memorable characters.


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Filed under Books, Reading, Reviews, Writing