Posted by: Elizabeth Grochan | April 22, 2012

Just a Quote I wanted to share :)

As many of you know, I have kept up with a book quote blog (100 plus days down and still going!) While looking for some quotes I wanted to use, I came across this quotes here. Not from a book, but it really spoke to me as a reader. I am in every sense

A Girl Who Reads

“You should date a girl who reads. Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes, who has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she has found the book she wants. You see that weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a secondhand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow and worn.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.
Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent.  Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.
It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas, for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry and in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.
She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.
Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who read understand that all things must come to end, but that you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.
Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.
Or better yet, date a girl who writes.” 

~ Rosemarie Urquico

Posted by: Elizabeth Grochan | April 20, 2012

Read Aloud, and Read it LOUD!

The Commission on Reading stated “Reading aloud has been said to be “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required to eventual success in reading.”

“Reading aloud to children can be a very powerful way to increase their vocabulary, listening comprehension, syntactic development, and word-recognition skills” (Ivey, 2007).

“Read-alouds model expressive, enthusiastic reading, transmit the pleasure of reading, and invite the listeners to be readers” (Fisher, Flood, Lapp, & Frey, 2004).

So the research supports read-alouds in the classroom, but I know plenty of classrooms and schools who do not see the importance of doing read alouds, at least not after the primary grade level. In kindergarten, and even 1st grade I believe it is very common to walk into a classroom and see students sitting around a teacher as she reads from a picture book. No one would question this instructional activity. But if you walked into a 5th grade classroom where the teacher was reading from a book in a similar manner, many people would question the instructional benefit.

In a time of high stake testing, every moment of instructional time is invaluable. So how does taking 10-20 minutes a day to read aloud to students positively impact learning?

As teachers, I feel we are constantly going to be scrutinized by the higher ups at what we are doing in the classroom. They want to ensure effective instruction, even if these decision makers really don’t know what makes effective learning. When it  comes to something like read alouds, it is important to understand that while to the outside observer there may not appear be any learning benefits going on, the actual positive impact of read alouds has the potential to be a powerful learning tool and can lead to an lifelong reading enjoyment.

Read alouds have many benefits to students.

“Reading to students helps them to experience a sophisticated text the way the teacher experiences it (Ivey, 2003).”

“Students shared that teachers make an otherwise difficult text interesting and comprehensive” (Ivey, 2003).

“When teachers read to students they enhance students’ understanding and their inclination to read independently (Ivey, 2003).”

Often times, a text a teacher is reading may be to difficult for a student to read independently. Whether they are a younger grade student, or struggling reader, trying to focus on the decipher the print can take away from the overall enjoyment of a story. Reading can be a lot of work. We have to get students over teh hump where reading is work and to a place where reading is enjoyable. For many, this may take awhile to show them what a book has to offer. A teacher reading aloud from a text can help a student who struggles with print processing, or is just below grade level to enjoy a book they otherwise may not have been able to comprehend. Teachers can read with inflection and enthusiasm that students are just learning how to do to make a book more interesting. Teachers act as models as they read aloud from text. They can stop a certain points to engage readers to think through the story asking questions and having them make predictions. They can read using different inflections and accents to make a character seem more real. Teachers have a degree of background knowledge more developed than students that can be used in reading that can help students connect more with a book.

A good read aloud should be done with enthusiasm, enjoyment and passion. The excitement a teacher shows while reading to students will be evident to students, and they to will pick up on it. They will see what reading can be for them and be more inclined to pick up a book on their own.


When Artley (1975) asked teachers what they remembered most from their elementary school experiences, they consistently reported that teacher read-alouds were among their favorite memories” (Fisher, Flood, Lapp, & Frey, 2004).

The Westing Game was one of my favorite books a teacher read to me while I was in school

The Westing Game was one of my favorite books a teacher read to me while I was in school

This quote here pretty much sums up my favorite elementary experiences. I fondly remember both my 3rd and 5thgrade teachers being avid readers, and reading to us often. Years after I still remember these books and have since bought them and shared many with some of my students. I remember that my favorite time of day was when the teacher read to us. It was the time of day I could sit back and just enjoy being read to.

“Except for the bigger bodies, fourth, fifth, and sixth graders can look a lot like first and second graders when the teacher starts to read, slowly edging forward in their seats with eyes wide open in anticipation” (Ivey, 2003).

Now I read ALL the time at this point. There was rarely a time when I didn’t have a book in hand. Yet even though I was more than capable of reading myself, I enjoyed listening to the teacher read to us. Not only was I exposed to new materials, I was exposed to the reading world through my teachers’ eyes as they shared the stories with us.

During my student teaching experience, I worked with a 2nd grade classroom. Overall I felt this was a wonderful class and the teacher was amazing. The only thing I felt was problem some was that while the students had 20 minutes after lunch for SSR, no one seemed to use this time to actually read. This was definitely a filler time set between lunch and recess.  Many of the kids made frequent trips out of the class to the library to pick new books, others spent the entire time searching through the classroom library never settling for anything, or making multiple trips to switch books out. Others were whisper with friends, or what looked like mindlessly flipping through the pages of a book. Very few seemed to be engaged in reading, and I felt this was such a waste of 20 minutes when reading could be going on. I asked my partnership teacher if she wouldn’t mind if I took over that time and instead read to the class.

While I now know that it is so important to include independent reading as part of the whole reading instruction, at the time I saw the lack of benefit those 20 minutes were providing the students and wanted to find a way to promote reading in a positive manner. One of my favorite books used as a read aloud when I was in elementary school was the Wayside School is Falling Down series by Louis Sacher. I decided to read them to my class. At the time, the class had your typical students where some loved to read, some would read if they had to, and others hated it. I felt these books would appeal to every student since not only was it about students like them, each chapter was about a different student they may be able to relate to, and each chapter was funny and quirky in the way I feel kids like.

“Except for the bigger bodies, fourth, fifth, and sixth graders can look a lot like first and second graders when the teacher starts to read, slowly edging forward in their seats with eyes wide open in anticipation” (Ivey, 2003).

The Wayside series has been my favroite series since reading it with my 3rd grade teacher :)

The Wayside series has been my favroite series since reading it with my 3rd grade teacher 🙂

Every day I read about 3 chapters to the class. During this time, the class was completely silent and still, pretty much the only time of day they were like this! I always had every child’s attention on me. I thought there would be at least one that would be uninterested and lay his/her head down, fiddle inside their desk…yet I don’t remember one day where this happened. I think the moment I realized how effective and enjoyable this time was for the students was the day I stopped and announced it was time for recess. I was surprised by the loud groans I heard from the majority of the class begging to skip recess for the day and read more!

This time wasn’t just enjoyed by the students, but by me also. I felt like we shared this connection as I read to them. As we read each chapter and met new characters we formed a bond with their stories. We even made references to the book in everyday classroom dealings. One chapter is about the principal banning the word ‘door’ after an incident. He announced to the school that calling a door a door was now a punishable offense, and from that moment on it was to be referred to as the goozak. For the remaining part of the year, we called the door a goozak. I still feel bad for the person who came into our classroom calling the door a door and was met with a classroom of gasp for saying a bad word.

There was also a story about a boy named Mac. In every class we have a Mac. That kid who has a story, rarely related to the material, that he has to share. The stories tend to start with ‘This one time…’ He (or she) always seems to have a story to share that gets the lesson off topic just enough. So whenever we were in a lesson, and I asked for questions or comments, if I sensed this was about to happen I would stop the student and ask him if this was a Mac story. This usually stopped them and they knew to save the story to share with me during free time.

“Hearing a teacher read a book made them want to read that same book on their own” (Ivey, 2003).

When I left my internship, I bought each student a copy of the first in the Wayside series. I addressed each one personally to them. I hope they treasure the books and fondly remember our time we shared reading aloud together.

“Independent reading time and teacher read-alouds made them want to read more” (Fisher, Flood, Lapp, & Frey, 2004).

I left the books of the series in the classroom and available to the students whenever they had free time to read. Someone usually had a copy in their desk, and others asked me for other books like these to read. I’d like to believe that my passion for reading, modeled by my read alouds encouraged my students to read more.

Now I always loved to read. I also love discovering sequels to books and devouring other stories by a favorite author. When I was in school, after a teacher read a book with us, whether it was a read aloud, guided reading etc I would go out and find the sequel if possible, and usually look for other books by the same author. I clearly remember doing this with Hatchet and Julie of the Wolves to name two of my favorites.

In my classroom, I plan to have sequels to favorite stories available, and books by the same authors for students to pick up. I love book series because to me they encourage further reading. You pick up the next book to find out what is going to happen.  By reading a book aloud with a class (or even a child) you potentially hook them to the series, genre, author etc and the WILL go out and find more books like this. What a great way to get kids to keep reading!

Since I am not a practicing teacher I do not have much of an opportunity to read loud. I do occasionally make skype dates with my nephew, who is 6, where I will read to him. I love doing so because I feel that even though we are far away, we can share this time reading. There have even been times I called to read to him and he was busy doing something else, and my sister asked that I read any to her because she liked hearing me read 🙂 My reading to him has become our thing and for Christmas I recorded the Night Before Christmas in one of those recordable books and sent it to him. He listened to it over and over. I called to see if he liked it, and he ran and grabbed it. His friend was over at the time and he informed her that the

voice in the book was his Aunt Bis, and proceeded to ignore me the rest of the time in favor of listen to me read to him in the book instead of having a conversation with me.

Skyping with my nephew and sister on Christmas Eve. You can see them in the right hand bottom corner :)

Skyping with my nephew and sister on Christmas Eve. You can see them in the right hand bottom corner 🙂

Not being home for Christmas, I missed out on the tradition of reading the Polar Express with him, so I Skyped with him while I read it. For my family, listening to me read a book to them is special. I love reading aloud to them, and they love listening to me read my favorite stories. I hope to take this special connection into the classroom with me.

“To ensure that reading aloud does not get lost in the press for higher student achievement, teachers, must maximize the effectiveness of their read-aloud activities” (Lane & Wright, 2007).

The problem with acceptance of read alouds in the classroom comes from the questionable instructional benefit to student learning. While we as teachers can see many of the positive impacts read alouds have, we need to ensure we maximize the effectiveness so that not only do students receive the most from these teachable moments, but that we can keep read alouds from being taken out of the classroom.

Lane & Write (2007) suggested ways to make read alouds effective. Some of these suggestions are as followed:

“The amount of read aloud time…teacher reflect on the amount of time spent to ensure it is time spent wisely.”

I think this is a major part of all instructional planning. We have a limited time to teach during the day and a lot to fit in! Time should be made to read aloud to your students. When and how much time spent needs to be considered and how this effects the students and other subjects. Time may need to be adjusted depending on the response of the students and in how it fits with the other curriculum needs. As you get to know your students, the curriculum and the schedule I feel you will find the perfect time and place to read aloud with your students.

“The choice of text for read-aloud activities…teachers should consider the instructional goals of the read-aloud when selecting books.”

Again, time during the teaching day is short. We as teachers do not have time for ‘fluff’ in our instruction. We shouldn’t choose to read a book with our students just because. How can we utilize this read aloud to the maximum benefit? What do we want our students to get out of our reading to them?

“The method of reading aloud…use their background knowledge to develop understanding of the text and ask questions that keep children engaged. Reading in a lively, engaging way, using voices, gestures, and expressions can enhance understanding.”

Pretty self-explanatory here. When we read to our kids, we are modeling for them how to read. Not just in the basic mechanics of this is a word, this is how you say the word, but in this is how you READ! You engage in the text, you bring the characters to life, you are invested in what is going to happen to these characters, you are making predictions and thinking ahead of what may happen, you make it interesting! Kids are not going to know how to do this right away. We as teachers want them to become engaged and a part of the reading. Have them become invested by asking them to make predictions and ask questions. Have them relate to certain characters and share their feeling.

“It is your knowledge about the world and your expectations that enables you to bring life to text (Ivey, 2003).”

When reading, show them how to bring the story to life! Read with inflection, add some different voices and accents to give characters individualness. Move around while reading, let your facial expression and gestures represent the characters. In a world of constant action and 3D images, we need to teach reading so it pops off the page.

“fit of the read aloud in the curriculum…teachers should match read-aloud texts to curriculum goals and consider how the book fits into the unit being studied. Developing connections across books makes learning more connected and meaningful. “ (Lane & Wright, 2007).




We only have so much of it. When looking for instructional goal that you want students to get out of a reading, look into how you can integrate a book with other subjects. If you are studying a unit on Indians, read a book with the class like Sign of the Beaver. Instead of trying to fit a read aloud in separately, have it fit with curriculum so it becomes a further extension to the learning. Learning becomes meaningful. If students enjoy the book, they may be further interested at the subject at hand and choose to seek out other stories about the same subject. We want students to make connections in what they  learn to other subjects as well as  in life.

I do a lot of my homework at my front desk job. There is usually time for me to read articles, books, and write some of my responses. That being said, my coworkers (none who are education majors) are use to seeing me reading children’s literature. I hadn’t had the opportunity to skype with my nephew recently, and not having a classroom limited my chances of practicing a read aloud for this assignment.

So I brought ‘I Broke My Trunk’ By Mo Willems to work with me, and read it to my coworker and manager 🙂 Well, it started with me reading to my coworker (a 30 plus male) and my manager came around the corner to see what we were doing. Needless to say, they actually enjoyed listening to the story! My coworker made predictions to what was going to happen as I read and everything. I was surprised how much fun it was to read aloud to an adult, and how these two adult men actually paid attention haha

That being said, I really enjoyed ‘I Broke My Trunk’. Not a difficult read, but I thought it was interesting enough to hold even intermediate aged learners attention. This book would be a great way to teach a class about making predictions. It also would be a good way to introduce a writing activity on how to tell a story. The Elephant’s facial expressions and gestures as he tells his story fit perfectly and would be a great way to show students how to do the same thing when they read aloud or tell a story on there own.

At the beginning of the semester, I ordered all of my books and anxiously awaited there arrival. Once I received them, I knew that out of all of them Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book would take the longest to read. I hate feeling like I am wasting time doing certain tasks, which is why I LOVE listening to audiobooks. They allow me to work on something menial while engaging my brain in a story I otherwise might not have time to read. I like to listen to audiobooks usually while I drive, during certain workouts, or other activities that might engage my hands but not my mind. So in anticipation for needing to find time to read The Graveyard Book, I downloaded the audiobook version read by Neil Gaiman. The best part about it, is I listened to the  whole book before realizing the assignment in connection with the book was all on read alouds!

I could probably spend pages discussing the awesomeness of Neil Gaiman (seriously Stardust is one of my favorite books and movies; had to watch it the other day just because I had Neil Gaiman on my mind). But I will try to keep it brief 🙂

In all of my reading history, I do not recall reading a book quite like The Graveyard Book. Just the name I think strikes interest for the reader. What little boy, or adventurous girl, wouldn’t want to read a book about a graveyard. Overall, the book has such a dark theme overall, yet Gaiman is able to weave a story that is about friendship, family and growing up in one of the most touching ways I have ever read. I wanted to be a part of his graveyard family. I admit to having teared up towards the end as I realized he was to old to stay in the graveyard and his friends and family were fading from him. In the same way I was happy for the new life Nobody Owens was about the embarq on.

“But between now  and then, there was Life; and Bod walked into it with his eyes and his heart wide open.”

Again, I could spend so much time delving into the intristic plot and fascinating and multidimensional characters, but for now I will focus on using The Graveyard book as a read aloud. In listening to Neil Gaiman read the book on audio as well as watching him read it on video, I was able to develop a better sense of the characters.

His usage of accents for instance helped give a sense of background to a character without actually talking about it directly. Just listening to the Sleer as he spoke sent chills up my spine. Scarlett’s scottish lilt gave definition to where she grew up. When Silas was speaking, you lisened.

When you read aloud, most people read using there normal voice. But in that way you give no distinction between each character. I classify an audiobook as being good if I can tell which character is speaking just by the readers tone. I am always impressed by a good audio readers ability to create distinct voices for each character, especially a character of a different gender.

For me, not being from the UK, it is difficult for me to picture what I think some of the characters voices may sound like. Even if I can recreate their voices in my head, reading aloud using a Scottish or British accent is very difficult for me, well at least maintaining the same accent for a character taht way. Listening to Gaiman read gave me an idea of what the characters sound like which enabled them to become more alive for me. To me, I felt the setting of the story was important to the reader. Understanding that this story

After learning a lttle more on read alouds, and having the chance to observe Neil Gaiman read his story I would like to work on my ability to use different voices when I read. I have always been good at reading aloud that was engaging to those listening, but I want to make the experience even better.

Works Cited

Fisher, D., Flood, J., Lapp, D., & Frey, N. (2004). Interactive read-alouds: Is there a common set of implementation practices?. The reading teacher, 58(1), 8-17.

Ivey, G. (2003). The intermediate grades: The teacher makes it more explainable and other reasons to read aloud in the intermediate grades. The reading teacher, 56(8), 812-814.

Lane, H. B., & Wright, T. L. (2007). Maximizing the effectiveness of reading aloud. The Reading Teacher, 60(7), 668-675.

Gaimen, N. (2008). The graveyard book. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

Willems, M. (2011). I broke my trunk. New York, NY: Hyperion Books for Children.

Posted by: Elizabeth Grochan | March 29, 2012


I admit that even though I hadn’t read this book prior to class, I had picked it up at a book store intrigued by the cover and flipped through it, so I already knew what I was getting into. At the time I did not purchase it because I was looking for a ‘me’ read not a classroom read. While I found the art beautiful, it didn’t seem like a book an ‘adult’ would read.

I am very glad I did get the chance to read it though because it was a uniquely wonderful experience.

Overall, it took me about 2 hours to read. After I finished, I went back and took more time with the pictures. The fact that Selznick is able to create a story only using pictures is astounding to me. I can fully understand what is going on as if I was reading words. You can read the characters’ facial expressions, see clues in the art, and there is a flow between pictures that keeps the story going. Some pictures illustrated a large area, some on a specific person, others were close ups showing only a part of someone or something. You would often see pictures of just the characters eyes to show various emotions, or just the hands to highlight what they were holding or doing. I liked how on some pages, you would see a larger picture, and as you flipped, the pages narrowed in on a specific part. An example of this is towards the beginning of the story, the doctor is knocking on the door. You at first see the man walk up to the door, a closer picture shows him at the door fist poised for knocking, then the next page shows only his fist. You truly develop a sense of what the author is conveying in each picture.

The art truly is wondrous, and the way Selznick interweaves 2 stories, from 2 different times is amazing. I enjoyed how sometimes we would see the characters doing similar things, just in their own time. How slowly both characters find their way to the museum, and how Ben’s clues to find his father leads him to finding Rose.

So much of the story is about two people who are different and feel as if they don’t belong. They are looking for a place or another person who understands them. We see the coming together of these two characters as the story unfolds. While these 2 characters are central, I also liked how the character of Jamie also felt lost and alone, yet finds a friendship with Ben.

The story unwinds like a mystery. The reader wonders how these two characters can be connected, and we follow along with Ben as he looks for clues to finding his father. How interesting that two people can find themselves across time and place in the way that Rose and Ben do, not even knowing the other was looking.

I have read many many many different books over the years, yet had never seen a book like this. I had even brought it with me to work to begin my write up, and 2 of my coworkers (both solid readers) said the same thing. At first I pretended that ‘yep! This is children’s book, look how big it is, crazy huh?’? I than opened it to reveal the pages of artwork. These 2 men flipped through the book with me while we admired the art, and I told the quick summary of how the print and pictures work together to tell a story about two worlds, that become one.

I have always been very fascinated by the Deaf culture. At a young age I read about Helen Keller which may have been what interested me to learn more. I have always found sign language to be such a beautiful artistic art form. How the hands move to tell a story is just amazing to me. A goal of mine is to one day be fluent in American Sign Language (ASL). As of now, I know how to fingerspell, say a few words and sentences, and I know a few songs that I have learned over the years. One of those songs is ‘It’s a Small World’ which I have taught in many classrooms and that students love to learn.

Because I enjoy learning about the Deaf Culture and sign language, I am often intrigued by movies and TV shows which feature deaf characters. For many years I use to watch a show called Sue Thomas F.B. Eye. The show was based on the true story of a woman who was deaf and joined the FBI for her skills such as being able to read lips for surveillance. I currently am really into the show on ABC Family, Switched at Birth. Switched at Birth is a show about 2 teenagers, whose lives are turned upside down when the realize they were switched. One of the girls is deaf, so we see how her new family adjust to her world, as she sometimes struggles to fit into theirs. Daphne attends a School for the Deaf, and her best friend is also deaf so we see interaction between hearing people, deaf and hearing people, and just deaf people. This is a GREAT clip of the show that talks about the inspiration of the show, as well as the integration of the deaf culture into the show.

What I love about shows like these, is you have people who are the same as you and me, they just happen to be deaf. In addition to regular plotlines, these shows also highlight the Deaf Community and Deaf Culture. Hearing people rarely get to see what life is like for the deaf, so I like that shows like these provide a little insight. Not only do you see some of the difficulties we may take for granted, just as dangers of not hearing something coming at you, the communication frustrations and the inability of some people to accept differences, you also a culture few people are aware of. Most deaf people do not see deafness as a disability; instead they see themselves as part of a culture.

Ben Spelling Friend ~ This is the letter R

Ben Spelling Friend ~ This is the letter R

I think the story being told about 2 characters, who just happen to be deaf, is one of the things I enjoyed most about the story. On page 591, when Ben is telling Rose who Jamie is, I absolutely love how Selznick uses the next pages to show Ben fingerspelling (something Jamie taught him) to spell out M-Y F-R-I-E-N-D. Each letter in on a separate page, and flipping to each page as the words were spelling out was one of my favorite parts of the story. I loved how with each page more of the word was slowly revealed. I also love that I knew what the signs were, so didn’t need to be told what it was Ben had signed.

I haven’t had the opportunity to read many books about the deaf and deaf culture. One book that does stand out in my mind is T4 by Ann Clare LeZotte. Using lyrical prose, the story is about a deaf girl during WW2 having to run to stay safe in fear of being taken to T4, a place the Nazis brought (and usually killed) people with disabilities. I also use to read many books about Helen Keller as well as stories feature Alexander Graham Bell (who has many ties to the deaf community). I also have a few ASL, American Sign Language Books, students could look through. I also did some research on other books that could possibly be included if I was teaching this in the classroom and found this site.

I am not sure on the quality of the books, but many look good enough to at least be checkout out. While teaching using Wonderstruck, I would like to have many fiction and nonfiction books displayed around the classroom teaching about deafness and the Deaf culture.

I think if I was going to introduce this book to my class, I would introduce it using the deaf aspect of the story. I would create a book trailer similar to this one:  (which is also a good intro for kids also).

My trailer would be made using no sound. It would play using images from the book, as well as pictures I found on the internet that fit with the story. Instead of sound, words would come up to tell the story when needed. To introduce the book, I would come up to the front of the class, and only using gestures and ‘signs’ tell them no talking and to just watch, hold up the book, and begin the trailer. If possible I would like to create the trailer to look like a silent film in a way.

I think the idea of using silence to introduce a book about 2 deaf children would help students connect with Rose and Ben. I may or may not follow up the video by having the students make predictions, share their thoughts, ask questions, all while I do not say a word, and they have to figure out what I am saying through hand signals, pointing, mouth moving and some writing. Try to give them an idea of what Rose and Ben go through trying to communicating with others.

Another idea to introduce the students would be to create a WonderBox from the book and have them go through it prior to reading the book. They can make predictions about the characters and the story. As we go through the story, they can see what the objects mean and why they were chosen. Since there are two characters, I would probably make 2 boxes with different objects, yet sharing a similar object or two to show the connection made towards the end. The class would be split into 2 groups and go through the Wonders, and then discuss their discoveries. This would be a good way to model a possible Reading Response for one of their independent books, or even a hint at a final project with this book where they would create a Wonderbox of their own.

As for introducing the book itself, I think it would be cool to leave the book on my desk for about the week and see the kind of reception this ‘large book’ received as students walk by. They may believe it is a book I am in fact reading. When I am ready to introduce the book, I would at first show just the cover, let them see the size where I am sure they would show surprise or make objections at first. I would than show a few select pages of the beautiful artwork. Prior to this point, we would have addressed the graphic novel genre. We would discuss how this book is similar in that it using words AND pictures to tell the story. I would select a few pictures to share with the class, showing one picture at a time on an ELMO or document projector. I would  have students make observations and try to ‘read’ the picture for clues.

For instance based on the image at the right, what can they tell me? Obviously this is a girl, which we would identify as the heroine of the story. What can they tell me about what she is feeling? How do they know? Without words, students are going to have to use images to understand the story. Selznick does an amazing job bringing a story to life using illustrations, and I want to make sure my students are going to take the time to look at each picture, and not just flip through to finish the book quickly. I think taking time to look at a few images and having them analyze them will help them appreciate the whole story.

I believe that students would really enjoy this book. For one, the intimidating size becomes far less so as you begin reading and realize most of the story is told using pictures. Even though it is far easier to read than first thought, I think kids would find a sense of accomplishment at finishing such a daunting looking book. Kids these days (ok me too) love reading graphic novels. The text and pictures used together makes a story more interesting for many of them. Where I find many adults struggling to read and enjoy graphic novels, kids usually have no problem following along and enjoying them. I think they would appreciate the way the art in this book tells a story, and enjoy the break or reading words some also.

I think the use of pictures will engage students in higher order thinking. You have to look at the pictures and develop the story based only on what you see. It is through the pictures where you discover Rose’s story. If you don’t pay attention, you may miss out on out on what she is doing, her motivation, and what brings her to the museum. It is her journey that is essential to Ben’s journey, even if you don’t know that until the end.

A book like this is good for struggling readers. They can enjoy a story, and not have to worry about the print all of the time. The break in between reading the words of Ben’s story, with the illustrations of Rose’s would be a nice change and I believe keep the reader engaged.

I think a book like this can be read in a multitude of ways, and students of many different ages and reading levels. It can be an independent read where the reader can flip through and appreciate the book on their own, as a small group read, and as a class read. I would make sure every student had their own copy because I think the best way to enjoy these pictures isn’t on a projector or from a distance, but close up, right in your hands. Where you can run your fingers across the paper. The printed areas I think would be ok to read as a group, or as a read aloud, but I would want the students to read the illustrated areas alone at first, than we can come back together as a group to share and discuss.

My parents being from Brooklyn, I have been to New York many times, so I personally love the illustrations of Rose taking the ferry in and seeing the skyline of what it looked like almost 100 years ago. I have also been to the museum, although it has been many years, so I could understand that feeling of walking up the steps of this majestic building, and seeing the displays and wonders inside.

Students are often fascinated my facts, museums and history. I think they will enjoy the journey to our characters take to the Natural Museum of Natural History. Even if they personally have not visited, the movie a few years ago with Ben Stiller, ‘Night at the Museum’ is something many of them have seen, and I would consider showing clips so they get an idea of what the museum looks like now. We could also visit the website and take virtual tours.

The panorama of the city is another thing I found interesting. I think it would be a neat project to have students create a panorama of something that is important to the, and maybe even hide things that are important to them in the panorama just as Rose does. We could also discuss creating a time capsule of sorts that we could fill with our own wonders that we could hide for someone to discover one day.

This book has so many components to it that students and teachers can embrace. What people can relate to, whether the illustrations, the locations, the museums, the wonders, the feeling of not belonging, the death of loved ones, finding someone to connect to, things that are important to you, being different…there are just so many things. As a teacher, I could use a book like this for so many different kinds of spring boards for instruction.

This is truly a unique and wondrous book that I feel will be appealing and enjoyed by students (across ages and reading levels) and teachers alike. A story that brings 2 worlds together, and gives the characters and the readers a sense of belonging.

Posted by: Elizabeth Grochan | March 29, 2012

My Wonder Box

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“As Ben suggests, “…we are all cabinets of wonder.” What would go in your museum box or “wonder” box?”

Thimble case

Thimble case

Checkout my WonderBox!  This right here is my pride and joy. I have been working on the collection of Thimbles you see here for probably about 15 years now. I actually have more, but these are my favorites, and the only ones that fit in the case. While on a family trip one day traveling through New England, I picked up a bell in Maryland wanting a keepsake. I thought it would be interesting to have something from all the different places I visit. I figured out pretty quickly the bell was a little large (about 6 inches tall) and soon discovered thimbles. My first thimbles were just ones I picked up from souvenirs shops, usually ones that had the state name and some kind of logo. Soon after I began to discover the more uniquely made ones. When people visit some where and ask me what I would like as a souvenir, I always say a thimble. When I visit anywhere new, the first thing I do is look for souvenir shops that may carry thimbles (sometimes I can’t resist and buy more than 1!) I also am always looking for the specially made ones. Some have special pictures painted on the, others have a special object on top, some are shaped like a specific object, and some are beautifully hand carved.

My thimble case is my Wonder Box. When people see it, they look at it in wonder. I love showing it off and telling the stories of my thimbles, where I got a certain thimble, who gave me a special memory, what makes a thimble so unique. The first thing I did once I was unpacked in my new apartment was put my thimble case up. For me, my thimble case is home. It holds some of my dearest memories and connects me to times, places and some very special people.

I am kind of OCD when it comes to things I am passionate about. My books are organized my genre, author, etc something I have always done. My DVD collection is the same, divided into genre than listed alphabetically. When I was setting up my thimbles, I grouped them the best I could into sections by types and locations. I have rearranged them a few times, trying to fit in new ones, removing a few older ones that held less significance, keeping thimbles grouped in a way trying to tell a certain story.

Below I have put a few pictures up of some of my favorites I wanted to share.

Thimbles 2 ~ World Traveler

Thimbles 2 ~ World Traveler

These thimbles share the common theme of being from other countries. The ones from Belize and Guatemala I bought during my 6 week internship. These thimbles represent a very important time of my life, and one of the greatest adventures I have ever been on. The box on the bottom on the left holds my Belize thimbles. The ones in the back have 2 symbols of Belize, an iguana and a dolphin, while the front one has the Belizian flag. Above this box is my Guatemala thimble made of wood and representing the Mayan ruins of Tikal.

The other thimbles are presents from friends and my Mom from their visits to Europe over the years; The UK, Germany, Prague

I hope to gather much more over the years as I hope to explore more of the world, taking a thimble home as a memory.

Thimbles 3 ~ NC thimbles, Home is where the thimbles are at

Thimbles 3 ~ NC thimbles, Home is where the thimbles are at

If you look at the top shelf here, the 2nd and 3rd boxes, and on the 2nd shelf the 3rd box over, these are the NC thimbles I have collected. The top middle box has thimbles of the Blue Ridge which I oddly bought long before moving to Boone. The box next to it has thimbles from the crystal coast where I grew up 🙂 They each have lighthouses and the one in the back has the cardinal and dogwood flower on it, NC state’s symbols. The box below that has a thimble I got from Biltmore as well as thimbles with airplanes on them (one etched, the other painted on it) in honor of the Wright Brothers. (If you notice I placed my Ohio collection directly below as an inside joke regarding the ongoing fight over who should be credited with the first in flight 😛 See the thimble with the airplane on top?)

Thimbles 4 ~ Totem Pole and Turtle

Thimbles 4 ~ Totem Pole and Turtle

These two are some of my favorite thimbles that are part of my collection. My favorite kinds of thimbles are the ones that don’t look like thimbles upon first glance. The totem pole, which I received towards the beginning of my collection, is actually only a thimble on the bottom layer. The top actually can fall back, only attached my a hinge which reveals the actual thimble beneath. This one has always been special to me, and is a central piece to my collection. The turtle is also a favorite, with the shell creating the thimble and the head is adjustable to go further in and stick out.

I just love the uniqueness of these thimbles!

Thimbles 5 ~ Wizard of Oz

Thimbles 5 ~ Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz collection is very special to me. My Grandmother was a huge Judy Garland fan, so in relation she liked Wizard of Oz. Once when the 2 of us and my family were visiting downtown Swansboro in NC, we found a small shop called The Silver Thimble (had some amazing thimbles, a place my family often went to buy me the more unique ones and I was sad to see them close). She purchased the main three, Dorothy, Glinda and the Wicked Witch, for me because at the time the others weren’t there. A while later I was visiting the shop again, and saw they had the whole collection! I bought them all, including duplicates of the ones I had. I gave those to my Grandmother and added the rest to my collection.

I few years ago, my Grandmother passed away from breast cancer. My Grandfather gave me the 3 thimbles I once bought for her to have. While I do not display the duplicates (really, I already have too many thimbles), I do have them in another keepsake box. These Wizard of Oz Thimbles will always be a representation of my Grandmother and they bring good memories when I look at them.

Thimbles 6 ~ Hard carved and antiqued

Thimbles 6 ~ Hard carved and antique

These thimbles are unique in a certain way. Each is hand carved, made with intricate designs. The 1st and 3rd came from Guatemala. The 3rd one even has an etching of Tikal, a Mayan ruin on it. The 2nd and 4th thimble were gifts from a family friend who saw them and thought of me. I find the 2nd one to be simply beautiful, and the last one to be fascinating in its antiqueness looking like it could have actually been used, which I like to believe.

I like the fact that my family friend just saw these thimbles, on different occasions, and thought of me. To receive this small token was a reminder of the fact that this person cares for me.

Thimbles 7 ~ Titanic Ship of Dreams

Thimbles 7 ~ Titanic Ship of Dreams

From an early age LOOOONNNGGGG before the Titanic movie came out I was fascinated with the Titanic tragedy. I read tons of books, fiction and nonfiction, would watch tv specials, and spent the time to learn as much of the story as possible. These thimbles came from 2 different visits to the Titanic museum I visited many years ago in Florida. The don’t just represent a trip I took, but something I have an interest in that is a part of my life, then and now.

Thimbles 8 ~ Washington DC and Military

Thimbles 8 ~ Washington DC and Military

I grew up a military brat in the military town of Jacksonville NC. My Dad fought in Vietnam long before I was born. That said, military symbols are very important to me. These thimbles came from a trip to Washington DC I took with my family. In addition to the Lincoln monument souvenirs, I have a thimble representing the Vietnam Wall, as well as thimbles with the Marine Corps emblem. Growing up surround by military helped shaped me into much of who I am today so to see these symbols is to see a part of my life.

Thimbles 9 ~ New York, New York!

Thimbles 9 ~ New York, New York!

My parents are both from Brooklyn, so New York will always hold a piece in my heart. I of course have 2 special thimbles dedicated to 9/11. Growing up visiting the city often, driving over the Brooklyn bridge and seeing the NY skyline with the Twin Towers standing tall will always be a cherished memory. I remember the heart ache of that day, and the many that followed. The first time seeing the Skyline without the towers was difficult. I will never see the towers again, yet these small representations help fill a hole left in my heart.

I also have NY thimbles with various symbols such as Broadway, The Empire State Building, and of course the Statue of Liberty. These remind me of my family 🙂

Thimbles 10 ~ Fairytales

Thimbles 10 ~ Fairytales

Awww some more of my favorites. These are my more whimsical and fairytale like thimbles. The Cinderella one is a personal favorite, mostly because you can lift the top up and reveal a pair of small golden shoes that actually come out. I always loved the hidden surprise. The Humpty Dumpty was another reflection of childhood, and then of course the carousel, what better childhood representation is there.

Thimbles 11 ~ Rocking Horse and a Pig

Thimbles 11 ~ Rocking Horse and a Pig

When I was still younger, early into my collection, my little sister purchased the pig thimble for me. Not something I more than likely would have bought on my own, but from her is means something. She found the thimble while shopping for presents one day, and had to get it for me. I loved the gester, and still do today.

The Rocking Horse in another thimble I received early on, I believe in my first year. I love how the middle is made of the thimble, and the rest creates the rocking horse. Another favorite, and why I want to continue searching for more unique thimbles. My Mom actually bought this one and she does her best to locate new and original ones when she can.

Thimbles 12 ~ Nashville Tennessee Yew Haw!

Thimbles 12 ~ Nashville Tennessee Yew Haw!

What I love about this thimble is that it is shaped like a Stetson! How unique and different. Instead of simply writing the state name and city, adding a flower and the state bird, Nashville creates a special thimble that illustrates Nashville better than anything a simple thimble could do. My Dad bought this one for me, and really he deserves much of the credit of my collection because he has given me much of it, always searching for a new thimble for me to add.

My family and friends have really helped me create this collection, sharing in the memories left behind for me.

I hope you enjoyed glancing at my Wonder Thimble Box! I will continue building my collection, creating new memories and reflecting on the old. I leave you with a poem I wrote in Dr. Trathen’s class last year about my thimble collection…

A Thimble Full of Memories

Doesn’t seem like Much

But when you have 100

A Thimble is enough

Posted by: Elizabeth Grochan | March 22, 2012

Independent Reading final response

For me, this was the hardest concept to wrap my head around. I think not being a classroom teacher made it difficult o fully understand the idea of independent reading beyond the simplistic idea of SSR. How could I successfully implement an independent reading program into a future classroom? Through the amazingly informative and reader friendly book ‘Creating Lifelong Readers Through Independent Reading’ by Barbara Moss and Terrell Young I feel as if I at least have a basic concept and idea of not what independent reading is, but also on how it should be used in the classroom.

So what does reading independently mean to me? Some of my favorite quotes from Creating Lifelong Readers Through Independent Reading are as follows:

“Independent reading provides practice and pleasure and a passion for books.”

“Independent reading is just one component of a quality reading program, but it is a critical one-not a substitution for substitute for direct instruction in basic reading skills, but a critical support for students learning to read, as well as reading to learn.”

“A reading program that neglects instruction and simply focuses on independent reading is not likely to be successful…Independent reading should be one component  of a balanced literacy program that includes a range of instructional activities focusing on decoding, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension development, and so on.”

“Independent reading, also called voluntary reading, self-selected reading, or leisure reading, is reading that students do on their own in or out of school, with or without accompanying instruction.”

“Whenever wherever students are reading on their own, without teacher assistance, they are reading independently (Moss & Young).”

Independent reading cannot be done alone nor can we expect students ‘to just do it’. Careful instruction and scaffolding needs to be in place to implement a successful program. Independent reading is just one component of the overall reading program that should be combined with direct reading instruction. The skills learned through direct reading instruction will be enhanced by allowing students to read independently, using the skills they have learned.

The benefits of independent reading are:

Increased vocabulary development

Greater domain and background knowledge

Better fluency and comprehension

Improved reading achievements

Greater interest in books and motivation to read

Reading stamina

But in order for students to benefit from independent reading, the teacher needs to instruct them on how to read independently. Independent reading program should be an integral part of a BALANCED reading program. It should include the following:

Supportive reading environments

Access to interesting books and reading materials

Structured time for engaging with texts


Active Engagement by teachers

Family and Community connections


Independent reading has 2 components. The first component is done 2 times a week for 20 minutes where students engage in Community reading. This includes:

Book Talks

Teacher Interactive Read-aloud

Time for Reading

Book Sharing

The second component of my Independent reading program would be SIRT also known as Supported Independent Reading Time. 60 minutes a day will be devoted to SIRT. Moss & Young break SIRT into four critical activities:

Focus Lessons

Time for Reading

Student-Teacher Conferences

Providing this Reading Independent framework in the classroom will allow for successful independent reading to occur, which not only further enhances direct reading instruction, but also provides a way for linking content areas to reading as well as allowing students to engage in meaningful reading. Helping our students learn how to read and engage in what interests them, to become part of the reading process, respond and share with others and to develop an enjoyment of reading with help create lifelong readers out of our students.




Creating a classroom library that is attractive, comfortable, engaging and student friendly is important to a reading program. The library needs to be filled with books that are wide widely diverse, appealing and across the many genres. Having many different means of acquiring reading is also important. You shouldn’t just have paper books available, but also have books in electronic format as well as audio when possible.

As a teacher I plan to use resources such as my text books from various classes such as this one with book suggestions, teacher recommendations and online resources such as ALA. Building a large and comprehensive library with take time, but by utilizing the many resources I have available as well as student input I hope to create an appealing library all students will enjoy.

In addition to the actual reading library, I will need to create a reading space where students can go and read comfortably. I plan to provide many different chairs and cushions students can use while they read, surround them with displays both teacher and student created, and essential surround them with literature. I want to create a reading room where learning takes place.

A huge area of the reading program is providing students with the opportunity to read what is interesting to them. We may not always be able to let them read exactly what they desire, but we can provide time for self-selection, as well as the opportunity to have a say in what is read, even if it is by choosing a book from previously selected materials. In order to provide books that are interesting to our students, we must have an idea of what they finding interesting. Providing an interest inventory as well as listening and observing them in the classroom can help teacher make decisions on books to include in the library, thematic units to teach, books to display and more. If I know my students have an interest in animals, I may find as many books as possible about animals, introduce them to the students, and create a display for easy access. Students can use the interest inventory when deciding which books they would like to read, as well as a guide for me to make suggestions on what books they may like.

Posted by: Elizabeth Grochan | March 22, 2012

Implementing Independent Reading in the Classroom

So far in this class, this has been one of the harder areas for me to grasp. Not having a classroom, I found it difficult to fully understand what independent reading should look like in the classroom. All I could envision was SSR, but trying to understand how to structure independent reading in my classroom successfully was difficult. It took me time to break down everything I learned from Creating Lifelong Readers Through Independent Reading (which I felt was a fantastic read with tons of useful ideas that every classroom teacher should read), the powerpoint, observations, and feedback from practicing teachers. For me to understand HOW to implement independent reading in my classroom, first I had to understand what Independent reading was. These quote come from Creating Lifelong Readers Through Independent Reading by Barbara Moss and Terrell Young.

“Independent reading provides practice and pleasure and a passion for books.”

“Independent reading is just one component of a quality reading program, but it is a critical one-not a substitution for substitute for direct instruction in basic reading skills, but a critical support for students learning to read, as well as reading to learn.”

“A reading program that neglects instruction and simply focuses on independent reading is not likely to be successful…Independent reading should be one component  of a balanced literacy program that includes a range of instructional activities focusing on decoding, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension development, and so on.”

“Independent reading, also called voluntary reading, self-selected reading, or leisure reading, is reading that students do on their own in or out of school, with or without accompanying instruction.”

“Whenever wherever students are reading on their own, without teacher assistance, they are reading independently.”

Independent reading is more than a student sitting and reading quietly, although that is definitely a part of it. A student is not just going to know how to choose the correct book and to read it in an engaging way. Teachers much instruct, model, scaffold learning how to independently read. In the following post, I will address how a teacher does this in the classroom through community and Supported reading time.

Independent reading encompasses what a quality reading program in the classroom should look like. It cannot act alone and be successful, just as direct instruction is not enough for students to fully learn how to become passionate lifelong readers.

Love of reading is caught-not taught (Herricks & Jacobs, 1955).

Reading instruction goes beyond print processing and basic comprehension. Learning to read is about learning how to become engaged in reading, understanding the authors purpose, how the story makes you feel, asking questions, sharing with others and more. I don’t just want to teach students to read, I want to teach them to love to read. To see what reading can do for them.

Independent reading allows students for the chance to explore a wide range of books of different genres and to discover what interest them. When a student becomes interested, they are more likely to want to learn more and to become engaged in what they are reading. Students cannot discover what interests them if they are not provided the opportunity. Teachers act as a guide into the world of literature and books, helping students discover passion for reading in all its shapes and forms. So many different avenues of reading are available these days from paper to electronic. Genres of fiction and nonfiction are available, from picture books, graphic novels, historical, poetry, animal based and more. There is bound to be books students will find interests in out there, we just need to lead them.

Beyond reading books, a good independent program give student the time to share with others books they have read in a multitude of ways, from book talks, to creating displays, writing reviews, keeping up a journal or electronic blog, and more. My goal in creating a successful reading program will be in creating a community of readers. Readers who engage in reading and sharing in a comfortable and inviting environment. Where they look forward to getting to settle in with a good books, than in having the opportunity to tell others in an innovative, creative, or even a simple way.

Research has shown that independent reading has many benefits. According to Moss and Young, 2010 some of these are:

Increased vocabulary development

Greater domain and background knowledge

Better fluency and comprehension

Improved reading achievements

Greater interest in books and motivation to read

Reading stamina

 “Increasing the time students spend in reading appropriately challenging texts with scaffolding instruction led to both word reading improvement and increases in reading comprehension” (Moss & Young, 2010).

Through a creative a successful framework for an independent reading program, students will gain the many benefits of not only knowledge and skills, but the appreciate, passion and love of books.

Independent reading program should be an integral part of a BALANCED reading program. It should include the following:

Supportive reading environments

Access to interesting books and reading materials

Structured time for engaging with texts


Active Engagement by teachers

Family and Community connections

Of course a model like this does not happen overnight, nor can it be completely success confined to the classroom. A good reading program should be “An organized systematic program that involves the classroom, the school, and the community…A collaborative effort among teachers, students, administrators, parents, school and public librarians, and community members” (Moss & Young, 2010).

Today’s research supports the benefits and idea of having an independent reading program as a the whole reading instruction. Once I have entered into a classroom, I plan to implement it into my daily schedule. While some components and areas may need to be adjusted depending on my students, as of now I plan to follow a plan similar to the one described in the book. If I was to envision a classroom for myself now, the following is how I would do so.


Creating the Space

“Not only are the books important, but so are the ways in which you organize and make accessible the books to your students (Moss & Young, 2010).”

As a nonpracticing teacher, I can of course only speculate on what my classroom library will look like. Since I would like to work in upper elementary classes, I will focus on a 5th grade class. Ideally, I want my classroom library to be a large, comfortable, secluded and inviting area students can go to find books as well as sit and read. I want students to be heavily involved in the creation and keeping up of the reading area. If they take ownership of the classroom library, they will feel a connection with where I would hope they would be sure to keep it clean and organized, want to partake in the creation of displays, and would like to contribute to what should and should not be a part of our library.

The reading Nook would be off to the side preferably in a corner separated from the rest of the classroom. I would like there to be windows or something to add natural light. Under the windows, I would like there to be a bench as well as a variety of seating options. Some of the chairs would be more permanent fixtures, but I would also like to have bean bag chairs, cushions, and smaller chairs such as papasan chairs that students are allowed to move around the room during reading times. A large rug would cover the area floor. Since the reading Nook would be on a corner, I would have two walls to use. With some the wall with the window, the other wall would have a large book shelf. Coming out of the wall with the window would be a ‘false wall’ bookshelf that is short maybe 3 feet tall. Another 3 foot bookshelf would face parallel to the window connecting to the wall bookshelf. A small opening would be left between the two 3 foot shelves for entering and exiting.

On top of the two 3 foot walls would be various book displays. Displays would be changed frequently. Some would be created by me as the teacher, and some would be created by the students. I would like to have an author display up that is changed out every few weeks. The display would have a picture of the author as well as many of their books and maybe objects that reflect the author and the author’s stories in some way. Students could be involved in choosing the author and creating the display.  Another display would be one that reflected a topic we were studying at the moment. Another display would be one reflecting a genre that we are highlighting at the moment. I would also like to have a student made display by a chosen student of the week. They would get to display their favorite books and authors in a manner they would like. I would also have a display set up where students can show there reviews of books. The books that are part of the display would be stood up and displayed where the cover of the books are easily seen.

Convenient access to a computer would be close by where students can research information on their books as well as access their reading blogs. They can update their own as well read others to see what their classmates are reading.

Around the rest of the classroom evidence of reading would be displayed and made available for students. Various posters of books, authors and reading motivation would be set up on the walls. I recently purchased the Hunger Games movie poster with the intention of displaying in my classroom. I would also like there to be areas with small book cases or those wire spin book shelves that spin. These would be set up near centers. Near a Science center for instance where we are talking about weather, they would be books set up around relating to the subject. At the front of the classroom below the white board I would have featured books from the library students could have access to. I would have a bulletin board set up for book quotes the students find in their reading we would add periodically.

My Classroom Collection

This will probably be one of the harder areas for me to build. Over time I know I will build up my library that reflects books my students are interested in. Since my last year during my undergrad when I had a literature class, I have been slowly building a library. Right now it is mainly books that have been suggested by professors and the books that were required reading. I also have given myself a monthly budget where I purchase various books some from bookstores, others I stumble across that I find for really good deals. I do not know what grade I will be teaching yet, so my books are anywhere from picture books for beginner readers to young adult.

I would like my library to have over 1000 books available. Since I am focusing on a 5th grade classroom, I would expect to have book levels down to 2nd grade and as high as Young Adult. Depending on students, I would make changes on levels as needed. Some of the books will be a part of the library year long, others will be rotated out. Books that are rotated in will be introduced. I will also have a special time for the ‘retiring books’ telling the students to read them before they go into the ‘vault’. (Of course if a student asks for a specific book I would give it to them to read.)

The books I will have in my classroom with be interesting for boys and girls. There will also be many books that reflect various diversities from multicultural, social and economic backgrounds. I would also like to have books that reflect and embrace differences and disabilities (books like Marcelo in the Real World and Rules). While the library will have many award winning books, I believe that there are just as many great books out there that are not considered award winners.

The library will have every genre possible. There would be both fiction and nonfiction books available. A part of the library would be many of the classics. I would want to have traditional fairytales and stories, as well as the more modern versions. Historical books would be present regardless of the publication, and I would also have contemporary books that have been written to reflect todays student. Picture books would be a part of the library. While most picture books are made for younger students, I feel older students can enjoy them also. I love graphic novels, and believe kids love them also so I would have many available at all levels, various plots, and ones for either gender.

Poetry would be included. Some would be the more traditional, some the more modern. Poetry of different types as well as topics and interests.

Nonfiction of various topics would be included, from memories and biographies, to books on nature and facts. Magazines, some science or subject in nature, some more for pleasure would be made available as well.

Throughout the year I want students to write their own books which would also be a part of the library collection they can read in addition to any student written stories from past students.

As I have already started doing, I will use my literature text books filled with recommendations, the online book resources and other sources such as practicing teachers for ideas on what books to fill my classroom with. As I teach, my students will influence books I may choose to add to my collection based on their interest. I hope to continuing adding to and growing my classroom library in the years to come.


Incorporating the Key Components of Your Independent Reading Program

As the research has indicated, “The face of classroom independent reading time is changing (Moss & Young, 2010). For many years the idea of SSR time alone encompassed as being an effective independent reading component. Now new models are being developed designed to scaffold silent reading providing structured silent reading. Fontas & Pinnell in 2001 referred to new structured scaffolding as 5 R’s:






The idea is that during independent reading, students and teachers do more than just read.

“Because independent reading time provides an important opportunity for reading practice, it should not occur as the occasional add-on but rather as an integral part of a balanced reading program (Moss & Young).”

Moss and Young have divided this idea of independent reading into two components, a community reading time that comprises of 20minutes at least twice a week and a supported independent reading time also known as SIRT 60 minutes a day. It is also suggested that 20 minutes a day be assigned to students outside the classroom for reading also. I admit that these times at first scared me. You only have so much instructional time during the class day. Can I really devote so much to independent reading? The answer is yes. It may be difficult, but I after reading so much about the benefits of independent reading I know it is vital to find time as part of the daily schedule to do so.

So what will independent reading look like in my classroom? Not having a classroom, right now I can only shoot for a pipedream. As time progresses many of these ideas will develop to suit the classroom I am in, holding onto the overall purpose, but changing to fit my classroom’s overall needs.

Regardless of how or when it is done during the day, at least 20 minutes 2 times a week will be devoted to Community Reading Time. I feel that this is an important part of independent reading. “Students in such classrooms not only read recommended books, but also motivate one another to read by suggesting books to one another; they use the classroom community to enhance their own literacy (Moss and Young, 2010).”

Moss and Young identify four motivation building activities to be done during Community reading time

Book Talks

Teacher Interactive Read-aloud

Time for Reading

Book Sharing

For myself, I do not feel complete after reading a book until I have been able to share it in some way. There is something about taking the time to internally reflect on what you read, than sharing the experience with someone else. This can be something more detailed where you fully discuss your thoughts and feeling, or maybe just saying, “Hey, so I just read this book.” Sharing can be done in many different ways. The Ereaders today have an option of posting a reading status to facebook or another social site. I don’t do this often, but if I finished a good book and want others to know I will do this. The most recent one I have done was when I read Cinder by Marissa Meyer in January. This led to a small discussion between a few of my friends who wanted to know more, and then went out and bought it for themselves. The access to internet resources makes sharing books easier for me. With my quote blog, I can easily share a book I read with much detail just by posting a favorite quote from it. This simple action that takes 5 minutes helps bring the feeling of completion to my reading. Of course some books require a much more thorough need of sharing. I have a good friend who reads similar books as I do. When the newest book of a series comes out, we plan a day to call one another to share our thoughts, feeling, speculations and more. Sometimes we call each other to talk about a book we think the other would like to read.

I know I love talking about books. I feel myself light up when I do so, and I want my students to get the same feeling. I believe the reading experience is not completed until you have shared it in some way. Providing this community time in the classroom I think will allow student to further reflect on their reading and share with others not just a book they feel others would like to read, but the experience they had while reading it.

In my classroom, students will all of reading blogs. On their blogs they will share books they are reading, books they would like to read, and they will review books they have read. I will allow for individual ideas on how they will share, but provide them with a guiding rubric and ideas such as book trailers (author made, fan made or student made), pictures, quotes, and more. Blogs will be accessible to all students, and they will even be available to be read during SSR time. Blogs could be read anytime, and occasionally we may use our 20 minute allotted time to have students share a particular blog post of theirs or one the read of a classmates.

I love the idea of book trailers or commercials, and would like to teach my students how to create them. Community time can be a time students share their trailers or other creative things they may have come up with to share a book. Such ideas would be providing a quick summary using creative means such as acting as the author or character, reenacting a favorite scene, ending summary in a dramatic cliffhanger, providing just the first sentence or favorite lines from the book, creating a grab bag of objects representing the book, making a soundtrack that fits with the book, and many more.

“Book talks should create excitement for books and alert students to the many possibilities found within the classroom or school library, (Moss &Young. 2010).”

Some of my fondest memories in school were when a teacher would read to us from a chosen book. During these time we would just listen and enjoy. I would want to include this in my classroom, a time when students can just enjoy the sounds of a good book, but I also see the benefit of having interactive read-alouds. I think this is done more readily at the lower elementary level. Taking the time, even just a few moments a week during our community time, to engage readers to consider and thing about a book I am reading aloud can develop independent reading. Read alouds allow for the teacher to model how to read and engage in the reading for the students to see. As the students observe the read aloud experience with the teacher, they will see how independent reading should look like while they are reading. Going beyond the printed words and becoming engaged with the story.

While talking and sharing books is important during community reading time as well as acting as a model for my students through read alouds, providing time where student do the reading is also important. Reading can be done individually, in pairs, small groups or even as a class. My goal would be to find highly engaging reading materials of all different genres and materials.

Community Reading may only be for 40 minutes a week, but I feel it is important to include in the classroom. Providing time to read and share as a class helps engage and motivate students to read as well as demonstrate how to read.

The second component of my Independent reading program would be SIRT also known as Supported Independent Reading Time. 60 minutes a day will be devoted to SIRT. Moss & Young break SIRT into four critical activities:

Focus Lessons

Time for Reading

Student-Teacher Conferences

Response to Reading Activities

Depending on daily schedule allowance, I many not have a full hour to complete this at one time. I may have to break this time up throughout the day to fully get it in, but regardless of the schedule I will find time to include a full 60 minutes of SIRT.

“Strategy focus lesson should be targeted at teaching and reinforcing strategic reading (Moss and Young, 2010).”

About 15 minutes a day will be devoted to focus lessons. Depending on the time of the year, this focus lessons will differ. The key to establishing any daily routine in the classroom, especially one where we desire our students to act ‘independently’ is to inform, model and instruct them how we want them to do so. Providing guidelines and instruction on our expectations for our students will ensure students receive the full instructional benefits of this time as well as ensure this time to run smoothly. If students are unaware of what it is they are supposed to be doing during this time, behavior may become an issue as well as lack of engagement and student more than likely will not receive full instructional benefits reading independently offers.

Early focus lessons will deal with basic procedures and expectations of students during independent reading; For the most part I would like students to assist in developing rules and procedures. As a class we will develop expectations on behavior, how to handle transitions, how to checkout books and when, possibly set up of library collection, times for sharing, time for quiet reading, the idea of sharing space comfortably and more. Early focus lessons will deal with how to choose proper books at their correct level, how to find books of interest, and how to locate books through peers, website etc. We would also discuss when books should be chosen (NOT when we are reading) what behavior they should exhibit during reading time, and how to record and respond to books. Within the first week, I would want every student to have created their individual book blog so that responding and reviewing can begin immediately.  I know the first few weeks will be mainly about establishing a routine students are comfortable in. As students settle into routines, focus lessons can reflect problems I notice with my student I feel they need more work on or revisiting problem areas. We may revisit things such as certain procedures or how we set up our library to improve our reading time.

While focus lessons allow for learning what to do during independent reading, most of SIRT is devoted to the actually reading process. For many years SSR suggested EVERYONE participate in silent sustained reading including the teacher. Newer research suggest a more active and engaging role for the teacher now such as participating in conferences. This time will encompass at least 30 minutes of our day, and for the first 5 minutes everyone, including myself with read silently. This is not a time for bathroom breaks or visits to the library (classroom or school). Books may be self-selected, or they may be part of a unit where I choose a focus for the books, and the students choose which f the preselected books they are reading. After the first 5 minutes I will begin quietly conferencing with individual or small group students.

I think the part I look forward to most during this time is the Response to Reading activities. As discussed in the Community reading area, I love sharing and responding to literature, and want to encourage my students to do the same. I will provide many avenues and ideas for my students to do so. Sometimes I may require a specific way I want them to respond, and others I may allow them to choose how they wish to respond. While I will provide many ideas in how they can do so, I will also encourage students to come up with innovative and creative ways to do. Students will have an ongoing blog they keep up with on all their reading. This will act as their reading response journal. Other ways students may share can be through creating something such as a book trailer, a sound track, presentations using acting or objects, posting a review on their blog or on a known book review website, a research project and more. Writing will be encouraged, not just in the form of reviewing, but also in the creation of something new. The book mentions a website called which I have been using for 15 years. Students will be encouraged to write a story from a different POV, an alternate ending, a missing scene etc. I am greatly looking forward to seeing student responses to their reading.

The last area to address would be linking literacy instruction with independent reading experiences.

“Strategies taught during modeled reading, guided reading, and shared reading experiences can be transferred to the independent reading experience” (Moss & Young, 2010). The books discusses the GRR Model also known as the gradual release of responsibility model. The model is often used to provide support needed to become independent readers.

The idea that direct reading instruction and independent reading instruction work together to form a complete reading instruction is illustrated through this idea. Strategies and instruction provided in direct reading instruction such as reading aloud, shared reading and guided reading provides the skills students need to read independently. It is than through independent reading, students are able to apply the skills they have learned. “Independent reading provides students with the opportunity to apply the skills and strategies that they have learned through teacher modeling as well as shared and guided reading.”

Through the PowerPoint, the benefits of classroom reading were highlighted. “When teachers provide daily opportunities for students to read silently for extended periods of time, students develop reading stamina and increase their volume of reading” (Powerpoint)

This not only boost the growth of reading, but in the motivation of reading as well.

Many strategies and knowledge gained through direct instruction is utilized in independent reading. Students use the skills of not only comprehension, but also in vocabulary development, fluency, story grammar, text structure and informational text structure and more.

Researchers believe that reading volume is responsible as the prime contributor to a children’s vocabulary. While teachers can successfully teach 8-10 vocabulary words a week, students are expected to learn approximately 3000 a year. The majority of this language acquisition is done through reading.

I don’t think it takes scientific research to prove that the more someone reads, the better they read. The more someone reads, the better their fluency becomes. Fluent readers tend to enjoy reading more, as well as seem to have a stronger comprehension. Not having to stumble over words probably has something to do with this. Book language is different than oral language. The more we read, the more we understand of book language, the structure of sentences, plots, characters and more.

For developing literacy skills, direct reading will provide the strategies and instruction; independent reading will provide the means in using these skills successfully.

Responding to literature can be done during both direct and independent reading. Teachers can provide a variety of strategies and ideas that can be used, and students will learn which ways they enjoy best. To me, how you respond is no different regardless of the type of reading you are engaging in, as long as you are responding. Coming up with a variety of ways to respond keeps sharing unique, engaging and fun.

With so little time in the day to accomplishing everything we want in instruction, integration is often the key. Using independent reading in content areas provides a means of showing students how reading and learning is meaningful, as well as providing a way to integrate instruction so we do not have to sacrifice for time. Instead of teaching content areas solely through the use of textbooks, we can instead use trade books to increase the engagement of learning. These books can be nonfiction and factual in nature, or maybe a fiction book that helps bring the learning to life. Instead of reading about Native Americans from a textbook, students can read trade books such as The Sign of the Beaver and other similar stories to develop a more meaningful experience to the content.

Using literature to teach in content areas provides a way to differentiate instruction, as well as to provide time to read independently without losing instructional time when time is short. Teachers can chose various leveled books on a topic and create small groups. Also, instead of taking away from either reading time or content area instruction, we can combine the 2 to serve as a fill and meaningful learning experience. By 3rd grade, students are at the stage where they are no longer learning to read, but instead reading to learn. Showings students how to find reading material in content areas helps them discover ways to read books that interest them as they learn various content areas.

Ideally, I would like to have a thematic unit in my classroom. Instead of having a day where we move from one period to the other, each divided up, I would like to have instruction flow throughout the day, even as we change subject areas. If we are studying Native American for instance, the whole day would be designed to the learning and instruction of this topic, just in a variety of ways. Part of the day would be in reading in our leveled books from a book about Native Americans. Students would also be working on a research project on Native Americans. Science areas would reflect the unit possibly regarding to the wildlife that affected Native Americans. I would like to involved the specials teachers, such as having the music teacher instruct students on Native American music, the Art teacher on art created by Native Americans, PE teacher on dances or games played, and media teacher on helping students discover information as well as create a project using media tools.

Implementing independent reading successfully is a far more complicated process than providing 20 minutes a day for silent reading. It is such a key component to the overall reading experience, and can be connected to so much of instruction. Teaching students to successfully read independently is a sure way to create an experience where students learn how to further enhance and develop their reading skills, as well as learn how to become lifelong readers. Creating and implementing an independent reading program in the classroom will not be easy, but the benefits will be more than enough of a reward. Taking the time to properly instruct learners on how to correctly read independently will create a comfortable and happy environment for both the student and the teacher. I look forward to implementing what I have learned into the classroom in the future.

Moss, B & Young, T. (2010). Creating lifelong readers through independent reading. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Posted by: Elizabeth Grochan | March 22, 2012

Online Children’s Literature Resources

Online Children’s Literature Resources

As a nonpracticing teacher, my current ‘classroom library’ is limited and not very focused as of now. I have been collecting books, but not knowing what grade I will be teaching means I have books for a Kindergarten reading all the way to Young Adult (ok so of the YA are the books I read). Books that are required or suggested reading for my classes are added, as well as good suggestions from fellow teachers. But once I enter the classroom I know I am going to need to develop an extensive library for my students with a wide range of genres, levels and interests. In the library, there will need to be books that are diverse and appealing to boys and girls, children with different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, social economic backgrounds, and different family and home situations.

There are so many different books out there, it is almost overwhelming choosing books to read for myself, let alone books to include for a classroom full of students. I love visiting various websites and blogs such as the ones below. Websites that have lists of suggested books makes finding books of specific levels, genres and topics much easier. Awards lists are nice to have and are books that should be included in your classroom. But just because a book is an awarded book doesn’t make it necessarily better than other books so they shouldn’t be the only books included in a library. When working on a specific area of study, having a list with suggested books helps in finding books to include.

While I love these book lists as a convenient way of locating specific types of books, I also enjoy following book blogs. With having so many books out there, it is nice to find blogs with book reviews that provide summaries and opinions on various books. If you find a reliable blog with books you are interested in reading and that pertain to your classroom, it is a great idea to keep up with it and checkout these books that are suggested.

Not only do I enjoy reading book review blogs, I want my students to create blogs that they will review books they have read for others. Using already made blogs as a guide, I think having students review books in blog format will make reviewing more enjoyable as well as being made accessible to others. Blogs can become a great way for expressing thoughts regarding a book. I would give my students fairly free reign on how to setup and use their blog with a few guidelines. I enjoy book blogs that are comprised of not only reviews, but favorite quotes and lists such as favorite books and wishlists.

These blogs and websites act as a wonderful resource for locating books for a classroom library and should be used by any classroom teacher.

Since 2005, Susan Thomsen has written about children’s books at her blog, Chicken Spaghetti has been recommended at E! Online, School Library Journal, and the online edition of The Horn Book. Susan has been on blogging panels at the Westport, CT, Library; the New York Public Library; and the National Council of Teachers of English annual convention. Her work has appeared online at PBS Parents’ Booklights blog and the Poetry Foundation.

“I love children’s books. This site will be a Book Moot for my friends and fellow readers.”
A blog with a large collection of reviews and discussions on children’s books.

Each year, thousands of children, young adults, teachers, and librarians around the United States select their favorite recently published books for the “Choices” reading lists. These lists are used in classrooms, libraries, and homes to help young readers find books they will enjoy.

Blog about Interesting Nonfiction for kids

A website about books in English for young readers. It embraces multicultural books from or about anywhere in the world.

This blog is for anyone who loves books and wants to include more science and reading into their children’s literature and lessons. The author reviews newly published books, along with some not so new, and suggests simple science ideas that can be incorporated into your lessons that can accompany the books discussed. Can help add more science to your library, home, or classroom activities.

2012 notable children’s books in the English Language Arts

A blog by 2 teachers who read a lot.

“We are writers and teachers, and we are WILD ABOUT NATURE! In this blog we will review nature related books and learn a bit about their WILD authors. We invite you to go WILD ABOUT NATURE with us!”

Graphic Novels for Kids; making comics more accessible.

(Browse the book awards)

The ALA provides a plethora of information on children’s books, book awards, and other resources.

This section of the ALA website provides an online version of Book Links, a print periodical with thematic bibliographies of children’s trade books, book reviews, author interviews, and other information on children’s literature.

IRA’s website features the IRA Choices booklists and other literature-related information.

The website from the Children’s Book Council contains interviews with authors, book recommendations, and much more.

The National Council fo r the Social Studies website provides links to social studies trade books for grades K-8.

This site from the National Science Teachers Association provides lesson plans and links to K-12 science trade books.

This online version of The Horn Book provides reviews of children’s trade books, podcast interviews with authors, and blogs from children’s literature experts.

The online version of The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books provides book reviews and annual lists of Blue Ribbon Winners, which are awarded annually by the staff of The Bulletin.


I did not create an actual DonorsChoose account because the only options I saw were for current practicing teachers or donors. But after checking out the site I will definitely create one once I am in a classroom.

A request I will make once I am in the classroom with be for ereaders. I am fascinated with the potential Ereaders may have in reading for students in the classroom.

My Students: My students are a diverse learning group with a wide range of reading levels and interests. Growing up in the 21st Century has made technology a part of our students normal life style. By reading with the use of Ereaders, students can enhance their reading experience through technology. Ereaders allow for students to become a part of and active in the reading experience.

My Project: Ereaders will enable readers a way to interact with their reading. Features such as the highlight and notepad allows students to choose meaningful passages and take notes on things the feel are important and want to reference later on. The dictionary option allows students to enhance their vocabulary without having to stop reading. The text to speech provides audio reading for a reader who struggles with print processing. Ereaders allow for control over print size and boldness, screen brightness and more which gives can make reading easier. Having an Ereader places a huge variety of books at a student’s fingertips just a click away. As a teacher, I can easily check student’s progress as well as conference with them regarding notes they have made. An Ereader can also lessen intimidation on having to read a large book that some students may shy away from, as well as provide struggling readers the ability to read on level books without having to worry about feeling embarrassed. Ereaders will allow students to become a part of the reading experience.

My Students Need: Ereaders as well as protective screen covers and cases.

Posted by: Elizabeth Grochan | March 22, 2012

Reading Interest Inventory

Reading interest inventory…why should we as teachers give one to our students?

“This decline in interest in reading may have much to do with the kinds of reading materials and experiences students encounter in school (Moss & Terrell, 2010).”

“Interest motivates students to read, prompts them to read more difficult material, and can result in more time spent reading (Kragler & Nolley, 1996).

I think we can all agree that students prefer to read what interests them. And when a student finds a book or topic of interest, even a reluctant reader, their desire to read increases.

By providing a reading interests inventory, as well as observing my students on a daily basis, I will develop an understanding of what interests them. By knowing their interests I can provide suggestions and steer them in the right direction of books I believe they will enjoy reading.

Depending on the interests of my students, I would like to set up displays of books around the classroom. If I see that many students have an interest in space, I would like to set up a display with nonfiction and fiction books that have to do with space, space travel, etc. Maybe even have something like a telescope for students to see. Not only would the displays represent what I feel the students will enjoy based on their interest inventory and observations of my students throughout the year, classroom library selection would represent this also.

I would like to create the interest inventories with my students help. Instead of just administering the inventories, I think it would be a good idea to brain storm ideas and questions the students think they should answer to share what interests them. I would supply examples along the way as well as guiding ideas but in the end I want the inventory to be a class project. I also want my students to share their interest inventories. I think that if we discuss and share our interests with on another students will see what they have in common with one another. This can also provide a chance for suggestions and book talks if you think someone is interested in something you enjoyed. I would like to each student to have a blog, and on their blog an area that has their interest inventory.

Students will routinely write reviews of books, and I want them to compare and contrast books. So in their review they can say something like, “if you liked this book, you will definitely enjoy this book.” Learning to compare books and understanding what made it appealing for you as the reader I feel helps guide you to discovering other books you may enjoy as well as providing someone else with ideas of what to read based on a similar interest.

I know that by choosing books FOR my students they are uninterested in is a sure way to lose them as readers. My goal is to read as many books as possible so that I can provide suggestions as much as possible that I feel they will enjoy based on not only the quality of the material but also based on a student’s interest. While I may be able to predict what I think is a good book that everyone should enjoy, there is never a guarantee.

Currently 2 of my friends and I have been discussing our struggle with the desire to read, or in some cases, reread the classics (You know, Phantom of the Opera, Lord of the Flies, To Kill a Mockingbird, Pride and Prejudice, etc). We consider ourselves huge readers! These are the friends that routinely blog and review books. Yet the classics seem to hold little interests for us right now, so getting through them is difficult. If we are struggling to read the classics as adults who are choosing to do so, I can only imagine the torture many students feel when having to pick up one of these books or another uninteresting book just because a teacher says they have to. For me, I hate the feeling of feeling forced to finish something I don’t want to read. Once I become unengaged with what I am reading it is a struggle to get to the end, and many times I just stop. Reading is a pleasure for me, so unless I have to I do not like to feel forced into reading something I don’t want to. There may be people reading this going ‘WHAT you hate the classics! And you call yourself a reading teacher…’ (Maybe that’s just what my brain tells me). And I wouldn’t say I hate the classics. I remember reading many in high school that I didn’t hate, but in the end it wasn’t a pleasurable experience and I have no real desire say hmmm, been awhile since I read The Great Gatsby, where is that copy I have laying around (ok confession time, I hated reading the Great Gatsby and no I do not own a copy).  I have a friend on the other hand that prefers to read books that fall into the category of the classics. But that is her interest, not mine. I do not expect everyone to want to read what I read, and I hate when people express disappointment in me not reading a certain book or not enjoying a books I read. Who says I have to enjoy all books, and who says students have to enjoy books teachers have said they have to read. What I want to make sure they do have is a respect for all literature and the choices others make in what they read.

I do want to make sure my students are familiar with classical works of literature and maybe some of them will enjoy them like my friend does. I may decide to make the reading instruction of certain classics a little different to engage my readers more though. If I do use a classical book in my classroom, such as Treasure Island or Tom Sawyer, I would like to allow students a choice of a few to read instead of picking just one in hopes of sparking interests.

Just because a book is a classic or an award winner does not mean every person has to enjoy it. There are plenty of regular books that are out there that are just as good and that people enjoy reading. Providing as many genres and various topics for my students will allow for the best chance of sparking interest in reading for my students.

I am sure along the way, I am going to choose a book for students to read or a book I read during a read aloud that someone with dislike. That is fine, but we can discuss what they disliked about it. I may not be able to always allow students to read only what they want to read. But I want to do my best to give students as much say in what they read as possible.



Reading Interest Inventory in action

Since I am a nonpracticing teacher, I went to visit Elizabeth Archor’s classroom. At the beginning of the year she had already administered an interest inventory, and with this assignment she administered a second to her students. Both inventories were administered prior to my visit, so she invited me to come observe her reading block to see her kids in action as well as give me a tour of her classroom and how her class uses the reading block.

She has her students divided into smaller groups by ability level which I believe is a central key. This way students can work with others on their level with appropriate materials and she is able to provide instruction with each group that is adequate for learning. The reading block is divided into 3 stations. Depending on the group, the day of the week, and the time students know what station they should be reading in. Prior to the stations beginning, all students are given SSR time. In addition to SSR, stations in the block give time to areas such as vocabulary study, small group reading at their instructional level and genre reading (various baskets hold genre books student can choose from than respond to).

I found that she used the interest inventory is a few ways. The interest inventory provides a way for students to refer to something when deciding what kind of book they want to read for self-selection. Her knowledge of their interests also gives her a way to help provide suggestions for those unsure what to choose. By looking for similar interest amongst her students she is also able to choose books for class reads that appeal to a larger range of students and bring in books of this category into the classroom students can than choose from.  After noticing that a large amount of her students like soccer, Elizabeth worked with her librarian and have pulled all the soccer books from the shelves and set up a display that is easily accessible.

Not only does the reading interest inventory supply a way of getting to know what students enjoy for reading, it can also provide ideas on writing topics. When journal writing, if a student is unsure what to write about, Elizabeth suggests taking out the interest inventory for ideas.

I want to thank Elizabeth for letting me come into her classroom and visit with her students and to see her reading block in action. I was only there for a short time so I am sure I forgot some of the other great things she had going on there, but I was very impressed how well her students seemed to be doing as well as enjoyed how she worked choice and interests into what her students were reading, as well as changing up the learning with different stations and instruction.

Posted by: Elizabeth Grochan | March 2, 2012

Deep Reading and Internet Inquiry

Deep Reading and Internet Inquiry

“Can we only engage in deep reading when reading novels? What needs to be in place and what is necessary to acquire the ability to read deeply? Is it like any other habit that is broken…if you don’t use it, you lose it? What are your thoughts?”

“To sit down and read text over an extended period of time where the reader is ‘thinking’ carefully about the text-generating new thoughts as words are decoded…go beyond the author’s printed words.”

To me, one cannot engage in deep reading until they have mastered decoding. If your brain is spending most of its energy decoding words, you are unable to fully engage in cognitive thought. Once the decoding processes have been achieved, deep reading can begin. Even if the capability and skill is there though, deep reading doesn’t always take place. Many factors need to be present for deep reading. The reader needs to be engaged in the reading. If the reader has no interest, then deep reading is unlikely. The reader also needs to be able to devote their mind to what they are reading to the point that they are able to attend to the meaning beyond the author’s words.  This means that you are focused on what you are reading and are able to construct new thoughts and ideas, making connections to prior knowledge. You need to be free of distractions, at least for the duration you are attending to the reading.

I don’t know if you necessarily have to be engaged for a set amount of time, but I do feel that for the duration of the time you are reading, you must be engaged in order to read deeply. I believe that one could technically read a facebook status deeply. While most status are fairly ordinary and basic, I have seen a few that strike up some fairly cognitive thoughts and replys. I would also say that regardless of length, academic articles require a level of deep reading, at least if you want to get anything from them. Reading a novel seems like the most likely of deep reading settings. But do you need to read for a few hours to deep read? Probably not. As long as what you have read you have cognitively thought about, considered thoughts beyond the author’s direct words, made inferences about what you have read and even thought beyond the current plot to what may happen I believe you have engaged in deep reading.

I do not believe deep reading is a lost art. I believe that once you have learned how to decode enough to free your thought processes up enough to allow your brain to think cognitively the ability is there. But it is a muscle that needs to be trained. The more you deep reader the easier it will be to do. You will also learn in what atmosphere and what kinds of mediums you need to read in order to most engagingly read. For many of us, myself included, I know that in order for me to deeply read an academic article, I need to print the article and be able to highlight and take notes. I am not able to read as effectively on a computer. Not to say the current generation feels the same. To them, having an article on paper may act as a deterrent. While I prefer paper for reading articles, I enjoy both e-readers or paper books for almost every other kind of reading. I also know people who need complete silence in order to read. For me it just depends on what kind of reading I am doing. I sometimes like to play music while I study, and depending on what I am reading having people talking around me does not distract me. If you haven’t engaged in deep reading for awhile, it may not be as easy to do so right away. But once you begin again I think you can easily retrain your brain to do so.

“…As a medium offers little in the way of clear boundaries, standards, and organization, the ability to discern these features is a necessary skill for the online reader (Wolf, 2009).”

“I would argue that Web sites like National Geographic for Kids Creature Feature site is as organized and bound by standards as any nonfiction picture I have seen: feature/

Please take a moment and investigate and explore and respond. Be sure to click on a creature and explore each tab for the respective creature. What are your thoughts?”

As a whole, I can see how one would classify the internet in such a way. But I think that is because it is so vast and accessible to anyone. I have walked into book stores and libraries and have found myself with similar thoughts though. No order and organization and overwhelmed by the array of materials and unsure of where to look. But with the right training in how to navigate the internet you can find plenty of websites that offer a place to find and discover information that has clear boundaries, standards and is designed in a completely organized anyone can successfully use.

Upon first visiting the site feature/

I found it interesting, but not overwhelming. Tabs were easily to see, easily identifiable and easy to navigate. As far as locating the creatures, I liked that in the center there was a scrollable part where you could not only see the name of the animal, but as the picture. Being in alphabetical order also helped in quickly locating an animal you may have had in mind. On the left hand side, the categories of animals and habitats (also alphabetized) makes it easy to narrow your search down if there is a specific kind of animal or a specific area you are looking for regarding your animal.

I chose to investigate the giraffe a little further. I thought the information provided was very clear and easy to understand. As Dr. Frye pointed out, the information was just as good as anything one may get out of a nonfiction book. Unlike a book though, the website provided a way to watch a movie clip as well as a few other fun activities such as sending an ecard. I liked how some facts were told in almost a narrative format, while others were ‘fast facts’.

For younger readers, an accessible e-text also found ‘online’. Please take a moment to explore and respond. What are your thoughts?

One of my concerns while looking through the creature feature webpage, was that while it was definitely full on good information and kid friendly, it was geared towards older students probably at a late 2nd grade to a 3rd grade level. These are the kids that should be able to open a textbook and be able to read for understanding. A first grader would get very little from a site like that because they are not at the point where they can read many of those words nor understand what the words are telling them.

I enjoyed getting to ‘explore’ the young explorer site found here:

This site allows the student to choose an issue to read. It is easy to choose what it is you are looking for also because each issue has a distinctive picture as a guide. The issue provides a link to listen and read. So even for those learners who are not independent readers yet, they can still explore and learn from this site. I clicked on the issue with the dolphin on the front. The page resembles many nonfiction factual books I have read for kids over the years. It looks just like a book page, with a large image and usually one fact, sometimes 2, on each page. Around the page are clickable sound features the student can click on to be read to. While the voice is reading, the words illuminate for the student to follow. At the bottom of each page is a place you can click that ‘turns the page’. I liked how this read so much like an actual book, yet it was on a computer and provided sound.  I feel as if young readers will enjoy reading and exploring the many issues here.

Please explore the mountain gorilla creature feature…what are your thoughts?

These sites very much remind me of a collection I had as a kid, and I am actually hoping my parents have them somewhere around their house still! It was the wildlife fact-files. Pretty much you had a binder filled with these pull out cards for each animal. There were pictures and facts such as location, habitat and food. I loved these books, and know most kids do also. As I explored the mountain gorilla site, I was again reminded of these fact files. They were just as good as any book I ever read, and if I was a kid I think I would enjoy navigating the different areas of facts, pictures and movies as I learned about various animals. What I did like about the information on this Mountain Gorilla page ( and others) is that more information is available than would be in a book that was about more than one animal. Most animal information books would have maybe a 2 page spread to fill with all the facts and pictures they could. On this site, there are at least 5 pictures on gorillas that can be scrolled though, and far more facts than would more than likely be included. In addition to that, the videos add for further enhancement that you just can’t get from a books.


We give books:

Please explore this organization and the digital books they have made available. What are your thoughts? Opportunities?

One thing I do love about sites with online books such as this, is so many schools both in the States and in other countries have a lack of books available to them. I student taught in San Pedro Belize 2 years ago, and in the classroom I was in all they had was 1 small book shelf that was 2 feel wind and 2 shelves tall, and that was all the books that class had to read. Most were not ‘leveled’ appropriately and few were engaging for the students. With sites like this where as long as you have a working internet you have access to books, more students will be able to be exposed to more books and reading.

As I have said, I do enjoy reading online. I would think sharing an online book like this would be a good way to read to a whole class, or if you have a larger group with you say during an assembly. Many people would argue that they miss the feel of an actual book in their hand, and a part of me agrees. But we are in a technological age where we can give our students both. They have access to all different mediums to read from, as well as a wider array of books to choose from that are now available to the,. I think as teachers we should embrace everything we have available to us.

New essential standards for Information and Technology to be implemented 2012-2013. Grades K-5; Grades 6-8.

What are your thoughts?

We are now in the 21st Century, technological skills are a must have for our learners. Where I rarely remember using a computer at all through elementary, remember my 6th grade typing class as a way to memorize the keys with drills, and playing games like Oregon Trail to fill the time, and used the computer in high school as a means to type final paper copies, we are teaching our students how to use the computer successfully before many of them can even read. Most kids before they enter kindergarten have basic knowledge of a computer. My nephew at 4 was showing my Mom how to do things on the computer. Kids are no longer being brought to libraries to find information from giant tombs of research books. Instead we are bringing them to the ‘media library’ where we teach them how to use the internet to find information, and take that information to create a powerpoint or other digital representation of the information they gathered. Students have so many more places to find information, and also have to become wise in determine what is accurate and reliable. If that doesn’t take a new level of literacy I do not know what does. Students are being expected to know how to use technology for informational, instructional, creative, innovative and so many other ways just to succeed in the world today. We as teachers have to be there to guide them, and to do so we need to know how to use these 21st Century skills as well. We may not always choose to use them for our own personal methods of reading and research, but we need to understand them so we can instruct our students in them so they may learn to use them. 21st Century learning is here, and we must embrace it if we want our students to succeed.

Posted by: Elizabeth Grochan | March 2, 2012

Internet Workshop

Internet Workshop for The One and Only Ivan

I would like to create an assignment that links the reading of the story ‘The One and Only Ivan’, to an internet workshop that allows the students to investigate an animal of their choosing, in preparation for creating their own story that they will write. The story they will write can be about any animal of their choosing as long as the animal has been known to be a part of some kind of captivity (Zoo, circus, farm etc.) They will write the story from the animal’s point of view that not only tells the animal’s story, but the story of humans the animal interacts with in the same way Ivan does in ‘The One and Only Ivan.’  I would supply other stories for reference such as Charlotte’s Web.

I want the students to have a foundation to write an authentic telling of a story from an animal’s point of view. Using Ivan as a guide, we would discuss how the Applegate had to know a significant amount of information to make the story realistic. We would also discuss how at the end of the story, Applegate provided information about the current whereabouts of Ivan.

The students would first need to choose an animal and complete research on the animal to assist them in completing a story using facts they discover as a foundation. Once they have gathered enough information to develop their story, they will then create a story of their own imagination using only the guidelines that it has to be from an animal’s point of view, and it must be an animal with interaction with humans. Once the story is complete, the students are than to create a creative way to display and present the information they gathered for their story on their animal in a similar way we saw with Applegate and Ivan. They can create a website, an internet video, blog, whatever they like as long as it provides accurate information relating to the animal in their story. They final presentation project will need to not only be comprised of accurate information, it will need to also link to other sites for further information as well as proper citations.

For the internet workshop:

“In the internet workshop, teachers create a research activity where students are directed to specific Web sites to gather information, complete a research activity, and share the information with their classmates during a workshop format (Leu 2002).”

Dr. Frye mentioned four steps delineated by Leu (2002). The teacher locates sites and develops the research activities. From there, the student completes the research activities and then they share and exchange the information.

While this will be a writing project, students will be required to do research in preparation for their writing assignment to allow for the story of their animal to be as accurate and believable as possible. My target grade will be for 4th or 5th grade, but I am sure modifications can be made to any parts of this project for various grades.

To introduce the project and the book Ivan as a class we would explore these sites:

These sites serve as providing information about the real Ivan as well as more information and facts on gorillas. Students will discuss how Applegate incorporated the facts and  information into her story just as they will be doing. Students will then be provided with many sites they can explore that will assist them in their research. Since they are allowed to choose their own animal, the research may change depending on what they need to find.

Arctic Animals


Animal Planet Wild Animals A-Z

Smithsonian Animal Index

National Geographic Kids Animals

National Geographic Young Explorers

These sites should at least provide the students with information to choose their animal for research as well as provide plenty of facts to get them started on their research. Most students should be able to find all of the information needed, but if they need more depending on their story, they will be able to continue their search easier.

For a kid friendly search engine:

This search engine provides a place students can search and choose which avenue they want their focus. Under the specialized searches, there is a place for an Animal search, an animal diversity database as well as many other generic and more specialized searches. In addition to searching for facts on animals, students would also need to search for facts on zoos, circuses, farms or other areas the setting of their story may take place.

Guiding Questions for Research:

What is your animal?
Is your animal a mammal, retile, bird, amphibian, fish etc
What are your animal’s features? Describe their body.
How does your animal move?
Walk? Swim? Use fins? Legs? How many? etc
Where does your animal live (Habitat)?
What is there native country/location?
Do they live on sea, land, desert, etc?
What is there shelter like?
What kind of climate do they live in?
How do they adapt to their environment?
What do they eat?
How do they catch/gather their food or prey?
How do they eat their food?
What is the life cycle of your animal?
What are your animals friends? Enemies?
What are some WOW (I liked this term) facts about your animal you want to include?

I want to supply my students with enough kid friendly, engaging, and accurate web resources at the same time giving them enough freedom to explore and search on their own. It is my hope that allowing them to choose their own animal to research will keep them interested and engaged in locating facts and information. By connecting the project to Ivan, students can see that an author has to do research sometimes in writing to create a believable story. I also want the information they find to become relevant to them which is why I want them to use the information to write their stories as well as to create a final project using media resources to display the information they have found for others to read.

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