Uncategorized

Beatrice and Virgil

“There is nothing like the unimaginable to make people believe” (30).

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I chose this book because Yann Martel is one of my favourite author.  His first book, Life of Pi inspired me to go into secondary English education.  I was fortunate enough to hear Yann Martel speak and he signed my treasured copy of Life of Pi and what he wrote inspired my first tattoo.

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       Beatrice and Virgil is unlike any other book that I have read.  It is a story about the Holocaust that is neither memoir or realistic fiction.  This story is about an author trying to write about the Holocaust in a new way.  He meets a taxidermist who has done exactly that and who has asked for help.  In place of people the taxidermist’s play features an orangutang and a donkey, two animals in his shop.  This book could also have fit into the category of a book with a Canadian author.

Category:

A book with non-human characters

Reading Next:

What Was I Scared Of? by Dr. Seuss

 

Happy Reading,

Lexi

 

Martel, Yann. Beatrice and Virgil. Canongate Books Ltd., 2011.

 

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2018 Reading Challenge

Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination

“And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life” (33)

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About the book:

Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination by J.K. Rowling was the commencement address that she gave at Harvard in 2009.  She focuses on two main topics the importance of imagination and the benefits of failure.  As a writer, imagination is obviously close to Rowling’s heart but she uses her speech to show imagination as important for everyone, from stockbrokers to playwrights.  She highlights imaginations ability to increase empathy and understanding, something that is needed more and more in this world.  Rowling also emphasized how failure is what pushed her to achieve her goals.  She does this while acknowledging the privilege that she has as an educated white woman.  Her words are well thought out, inspiring and relatable.

Category

A book you can read in a day

Reading Next:

Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel

 

Happy Reading,

Lexi

 

Rowling, J.K. Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination . Little Brown and Company, 2015.

2018 Reading Challenge

Year of Yes

“Making it through the glass ceiling to the other side was simply a matter of running on a path created by every other woman’s footprints” (173).

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About the book:

I have been a fan of Shonda Rhimes for quite a few years.  Her company, Shondaland creates Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away With Murder, and Scandal, all three of which are on my top five television show list.  Her shows have normalized television, or made the characters look like real life people.  She is known for writing female characters who are strong and independent women of all races and body types.  Year of Yes is an account of her life as a shy child creating stories and growing up and coming to the realization that she never says yes to anything.  Thus begins her challenge to say yes to what scares her, parties, appearing on TV, and giving a commencement speech to name a few.  This allows her to become confident in herself and realize her importance as a FOD “First, only, different” television writer/creator.

Category:

Celebrity Memoir

Reading next:

Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling

 

Happy reading,

Lexi

 

Rhimes, Shonda. Year of Yes. Thorndike Press, 2016.

2018 Reading Challenge

The Hate U Give

“That’s why people are speaking out, huh? Because it won’t change if we don’t say something” (171).

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About the book:

There are so many hard hitting quotes in this book that it was difficult to narrow it down to only one.  I chose to read Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give to start off the challenge because I wanted to read something that contained a different perspective than that I am used to.  This book centers around a young woman named Starr who is witness to the police shooting death of her unarmed friend.  She struggles to find her voice to speak out against the brutality that took the life of her friend and become an activist for those who can no longer speak.

Category:

Any book from the 2017 Goodreads choice awards.  It won in the category of Best Young Adult Fiction with a total of 59, 571 votes.

Reading next:

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

 

Happy reading,

Lexi

 

Thomas, Angie. The Hate u Give. Balzer Bray, 2017.

 

2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge

I Have never been the one to make New Years resolutions but this year I wanted to change that.  When deciding what I wanted to work on I glanced at my overflowing bookshelf, many of the books having been left unread.  For the past five years I have been an education student with an English major, being an English major meant that the only books that I read were those necessary for my classes.  My love of reading had burned out which I talk about here.

Then I came across the 2018 reading challenge posted by Liz Mannegren on her blog Mommy Mannegren.  I love the variety of book types listed in this challenge and feel that this may bring me out of my YA fiction bubble.  The 52 books in 52 weeks will be a challenge but reasonable enough for me to complete by the end of 2018.  As a way of keeping myself accountable I have brought my blog back from the dead and will be posting as I complete books.

You can keep up with my progress via this blog, Twitter, or on Goodreads

Happy Reading,

Lexi

Uncategorized

Losing the love of reading

When was the last time you read a book for fun? If you are an English teacher probably not in the last few years. It’s funny because many of us chose our majors and careers based on of our love of books yet they demand so much time spent reading to prep for classes and to mark papers that reading for fun gets left behind. One of our goals as English teachers is to inspire a love of reading in our students, and we try to do this by incorporating a variety of genres, independent novel studies and silent reading in our classrooms, but while this is happening we catch up on marking, do attendance, or prep for the next class rather than spending the time satisfying our own love of reading. How can we teach our students about enjoying reading when they do not see us model that importance, and instead focus on other tasks. One of my goals as a teacher is to make time to read for enjoyment while my students are silent reading.

Life of Pi is the book that inspired me to choose English education as my major. I read this book in the summer between grade eleven and twelve for my AP English class and the sense of adventure, the take on religions, the beautiful description, and the reflective ending all left me utterly in awe of what words can do. Two years later I had the opportunity to meet Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi, and got to listen to him speak. I had the opportunity to tell him how his novel inspired my career choice and he wrote in my book “may stories carry you over oceans” a quote I then got designed into a tattoo. This tattoo is meant to remind me of that love of reading, and why I choose English education during those months of school where I am questioning why I choose to become an English teacher.

We have to make time to read for our own enjoyment and share that with students. Begin each class by sharing an interesting news article, participate in the silent reading, or start a book club at your school. Why would our students see reading as valuable if we act as if it’s unimportant? By changing our teaching methods in small but drastically important ways this we can show our students that reading for fun is worthwhile and hopefully create life long readers.

Uncategorized

Making Classroom Assessment Work response (CH 2, 4, and 6)

Chapters two, four, and six of Making Classroom Assessment Work all focus on creating authentic engaging assessments for our students. As teachers we need to make our assessments meaningful to ensure that our students are actually learning rather than just memorizing the information. Chapter two talks about the importance of creating a space where our students are able to take the risks needed to learn, because without the student stepping out of their comfort zone no meaningful learning takes place. Chapter four discusses the importance of understanding what success looks like for both the teacher and the students to ensure students have the best opportunity for success. Chapter six explains that “when students are involved in the classroom assessment process, they become more engaged in learning” (Davies 55) and thus more likely to retain the information. All three of these chapters focus on how teachers can best support their students through assessment, something that I personally think is an important aspect of teaching.

There are many connections that can be made between the chapters in Making Classroom Assessment Work and Sandra Gibbons and Bonnie Kankkonen’s article Assessment as Learning in Physical Education: Making Assessment Meaningful for Secondary School Students. All four readings focus on making assessment authentic for our students to increase engagement and overall learning. In the article Gibbons and Kankkonen emphasize the importance of making assignment criteria and expectations explicit “to help students become self-directed learners” this stood out to me because it’s something we have been discussing in our other classes and I plan to incorporate into my own teaching practice. By doing something as simple as explaining the outcome in student-friendly language to my students I can begin to uncover the hidden aspect of why they are learning what they are learning, and in turn, increase their engagement and learning.

ECS 410, Uncategorized

Making Classroom Assessment Work response (Mo and Cooper)

Both Weimin Mo’s article “Can you Listen Faster” Assessment of Students Who Are Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners and Damian Coopers chapter How Should Assessment Be Matched to Students Needs discuss the importance of working with our English as an Additional Language Students (EAL) to create a classroom climate that offers the greatest opportunity for success. This is important because many times teachers do not know how to adequately gage the learning that EAL students have in their previous language. When this occurs the student becomes disengaged, as they either already know the material or do not have the supports needed to succeed. Many teachers also have difficulty differentiating assignments for their EAL students, and the students are often left completing assignments that do not meet the required grade level outcome. 

Both pieces focus on the importance of creating a place of success for all of our students but particularly those whose first language is not English. One way we can help our students is by using formative assessment to gage where our EAL students are at, particularly when it comes to things like vocabulary. Mo and Cooper place a great emphasis on the fact that our EAL students “do not…share the same conceptual system that…[we do]” (Mo 46) and that we need to communicate effectively with our students to assess whether or not the scaffolding that you have provided is enough. This scaffolding could be as simple as revisiting key terms related to the assignment or having the student repeat the instructions for the assignment in their own words, but the heightened understanding the student will have of the assignment and that you will have of the students understanding will make a world of difference.

ECS 410, Uncategorized

Making Classroom Assessment Work response (CH 7 and 8)

Chapters seven and eight of Making Classroom Assessment Work involve both assessment of learning and involving students in their own learning.  Assessment for learning is important because it “teaches students, while helping them learn how to assess their way to success” (Davies 63).  By working as a class to set criteria for what we are doing is a way to involve students in both their learning and assessment, in turn encouraging student accountability.  Chapter eight discusses involving students in their own learning by allowing them to gather their own evidence in support of it.  This is important because “when students are responsible for assembling the evidence [of learning], they have more opportunities to figure out whether they are on track” (Davies 77) and gives them the opportunity to get help.

These chapters connect to The Classroom Experiment videos we watched this week as well.  In these videos a school in England implemented some controversial ideas into a classroom.  I loved the red, green, and yellow cups, and the whiteboard ideas but had difficulty accepting the comments not grades rule; particularly as it was implemented in this school.  I like the idea of using less grades and more feedback in my classroom, but my main concern would be involving the parents in the process.  As our schools get more and more diverse we should acknoledge the fact that some cultures prize grades and that parents might not understand when their child has no grade to show them.  In the videos they only involved the parents towards the end of the experiment and I believe that if they went to the parents first the parents could put their childs minds at ease regarding the new rules.  Davies comments on the importance of teacher-parent communication when she says “You may not be marking or grading work in ways parents expect.  Let parents know that you are continuing to assess all student work” (Davies 78).  Without this communication both parents and students are left confused and uninvolved with the assesment process.

ECS 410, Uncategorized

Making Classroom Assessment Work response (CH 3 and 5)

Chapters three and five of making classroom assessment work although on different topics, share some common beliefs. Chapter three begins by discussing the theory of backwards design and that “When teachers and students know where they are going, they are more likely to achieve success” (Davies 25). This model of assessment is important because no two kids will come into class on the same level, but as a teacher your job is to support all students so that eventually reach the same outcome, and if you don’t know what that outcome will be you cannot accurately and equitably help students reach that goal. In chapter five Davies discussed collecting evidence in order to represent student learning, and the idea that “the amount of ongoing evidence needed to effectively plan daily instruction varies from teacher to teacher” (Davies 51) and from student to student. In both chapters Davies discuses the idea of involving the class in their own assessment students don’t know what they are to learn and what it can look like, they are handicapped and their success is at risk” (Davies 28).

The article “Backward Design” furthered the ideas presented by Davies and put the focus of backward design on “design[ing] curriculum and instruction that facilitate understanding, retention, and generalization” (Sands and Pope 6). Both the Davies chapter and this article It also focused on why this model of assessment is important, because no two kids will come into class on the same level, but as a teacher your job is to support all students so that eventually reach the same outcome, and if you don’t know what that outcome will be you cannot accurately and equitably help students reach that goal. The backwards design approach works well with the current outcome based education system here in Canada, as we already know the goals that we need to work towards, they are mandated in the curriculum. Knowing these outcomes, but having the freedom of designing how to best get your students there is one of the best parts of being a teacher.