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    2012 Reading Challenge
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Confessions of a Book Cover Snob–The Giver by Lois Lowry

Okay, I have a dirty little secret. Even though I love books and read voraciously, I am sometimes guilty of being a book cover snob. I’m a big fan of dystopian fiction. I had read The Hunger Games trilogy and loved it. I have read Divergent and Matched and loved them. I’ve even read the entire Shadow Children series…yep loved them too. So why did I hesitate for 2 years to read The Giver by Lois Lowry, an author whom I’ve enjoyed in the past??

Well–the cover. Yes, I said it. The cover looked boring! I know, I know. I’ve thought that before and have always enjoyed the book. So why do I continue to judge based on the cover? (I tried to insert a picture of the cover here but it wouldn’t let me…I HATE dislike that very much.) 

I guess I am just a visual person. But let me tell you how wrong I was. The book was very good! I am really into dystopian fiction now and am fascinated with societies that appear similar but are dangerously different than ours. I had this feeling of dread the whole time I read the book, even though the author wrote it in a very bland and normal way. I know she did this to scare us and make us uneasy and it worked!

I don’t want to go too much into the plot because I think this is a book best enjoyed if you go into it cold, or like with me, thinking you won’t like it. I love it when an author changes my mind! Just a bit of advice for the publishers…change the cover and I bet you will have a whole new generation of students clamoring to read it, instead of passing it by in the library like I did.

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Common Core is Coming!

If you are a teacher practically anywhere in the United States, you are keenly aware that the Common Core State Standards are coming within the year (if they haven’t already invaded your school district yet). I freak out don’t deal well with change at first and it takes much reading and research on my part to feel comfortable with something new. Trust me…the Common Core will be a change! I’m sure you’ve heard the buzzwords of increased rigor and accountability, and let me tell you that is exactly what is coming. If you have been told in the last year, “Don’t worry…we’re already doing a lot of what’s in the Common Core…” DON’T BELIEVE IT. Now, there may be some absolutely fabulous teachers out there who already have a handle on these new standards and are already teaching and assessing this way. If so, PLEASE let me come and watch your magic!! 🙂 For the rest of us, though, much of this signals a change in our teaching and assessing.

Perhaps because I am such a nerd, I needed to seek out something to read to help me get my mind wrapped around the Common Core (at least for Reading/Language Arts), and I have found a wonderful resource. I began reading it over Easter Break this year and started highlighting through the entire book! It is not an easy read per se, but if your interests lie in reading/writing and you want to know more about the Common Core, then this is the book for you. It is Pathways to the Common Core by Lucy Calkins, et. al. , published by Heinemann.

Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating AchievementOur school has already participated in a voluntary book study with the book, and I think it has increased our knowledge of what the Common Core looks like and what it all means. As a classroom teacher, this is very empowering for me! This coming year you should begin to hear much more about text complexity, close analytical reading, and text dependent questions. You will find all of this and more in Pathways to the Common Core. Additionally, if your state is part of the PARCC consortium, I encourage you to check out PARCC’s frameworks for your specific grade level. PARCC is making our assessment, so it might be a good idea to find out what they say we should be doing at our grade level. You can access information about PARCC here: http://www.parcconline.org/classroom. Especially eye opening for me were the writing components.

 

Happy Reading and Investigating! 🙂