Halfway Through Summer: My Reading, Writing, and Reflections

As of today, summer for me is officially half over; it has gone quite fast!  These past few weeks have been truly enjoyable. I have spent a great amount of time with my wonderful (and energetic) children. We’ve gone to the library, local playgrounds, participated in play groups, visited family and friends, and so much more. I have been able to fit a lot in!

During nap time and a few late nights, I’ve accomplished a lot for school too. As of today, I have finished 15 books since June 30th:

Paper Towns by John Green

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti

Mexican WhiteBoy by Matt de la Pena

*Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess (*educational research book)

Beta by Rachel Cohn

Gym Candy by Carl Deuker

A Girl Named Mister by Nikki Grimes

Friday Night Lights by H. G. Bissinger

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach

The Enemy by Charlie Higson

Burned Alive by Souad

Swagger by Carl Deuker

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

I am currently reading book #16, The Hoopster by Alan Sitomer, and I should be done by tomorrow. All of these books are on my summer reading list for my upcoming 9th grade students, and I think I chose some pretty good ones! There were very few off this list that I didn’t like. My favorites are probably Friday Night Lights, The Maze Runner, and The Knife of Never Letting GoFriday Night Lights is a book that will forever stay with me. It’s about football–which I love–but really so much more than just football. It’s about achievements, loss, determination, and overcoming selfishness. The author did a great job researching Odessa, Texas, and his vast knowledge of football makes the reader feel like he/she is right on the field with the team. The Maze Runner and The Knife of Never Letting Go are two of the best Science-Fiction books I have ever read. They are definitely up there with The Hunger Games. Both are the first books in a series, and both are well-written, (see my Maze Runner review here), action packed, and contain memorable characters. I actually cried at one part of The Knife of Never Letting Go, and that just does not usually happen! I am waiting for the time I can finish each series, but right now I am just reading (and rereading) all of the books on the summer reading list. That is my goal over the few weeks.

Another book that I am currently reading is called Whole Novels for the Whole Class by Ariel Sacks. Sacks is an 8th grade English teacher in New York City who based this book off of all the work she has done with teaching literature. She doesn’t teach novels the way teachers I know do. She allows students to read the whole book first, and then have discussions about it. I love this idea! I chose to read this book over all the other research books I have just because I wanted to change up my novel units. I knew students didn’t always enjoy dissecting books the way most teachers, and I, do. My novel units will be different this year. I am thrilled to say that I plan to try Sacks’s techniques at least twice, and I know students will be successful with them, as well as grow as readers while completing them.

The last “task” I have been completing for school is simply writing more. The blog post is evidence of that. I am writing in notebooks at home, and I also plan to use this blog more. To be a great writer, I must write more. I tell my students this, so I must set the example outside of class just like I do in class. More about my writing later.

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6 thoughts on “Halfway Through Summer: My Reading, Writing, and Reflections

  1. I’m so excited that you are reading Whole Novels. I read it last year and entirely revamped my lit circles with fabulous results. The kids were engaged. The discussions were outstanding. She really provides frameworks within her program for accountable talk and close reading skills. This year I’m combining While novels post it’s with Notice and Note signposts. I’m so excited for you!

    • Notice and Note is another book I want to read! I’d love to hear more about what you did with Whole Novels! I’m only 120 pages into Sacks’s book, but I have so many ideas! She really organized her book well.

  2. I tweeted so much about it that Ariel Sacks asked me to guest blog on her site. You can check it out if you wish. http://arielsacks.com/wholenovelsblog/2014/4/17/a-teachers-journey-into-whole-novels-how-whole-novels-added-depth-to-j-coles-7th-grade-la-class

    She has a lot of interesting posts from people who have implemented Whole Novels into their programs. I just finished a follow up blog for her, but it might have to be a couple because using her frameworks were really eye-opening for me. There are lots of cool ideas as to how people have adapted her work into poetry. I think I like the book so much because it is so user friendly and her ideas are adaptable to many situations.

    You’ll love Notice and Note too! It’s actually changed the way I read and I’ve been really reading for a looong time!

    • I love your blog post! We have read a lot of the same research (Nancy Atwell, Penny Kittle, Donalyn Miller, and Sacks). I actually feel sort of stupid for never thinking to teach novels this way before. This will be my 13th year of teaching, and I have never thought to have them read the whole book first. Whole Novels has definitely changed my perspective on teaching! Like you said, it’s “user friendly” and very adaptable. I look forward to reading Notice and Note, for I have been following Kylene Beers’s work for a while. I wish there could be 48 hours in a day so I could read all that I’d like to! 🙂

  3. Pingback: Halfway Through Summer: My Reading, Writing, and Reflections | Todd DeanTodd Dean

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