Author Archives: suztan

About suztan

I am proud to be a Jesus follower, daughter, sister, wife, mother, and elementary school principal. Mother to one introspective, delightful child and two vivacious dogs. Hubby is praise band leader at our contemporary Methodist Church. I love to read, take walks, go to the beach, learn new tech tricks, do Bible studies with Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer, listen to Joyce Meyer, Christine Caine, and Jentezen Franklin. I pray God’s blessings on us as we endeavor to live our best lives! Suzanne

My new favorite To-Do-List App

As a school principal, I have spent many, many hours trying to hone my organizational skills in order to be more productive. Do it quicker, better, more streamlined…automaticity.  You know the drill. I have tried many different methods of organization. When teaching in the 1990s, I learned a very successful method of calendaring and to do lists from Motivational Speaker Dave Weber. At that time it was a paper and pencil, binder and filing type of system. Recently I have noticed that Dave has morphed his system to meet the electronic needs of today.  http://www.daveweber.com/TimeMgmt.htm   I might have to check out this new workshop one day…..

Since my school system has gone GOOGLE, I naturally use Gmail, Calendar, Drive and all that comes with it. I also love using Evernote (though mostly for long term storage of pictures, meeting notes, and documents).  But….. for my long list of To Dos, I have found a simple and free app that I have fallen in love with.

 

wunderlist-logo

 “Wunderlist” is a to-do list and task manager that’s compatible with almost any device you can think of. iPhone? Yep. Android? You bet. Windows Phone? Sure. It’s even available on the web, so you can access it from your computer without having to download the application.

 Wunderlist helps keep your entire life organized, and it’s dead simple. When the user creates an account, the app suggests a few lists to help organize tasks. The ability to create and rename as many as you want, allows users to move and place certain tasks in the appropriate topics.

Need to study for a test? Put that task in the school list. Need to buy milk? Put that task in a grocery list.

If you tell it to, Wunderlist will send you a notification at the time you specify, and can be delivered as an email or phone alert.

You can even set a recurring reminder – like going to the gym at 7 p.m. every Monday.

source of quote

 

wunderlist all devices

 

Wunderlist is a FREE To-Do List app that keeps my life organized. I love it because I have it on all my devices and I can add or edit ‘on the fly’ anywhere I am. When I check off a task, it gives me a loud ‘ding’ – that is so satisfying.  😉   I have folders for each area of my life and I keep adding new areas all the time. To give you some ideas, this is a list of where I started:

  • Family (things I have to do or remember for the husband, children, parents)
  • Work (I actually have several sections for work: observations, ideas for next professional learning, things to remember for 2016-17, etc.)
  • Pets (vaccination, grooming)
  • Church (my nursery volunteer schedule, greeter schedule, planning for the next bible study or women’s conference)
  • Home repair (this one is my dream of all I will get done over Spring Break, or during those short two weeks off during the summer)
  • Grocery list (this one is ongoing, constantly checking off items and adding more)
  • Christmas gifts (just trying to think ahead folks)

 

wunderlist landing

Once you get yourself started, be sure to set some reminders. This is such a cool feature. Check it out. You’ll be glad you did! And be sure leave me a comment about ways you have found to use Wunderlist.

Wunderlist website

Wunderlist app in iTunes

You Tube video: Introduction to Wunderlist

 

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READING…it’s not just for the kids!

One of my primary New Years Resolutions for 2016 is to spend more time doing what I want my students to do and love……READING!

book pages with heart

In years past, I have made lists…lists of books that I have already read, and lists of books that I want to read. But, most of those lists were made in the years before becoming a mother and a principal. In the last decade, I have grabbed a book whenever I could. I have read a few books, I’ve followed some blogs, I’ve perused articles someone posted on Twitter. But mostly, I have thrown together some supper, bathed the child, checked the homework, walked the dogs, and crawled under the sheets more tired than I could imagine, turning off my brain, and turning on Netflix until I slipped effortlessly into dreamland, leaving the movie to be concluded sometime over the weekend. Reading has taken a backseat for far too long.

This year, my overarching goal is to be more purposeful and intentional in all areas of my life. I am becoming more structured in my prayer life, and more disciplined in my bible study time. So, I have decided to structure my Reading resolution by dividing my books to be read into three areas:

  1. Books about Faith
  2. Books for Work
  3. Books just for Fun

This should help me to be more balanced in my reading initiative. Loving planners and calendars and all sorts of organization like I do, I searched for a graphic organizer/chart that would help me to read with purpose and stay on track. (Once a teacher, always a teacher….geez.)

Here is the monthly book chart I chose to use this year. I typed directly into the .pdf and saved it. In each month, I typed 2-3 titles (depending on how many school holidays I had during that month: spring break, summer, and thanksgiving weeks I can handle more reading; May and August, I can barely take a shower and feed myself in time to get a good night’s sleep!) With parentheses, I designated the book category: (faith), (work), or (fun). This sheet also gives me a good view of the entire year, and I can move titles around or add new ones as I go.

FYI. My education titles for this year include:

A Beautiful Constraint: How To Transform Your Limitations Into Advantages, and Why It’s Everyone’s Business

Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us

The Zappos Experience: 5 Principles to Inspire, Engage, and WOW

The Ten-Minute Inservice: 40 Quick Training Sessions that Build Teacher Effectiveness

The Life & Death of the Great American School System

stack of books with kindle


I found a great article about making time in our busy schedule. It encourages me.
15 Ways to Make More Time to Read

  1. Make reading a priority
  2. Set a reading goal
  3. Make reading part of your routine
  4. Keep books readily accessible
  5. Be willing to read in spurts
  6. Read more than one book at a time
  7. Don’t be afraid to go away from your list
  8. Turn off the TV
  9. Get off Facebook
  10. Keep a good book on your mobile device
  11. Utilize the wonderful world of audiobooks
  12. Read while you exercise
  13. Ban the guilt
  14. Use the bathroom
  15. Read while you blow dry your hair or brush your teeth

Another helpful article:  How to Read a Book When You are Busy

kindle in hand

 

 

 

 

 

 

eBook anyone?

kindle iconibooks icon nook icon

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Where did my time go?” asked the Principal.


Time-is-not-on-my-side

Time. I think TIME is the greatest challenge for educators – our time is finite.  We have but 180 days every year, many of them filled with distractions. As a teacher, I knew that I would eat lunch each day at exactly 11:18 and that I would use the restroom at precisely 1:40. That was too much restriction for my tastes, but that is the life of a teacher. Your days run on a precise time schedule. When I left the classroom to become an administrator, I relished the flexibility of my schedule. As an administrator, every day is different. Oh, you can make a plan, write a to-do list, but by day’s end, you never know whether you will be on item #1 or #8. For building administrators, time management can be a real monster. Even after 15 years, I still grapple with this issue. I always have room for improvement.

In contemplating this problem, I decided that the first step is to analyze how my time is spent. Since I am ‘packing heat’ everyday with an iphone and an ipad mini, it only makes sense to use an app. So, I am trying out an app called HOURS.

hours screen 1 hours screen 2

hours screen 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hours is the time tracker you will actually use.
“The Perfect iPhone Time Tracking App” – Forbes
“Surprisingly pleasant to use…well-thought-out interface” – TechCrunch
“The world’s easiest way of tracking your time.” – 9to5Mac
Best New Apps – Apple

See this app in action.  Also, it is available for Apple Watch as well. SWEET!

Inside the app, I have designate four broad areas in which I spend the most time:

  • working in my office (discipline referrals, reading and responding to email, calls from vendors, etc)
  • conferencing with staff (teacher talk is usually informal but full of nuggets that are good-to-know)
  • conferencing with parents (in person,  or on the phone)
  • walking the building (observations, lunchroom, where ever I go when I can get out of my office before someone stops me)

The app allows me to turn the time ON and then OFF when I transition to the next task.

My hope is that this experiment will help me get a true picture of where my time is spent so that I can find ways to allocate it to tasks that yield the most benefit.  I’ll let you know how it goes….

time quote from Henry Ford

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Flipped Faculty Meeting

flip this meeting

picture source: http://bit.ly/YVhDz3

There has been a lot of talk in the blogosphere about the “flipped classroom”. While I find the concept intriguing, I’m still learning how often it can apply to the elementary grades. There been a little discussion beginning on the topic of flipping faculty meetings as well. I think this is a great idea!

I feel confident that we have all sat through some laborious faculty meetings. And I’m sure as beginning administrators, we’ve likely conducted our own mundane meetings. Who is not guilty of dreadful presenter behavior?

  • reading aloud all of the words on the screen
  • doing all the talking and none of the listening
  • letting the meeting go on and on, even though we know we are over the allotted time

 The concept of the flipped faculty meeting is to give the staff the material ahead of time so that the meeting can be responsive and collaborative. The subject matter that we distribute ahead of time might be a cutting-edge teaching strategy, a technology application, revised program guidelines, or a professional learning video to watch. It could also be a slideshow that you have narrated (using an application such as, Screenr or Present Me).  The point is to allow staff to do the independent work BEFORE the meeting occurs.  With all the duties and responsibilities educators have today, time together as an entire staff is precious. We should treat it as such by ensuring that time spent with colleagues is active and engaging. Flipped meetings are not quiet, there should be lots of discussion, collaboration, and consensus-building.

The days of simply managing a school are gone; today, principals are expected to lead academic improvement in their schools in a hands-on, deliberate way.

Our role as leader of the meeting is not the ‘sage on the stage’, but to facilitate the meeting. A facilitator presents the parameters of the activity, divides the staff into small groups that are much more conducive to discussion and feedback, and then the leader backs away. The leader in the facilitator role should eavesdrop on each group, not participating, but clarifying the goal as it is needed. We’ve spent a lot of time working with our teachers to encourage collaborative, active learning in the classroom. It’s about time we model the very strategies we are expected them to use with students. Once again, the bar has been raised for building-level instructional leaders, and I for one, want to rise to meet it.

Some Online Resources I’ve Found on the Flipped Faculty Meeting:

How We Flipped Our Faculty Meeting (A Pace of Change blog)   http://bit.ly/14LQemx

What if you Flipped Your Faculty Meetings (The Tempered Radical blog)  http://bit.ly/OiZc0v

The Flipped Faculty Meeting (Education Week)    http://bit.ly/PAZQbh

Flipped My Faculty Meeting (Principal Principles blog)   http://bit.ly/YVhDz3

Flipped Follow Up (Henrico County Schools)   http://bit.ly/P9jy0F

Flipping Your Faculty Meetings (Tech & Learning) http://bit.ly/XnW7QP

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Ethics and Values in Education

core values

Ethical values are critical to the success of any organization. Values are instilled during a person’s formative childhood year. Once in adulthood, values are difficult, if not impossible to change. The greatest difference between successful and unsuccessful teachers is not in what they know or do; it is in how they think and how they interact with others. Thinking patterns and social behaviors are a direct result of the values that one holds dear.

The reality of education in America is that the profession is not revered as it once was. The cynicism of our culture permeates every aspect of our lives. The airline industry’s most prevailing press exposure is inevitably the airplane crash that kills hundreds; no one is there to document the thousands of flights that begin and end without incident. So goes the business of education. Many believe non-ethical values, such as greed or the desire for fame, are at such an all time high that they will be the downfall of our generation. A teacher must have a strong set of values to be able to maintain a positive outlook and continue to meet the needs of their pupils in such a cynical and self-serving world.

A teacher is in a unique position. They have the ability to influence the ethical values and behaviors of tomorrow’s leaders. Teachers can inspire students to want more for themselves than they ever dreamed possible. They can instill trustworthiness, respect, and justice. A teacher can complement excellent parenting, or help a child to overcome a miserable childhood. Teachers who operate from vision outperform their resources. Teachers can make a difference. Stephen Covey identified four needs of people: to live, to learn, to love, and to leave a legacy. The legacy for every individual, for our country as a whole, is realized in our children.

What is more crucial than teaching our students the pitfalls and the cost of non-ethical behavior. Teaching is about the mind and how we shape the minds of our children, but it is also about stirring hearts. That makes the work significant. Part of the responsibility of teachers is to summon the next generation to duty. After all, individuals owe society a citizenry with the very best ability to be leaders in the future.

Reference:   The organizational behavior: Behavior reader by Kolb, Osland, Turner, and Rubin (2001)

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Habitudes ~ The Art of Self-Leadership

habitudes 1-4

I had the pleasure of hearing Dr Tim Elmore speak at the Super Summit in Atlanta on 2.2.13.  I’m taking time this summer to read his collection of books called Habitudes.   Since I’ve had this collection for over a year, if I don’t work on it now, I’ll be head-long into the Principal’s mind-bending, sleep-deprived craziness that preceeds the start of school each year. Below are a few notes I took as I read.

habitudes target graph


habitudes 1

THE ART OF SELF-LEADERSHIP

1. The Iceberg

10% above water =your skill, 90% below water = your character. Four parts of Character: self-discipline, core values, sense of identity, emotional security. Your skill may get you to the top – but it’s your character that will keep you there. While leadership skills are good to have, it does not good to develop your skills at the expense of your character and integrity. True leadership is built from the inside out. Leaders who last, place ‘being’ before ‘doing’.

2. The Starving Baker

We’re like the baker who spends so much time baking bread for others, we forget to eat ourselves. Leaders must feed themselves for personal growth. So many leaders fail to tend to themselves, and eventually are unable to really serve others. They are starving intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. He just wasn’t taking time to invest in his own personal growth. He burned out because he ‘ran out of gas’. His tank was on empty. He had nothing to give. She took care of herself so she could take care of others. As selfish as it may sound, the best way leaders can serve and grow their people is to tend to their own growth first.

3. The Golden Buddha

Good leaders take personal inventory of their strengths and gifts. This shapes their self-image and, consequently, their results.

4. Thermostat and Thermometer

People are either thermometers or themostats. They wil merely reflect the climate around them, or they will set it. Most people are like thermometers. They tend to reflect the culture around them. They buy things that others buy, say things that others say, wear things that others wear and value things that others value. Oh, there are slight variations. But most people don’t set the ‘climate’ for the world they live in. They just mirror back that climate. Are you a thermostat, who acts based on principles and values you embrace, or do you react to situations like a thermometer, reflecting the temperature in the room?

5. Fun House Mirror

Poor leaders look at themselves in a fun house mirror, pretending or posing to be better than they really are. Our character is the true relection of who we are. Leadership can be intimidating. Most of us feel that we don’t measure up. We have this quiet fear that if people really knew us, they woudn’t want us as their friend, not to mention their leader. When we feel inadequate, we often become inauthentic. The old phrase is true – eventually, your sins will find you out. People desire authentic leaders. I love the word authentic. It comes from the term ‘to author’. Authentic ledaders author their own life, they don’t post as someone else. The word ‘integrity’ is misunderstood. It simply means to be whole. To have integrity doesn’t mean w have perfect character; it means we are not hypocritical.

6. The Oversized Gift

Leaders can begin to depend on their gift for success, to the neglect of their character. They sabatoge themselves when their gift is bigger than they are. Are big talents bad? Not at all. We love to see people with graet talent perform or lead. But often the inner life is left underdeveloped due to the spotlight on the outer life. Charisma becomes mammoth. Character becomes minimized. There are times I must remind myself that the life I’m building is my own life. I can take shortcuts, but I will only hurt myself. Its true for everyone. We can misuse our talent and try to project an image for our colleagues, but eventually the inside truth about us will come out.

7. Personal Laptop

GIGO = Garbage in, garbage out. Leaders are disciplined about what they store in the mind and heart.Leaders work hard at investing the right material inside themselves. They also work hard avoiding the wrong materials, so that what comes out – is right. What we are filled with does spill out. What are you feeding your mind and heart today?

8. Pop Quiz

Leaders all experience tests at each state of their growth. Our goal in every case should be to pass the test. Testing always precedes promotion. Self-prootion can never replace authentic promotion. Just as a product is never used until it is tested, so it is with us.  I soon learned that tests usually come at critical points through an event or a person. Further, I recognized that how I responded to each test either became a tombstne or a stepping stone for my growth.

9. Emotional Fuel

Leaders run on fuel, emotional fuel. Becuase leaders spend themselves more than the average person, they need to refuel more often than most people do. Leadership is more emotionally expensive than friendship. Leaders need people in their lives who don’t take from them, but who replenish them. If they don’t have this network of people in place, they will use their followers to meet this need. This almost always leads to unhealthy situations. Needy people lead because their tank is empty and they need their followers to fill them up. Your perspective will be skewed by your own needs rather than what is best for your organization or team. Never lead out of need.

10. Opportunity Statue

 Leaders manage opportunities. Everyone has 86,400 seconds each day to use or abuse. Time is fleeting. You never get it back once it gone. Leaders understand this truth, and they manage their time wisely. “Teach us to number our days, O Lord, that we may apply our hearts with wisdom.” Sometimes I confuse activity with accomplishment. I think staying busy is the goal. And when I take a break from the busy-ness, I tend to amuse myself with entertainment. But busy-ness or amusement isn’t the goal in life. It is doing what counts, one activity at a time.

11. Discipline Bridge

Personal discipline is like a bridge that crosses from where you are to where you want to be. It gets you where you want to go. Discipline is like those bridges that help me get to whre I need to go. In order to repair the damage I need to build a bridge of discipline to get me there. In fact, any time I need to get somewhere difficult, discipline is usually the bridge I must cross to get there. It takes time and effort to build it, but once their bridge is in place it actually makes the journey easy. At first, being disciplined seems hard – like you are adding one more item on your daily list of chores. But it’s not true. Over time, discipline is a bridge not a burden. It makes the journey easier if you’ll hang with it. Real discipline will get you from desire to reality. It is a long bridge. It won’t get you there overnight. Pschologists suggest it takes at least fourteen days of discipline to build a good habit.

12. The Half-Hearted Kamikaze

You cannot have involvement without commitment and be effective. It goes with the territory. Leaders possess commitment. They cannot be involved without being committed. The rest of the world may enjoy involvement without commitment, but we cannot, as emerging leaders. Because our world offers us so many options, we tend to not commit ourselves because we don’t want to narrow our focus. We want to do it all! The problem i, we can’t do it all. I have said many times: leaders can do anything but they can’t do everything. Talk is cheap. Half-hearted kamikazes are a dime a dozen. The reason other folks likve such quality live and possess such great influence is that they do more than talk. Commitment = sacrifice, purpose, determination.

13. Drivers and Passengers

When life goes bad, people blame someone else for the problem. They act like passengers. Leaders realize they are drivers – and are responsible for their attitudes and destination in life.Being a driver is about responsibility. It’s about ownership. They take responsibility for the direction of their lives. Three areas leaders choose to be drivers and refuse to be passengers: positive attitude, persistent fortitude, purposeful latitude. People feel they can trust a driver, not a passenger. That is my challenge for you , the rest of your life.

 

the value of time

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What matters to students?

Education has changed significantly over my 23 years of service. Some of the challenges we face today are timeless: too many kids, too little time. Once you have been in education for a while, you begin to see that pendulum swing from one extreme to the other. And these days it is swinging fiercely and abruptly! But no matter how many programs we initiate, how much new technology we introduce, how many reforms we endure, one thing has not changed: nothing can compare to the importance of a teacher’s relationship with the students. Think back to all the teachers you have known in your lifetime, in your early schooling, in Sunday school, on the ball field, and during your college years. We learn a great deal from the people with whom we have a connection. The late Dr. Rita Pierson once heard a colleague state that she was not paid to like the kids but to teach the lessons – case closed. Dr. Pierson replied, “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.” Well at times it may seem they don’t like us very much, but I believe children learn the most from teachers they respect and who show respect for them as individuals. No amount of teacher preparation coursework equipped me to understand the powerful influence that I would have over my students.

As human beings, we look for kinship in those around us. We want desperately to be known and understood. This innate desire begins early and continues throughout our lives. Dr. James Comer of Yale University states it this way, “no significant learning can occur without a significant relationship of mutual respect, teacher to student.” As teachers, we do that by seeking first to understand our students before seeking to be understood. Teachers serve a vital role in our society. We can be the ray of hope for the child discouraged by more failure than success, for the child disheartened by a broken home, and for the child whose parent would rather buy them things than spend time together.

Guess what? Even principals get inspiration from teachers. After a difficult day dealing with wayward students, budget cuts, or demanding parents, administrators can walk into a classroom to watch a teacher take a reluctant child and challenging subject matter and turn it into pure magic ~ that transformation inspires us like nothing else. We love what a teacher can do! We greatly respect you for the time you invest in developing relationships with your students as you present them with new academic challenges.

Is this job tough? Yes, absolutely! You better believe it is. But is it impossible? No. It is what we do ~ we are educators!

Suzanne Tanner ~ September 2013

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Bridging the Generation Gap between Teachers

Many new teachers are leaving the profession after only a couple of years in the classroom. Proponents of public education and educational leaders have expressed their concern about the growing number of teachers who leave the profession prematurely. Just one generation ago, when new teachers entered the profession, they expected to be launching careers that would span thirty or more years. Today’s beginning educators are the first of a new breed of teachers who are products of the new information age. In the world in which they have grown and matured, things change rapidly and, in many cases, profoundly.

The departure of these new teachers, virtually on the very heals of their arrival, has caused great disruption to schools who face the growing employee turn-over. The building principals of these schools spend much of the fall of each year  troubleshooting and then launch into recruiting more teachers each spring. These schools are characterized by two large groups of teachers, the retiring generation and the new generation.

The retiring generation has enormous professional knowledge and skills which have been honed over many years in the classroom. These teachers entered the profession in the 1980s when teaching was a respected profession. They embraced the “egg-crate” structure of the school, as each classroom became its own island within the confines of the school. This generation of teachers found education to afford them a long-term career.

The new generation is not without merit. These teachers have incredible energy and fresh ideas that can be very valuable in today’s schools. Many of the new teachers have followed alternate routes to obtain their teaching credentials and certification. These teachers are anticipating several careers in their lifetime. The new generation expected teamwork and collaboration, as it exists in many other fields, only to surprisingly find the isolation of the classroom.

Johnson & Kardos (2005) developed seven strategies for bridging the gap between these two types of teachers upon which a building principal can rely.

old and young teachers

  1. The first step is to “treat the hiring process as the first step of induction”. In order to obtain the best information about potential employees, the interview process should include a search committee, interview panel, and other collaborative strategies.
  2. The second step would be for the building principals to assign new teachers to work on teams with experienced teachers. Intentional mixing of novice and experience teachers in each grade level or department will strengthen the team.
  3. The authors are proponents of purposeful scheduling of opportunities for the veteran and new teachers to meet. they can jointly plan lessons, observe each other teaching, and provide feedback that is valuable to the improvement process.
  4. The fourth step is to expand upon typical one-on-one mentoring with a formal and comprehensive induction program. According to the authors, this pairing leads to a higher retention rate for new teachers.
  5. The fifth step in this process is an emphasis on the development of the school-based induction programs, not by administrators, but by expert teachers. Those in the closest to the problem can most readily find the solutions.
  6. Organizing ongoing professional development on topics of the curriculum is a sixth and vital step to the success of new teachers. Even veterans teachers can benefit from curriculum refreshers and updates.
  7. The final step to closing the generation gap is for a principal to encourage teacher leadership and differentiated roles. As teachers are encouraged to develop their own leadership skills, the entire school will benefit.

As administrators and teachers, educators must become more flexible and collaborative. We must have a vision for a future that is quite different from our past. The goal is to obtain a higher teacher retention rate so that “before they retire, experienced teachers will bestow a legacy of skills and knowledge on the school and on their successors”.

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Reading Strategy – The Daily Five

The Daily FiveI have not read this book yet, but I’ve read several blogs about ‘The Daily Five’ and seen it referenced in several places. It is not a reading program, but an organizational framework and set of strategies that a teacher can implement. The Daily Five is a series of literacy tasks (reading to self, reading with someone, writing, word work, and listening to reading) which students complete daily while the teacher meets with small groups or confers with individuals. If you know anything about this topic, please comment.

Here is the link to an elementary principal’s blog. Two of the posts are about implementing this strategy schoolwide.

http://principalj.blogspot.com/

Be sure to watch this youtube video with interviews from students and teachers who have experienced The Daily Five.

http://youtu.be/oT1MMgzILDI

Another great resource is this youtube video about what happens after kids leave elementary school. High school students share the truths about their reading habits and it’s eye-opening.

http://youtu.be/gokm9RUr4ME

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Book Review – Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It

I am really enjoying the Kindle App on my iPad. This summer I read ‘Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It’.  As a former elementary teacher, I was familiar with many of the facts stated in the book.   Read-i-cide n: The systematic killing of the love of reading, often exacerbated by the inane, mind-numbing practices found in schools. It’s sad but true, our children are reading (emails, texts, blogs) but reading novels for pleasure is on the decline. Why? Well for many issues I answer, “don’t blame everything on the schools”. However, in this case, the educational system is partially to blame.  But it’s not the fault of the teachers, it’s what the insane pressure from high-stakes standardized testing has done to our schools. We are afraid NOT to spend huge amounts of time in test-prep. It is also due to this test pressure that teachers have lessened or completely abandoned the time devoted to independent reading (i.e. SSR). When we do read real literature, we chop it up and over-analyze it to the point that there is no enjoyment in it.  What can we educators do about this? Read the book. I was glad I did.

With the help of Kindle, here are some of the most popular quotes from the book:

“The stakes are high. If those students who enter schools linguistically impoverished—thirty-two million words behind—do not read extensively, they will never catch up. This bears repeating: struggling readers who do not read voraciously will never catch up.”

“WYTIWYG” (pronounced “witty-wig”): What You Test Is What You Get. Students immersed in massive test preparation classes receive massive amounts of shallow instruction. In the quest to raise scores and make teachers and administrators look good, our students are paying a price. Simply, a curriculum driven by multiple-choice assessments creates an oxymoron: many students are drowning in shallow “water.” When instruction is driven by narrow assessment, instruction itself is narrowed.

“Students who read the most for fun scored the highest on standardized reading tests.”

“Sternberg suggests that we should be emphasizing those skills that would make our students ‘expert citizens’: creativity, common sense, wisdom, ethics, dedication, honesty, teamwork, hard work, knowing how to win and how to lose, a sense of fair play, and lifelong learning.”

“Reading consists of two factors: (1) being able to decode words on the page and (2) being able to connect the words you are reading with the prior knowledge you bring to the page.”

“Want to extinguish an adolescent’s curiosity? Cover as much material as possible.

“Ray Bradbury said, ‘You don’t have to burn books to destroy culture. Just get people to stop reading them.’”

“If students are taught to read and write well, they will do fine on mandated reading tests. But if they are only taught to be test-takers, they will never learn to read and write well. A terrible price is paid when schools value the development of test-takers more than they value the development of readers.”

“Should our students be spending all their time chopping up the novel?”

“My job is twofold: (1) to introduce my students to books that are a shade too hard for them and (2) to use my expertise to help them navigate these texts in a way that brings value to their reading experience.”

“Schools value the development of test-takers more than they value the development of readers. Schools are limiting authentic reading experiences. Teachers are overteaching books. Teachers are underteaching books.”

http://www.amazon.com/Readicide-Schools-Killing-Reading-ebook/dp/B0037ZSX2W/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1342996546&sr=8-2&keywords=readicide

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