Sunday, August 18, 2013

Professional Books I Am Revisiting to Get Ready for the School Year

I have 3 tall shelves full of professional books.  They take up a lot of space and there are times when I wonder why I keep them. Friends sometimes ask why I keep them--haven't you already read them? they ask.

Today, I remembered exactly why I have kept so many professional books.  My classroom is nearly finished and I've attended lots of professional development over the summer. I've learned about Common Core and new things that will be in place this school year.  The children come on Wednesday and these next few days are the days that I have to really think and plan those first few days of school.   I have the pacing guides and curriculum standards.  I know the routines that I'll put in place. The room is set up and I have the books and resources organized so students have the learning tools they need.  But these next few days are about getting my head in the game, remembering what really matters in those first few days. These books will help me do that.

I spent about 20 minutes in front of my three shelves this morning scanning the shelves for books I needed to revisit over the next few days.  Books that will help me take my time and do the right things during these first few weeks of school.  I won't read these books cover to cover but I'll pop in and out of them as I plan for the first 2-3 weeks of the school year.  Digging in will help the planning be more smooth and it will help me be more intentional about each of these first few days.

These are the books I am digging back into a bit as I think and plan for this most important week of the school year.

What's Most Important?

These are the books I revisit to reground myself. These three books are probably the most important books I've read--books that really help me think about the language I use with children and the messages (intentional and unintentional) I give them by the things I say and do.  It is easy to forget these things in the chaos of the first few days--when I don't know the kids and they don't know me.  But they are listening closely and I am setting the stage for what learning means in this classroom so I need to reread pieces of this to remind me how important it is to stay true to the language I believe in.

Choice Words and OOpening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives by Peter Johnston
I'm not sure how I taught before I read Choice Words but I have revisited this book more times than any other professional book I own. So important!  His new book, Opening Minds is just as important and I need to revisit it in order to build more of that into my early days this year.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carolyn Dweck
This is the most important idea I need to carry around with me, all day, every day.

Those First Few Weeks of Literacy Workshop
Setting up workshop routines never gets easier. The only thing that makes it easier is the realization that it's always hard and there is always a day when I think to myself, "I'm not sure I can do this!". So, I have to think carefully about the routines I put in place right away, the conversations that begin our year together and the tools we have for learning.

Launch an Intermediate Writing Workshop: Getting Started with Units of Study for Teaching Writing, Grades 3-5 by Lucy Calkins and Marjorie Martinelli
Although I won't use this unit lesson-by-lesson, it will help me hear Lucy's words about launching.

Significant Studies for Second Grade - Reading & Writing Investigations for Children (04) by Ruzzo, Karen - Sacco, Maryanne [Paperback (2004)]
Series books will be important to early third grade readers so I want to revisit the unit of study in this book on series books that is so brilliantly thought out.

Smarter Charts K-2: Optimizing an Instructional Staple to Create Independent Readers and Writers by Marjorie Martinellis and Kristi Mraz
I've been rethinking charts since I read this book. Then I had the opportunity to interview them and did even more rethinking.  I am definitely not being as thoughtful about charts in literacy as I can/should be so I want to think about this during these first few days.

Don't Forget to Share: The Crucial Last Step in the Writing Workshop by Leah Mermelstein
Share is a piece of the workshop that I often let go and I know better! This book helps me to remember that share is another teaching opportunity and it will remind me how to make it purposeful for the students.

From Ideas to Words: Writing Strategies for English Language Learners by Tasha Tropp Laman
(This is one I haven't had time to read yet but it is on the top of my pile and I need to dig in a bit before Wednesday!)

Math Learning
I have a stack of professional books about math teaching pulled from my shelves.  Just as the routines and conversations are important in literacy workshops, they are just as important in math workshops.  These books will help me think about how to make those happen during the first few days.

Number Talks: Helping Children Build Mental Math and Computation Strategies, Grades K-5 by Sherry Parrish
This routine is amazing and I need to dig in and think about how it will look different in 3rd grade.

Math Exchanges: Guiding Young Mathematicians in Small Group Meetings by Kassia Omohundro Wedekind
This is an amazing book on small group instruction in math.  I won't be starting groups immediately but hopefully in the first 2 weeks so I want to revisit this one to remember the big ideas Kassia shares.

So, I'm off to plan!  There are many other books on my shelves that I will revisit as the year goes on but these are the books I pulled today to help me be ready for the first few days with a new group of children.

Any other books that I need to revisit during these first few weeks of a new school year?


  1. I am doing the same as you. I am rediscovering professional books as well. I just finished reviewing both Peter Johnston books and I will keep them in close proximity. I am also looking again at some of your books, Still Learning to Read,The Joy of Planning & Day to Day Assessment. Still Learning to Read I read in my coaching grad class. Great ideas and lessons.

  2. Significant Studies is one of my FAVORITES! I also review Reading With Meaning every year.

    Chickadee Jubilee

  3. I just ordered the two math books- amazing.


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