#FAR Friends and Reading

Guest Blog Posting by Kym Harjes – Velez

Date: July 2018

Author of Post: Kym Harjes-Velez @KymHarjes

Title of Post: Giving & Receiving…My Journey in Teaching

The actions of giving and receiving are ones that were modeled for me early in life. I was blessed with a family who understood the importance of these traits and was given opportunities to both give and receive during the course of my childhood. Whether it happened during the holidays through gift exchange, or in church as I placed my coins in the basket being passed from person to person, I grew up thinking I knew all there was to know about what it meant to be both a giver and a receiver. Naturally, I was wrong…there was a deeper meaning waiting just around the corner.

In 1995, as a senior at the University of Delaware, I was welcomed into the first of two student teaching placements. The second graders in the classroom I joined were from a wide variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. One little boy caught my eye and attention quickly. For the sake of this retelling, I’ll refer to him as Adam. In stature and weight, Adam was small for second grade. His personality, however, was anything but small. He was a mover and shaker, exuded enthusiasm and was a striving reader who longed to pick up a book and read it like the classmates around him. He was often pulled from the classroom and provided with instruction in the area of reading by well-meaning and well-trained teachers, but I could see his discomfort and wanted to get to know him and offer supports in other ways. Whenever there was a moment, I’d strike up conversations, find out his interests and hoped to discover a bit more about his curiosities and strengths. During this time I found out that Adam lived with his grandparents. He had several siblings, many of whom were younger. He often went to bed without a full meal in his belly and depended on the free breakfast and lunch provided by the school. He didn’t have access to a phone at home. He didn’t have access to books.

On the last day of my six-week placement, I struggled to find the right words to say to Adam. With the support of my cooperating teacher and several college friends, I’d helped set up a food & book closet at the school, but this didn’t feel like enough. I wanted to give Adam something more. I wanted to give him words of wisdom. I wanted to give him more chances to see himself as a reader. As it turned out, Adam had his own plans about giving that day.

As I packed my bag and began collecting the odds and ends of my time in the classroom, I felt a little tug on my arm. I turned around to find Adam standing before me with his hands behind his back. I saw the usual light in his eyes and an enormous grin on his face. “What is it Adam? What do you have behind your back?” I inquired. His smile grew as he said, “I have something for you.” “Something for me?” I asked in surprise. Adam took his hands from behind his back and revealed what had been held tightly in his palms just moments before. I found myself looking at a small toy dump truck. It was no more than an inch in length, was missing a wheel or two and had a good portion of its yellow paint scratched off. There was a small wind up crank on its side which Adam quickly let me know was broken. He grinned at me as he offered me the truck. “Oh Adam,” I said, “This is so kind, but I can’t take this from you.” Without a moment’s breath in between and with his same sweet grin, Adam’s next words taught me a lesson I still to this day carry in my heart. “Oh Miss Fischer,” he said, “You’re not taking it from me. I’m giving it to you.” In that moment with open ears and a humbled heart I learned a deeper lesson about the connection between students and teachers and giving and receiving than I’d ever known before. I opened my hand and Adam dropped the toy dump truck into it, gave me a quick hug and ran off to be with friends as I whispered a shaky but heartfelt thank you.

Nearly twenty three years have passed since that experience with Adam, but I can bring to mind the details of it in a moment’s notice. Recently, while participating in a Book Camp PD discussion, around Stephanie Harvey and Annie Ward’s book From Striving to Thriving, I was reminded again of its early impact on me. Part I of the book encourages teachers to trust their striving readers and “have kids teach [us] something.” Adam, a long-ago striving reader, certainly taught me an incredible lesson that day.

As teachers we have the complex task of knowing our students and believing that each, whether striving or thriving, has the innate ability to learn, grow and achieve. As Stephanie Harvey and Annie Ward so thoughtfully tell us in From Striving to Thriving, we must work to “table the labels, cultivate curiosity, ensure access to and choice of quality books, book-match relentlessly, teach thinking-intensive reading, assess readers in the round and advocate tirelessly.” Teaching is no small task and certainly not for the faint of heart. It takes grit, determination, intelligence, flexibility, empathy and joy. Mixed into all of that is the need to be open to what each student has the power to give and teach us. Donald H. Graves, a long time educator, researcher and author was known to say, “Teachers are the chief learners in the classroom.” Thanks to Adam, I know this is true.

In September I’ll be starting my twenty-third year of teaching in an elementary school. It is the very same elementary school I was hired in when I graduated from the University of Delaware in the spring of 1996. I currently teach second grade and am amazed and hopeful to consider that Adam is now a thriving thirty-year-old man. Although I am unsure of his whereabouts, I am sure of the lesson on giving and receiving he taught me so many years ago. The toy dump truck, still broken and scratched, is a daily reminder of that lesson. It sits proudly in my top desk drawer and has remained a constant for me in every classroom I’ve taught in. Much like Stephanie Harvey and Annie Ward’s book From Striving to Thriving, I know the significance of giving and receiving in the classroom and am grateful to be on both sides of it. Thank you Adam.

Michelle Howell’s Guest Blog Post

    A few weeks ago, I was hosting/moderating Florida Educator Chat (#FLedChat), and Meredith posted a tweet about #BookCampPD, sharing the website and a little information about what would be happening. I took a screenshot of the post to remind myself to look into it a little deeper, and honestly forgot about it. I’m really glad Meredith stayed with it, because a week or so later she posted about it again. This time I immediately went to the website and saw that things were beginning. I bought the book, “The Path to Serendipity: Discover the Gifts Along Life’s Journey,” by Allyson Apsey and began to read.

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    I was immediately struck by the author’s voice in this book. Apsey wrote this book from the heart, sharing her journey with an honesty that makes it accessible to both those veteran and new-to-the-profession teachers, but also to people who have vocations other than teaching. I was touched by what she shared. I cried when she wrote of her mother’s passing, and I laughed at the idea of having a dance party at lunch. I had just this year begun to open the Media Center at my school to kids to come in and use technology, explore with robots, and build with LEGOs and other building toys. This made me laugh because many of my babies—and yes, they are all my babies—used this time to look up videos and to practice their dance moves. I had never done this before, and even though sometimes it wore me out before school even began, I did it because my babies deserve it.

guest blog post

    Now, I have made the commitment to continue through the remainder of #BookCampPD. I have bought the books and my goal is to read them and to participate as much as I am able in the chats, daily questions, and with #booksnaps. This will help me to continue to grow as an educator, after all, if I honestly believe that I should never stop learning as an educator and as a human being, I should walk the walk. And I should share. If it helps even one fellow educator to be inspired to keep learning and growing in the profession, then it will be worth it. Thanks for reading, and if you would like, you can reach me on Twitter @kmichellehowell. Let’s keep the conversation going.

from Meredith Johnson – Tremendous thanks to Michelle for sharing her thoughts about #BookCampPD’s summer, professional learning – FAR – Friends and Reading. Lead learners like her enrich all of us!

Sharing is Caring

As I sit and look out over the Gulf of Mexico, watching the sunlight dance across the water, I wonder how I can write a blog posting that expresses my gratitude to those who have so thoughtfully shared their thoughts during the initial two weeks of #BookCampPD’s professional learning? They are indeed trailblazers, lead learners, who realize that by sharing their thoughts with others, everyone benefits! ♥

What is This All About?

#BookCampPD’s summer, professional learning – FAR – Friends and Reading is a way to get engaged with other educators, when your schedule permits, about books that will be highlighted during June, July and August. You can tweet anytime, day or night! You have all day to tweet, retweet and reply to colleagues. Several times each day a question, related to the book that is highlighted, will be posed at the #BookCampPD hashtag for you to respond to. If you miss the stream when the question is posted, just search #BookCampPD and you will find the question. Be creative!

Examples of Those Who Have Jumped in With Both Feet

June 11, 2018 the “Question of the Day” – If you had to choose one lesson that the author @AllysonApsey was trying to teach us with the book she wrote, what would that be? Barbara @BarbaraGruener shared her thoughts. Thank you, Barbara!

Barbara post

Michelle @kmichellehowell shared her sense of humor with us this week! Michelle, you are appreciated!

k michelle howell

Tim @TimRiley is so thoughtful to share his responses to the “Questions of the Day.” Tim, you rock!

Tim Riley

Emme @Emmemack46 shared her heart-felt thoughts about making a difference when asked about knowing the only person she can control is herself. Emme, you are a difference maker!


Chain with heart

The quote above speaks volumes about those whose names follow. They have stepped out, shared their thoughts about Allyson’s amazing book “The Path to Serendipity,” and provided a perfect example of leading by example with their heart. Jumping into posting Tweets about a new concept of online, professional learning demonstrates their leadership. I appreciate each one of them so very much! ♥

Week of June 1 – 8
Twitter Participants
@ChouinardJahant Cheryl Kraker
Teacherto teacher Julie Humphress
Tim Reily Melody Bingham
Elyse Hahne Renée L. Villeneuve
Kari Healey15 Tammy Allen
Lynette Richau Danielle Pall
Rachelle dene Poth Vanessa Medina
Dana Gambardella Adrianne Rose
Kathy Meehan, M.Ed. Melody Bingham
Carla Meyrink Audrey_KH
Mike Schulte Kimberly Isham
Kathy Alexander Joel Leal
Rise Up. Shine @emmemack46
kmichellehowell BarbaraGruener

Ready to Learn With Others?

You will earn points that will generate badges, depending on your level of participation, during the two weeks a book is highlighted. BE SURE TO ALWAYS USE THE HASHTAG #BookCampPD when you create a posting. At the end of the two weeks, during the chat when the guest author of the book joins us, two amazing educators with the greatest participation will win a book, they select, from the remaining #BookCampPD chats – June, July, August.

October 25, 2019 (1)

Interested in the second book that will be highlighted? Who wouldn’t love to learn more about “Supporting Struggling Learners?” If you wish, you can purchase the book here.

Patricia Vitale- Reilly June 30th

Oh, my! Your schedule is busy until mid-July? Here are the other books that will be our focus. We hope one of them jumps out at you as the perfect topic to extend your learning this summer.

June (2)

Why do I put so much of my time into all of the resources awaiting you at bookcamppd.com? It is my passion to help others and I truly believe, “the person you will be in five years is based on the books you read and the people you surround yourself with today.”

book you read

Thank you for taking some of your valuable time to read this blog post.

You are appreciated!!

#FAR – Friends and Reading – Summer Professional Learning at #BookCampPD!

Let’s get engaged with other educators, when your schedule permits, about books that will be highlighted during June, July and August at #BookCampPD. You can tweet anytime, day or night beginning June 1st! You have all day to tweet, retweet and reply to colleagues.

Hope you will get as excited as I am about the following, ongoing activities, that will take place during the two weeks each book is highlighted.

How You Can Jump Into Participating!


Several times each day a question, related to the book that is highlighted, will be posed at the #BookCampPD hashtag for you to respond to. If you miss the stream when the question is posted, just search #BookCampPD and you will find the question. Be creative!

Copy of question! (1)

Twice each week, four times during when a book is highlighted, a photograph or graphic will be posted at the hashtag #BookCampPD. Please share what the photograph or graphic idea reminds of you from the book and post at the hashtag #BookCampPD.

Copy of Copy of question!

Everyone has favorite quotes from the books they read. During the two weeks a book is highlighted, please share out that quote and add the page number. Caring is sharing! We are excited to read what quote you select.

Copy of Copy of Copy of question!

Extend your reading of a book to include collaborating with someone at your school, district or #PLN member. Share out how you would like to collaborate with someone and what idea you’re excited about putting in place during the upcoming school year. Please have this be from a strategy/resource mentioned in the book and include their Twitter handle or name.

Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of question!

When you’re in the middle of reading a book does the thought ever enter your mind, “Oh my goodness! So-and-so does that already! I could ask him/her about it.” Personal recognition of others is such a powerful acknowledgment of their dedication toward their passion. Again, caring is sharing – post a tweet to the #BookCampPD hashtag with the name or Twitter handle of a person who is already implementing an idea mentioned in the book.

Guest Authors

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At the conclusion of each two week period, we are so fortunate to have the guest author(s) join #BookCampPD on Saturday mornings at 9:00 AM EST. One amazing #PLN member suggested that chat questions, and times they “drop,” be shared. This enables those who have a busy life or vacation plans, that keep them from sharing their ideas, to schedule them using Tweetdeck or whatever program they like using. The questions are always posted on the website that accompanies weekly chats —> QUESTIONS If you miss one of them or want to grab a resource/idea that someone mentioned during a chat, you can also review what was shared by others —> SUMMARY of CHAT

Guest Moderators

I can’t say enough about the tremendous appreciation I have for the following educators who agreed to be a guest moderator during our summer #FAR professional learning. The rotation is a guest moderator and then the author and this continues to alternate all summer long. What lead learners they are!! Please thank them when you have a minute.

Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of question!

Badges for Participation

Last summer #BookCampPD badges were collected by those participating. For each of the ideas mentioned in the graphics above, you will earn points that will generate badges depending on your level of participation, during the two weeks a book is highlighted. BE SURE TO ALWAYS USE THE HASHTAG #BookCampPD when you create a posting. At the end of the two weeks, during the chat when the guest author of the book joins us, two amazing educators with the greatest participation will win a book, they select, from the remaining #BookCampPD chats – June, July, August. The graphic below was from last summer’s participation. Several educators shared that they posted them in their classrooms and lots of questions from their peers and students were generated about where they came from.

Ongoing - Consistent support of chats Badge - chat participation

Have an Idea That Would Enrich the Summer Professional Learning – #FAR – Friends and Reading Concept?

Hearing your ideas of how to make this summer even better in connecting with others about the books you’re reading would be GREATLY appreciated! Please share any ideas by clicking on this link –> YOUR AMAZING IDEA  Together we can make this an amazing summer of professional learning with each other!

Guest Authors and Their New Books!

June (2)


@EduMatch Podcast

When I sit here, trying my very best, to develop #BookCampPD into a resource educators will seek out for their own professional learning and suddenly Sarah Thomas of @EduMatch contacts me to be a guest on her podcast – I was “over the moon!” It was my first time being involved as a guest on a podcast but my excitement about sharing the details of #BookCampPD far overshadowed any butterflies. What an amazing opportunity to explain to others about our dedicated community of learners that meet each Saturday morning! If something new and unexpected comes your direction, jump in! YOU CAN DO IT! Tremendous appreciation sent out to Sarah Thomas, who is leading this @EduMatch initiative. I encourage everyone to listen to as many of her podcasts as your schedule allows.

As with anything new, it was a terrific learning experience for me. At the beginning of the podcast, I am afraid I was too lengthy about my 40 years of experience. If you would like to fast forward to the 8:00 minute mark, when I begin talking about my passion, #BookCampPD, please feel free!

As I share during the podcast, #BookCampPD is about all of you. I can help guide the “ship” we are sailing, and hopefully, add a little wind to your sails as you take off in amazing personal learning adventures. If, at any time, I can be of assistance please just ask.

I would be remiss if I didn’t share with all of you that #EduMatch is just beginning to publish books! How exciting is this??!?! Stay tuned for more books in the near future. Would you like to read more about the book and those being published in the near future? Just click on the book below!




FAR – Friends and Reading

Warren Buffet stated, “The most important investment you can make is in yourself.” Years of experience has shown me that this is very true. Do you agree with his reflective thought? How can we best invest in ourselves? Some of the most successful people read a lot. Warren Buffett was once asked about the key to success, he pointed to a stack of nearby books and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”

June (2)

Being involved with children, educators, families and communities, experience taught me that literacy, being able to read and exchange ideas with others about the book, opens doors to the future. It is with these thoughts in mind, that I sought to plan a #BookCampPD summer reading, professional learning, initiative that would reflect educators’ interests. I asked the opinion of a wide variety of educators, including recommendations from those currently involved in weekly chats. Here are the authors who will be joining us during #FAR – Friends and Reading! Educators will be learning when far from school with others who share their passion for increasing their knowledge.

June 16 – Path to Serendipity:  Discover the Gifts Along Life’s Journey – Allyson Apsey @AllysonApsey

June 30 – Supporting Struggling Learners: 50 Instructional Moves for the Classroom Teacher  – Patricia Vitale-Reilly @pattyvreilly

July 14 – It’s All About Books:  How to Create Bookrooms and Classroom Libraries That Inspire Readers – Tammy Mulligan, Clare Landrigan @teachersforteachers @clareandtammy

July 28 – Striving to Thriving:  How to Grow Confident, Capable Readers – Annie Ward and Stephanie Harvey @annietward and @stephharvey49

August 11 – Professionally Driven:  Empower Every Educator to Redefine PD – Jarod Bormann @jbormann3

August 25 – Being the Change:  Lessons and Strategies to Teach Social Comprehension – Sara Ahmed @sarakahmed

summer reading

During the summer the chats will rotate with a guest moderator, who has been involved with weekly #BookCampPD sessions discussing aspects of the book, followed by the author of the book joining us. There will be a new book every other week! During the two weeks a book is highlighted, special contests and engaging activities will take place to increase the element of fun.

Just as exciting as the authors who will be sharing in our learning, are the guest moderators who are volunteering their time and efforts! It is thrilling to have June 23 – Amanda Sopko, July 7 – Chris Cooper, July 21 – Elyse Hahne, August 4 – Rachelle Dene Poth and August 18 – Roman Nowak as guest moderators. Sharing this information with you, months in advance, will hopefully provide the time necessary for you to purchase and read the books that are jumping off the shelf into your arms. Please consider purchasing one of these books that can be your “ticket” to, as Warren Buffet states, “compounding interest.”

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Guest Blog Post – by Cathleen Beachboard

From @cathleenbeachboard – I value the opinion of #BookCampPd and the recommendation on the various books/writings. I would love some feedback on my first blog post.

Learning to be fearless…

Learning to be fearless…

Hi!!!! My name is Cathleen. My mother always told me that in order to tell a story properly a person has to start at the beginning . This story has a happy ending… I swear.


In all due respect Beauty and The Beast was a fairly big craze when I developed my dream of being a teapot. My mother allowed me to practice my dream on her dining room table fairly often. I was an avid dreamer, quiet,  and creative type kind of kid. I started school. Kindergarten was a breeze…naps…recess.. and show and tell! I liked school. I could be creative and try new things. I was on FIRE! Until 1st grade…


I went home crushed and defeated for the first time in my life. I started to wonder about what I should do with my tiny 1st grade self. I started trying new things, but the fear of public rejection still lingered. I would love to tell you that my little first grade self decided to not listen to the adults in my life, but its pretty hard defying the people who control the flow of juice in the classroom.

Honestly, the time between 1st and 3rd grade was a struggle for me. I remember my mom sent me to summer school and I had no idea why. It was discovered sometime during 2nd grade I had dyslexia. Quickly I was given an IEP and accommodations to help me. I was taught strategies, tricks, and ways to read for understanding. However, that first crush of defeat and fear started to sink in even deeper. Each of my years in elementary school could be defined by simple sentences meant to help keep me “grounded” in reality.


Enter the protagonist my middle school English teacher….from the moment I entered her class I was not defined by my past, by my disability, or by anything. I was supposed to be the best me I could be. (Teachers, administrators, and educational enthusiasts reading this…yes, belief has the power to change ANYONE.)

She believed in me from the moment I met her.


I would love to tell you in a matter of minutes I was an amazing student. She waved her cape and the story ended with me riding off into the sunset as the amazing person I was always meant to be. No. She started me on the journey to face the road of anxiety and crippling fear that was cemented in my mind from being a struggling learner. She gave me her SPARK…

Strength     Persistence    Attitude    Relationship     Kindness

I had love and understanding for the first time in school. Mrs. Garrett gave me a foundation that I could flourish with, but my teachers from the past still loomed in my head. Everyday as I left her classroom she would tell every student that they were loved. I will admit it became a bit mechanical by the end of the year, but some days I needed that love to just keep battling the day. I needed her more than she would ever know. The funny part of this story is…I never talked to her until the year was half over. She put forth such great effort daily and never even know that she was my lifeline.

One day in January she announced that they were seeking students to enter the new honors classes for Language Arts. I knew that I would not get in on account of my disability and the fact that I was below grade level in reading. Fear does some crazy things to a person. I was facing fear and I wanted to know what to do…so I went up and I asked her…

fight or flight

I told her my new dream was to get into honors classes and that I wanted to bring people joy like her. The part I was not ready for was the fact that she told me things would be tough. She was ALWAYS encouraging, but she never would set a student up for failure. We could take tests over and over. We could try a homework assignment again. We could redo that project for a better grade. She used to say life doesn’t just give you one shot and then you are a failure. Opportunities only stop when a person stops trying.

She told me things would be tough. She told me I would have to battle my fears. She told me to shrink my fear. However, fear is a lot smaller when you have the love of an educator to shine light on your doubts.


Well I wrote down my fears. I didn’t lose my fear…but I started to become a fear less student. I let my fears become less so I could live up to the potential I wanted for myself.  Mrs. Garrett worked with me one on one after school to help me practice my reading and comprehension. I was afraid every second of that year, but her love and guidance kept me going.

The end of the year came all too quickly. My mom got a letter in the mail that I was accepted into the new honors class for the next school year. I was without words for what this woman had done for me. So….I decided in that moment I was going to pay her back. They say the greatest form of flattery is imitation…so I became what she was to me…a difference maker.


A big thank you to Sean Gaillard who helped remind me that the world needs my story! This is the start of my chronicles to SPARK: Fearless Learning in the world.

All the Excitement of a Wonderful Christmas Gift

Can we all agree that a teacher starting a new job in education has a tremendous amount to learn in their first years on the job? In 2016, the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) teachers included 3.2 million public school teachers and 0.4 million private school teachers according to the U.S. Department of Education. Across America, an estimated 9.3 percent of a district’s teaching staff is composed of beginning teachers. Roughly, that would be about 364,800 new teachers each year! “This number varies substantially across districts, however. Large differences are also evident at the state level. State averages for first- or second-year teachers in our sample varied from a low of 5.5 percent in Michigan to a high of 22.4 percent in Florida, with Washington, DC employing 41.9 percent beginning teachers.” (Gagnon and Mattingly, 2012). During my twenty-six years as a principal, I worked with many first and second year teachers and often wished our mentor and professional learning opportunities were individualized to match their specific needs. Is there some way to use technology, the Internet, Twitter to help even a small percentage of these 364,800 new teachers? I wonder …..

learning growth

Fast forward my life to being newly retired and wondering, “What should I do that would continue to contribute to the work I love?” Meggin McIntosh @MegginMcIntosh recently wrote an article about how important it is for people, “To feel like they are making a difference and that what they do matters.” https://lnkd.in/ea_2zxW. I didn’t want to feel underwhelmed, which is the result of spending time and energy on tasks, projects or events for which I didn’t see any purpose. I did have a fear that I would dash aimlessly from one project to another, month after month, or fall into depression having lost the part of myself that had been my main purpose for forty years. Meggin speaks of “taking grace and space and pace to uncover what a person really values.” I took that time and for months reflected on what core values in education were the most important to me. Over time I realized it was helping educators, especially those new to the profession, with learning experiences they identified were motivating for them to know more about, when they could work collaboratively with their peers, centered around books they had read. Of course, educators at any year in their education journey, who are excited to learn more about a topic, are also important. I was as excited as a young child opening a large Christmas gift. A new beginning for me that would provide purpose and excitement for years to come.


Key elements started to emerge – professional learning, books, Twitter, educators new and experienced, collaborative, sustained over time, motivated, peers, purposeful, authors, and journey. The key ideas evolved into a Twitter chat and now into a website. Something amazing has begun to happen! The ideas, suggestions and creativity of those who have been involved in the Twitter #PLN of #BookCampPD will help mold the future development of the website as their vision as educators will take it to the stars and beyond! Teamwork makes the dream work!

Perhaps in the next blog posting I will explain how each of the elements fit together to provide a cohesive professional learning experience for an educator if they choose to take advantage of all the aspects available.

Happy Learning 😊


Gagnon, D. J., & Mattingly, M. J. (2016). Advanced Placement and Rural Schools. Journal of Advanced Academics,27(4), 266-284. doi:10.1177/1932202×16656390

McIntosh, Meggin Ph.D (2018). Just Whelmed. Just Whelmed Wee Workshop. Underwhelm: When You Rarely Get a Chance to Work on Projects of Importance

U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2018). Digest of Education Statistics, 2016 (NCES 2017-094), Introduction and Chapter 2.


Where Has This Passion for Books Come From?

When I first began teaching, in 1977, I spent an inordinate amount of time each evening on tasks that I thought would help students learn. I would sit on the floor with my mini paper cutter, cut out word cards from tag board, use brightly colored markers to match with the different levels of the basal readers, carefully write hundreds of vocabulary words onto these cards, cover them with contact paper as laminators didn’t yet exist, and write the chapter number from the basal in the upper corner. Night after night, I would create these word cards so I could flash them in front of my students’ faces the next morning. Surely, that would be the answer to helping them learn to read, right?

What if I had spent this time reading about effective literacy practices?

Do you scroll through Twitter and read the posts of educators as I do? I ran into one the other day where a teacher posted, “I don’t read books. I would rather spend time doing other things.” Ah, that is exactly what I had been doing. Until about 1970, instructional research was virtually unknown. Granted, in 1977 there weren’t any books written about effective literacy practices. There were journal articles. As teachers we were given teacher’s editions for basal readers and we followed them exactly. If we had an original idea, such as flash cards, we made them ourselves. We purchased the tag board, markers, and contact paper from the meager salary of something slightly above $5,000 a year that we made. It was a very different time.

I would like to share with you what it was like to for me, as a new teacher, to simply read a recent publication of reading research. To get to read an article I would need to drive half an hour to a University library. As a new teacher, I had to jump through hoops to get a visitor’s pass just get in the front door, then locate a quarterly, education publication (I have long ago forgotten the name of it) on the 4th floor – education library – that would list the articles recently published, next, go try to locate the specific education journal on the shelves (if someone else didn’t have it checked out), take it to a table and sit there and read it. Of course, I could try to copy each page for twenty-five cents, if the machines were actually working, take that home and read it. In those days the quality that spit out of a copy machine was extremely difficult to read as it was mostly black and smeary. Only to discover, oh my, I ran out of quarters in the middle of copying the article! So much for trying to grasp the latest and greatest thinking in the world of educational research. The only way I would even know there was new information about reading research would be from a university professor; as they were the one’s who had copies of the actual educational journals. Do you see how complicated this was? How does this differ from the steps would you need to take to read a recent journal article or book today? We certainly have jumped light years into the future!

Perhaps this is why I appreciate books so very much. My wish is for educators to be able to learn from what someone else has written and have a place to collaborate with each other.

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Let’s learn together!