Friday, 21 October 2011

You've Come a Long Way Baby

Today we had a PD day for the Charter School Conference. The conference was at the Calgary Science School (another Charter School). Turns out they lease the building that the Montessori school used to lease that I worked at for my first teaching job. It was so cool to go step into the room where I taught music, then Science, then Grade Two. The feelings of nostalgia that swept over me were almost overwhelming. It was all so real. I remember the feelings so well. There were a lot of positive feelings. I loved those children. I sure felt inadequate though! I have come a long way since then. I had no idea what I was doing back then. I worked SO hard. I wondered if it would ever get easy. I can't say it is easy now, but I sure feel a lot more confidant compared to how I felt there back in 1993! It was great to be back there.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Book That Changed My Life (edited by Roxanne J Coacy and Joy Johannessen)

This book is a collection of vignettes about writers and books that they love. It's kind of a fun book to read because you don't have to read it from beginning to end - you can jump all over. Here are some of my favorite parts from the book:

Nicholas A Basbanes: Something else Professor Berkelman preached in all his courses - and I took eight with him over four years, quite possibly a Bates record - was the merit of reading favorite passages aloud, a practice I use to this day, most productively with my own writing. When my daughters were children in the 1980s, it became customary for us to read their literary assignments together at night, and to discuss what we had just learned as we went along. Shakespeare's plays were by far the most fun for us. We selected our roles, assumed what we thought were appropriate voices, and visualized the scenes as if we were directors staging our own productions. We tinkered with blank verse, examined the language, shared our perceptions. Most of all, we allowed reading to enter our lives, and to work its magic.

I wonder if this is one reason I love reading books with Peirce so much - because we always read aloud. There's something special about reading aloud!

Benjamin Cheever:  When a friend sticks a book in my hand and crows, "It changed my life," my heart plummets. They never say, "It changed my life." They sing it out, as if boasting about intellectual suppleness, while not talking about the book at all. As if change were easy, welcome.
    I know better. Sure the Renaissance was change, but so was the Ice Age.
   Plus, I'm not intellectually supple. When one of those books does come along, it knocks me over. I'll read it twice. If I can possibly get a recording of the book, I'll do so. I'll run with it in my iPod, wash the dishes with it. I'll dog-ear and underline my copy. I'll quote endlessly from the text in e-mail. I'll bore my neighbors, embarrass my friends, infuriate my family.

I think I like this guy. I love his description! I love how he loves books. :)

Claire Cook (her favorite was the Nancy Drew series!): She talks about how she grew to love Nancy Drew. Her mother had died and she relished getting lost in the world of a book, rather than living in her own. Nancy, interestingly, also didn't have a mother. She talked about helping kids love reading, and says: The truck is, as I came to see it, is that once you fall in love, really in love, with that first book, you'll never be able to stop. There will still be plenty of time to introduce the classics. I give Nancy full credit for that teaching epiphany.

That's so true! That's my goal with the kids I teach...and with my own kids :)

An author named Sark (no last name....just Sark) said she was touched by Maya Angelou's I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. She said she was abused and while reading the book she had an epiphany. I went to hear Maya Angelou speak at the same library where I'd found her book, and clearly saw her invincible spirit as she talked to the group. Right there, sitting on that folding chair, I decided to have no more shame about the abuse that had happened to me. That is amazing. Books can bring miracles!

Then there are a few books I noticed, that I'd love to read. One of them being by Maureen Corrigan. It is called "Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading." Now that is right up my alley! I also learned some strange facts. Like, did you know: Sherlock Homes is....the only fictional character ever made an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry because of his contributions to forensic investigation. A fictional character! LOL And I learned some funny things about some authors I Jack Prelutsky. He said: When I was in junior high....I fell in love with Wild Animals I Have Known by Ernest Thompson Seton. I hid the book in an obscure place in the school library so it was always waiting for me, and read it a couple dozen times. I wonder why he didn't just sign it out? LOL

Friday, 7 October 2011

Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo

Well, I've really got to get better at blogging! Once in September, and suddenly it is October 7. Life seems to spin faster and faster!

Peirce and I joined a book club this year at the public library. The first book we read was Elephant in the Garden. The book is pretty good. It's a story of a family in Germany during the second world war. It was interesting to read a World War II story from the perspective of a German family. It made me want to read more of his books though. It was a great introduction to this author. You can read more about the book here. It isn't a book I probably would have ever pulled off the library shelf on my own. That's one of the great things about a book club! It gets me reading books I wouldn't have otherwise.

More than anything though, just the experience of reading a book with Peirce has been really wonderful. I seriously recommend it! I am pretty sure it wouldn't matter what the book was about - it is good bonding time. Next month will be a test to see if my theory was right because next month's book looks like a girls' book to me! Time will tell!