Welcome to Kelly Martin's Blog! Here I share my stories from my blessed life as a wife to a super-talented man, Jason, mom to my precious kids, Lucy, Jack, and Connor, and friend to my amazing girlfriends who inspire me every day!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Way We Learned...

Today has been a great day! Both Jack and Lucy enjoyed Mom's Morning Out, and I began a new volunteer position as a tutor at New Hope Elementary. I was placed in a 4th grade class and so excited to get a chance to be back in the classroom. (I thoroughly enjoy tutoring from home, but it's even better being in an actual classroom, surrounded by colorful educational posters on the wall and seeing lots of kiddos leaning over their desks, trading pencils and sharing ideas.) I couldn't wait to find out what novel the kids might be reading, what mode of writing they'd be working on, or what period of history they were learning about.

A reading basal was placed in my hands. The teacher recommended using the pre-determined questions listed in the margin (in case you aren't familiar with these, they're generally the most boring, rote memorization type of questions possible). Finally, there was a worksheet the students needed help with at the end listing main ideas and supporting details. My heart sank a little...

Now, don't get me wrong, I understand the reading basal is the curriculum decided upon by the state government and the teachers have very little say in the public school system. Basals can certainly accomplish some objectives regarding teaching children how to read --it's likely the way most of us learned to read. However, the problem is, there are so many more EFFECTIVE ways to teach reading, so many more AUTHENTIC texts that will engage children in fun learning. And really, how often in our adult lives do our bosses ask us to organize a paragraph's main ideas and supporting details? :-)

Despite the lackluster reading text, I had a great time reading with the students, and it felt great to interact with them and help them, and I'm very excited to return next Thursday. Little kids are so great...one of the little girls got frustrated the teacher sent a certain boy to join our group...she leaned over and whispered to me, "He likes me and he's ALWAYS bothering me..." Love it!

So, today, I thought I would share a few children's books that I think fit the bill of being fun to read with your kids, engage them in texts filled with rich vocabulary, a purposeful plot, and authentic writing. Happy Reading!

Little Kids:

Dog Heaven, Cynthia Rylant (ANYTHING by her is wonderful!)
My Rotten Red Headed Older Brother, Patricia Polacco (You can't go wrong with any of her books!)
Where the Sidewalk Ends, Shel Silverstein
The Kissing Hand, Audrey Penn *Sequel, A Pocket Full of Kisses, is WONDERFUL to read to your child if you're about to add a new baby to the family!
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Judith Viorst

Upper Elementary:
Out of the Dust, Karen Hesse
Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O'Dell
Pink and Say, Polacco *Great Civil War story
Sarah, Plain and Tall, Patricia MacLachlan
The Whipping Boy, Sid Fleischman
, Jerry Spinelli *This is being made into a movie!

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