Ripe harvest and read-a-loud recommendation
As the heat of summer finally begins to dissipate and we approach the fall equinox, I’m reminded that we’ve distanced ourselves from nature. We take for granted that fresh fruits are available to us in the grocery store, but years ago that wasn’t so. We used to have to wait until they ripened in the fall. Only then could they be harvested and the bounty enjoyed.
Learning is a lot like ripening fruit. Acquiring knowledge takes time. Once ripened, it bears fruit. We’re harvesting the results of years of teaching as we look at student cum folders. If our harvest isn’t what we desire, it’s important to review what seeds we’ve been sowing. Mindfully planting the garden is what helps it bear the desired fruit.
In hopes of better preparing students for college and their future career success, the Common Core Curriculum has been developed as a way to stair-step and standardize student success and be more intentional about what fruit we’re ripening. The plan is to teach the skills needed for students to confidently propel themselves in the direction of their dreams by raising the bar of achievement and readiness at the national level.
Teacher training at workshops this year is focused on better grasping this new direction for education. This Friday students will not come to school because teachers will be attending meetings to further their education and learn new teaching strategies to affect this change.
Often the new direction is the pendulum swinging back to something that used to be in vogue. An in-depth study of literature will once again be emphasized. I love to share books with children.
When looking for a good read-aloud book for the classroom, I like to pick an action-packed book where each chapter hooks the readers. When it has issues that generate discussion, it’s even better.
I consult the CYMR, California Young Medal Reader, site because the book lists include current nominations and the previous winners that have all had many reviewers resulting in higher quality recommendations. I zero in on the intermediate or middle grade book nominations for my class, but they have five categories starting with picture books and going all the way up to young adult.
Annual nominations in each category are then read by and voted on by students and teachers. The website includes lists of past nominations and winners as well as worksheets containing background information on authors, plot lines and connections on current nominations. The book I’ve selected to read aloud first is from this list.
In Patricia Reilly Giff’s book Eleven, Sam is afraid of the number eleven, but he doesn’t know why. He’s turning 11 when he discovers that he might have been a missing child. Sam has learning difficulties, but he works out this problem and many others by seeking help from none other than a girl.
His search to discover his family secrets keeps you turning the pages as he wonders if his dreams are really memories. Sam also finds out how wonderful it feels to develop his woodworking talents and applies the lessons he learns creating a castle project for school to help him read better and discover the truth of his past.
The American Library Association also puts out an annual list of Notable Children’s Books, but when in doubt, ask an avid reader for their recommendations of a good book. As the fall harvest ripens and teachers receive in-services about the “new” directions in educations, it’s refreshing to note that quality literature remains a staple even in the new Common Core Standards that are being adopted nationwide.
Kristi McCracken, author of two children’s books and a long time teacher in the South Valley, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.