Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Back-to-School Shopping and Reading

Hello friends,

Just another quick post to keep things at least slightly alive here before school starts! Hope everyone is enjoying summer vacation. Even if you have a fairly elaborate classroom setup with which to contend, you should still have two more good weeks of relaxing remaining. Max it out.

Since I'm apparently a masochist who is ever-so-slightly looking forward to returning to school, I'll blog a bit about my preparations so far. I've hit Staples twice. I bought a case of paper ($25 or so with an Easy Rebate; good deal!) because you never know when that will come in handy. The former Morton School's schizoid copy "policy" last year found me able to get some copies made sometimes in the main office, but more often than not I was on my own. By being judicious about when I really needed something copied, printing on both sides of the paper, reusing scrap paper, and shamelessly soliciting paper donations from students, I was able to make my case of paper last all year. I also bought some five-cent pocket folders, one-cent notebook paper, #2 pencils, and dry-erase markers. These are the kinds of things your school should supply, but we all know that that does not always happen. Those are some good basics to get you started.

I've also bought a few new teacher books, all of which are good reading. I blogged about Kelly Gallagher's work again at NYC Educator this morning, and I'm happy to report that his two books that I've now read are both well worth your dollars and your time. Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It is a marvelous companion to Thomas Newkirk's Holding on to Good Ideas in a Time of Bad Ones, another book I've heartily recommended to ELA teachers. And Gallagher's Reading Reasons is a wonderful collection of solid, easy-to-follow minilessons about both academic and real-world literacy, many of which I can easily imagine real students and teachers actually enjoying. This is empowering and sensible reading for ELA teachers.

Another book I picked up is Three Minute Motivators by Kathy Paterson. Although you might have been taught in ed school that your motivator comes at the beginning of your lesson, many of Paterson's motivators are useful as transitioning, refocusing, and closing activities. Some are longer than three minutes and would work well as review games and contests. Some of the activities are more geared to the elementary crowd, but as a middle school teacher transitioning to high school, quite a few of them seem like they would work for all ages.

Feel free to share your own recommendations in the comments.