This summer, I was determined to read several professional books, and at least one "fun" book, as well as skim and scan a variety of resources. A major challenge was the necessity to read and review a considerable amount of resources for aviation, as I was trying to write the ground exam for my PPL. And yet, somehow, I managed to squeeze in most of what I wanted to do, thanks largely to the help of a creative friend, who decided to read aloud to me.
The first book I read was "The Elephant Keeper", a work of historical fiction set in England in the 1700s. I had picked it up the year before at the airport, and just never got around to reading it! Decent writing and a riveting -- for me at least -- plot kept me glued to this book for several nights out in PEI in July.
I was also keen to read the next installment of the Daily Five empire, "The Literacy Cafe", which I had heard much about, but again, had not had the time to attack properly. I finally started the introduction in August, and was hooked! Tatiana read me a chapter a day enroute home from PEI, and upon arriving in Toronto, I had a good sense of how it all works. (Future Literacy blog post coming soon!!!)
This book was an excellent reminder of why I am so intrigued with how the brain works. It is critical for teachers to understand as much as they can about this organ. And, as Willingham points out, not to make generalizations. As my girlfriend read aloud to me in the car while my kids slept in the back seat, I had fond memories of poring over Jensen, Caine and Caine, and Carla Hannaford as a newer teacher. Willingham re-defined some of the principles I have organized my teaching around, causing me to reexamine some previously held beliefs, but he also reaffirmed for me the importance of contextual knowledge. Not every "truth" is self-evident when you teach at a school like the one where I currently hang my hat!
It was good to read a book which my colleague had also read, as it is allowing us to use a common schema as we make instructional decisions this year.
As my Grade Threes pointed out this week to me while we were setting up "Read to Self" in class, reading is FUN, it helps you to LEARN NEW THINGS, and it MAKES YOU A BETTER READER! Read every day, I tell you! Or at least, every summer! Even if it's only three small books.