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Posts from the ‘reading’ Category

The best history books of 2016 and personal professional development

During the glory days of the Teaching American History projects, we handed out books like candy. We’d read. Argue. Reflect. Move on to the next. And I’m sure there were some who didn’t enjoy that process as much as I did. I understand that we all learn in different ways but it’s just hard for me to imagine life without books to read and talk about.

Plain and simple truth? You can never have enough books.

Keith Houston in his recent book titled, wait for it . . . The Book: A Cover-to-Cover Exploration of the Most Powerful Object of Our Time, advises readers to Read more

Help students find the best evidence, think historically, and become powerful writers

Sarah Tantillo is the author of The Literacy Cookbook: A Practical Guide to Effective Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening Instruction. Several years ago, she wrote a useful MiddleWeb post based on her blog The Literacy Cookbook. On the Cookbook, Sarah shares a ton of great ideas about helping students meet the ELA Common Core Standards.

Her original post described a problem she noticed with many of her students:

“One of the things students struggle with the most — and it’s relevant to every grade and subject — is distinguishing between argument and evidence. This problem manifests itself in both reading and writing.

In reading, students often cannot pick topic sentences or thesis arguments out of a lineup; and when writing, they tend to construct paragraphs and essays that lack arguments.”

She went on to describe six steps we can use to move students from “What’s the difference between arguments and evidence?” to “How can I write an effective research paper?”

She outlines six steps that teachers can use to help students create quality, evidence-based arguments. And while the focus is on ELA rather than social studies, the process is one that all of our students need to master: Read more

Save the Last Word for Me discussion strategy

I spent some some last week with a group sharing strategies around the blended learning concept. It was compelling conversation, I walked away smarter, and had the chance to meet some interesting people.

But one of my biggest walkaways was a strategy that the forum’s facilitator used to jumpstart the discussion.

He called it the Last Word. Others in the group used the term Final Word. No matter what it might be called, I thought it was a perfect fit for strengthen the speaking and listening skills of social studies students. So if you’ve used Last Word, post some comments on changes you’ve made or things you like about it.

New to Last Word? Read on, my friend. Read more

Tip of the Week: What will you be reading?

I seriously doubt that anyone will actually read this. It’s the final student contact day for many of you and am pretty sure the last thing you’re thinking about right now is my Tip of the Week.

But I’m going to push this out anyway cause . . . well, it’s my job.

I love the holidays. Turkey. Ham. Chocolate covered coffee beans. And Chex Mix. Lots and lots of Chex Mix. Friends. Family. Christmas lights. It’s all good.

But the best part of the holiday break, of course, is the actual break. The part where I save vacation days and spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s hanging out late and reading. It just seems as if other parts of the year get so busy that there is little time to sit and enjoy a book or two. So much like my summer reading list, I always have a Christmas reading list.

This year? Read more

Nerdfest 2015 Day One: Teaching Literacy with Historical Documents

We’re jumping right into this. Ian Anderson, from Nebraska Wesleyan, is sharing info about his program there in Nebraska. His project is all about improving the reading / writing abilities and historical thinking skills of K-12 students in the state.

The problem? Students are struggling with these skills. So they developed a staff development program to help teachers support these skills. They used the framework from Sam Wineburg and SHEG as the basis of of their rationale and programming.

So their purpose? Training teachers to get kids to do and thinking like historians with the following questions:

  • What do historians do?
  • Why should we study the past?
  • Why do our students not always like to study history or succeed at it?

Ian used the Traxoline example to help us understand that being able to close read and comprehend text is not always the same as disciplinary specific skills. Read more

Summer reading list 2015

It’s a Wiebe tradition.

The annual summer reading list.

For as long as I’ve been in education, I’ve had a summer reading list. Several of my early mentors suggested that the summer is a perfect time for personal professional learning. Develop a list of professional and fun books. Commit to reading them. Talk about the content with others. I eventually came around to the idea and learned to love it.

My wife, also an educator, started doing it. Later, we passed on the idea to our kids. The cool thing is that we’re all still committed to it. The best summer was the year my wife and I took a tech naked trip to the beach. Without the internet, there’s was nothing to do but sit in the sand and read. Awesome.

Of course, in all of the years that I’ve been doing it, I’ve never actually finished the original list. Schedules change. Books aren’t as good as I had hoped. It’s easy to get sidetracked. Work. Travel. Family stuff. But the idea is still a good one. It makes us better educators. And isn’t that part of the job?

So even though I’m pretty sure I won’t finish it, I still make the list. Cause one of these years, it’s gonna happen. All the books, all the way through. Really. I’m serious. This year for sure.

The 2015 Summer Reading List

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