Thrive: 5 Ways to (Re)Invigorate Your Teaching
Author: Meenoo Rami
Published March 5th, 2014 by Heinemann Educational Books
Goodreads Summary: As a novice teacher, Meenoo Rami experienced the same anxieties shared by many: the sense of isolation, lack of self-confidence, and fear that her work was having no positive impact on her students. In Thrive, Meenoo shares the five strategies that helped her become a confident, connected teacher. From how to find mentors and build networks, both online and off, to advocating for yourself and empowering your students, Thrive shows new and veteran teachers alike how to overcome the challenges and meet the demands of our profession.
Praise for Thrive:
-”Whether you are entering your first year of teaching or your 40th, Thrive feels as if it were written just for you. At a time in our profession when many of us are feeling stretched thin, Meenoo Rami offers strategies to reignite our passions and rediscover why we chose to teach.” -Christopher Lehman, coauthor of Falling in Love with Close Reading
-”Teaching is a profession that eats its young. Meenoo Rami offers guidelines for surviving the challenges of the classroom as well as the faculty room.” -Carol Jago, author, teacher, and past president of NCTE
-”Thrive includes a mosaic of dynamic teacher voices from many grade levels and content areas. Reading their stories deepened my thinking about the immense untapped potential of our profession. Meenoo Rami’s vision of teaching and learning can sustain us all.”-Penny Kittle, author of Book Love
Join the conversation on Twitter at #edthrive.
About the Author: Meenoo Rami is a National Board Certified Teacher who teaches her students English at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, PA. Mixing moments of joy, laughter, risk and encouragement, Meenoo pushes her students to think critically about their connection to the word and the world. Meenoo did her undergraduate work at Bradley University in Illinois in areas of Philosophy and English and completed her Master’s degree in Secondary Education at Temple University. Meenoo also contributes to the work of school-wide events and professional learning communities at SLA. Meenoo works as a teacher-consultant for the Philadelphia Writing Project. She has shared her classroom practice at various conferences such as: NCTE, ISTE, ASCD, EduCon, Urban Sites Conference for National Writing Project, and #140edu. Meenoo also runs a weekly twitter chat for English teachers called #engchat which brings together teachers from around the country to discuss ideas related to teaching of English. Her first book, THRIVE from Heinemann will be out in March 2014. In her free time, Meenoo can be found on her bike, on her yoga mat or in her kitchen tinkering with a vegetarian recipe.
Kellee’s Review: In this modern day of education where CCSS and testing seems to have become the most important priority and we’re being attacked in the media for having an easy job and are failing our students, it is very difficult to stay positive—much less thrive. Meenoo Rami says that there is definitely a way to overcome all of these hardships, and she lies it all out in 5 “steps.” Although some of what you might find in this book may seem like common sense, it may not be to other teachers, specifically new teachers. It is also important to get reminders about how to stay true to ourselves. I think this is a book that each teacher needs to read and own so they can read it whenever they need a reminder that there is a way to thrive in this profession that we love.
Ricki’s Review: Meenoo Rami hits the nail on the head with her suggestions to teachers. With as many as 56% of teachers leaving the profession (Rami 3), we need to make a change. Beginning teachers must be prepared for the difficulties they will encounter on the job. This book is cleverly crafted with a variety of text features that are sure to engage readers (QR codes, tweets, figures, etc.). I teach pre-service teachers and am very particular about the texts I use. Too many professional texts are watered down and chockfull of obvious information, and I don’t want my students to purchase a book that will be a waste of their time. Rami achieves the perfect balance of narratives and information, and I will be ordering this book for my students next year. I love how she emphasizes that we, as educators, must constantly hone our art of teaching. I strongly believe that we need to practice what we preach, and we, too, must be lifelong learners.
Guest Post: Meenoo’s Tips for Dealing With Negativity and Other Issues That Keep Many of Us From Staying Positive and Thriving in our Profession
Thank you to Jen Vincent for hosting this blog tour, thank you to Meenoo Rami for her amazing guest post, and thank you to Heinemann for proving us copies for review.
Make sure to check out the other stops in the Thrive blog tour:
Jen Vincent at Teach Mentor Texts
Franki Sibberson and Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading
Alyson Beecher at Kid Lit Frenzy
Kira Baker Doyle at Kira J Baker-Doyle, Ph.D.
Sarah Mulhern Gross at The Reading Zone
Christina Cantrill at Digital Is (National Writing Project)
Kate Roberts and Maggie B. Roberts at Indent
Beth Shaum Use Your Outside Voice
Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
Troy Hicks at Hickstro
Joy Kirr at Genius Hour
Tara Smith at The Teaching Life
Antero Garcia at The American Crawl
John Spencer at Education Rethink
Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because The Broke and Bookish are particularly fond of lists (as are we!). Each week a new Top Ten list topic is given and bloggers can participate.
Today’s Topic: Top Ten Characters Who Are _Smart_.
We decided to share some of the most intelligent characters. Note: We use the word nerd respectfully and endearingly. We are nerds, and being a nerd is something anyone should be proud of.
1. Pudge from Looking for Alaska by John Green
I had to limit myself to one John Green character. Pudge is one of my favorite nerds. He can spout off the last words of famous folks. That takes a lot of brain power!
2. Auggie from Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Auggie is wise beyond his years. Instead of describing his deformities to readers, he says, “I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.” The way Auggie handles his appearance shows immense bravery, confidence, and intelligence.
3. Tyrell from Tyrell by Coe Booth
With a deadbeat dad and loser mother, Tyrell is guaranteed to fail, right? But he isn’t the average kid. Instead of giving up, Tyrell uses his brains to make money to survive.
4. Amber Appleton from Sorta Like a Rockstar by Matthew Quick
Amber is a total nerd, and I greatly admire how she handles the hellish situations that slam into her life. When confronted with tragedy, she still manages to spread kindness to others.
5. Pierre Anthon from Nothing by Janne Teller
Pierre Anthon is, perhaps, too intelligent for his own good. He teaches his young peers: “From the moment we are born, we begin to die.” While his statement takes a depressing outlook of life, Pierre Anthon can definitely be categorized as an extremely intelligent child.
1. Alaska from Looking for Alaska by John Green
You can’t have a list of smart characters without a John Green character. Alaska loves books and is wise beyond her years. Some of my favorite quotes from a book ever are about or by Alaska
2. Sam from Life From Outer Space by Melissa Keil
Sam is a big old nerd. Is he ashamed of it? Nope. He’s proud of his friends, movie knowledge, and World of Warcraft. Even when a sassy young lady enters his life, he never strays from his ways.
3. Tatum from Audition and Subtraction by Amy Fellner Dominy
Tatum represents a population of middle schoolers that are not usually found in literature- a smart, math & music “nerd” thus making it so another group of girls will see themselves reflected in a book.
4. Matilda from Matilda by Roald Dahl
The first book worm I ever found in books. I finally saw myself reflected in someone although to a crazy extreme (I am not a genius, but Matilda was). It is great to have a main character who loves to read and learn.
5. Mal from Mal & Chad by Stephen McCranie
Mal is a genius and no one knows it. I mean he made his dog talk and has built time machines! He is one cool kid!
Who are some of the smartest characters you know?
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!
It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover the next “must-read” book!
Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee decided to give It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join us! We love this meme and think you will, too.
We encourage everyone who participates to support the blogging community by visiting at least three of the other book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.
Last Week’s Posts
**Click on any picture to view the post**
Last Week’s Journeys
Kellee: I love Rose Under Fire. This week has been quite busy, and I have not been able to finish it yet; however, I am so enjoying it. I wish I was reading it right now! I am also reading an e-book called Coyote Summer by J.S. Kapchinske which I am also really liking. I knew nothing about it, and it is quite surprisingly a good book.
Also, we visited Barnes and Noble on Saturday, and I decided to partake in a couple of picture books I’ve been wanting to read: Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems and Warning: Do Not Open This Book! by Adam Lehrhaupt. Um, I definitely need to own both of these books. I was laughing in the middle of the store. So good.
Trent and I continued our picture #bookaday and read some really great ones this week:
- Global Babies by Global Fund for Children (A great introduction to diversity!)
- Little You by Richard Van Campt (A beautiful poem and a loving message. I also liked the style of illustrations.)
- A Bedtime for Chester Raccoon by Audrey Penn (A Kissing Hand tale that is just as sweet.)
- Owen and Mzee: Best Friends by Isabella Hatkoff (I LOVE Owen and Mzee, and I am so glad there is a board book version of their story.)
- Me Hungry! by Jeremy Tankard (This was the surprise of the week. It cracked me up! Told from the POV of a caveboy, it is quite funny.)
- The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (On Easter. Classic.)
- Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes (I just adore everything Kevin Henkes writes.)
Ricki: This week, I finished the professional development text, The Shame of the Nation by Jonathan Kozol. It made me look at schooling in an entirely different light. For example: Why is it that schools named after MLK Jr. are filled with black students? Wasn’t MLK Jr.’s message about integration? This is just one of the many questions the Kozol poses. I am still pondering some of the ideas that Kozol presents.
Henry and I enjoyed some great picture books this week. My two favorites were: Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen and Noodle by Munro Leaf. These two will be going on Henry’s wish list. The other books we read were: Wild About Books by Judy Sierra, Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo by John Lithgow, On Our Way Home by Sebastien Braun, Love is a Handful of Honey by Giles Andreae, Heart in the Pocket by Laurence Bourguigon, Go Dog Go by P.D. Eastman, and Sometimes I Forget You’re a Robot by Sam Brown.
This Week’s Expeditions
Kellee: I am going to finish Rose Under Fire and begin (and hopefully finish!) P.S. Be Eleven. I’ll also continue Coyote Summer. This is my last week of maternity leave, so I am going to cherish it by spending as much time as I can with my son and reading.
Ricki: I am still reading Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira, and I just started the professional development text, Culturally Responsive Teaching by Geneva Gay. Henry and I are still reading our graphic novel book of classic fairy tales called Fairy Tale Comics, which is edited by Chris Duffy, and we are also still reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.
Upcoming Week’s Posts
Tuesday: Top Ten Characters Who Are Smart
Wednesday: Thrive Blog Tour and Author Guest Post
Friday: Tracy Holczer, author of The Secret Hum of a Daisy, Guest Post
So, what are you reading?
Link up below and go check out what everyone else is reading. Please support other bloggers by viewing and commenting on at least 3 other blogs. If you tweet about your Monday post, tag the tweet with #IMWAYR!
In January, I was contacted by a publicity and marketing associate from Abrams Books/Amulet Books out of the blue. In this email, I was asked to work on a teaching guide about their graphic novels: The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales, Hereville, and the Explorer series.
I was beyond honored! And, of course, I said that I would definitely love to do it as I had read all of the graphic novels, and I am a huge fan of them.
First, they asked me to write an introduction about graphic novels and their importance in the classroom. I am a huge advocate for using graphic novels in schools, so I immediately began researching and writing. Here is the introduction:
What are graphic novels? The easiest way to describe graphic novels is to say that they are book-length comic books. However, a more complex definition that educators and librarians use is “book-length narratives told using a combination of words and sequential art, often presented in comic book style” (Fletcher-Spear, 37). Graphic novels are not written in just one genre; they can be in any genre, since graphic novels are a format/medium. Graphic novels are much like novels, but they’re told through words and visuals. They have all narrative elements, including characters, a complete plot, a conflict, etc.
Middle grade and young adult graphic novels cover a wide spectrum of themes and topics. Some common themes found in graphic novels for this age include the hero’s journey; overcoming hardship; and finding one’s identity. For example, in Hereville, we meet Mirka, an everyday girl who learns to use her brains and brawn to overcome her foes. In The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, Salem is working on finding out just who she is (both as a witch and as a person) with the help of her friend Whammy. Graphic novels can cross curricular lines. One example is the Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series—comical nonfiction that takes historical events and presents them in interesting ways, using graphics and humor that will make students want to learn even more about the historical time periods. In the Explorer series, stories include topics such as animal adaptation, volcanic eruptions, and the fate of humanity. Like novels, graphic novels offer opportunities in all subject areas to extend students’ thinking.
Over the past few years, graphic novels have become a hot topic, growing in popularity with both children and educators. While many teachers are beginning to include them in the classroom, there are still teachers, administrators, and librarians who struggle with including this format in their schools. So, why should you use them in your classroom and have them available for students?
- Graphic novels can make a difficult subject interesting and relatable. (Cohen)
- Students are visual learners, and today’s students have a much wider visual vocabulary than students in the past. (Karp)
- Graphic novels can help foster complex reading skills by building a bridge from what students know to what they still have to learn. (NCTE)
- Graphic novels can help with scaffolding when trying to teach higher-order thinking skills or other complex ideas.
- For students who struggle to visualize while they read, graphic novels provide visuals that shows what good readers do. (NCTE)
- Many graphic novels rely on symbol, allusion, satire, parody, irony, and characters/plot and can be used to teach these, and other, literary devices. (Miller; NCTE)
- Often, in between panels (called the gutter), the reader must make inferences to understand how the events in one panel lead to the events in the next. (McCloud)
- Graphic novels can make differentiating easier. (Miller)
- Graphic novels can help ELL (English Language Learners) and reluctant and struggling readers since they divide the text into manageable chunks, use images (which help students understand unknown vocabulary), and are far less daunting than prose. (Haines)
- Graphic novels do not reduce the vocabulary demand; instead, they provide picture support, quick and appealing story lines, and less text, which allow the reader to understand the vocabulary more easily. (Haines)
- Research shows that comic books are linguistically appropriate reading material, bearing no negative impact on school achievement or language acquisition. (Krashen)
- Students love them.
Although you can find graphic novel readers at all reading levels, graphic novels can truly be a gateway to the joys of reading for reluctant and struggling readers. Reluctant readers often find reading to be less fun than video games, movies, and other media, but many will gravitate toward graphic novels because of the visuals and the fast pace. Struggling readers will pick up graphic novels for these reasons as well but also because the graphic novel includes accommodations directly in the book: images, less text, etc.
All in all, graphic novels can interest your most reluctant and struggling readers and also extend all of your readers, including your most gifted.
- Cohen, Lisa S. “But This Book Has Pictures! The Case for Graphic Novels in an AP Classroom.” AP Central. CollegeBoard.
- Fletcher-Spear, Kristin, Merideth Jenson-Benjamin, and Teresa Copeland. “The Truth About Graphic Novels: A Format, Not a Genre.” The ALAN Review Winter (2005): 37–44.
- Haines, Jennifer. “Why Use Comics in The Classroom?” Comic Book Daily. N.p., 20 Mar. 2012.
- Karp, Jesse. “The Case for Graphic Novels in Education.” American Libraries. N.p., 1 Aug. 2011.
- Krashen, Stephen. The Power of Reading. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, Inc. 1993.
- McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics. Northampton, Mass.: Kitchen Sink, 1993.
- Miller, Andrew. “Using Graphic Novels and Comics in the Classroom.” Edutopia. N.p., 11 Jan. 2012.
- NCTE, comp. “Using Comics and Graphic Novels in the Classroom.” The Council Chronicle September (2005) http://www.ncte.org/magazine/archives/122031.
I then began reading and rereading the graphic novels and planning activities and discussion questions that could go along with each book. I was asked to come up with activities for all subjects, so this pushed me out of my comfort zone a bit; however, I loved trying to figure out how these amazing books could be used throughout all classes. Some examples:
- Salem Hyde [Science]: At the end of Spelling Trouble, Salem and Whammy have to rescue a whale, but it is done in a very unconventional way. How would real scientists rescue a whale in distress?
- Hazardous Tales [Language Arts/History]: The Provost (a British soldier) and Nathan Hale disagree about the cause of the Revolutionary War. Based on One Dead Spy, what events caused the Americans to revolt? Do you agree with the Provost or with Nathan Hale about the causes of the war? (This could also be used as a debate question in class.)
- Hereville [Math]: On pages 31–32 [of Hereville 1], Mirka is given a math problem: Three people are splitting a cake, so they cut it into thirds. But then a fourth person shows up. How can they cut the cake so that each person gets an equalamount of cake? (Mirka comes up with a solution, but are there others?) What if two more people had shown up? Three more? Four more?
- Explorer [History]: On page 84 [of The Mystery Boxes], in The Soldier’s Daughter, the man says, “War is a dark power.” Where in history have we seen war consume someone? Have there been wars that did not need to be fought? Research past wars and determine if a war was started because of the need for power or if there was a legitimate reason for it.
These are just some examples.
I am happy to share the entire teaching guide with you. It can be found at http://www.abramsbooks.com/academics.html along with other teaching guides. The direct link to the PDF is http://www.abramsbooks.com/academic/GraphicNovels_TeachingGuide.pdf.
I hope you find it useful as I am very proud of it,
Summary: A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree e. lockhart.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
Review: I can’t tell you anything about this book without giving anything way, and I would never do that to you, so let me just say this—this is a book that I will remember forever. It is haunting and sent chills up my spine. I was sucked into the story of this beautifully screwed up family with too much money for its own good.
Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This would bridge beautifully with The Great Gatsby. There are so many parallels, and I can’t write them here, or I will give away too much of the plot. The figurative language in this title is also stunning. English teachers will go gaga over the pages upon pages of text that can be used for close reading. It made me want to go back to teaching English!
Discussion Questions: What does this story teach us about humanity?; What drives each of the family members?; What does Gat’s character add to the story?; How does lockhart unravel the plot? What makes her an effective writer?; What is the message of this complex text?
We Flagged: “If you want to live where people are not afraid of mice, you must give up living in palaces” (Chapter 40).
Please note: The above quote is from the Advanced Reader Copy. The chapter numbers is included instead of page numbers because the e-reader did not provide page numbers. The quotes may change when the book is published.
Read This If You Loved: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, I Will Save You by Matt de la Peña, If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday
Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!
Author and Illustrator: Brian Floca
Published September 3rd, 2013 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Goodreads Summary: The Caldecott Medal Winner, Sibert Honor Book, and New York Timesbestseller Locomotive is a rich and detailed sensory exploration of America’s early railroads, from the creator of the “stunning” (Booklist)Moonshot.
It is the summer of 1869, and trains, crews, and family are traveling together, riding America’s brand-new transcontinental railroad. These pages come alive with the details of the trip and the sounds, speed, and strength of the mighty locomotives; the work that keeps them moving; and the thrill of travel from plains to mountain to ocean.
Come hear the hiss of the steam, feel the heat of the engine, watch the landscape race by. Come ride the rails, come cross the young country!
My Review: Rhythm. Onomatopoeias. (Well-researched) History. Gorgeous (and historically accurate) illustrations. Lyrical narrative. Unique point of view. This book has everything.
YOU (second person POV!) are a passenger on a train cross America with your family in 1869. Throughout the book, you will encounter many different landmarks, experience things on a train very few had at this time in history, and learn about the intricacies of the train. So fascinating! And all told in rich, beautiful language. It is hard to even share much more about the book because it is such an experience.
Check out Ricki’s review of Locomotive as well HERE.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I would LOVE to read this to kids. There are so many places to stop and discuss and research and learn, but never without an enthralling story accompanying. It would be a great book to use across subjects. There are definitely opportunities for all subjects: social studies (trans-continental travel, history, trains); science (the science of steam engines); math (travel); reading/writing (onomatopoeia, point of view, rhythm).
Also, and this is fresh on my mind because I just read it, but I would love to read this and The Donner Dinner Party and then look at the two journeys. How long did each take? Dangers? It would be an interesting look at how trains truly changed transportation.
Discussion Questions: How does having the book in 2nd point of view make it more enthralling?; What onomatopoeias were used in the book? How did these words help suck you into the story?; How did the author’s rhythm make you feel like you are actually on the train?; What are the landmarks that were passed on the trans-continental railroad? Why are these landmarks significant?; How does a steam engine work? What are the jobs of all of the different people on board?
“Here is how this road was built,
with a grunt and a heave and a swing,
with the ring of shovels on stone,
the ring of hammers on spikes:
CLANK CLANK CLANK!
Men came from far away
to build from the East,
to build from the West,
to meet in the middle.
They cleared the rocks
and dug the tunnels.
They raised the hammers
and brought them down—
“Three strokes to the spike,
ten spikes to the rail!”
CLANK CLANK CLANK!”
Read This If You Loved: The Donner Dinner Party by Nathan Hale, Train by Elisha Cooper
Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because The Broke and Bookish are particularly fond of lists (as are we!). Each week a new Top Ten list topic is given and bloggers can participate.
Today’s Topic: Top Ten Book Things We’d Like To Own
Not books, but book accessories.
I decided to use pictures instead of links like Kellee. Sorry for the inconsistency, but many of my images are on Tumblr, so I can’t find them anymore!
1. I want a row of a dozen bookshelves with a gorgeous sliding, gold ladder. The five bookshelves in my house are not nearly enough. I would post an image of this, but your imagination is better than any image I could show.
2. This dress:
3. This bench for my garden:
4. These stairs for my basement:
5. This vending machine, with unlimited books, please:
Click on any of the items to see the bookish things I’d like to own
1. Neil Gaiman’s Bookshelves (OMG, right?! Though I’ll need a bigger house first…)
2. Elephant and Piggie Shirt Toddler Shirt (for Trent; or any of the Mo Willems shirts for me or him)
5. Hm…. I cannot think of a 5th thing. Can I say Neil Gaiman’s Bookshelves again?!
What are some bookish things you dream of owning?