Summer Musings

There’s so much that I love about summer. While it’s not quite true that I have “3 months off” as many people believe, I do have the opportunity to change my daily routine and time to recharge my spirit between school years.

The month of June was filled with professional reading, among other things. My teaching partner and I have decided to incorporate the Daily 5 framework for our literacy time, but we needed to learn a lot more about it. My partner attended a local workshop on Daily 5 and CAFE here in Denver last month, and I read both books. She and I have met to begin talking about how to incorporate it into our collaborative classrooms, and we’ve added a few small items to our August shopping list. I’m excited to add this to our classroom structure and see huge benefits for independent skills for students.

Additionally, another colleague (6th grade teacher) and I met a few times last month to talk about books and reading. I’m thrilled that she also loves Notice and Note by Beers and Probst and wants to bring it into the 6th grade curriculum. I began using it this past school year and was able to share what I learned, my stumbling blocks, and the changes that I’ll make next year. Our new 5th grade teacher is also intrigued, which gives us a solid 3-year span to implement these strategies with our students and hopefully build strong close reading skills.

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That same friend joined me in an online summer book club for teachers. I feel a little out of my league there as most of the teachers are in middle or high school and see direct application for our novels with their students. My fourth graders are a little on the young side for the two novels we’re reading, but I’m benefiting from the way that folks are talking and investigating. I can’t wait until we begin talking about Disrupting Thinking, also by Beers and Probst, and an inspiring book that I’m in the middle of reading. I’m blown away by the number of other professional resources that are jumping on my “To Read” list as a result of reading this single title.

Next week I get to attend nErDcampMI for the first time. I’m excited and nervous both. I’ve been reading the buzz about it for the past couple of years in some of the blogs that I follow, so I’ve kept it in mind as a summer possibility. It happened to line up well with other travel this year, so I went for it. I’m nervous because it pushes my comfort zone as a serious introvert! I’m excited to hear from different authors and illustrators who are attending, and I’m motivated to learn from other teachers. Our art teacher and I are planning to collaborate on a Mock Caldecott unit this year, and I definitely want to hear what others are doing and look for inspiration.

I clearly have the professional recharge under my belt – what about personally? I make plenty of time for tennis, lunch dates with my husband, and time in the mountains with family and friends. I’ve been pushing myself physically as I take long hikes and hone my dirt biking skills. I try to pause and appreciate the beauty around me. Columbine, paintbrush, and various wildflowers are in bloom. Deer, hummingbirds, and other wildlife come near. Slowing down and savoring what’s around me, even when it’s rain and thunderclouds. All of this is soul-filling.

And then there are the books.

Books from my classroom library. My students ask if I’ve read EVERY book…and I haven’t…but I am trying to fill in some of my gaps so that I am more knowledgeable when I recommend titles.

New books and possibilities for our Mock Newbery Club. In May, I had lunch with our book club 5th and 6th graders when author Jennifer Bertman came to visit and we talked about Mock Newbery. How to make it better. What the students would like to see. So we’re starting earlier – in September – which means that I need to curate at least a starting list of books for us to read. I love this club that allows me to connect with former students as well as current students at the same time.

Books for my own adult book club. We have a big meeting in August where we all recommend and suggest books for the coming 12 months. I read books throughout the year with an eye toward what I might “sell” to my book group. I think about that heavily in the summertime, when my reading life is a bit more flexible and expansive.

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As I write this, my summer is half over. My second half will have a bit different flavor with travel and a conference filling my days. I’m already excited for next year’s class of fourth graders and my new teaching team. I’m excited to continue building my skills (of all sorts) throughout the summer and into the school year. I’m also looking forward to the remaining time to recharge and refill my own energy this summer.

More mountain time. More family and friends. More books. Everything I need.

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