Looking Back at Banned Books Week

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Another Banned Books Week has passed us by. The message to take away from Banned Books Week is that words are powerful and cannot be censored.  People are going to seek out the things they are told to stay away from; especially kids and teens. So what did you do in your library or classroom to support the freedom of reading? Did any of the books or graphic novels surprise you or your students? Here are some great ideas you may want to incorporate in next year’s celebration: 

- Create trading cards for the banned books. You can have student artists create the book covers or make it a community event and invite all members of the community to submit designs.

- Create an amazing display for your library or classroom by roping off sections or having students, teachers, other community members paint windows.

-  ALA suggests numerous activities for Banned Books Week. Have students or community members write letters, attend a school board meeting and present why all books should be allowed in the school library, or host or participate in an online celebration.

- TeachHub.com has many classroom ideas such as discussing how the First Amendment connects to Banned Books Week, celebrating favorite characters from banned books, or creating a Venn Diagram on the pros and cons of limiting what is available to read.

Be prepared for next year’s Banned Books Week with some fresh ideas that can involve the entire school or community.

Read on! 

The Importance of Silent Reading

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Well here’s something interesting! The article here discusses the importance of uninterrupted silent reading on the brain. Studies found that silent reading from an early age that is continued through adulthood, slows memory loss and that the reading ability of first graders is closely linked to academic achievements in high school.

So what can you do in your school or library to promote silent reading? The article states comfortable chairs and removal of distractions such as computers and phones will provide the perfect setting. Another suggestion is to provide students with a notebook and pen to write down words or sentences they found beautiful or inspiring. Invite them to share these at the next silent reading group. This is a twist on the traditional book club where everyone reads the same book and discusses it. By hosting a silent reading club you will attract students who simply want a quiet place to read; no strings attached.

Happy “Read an eBook” Day!!

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How are you enjoying your eBooks on this special day? Do you sit in a comfy spot? Do you share them with friends or students? See what others are doing on this day of reading here. We hope you use eBooks almost everyday in your classroom. Rourke has a robust list of titles to help you integrate eBooks into your classroom or library. After spending this special day reading, reach out to us for help on using eBooks in your school.

Happy Reading!

Colleen’s Classroom: Building Student Stamina

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Guest blogger and Rourke author, Colleen Hord, shares the struggles a new school year brings for students and staff. How can you get your students “back into the swing of things?” Colleen explains the importance of keeping a schedule and reading in the summer months.

Each new school year brings with it the excitement of the first day. By the end of the first day however, my excitement seems to wane along with my energy level. By the time I arrive home I’m too exhausted to think about cooking, my feet are killing me, and I am asleep on the couch by eight o’clock. What happened?  I didn’t have enough stamina to get me through the day.  

My summer schedule is much less demanding than the rigorous pace and routine I’m in when school is in session. Beach walks, book reading in the hammock, late nights and lazy mornings don’t do much for building stamina. Just like an athlete out of training, I was out of shape for the demands of a full day of teaching.

So what about our students and their stamina? If we, as adults, need to build up our stamina each year, it only stands to reason how much more so for our students. Many students don’t even pick up a book over the summer much less sit for any length of time. Our students need to be given opportunities to get back into shape and rebuild their stamina for the demands of their school day.

Teaching stamina has to be done in increments.  Athletes don’t reach their best performance all at once. They set and reset goals as they work toward their target. Students need to be given the same opportunity for building their stamina whether it is in reading, or staying on the page in writing.  Spending as much time on teaching stamina as we do other concepts is critical for successful learning.

 Stamina is sometimes overlooked as a building block for successful learning. With all that is being asked of our students, teaching them to remain focused and engaged is critical. Stamina is also needed when tasks are difficult. When our students have enough stamina to keep working on something even when it doesn’t come easy, we have given them a skill that will serve them not only in the classroom, but for life.

Next summer, I think I will give myself a couple of weeks to get in shape before that first day of school. Perhaps I’ll start by going to bed at a decent hour and getting up with the 6 o’clock alarm.  Maybe, just maybe, if I start getting in shape before school starts, I’ll have enough energy to go out for dinner and celebrate a successful first day.

SSR: What It Means and Why You Should Be Doing It

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Kids Reading Cartoon Type

Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) was a movement in the 1960′s and 1970′s where time was set aside allowing students to read; nothing else. There weren’t book reports attached or questions and quizzes. Students weren’t assigned a book but rather chose one that interested them. The goal was to create life long readers who found pleasure in reading. This movement is endangered if not extinct in many school districts. Why? Research at the time could not obtain data because they did not have a structure that was testable. Today everything is tested and there are many tests available to obtain data on programs such as SSR. So why aren’t there more independent reading programs in schools? Read what Joanne Yatvin, past president of the National Council of Teachers of English and Principal of the Year in Wisconsin, has to say about the matter here.

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