confessions of a SLMS

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Another good fiction read a lot of my fifth grade boys like--Gordon Korman's _No More Dead Dogs_ The protagonist, Wallace Wallace, will make you laugh outloud. Read excerpt here.
Chet Gecko, Private Eye series, by Bruce Hale, is also a favorite among some fourth and fifth graders. Fun, with a little mystery thrown in for good measure. See what Chet's about...

Friday, November 25, 2005

In the October 16th edition of the New York Times, David Brooks writes about how the information age has changed the tools required for success and power. According to the article, "Mind Over Muscle", the gateway to present-day success is education, not physical strength. Women are generally better students than men, scoring higher on reading and writing tests throughout their school careers and graduating from college at a higher rate than men. A wake-up call for all of us who serve and care about boys! As Michael Sullivan says, "Without an active reading life, boys are almost destined to fall behind and stay behind in the acquisition and effective use of language."

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

There's an interesting article in the April 2005 issue of _Teacher Librarian_ about encouraging boys to read. In "Addressing the Gender Gap in Boys' Reading," author Christine Wellden writes about the boys-only "Cool Guys Reading Club" she started at her school. She also includes some websites with booklist recommendations. Check out this one from Wamego High School in Wamego, Kansas.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

My third grade classes are almost finished writing their collective biographies. For this project, I had student pairs interview each other using a set of simple questions. The results of the interviews were then used as writing prompts for two written paragraphs about their classmate. A simple crayon portrait was then added. I know the students quite well and tried to pair up those that are not best friends. Many boys ended up with girls as partners, much to the boys' disappointments. I am in the process of typing up the written paragraphs and will bind these with the portraits into class books. What is revealed in the interviews is often thoughtful, funny, and interesting. When asked to name something special about himself, one boy said it's because 'he has more strength in his foot than his arm'. Another said it's because 'he knows how to be a really good friend.' In addition to soccer, baseball and hockey, several boys listed dancing and singing as favorite activities.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Some excellent book recommendations for boys (and girls) are offered on the Education Oasis web site. Educators, reading specialists and boys suggest a variety of titles for primary, intermediate and high school readers. Included in the mix is Carl Hiassen's _Hoot_, which I'm currently doing with my fifth graders-great read. The book has prompted all sorts of side discussions--what constitutes vandalism, bus bullies and being the new kid in school. These discussions seem to spring up naturally, without prompting from me. I am often touched by the honesty and depth of feelings revealed by many students during these discussions. The other day, one boy shared that this is the sixth town and elementary school for him. (remember, these are fifth graders).

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Sixth grade teacher Jeff Wilhelm has a thought-provoking article about what boys read on the Scholastic web site. As an educator, he talks about developing inquiry-driven, action-oriented instructional strategies that will make boys' learning more real. In his experience, Mr. Wilhelm has found that the appeal of non-fiction and visual texts encourages boys to make a better connection with the world around them.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Fifth graders were really cooking during enrichment today. All of the students had suggested different countries to research(print and online) and find a simple recipe to complete in class. The students narrowed the choices down to five countries. Today's class was the final one before our 'making and tasting' next week. Unfortunately, the Food Network site is filtered by the District. We were able to find some good "no-cook" suggestions online for Cuba, though. We don't have any Cuban cookbooks in the school library. Two of my students told me that they had been talking about this over the weekend and had some other suggestions for their country (Ireland). These students are boys, by the way. All seem to be looking forward to a yummy meeting next week (me, too!)

Friday, November 04, 2005

My fifth grade enrichment class is overwhelmingly male-only two girls out of the 21 students. I have started a unit on cooking this month. They'll be working in groups, researching a country for a brief history and coming up with one simple recipe. I have access to a microwave, but no other source of heat available, so recipes need to be either no or very minimal cook. The boys in the class are so enthusiastic about this! It's great! They are using the cookbooks and online sources in the library--one boy was going to the public library over the weekend, too. Some colorful, easy-to-follow cookbooks you might be interested in are: _Emeril's There's a Chef in My Soup! Recipes for the Kid in Everyone_ and _Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Meals for Kids Cooking Rocks!_

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The May 24th, 2005 edition of _The Christian Science Monitor_ has some interesting reflections on boys learning differences and reading preferences. The article, "Matching Boys with Books," offers creative suggestions for jump-starting these readers and includes comments for elementary, secondary and college educators. A helpful book list is included.