Archive for Teaching

Top Five Children’s Authors

With a three-year-old and an 18-month-old at home, I spend a lot of time reading children’s books. And loving it! There are so many good authors out there, but sometimes when I get to the library I feel stuck. So I thought it seemed like a good time to document, in no particular order, some of the authors we enjoy reading together the most.

1. Janet and Allan Ahlberg: author and illustrator of delightful books such as “Peek-A-Boo” and “Each Peach Pear Plum,” we are happy to have this couple at home on our bookshelf. My sister loved “Each Peach Pear Plum” as a toddler and wanted to read and reread it so often that all I can remember about it is hating its redundancy. Nine months pregnant and in the board book aisle at Vroman’s bookstore in Pasadena, though, it was the first book to draw me in. The simple rhymes and fanciful pictures combined with the play on characters kids are already familiar with make it a winner. The girls also love their other books, such as “The Baby’s Catalogue,” which documents in pictures the things and people and activities that make up a day in the life of five different babies. What baby doesn’t love to look at pictures of babies? Read the rest of this entry »


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All in a Day’s Work: From Career-Woman to Stay-at-Home Mom

This past Wednesday, I went in to Mountain View to pack up the last of my things.  I wept my way through the San Gabriel Valley, grieving my many losses.  Each August for the past…well… 22 years, I have been starting fresh with new notebooks, new pens, new books, plans and goals for what I will accomplish in the coming year and how.  And now, instead of the blank slate of a new school year looming before me, I am shutting the classroom door (at least for the time being).

Now don’t get me wrong, every year that I have taught has been difficult in some way; there have been days, though fewer each year, when I wished I could find a way out of teaching.  The first few years, I dreamed of the day when having a family at home would keep me out of the classroom, anticipated the glories of stay-at-home-motherhood.  I imagined taking an eight- to ten-year sabbatical in which I would shine in all my domesticated ways, baking daily from scratch, filling our home and our children’s closets with home-made-ness, volunteering in our community, gardening, and being satisfied.  There would be no hurry to get back into teaching, not in this imagined world of mine. Read the rest of this entry »

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Resources for Teaching Writing (or coming up with blogging ideas)

As a teacher, a resource I have found invaluable has been the National Council for Teachers of English.  I have yet to enroll in a masters degree program, so I keep up with the latest research and  get new ideas and new ways of thinking about my craft through some of NCTE’s various publications.  In the January edition of English Journal, I found a few great websites with prompts for creative and reflective writing.

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Reflections on Home Ownership

My ninth graders are currently reading The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, and I am using ideas from a well-developed curriculum from northern California to guide instruction. Today I had my students begin class writing a response to the following question from this unit: Read the rest of this entry »

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Teaching Poetry, Baca’s “I am Offering This Poem”

This month I am teaching poetry to both my ninth and tenth graders.  I love teaching poetry; the language is so rich and has so much to offer.  I discover new and beautiful poems every year as I teach this unit.  Here’s one I’d like to share.  It was written by Jimmy Santiago Baca, a Hispanic writer out of Los Angeles who began writing during a stay in prison.  (He’s very charismatic; I heard him speak in 2005 at the UCLA Writing Project fall conference) Read the rest of this entry »

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MVHS Faculty Bookclub

My colleague and friend Chris and I recently initiated a staff book club to mixed reviews of our fellow teachers. In the end, what spurred the birth of this meeting was a presentation by Kelly Gallagher, author of Reading Reasons, at a class we took through our school district over the summer. The idea had been resting in the back of my mind for several years, however, waiting for the right moment to arrive. When I was in college at Malone, I had several favorite female professors who met regularly for book discussions and meals. The idea sat well with me; all I needed was another book enthusiast to join me. I was, therefore, quite excited by the opportunity to do this at my current school with interested colleagues. Read the rest of this entry »

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