Category Archives: Uncategorized

Project? Check!

I have a long history of having a great idea, jumping in without enough forethought or preparation, and ending up abandoning it. There are good ideas I do manage to complete, but the percentage is not impressive. Today I managed to improve my batting average. Of course, that’s mostly because there was outside influence pushing me to pull this one off…

About a month ago I created a GoFundMe campaign as a part of their Teacher Appreciation Week promotion. My goal was to create summer bags for kids with things to help them keep learning all summer. Many of our students do not have summer camp or travel or similar experiences during the summer. We often see summer slide with our students and I was looking for a way to make that less of an issue.

Thanks to generous donors we were able to create bags for 55 kids today. We gave bags to students in 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. The thought was to aim these at students who were old enough to be independent in their use of the materials.

We had books for readers who are just getting started up to middle grade novels and nonfiction.

Every student got a spiral notebook, colored pencils, a pen, and a drawing notebook.

Every student got a bag they could use to gather their goodies. They got to decorate their bags if they wanted.

Two bookmarks for every student.

Two pencils for each student.

Every student got two ten-sided dice and directions for math games using them.

More books

Even more books

Several of the math games work best if recorded. We laminated them, in English on one side and Spanish on the other, and gave the kids dry erase markers so they could use them again and again.

This morning we brought the kids in by grade level to create their bags. They decorated. They picked out four books each. They picked a spiral notebook and a drawing notebook. They got copies of the math games and picked out dice and dry-erase markers. They got bookmarks and pencils. They walked out with a tote bag full of fun (I hope).

It was a bit crazy, but two colleagues were fabulous and gave up their time to help out. The kids were thrilled. Multiple kids said, “This is fun!” which is what we hope they’ll keep saying all summer. One fifth grade girl cracked me up as she was picking out dice and markers and said, “I feel like I’m shopping at the mall!”

Getting all the materials actually went pretty smoothly. The math games, however, were my snag on this one. I ordered the dice and the markers, but procrastinated on putting together the games. Luckily we have fabulous folks at school who translated the games for me quickly (for which I totally owe them). I made the copies of the games and laminated them yesterday. But I didn’t have time to cut them out before leaving school for an event. This morning I was beginning to panic. Getting everything set up before my students arrived (as I wouldn’t have free time between their arrival and our distribution) would be time consuming enough without needing to cut out hundreds of laminated pages. I got one game done but knew that was it. So I cut the other games into sets of eight and enlisted the help of my 3rd graders.

At least fifteen of my kids started their day cutting out laminated pages. They thought it was fun. Thank goodness.

Now if I can just remember how good it feels to actually complete a project the next time I get in over my head…

Just Getting Going…

In my first few years of teaching, before I had children, I spent the first week after school ended sleeping and reading. I needed to catch up on both those things. (When my children are grown I plan to return to this. Sleeping and reading are precious.) Most of what I read that week each summer was light, fun. After about a week sleeping and reading would bore me. I needed more. So I began to read the professional books I’d been eyeing all year but hadn’t been able to tackle as I tried to keep my head above water as a new teacher. Then it would get ugly. I’d read these books and reflect on the previous year(s) and I’d fall into a funk. All I could see were the ways in which I’d failed my students by not doing this, that, and the other.

Now, as I am wrapping up my 19th year in the classroom, I am having a bit of a flashback. For the past fifteen years or so I’ve done a better job of reading professional books during the school year (my summers aren’t quite as open and free as they once were, a result of a variety of choices I’ve made). I no longer hit the summer and beat myself up for not being the teacher I want to be. I can read professional books, reflect on them, try things, reflect some more, try some more, and so on. But I just finished reading Lost at School: Why Our Kids with Behavioral Challenges Are Falling Through the Cracks and How we Can Help Them by Ross W. Greene, Ph.D. And I’m doing a bit of berating myself for not reading it sooner. (It was published  in 2008.)

The big idea of the book is kids do well if they can (also the title of the second chapter). Greene’s premise is that children aren’t challenging because they’re lazy, or seeking attention, or trying to manipulate us. They are challenging because they lack certain skills that would help them do well. Their behavior is maladaptive because they do not have the skills for adaptive behaviors. As a result, rewards and punishments are not going to help these challenging students. If they just needed the right motivation or consequences then their behavior would change. For some students we’ve been trying rewards and punishments for years without success. And yet we continue.

I’m having a flashback because reading this book makes me feel the way all those professional books did when I was a new teacher. It shined a spotlight on how I have failed students. I got rid of any sort of structured reward or punishment system from my classroom years ago. I knew I didn’t believe in that. But that didn’t mean I had a better plan. For the majority of my students, the ones who have strong skills that allow them to be successful, having or not having a reward system doesn’t matter. For my challenging students, having such a system would just be a constant reminder of all they can’t do. Yet.

Lost at School is structured in an interesting way. In each chapter Greene lays out or reinforces the philosophical beliefs behind his ideas. He then explains how to implement them. There’s a Q & A section that is informative, as well as sometimes humorous. Finally, each chapter ends with The Story Continues… In the very beginning Greene starts a story with a specific student, teacher, and administration. Throughout the book that story continues, widening to include more of the people in the school. I found it quite helpful to have all of these pieces woven together.

I’m sorry I read this book in the last month of school. I’m sorry I waited almost ten years to read it. (Full disclosure, Greene also wrote a book titled, The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children. It was originally published in 1998, the year I began teaching. I wish I had read it then. I’m reading it now.) But I’m glad I’ve read it now. I will reread it, maybe many times. I’m starting to try some of the ideas. Even without that, I’m finding myself responding to students differently. The kicker is, the way I’m responding now? It fits my beliefs about children. The way I’ve been responding for years didn’t. I’ve only begun this journey but I’m looking forward to next year and continuing to problem solve with my students.

We’re All Giving Our All

It takes all kinds to make a school work. from Kevin Hodgson’s Flickr

Tuesday was one of those long days. Our 3rd graders were testing, which alone makes a day feel long. It also means they don’t go to specials (like PE, music, art) so we teachers don’t get a break during the day. Needless to say, by the end of the day I was pretty wiped out (as I’m sure were they).

After school I was on the phone with my mom, trying to make some plans for our summer travel, when our custodian came in to vacuum. He came in quietly and was clearly trying to figure out how to do his job without disrupting me. When I realized what he needed to do, I scooted out of the room and talked with my mom in the empty hallway.

A while later, as I was turning off lights and gathering my things to head home, I realized we had forgotten to stack the chairs in our classroom. Two of my students do this every afternoon, but Tuesday wasn’t a typical day and we all forgot. Of course, that made our custodian’s job harder as he had to vacuum around the chairs.

On my way out I passed him and apologized for our forgetfulness. At the same time, he was apologizing for vacuuming when I was on the phone. He explained that as it gets humid outside our floors get sticky and the big, flat brooms won’t sweep up debris well so he needs to use the vacuum. I headed home with both of us apologizing and thanking the other.

As I drove home I got to thinking about how easy it is for us to make assumptions about others. Our custodian could easily have assumed I didn’t value him or the work he does because we didn’t help him out by stacking our chairs. I could easily have assumed he didn’t care about me if he was willing to disrupt my phone call. Instead, partly because we have a good working relationship, we each assumed positive intentions of the other (and I believe we were both correct).

Teaching is, as I’m sure you’ve heard, a challenging job. People in a school building are all doing what they can for the students there. Every role in a school has different challenges. When we assume that another’s job is easier or less work we are very likely wrong. We can’t know another’s job the way they do so we won’t see the totality of what they do. When we assume another person is being lazy or not doing all they should, again, we are very likely wrong. We have no idea what all they are doing.

I catch myself thinking primary teachers don’t understand how tough our job is in the upper grades with high stakes testing. Even though I know, after 8 years as a primary teacher, how hard that job is. I catch myself wishing I had the free time specialists have because they don’t have multiple collaborative team planning meetings every week. Even though I know how many other things they do have on their plates that I don’t. I catch myself thinking it might be easier to be an ESOL or special education teacher and not have recess duty or kids arriving early for breakfast. Even though I am aware of the extra testing duties they have all year, among other things.

Everyone has their part. from Julien Harneis’s Flickr

Every one of us in a school building has a job that requires us to give our all. Sometimes things might be slightly less busy for some and crazier for others, but our jobs are all tough. The best thing I can do is to remember that.

  • To remember that the primary teachers are working their buns off to help kids learn how to be active participants in school and learn to read and count and more.
  • To remember that the specialists spend so much time ensuring our students have a plethora of opportunities to participate in things beyond the core content areas.
  • To remember that ESOL and special education teachers not only work with students, meet with families, and do a ridiculous amount of testing and paperwork, but they partner with us classroom teachers in every way possible.
  • To remember that instructional assistants turn on a dime and are as flexible as Gumby (look it up if you’re too young). They are with students nonstop and still manage to treat everyone with grace and patience. They are often paid the least to work with the students with the greatest challenges.
  • To remember that our custodians not only clean the school but encourage students, help us with mechanical challenges, and make sure our rooms and halls and spaces are welcoming places ready for learning every day.
  • To remember that the office staff communicate with families, whether for positive or not-so-positive reasons, make sure that we have everything we need for our students, and generally are there to take care of whatever balls we might have dropped.
  • To remember that the folks in the cafeteria put together dozens of coolers for breakfast every day, stock our salad bar for the kids, prepare lunch after lunch, and still smile at our students and us.

None of us are working along, thank goodness. We’re all there for the students and for each other. Everyone giving all they’ve got.

Math and Kids

I love math. I loved it in elementary school and then lost that love for a while during middle school, high school, and college. I found my love of math again when I began teaching elementary school students. I love thinking about why things work in math. I love trying different strategies. I love looking at a problem from a different perspective. I love the puzzle that is math.

For many years now, ever since a math consultant talked about it, I’ve added the digits on license plates. My daughters know I do this and the ten year old frequently does it to. She’ll suddenly just pipe up from the backseat with, “24!” Then she and I have a conversation about how we each got to that number. Frequently our paths are not the same. It makes for some fun math talk.

We take our state math test next week. By we I mean my students. I worried that this would be the time I would hate math. That prepping for the test would kill the joy. That hasn’t happened. We’ve looked at problems and tried to figure out why someone would pick the wrong answers. The kids love trying to figure out the errors. I knew I would love that but I didn’t realize they would love it too.

Yesterday we broke our math time into 20-30 minute chunks and worked on different ideas. We started all together for a few minutes and then went off on our own. Part of the time we worked on number stories (word problems). I worked with kids who wanted help. One little girl practically knocked me over. (Actually, I accidentally knocked her over because I was so impressed with her I high fived her and she fell off her stool.) She arrived in this country over the summer to join her mom and older brother. An uncle brought her and they were detained at an ICE facility in Texas for more than a month. She was eventually sent up here and her uncle remained there (I’m not sure what happened to him). She spent a lot of this year in the silent period that many students do when they’re learning another language. But she’s always rocked in math. She didn’t need my help with math so I think she sat with me to help with the language in the number stories.

In the first problem she worked on she had, as one step, to add 99 and 94. She quickly did, accurately. Then explained to me that she took one from the 94 and added it to the 99 so that she had 100. So she knew it was 193.

She went on to this problem, adding 2,381 and 3,077. She added the ones. Then the tens, but she took two tens from the 7 on the bottom to make 100 with the 8 on top. So she knew she had 4 hundreds with 5 tens left over. Then she added the thousands. I love the way she notated it. The way she broke the 7 and wrote the 2 and 5. And especially the 100 at the top with the line going all the way around.

I love this. I love math. I love watching kids figure things out and grow their flexibility with numbers. This is small, all things considered. But it was huge in my day. Her confidence. Her knowledge that she had this totally under control. Her explanation to me in English. It was absolutely beautiful. Math and kids. Life couldn’t be better.

Striving for Better

For the past few weeks I have been unhappy with myself as a teacher. I’ve been chastising students for doing things that nine year olds should do. I’ve been yelling at kids (not raising my voice but yelling in tone). I’ve been controlling things. I’ve been a teacher I dislike. And I have been unable to change it.

I’ve known this for a few weeks. It’s not a surprise. Every day I go in with good intentions. Every day I fail. I do not want to end the year like this. We’ve got about a month left together. I want it to be our best month all year. Right now I’m afraid it will be the worst.

This morning continued in that fashion. It’s not that I didn’t have some great interactions with kids. It’s that the big picture, the overall way I’m responding to them, is not positive.

But then we got to writing. We’ve been reading Adventures in Cartooning. Today we took the ideas about how authors create cartoons/comics/graphic novels and made a list (panels, thought balloons, speech balloons, sound effects). We talked with a partner about ideas we might have for writing in this way. They talked about writing about their family and friends (like Cece Bell and Raina Telgemeier do). They talked about writing about talking animals being captured or folks going to outer space (like Ben Hatke does). They went off and wrote and wrote and wrote. They asked if they could take their writing home to continue working on it and if they could have more pages.

I have no idea why they get clipboards and then work at a table.

After recess today we spent the rest of our afternoon on math (we take the state test next week). I broke the afternoon into smaller chunks, spending a few minutes all together looking at an idea and then sending them off to do some independent or partner work around that idea. Each time I sent them off I sat at one table and allowed anyone who wanted or felt they needed help to join me. We’d work for 20 minutes or so and then return to the carpet for a new idea. It was the best time we’ve had together in weeks.

I offered them choices in writing that excited them. I gave them time to talk through their ideas and time to work on them. I walked around and asked them questions and shared what I was noticing them doing.

I had a vision for the work we’d do with math. I worked one on one with lots of different kids. I watched them struggle and then get it (at least sometimes). I was completely focused and present with them and thinking about what they were doing and understanding and how to help them take that and build on it.

I was, for a few hours, the teacher I want to be.

Tomorrow is a short day. They go home after lunch. I’m thinking through my vision and plan for our few hours together. Then I’ve got a three day weekend to think about how to keep this going.

Kids Are People, Too

It is so easy to do things the way they’ve always been done. I believe this is true for a couple of reasons. For one, the way things have always been done is comfortable and known. Doing things differently requires questioning the way they’ve always been done. It requires extra steps of thought and planning. Secondly, doing things the way they’ve always been done is habit. Most of the time we aren’t even aware we’re doing things the way they’ve always been done. (Which is clearly related to the first reason.)

If a kid can sleep in my room, they must be tired! So sleep is the most important thing right then. (This one is faking for the camera but it happens every year.)

I tend to pride myself of not doing things the way they’ve always been done. Quite possibly I pride myself a bit more than I deserve. The area in which I think this is the greatest challenge for me is in dealing with student behavior (actually, it’s a challenge for me as a teacher and as a parent). It’s both reassuring to know I’m not alone and painful to realize how many of us teachers are doing what has always been done in responding to students.

Yet even though today’s teachers are trained to be sensitive to “social-emotional development” and schools are committed to mainstreaming children with cognitive or developmental issues into regular classrooms, those advances in psychology often go out the window once a difficult kid starts acting out. Teachers and administrators still rely overwhelmingly on outdated systems of reward and punishment, using everything from red-yellow-green cards, behavior charts, and prizes to suspensions and expulsions.

I haven’t used red-yellow-green cards in fifteen years and behavior charts are a rarity for me. I also don’t do prizes. So I guess it could be worse.

Contemporary psychological studies suggest that, far from resolving children’s behavior problems, these standard disciplinary methods often exacerbate them. They sacrifice long-term goals (student behavior improving for good) for short-term gain—momentary peace in the classroom.

That’s what I think I do. I respond in the moment, too quickly, aiming for ‘momentary peace in the classroom’ rather than for what is best for the child. The piece I’m quoting here is from Mother Jones, What If Everything You Knew About Disciplining Kids Was Wrong? It goes on to discuss the idea that we should be helping students learn self-control rather than imposing our control on them. That’s where I fail far too often.

Which begs the question: Does it make sense to impose the harshest treatments on the most challenging kids? And are we treating chronically misbehaving children as though they don’t want to behave, when in many cases they simply can’t?

That fits my beliefs. Children will make choices that don’t show kindness, respect, or safety at times. They are human. Adults do the same. But sometimes, too often, we as schools and teachers are asking students to behave in ways that are completely inappropriate or even impossible for them, at least at that moment. Punishing them for that is unreasonable.

The article continues on to discuss the work of Ross Greene (I just checked out a couple of his books to learn more). The biggest idea is to talk with students when they are not behaving in respectful, kind, safe ways. Ask them why. Figure out what is going on with them. Making assumptions about a child’s behavior and choices will almost always lead us down the wrong road. Listening to a child can take time (which is one reason I think it doesn’t happen enough) but will give us invaluable insight.

The CPS (collaborative and proactive solutions) method hinges on training school (or prison or psych clinic) staff to nurture strong relationships—especially with the most disruptive kids—and to give kids a central role in solving their own problems. For instance, a teacher might see a challenging child dawdling on a worksheet and assume he’s being defiant, when in fact the kid is just hungry. A snack solves the problem. Before CPS, “we spent a lot of time trying to diagnose children by talking to each other,” D’Aran says. “Now we’re talking to the child and really believing the child when they say what the problems are.”

Three of the students in my classroom that have the greatest challenges at school when it comes to behavior rarely have those problems with me. I realized in the first few days of the year that they would face such challenges and worked hard then to build strong relationships with them. It has done wonders. All three are awesome kids but I’m not sure folks in the cafeteria or specials can always see that. I have one other student I didn’t identify immediately and didn’t spend the same time and effort on relationship building. I regret it daily.

Like the Long creek guards, staffers at Central were skeptical at first. When an enraged second-grader threw a chair at educational technician Susan Forsley one day, her first instinct was to not let him “get away with it.” But she swallowed her pride and left the room until the boy calmed down. Later, she sat down with him and Principal D’Aran, and they resolved that if he felt himself getting angry like that again, he would head for the guidance office, where he’d sit with stuffed animals or a favorite book to calm down. Forsley eventually learned to read his emotions and head off problems by suggesting he take a break. “Is giving him a consequence—suspending him, calling his grandparents—is that going to teach him not to throw chairs?” she asks. “When you start doing all these consequences, they’re going to dig their heels in even deeper, and nobody is going to win.”

Children are smaller than we are but they are not nearly as different from us as we like to think. Treating them as human beings rather than as something unrelated to us makes quite a difference. I think that’s really all it is. Take a moment to think about how you would like to be treated in a situation. Would it help if your boss yelled at you when you messed up? Would it help if you were removed from your peers? Would it help if you had a visible-to-all sign of how you were doing at work (the way red-yellow-green cards do)? if you stop to think about it you will likely decide it’s a bit too humiliating. Don’t do that to children either. I promise to keep trying to treat my students with respect. I expect to fail some, but I’ll keep setting that goal every day with every kid.

Walking the Testing Tightrope

For the past eight years I’ve taught first graders and kindergartners. This year I’m spending my days with third graders. I love third graders. They’re genuine, excited about everything, capable of tying their own shoes, and full of drama. Spending my days with them is pretty awesome.

Until now. Now we’re in testing season. High stakes testing season. Right now it’s too easy for me to lose sight of the trees that are my kids in the forest of testing business.

The greatest challenge, in my mind, is that my students have to take this test. So I want them to be prepared without being stressed. They’re taking these tests for the first time so there’s a lot of unknown involved, which is frequently stressful. I want to give them experiences that help them feel prepared, as they hear a lot about the tests from peers, other adults, family members, and such. But I don’t want the experiences I offer them to add any stress. Quite a tightrope we’re all walking together.

I try to frame our talk about testing through the lens of my own daughters. We talked about the kinds of problems we might face with the test and how to cope with those challenges. I explained that the first challenge here is one my oldest faces often. The middle challenge is one both my girls face sometimes. And the final one is a challenge my youngest has to face. Putting my girls’ faces on this makes it easier to take, I hope. It makes it feel normal.

(The bright spot in our week, for me at least, has been watching 19 third graders roll their shoulders in various ways after we talked about how we can roll forward or backward and both shoulders together or separate. Super cute and fun.)

We’ve looked at questions and explored the testing software. The kids are finding lots of it tricky. I don’t want them to see the test takers as out to get them. For those that are anxious I think that will increase the anxiety.

So I decided to try an analogy. Most of my kiddos are soccer folks. Even if they don’t play it often, they know it and love it. Tomorrow we’ll talk about what it takes to prepare for a soccer game. We’ll look at pictures of soccer fields with a soccer ball and a goal and nothing else and discuss how easy that goal would be to make. We’ll talk about the drills and practices soccer players do all the time to prepare for games because it’s never just the soccer ball and the goal on the field. We’ll talk about how soccer players are working to be successful in soccer games. That’s the end goal. Our goal is to be successful as readers and mathematicians. The test is like soccer drills. It has tricky parts but those are there to help us be ready to do this for real. Ready to be lifelong readers and mathematicians.

I’m not thrilled by this. I don’t like where I feel we’ve all been placed. Nothing I do will keep my students from taking this test. I’m doing all I can to keep myself balanced on that tightrope without accidentally knocking any of my kiddos off.

Family Writing Night

For a number of years my school, like many, has done a literacy night. It’s typically all about how to help families help their children as readers. This year, thanks to one of my brilliant colleagues, we decided to try something new. We hosted a Family Writing Night for Head Start through 3rd graders.

In case you don’t know anything about my school, we’re in the DC suburbs and we serve mostly families and students who have immigrated from El Salvador or Honduras. We have students from other areas as well, but the overwhelming majority of our kiddos and families come from those two countries. Many of our students made the journey but others are second-generation immigrants. Our school boundaries are pretty close to our school, with many of our students living in two apartment complexes basically a stone’s throw from our building. We have wonderful parent liaisons and secretaries who ensure that families feel welcome so we have a strong community within and outside of the building.

For our Family Writing Night our big goals were to offer families ideas for writing together and give them some time to try them out. As families arrived they were all given a copy of a picture book (King Kenrick’s Splinter, thanks to Never Counted Out). We had set up in our cafeteria and covered all the tables with bright butcher paper, which meant people could write or draw on them. We had bookmarks on the tables for kids to decorate as they waited for everyone to arrive.

To get started, we wanted to offer families some ideas without talking at them for too long. Everything was to be said in both English and Spanish so keeping the talking to a minimum was extra important and challenging. We began with Georgia Heard’s ideas from Heart Maps. We had hearts for families so they could collect ideas for writing: people, places, things that make them happy, memories, whatever. We talked about how those could be in any language, including drawings and they could hang them on the fridge at home to add to or reference in the future.

We talked some about wordless picture books (we had different ones on every table for families to use) and other books as places to get ideas as well as photographs. We shared the idea of skimming through the photos on your phone for ideas. Finally, my youngest daughter and I spent a few minutes modeling some writing together. We kept reinforcing the idea of talking, drawing, and writing. For the next half hour, families talked, drew, and wrote together. We all walked around and listened, answered questions, and encouraged. It was amazing.

At the end we did a quick wrap up and then had door prizes. Our book fair was going on (it was open the hour before and the hour after this event) so we had gift certificates for it. We also had baskets full of writing supplies: markers, colored pencils, notebooks, white boards, etc. We had one gift certificate and two baskets for each grade level so 15 families went home with an extra treat. We gave families this handout to take home as well.

I don’t know for sure how the families felt when they left, but I know I left feeling energized and excited. We did have some older siblings who were there with families who wanted to know why we hadn’t included 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. A totally reasonable question and something for us to consider in the future.

Kids Notice

These are kinders. Apparently I took far more pictures of them during recess than I do 3rd graders.

Last week, in the final quarter of the year, one of my 3rd graders caught me eating a few chips. (I was trying not to be noticed as it was about 20 minutes before lunch). She came over and said to me, “Do you know what you remind me of?” Holding my breath slightly I answered that no, I didn’t know. 3rd graders don’t do a lot of filtering, they can be quite bluntly honest and I wasn’t sure I was prepared for whatever she might have to tell me.

She said, “You remind me of the beginning of the year when I got hurt at recess. You told me to sit beside you and you gave me chips.”

This happened months ago, pretty much as she’s described it. She got hurt at recess. She was quite upset. I didn’t think she was hurt too badly and I prefer not to send kids to the clinic if they don’t really need something. So I often have kids sit with me and take a little break. I give them some attention and love and usually that’s enough to heal the hurt.

This one, at least in my estimation early on, was one who can be a tad dramatic. A bit like I was at her age and a bit like my own daughters can be. I thought she might need a little more than the standard care. I had chips with me as I had rushed through lunch so I shared them with her. I don’t usually have chips so I didn’t figure I was setting too big a precedent (I don’t like to share my chips, they are a great treat).

It was astounding to me that she remembers this from at least six months ago. I wouldn’t have recalled it without her prompting. It was a reminder to me of how much the small things we do make such a difference. Those small things might be kindnesses or they might be slights. Either way, they are impacting kids.

We need to be far more aware than we normally are about the language we choose, the tone we use, and our body language. Typically we aren’t hyper aware of these things and it works out fine. But with the children in our care we must be. They are. They notice what we say. They notice how we say it. They notice so much of what we are telling them that we miss. We need to be aware. We need to be thoughtful. We need to sure that ALL the messages we send children say that we care for them, that we believe in them, and that they mater.

Books By Women

On International Women’s Day Lee posted a challenge. List 95 books by women and non-binary individuals. 95 books you’ve read.

That seemed intimidating but intriguing. So I started thinking. And it wasn’t as tough as I thought to come up with 95 authors for that list. For some of these women I’ve read multiple books by them. I’ve tried to link to as many as possible (which is why this is showing up so far after International Women’s Day). Making this list was a joy, surprisingly, because I remembered authors I want to read more of now.

  1. Roxane Gay: Bad Feminist
  2. Louise Penny: Inspector Gamache series
  3. Jacqueline Winspear: Maise Dobbs series
  4. Laurie King: Mary Russell series and Kate Martinelli series
  5. Chimimanda Ngozi Adichi: Americanah and We Should All Be Feminists and The Thing Around Your Neck
  6. Caitlin Moran: How to Be a Woman
  7. Jan Burkis & Kim Yaris: Who’s Doing the Work?: How To Say Less So Readers Can Do More
  8. Kate Atkinson: Case Histories
  9. Artis Henderson: Unremarried Widow
  10. Allie Brosh: Hyperbole and a Half
  11. Karin Slaughter: The Kept Woman (I want to read more of these books!)
  12. Helene Wecker: The Golem and the Jinni
  13. Kate Morton: The Secret Keeper
  14. Margaret Atwood: Stone Matress: Nine Wicked Tales
  15. Yaa Gyasi: Homegoing
  16. Kate Schatz: Rad American Women A-Z and Rad Women Worldwide
  17. Carole Boston Weatherford: You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen and Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hammer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement among others
  18. Jacqueline Woodson: Each Kindness and The Other Side among others
  19. Eileen Spinelli: Where I Live and While You Are Away
  20. Kate DiCamillo: Flora and Ulysses and Tale of Desperaux and the Mercy Watson series and the Bink and Gollie series
  21. Blue Balliett: Chasing Vermeer and The Wright 3 and Hold Fast among others
  22. Kirby Larson: Hattie Big Sky and Hattie Ever After
  23. Malala Yousafzi: I Am Malala
  24. Laurie Halse Anderson: Fever 1793
  25. Marilyn Nelson: How I Discovered Poetry and My Seneca Village and American Ace
  26. A.S. King: Ask the Passengers
  27. Rachel Hartman: Seraphina
  28. Elizabeth Wein: Code Name Verity
  29. Jessica Day George: Tuesdays at the Castle series
  30. Sharon Creech: Love That Dog and Hate That Cat and Granny Torrelli Makes Soup
  31. Jessica Herthel: I Am Jazz
  32. Tamora Pierce: First Test and the following books in the series
  33. Ann Patchett: State of Wonder – not kids
  34. Monica Brown: Side by Side Lado a Lado and Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People
  35. E.L. Konigsburg: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place and others
  36. Kelly DiPucchio: Grace for President and Zombie in Love
  37. Susan Taylor Brown: Hugging the Rock
  38. Helen Frost: Diamond Willow and Hidden
  39. Thanhha Lai: Inside Out and Back Again
  40. Margi Preus: Heart of the Samurai 
  41. Marjane Satrapi: Persepolis and Persepolis 2
  42. Judith Viorst: So many! But I love Lulu and the Brontosaurus and If I Were in Charge of the World and Other Worries
  43. Linda Tirado: Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America – not kids
  44. Jennifer Holm: Sunny Side Up and Turtle in Paradise and so many more
  45. Cynthia Rylant: The Relatives Came and God Got a Dog and countless more (truly, I don’t think I could count them all)
  46. J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter series (of course) and The Casual Vacancy and the Cormoran Strike series
  47. Jessica Spotswood: A Tyranny of Petticoats (she actually edited this collection but it’s fabulous and I can’t skip it)
  48. Kekla Magoon: Shadows of Sherwood (and she has a short story in the above collection)
  49. Kathy Collins: I Am Reading: Nurturing Young Children’s Meaning Making and Joyful Engagement with Any Book – not kids
  50. Donalyn Miller: The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child – not kids
  51. Lois Lowry: The Giver and Number the Stars and so mnay more
  52. Lauren Child: The New Small Person
  53. Cornelia Funke: The Thief Lord and the Inkheart trilogy
  54. Shannon Hale: Princess in Black series and The Goose Girl
  55. Eve Bunting: How Many Days to America and The Pirate Captain’s Daughter and many, many more
  56. Pam Munoz Ryan: When Marian Sang and others
  57. Gennifer Choldenko: Al Capone Does My Shirts
  58. Mara Rockliff: Me and Momma and Big John
  59. Katie Kennedy: Learning to Swear in America
  60. Salina Yoon: Penguin books
  61. Kate Hannigan: The Detective’s Assistant
  62. Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility – not kids
  63. Zetta Elliott: Bird
  64. Carrie Fisher: Wishful Drinking
  65. Dana Simpson: Phoebe and Her Unicorn and at least one of the sequels
  66. Nancy Springer: Enola Holmes series
  67. Ursula Vernon: Castle Hangnail
  68. Victoria Jamieson: Roller Girl
  69. Cassie Beasley: Circus Mirandus
  70. Erin Morganstern: The Night Circus – not kidding
  71. Judy Blume: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Are You There God It’s Me Margaret and more and more
  72. Rukhsana Khan: Big Red Lollipop
  73. Natalie Babbitt: Tuck Everlasting
  74. Holly Black: Zombies vs. Unicorns (again, she was an editor as this is a collection of fabulous short stories)
  75. Maryrose Wood: The Incorrigable Children of Ashton Place series
  76. Jennifer Fisher Bryant: Pieces of Georgia
  77. Lindsay Mattick: Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear
  78. Barbara Robinson: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and others
  79. Sarah Miller: The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century
  80. Rachel Renee Russel: at least one of the Dork Diaries books
  81. Ellen Oh: Prophecy
  82. Julia Otsuka: When the Emperor was Divine – not kids
  83. Rainbow Rowell: Eleanor and Park
  84. Maria Semple: Where’d You Go, Bernadette 0 not kids
  85. Lissa Evans: Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms: Magic, Mystery, and a Very Strange Adventure
  86. Victoria Thompson: Murder in the Bowery (I need to read more books in the series!) – not kids
  87. Leslea Newman: October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard
  88. Lynn Povich: The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued Their Bosses and Changed the Workplace – not kids
  89. Tracey Hecht: The Nocturnals: The Mysterious Abductions
  90. Lauren McLaughlin: Mitzi Tulane, Preschool Detective in What’s That Smell
  91. Ursula K. LeGuin: The Left-Hand of Darkness and A Wizard of Earthsea
  92. Linda Ashman: Rain! (this is one of my favorite picture books)
  93. Cathy O’Neil: Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy 
  94. Jo Baker: Longbourn
  95. Ann Leckie: Ancillary Mercy