Friday, January 26, 2018


Joe Bagley in BU Today
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I had a great time this week attending the sold out BU Alumni Association presentation by City Archaeologist and fellow BU Alum Joe Bagley (CAS '06), Let's Talk Mutton! Held at Bastille Kitchen,  it was a perfect venue to talk about the thousands of artifacts unearthed at the site and the insights those artifacts can give us about people, place and time. You may recall I talked about his book in my currently reading blog back in October. This book was also selected by the Boston Public School Librarian's Book Club for non-fiction reads last school year, (2016-2017). Unfortunately you can't attend the talk, but you can buy the book that supports the City of Boston Archaeology Department and read more about BU's Archaeology program in BU Today. Joe was part of the team that excavated the Three Cranes Tavern in Charlestown as a result of the Big Dig. Secrets of the Three Cranes Tavern is Part I of a 5-part series about BU Archaeology Around the World in BU Today (by Amy Laskowski, 2014. Photo above by Cydney Scott, Video embedded in article by Bill Politis).
Getting my book signed!

Monday, January 22, 2018


My first blog post of the New Year challenged you and yours to read, read, read. Without becoming overly political or verbose in this space, I have watched far too many school years pass where students and teachers did not read or write very much. I’ve heard tons of “reasons” for completing just one or two books in an entire school year. Classes spend inordinate amounts of time reading passages and answering multiple choice and short answer form questions in an English class that meets 5 times a week! While this post is primarily focused on the role writing can and should play, I would like to inspire you with a quote from President Obama from the 2005 ALA Annual Conference address;
"At the dawn of the 21st century, where knowledge is literally power, where it unlocks the gates of opportunity and success, we all have responsibilities as parents, as librarians, as educators, as politicians, and as citizens to instill in our children a love of reading so that we can give them a chance to fulfill their dreams." 
Good readers think about their reading and what better way to reflect on good reading than writing? As a library media specialist for the last 9 years, I could always tell which students would pass a high stakes test and those who wouldn't just from their reading and writing habits. I have also watched as scheduling and a lack of understanding of school libraries support the plummeting of student success – but I digress and tempt you to come back another day for a future post about the importance of school libraries and the role certified library teachers play in whole school progress. For this post I'm asking you to recognize what distracts you and your students. How many times a day do you look at Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or text someone something that just happened? Parents: you have a role in this too–your child should have time everyday for reading and writing. 

Shop your local indie bookstore.

This blog is about solutions and Ralph Fletcher’s A Writer’s Notebook, got me thinking. What if everyone put down their device and picked up a pen or pencil and followed Mr. Fletcher's ideas for “unlocking the writer within you?” If you are a teacher this book offers ideas you can use immediately with your students. The 12 chapters could be divided into 12 or 24 weeks of writing–that’s close to a school year! I've given you a link to buy the book on Amazon, but I would be surprised if there wasn't one of these books in your school already. If you are new to teaching, this book could guide you very easily in your first year...inbox me and I'll help you with your lesson plans. If you are a veteran teacher and are noticing that your students are not progressing, I suggest you take a quick read of Mr. Fletcher's books and see some of his tips on his web site. I believe if you mastered teaching with this book, you would see student improvement in reading and writing. 

 After 40 years of teaching and learning, writing curriculum, and running many successful programs, I respectfully conclude that the answer IS simpleto create readers and writers we must read and write and give our students the time to read and write. I have seen so much money and time spent on new “researched programs” on what works including re-training staff sometimes every year brought about by changes in administration and low test scores. If you have taught or been an administrator for a short time you know what I am talking about. We must make the time for students to read and write everyday and guiding them should not take hours of training an already educated certified teacher with a complicated, expensive “researched” program. If you are hiring a teacher and they are not a reader–move on. If you are an administrator and you are not a reader and a writer–you lack two of the basic skills to lead. If you are a parent struggling to get your child reading - read with them. Let them see you as a reader. So friends, put down your devices and get serious about reading and writing for yourself, your students and your children. Simply stated, readers and writers pass most tests easily and the most important test of living a fuller, more informed life is aced.

P.S. Reading this blog counts as reading!

Monday, January 1, 2018


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As you reflect on 2017 don't forget to ask yourself about how many books you read and think about why reading is important for you. Serious Reading has a great article that gives us 30 Reasons to Read Books including being inexpensive entertainment, reducing stress, and improving your brain. I'm sure you can find a few reasons there that are meaningful to you. Resolve to STOP the distractions and check out this article in the LA Times by Jessica Roy on How to read more books in 2018. No excuses in 2018. You may want to make your reading a more social affair, try one of my ideas in Form a Book Group Challenge a post from September 2017 and see how 2018 can be one of the best years ever...because you are reading!