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A Writerly Life: Wisdom from Paul West


Books on the Blog: The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd

by Jen Greene

Natalie Lloyd has a lyrically brilliant writing style that draws readers into an alternate universe where magic does exist and anything is possible.  Her sentences are carefully crafted together to weave a story that leaves you changed upon completion.  Her first book, A Snicker of Magic, is a masterpiece that I try to put in the hands of every student in my classroom.  Her second novel, The Key to Extraordinary is just as magical and transformative, sure to quickly become a favorite among students in the upper elementary grades.  Read more

Teacher-to-Teacher: End-of-Year Epiphanies

Adobe Spark (22)

By Janice Ewing

My grad class is small this term, a seminar-like community with lots of conversation and sharing of ideas and experiences. The comfort level among the group is a welcome respite at a time when everyone is striving to fulfill end-of-year requirements and scrambling to reach unmet goals, while keeping up with grad school and family obligations.

Recently, a few of the teachers shared experiences that were unexpectedly positive and rewarding. For example, Anne (names have been changed) teaches in an alternative high school for students who have previously dropped out or taken other detours from the traditional path to graduation. Most, if not all, have had struggles and negative experiences with reading, robbing them of the pleasurable experience of getting caught up in a book. By chance, Anne acquired a large enough collection of Walter Dean Myers’ Monster to accommodate her small class. She had not read the book, but had read reviews and commentaries and it seemed like a great fit for her students. She decided to jump in without reading it ahead, which was not her usual practice. Next issue: a well-meaning colleague pointed out that there were related “packets’ available, which would provide questions, prompts, discussion points, etc. An inner voice told her to forgo the packets, and she listened to it.  Read more