Monday, January 6, 2014


Happy New Year!

   With the added snow day, I hope everyone has had a chance to re-charge and get ready for the rest of the school year.  Please check out these reflective writing prompts for the new year (for you and your students), children's and young adult must reads for 2014, and our upcoming literacy professional development offerings at WISD.

Questions to Ask for New Year 

( Eric Liu FROM CNN) -- Here's a New Year's resolution that's easy to keep, good for your health and beneficial for your relationships. And it won't cost you a penny. Sound too good to be true? Read on.
In recent months, I've been working with a group of creative thinkers who are mining the meaning of a good life. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Bill Damon and Howard Gardner are renowned psychologists who've collaborated to create the Good Project, which explores the behaviors and mindsets that add up to good work, good play and good citizenship.
Together, with Lynn Barendsen, we've developed a simple set of questions for the New Year. They're catalysts for reflection rather than formulas for imitation. Their purpose is to get us thinking about our purpose, in both private and community life.
We originally developed these questions for young people, on the belief that the new generation doesn't get enough structured opportunities to explore meaning and values. But the truth is, it's not just millennials today who might lack purpose, feel uncertain about shared beliefs and goals or wish they could be part of something greater than themselves. It's people of all ages.
We Americans rarely get to make a truly mindful assessment of who we are, what's shaped us and why we hope to change. If we did that first, we'd probably be more capable of making wise resolutions and keeping them. We'd become more conscious of the web of relationship and mutual obligation that holds us together and that makes our freedom truly worth cherishing. And we might just end up being better humans.
So I invite you, whatever your stage of life, to explore these questions. Ask them of yourself. Talk with family and friends about them. Write and share your reflections. Feel free to adapt and revise the questions to suit your circumstances. And let us know on Twitter what the experience is like for you and those close to you.
If you make it your first resolution to consider these questions well, your other resolutions will almost certainly end up being more honest, more meaningful to you and more useful to others. Enjoy reflecting, and may your new year be happy -- and deeply good.
Who you are
1. Think of something (an activity, a job) to which you're really committed and that takes up a lot of your time. Why do you do it? Do you consider it time well spent? Why or why not? What would make you stop being involved?
2. Who or what do you consider your community? What do you do for the community? What would you expect the community to do it for you?
3. To whom or what do you feel responsible? What does that entail? What happens when you don't meet that responsibility?
4. Are you a good worker? A good citizen? A good person? How do you distinguish among them? Which is most important to you?
5. Who's influenced you, and how do you pass it on?
6. What individuals and institutions do you admire and why (current or past)?
7. What/whom don't you admire and why?
8. What and whom do you love?
9. What would it mean for you to be successful? How important is recognition, through money or esteem? What about unheralded acts or contributions?
10. What would it mean for you fail? Who or what will make that judgment for you and about you?
11. What kind of person do you want to be right now?
12. What should -- and shouldn't -- be written in your obituary?

Children's and YA Reading Lists for 2014

   This list from the American Library Association (ALA) for Notable Children's Books for 2014 is worth a read if you get an opportunity to purchase new books for your classroom or library. Notable is defined as: Worthy of note or notice, important, distinguished, outstanding. As applied to children’s books, the term “notable” includes books for all age levels (through age 14) of especially commendable quality, books that exhibit venturesome creativity, and books of fiction, information, poetry, folklore, and picture books that reflect and encourage children’s interest in exemplary ways. The evaluation criteria to be used are: 
1. Literary quality 
2. Originality of text and illustration 
3. Clarity and style of language 
4. Excellence of Illustration 
5. Excellence of design and format 
6. Clarity of organization and accuracy of 
7. Subject matter of interest and value to 
8. The likelihood of acceptance by children.

*You may also want to skim this list from Good Reads on YA novels of 2014.  These are 100 titles voted on and ranked by YA readers. 

Upcoming Literacy Professional Development

Writing Collaborative (grades 4-12):
February 6, 7, and March 7, 2014 at WISD 8:30-3:30
April 29, 30, and May 16, 2014 at WISD 8:30-3:30  

Reading Apprenticeship (grades 4-12):
January 28, 29 and February 12, 2014  at WISD 8:30-3:30
April 22, 23 and May 14, 2014 at WISD 8:30-3:30  

Speaker: Dr. Timothy Shanahan on elementary literacy and the CCSS.  March 11th , 2014  12:30-3:30

*All details, costs, and registrations can be found on WISDGoSignMeUP!