Why Blog

I’m passionate about finding ways to simplify comprehension instruction and learning. I’m concerned that we are defining comprehension too narrowly as an accumulation of five or six meta-cognitive strategies when cultivating comprehension involves so much more than that. We need to help children acquire accurate fluent reading skills and strategies; build background knowledge; develop their oral language and vocabulary; make reading-writing connections, and acquire a repertoire of meta-cognitive strategies to use as and if needed.

So I invite you to join me in blogging about this ever-so-important topic. I look forward to hearing your ideas, teaching strategies, book recommendations, classroom stories, etc., basically anything that will inspire a healthy conversation among colleagues.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Mirror by Jeannie Baker Is Not to Be Missed

When Jeannie Baker’s Mirror arrived via my trusty and grossly over-worked UPS delivery man, I wasn’t at all prepared for what I saw when I open the book. Two parallel stories, one set in urban Australia and the other in rural Morocco. In each story a young boy arises while it is still dark to accompany his father on a day-trip. The Australian boy and dad drive to the hardware store to purchase bricks for a fireplace they’re making, and the Moroccan boy and his father ride a camel to the market to sell a rug the women have been making. That’s how the story starts, but what unfolds is a visual and emotional treat not to be missed. (Rather than me trying to explain the technical aspects of how this most unusual book is put together, I’ll leave it up to you to go to Amazon and read the descriptions provided in the editorial reviews. See the visual below for an idea of how it's formatted.)

However I can tell you what the book does—it describes the commonality among us all. Despite the fact that there are so many outward differences between the lifestyles of the Australian and North African families, there are connections and similarities that we must acknowledge. As Jeannie Baker writes: "Like each other, we live to be loved by family and friends and to be part of a larger family, a community. Inwardly we are so alike, it could be each other we see when we look in a mirror." Jeannie Baker has done her part by producing this breathtaking book, now it’s up to us to share it with students and get them talking. It truly is one of the finest wordless books I’ve ever read.

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