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.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Okay...So I Lied!

I said my next post would be on using reading conferences to match kids with books, but when preparing for my IRA presentation I happily stumbled upon an old favorite book that’s just perfect for teachers in grades 2-4 to read aloud to their kids and discuss. The book is The Goat Lady by Jane Bregoli. If you don’t know this book or don’t own it, you simply must purchase a copy for your class.

It’s perfect to have students wonder and ask questions about Noelie Houle, the real-life “Goat Lady,” who has so much more going for her than what we initially perceive. As a student of mine once commented upon seeing the cover picture of Noelie Houlie—“She looks so poor and so old, but she’s smiling! Why is she smiling?”

This book is simply wonderful to read aloud and have students consider (i.e. infer) what she’s like. It’s a stunning example of characterization and how readers can gain insight into her generous personality by what Noelie says and what she does. It’s a book to read, think, and talk about. It’s a book to read again and again and again. (And when we teach writing, we can refer to how Jane Bregoli “showed, but didn’t tell” about the Goat Lady.)

As an added bonus check out this YouTube video of the actual goal lady. You’re welcome…in advance!

[And the next post really will be about helping kids select books during their reading conference.]


  1. Thanks for sharing! I've never heard of this book before. I will be attending the IRA conference, and I'm very excited to see you there!

  2. Andi...be sure to introduce yourself!

  3. Sharon, I am not disappointed you lied!
    Thanks for taking me to the Goat Lady. I am now in the process of tracking down the book in Australia - no luck, however, I too will be at the IRA conference, and hope to find a copy there.
    Looking forward to your session at the conference - it was through my planning for the conference that I came across your blog. So very happy.

  4. Sharon, My session at IRA isn't until Wednesday. Will you be there that long? If you'd like I'd be happy to purchase a copy for you and bring it with me to the conference. I could bring it to the session or leave it with someone at the Heinemann booth. Let me know.

    (Another book you might also like to pair up with "The Goat Lady" is "Beatrice's Goat" by Page McBrier (which tells the true story of how receiving a goat changed an African family's life).

    What's your session on?

  5. Sharon, what a very generous offer - I would be thrilled for you to bring a copy of both 'The Goat Lady' and 'Beatrice's Goat' to the conference. That way I am assured of taking both books home with me. I will most definitely collect and pay for them at your session. I have a book by a South Australian author/ illustrator team that I think will interest you, to add to your collection.
    This year I am not presenting at the conference and am greatly looking forward to being professionally 'topped up'!

  6. hi sharon, i'll be happy to bring the books for you. see you soon.