Monday, March 20, 2023

Update to my Post on January 19

I wanted to give an update to my post of January 19. My first four period at school helped me remove all my books by genre and put them in my storage cabinets.  The district finally said that if a book was in "Destiny" our district's library system we could put them back out on our shelves.  I created an excel sheet so that I would know what books I have and what genre's. I have my own barcodes on them so I had to input that info as well. I was pleased.

I started off with 2,774 books. I had to remove 975 leaving me with 1,799 books. The sad part is I have several authors I review for. Their books are either self published or small press books. They all fell onto that list. Alfred M. Struthers writes mystery, Kandi J. Wyatt writes fantasy and Max Elliot Anderson writes mystery/adventure series for reluctant readers.  So what is wrong with these books? NOTHING. The issue is man-power. Only our media specialist can vet these books She doesn't have enough hours in the day to read all of the books from our school and vet them.  Here is a real kick in the teeth. My second book Seventy Times Seven had to be pulled. It was published by a small press and she doesn't have time to read and review it either.

I decided that I still had 1,799 books, so I would look on the positive side. I still had books to offer my students. Next principal meeting come and our principal called us in a week before Spring Break. Newest message was since we are a K-8 school I have to make sure all of my books are in a middle or elementary school. If they were only found in a high school I had to pull them. I spent my last week before Spring Break and the first three days of Spring Break checking out all of my books I had left on my shelves, through the district's system again.  I lost another 162 books.  

Since the beginning of the year where I started with 2,774 books, I have had to get rid of 1,137 books.  Leaving me with on 1,637.  That is almost half of my original books. I still have to check the district's website weekly. If they have banned or pulled any of the books still on my shelf I will have to pull them.  Some of them I am passing on to my grandson and grand-daughter.  Some I have told students to bring in a letter from their parents stating their child is allowed to choose books that can no longer be on my shelves to take home and keep. I have to have that letter for legal reasons. If I don't have it they can't take them.  It could land me in jail.  Yes that is right.  We heard about a teacher in Florida who had a book on her own desk. A kid took a picture and showed his mom. Mom took the picture to the police and demanded the teacher be arrested because it was a book not approved for their school.  I checked with the principal to see if it was true. He said it was but did not know if the teacher was arrested or not. It could be that it was a book that she was personally reading. Do we as teachers have to fear reading books not listed in our district library at school?  When I have my students do sustained silent reading (SSR) I make sure I model and read. Most of what I read are young adult or middle grade.  Where do we draw the line. Is it so surprising that teachers are quiting?  Is is so surprising that schools arcoss the United States are going to four day weeks due to teacher burn out?  Is it surprising that parents have made it clear to their congressmen that they want vouchers so they can choose to place their child in private schools where these regulations won't affect their child?  I think not.

That is an update to the state of reading in my classroom, due to a bill that was passed here in Florida.  It makes me so sad. I have spent 30 years trying to get students to read more and maybe, just maybe learn to love reading. Was it all for nothing?  I can only use my textbook and resources that come with it. I can no longer use outside sources for my lessons.  This is sad because my last unit was my Anne Frank Unit. My last text book had the full play and an excerpt from the book.  This one had Act 1, Scene 1 from the play. It was exactly one and a half pages, as was the excerpt from the book. My students were disappointed they could not read the whole play in class, I couldn't bring in my outside resources that taught them about the holocaust before we read the story/play.  If all we are going to give them is 1-3 page excerpts, how are we going to teach them the value of reading? Right now I can't even teach a novel.  Those are banned until possibly next year. Then they will tell us which novels we can read.  I will say that the state of teaching has become a sad job. I am still passionate about teaching. It is getting more and more difficult to remain passionate.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Cracker: The Best Dog in Vietnam by Cynthia Kadohata


Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
Source: I purchased a copy to facilitate my review.

This is one of those books I have had on my school shelves for quite some time. A student read it and then asked “the question”, Have you read this book? Why no I had not gotten to it yet. So they recommend it be one I read over Spring Break. Unlike my students I grew up as a young teen during the Vietnam War. I had background knowledge they didn’t have. Dogs were used for scouting, to check out tunnels, find hidden enemies. Many of these dogs were left behind after the war.

Cracker is a dog who was paired with Rick, a young man who enlisted in the army. She had been a show dog, then the dog of a young boy who had to give her up. An ad in the newspaper is how she ended up in the army. When Rick is injured Cracker does her best to protect him. This is a story about a brave dog, a young man and his love and trust in this dog. There are some very tense moments in the book. This is definitely a book I want to pass on to my grandson Jacob. I think with some front loading of information about the Vietnam War, this will become one of his favorite books as well.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Student Saturday: Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbet


TThis week's student reviewer is Conner M.

This book is about a boy and his family. One day his parents picked him up from school in a hurry with the car all packed up headed for East Berlin. The boy not knowing what was going on started to ask questions. By the time they got to the Iron Curtain (Berlin Wall) it explained everything. By the time they got to the wall it was laready too late. The curtain was already closed with guards all around. The boy's name is Noah. His parent found a way to get him to East Berlin where he meets a girl named Claudia. He calls her Cloud. She lives with her scary grandmother a floor away from him.

If you don't know anything about the Berlin Wall then this is a good book to get you started. I recommend this book to everyone.