Posts Tagged ‘summer reading’

CCO Creative Commons image from Pixabay

So, I’ve been thinking about my summer reading, making, and seeing plan. I have a tendency to imagine that there will be approximately 75 times as many hours in my day during any non-teaching days AND that I will also be 75 times more time-efficient, all while not taking into account my usual, extensive lounging time.

My reading plan

I have already reread most of the books I will be teaching in the fall. So, besides rereading a graphic novel and investigating some Neil Gaiman short stories, if I’m so inclined, I’m in good shape there. Here are a few titles I plan to read, or at least sit next to, over the next weeks.

Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Dandicot.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. I have seen this mentioned in all sorts of “you must read this” articles and whatnot. My son inhaled it in two days.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. I loved Everything I Never Told You and don’t know why I have not already read this book.

We Were Eight Year in Power by Ta-Nahisi Coates. I have read some of these pieces, but want to read them together.

The Glitch by Elizabeth Cohen. I know the author and am so excited for her.

The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin. I know nothing about this book, but was taken with it at the bookstore the other day and we were already buying something so…

The Atheist in the Attic by Samuel R. Delany. Also saw this at a local bookstore, read the back, and added it to the pile.

I would like to finish The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros and perhaps skim through a few other education books.


My Making Plan

I also plan to make things. I have recently been back to sewing in addition to my other crafty making. I’ve got a few projects in the works, no surprise there, and a few on the agenda. I have two sewing projects that are already cut out and just need sewing. However, my machine and I are currently not on good terms, perhaps I need a new needle, maybe we just need a break from each other. Also, I have a mostly finished project that just needs a little attention. I would love to finish those and one other.

I have two sets of taxonomy projects that are in process. Those can definitely get finished and posted on the blog. I’m sure I’ll get to another set as well. I have some partial ideas that just need a little more time to marinate.

I would also like to get to some e-textile or soft circuitry projects. I have one makespace type project in the works, although it does not incorporate any circuitry. And, I have a project I started a long time ago that I might finally be ready to tackle. It would mean I would really have to force myself to get a little better with both coding and circuitry– goals of mine for several years now. With the makerspace just sitting there in the summer, calling my name, it seems a shame not to answer.


My Seeing Plan

I also like to get out and about and see things. Sometimes I just need to fill up my visual library.

Rodeo–we haven’t been to the Cowtown Rodeo in a few summers. Time for a trip.

MASS MoCA. I love this place and hope we can find some way to make it part of a driving adventure. It’s fun to see images from exhibits I’ve seen there in the past on their Instagram.

Storm King Art Center. I can’t believe I have not been there yet, but it will happen this summer. They also have a great Instagram.

Also, I’m sure I will drag my family to other exhibits or festivals, or outdoor happenings here and there.

Ultimately, I will probably, read, make, and see all kinds of things that may or may not have anything to do with this list. However, I do love to make a list.


So, I’ve been thinking about reading and rereading books. How is it that the book is totally different than the last time I read it?

I don’t often reread books, at least books that I am not teaching over and over. There are so many I haven’t read once yet, that I tend to move on rather than review. When I do reread with significant time in between readings, it is surprising how the books change when I am not looking. Why is this not making the news?

A number of years ago this happened with To Kill A Mockingbird. I read it when I was in middle school, saw the movie with Gregory Peck, loved the name Scout, and had vivid memories of the trial and the neighbor saying she would die “beholden to nothin’ and nobody.” And that’s how it stayed in my mind. Then, I reread the book in anticipation of using it in a sample teaching lesson for an interview many years ago. I was shocked to find that the trial parts had shrunk so much over the years. And, why did so much other stuff got added? Where did that come from?

Now the same thing has happened again. The stealthy editing gods have struck while I was busy doing something else. This time the victim was The Odyssey. Again, I read it in high school. I taught Ancient Greece to 5th graders, and read Bernard Evslin’s The Adventures of Ulysses with my 5th graders every year. Now, I am rereading the non-junior version of The Odyssey (Fagels’ translation) and again shocked to find that someone has been messing with the story. The “adventures” have been shrunk and Telemachus has taken over the beginning. Evslin’s retelling highlighted the wily Odysseus’ heroic qualities, making it clear why he was the leader at every turn, while not sugarcoating his responsibility for the loss of his men. The monsters and immortals were a diverse team of challengers who tried every trick in the book to keep him from Ithaca. When he finally got home, the suitors were in trouble. No changes there, although Evslin certainly got to the point more quickly.

Although these particular examples occurred years apart, they highlight just how unreliable memory, or at least my memory, is. I’ve been reading up on the brain and learning and memory recently. So, I know, in my brain, that the more times we recall a memory the stronger it gets, AND every time we recall a memory we also may change it. It’s such a double whammy. If you don’t keep recalling the memory you lose it, but by recalling it becomes less and less like the original memory.

I have some questions for myself:

  • What about the trial in To Kill a Mockingbird made me come back to it again and again in a way that other parts of the book did not?
  • Why did the line “I want to die beholden to nothin’ and nobody” make such an impression, if, in fact, that is even the correct line?
  • Do other people enjoy all that Telemachus bit at the beginning or are they waiting for the adventures too?
  • Did Odysseus always do so much weeping? Why didn’t I remember that?

Anyone else have a book that has changed on them?


So, I’ve been thinking about summer reading. I’ve also been thinking about my Arduino skills, or lack of Arduino skills.

Learning more and doing some significant practice has been on my to-do list for several years at this point. I keep trying to get back to it, but never really get anywhere. I admit I have never really gone all in. Every time I decide to give it another go, I get overwhelmed by how must there is to know and how much I don’t know. This is probably because I decide to look around the interwebs rather than just getting going. Then, I see all the advanced this and that, get confused by various system and components and run away. I’m not proud.

Time for another strategy. No more looking at all the complex things I could do in several years. Time to start small and just start. As luck would have it, my STEAM department chairperson gave each department member this for our “summer reading.”

There’s a lot of potential for me to be overwhelmed here. However, there is a small project I have in mind that would be a very reasonable start. The small, realistic plan is not my strong suit. I’m really going to try though. I know from working with students that sometimes a kit with a set project is a great way to start. This is not that kind of kit, but I think I can find some simple projects to try. I seriously will feel so proud if I can make some progress here. I took a three-session class at The Hacktory, but the class started too far along for me. I needed a step zero class that gave me some lingo and some basic circuitry review. Things just went too fast for me. My stepgrandmother who spoke many languages used to swear that the way to learn a language in school was to take first-year French, Spanish, whatever three times rather than moving on to the next year. I think that is where I am with Arduidos, at least that’s where I hope I am. I have tried an intro class, read an intro book, and now I have another opportunity. Maybe this will be my third time’s a charm.

My first project is a light and photograph idea that’s been sitting on my work shelf, waiting. I have photos of faces with good freckles. I poked holes in the images at the freckles and have a simple string of Chibitronics lights in the same pattern underneath the freckles. I plan to code the lights to blink the name of the person in morse code in response to sound or light and dark. I can write the blinking code. I started that already. It’s not hard, just tedious. Next step is setting up a test circuit that includes the sensor. That’s harder for me.

Monday is a new week.

This goat has read my post and is wondering if I am crazy.
CCO public domain image.

So, I’ve been thinking about my summer reading. I’m actually kind of obsessing about it. I can’t wait to get started. I already wrote about my literature plan and have started reading two of the books on my list.

I also have a professional learning reading plan.

Top on my list are a few of the Hacking Learning books, in particular, Hacking Assessment by Starr Sackstein and Hacking Project Based Learning by Ross Cooper and Erin Murphy. I am a big fan of Star Sackstein via Twitter. And, I went to Ross and Erin’s session about PBL at EduCon in January and was really impressed with their honesty about their progress in understanding and implementing PBL.

This is the summer that I will finish several education reads, including several books that I recommend to people all the time, but may not have quite finished. I’ll admit to Mindstorms by Seymour Papert and Invent to Learn by Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager being on the list. A few others I am keeping to myself.

I’m also going to brush up on my Understanding by Design background and have already collected a bunch of online resources.

My other big topics are going to be pretty much anything that comes out of Project Zero (especially in relation to Global Education and Global Competencies) and Interdisciplinary curriculum readings.

Finally, I have a lot of reading and learning to do in relation to the class I am teaching next year which is an interdisciplinary course about ‘the fantastics’ (fantastic creatures and fantastic places). I’ve got a growing LiveBinder of resources and book list and a lot of books to read.

Oh, and I have a bunch of edtech things to investigate; I get behind during the school year and have to go through all the bookmarks and OneTab (I love this tool) collections once I have time to review. Currently, I’m thinking a lot about things like Flipgrid,, and HyperDocs. This may or may not be the summer that I make respectable progress with Arduido and/or soft circuitry beyond the basics.

I can totally do all that, right?


So, I’ve been thinking about what I plan to read over the summer. There are a few more weeks before students and teachers are off, and I have a few books I would like to finish before then. I just finished I’m Looking Through You by Jennifer Finey Boylan, and currently, I am reading The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro and Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino.


As I have mentioned before, I have a tendency to plan big, too big. I am teaching a new-to-me course next year, again, and have all of those books to read or reread as well, but somehow those don’t count. Plus, I have some teaching books I want to read. And, I’m sure I’ll read some YA and graphic novels in addition. I mean, there’s a new graphic novel about the Dalai Lama out!! (Man of Peace: The Illustrated Life Story of the Dalai Lama of Tibet by Robert Thurman and others. Fun facts: Professor Thurman taught a class I took in college, and my undergrad thesis was about Tibetan Buddhist women.)

Here’s my list to date.

The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery. I gave this to my dad for Christmas and now get to read it myself.

The Amber Spy Glass by Philip Pullman. I have not read the final book in the His Dark Materials series. I am not letting myself start this one yet. I have things I need to do.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. I have been eyeing this since it came out. My school library does not have it or I would have read it already.

Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter. This is a potential read for my English class next year. (I may stick with the circus theme and reread The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern as another option.)

Swing Time by Zadie Smith is sitting on my kitchen table, waiting.


I sometimes like to read a few books that somehow relate or go together. Other times, I just read all over the place. I’m a big fan of women pioneer stories (non-fiction) and don’t have any of that on my list so far. It gets harder and harder to find ones I have not read at bookstores on the East Coast.

What else would you recommend?


Summer Reading

Posted: August 1, 2016 in Uncategorized
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So, I’ve been thinking about my summer reading. I am prone to compiling huge lists of reading and doing for the summer. I somehow think that I have 36 hours in the day in addition to being more productive, all evidence to the contrary.

Last summer I read a lot of books, which was great. I also got into a regular blogging habit. This summer I am trying to keep up the blogging, the reading, and add more making. Oh, and pie, and lounging with my family. You can see that I am perhaps a bit too ambitious in my plans.  However, here’s what I’ve read since June 10th, which was graduation day.

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 10.20.14 PMFeathers, by Jacqueline Woodson. I was looking for another book by her for my YA Literature class. I’m keeping HUSH, but might drop Brown Girl Dreaming. Feathers is an interesting story, very short, probably too young for the group, and doesn’t fit in with the other titles, but could make for some good discussion.

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 10.48.03 PMInterdicsiplinary Curriculum: Design and Implementation by Heidi Hayes Jacobs. I am part of an interdisciplinary task force that is beginning at my school. This is our summer read. Lots of great info and some solid examples. Also, helpful ways to think about curriculum. Another ASCD winner.

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 10.22.27 PMThe Golden Compass (It’s Dark Materials #1) by Philip Pullman. I had not read this before and decided it needed to rectify that situation. I enjoyed the book, but have to say that I did not love it. The story is just getting started by the last third of the book. There are two more books in the series; I’m curious as to what happens, but maybe not curious enough.

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 10.22.56 PMMosquitoland by David Arnold. I got this at a sidewalk sale for a great deal at my local indy children’s book store. I think I also had read about it on some list or other. Had some thoughtful things to say about mental health and families. It did not fall into a perfect ending.

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 10.24.00 PMMarch, Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. Graphic novel by congressman and civil rights activist John Lewis about his early life. I can’t wait to read book 2. Book 3 comes out tomorrow. I missed him when he was in Philly at Amalgam Comics for a reading. That will teach me not to check if the event requires tickets.

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 10.27.38 PMThe Outsiders by S. E. Hinton. I don’t know why I had not read this book either. I can see why it’s a classic. My daughter and I both read it while we were on a family trip. I think it would be a great one to pair with something contemporary that deals with racism.

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 10.49.55 PMZero to Maker: Learn (Just Enough) to Make (Just About) Anything by David Lang. Make: magazine publishes a lot of maker guides and resources. I enjoyed David Lang’s story of becoming a maker. Towards the end it got to be more about the business options, which is not as interesting to me. However, reading about how he found his way to a community, knowledge, and a new mindset about making was interesting.

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 10.52.45 PMThe Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. The cover intrigued me and there was a positive comment on the back from Jami Attenberg, author of The Middlesteins, which I really liked. This was an interesting story of a family of four grown siblings. A good page turned where I wanted to know what happened. A neat, though not necessarily predictable, ending.

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 10.34.04 PMAnd, I have been trying  to get through Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. The writing is lovely, and I am finding lots to ponder in the narrative. Yet, I can neither make progress nor keep reading for any length of time. Ugh!

I have a few other school/education titles in the cue along with books that I will be teaching next year. However, I think that I can give myself another week to read non-school books. I need to find a title or two that I can’t put down. Has anyone read Homegoing by Yaa Giasi, or Two Years, Eight Months, and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie or H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald?


Any other suggestions?

Summer Reading

Posted: August 30, 2015 in Uncategorized
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So, I’ve been thinking about summer reading. I set myself a goal of 12 books this summer, I think. I can’t find the paper with my various goals on it…

I made it.

I thought I would just share what I read. Here they are,  in the order in which I read them.

Sweetness in the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce #1) by Alan Bradley

The Crossover by Kwamé Alexander. This is the 2015 Newbery Award winner and I plan to use it in my YA literature class. Told in verse.

Anagrams by Lorrie Moore

Who Will Run the Frog Hospital by Lorrie Moore.

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

The Selected Works of T. S. Spivit by Reif Larson

Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

The Boy Who Lost Fairyland by Catherynne Valente

Paper Towns by John Green

Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Man Booker Prize winner 2002.

Fishing in the Sloe-Black River by Colum McCann

My favorite reads of the summer were Everything I Never Told You and The Art of Fielding, no question. (Life of Pi was a reread, but it was probably next.) A number of the YA books I read were only ok, with the notable exception of The Crossover, which was excellent.

In addition, I am part way through The Good Lord Bird by James McBride which I picked up after rereading The Color of Water in the spring. Also, I read part of The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories by Maggie Stiefvater , Brenna Yovanoff, and Tessa Gratton. I got it from a library while on vacation and didn’t have time to read it all before I had to return it, but I will be getting back to it.

I still have a few calling to me. They are getting kind of loud and pushy, but the new course I am teaching is also calling, and it sounds more nervous, like I might really need to pay some attention or things could get ugly fast.

With official faculty meetings starting tomorrow, it’s time to admit I will have to return The Luminaries  by Eleanor Catton, My Name is Red by Orphan Pamuk, and H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald to the library unread.

Well, maybe I’ll renew one of them another time…

So, what was your favorite summer read?