Posted in About the Nook

Happy Early Birthday

Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of englishnook. I can’t believe that it’s been a year since I started this blog. I can’t believe that I managed to get something posted each month even when my life was totally crazy. I can’t believe how excited I am for what the next year holds.

The first year of this blog was certainly a fledgling year. This blog was started as a project for class, and the idea literally came to me one night while I was driving home from class. I was already writing a personal blog, and it made sense to me to start a blog that was focused on English and teaching since that’s the field I’m in.

Some months the posts have been plentiful. Some months I’ve only managed to post once. One of my big hopes for this year is to schedule posts in advance so that there are regular posts for everyone who’s reading this blog and following this blog to see.

I’ve also made a few small changes. I added a page where I can post about the books I’m reading and my reading journal. The category “Pieces of Wisdom” has remained the same, but the quotes posts have been re-titled “Quotable Quotes”.

I also think it would be great to have more “Question of the Week” posts. I think it would be a great way to engage with readers and learn new things.

And of course, I’m always open to ideas and suggestions. If you have something that you want to share with me, by all means do so. I love hearing from my readers.

Happy early birthday to englishnook. Here’s to another great year.


Posted in Classroom Ideas

Harris Burdick

Have you heard of Harris Burdick? I hadn’t until a couple of weeks ago, but when I did hear about him I was immediately fascinated. You can read more about him here, but the short version is that one day he was pitching a book to a publisher and the next day he was gone. No one ever heard from or saw him again. All that was left behind were 14 drawings that went with the book he had been pitching, and the titles and captions that went along with the pictures.

It’s a huge mystery, and no one has the answers.

What there is, is these amazing pictures and intriguing captions that have been used as the springboard for countless short stories. Teachers use them as springboards. Aspiring writers use them as springboards. Countless people have used them as springboards.

A group of my students have recently used them as springboards. They each picked a picture and wrote a story based on it, its title, and its caption. They’ve been really excited to write the stories, and it’s been a great way for them to practice narrative writing without having to come up with the basis of the idea.

I can’t wait until I have the opportunity to use these stories as a springboard in my own classroom. I think that they’re really interesting, that the mystery of Harris Burdick is really interesting, and I hope that someday someone finds the answers.


Posted in Food for Thought, Pieces of Wisdom

An Interesting Quote

I’ve been working on reading the Lucy Calkins Writing Program materials lately. It’s the writing program that’s in place at my school, and I’ve been working on familiarizing myself with it. So far I’ve read the seventh grade argumentative writing book, and there are several other books for me to read. I haven’t read any of the books that are associated with any of the other grade levels, but there’s always time.

When I read the argumentative writing book, I took notes. I wanted to make note of all the things I thought would be usable for me in the future, whether I am in a district that uses the Lucy Calkins program or not. I wrote down checklists and ideas and a lot of quotes that really spoke to me. Like this one:

“Argumentation leads to active questioning, deeper considerations of other perspectives, and an understanding that lots of issues are complicated, nuanced, and open to considerable debate.”

I thought that it was a really interesting perspective on argumentative writing. I forget sometimes that writing really connects to so much outside of the classroom. It really impacts how my students are going to communicate in general. And to me, that’s pretty amazing.


Posted in Book Nook

Book Reflection #2

It’s no secret that I’ve been reading a crazy amount lately. I’ve been going through books like there’s no tomorrow; luckily there continues to be both tomorrow and more books.

Last week I read Eeny Meeny by M. J. Arlidge. It’s a mystery, and I do love mysteries. But this mystery was far darker than what I normally read. Typically I read lighter mysteries. Mysteries with happy people and happier endings. This mystery was dark from page one.

This probably isn’t a book I would have chosen for myself. My brother got it for Christmas and was nice enough to share it with me. He read it first and highly recommended it, and from page one I was hooked. I read it in less than 24 hours because I just had to know what happened.

One of the things I love about this book is that even though it was nearly 400 pages, the chapters were short. Some of them were only a page or two. That allowed for me to read quickly and take in a lot of the story all at once. It’s also part of how I read the book so fast. I moved through the chapters so quickly, and I just had to know what happened next and next and next.

This isn’t the book for everyone. It’s definitely dark and twisty. At the same time, I would definitely recommend it. It kept me completely intrigued and wanting to know more the entire time I was reading. To me, that’s a sign of a good book.


Posted in Classroom Ideas

Classroom Libraries

I love Edutopia. I think it’s a great teacher resource. The articles are easy to read, informative, and have great ideas. I have so many of their articles bookmarked on my iPad so that I can use the ideas in the future.

One idea that I’m really interested in is classroom libraries. Personally I think that every English/Language Arts classroom should have a class library so that students have easy access to a variety of books. It’s just something I think is really important, and I know that I want to have my own classroom library someday.

I found a great article on the importance of classroom libraries on Edutopia. You can read it here. The author talks about the different types of readers, how to bring students into the classroom library, and how to incorporate the classroom library into lessons.

What I like about the article is that it’s broken into the three sections. I like the array of ideas that are connected to a single topic. I also like how the ideas are there and are detailed enough to work with but the article isn’t overwhelming. It’s just the right amount of information to be a springboard, which for me is all I need.

Read the article. Tell me what you think.