Category Archives: For the Love of Reading

My friend is brave…

I believe all Writers are brave. They are risk takers.  They are hard workers! I respect and admire writers…  and I especially love and respect writers for young peopleRickloveme — the ones who write the books that young people hold to their hearts, and either cry at the endings, or laugh all the way through them! Yes, the ones whose books kids will hunt for, long and hard, because of the one they just read.

Brave writers that are good writers make me wish I were a writer.  This one brave, good, hardworking writer that I want to tell you about is also a generous writer.  He has inspired so many other writer-wannabes, and he has mentored them and cheered them on to their own published books and careers as writers for young people.  My friend, the brave, good, generous writer, rick-soMANYbunnieshas done that for more writers than I even know about…  more than I can count.  I do, however, count this writer as my friend, and I know that I’m not the only one who does.

Meet Rick Walton. rick-walton-05Read his books…  and better yet, enjoy them with a child, or your children, or your classroom full of children.  Rick is a genius…  clever in word play, generous in friendship, caring in his regard for this earth and the people who love and care for it, too. Rick is kind…  and good… and hard working.  And brave.

Learn about RickSIGNINGhow Rick Walton became a writer for children. Be sure to read the paragraph you will find on the left-hand side of the screen!

See how funny Rick Walton is. Really, besides reading his books, you should read every part of his website at http://Rickwalton.com. Each time I look at his website, I find a different section that makes me laugh out loud!  My favorite section – because I teach elementary language arts methods courses — is his section on word play — and all of his amazing word lists!  (Rick is my idea of the perfect language arts teacher!)

Rick is bravely facing big trials and hard things.  I’m not a writer…  but as a lover of writers, this is my shout-out to one of the bravest of them all!  Rick Walton — you are loved!

Submitted by Nancy Peterson, Professor, UVU School of Education. Nancy teaches at Utah Valley University in Orem, UT, and is Co-Chair of UVU’s Forum on Engaged Reading.

Teacher Heart

Anyone else remember this?

Anyone else remember this?

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about teacher questioning and class discussion. I’ve been mulling over what it takes to get students engaged in what my literacy textbook calls a “lively discussion” about a text (which, as it turns out, is apparently the best way to enhance students’ reading comprehension). Those thoughts led me down the primrose path to Deep Thoughts about learning, memory, and the conditions required for obtaining new knowledge and retaining it. (I know you can feel your eyes glazing over, but please bear with me! I’m going somewhere good, I promise!)

buellerMy thoughts wandered to my own experiences as a student. I tried to remember if I had ever had a teacher who asked the kinds of questions that aroused my and my classmates’ attention enough to have even a halfhearted discussion about a text, much less a lively one. Lo and behold, I did have a teacher like that–my 11th grade Honors English teacher.

What stands out in my mind today is a vivid memory of discussions about The Great Gatsby–the symbolic meaning of West Egg and East Egg, the literary devices gatsby green light quoteFitzgerald used to foreshadow the disastrous outcome of Gatsby and Daisy’s ill-fated love affair, and what the green light really represents. (In case anyone else is doing the math, I was a junior in high school 24 years ago, so my remembering anything from any class is pretty remarkable.) Other, seemingly unrelated details come to my mind, like where I sat, the color of the louver blinds covering the windows, and the expression on my teacher’s face as she facilitated the discussions.

ad44As I reflected on how she taught, I wondered how she came up with those excellent questions. Back then I was a painfully naive 16-year-old, and I assumed she just dreamed up such wonderful questions on the fly, kind of like pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Now I realize that she spent time and effort designing questions with the express purpose of eliciting the kinds of responses that would result in lively discussions.

The thing is–and this is where it gets good, so hold on just a bit longer–this teacher was tina-fey_2more than just a teacher to me. She was the first person in my life who made me feel like a person and not just a dippy kid. She interacted with me in a way that affirmed my hope that I was becoming an individual who could and should make things happen for myself. She asked thought-provoking questions even outside of class and about the trivial details of my life, questions that forced me to begin thinking critically about what I believed in and what was important to me. What’s more, her interest in me seemed genuine, even though she taught 3 or 4 different English classes every day to at least 100 other students.

There’s this quote by Maya Angelou that I keep seeing everywhere, and she says it much better than I ever could: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I guess what I’m saying here is that all the research-proven teaching strategies in all the world don’t mean anything if there’s no heart behind them.

  • Highly recommended, probably required, and perhaps mandatory reading for all who have not, yet: Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco. For the rest of us? The Secret Remedy Book by Karein Cates, delightfully illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin. I hear that with a small modification in paradigm, I can learn how to be that “teacher heart” I’ve mentioned.
  • (Read them! If you’ve already read both, read them again! You can thank me later.)

Posted by Karen Rapier, a senior in Elementary Education at Utah Valley University, in Orem, UT

Can’t Help Falling…

£££-Blown-Up-House

The state of my house since school started

Beloved reader, it has been six weeks since I last posted. Six weeks! According to the Internet, that’s how long it took Charles Dickens to write A Christmas Carol. (If it’s on the Internet, you know it’s gotta be true.) I hear you asking me, “What’s the deal? Why has it taken so long to write a new post???” Well, I’ll give it to you straight. School started, and life blew up. Kaboom! (From the looks of my house right now, this might literally be true.)

So much has happened since early August. There are countless tales of triumph and woe I could tell. The most exciting thing to happen, however, is that Fall Foliage Watch 2014 has begun chez UVU Forum on Engaged Reading. That’s right–here at FTLOR Central we’re anxiously scanning the majestic mountains of Utah Valley for blips and pops of scarlet and ochre. Fall could happen any day!

goodbye august, hello september

I adore fall. It’s always been my favorite season. (Confession: This might have something to do with the fact that my birthday comes around this time of year.) I know springtime is a favorite for many, but for my money you can’t beat the crisp air, vibrant color, and dappled golden sunlight of late September and October.

For the full fall experience, one of the most beautiful places in all the world in mid October is Park City, Utah. I’m not a skier so I can’t comment on its beauty (or lack thereof) during the winter months, but the beauty of October in Park City and the surrounding area takes my breath away! The scrub oak turns shades of crimson, and the aspens shimmer with burnished gold.

October 6, 2013: Fall colors on Pinecone Ridge near Park City, Utah

October 6, 2013: Fall colors on Pinecone Ridge near Park City, Utah

alternative-health-care-choices-for-chronic-painAs luck would have it, there’s something wonderful happening in Park City toward the end of next month. That’s right, it’s the Fourth Annual Forum on Engaged Reading on October 23-24 at The Chateaux Resort in Deer Valley! On account of my connections with some Extremely Important People, I managed to get a sneak peek at the program, and as I read over it I began sweating bullets. Why? Well, based on what I read, each session is jam-packed with charismatic presenters and irresistible ideas. How will I possibly choose one presentation when I need to be at all of them?

hermione-granger-galleryUnless I stumble upon a Time-Turner over the next month and manage to split myself several ways a la Hermione Granger, I think the obvious strategy here is to divide and conquer. So who’s going? Let’s divvy up the schedule and draw straws. I’ve got dibs on Gene Nelson’s Books 4 Boys presentation!