Costa Rica, Core Standards, and Magic Paintings: Five Things on a Friday

1. It looks like we may (fingers crossed) be going to Costa Rica for a week this summer. 

I have wanted to visit a true tropical rain forest for as long as I’ve known they existed, so I’m downright giddy about this.  In addition to spending some time in the Sarapiqui River area, we’re thinking about a couple days near the Arenal Volcano.  If you’ve been to either of those areas, I’d love to hear a little about where you stayed & what you thought.

2. I hit the 30,000 word mark on my new MG novel this week and can see the end from here.  It’s a distant and still-hazy end, but still…it’s in sight.

3. We are halfway through our latest read-aloud at the Messner house and love this book:

Debut author Jaqueline West has won our hearts with an old house, funny mathematicians, talking cats, enchanted spectacles, and magical paintings. What’s not to love?  I’ve been reading from the ARC I picked up at a convention this spring, but THE SHADOWS: THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE will be released soon.  It’s due out June 15th from Dial.

4. I am not feeling particularly good about this.

The Common Core Standards for education released this week leave a lot to be desired, in the opinion of this teacher and parent. While there are certainly some fine and important goals laid out — and you can read all about them here — what concerns me most is what’s missing. There is nothing, in all the many pages and bullet items, about creating an appreciation for books and stories, about writing in order to understand who we are and how we fit into the world around us, and understanding the power of language to make that world better.  Call me crazy, but I think that stuff is important. It’s why I am an English teacher. (Contrary to popular belief, most of us are not in it for the comma rules.)  Also missing on the list of examples of literature for grades 6-8 is any book published after 1976. The concept of revision, happily, is included in the standards, and I hope the authors of this document take that idea to heart and do some revising of their own.  We need to do better than this.

5. Since I don’t believe on ending on a negative note…it is almost summer, and that is a happy note indeed. As much as I love my classroom and students, I am also quite fond of those two months of reading, writing, traveling, hiking, kayaking, and family breakfasts on the deck. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

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