Friday, November 21, 2008

Mr. Blount is a National Board Certified Teacher!

Last school year I applied for certification in Early Adolescence/English Language Arts with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. It was an intensive process requiring that I build four portfolios to document my ability to analyze student growth in reading and writing, facilitate small and whole group discussions, and document my educational and instructional accomplishments. Upon completion of the portfolios, I took a timed computerized essay test addressing the areas of literary analysis, universal themes, teaching reading, language study, analysis of writing, and teaching writing. The results were announced online today, and the above screen shot shows what I saw when I logged into my account. The congratulatory letter below provides additional details about this accomplishment.

I wish to thank all of my 2007-2008 Tomlin Middle School students and colleagues for supporting me in this endeavor and my parents Roland & Evelyn Blount for hosting my writing marathons on their living room floor. My eternal love and gratitude, however, goes to my two NBCTS mentors, Vickie Gunn and Tracy Stanley, without whose support and assistance I would not have been able to earn this honorable designation. Thanks, girls! You KNOW you pulled me through!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Focus Titles: Love That Dog & Hate That Cat

Wooo Hooo! The sequel to Love That Dog, entitled Hate That Cat, was published last month. Nick, one of my students, found it online and shared the exciting news with our class. Of course I put the book on hold at the public library, read it aloud to my reading classes, lent it to a teacher friend, and went to Barnes & Noble to buy my own first edition.

Thanks, Nick!

In case you're wondering what all the hoopla is about, I'll tell you. Every year we read Love That Dog by Sharon Creech as an introduction to poetry. A couple of years ago I bought a class set of books from Scholastic Book Clubs so all of my students could share in the experience. Love That Dog is a short novel written in the form of a communication journal between Jack, a fourth-grader, and his teacher Miss Stretchberry. Jacks journal entries are written in free verse form and chronicle his awakening to reading and writing poetry. You can read the book straight through in less than an hour, including discussion time. I always begin by reading the poems used by Miss Stretchberry in the appendix at the back of the book. This way my students are familiar with the poems Jack mentions in his journal entries. My class especially enjoys the Robert Frost poems "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" and "The Pasture." Another popular poem is an excerpted stanza from the poem "Love That Boy" by Walter Dean Myers. The full poem is published in his book Brown Angels. Prolific young adult writer and poet Walter Dean Myers even makes a guest appearance in the story.

After reading Love That Dog, my students choose a poem from the appendix to memorize and perform for our class audience. Then we start writing poems of our own beginning with couplets, then quatrains, and free verse. Sharon Creech's web site is a great resource for readers and teachers alike. Interested teachers may want to download a free special teaching guide for Love That Dog and Hate That Cat.

Sharon Creech