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Stacey Loscalzo

Latest Posts

Oct 24

This Moment: October 24

by Stacey

IMG_5777“This is the beginning of a new day. You have been given this day to use as you will. You have been given this day to use as you will. You can waste it or use it for good. What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever; in it’s place is something that you have left behind…let it be something good.”

-Anonymous

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Oct 23

Old School Blogging: A Few of My Favorite Things

by Stacey

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I love the Old School Blogging series at The Miss Elaine-eous Life . This  month’s theme is “A Few of My Favorite Things.”

Here goes…

Cookie: Chocolate chip. Or maybe sugar. Or perhaps oatmeal.

Bath Product Scent: I am so not a fan of scents. There aren’t many that I like and I find that those I do don’t linger anyway. For example, I have never been able to find a perfume that stays on me for more than five minutes.

T.V. Shows: House of Cards, Homeland and Scandal. And my new weakness? The Following. So darn creepy. I’m really not sure why I watch it but I just can’t stop.

Flowers/Plants: Blue hydrangeas or yellow tulips.

Bad-for-me-Snack: Goldfish. I seriously don’t buy them because I eat the whole bag when ever it finds it’s way in to our house.

Magazine: Brain Child. I’ve been reading Brain Child since the girls were teeny tiny. I am so glad that they are now including parents of teens in their writing because scarily enough I relate more to those pieces now than I do to toddler stories and such.

Hobby: Reading and writing and photography.

Holiday: Christmas. Tonight I was driving home and saw Halloween lights on a house and I got all excited for Christmas light time to arrive.

Girls Night Out: Dinner. I really don’t like cooking very much so a good dinner out with good friends and lots of chatting is one of my favorite things to do.

Date Night: I love going out to the movies with Rob. It’s been a log time since we’ve done it. Perhaps I see Gone Girl in my future.

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Oct 22

A Most Anticipated Picture Book and more

by Stacey

 

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Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and John Klassen. This is one of the most anticipated children’s books that I remember in a long time. It makes sense seeing as this duo was responsible for the amazing Extra Yarn and Jon Klassen is responsible for two of the most debated children’s books I know, I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat. Sam and Dave is good. It is better when read with multiple children who can discuss it and it is better when read more than once. I missed something pretty important on my first reading! 20380941

Red Knit Cap Girl and the Reading Tree by Naoko Stoop tells the story of a little girl and her animal friends who unknowingly (at first) create a library in their forest. It is a sweet story about the power of books and reading.

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Extraordinary Jane by Hannah E. Harrison tells the story of a little pooch who realizes that there is extraordinary in the seemingly ordinary.

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Please, Louise by Toni Morrison & Slade Morrison is a story told is gorgeous Morrison prose about the magic of the library. It is truly a love beautiful love story that every librarian and library lover should read.

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There Bears in a Boat by David Soman. I love the illustrations in this book. I was feeling so-so about the story (not really loving that the bears lived on the beach) until I read that the book has been described as The Three Bears meets Where The Wild Things Are. Now I think it is pretty great.

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Oct 21

Podcasts: My New Love

by Stacey

Over the summer, I discovered Podcasts. I know I’m a bit late to the party but I am having a lot of fun with this new way of learning and listening.

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The first podcast I discovered was The Art of Simple. Anne Bogel, (a.k.a. Modern Mrs. Darcy) one of my favorite bloggers, was interviewed over the summer at Tsh Oxenreider, The Art of Simple. It was so fun to hear Anne talk about her all of her favorite books after reading about them for so long.

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Read Aloud Revival. Sarah Mackenzie from Amongst Lovely Things hosts one my favorite children’s literature blog. Her tag line is “build your family culture around books’ and what’s not to love about that. Sarah is a mother to six children and a homeschooler. Her book tastes trend much more classical than mine do but I love her passion and knowledge around reading aloud. She interviews a reading expert on each episode and I learn a ton each time I listen.

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TED Radio Hour. This is my favorite of NPR’s many podcasts. Each episodes focuses on a topic and curates snippets from various TED talks. There are then interviews with each of the speakers. Examples of titles include, “The Next Greatest Generation” and “The Source of Creativity.”

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Dan Pink Office Hours. This great podcast seems to have disappeared. I have my fingers crossed that it will return because there were always great interviews. Some of my favorites included Amanda Ripley author of The Smartest Kids in the World and Malcolm Gladwell whose recent release is titled David and Goliath.

So… are you a podcast listener? If so, what are your favorites? I would love to add to my list.

 

 

 

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Oct 20

The Weekend Papers: Sixth Edition

by Stacey

IMG_5771I read the paper every weekend. Weekdays, I just never get to it. If Rob sees an article he thinks I might like, he’ll pull it for me but that’s as close as I get to being a newspaper reader during the week. On the weekends though, I really do try to sit down and find a few articles to enjoy. This weekend found my two favorite sections (The New York Times Style and Reviews sections) chock full of interesting tidbits.

Here are a few I thought might be worth discussing…

To Siri, With Love by Judith Newman. Newman, with writing both funny and sad, discusses her autistic son’s relationship with Siri. We learn how this tool is actually serving as a communication mentor (the speech therapist in me loves this!) and as a friend. Whether this seems creepy or not, the writing is great and the topic fascinating.

Look Homeward, Reader by Meg Wolitzer. Meg Wolitzer tackles the whole ‘should adults being reading young adult books’ question. And comes to the same conclusion I did when writing about the same topic at Great New Books a few months ago.

Life Was a Roving Party Until I Grew Up by Monica Drake. The Modern Love essay is almost always great and this week was no exception.

BFF: Bets Friend for a Bit Longer by Jennifer Conlin. A few week’s ago, a good friend of my mom’s died. My mom was the one to make the discovery. Her friend did not show up for a scheduled lunch. Based on who had talked to the friend, it turns out she might have died a few days before anyone realized. I thought of her immediately as I read this article about best friends who have checked in on each other for years and years.

Voting in the Rain by Ann Patchett. I love anything Ann Patchett writes. This article reminded me that we all need to vote in upcoming elections- even if it appears that they is nothing terribly exciting happening and maybe even more so because of that.

The Boys in the Clubhouse by Buzz Bissinger. In the wake of the disgusting situation with the Sayreville football team, this was a fascinating read.

 

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Oct 15

Twitterature: October 2014 Edition

by Stacey

Today is one of my favorite days of the month. It’s Twitterature day at Modern Mrs. Darcy.

Here’s what I have been reading…

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Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. I suggest you drop everything you are doing and read this book right now.  I read Station Eleven the same way I watch Homeland. I can’t quite look all the time but I also can’t stop watching. This book is creepy and nerve wracking and totally addicting.

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I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson.  If I hadn’t read Station Eleven this month, I’ll Give You the Sun would have definitely been my favorite. This book celebrates art, creativity and individuality. Great young adult message with an even more compelling story line. And how totally great is the cover?

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The Greenglass House by Kate Milford. I really wanted to love this book because I haven’t found a  great middle grade book in a long time. Greenglass House reminded me of the Westing Game which is a good thing but I will say I only liked it. Didn’t love it.

 

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Oct 14

Picture Books: Our New Loves

by Stacey

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about the power of picture books. I loved hearing from so many of you who also love these books.

I thought I would share a few more titles we have found since we last chatted about the great literary genius of the picture book.

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The Book With No Pictures  (written by B.J. Novak) because this is hands down the funniest book we have read in a long time. Trust me on this one and find it. If you have any classrooms full of children to read to in the near future, this is the book you should bring. And if you have a family of small children read it to them too. Laugh out loud funny.

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The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade (written by Justin Roberts and illustrated by Christian Robinson) because it turns out that our favorite children’s song writer is also an awfully good author.
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Telephone (written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jen Corace) because who doesn’t love a good game of telephone played by birds?

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The Right Word: Roget and his Theasaurus (written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet) because it proves there is good non-fiction to be had. One of my main worries about the Common Core is the emphasis on non-fiction reading at the expense of fiction. If all non-fiction were as great at The Right Word, I needn’t worry.

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Circle Square Moose (written by Kelly Bingham and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinksy) because it is just as funny as it’s predecessor Z is for Moose.

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My Teacher is a Monster (written and illustrated by Peter Brown) because it is a reminder to get to know a person before we judge them.

 

 

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Oct 13

Goodbye Reading Logs

by Stacey

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There are some weeks when one topic seems to surround me. Last week the topic was required reading and reading logs. The joy and the despair. The love and the hate. The necessity and the ‘wait, it is really a necessity?’.

I have always disliked the idea of reading logs for my girls. I acknowledge that they are the boost that some children need to read daily at home. That said, though, I have always argued that logs are the right method for a super small percentage of children. The avid reader does not need them and in fact can become frustrated by them. And they can be bad news for the developing reading adding another layer of challenge to an already challenging task. I have certainly never heard a parent credit their child’s new found love of the reading to their nightly reading log.

For the first few weeks of school, Katherine was required to read for 30 minutes and then log the book title and number of pages read. This fall, Katherine is dancing and playing soccer a ton (a post for another day!), so she is pretty tired when homework time rolls around. Before this week, we had found a schedule that worked. School, activities, dinner, homework, shower, read tucked in bed under the covers for 30 minutes before lights out. We always read before bed, either out loud or independently, so this plan was working easily within our schedule. Katherine would read when she would normally read and then we would complete her reading log in the morning before school.

This week though Katherine’s required reading requirement changed. In addition to the 30 minutes and pages logged, she also had to write a 3 sentence re-telling of what she had read. We tried two things. We stuck with our schedule from the prior weeks and logged in the morning. That didn’t quite work. Then we tried writing the three sentences in bed and that didn’t quite work either.

My ‘reading log week’ continued when I talked with a friend who was having a problem similar to ours. Then two really interesting blog posts landed in my in box on the very same topic. First The Reading Log Revolt and then Losing the Love of Reading.

I truly believe both as a parent and as a reading specialist that reading logs are not the way to go. What is then? Unfortunately, our school has not done away with reading logs. Fortunately though our principal has instituted two really smart ways to encourage a love of reading and to grow a community of readers.

Enter ‘The Book of the Month’ and ‘One Book, One School’.

Our principal instituted the Book of the Month a few years ago. Each classroom teacher is given a picture book each month and the book is read and discussed within the classroom. All the students in the school have heard and discussed the same book so there is room for school wide discussion on any number of topics related to the book. Genius, right? Authentic reading and discussion. Accessible to all the readers in the school.

And then this year, it got even better. Last week, every single child, teacher and staff member was given a copy of the same book. The World According to Humphrey. The children brought the books home with a letter, encouraging families to read the book together. Two chapters per week. And then there are school wide and community wide discussions about the same book. Genius again. Authentic reading and discussion that encourages reading out loud at home.

So can we throw away our reading logs? I actually think we can. I think we can find authentic and smart ways to get our kids reading without them. What do you all think? I see a campaign in our future. Who’s going to join me?

 

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