Sunday, January 1, 2012


Welcome to 2012!

Today marks the beginning of my fifth year as a blogger. When I started Carol W's Corner, I did it because I believe that as teachers should always be learning new things. At the beginning, the learning curve was pretty steep. I learned how to post book covers and photographs (the latter only kind of), I became a CYBILS judge, and I got involved with Poetry Friday. I made some great new friends, people like Mary Lee and Franki, and became better friends with close-to-home folks, like Patrick Allen. Most recently, I have learned to Tweet and become acquainted with a whole new community of amazing readers and teachers.

I'm trying to decide, however, what I want to do with my blog. It feels pretty routine and old hat, and I don't feel like I'm pushing myself or learning anything new. Most of the books that I read and review are books that I have discovered are books I have heard about through other blogs, and I'm pretty sure that the people who read my blog also read those other blogs. I have thought about revamping-- doing book reviews a couple of times a week, maybe doing Slice of Life with two Writing teachers, doing some kind of a response to a professional book, or classroom vignette. I also wonder about taking a day to incorporate more of spiritual life, and spiritual journey, which would probably offend some people, but oh well. I'm just not sure, given the demands of full time teaching and full time parenting, how much I can manage.

I am also trying to decide who I want to be be as a reader in 2012. I know that some folks in my world of Kidlitosphere are going to read all of the Newbery winners over the next two years. I know there is a whole other group of people reading all the Caldecotts. Last year, I read with Paul Hankins and the Reading Centurions Group over on Facebook. I will probably do that this year, but if I am going to do it, I need to be better about tracking my books. I started using Goodreads last year, and I like it, but I'm not really faithful about using it-- last year I noted 135 books, but I'm sure I read closer to 300, if I include picture books.

I also know I need to do more with technology. Last year, I started a new blog. My goal was to post a picture every day. I did it for about three days, then stopped. And I really want to get better at that; I think I'm probably the only person in America who really does not quite have the hang of how to move pictures from the digital camera to the computer. Maybe this year… And I want to get much, much better at using my iPad, especially in my classroom. And maybe even learn how to play Words with Friends…

So I am entering 2012 with a lot of unknowns. I do know is that I want to slow down and savor this new year. A lot will be changing. My school is closing, and I will need to find a new job. I don't know whether that will be classroom, or interventionist, or administration or something completely and totally different. Son #1 will be graduating (at least I hope he will!) and I am waiting and praying to see what doors will open for him. Son #2 only has one more year. And the boys' sister is a junior in college, and at some point will move out of the teeny tiny bedroom in our basement and head out into the big wide world…

Fitting with that theme of slowing down, my first read this year is a professional book, THE ART OF SLOW READING, by Thomas Newkirk. I'm only a couple of chapters in, but so far it's brilliant. Tom doesn't advocate that a reader should read everything slowly,
(Slow reading) has to do with the relationship we have with what we read, with the quality of attention we bring to our reading, with the investment we are willing to make. It is based on the belief that good writing is never consumed, never fully understood, and that though we often read for the efficient extraction of information, this extraction is not the most meaningful or pleasurable reading we do. Slow reading repays even repeated readings and speaks to us in new ways with each engagement..." (p. 2)

There is usually an ebb and flow to slow reading, times when we are immersed in the narrative flow, and times when we pause to reflect or reread or just savor the moment…Although I am convinced that slow reading is essential for real comprehension, it is also clearly crucial to the deep pleasure we take in reading and the power of reading to change us. As John Miedma eloquently puts it: "By opening yourself to a book in this way, you invite ideas and feelings that enrich and expand your interiority. Reading is the making of a deeper self." (3)

I'm only a couple of chapters into this book, because I am reading the book slowly and savoring Tom's brilliant thinking. I know, however, from a quick skim, that later chapters are going to talk about six different ways, e.g. marking text, memorizing, reading like a writer-- to help readers learn to read slowly and deeply, and be changed by texts. Seems like some really good stuff, and I know I'll learn a lot.

Here's to a terrific 2012.

May you savor each moment richly!


Linda B said...

It sounds as if 2012 will be an interesting year for you with both professional and personal change going on. I hope the changes will be motivating and satisfying. I enjoyed hearing your thoughts about the coming year, and about Newkirk's new book. I'll remember!

Tamara said...

Carol, the excerpts you chose from The Art of Slow Reading made me want to grab it and start all over again. Dozens of tape flags decorate my copy, yet you selected two profound passages that I don't even remember reading. There is such depth to Newkirk's writing; it needs to be savored!
Speaking of depth of writing, I have been a fan of your writing since your Colorado Voices columns years ago. While you're pondering how you would like to spend your precious time in the new year, I'll cast my vote for whatever gets you putting your thoughts about learning, teaching, parenting, and life down on paper!

Mary Lee said...

Happy Blog Birthday to YOU!

When I was reading your post, can you guess which part I got to when I said, "Oh, for cryin' out loud!!!" Yes, the part where you write that your school is closing and you'll be job searching...AGAIN.

Let me know when you're ready to play Words With Friends!