ELA in the middle

Middle School English, Language Arts

The Best Brain Pickings Articles of the Year

After the annual reading list of the year’s best books overall, it’s time for the annual summation of the best Brain Pickings articles of the year — “best” meaning those most read and shared by you, as well as those I took the most pleasure in writing. Please (re)enjoy and have an inspired, stimulating, infinitely rewarding new year.

1. An Antidote to the Age of Anxiety: Alan Watts on Happiness and How to Live with Presence

Read the article here.

* * *

2. Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives

Read the article here.

* * *

3. How to Criticize with Kindness: Philosopher Daniel Dennett on the Four Steps to Arguing Intelligently

Read the article here.

* * *

4. Ursula K. Le Guin on Being a Man

Read the article here.

* * *

5. How to Be Alone: An Antidote to One of the Central Anxieties and Greatest Paradoxes of Our Time

Read the article here.

* * *

6. The Hidden Brain: How Ocean Currents Explain Our Unconscious Social Biases

Read the article here.

* * *

7. 7 Life-Learnings from 7 Years of Brain Pickings, Illustrated

Read the article here.

* * *

8. Kafka on Books and What Reading Does for the Human Soul

Read the article here.

* * *

9. The Benjamin Franklin Effect: The Surprising Psychology of How to Handle Haters

Read the article here.

* * *

10. The Shortness of Life: Seneca on Busyness and The Art of Living Wide Rather Than Living Long

Read the article here.

* * *

11. E.B. White’s Beautiful Letter to a Man Who Had Lost Faith in Humanity

Read the article here.

* * *

12. Debunking the Myth of the 10,000-Hours Rule: What It Actually Takes to Reach Genius-Level Excellence

Read the article here.

* * *

13. Why We Hurt Each Other: Tolstoy’s Letters to Gandhi on Love, Violence, and the Truth of the Human Spirit

Read the article here.

* * *

14. What It Takes to Design a Good Life

Read the article here.

* * *

15. Fictitious Dishes: Elegant and Imaginative Photographs of Meals from Famous Literature

Read the article here.

* * *

16. March 28, 1941: Virginia Woolf’s Suicide Letter and Its Cruel Misinterpretation in the Media

Read the article here.

* * *

17. Legendary Psychoanalyst Adam Phillips on Why the Capacity for Boredom Is Essential for a Full Life

Read the article here.

* * *

18. The Psychology of Writing and the Cognitive Science of the Perfect Daily Routine

Read the article here.

* * *

19. Why Haters Hate: Kierkegaard Explains the Psychology of Bullying and Online Trolling in 1847

Read the article here.

* * *

20. Famous Writers on the Creative Benefits of Keeping a Diary

Read the article here.


6 Scaffolding Strategies to Use With Your Students

by Rebecca Alber

What’s the opposite of scaffolding a lesson? It would be saying to students something like, “Read this nine-page science article, write a detailed essay on the topic it explores, and turn it in by Wednesday.” Yikes — no safety net, no parachute, no scaffolding — just left blowing in the wind.

Let’s start by agreeing that scaffolding a lesson and differentiating instruction are two different things. Scaffolding is breaking up the learning into chunks and then providing a tool, or structure, with each chunk. When scaffolding reading, for example, you might preview the text and discuss key vocabulary, or chunk the text and read and discuss as you go. With differentiation, you may give a child an entirely different piece of text to read, you might shorten the text or alter it, and you may modify the writing assignment that follows.

Simply put, scaffolding is what you do first with kids, then for those students who are still struggling, you may need to differentiate by modifying an assignment and/or making accommodations for a student (for example, choose more accessible text and/or assign an alternative project).

Scaffolding and differentiation do have something in common though. In order to meet students where they are and appropriately scaffold a lesson, or differentiate instruction, you have to know the individual and collective zone of proximal development (ZPD) of your learners. (As education researcher Eileen Raymond states, “[T]he ZPD is the distance between what children can do by themselves and the next learning that they can be helped to achieve with competent assistance.”)

So let’s get to some scaffolding strategies you may or may not have tried yet, or perhaps you’ve not used them in sometime and just need a gentle reminder on how awesome and helpful they can be when it comes to student learning:

1. Show and Tell

How many of us say that we learn best by seeing something rather than hearing about it? Modeling for students is a cornerstone of scaffolding in my experience. Have you ever interrupted someone with “just show me!” while they were in the middle of explaining to you how to do something? Every chance you have, show or demonstrate to students exactly what they are expected to do.

  • Try the fish bowl activity, where a small group in the center are circled by the class as the group in the middle, or fishbowl, engage in an activity, modeling how it’s done for the larger group.
  • Always show students the outcome or product before they do it. If a teacher assigns a persuasive essay or inquiry-based science project, a model should be presented side-by-side with a criteria chart or rubric. You can guide students through each step of the process, model in-hand of the finished product.
  • Use think alouds, which will allow you to model your thought process as you: read a text, solve a problem, or design a project. Remember that children’s cognitive abilities are still in development so opportunities for them to see developed, critical thinking are essential.

2. Tap into Prior Knowledge

Ask students to share their own experiences, hunches, and ideas about the content or concept of study and have them relate and connect it to their own lives. Sometimes you may have to offer hints and suggestions, leading them to the connections a bit, but once they get there, they will grasp it as their own.

Launching the learning in your classroom from the prior knowledge of your students, and using this as a framework for future lessons is not only a scaffolding technique, many would agree it’s just plain good teaching.

3. Give Time to Talk

All learners need time to process new ideas and information. They also need time to verbally make sense of and articulate their learning with the community of learners who are also engaged in the same experience and journey. As we all know, structured discussions really work best with children regardless of their level of maturation. If you aren’t weaving in think-pair-share, turn-and-talk, triad teams or some other structured talking time throughout the lesson, you should begin including this crucial strategy on a regular basis.

4. Pre-Teach Vocabulary

Sometimes referred to as frontloading vocabulary, this is a strategy that we teachers don’t use enough. Many of us, myself included, are guilty of sending students all alone down the bumpy, muddy path known as Challenging Text — a road booby trapped with difficult vocabulary. We send them ill-prepared and then we are often shocked when they: a) lose interest b) create a ruckus c) fall asleep.

Pre-teaching vocabulary doesn’t mean pulling a dozen words from the chapter and having kids look up definitions and write them out (we all know how this will go. Again, see above a, b, and c). Instead, introduce the words to kids in photos, and in context to things they know and are interested in. Use analogies, metaphors and invite students to create a symbol or drawing for each word and give time for discussion of the words (small and whole groups). Not until they’ve done all this should the dictionaries come out. And the dictionaries will be used only to compare with those definitions they’ve already discovered on their own.

With the dozen or so words “frontloaded,” students are ready, you as their guide, to tackle that challenging text.

5. Use Visual Aids

Graphic organizers, pictures, and charts can all serve as scaffolding tools. Graphic organizers are very specific in that they help kids visually represent their ideas, organize information, and grasp concepts such as sequencing and cause and effect.

A graphic organizer shouldn’t be The Product, but rather it’s a scaffolding tool that helps guide and shape the student’s thinking so that they can apply it. Some students can dive right into the discussion, or writing an essay, or synthesizing several different hypotheses without using a graphic organizer of some sort, but many of our students benefit from using them with a difficult reading or challenging new information. Think of graphic organizers as training wheels; they are temporary and meant to be removed.

6. Pause, Ask Questions, Pause, Review

This is a wonderful way to check for understanding while students read a chunk of difficult text or learn a new concept or content. Here’s how this strategy works: a new idea from discussion or the reading is shared, then pause (providing think time), then ask a strategic question, pausing again. By strategic, you need to design them ahead of time, make sure they are specific, guiding and open-ended questions. (Great questions fail without giving think time for responses so hold out during that Uncomfortable Silence.) Keep kids engaged as active listeners by calling on someone to “give the gist” of what was just discussed / discovered / questioned. If the class seems stuck by the questions, provide an opportunity for students to discuss it with a neighbor.

Trying Something New

With all the diverse learners in our classrooms, there is a strong need for teachers to learn and experiment with new scaffolding strategies. I often say to teachers I support, you have slow down in order to go quickly. Scaffolding a lesson may, in fact, take longer to teach, but the end product is of far greater quality and the experience much more rewarding for all involved.

Please share with us scaffolding strategies that work well for your students.


Children’s Publishers Choose Their Favorite Reads of 2014

We asked staffers at children’s publishing houses to tell us about their favorite children’s book they read this year (new or backlist), and how they discovered it. Our only proviso: it couldn’t be a book that their company had published. See their responses, and happy reading!

Liz Bicknell, Candlewick Press

I nominate The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks, winner of the Carnegie Medal this June. I attended the Carnegie ceremony in London, thought the novel sounded amazing, bought a copy, read it on the plane home, decided to make an offer – was fairly sure no one else in the States would get there ahead of me – and BOOM! Andrew Karre of Carolrhoda had already snagged it; deal news was published less than 24 hours after the Carnegie ceremony. I was probably still sitting on the plane in a cloud of anticipatory self-congratulation. The Bunker Diary is a brilliant and disturbing book that I can’t wait to read a second time, even with the Carolrhoda logo on the spine. Great work, Kevin Brooks, and darn you, Andrew Karre!

Emma Ledbetter, Atheneum Books for Young Readers

I was touched by Patricia MacLachlan’s The Iridescence of Birds, illustrated by Hadley Hooper: the one long, lovely sentence that carries you through the book – and the open question that ties the story together at the end. The perfect final page that leaves you kind of breathless, and makes an unspoken “Would it be a surprise if I became an artist, too?” follow naturally. Hooper’s illustrations pay sweet tribute to her subject, but they’re stunning and distinct on their own, making you feel acutely the magic behind things like painted plates, red rugs, and the iridescence of birds. I left MoMA’s Matisse cut-outs exhibit feeling quiet awe, and after picking up this beautiful picture book in the gift shop, I felt the same way.

David Levithan, Scholastic

I found out about Andrew Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle because Penguin rather insidiously send out bound manuscripts . . . to seemingly everyone I know. But mine must have been lost in the mail. So I had to grovel for an ARC, and while some ARCs end up not being worth the grovel time, this one justified all the humiliation of my pleading. I think the one thing that unifies all of my favorite YA books is they are the works of writers who are writing whatever they damn well want, because that is the way the story demands. Caution meets wind, and the author inadvertently writes a masterpiece. Grasshopper Jungle is a messy, repetitive, horny, ridiculous novel with a main character who will strain your sympathies about as far as they can go. And I love it for all of these qualities, and for the exuberance of its daring.

Anne Hoppe, Clarion Books

Cece Bell’s El Deafo was thrust into my hands in the Abrams booth at ALA Annual. I’d heard, vaguely, that Ms. Bell was working on a graphic novel memoir about hearing loss, but nothing had prepared me for how funny, warm, honest, and accessible the result would be. Filled with skillfully chosen particulars and affectionately recalled detail, El Deafo is both a specific tale of a unique character in an unusual situation and an immediately universal story about the complexities of growing up. It wears its smart, careful construction lightly: it does not set out to impress us. Instead, this book feels like your best friend. Few things make me as happy as falling unabashedly in love with a book. It doesn’t happen every year, but this year Cece Bell published El Deafo, and I love it with all my heart.

Brittany Pearlman, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

The third book in Maggie Steifvater’s Raven Cycle quartet, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, absolutely blew my mind. With every book in this series, Maggie’s writing exceeds my expectations and reaches a whole new beautiful and imaginative level. The complexity of her prose combined with the sheer wonder of this world, plus the added bonus of some of the best characterizations I’ve ever read, make this book my favorite of 2014. There’s a line in the book where the main character, Blue, reflects about herself and her four male companions (the Raven Boys): “We were all a little bit in love with each other”; and that’s exactly how I feel about every one of the characters. The magical realism and fantasy make the story truly enchanting, but it’s always grounded in character so that you feel completely immersed. Ever since my friend recommended the first one, I have been hooked.

Morgan Dubin, Abrams Books for Young Readers

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton is incredibly strange and beautiful throughout, and in the best of ways. Ava (a 16-year-old born with wings) serves as narrator, but the story spans multiple generations. This tale examines the meaning of love and considers the conflicting aspects of loving and being loved. “Love, as most know, follows its own timeline. Disregarding our intentions or well-rehearsed plans.” There is sprawling and timeless magical realism reminiscent of One Hundred Years of Solitude, and I truly couldn’t put the book down after it was sent to me from a friend at Candlewick Press. I feel so thankful that this gem of a novel was placed in my hands, because I’m not sure I would have found it otherwise.

Margot Wood, HarperCollins Children’s Books

My favorite book of 2014 was The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski. After finishing the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo I was desperately seeking a new YA fantasy series to ease my book hangover, and over the course of a week I was recommended The Winner’s Curse a total of 11 times from 11 people on a variety of platforms (Twitter, at my office, at the bookstore). I finally caved and bought a hardcover copy (how could you not? the cover is so beautiful!) from my local bookstore and promptly read it in one sitting. This book stands out in the YA fantasy genre because it feels more historical than fantastical but doesn’t really adopt the tropes of either. It’s lush and romantic and a slow burn, but it is well worth the read. I absolutely cannot wait for more books in this series.

T.S. Ferguson, Harlequin Teen

Half Bad by Sally Green has obvious comparisons to the world of Harry Potter, but the story unfolds in such a uniquely compelling way that I couldn’t put it down. I loved the themes of racism, genocide, and terrorism as viewed through a fantasy lens. I picked this book up after hearing so much buzz about it in the industry and was not disappointed.

Nicholas During, New York Review Books

The only one I want to recommend is Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by Maurice Sendak, which I picked up after learning about Zolotow’s death and got to this year. There’s something rather melancholy about the story in combination with Sendak’s illustrations, and, don’t ask why, I find it’s a bit of sadness that makes the best children’s books. Perhaps an intuition of a youth so quickly lost? Anyway this book made a big impression on me and I think also because the rabbit looks so much like the evil rabbit in Donnie Darko.

Eliza Berkowitz, Sterling Children’s Books

While browsing in a bookstore recently, I came upon Roald Dahl’sCharlie and the Chocolate Factory and was so excited to bring it home for my five-year-old daughter. We’ve been reading her a few chapters each night, and she is enthralled with this wacky, delightful tale, especially the vivid descriptions of the fantastical candy and the unusual Oompa Loompas. It’s been so fun to revisit this cherished story as an adult, and now when our daughter starts to misbehave, we say, “Don’t be a Veruca Salt!”

Alvina Ling, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

My two favorite children’s books of 2014 are Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson and El Deafo by Cece Bell. I got an ARC of the former at BEA – I was with one of my authors in the signing area next to Jackie and asked her to sign a copy for me. El Deafo I received in a mailing from the publisher. I read both in the same week while on vacation, not realizing in advance that both were middle-grade memoirs. Although quite different from one another (one is in verse, the other a graphic novel), I found both to be totally magical, powerful and beautiful in their own ways as they opened me up to two distinct voices.

Lara Starr, Chronicle Books

I decided to read one of the books on the ALA’s list of Most Frequently Challenged or Banned Books during Banned Books Week, and also to shore up my foundation in YA classics by reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and boy, am I glad I did. I fell in love with this tangled trio of unconventional friends, and as the mother of a 15-year-old son, the deep dive into the male teenage mind, though Charlie’s is uniquely troubled. The depiction of the fluidity and intricacies of high school friendships and alliances was pitch-perfect, and brought back memories of high school friends, parties, dramas, misunderstandings, and the magic of discovering who you are.

Susan Van Metre, Abrams Books for Young Readers

I reread The Glassblower’s Children by Maria Gripe, a book I remember fondly from my childhood and which New York Review of Books recently reissued. I’d recommended it to Tom Angleberger and felt curious to know if it was as good as I remembered! It is gorgeous, with arresting imagery and told in a storyteller’s voice that reminds me of Pullman. I also found it interesting that, despite its title, it is really a book about adults and adult regret. Would it be published for children today, other than as a reissue?

Rex Ogle, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

This year, I went back to books I loved as a kid, that I haven’t read in nearly three decades, and I ended up falling in love all over again withSideways Stories from Wayside School. Reading it, I felt like I was six years old again. It was still funny, strange, and heartfelt, and then funny again at every turn. I’m buying it for my nieces and nephews for the holidays, hoping they get as much of a kick out of it as I did at their age. I’m simply amazed at how a good book can hold up decades after the first read. Well done, Louis Sachar.

Liz Herzog, Scholastic

Earlier this year, when I was visiting family in Milwaukee, I was browsing at a local independent bookstore, Boswell Book Company. I came acrossMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs on the Staff Picks table. As an art director and book designer, I was immediately drawn to the design and the wonderfully quirky photos. When I brought the book home and read it, I loved the way Riggs had so artfully built a rich and engaging world all from a collection of found photos. It made me think about where stories come from, and how pictures can be a powerful jumping-off point for the imagination.

Maggie Tokuda-Hall, Chronicle Books

The Storm Whale by Benji Davies is one of my absolute most favorite picture books to come out this year. Davies’s illustrations are charming and evocative, and the story (about loneliness and a beached whale) could have been upsetting or sad in a pair of less talented hands. Instead, we’re given a story about unlikely friendship and emotional empathy from an otherwise distant single father, who honors his son’s vulnerability instead of punishing it. Also, the cats. Cats litter the landscape of this little sea town, and I don’t know if that place exists, but I want to go to there. I recently left a position as a children’s book buyer, and so I had heard about it in that capacity before transferring over to Chronicle. I bought a copy as soon as it came out.

Megan Barlog, HarperCollins Children’s Books

​It is usually so hard to pick just one favorite book for a year, but this year I think I can easily say my favorite read was The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente. I first heard about this book a while back through one social media platform or another, and the title immediately grabbed me. It wasn’t until this summer, though, that I actually got around to purchasing it – and I’m so glad I did! This book takes the best elements of fairytale romps like Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz and transforms them into a tale of daring adventure. The story’s narration just begs it to be read aloud, and September’s bravery is to be shared with children and adults alike. I’ll definitely be keeping this one around to read to my own children one day! (In the meantime I’ll gladly flip to passages and read it aloud to anyone who happens to be in the vicinity. Seriously, the voice of this story is truly worth the read.)

Mackenzie Van Engelenhoven, Charlesbridge Publishing

​No matter how much I enjoy a book, I almost never read the sequel. It’s even rarer for me to commit to a series. So maybe I had never picked up the Jacky Faber books by L.A. Meyer because I knew there were twelve of them. Twelve. That was way too much for me. I barely made it through seven Harry Potters. And I really like Harry Potter. But after reading so many lovely tributes to Mr. Meyer after he passed away this year and hearing from so many people who loved his books, I decided to give Bloody Jack, the series opener, a try. A few short months later, I had blasted through all twelve of them, including the final volume released this year, Wild Rover No More. Discovering this series was the highlight of my 2014 reading. Jacky herself has joined the ranks of Jo March and Tiffany Aching on my list of all-time favorite literary leading ladies – authentic and audacious, bold and vulnerable, equally endearing while acting with absolute courage and sniveling in fear. Her voice is so energetic and alive, and just plain funny – I found myself laughing out loud throughout every book. Jacky’s hijinks deftly walk the line between real and unbelievable (the sweet spot for adventure novels), all the while intertwining with real historical events and figures both well-known and obscure. Pirates. Boarding school. Bull fighting. Diving bells, villainous slavers, and musical revues. A perfectly matched romantic pair that just can’t seem to get the timing right. A cast of madcap, loveable rogues, headlined by a lively, flawed, and achingly real narrator who charts her own course in life. This series has everything.

Emily Meehan, Hyperion Books for Teens

A beloved memory of mine is my mother reading The Secret Garden to me as a child. And so when I found the exact edition with the cloth case and illustrations by Tasha Tudor, I gave it to my kids for Christmas last year. Re-reading it as an adult to my kids has been such an interesting experience, both because of the questions they ask and because of the themes that I didn’t understand as a child but have discovered through the lens of a bit more life experience. I still love it as much as I did as a child, in the best way: the way that love grows and changes over time.

Betsy Groban, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Okay, so Gregory Maguire and I spent our salad days as part of a small but rabid band of children’s book people in Boston in the ’70s. But despite our longstanding friendship, and my enormous respect for him as a writer, I was unprepared for how dazzled I would be by his latest,Egg & Spoon. It absolutely knocked my socks off with its expansive canvas, its warmth, wit, wisdom, and willingness to grapple with important and timely themes. I’m hardly alone in calling Egg & Spoon a masterpiece. Do yourself a favor and check it out! You’ll be glad you did.

Taylor Norman, Chronicle Books

​My favorite YA book of the year was hands-down Andrew Smith’sGrasshopper Jungle. Chronicle’s YA Book Club chose it as one of our August titles. The thing is, the buzz around this book was all about how crazy it was; how much masturbating; what a wonderful pick for boys! Or reluctant readers! One of the reasons we chose it was just to find out what was so racy about it. But you know what? For all its apocalyptic elements, the book actually painted the most realistic portrait of teenagers I’ve read in a long time. These guys talk like guys really talk. These kids act how kids really act. There is precisely as much masturbating as every teenage girl already assumes is happening.

There are certain tics familiar to YA fiction that have come to dictate what YA sounds like – it’s a poisonous cycle, and the result is that most YA sounds the same but nothing like the actual experience of young adulthood. Smith has an incredible and rare gift for building a world that accurately depicts the one we live in, instead of one we only read about.

Panel Mania: It’s a Crab’s Life for Arthur De Pins

‘This One Summer’ Tops PW Comics World’s 2014 Critics Poll

A slowly unfolding tale of a lazy summer as unforgettable for readers as for the characters in its pages, This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki has topped our 2014 Critics Poll with six votes. Already a winner of the prestigious Canadian Governor General’s Award, This One Summer was one of the notables in an unusually rich year for comics and graphic novels.

Capturing the endless promise of summer, rendered in a placid indigo ink that mirrors sea and sky, This One Summer follows Rose and Windy, two girls on the cusp of adolescence. Summer at Awago Beach has always been a carefree time, but this year, things will change. Kelly Thompson called the book a “touching, emotionally riveting story of two summertime friends growing steadily apart. Beautiful and subtle work by both writer Mariko Tamaki and artist Jillian Tamaki – cousins who previously collaborated on Skim. However, the visuals are especially powerful. Easily my best read of the year and one that managed to be bittersweet and also hopeful and uplifting at once.” Sam Riedel noted, “The Tamakis released a stunning YA graphic novel this year with ruminations on puberty and sexuality, trauma, first love, and the terrifying transition between childhood and being an adult. Incredible monochrome visuals and a gripping plot make this a standout from a fine crop of young readers’ titles.”


Want to reprint? Get permissions.


PW Daily Tip Sheet

The two next most buzzed about graphic novels of the year, with five votes apiece, were Roz Chast’s National Book Award finalist Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant, a sometimes painful account of her parents’ last years; and Beautiful Darkness by Fabian Vehlmann and Kerascoët, a brutal fable about power and survival among painfully cute fairies that ushered in what might be called the Year of the French Comic.

Of the Chast book, John DiBello wrote, “Both hilarious and tear-jerking, this chronicle in cartoons provides cathartic ‘you are not alone’ support to those caring for aging parents. This is a cartoon memoir to laugh and cry, and heal, with – Roz Chast’s masterpiece.” And Calvin Reid said, “This book manages to be a primer on end-of-life issues, while capturing the hilarity, memories, stress, and despair of caring for aging parents who, more often than not, refuse to cooperate.”

As for Beautiful Darkness, its Disney does Lord of the Fliesart style captivated many readers. “The juxtaposition of its glorious artwork and nightmarish sensibilities make this graphic novel nothing short of profound,” Glen Downey said. “Indeed, it gets at something that lies deep within the human psyche.” And John Seven praised it as “an invigorating and disturbing comic that takes fairy tales and turns them inside out, allowing the innards to drip all over everything, including the reader.”

Aside from the top three books, dozens of other volumes spoke with sure and individual voices. Many observers have been calling this a golden age for graphic novels, and looking at the list, we find it hard to argue. While the books chosen span various publishers, First Second, Fantagraphics, and D&Q had the strongest outings, to little surprise. These publishers seem to have hit the sweet spot for both hiring established talent and finding the newest voices, mixing translated books and originals.

Here are the rest of the top vote-getters, with related commentary, as chosen by several of PW’s graphic novel reviewers. Participating critics were Chris Barsanti, Brian Heater, Lydia Conklin, John Seven, John DiBello, Zainab Akhtar, Kelly Thompson, Calvin Reid, Heidi MacDonald, Sam Riedel, Lucas Adams, Glen Downey, and Steve Bunche.


Andre the Giant: Life and Legend, Box Brown (First Second)
Brown’s clean, thick-lined, heavy-inked cartoon style meshes perfectly with the larger-than-life biography of the famous wrestler and actor, bringing a winking humor and critical visual eye to his story. It’s hard to imagine that a prose biography could feel as intimate and touching as this. (JDB)

Here by Richard McGuire (Pantheon)
Tracking one piece of land and the effects humanity and nature have on it over the centuries is the sort of thing modern scientific narrative nonfiction would do brilliantly. The scenario is depicted with near-magical mastery in this simple-in-concept but almost–impossible–in-execution graphic novel. Each page offers a window onto the passing of epochs and the thrilling dance of the human experience. (CB)

How To Be Happy, Eleanor Davis (Fantagraphics)
This collection of the bulk of Eleanor Davis’s short story comics work – mostly webcomics – is impressively varied and emotionally resonant. With images ranging from scratchy black-and-white line drawings to robust images saturated with color, Davis is comfortable in a variety of styles, carefully choosing each one to best fit her tone and mood. (KT)

Seconds, Bryan Lee O’Malley (Ballantine)
If O’Malley never created another work after the seven-volume Scott Pilgrim saga, he’d still likely be remembered as one of the early 21st century’s most accomplished and influential creators. Then he surprised us all with a single volume: startlingly adult and yet playfully fantastical. Otherworldly occurrences (an everyday, matter-of-fact convention in Scott Pilgrim) here are hidden and harrowing, with ultimately serious consequences for chef Katie, who seeks to rewrite her past – literally. O’Malley’s familiar big-headed cartoon characters now move against a more darkly shaded and toned background, and his skill for sharp dialogue and characterization elevates the narrative and mood. It’s funny, haunting, and most important, a vital quantum leap in O’Malley’s work, both in his art and storytelling. (JDB)


Ms. Marvel: No Normal, G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona (Marvel)
An inspiring book that illustrates the importance of representation in the comics medium and in others as well. Wilson skillfully navigates the minefield of introducing a Muslim protagonist to a Marvel legacy book, investing hours of careful research and editing to ensure the heroine grows in an authentic way. (SR)

Sugar Skull, Charles Burns (Pantheon)
Burns brings his long-running trilogy of terror to an end, tying up all the mysteries of the previous volumes while revealing that the greatest horror of all is something as simple as accepting adult responsibility. A masterpiece that fuses the shocks of real life with a grim fantasy world just as painful and mundane. (HM)

The Love Bunglers, Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
The artist Ray Dominquez returns to Maggie’s life, though not quite under ideal circumstances. Hernandez fills us in on both Maggie and Hopey, many years older now but as irresistible as ever, peeling back the years to reveal a lifetime of powerful relationships, rejections, infidelities, and adventures. (CR)


Ant Colony, Michael DeForge (Drawn & Quarterly)
This story about a disintegrating ant colony is a touchstone for the year in comics storytelling, teaching us not only about insects, but about ourselves. (GD)

Arsène Schrauwen, Olivier Schrauwen (Fantagraphics)
Occasionally, a creator kicks the comics-medium football not only over the goalposts but into another stadium entirely. Schrauwen’s off-the-wall ode to his grandfather’s life, love, and virus-induced mental walkabout – rendered in burnt orange and cornflower blue – is artistically simple but deeply symbolic. The whole book has the hallucinatory feel of a curious found item that inspires an uncanny anxiousness. (JDB)

Blacksad: Amarillo by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido (Dark Horse)
This latest adventure finds ’50’s-era feline detective Blacksad hired to deliver a car to its owner, but what should have been an easy gig goes down the toilet when the car is stolen by a pair of beatniks. The duo’s trail leads Blacksad down a trail of jazz, drug addiction, and murder. Every panel of the noir-drenched narrative holds the reader as tightly as a hulking thug armed with a pipe wrench, as Blacksad pursues the bike-riding thieves across a bleached desert. All of the action is delineated by artist Guarnido’s stunning animation-influenced art. (SB)

Bumperhead by Gilbert Hernandez (D&Q)
Hernandez returns to familiar but not over-tilled territory with this dark, multi-layered portrait of a restless, rootless punk. Set in the 1970s, the story follows a man who veers from promise and hope as a child to empty existence as an adult, his long decline distilled into a series of seminal incidents. What’s most alarming is how Bumperhead could be every one of us. (HM)

How The World Was, Emmanuel Guibert, First Second
More of Alan Cope’s self-reflections, this time on his childhood in California, revealing more about what it means to be human than one has any right to expect from such a low-key presentation. (JS)

In Real Life, Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang, First Second
Given the crisis in gaming and with the word “gamer,” this book is not only a timely addition to the canon, but also a welcome one. There’s nothing cynical, jaded, or mean about Doctorow and Wang’s story, even though it deals with some harsh realities as a gamer girl works to reconcile wrongs committed both inside and outside a game. Wang’s magnificent visuals are uplifting, with a richness in color that makes the most of the contrast between game life and real life. (KT)

Kill My Mother, Jules Feiffer (Liveright)
This graphic novel by Feiffer is, for lack of a better phrase, an exhilarating experience – a complex, fascinating tale of hidden secrets, dual identities, mystery, and murder. (GD)

Nobrow 9: It’s Oh So Quiet, Various Artists (Nobrow Press)
A packed anthology about silence that takes full advantage of the blinding dazzle of the current comics scene. (HM)

Saga Deluxe Edition, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)
This must-have volume collects all 18 issues of the first arc of this critically acclaimed interplanetary epic of romance and political intrigue. Though available in several smaller collections, the series is best read in hefty doses, and this serves as a handsome and convenient all-in-one edition. (SB)

The Late Child and Other Animals, Marguerite Van Cook and James Romberger (Fantagraphics)
Van Cook’s elegiac memoir of growing up in post WWII Britain presents her development from child to teen to unsentimental young woman, alive to the richly evoked world around her. Though a child of the city, Van Cook presents moving memories of childhood years spent in the English countryside, and summer vacations in France filled with adolescent impatience and flirtation. As thoughtful a book on growing up as you’ll find anywhere. (CR)

Sex Criminals Vol. 1: One Weird Trick, Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky (Image)
Bold, daring, gorgeous, imaginative – is there anything to say about this delightfully accessible cross-genre sensation that Fraction and Zdarsky haven’t already said about themselves? The tale of a couple who become unlikely bank robbers – they discover they can stop time when they orgasm – more than lives up to the outrageous premise. (SR)

Sisters, Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic Graphix)
Telgemeier brings her A-game to a very funny, very touching book about the complexities of sibling rivalry. Her masterful grasp of panel and page pacing should serve as lessons for aspiring comics creators – and already does. (JDB)

Through the Woods, Emily Carroll (S&S/McElderry)
Emily Carroll’s magnificent first collection – a selection of some of her most gruesome horror webcomics, as well as a few new stories – is both stunning and terrifying. An exceptional realization of her web work translating remarkably well to print, mixing stark black and white with high-impact colors. (KT)

The Wrenchies, Farel Dalrymple (First Second)
Strange and dreamlike, this is the sort of book that warrants several reads. Teens from a decimated future earth and characters from a comic book in that world team-up to save the world. Dalrymple’s sumptuous art helps the reader along every step of the way. (BH)


ABC Warriors: The Mek Files 01, Pat Mills, Kevin O’Neil, Brendan McCarthy, Mick McMahon, Dave Gibbons, Carlos Ezquerra, Simon Bisley, and Brett Ewins (2000AD)

An Age of License: A Travelogue, Lucy Knisley (Fantagraphics)

Barbarella: Collector’s Edition, Jean-Cluade Forest and Kelly Sue DeConnick (Humanoids)

Casanova: Luxuria, Matt Fraction, Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon (Image)

Cat Person, Seo Kim (Koyama Press)

Chilling Tales of Sabrina, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack (Archie)

Doomboy, Tony Sandoval (Magnetic Press)

Dragons Breath: And Other True Stories, MariNaomi (Uncivilized)

Empowered Vol. 8, Adam Warren (Dark Horse)

Fury: My War Gone By, Garth Ennis and Goran Pavlov (Marvel)

Happy Stories About Well-Adjusted People: An Ollmann Omnibus, Joe Ollmann, (Conundrum Press)

Hilda and the Black Hound, Luke Pearson (Flying Eye Books)

Hip Hop Family Tree Vol. 2, Ed Piskor (Fantagraphics)

Hoax: Psychosis Blues, by Ravi Thornton (Ziggy’s Wish)

Invincible Days, Patrick Atangan (NBM)

It Never Happened Again: Two Stories, Sam Alden (Uncivilized)

Lazarus, Greg Rucka, Michael Lark, Santiago Arcas (Image)

The Leaning Girl, Benoit Peters and Francois Schuiten (Alaxis Press)

Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel, by Anya Ulinich (Penguin)

Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream, Various (Locust Moon Press)

Moon Knight Vol. 1: From the Dead, Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey (Marvel)

Moonhead and the Music Machine, Andrew Rae (Nobrow)

Mr. Punch: 20th Anniversary Edition, Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean (DC/Vertigo)

Over Easy, Mimi Pond (Drawn & Quarterly)

Polina, Bastien Vivés (Vintage Digital)

Rocket Girl, Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder (Image)

Safari Honeymoon, Jesse Jacobs (Koyama Press)

Scaffold Vol .1, VA Graham & JA Eisenhower (Hic and Hoc)

Second Avenue Caper: When Goodfellas, Divas and Dealers Plotted Against the Plague, Joyce Brabner and Mark Zingarelli (Hill and Wang/FSG)

Silver Surfer Vol. 1: New Dawn, Dan Slott and Mike Allred (Marvel)

Swamp Thing by Brian K. Vaughan, Brian K. Vaughan and Roger Petersen (DC/Vertigo)

Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor, by Lynda Barry (Drawn & Quarterly)

The Amateurs, Conor Stechschulte (Fantagraphics)

The Boxer: The True Story of Holocaust Survivor Harry Haft, Reinhard Kleist (SelfMadeHero)

The Complete Zap Comix, R. Crumb, Rick Griffin, Paul Mavrides, Victor Moscoso, Spain Rodriguez, Gilbert Shelton, Robert Willams, and S. Clay Wilson (Fantagraphics)

The Hospital Suite, John Porcellino (Drawn & Quarterly)

The Man Who Laughs, XX (SelfMadeHero)

The Park, Oscar Zarate (SelfMadeHero)

The Shadow Hero, Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew (First Second)

The Sock Monkey Treasury,Tony Millionaire (Fantagraphics)

The Wake by Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy (DC/Vertigo)

The War of Streets and Houses, Sophie Yanow (Uncivilized)

Tippy and the Night Parade, Lilli Carre (Toon Books)

Tomboy, Liz Prince (Zest Books)

Treasure Island 2, Connor Willumsen (Breakdown Press)

Trees Volume 1, Warren Ellis and Jason Howard (Image)

Truth is Fragmentary, Gabrielle Bell (Uncivilized)

Velvet Volume 1, Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting (Image)

Walt Disney’s Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: The Don Rosa Library Vol. 1, Don Rosa (Fantagraphics)

White Death, Robbie Morrison and Charlie Adlard (Image)

Zenith: Phase 1, Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell (2000AD)


John Green Celebrates 10 Years of ‘Looking for Alaska’

It’s often been said recently that author John Green is having a moment. But more accurately, he’s been having quite a decade. Long before the success of the book and movie versions of The Fault in Our Stars, his Vlogbrothers YouTube channel, or the blockbuster fundraising campaign Project for Awesome, Green was an aspiring writer looking for a way to channel his intense emotions into a story. He did just that with Looking for Alaska, his first novel for young adults (Dutton, 2005), which won the 2006 Printz Award, was a PW Flying Start, and eventually became a bestseller. Next month Dutton is marking the book’s birthday with the release of a special 10th-anniversary edition and a celebratory marketing campaign.

“I guess it really started in two places,” says Green, reflecting on the origins of Alaska’s tale. “I went to a boarding school in rural Alabama, so a lot of the story is autobiographical. Secondly, after graduating college [in 2000], I worked as a student chaplain at a children’s hospital for six months. I felt helpless and angry after my time as a chaplain and I wanted to write about love and grief and forgiveness, and how we can be hopeful in a world marked by ambiguity and questions we can’t ever find the answers to.”

As those big themes simmered in Green’s imagination he focused on his day job as an editorial assistant at Booklist in Chicago. “I never even would have tried to write the book had I not worked there,” he says. “One of the editors there, Ilene Cooper, was also an author. I saw that real people like Ilene wrote books; they weren’t written in ivory towers.” Green told Cooper about his book idea over lunch one day, and she was encouraging. “But I didn’t really work on it till late 2001,” says Green. “That’s when I got the idea for the before-and-after structure.” Green wrote a first draft and presented it to Cooper to read. “It was 40 single-spaced pages in 10 point font,” he notes. Cooper offered a detailed editorial letter and served as a mentor for Green through subsequent versions of the manuscript. “After a third draft working with Ilene, she sent it to Dutton and six months later I had a publishing contract” Green says. “It was a heady day. It was a very small advance – I call it a four-figure book deal. I remember going out to dinner and spending two percent of the advance that night.”

At Dutton, Green’s manuscript fortuitously made its way to the desk of Julie Strauss-Gabel. “I had been here for about a year,” Strauss-Gabel recalls. “The manuscript came in un-agented [via Cooper, who had published many books with Dutton] and it was acquired [in summer 2003]. My publisher at the time [Stephanie Lurie] came in and said ‘I have this book that I think would be a good fit for you. It’s calledLooking for Alaska.’ I said, ‘Let me stop you. I’m not particularly good with survival stories.’ ”

Of course, Strauss-Gabel quickly discovered that the romantic and emotionally hard-hitting story of Miles and Alaska wasn’t the kind of survival story she had envisioned. “Contemporary YA fiction is my greatest focus and greatest passion,” she says. “We were lucky to be put together,” she notes of her partnership with Green. “We’re lucky someone played matchmaker.”

One quality that immediately stood out to Green’s editor was his writing voice. “His voice is impeccable, no matter how many changes and evolutions the manuscript went through,” says Strauss-Gabel. She recalls a powerful experience later in the editing process. “By the second or third revision, it was January and I was on a train heading to Vermont and reading it,” she says. “I hit a moment and I just stopped and looked out the window; I could feel time stop. You don’t find people like that in your life very often and you don’t find talent like that in your life very often. To have both is the happiest accident ever.”

Andrea Fischman

Julie Strauss-Gabel: “We were lucky to be put together.”

As the book inched closer to publication, it was creating some buzz. “It felt different and special and magic from the start,” says Strauss-Gabel. “People in-house remember when they first read it. As it moved from bookseller to bookseller, from librarian to librarian, you could feel something special happening. I could see the ripples it was making at Penguin and in the industry. It was a book I couldn’t not talk about.” Penguin sent Green on a bookseller dinner tour as the book was being released to further build momentum. “It was huge and wonderful for me to meet the booksellers and hear what the landscape of YA fiction looked like to them,” says Green. “Meeting the people who were central to the success of a small book like this, to connect on a personal level, was a great pleasure.”

Though Looking for Alaska made noise with all the right people early on – earning critical praise and passionate, book-promoting fans – it was a slow starter sales-wise. “It only sold a few thousand copies,” says Green. “It was getting handsold really well, but it wasn’t catching on at the big chains. I thought, ‘All the people Ilike liked the book,’ and that’s all I wanted. I felt very happy.” Green felt his expectations of success were pretty reasonable, saying, “At Booklist I had seen lots of good books come and go, books that didn’t get the readership they deserved. My goal was to see it survive to paperback.”

Then came awards season. “I was overjoyed when I won the Printz,” says Green. “It’s probably the purest moment of joy I’ve experienced. Even when my children were born it wasn’t as raw and surprising. It’s what I think about when I’m running and I want to stop running. That people I respect so much gave it this award meant a ton to the book. It changed the trajectory. Sales doubled, and then doubled again. It was an amazing year.”

Sales continued to steadily improve as Green published successive novels, but Strauss-Gabel notes that Looking for Alaska didn’t officially become a bestseller until seven years after publication, in 2012. “I was in a meeting when I got the email and saw it on the bestseller list for the first time and I just ran out of the room,” she recalls. Green remembers the moment, too. “She called me in tears,” he says.

Anniversary Bells and Whistles

As Looking for Alaska approached its first decade in print, Strauss-Gabel kept a watchful eye. “It’s a book that never leaves my mind,” she says. “It’s in my consciousness every day so I was keenly aware a year and a half ago that we were coming on 10 years. We knew it was important to mark this milestone.” Strauss-Gabel says the anniversary presented “an opportunity to make a beautiful book even more beautiful.”

The original cover.

The anniversary edition, which will be released on January 13, features a new jacket by Rodrigo Corral. “I had no interest in throwing away any of the elements that made the original jacket evocative and iconic it its own way,” Strauss-Gabel says. “I told Rodrigo that it should be exactly the same but totally different and he knew exactly what I meant.” Inside, the book has been redesigned with more leading in between the lines of text and includes a plethora of bonus material. Green has written an introduction and an extensive Q&A about the book. Michael Cart, chair of the 2006 Printz committee, contributed an essay. And the special edition also includes never-before-seen deleted and revised scenes from the original 2003 manuscript, accompanied by commentary from Strauss-Gabel and Green.

The marketing campaign for the 10th-anniversary edition largely focuses on the recollections of fans, Penguin personnel, booksellers, librarians and others who helped launch the book as they remember where they were when they first were introduced to Green and his debut. Things kicked off at the NCTE conference in November where Penguin distributed buttons reading “John Green and I Go Way Back.” Much of the marketing will be done via social media. Penguin is launching a Looking for Alaska Tumblr to serve as a hub for fan-created content inspired by the book. January 10 is Alaska Day, which will feature white flower images (a key bit of imagery in the book) on the Tumblr and across all of Penguin Teen’s social media channels. On January 13, under the theme First Loves, Last Words, art featuring some of the last words used in the book will be featured on the publisher’s Tumblr and other social media accounts. And throughout January and beyond, via Penguin Teen social media venues, fans will be asked to share their Alaska Memories.

Both Green and Strauss-Gabel have taken a peek at some of the early responses in the campaign. “Every one of them makes me want to cry,” says Strauss-Gabel. “So many people who built this book with me are still part of the team today. There’s a lot of history; it’s like a family. This is entirely the book that made me an editor. It was sparkly and shiny and wonderful. You don’t realize until you look back how unusual and special that is.” Green has also been moved by the reactions. “Looking for Alaska has a more passionate readership than my other books,” he says. “When people connect to it, they do so intensely.”

As Looking for Alaska’s anniversary year begins, Green has been a fixture on set as the movie adaptation of his 2008 novel Paper Towns is being filmed in North Carolina. “I am trying to write, but it’s hard at the moment,” he says. “But it’s been hard before. I’m sure I will be doing it again next year. I’m working on the movie and Project for Awesome, and my day job—making educational materials for the online series Crash Course. It’s all work I love, so I’m lucky in that respect. But I love writing. I miss it.”

Source: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-authors/article/65089-john-green-celebrates-10-years-of-looking-for-alaska.html?utm_source=Publishers+Weekly&utm_campaign=4a9786f357-UA-15906914-1&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0bb2959cbb-4a9786f357-304424309

10 Ways to Sabotage Your Classroom Management

10 Ways to Sabotage Your Classroom Management | MiddleWeb
By Jennifer Gonzalez

Click to access 10-Ways-Sabotage-Class-Mgmt.pdf

You know the basics: Establish clear rules and
consequences, be consistent, keep students
engaged. But even with all that in place, the small
things you do could be wreaking havoc on your
whole system.
Here are some habits you might have developed that are messing with
your classroom management, along with more effective alternatives.1. Smiling at the Wrong Times
This was a big problem for me. I thought my students were pretty funny
people, so when a kid took those first steps to get us off-track, I
couldn’t help but smile. And that just encouraged him to continue. The
irony was that five minutes later, I would be yelling at the whole class
for getting too wild. Duh.
Alternative: Make a conscious effort to hold a neutral, “on-task” facial
expression when you need your class to be focused. I still think it’s
important to show students you have a sense of humor and appreciate
theirs, but everyone needs to learn that there’s a time and place for it.
Have a private conversation with your class clowns, letting them know
that there will be times when you won’t react to their jokes – that will be
your signal that it’s a “serious” time.

2. Handling Problems Publicly
Addressing student misbehavior in a public way
risks embarrassing the student, and if she is prone
to being oppositional, she’s likely to talk back and
dig herself into a deeper hole. You retaliate, and
before you know it, a full-scale war has erupted.
Alternative: Whenever possible, address off-task
behavior in private. Some teachers silently place a post-it note on the
student’s desk to signal that a problem has occurred, then add a checkmark for every subsequent infraction.
Others just speak in a quiet voice by the student’s desk or call the
student up to their own. The method isn’t terribly important; just aim for
a bare minimum of spectacle.

3. All Sound, No Sight
So many behavior problems start with students simply not
understanding what they are supposed to do. This is especially true
when teachers only give verbal directions instead of making them
Alternative: Provide visual cues for what students are expected to do. If
you want them to do steps 1-4 of today’s lab, then clean up their
materials, then read silently for the rest of the period, go to the board
and make a quick list: step 1-4, clean up, read. Simply writing those
steps on the board will save you from having to remind students or
reprimand them for not following the plan.
4. Not Waiting for Quiet
When I observe teachers, I see this mistake more often than any other:
They start talking to the class before everyone has completely stopped
talking. To be fair, they often wait until almost everyone is quiet, but
allowing that last bit of chatter to linger causes problems: Students who
don’t hear what you say will either (a) turn to a neighbor to ask, or (b)follow instructions incorrectly. It’s easy to blame kids for being poor
listeners, but the problem could actually be the teacher’s timing.
Alternative: Before addressing your class, force yourself to wait a few
extra seconds (about five) until everyone – everyone – is completely

5. Making Students Choose Between Listening and
When you distribute a handout to students, do
you give them quiet time to actually read it?
Or do you keep talking, “going over it” and
constantly interrupting them to the point
where they can’t process any of it? When you
do this, you guarantee that students will either
skip over something important on the document, or miss a vital bit of
information you gave verbally. The brain can’t do both at once.
Alternative: If you have preliminary remarks to make before giving
students written material, do your talking first, then pass out the
papers. Once students have the document in hand, tell them you’re
going to give them a few minutes to read it. Then…BE QUIET. If you
must interrupt, have students turn their papers face-down and look at
you, then give the announcement.

6. Only Speaking in “Don’ts”If I tell you not to think about a hot fudge sundae, what do you think
about? Yep, a hot fudge sundae. Similarly, if you tell a seventh grade
boy not to tap his pencil, he still has pencil tapping on the brain.
Alternative: Tell students what to do. These directives can address the
problem at hand (Jake, put your pencil under your textbook until I tell
you to use it) or distract the student with another activity altogether
(Jake, read number 4 for me, please).

7. Taking Too Long
When a student gets off-task, an ineffective teacher
will waste five minutes lecturing her about it. This not
only makes you lose valuable instructional time, it
also annoys the heck out of the other students, who
are forced to sit and watch.

Alternative: Just becoming aware of this problem will
help you improve it. Remember, you don’t have to
settle every issue right away; when an interaction drags on, tell the
student you’ll finish talking after class.

8. Staying Up Front
Proximity is a huge key to stopping misbehavior before it gets going. If
you’re always at the front of your classroom, you can’t pick up on
trouble in the early stages. By the time you notice a problem, it’s already gained momentum, making it much harder to stop.

Alternative: Move around while you teach. Do it so casually and so
regularly that students just expect it.

9. Focusing on the Problems
It’s natural to give your energy to misbehaviors, to
only comment when something goes wrong, but
you’ll get more cooperation if you give equal (or
more) attention to the good behaviors, especially
when it comes to students who have trouble with
Alternative: You’ve probably heard of “catch them being good,” but
actually doing it takes concentration. For some students, you have to
wait a while before the desirable behavior happens! Watch Daniel, the
pencil-tapper: After you tell him to set his pencil down, does it stay
there for a few minutes? Before he grabs it again, go over and say,
“Thanks for keeping that pencil down.” Nine times out of ten, that will
lengthen the time it takes for him to pick it up again.
10. Taking Things Personally
No matter what’s going on, taking student misbehavior as a personal
affront can only make things worse. But not taking it personally is a lot
easier said than done.Alternative: A mental trick I used to help me step away from those hurt
feelings was to think of myself as a service provider – like a dentist –
and my students as patients. If my patient got a cavity, I would treat it
as best I could, but I wouldn’t take it personally. If things don’t always
go well, it doesn’t have to be about me.
Classroom management is so complex, it can take years to develop a
style and a system that works. By replacing these habits with more
effective practices, you’ll build a better classroom for everyone.
[Illustrations by Jennifer Gonzalez]
Jennifer Gonzalez taught middle school
language arts for seven and a half years (she
insists on counting that half year…it was a
doozy) and prepared pre-service teachers at the
university level for four. Now she works full-time
on her website, Cult of Pedagogy
(cultofpedagogy.com), where she shares
strategies, tools, and articles like Using Notebooks for Classroom
Management to help teachers make their work more effective and
more fun. Follow her on Twitter @cultofpedagogy.
10 Ways to Sabotage Your Classroom Management | MiddleWeb


BookShelf’s Recommended Reads for Winter 2015

Winter is now upon us, a time for bundling up, drinking a nice hot beverage (or three), and – of course – reading comics! (Okay, maybe only for some of us…)

To help you get through these chilly months, BookShelf presents a list of recommended graphic novels scheduled for release from December through February.

Here are BookShelf’s recommended graphic novels for Winter, broken down by age rating:

Titles for Kids (Age 6+) Titles for Young Adults (Age 13+) Titles for Older Teens (Age 16+) Titles for Adults (Age 18+)