Monday, January 4, 2010

New Book for a New Year: Today I Will

Jerry and Eileen Spinelli have coauthored a new book entitled Today I Will: A Year of Quotes, Notes, and Promises to Myself. I have to admit that when I saw this I had to have it. Mostly, this is due to a serious soft spot in my heart for a few of Spinelli's books (Stargirl, Milkweed, Loser). Though primarily an author for middle level students, I felt that this title might be put to good use in my Study Skills classes.

I sometimes struggle to come up with meaningful, creative exercises and projects for these students. With my English classes, there is a set curriculum and there are books and poems to read. Study Skills, on the other hand, is more of an elective class with no specific reading materials. So, I've worked and searched and pulled together a bunch of activities for students who finish their homework, studying and make-up work for other classes.

The appeal of this book for me is the fact that it is arranged in a sort of calendar. I have read through the book and have earmarked a number of writings that seem like they'll lead to thoughtful student products. I especially like:

February 6th: In this entry, the Spinellis talk about hatred and the power of forgiveness. I can easily think of some writing prompts to go along with this topic.

April 6th: The discussion in this entry is all about rain. I have to admit that I love a good spring rain. There is nothing more refreshing. So, maybe we'll all go outside and dance in the rain (or snow!) that is bound to be falling this April 6th!

September 9th: Like the Spinellis, I have a lot of opinions concerning a whole host of issues. This entry acknowledges that we have have some opinions that we hold, but that we also need to learn to listen to others. I have found that the notion that opinions need to be respected could use some work in many of the classes I teach.

These are just a small sampling of the 366 pages of ideas offered in this book. This is a great resource to have if you're looking for some writing prompt inspiration or some great quotations by famous authors. They can easily be used for student blogs or writing journals. Either way, this text is good for a rainy day activity or as a regular feature in your classroom!

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