Category Archives: Surprise Sunday

April 23

What’s in a Name? by Augusta Scattergood

Most of the writers you and I know agree: giving a character just the right name is crucial to her personality. Motivation, appeal, distrust, dislike, or whatever we’re trying to make you feel as a reader turns on finding exactly the right moniker. Most of us love that process.   Two examples hop quickly to […]

April 09

Desertification by Donalyn Miller

Our oldest granddaughter, Emma, is eight. She looks just like her mother did at the same age. Long limbs accessorized with a rotation of Band-Aids that move from one knee to the next. Wind-blown dark blonde hair that needs brushing. Piercing blue eyes that have already mastered the skeptical shade throw passed down through generations […]

March 12

It’s Not About Us by Donalyn Miller

  Two weekends ago, I volunteered at the North Texas Teen Book Festival, a two-day event in Irving, Texas. I travel to lots of literacy and literature conferences, but it’s a rare treat to attend such a fantastic conference without leaving home. The first day of the festival is an Educator Day for teachers and […]

March 05

Magick, Science, and Why It Matters by Mary Losure

I began writing Isaac the Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton, Reveal’d when I learned that as a boy, Isaac Newton kept a tiny, secret notebook. In it, he wrote down snippets from two books he’d borrowed from an apothecary: Mathematicall Magick and The Mysteries of Nature and Art.  I hoped the story of a magic-seeking […]

Layering “Texts” to Deepen Understanding as Students Read (Secretly modeling how to be passionate about inquiry) by Shelli Thelen

History is an important window for all students to view the world through. As a child, I learned about American history and ancient civilizations. I was not interested in history as a student until we began to learn about more contemporary events that occurred in the 20th century. As a fifth-grade teacher of social studies […]

February 19

A Gift I Give Myself by Julie Potvin Kirchner

When I got home from NCTE last November, there were several colleagues surprised to hear I had paid for the entire trip, with the exception of the cost to cover a reserve teacher, out of my own pocket. They wondered how and why I would choose to do this. The reasons are many and continue […]

February 12

So Many Books, So Little Time: Tips for Reading Strategically by Donalyn Miller

We own too many books. I’ve confessed this before, and it surprises no one. Don and I spend too much time sorting, culling, dusting, moving, and shelving books. Without constant maintenance, our book collection would take over our lives and home. We have tried to control our book hoarding tendencies, but it’s a losing battle. […]

February 05

Inspiring Readers and Writers with Author Visits by Jim Bailey

Everyone has a favorite day of the school year.  It could be the first day, a special performance, or a tradition that is unique to your school.  For me, my favorite day is an easy choice:  the day of our annual author visit.  This year our guest author was Marc Tyler Nobleman.  He wowed the […]

January 29

MINDS WIDE OPEN by Paul Fleischman

The year was 1950.  As a lark, the tiny magazine that my father wrote for published this photo of an alleged 27-inch alien who was said to have crashed outside Mexico City.     The picture had come from a flying saucer fanatic and was so obviously faked that the staff thought no reader would […]

January 22

Freedom of Speech by Donalyn Miller

  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” –First Amendment, U.S. Constitution     The United States […]