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Volume 4 Number 1

Corks are popping! January is awards month in the world of children's literature. Esme Codell writes about contenders for the Caldecott award for best illustration in American children's literature, the Newbery for best writing, the Coretta Scott King award, and others...
Business Cards & No Problem With Hurricane Lili Dec./Jan. Effective Teaching by Harry & Rosemary Wong
Learning and Relationships, The two are inseparable Promoting Learning by Marv Marshall
Teach Children Test-taking Skills Instant Ideas for Busy Teachers by Barbara Gruber and Sue Gruber
Teachers Have Two Jobs Teachers As Learners by Hal Portner
Male Elementary Teachers Ask the School Psychologist by Beth Bruno
Starting a New Year…Ginny's List of 10 The Eclectic Teacher by Ginny Hoover
Sites for School Principals and High School Teachers The Busy Educator's Monthly Five (5 Sites for Busy Educators) by Marjan Glavac
New Versions of Software Can Be Overkill Ed-Tech Talk by Rob Reilly
Why Didn't We Think of That? 4 Blocks by Cheryl Sigmon
Corks Are A-Poppin' at! Postcard from Planet Esme - News from the world of children's books by Esmé Codell
January Articles
January Regular Features
January Informational Items
Gazette Home Delivery:

About Cheryl Sigmon...
Cheryl Sigmon is the author of Implementing the 4-Blocks Literacy Model (Carson-Dellosa, 1997) and the co-author with Pat Cunningham and Dottie Hall of The Teacher's Guide to the Four Blocks (Carson-Dellosa, 1999). Cheryl was a classroom teacher for a number of years. For nine years she was a language arts consultant for the SC Department of Education, where she worked in K-12 classrooms to help schools strengthen language arts programs. Since January 1999, she has been a freelance consultant, helping thousands of teachers across the United States implement the Four Blocks Model.

Learn more about Cheryl and her work at -

More articles by Cheryl Sigmon.

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Sifting and Sorting Through the 4-Blocks Literacy Model
by Cheryl M. Sigmon
Why Didn't We Think of That?

Among the numerous controversies spawned by the National Reading Panel Report is the lack of support for self-selected reading time in our classrooms. The panel does acknowledge that in order for students to establish good reading habits they need time to read daily. However, they express that allowing students time to read in our classrooms may not be the best use of our time. They feel that classroom time is better spent with direct instruction. Their recommendation to educators is that we should have the students read daily at home!

Gosh! Why didn't we think of that? Just think of all the time we've been sacrificing in our classrooms when all we had to do was say, "Students, I want you to read at home tonight!" So easy!

My comments, of course, are laced with sarcasm. My response to their statement is one of profound amazement. How could these distinguished panelists not be grounded any further in the realities of the classroom---or for that matter, the realities of society? Don't they know we've been sending home reading logs daily and requiring our parents to sign them to reassure us that their children have read 20 minutes that day? We do it to send a message, but we also know that many students don't read nightly even when parents' signatures are returned.

To be perfectly honest with you, I can remember nights in my own household when all three of my daughters were still in school. I remember taking one daughter to drama lessons, one to gymnastics, and another to her basketball game. We returned home after these activities hungry and tired. My husband and I would cook supper while the girls did their homework and got baths. I still had lesson plans to work on for the next day as well as clothes to get ready for the next morning. Evenings were always hectic! And, then, one of my own children would put that homework log under my nose and exclaim, "Mom, sign off that I've read 20 minutes tonight."

Yes, there were nights that I signed the log, hoping my child had read but not having witnessed the reading. And, remember that I'm pretty conscientious when it comes to reading! Surely there are other parents who sign off on a regular basis who want their students to succeed but who don't monitor this time that we hope will help students build reading habits.

So, to respond to the members of the National Reading Panel, believe it or not, we did think about having students read at home so that we could pack as much instruction into our school day as possible. But, then we realized the inevitable. And we also came to understand that we needed to send a clear message to our students about what we really value in our classrooms. We value reading and what books have to offer. We have decided that having the SSR time daily will allow us to motivate students to read and to grow in their confidence as readers. The Reading Panel members probably wouldn't believe how much easier it is to teach a student who feels confident as a reader and as a writer.

In our heart of hearts as classroom teachers, we do believe that the students in our classrooms who read the most, truly are the ones who also read the best. Let's continue to give them the opportunity to do that!

Training Opportunities:

Below are seminars that I have coming up in the future. Hope to see you at one!

Hope to see you at a seminar soon!

Personal Journal:

I hope you've all had a wonderful holiday season with family and friends. This last weekend of December, my family and I are still celebrating. Beth just got in from Seattle last night, so we're enjoying a second Christmas. Last night all of my children and grandchildren spent the night here. It was so wonderful to have them under one roof! This morning we had our tradition big breakfast---grits and cheese casseroles, coffee rings, and all kinds of goodies. We popped our English poppers when we first sat down so that we could wear the colorful hats that spilled from them---they look great in the pictures! Around the table sat the people who are most special to me---all the way from my 86 year old mother to my one year old grandson. It was one of those times that you say to yourself, "Life is good!" I hope that you have many great memories from your holidays as well!

I hope that 2003 will hold many special blessings for each and every one of you!

Gazette Articles by Cheryl M. Sigmon:

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