Even though I retired as a teacher/librarian, I still I like to keep connected to the world of school librarians and teaching. I love learning and I love reading! And, since I'm a pending middle grade author, I feel it's also important for me to keep informed of what's happening in the realm of education.
In the January/February 2018 issue of School Library Connection I recently read an article about SEL. The article is entitled "On Common Ground" by Mary Frances Zilonis and Chris Swerling. I had never heard of SEL, but soon found out it's a hot topic in educational research. CASEL (The Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning) defines SEL as "the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions." Eight states have partnered with CASEL to adopt these SEL Core Competencies.
· Relationship skills
· Responsible decision making
No sooner did I read this article when a blog I follow by Lee and Low Books advertised an upcoming webinar on—SEL. I tuned in to a very professional presentation with excellent graphics and book lists which highlighted the SEL themes in many of the published Lee and Low Books. Katie Potter is the Literacy Specialist who works for Lee and Low Books and after much research on her part, she developed six themes of SEL. The title of her webinar is: "Using Diverse Books to Support Social and Emotional Learning." I encourage you to also view the list of fine books Lee and Low publishes which match these themes listed on their website, Lee and Low Books
· Positive Relationships
· Recognizing and Managing Emotions
· Problem Solving
· Grit and Perseverance
Since Tu Books, an imprint of Lee and Low Books, will be publishing my middle grade historical fiction novel, The Wind Called My Name, around the fall of 2018, I wanted to see how my novel fit the SEL themes. I'm proud to say I believe my book touches on all these themes. I believe most authors want their texts to matter to kids' hearts as well as their minds.
We do a good job of reaching the minds of our students when we ask recall questions, comprehension questions, and close reading questions. But students are more than their test scores. We need to work harder at making text matter to our students' hearts and to ask students to also pay attention to the emotions books awaken in them. One way to do this is to have student speak about how the text made them feel and share their thoughts, because each reader will come away with a different experience.
Hopefully, our students are given many opportunities to answer the question posed by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst in their book, Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters. The question is: How has this text changed me? We want our students' thinking to be disrupted by what they read and we want to see changes in our students.we can ask our students to help them learn that reading should touch their hearts as well as their minds:
The authors, Beers and Probst offer a framework to help students "attend to the textual, intellectual, and emotional aspects of their reading." They call the framework BHH Reading (Book, Head, Heart). You can learn more about their vision for teaching reading on a podcast from their publisher, Scholastic.
February is I LOVE TO READ MONTH. Let's make a concerted effort this month to not only help students respond to their reading with their HEADS, but also with their HEARTS.
Here are recent middle grade historical fiction books that touched my heart. What are some books that have touched your heart?