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The Big Fresh from Choice Literacy January 21, 2012 I Don't Like Dogs

Brenda Power

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive.
                                                           Gilda Radner
When I was young I saw a dog maul a kitten.  In my teenage years, I was knocked down from a standing position to the ground in front of the entire high school football team by a dog in heat. So . . . I don't like dogs. I know these two dogs from my past are nothing like the dogs in your homes, and truly I like the idea of dogs: companions, protectors, helpers, and unconditional friends. I also like that you like dogs. An office professional I work with is Scottish.  "I love me wee dogs," she says, and I like her very much and I like hearing her stories about dog camp, but that doesn't mean I'll like her dogs when I meet them.
Not liking dogs can make a person unpopular in a hurry. People look at me strangely when I admit my failing as a human being to love dogs. "How can you not like dogs?" is always the question, delivered in an incredulous tone.  I shrug. "I like cats," I sometimes offer, but that doesn't suffice. I don't stop on walks to pet dogs or notice breeds. I don't understand the photos of puppies dressed up in sweaters or tutus. Several people have said, "You'll like dogs when you meet MY dog." And I'm sorry Bailey, Peanut Butter, Ralph, and Copper, but I still don't. I like you enough to tolerate and humor you. I'll be kind to you, but I wouldn't invite you to my house by choice.
I keep this in mind when I'm teaching reading and writing. Why? I am passionate about reading and writing. I feel about literature the way you probably feel about dogs. Keeping in mind my dislike of dogs helps me plan in ways that ensure I don't unleash my literacy dog to lick you and jump on you. I don't expect you to love literature right away.  I'll let you approach it in your own way at your own pace. And if you happen to tell me, "I don't like writing," I won't look at you strangely and say, "How can you not like writing?" I'll think: I know what that's like. Someday when I don't have three kids who need everything I've got, I may get a dog. Who knows? Anything is possible. Maybe then I'll understand a new kind of love.
This week we're starting a new series on spelling instruction, a topic just as polarizing as dogs and literature for many teachers and students. Plus more as always - enjoy!
Heather Rader
Senior Editor, Choice Literacy
Free for All
[For sneak peeks at our upcoming features, quotes and extra links, you can follow Choice Literacy on Twitter: @ChoiceLiteracy]
From the Choice Literacy archives, Franki Sibberson shares some of her favorite children's literature for word work, grammar, and mechanics connections:
We're using our Choice Literacy Facebook page this month to highlight some favorite longer research quotes about spelling instruction, as well as reflection questions to use for individual study or in teacher learning groups: 

The second part of our series on changes in the new year features insights from Katie DiCesare, Julie Johnson, Tony Keefer, and Beth Lawson:
In a new podcast, Bud Hunt talks about what teachers need to know when it comes to teaching writing and the Common Core:
"Bends in the Road" is a concept from the Two Writing Teachers blog.  Ruth Ayres explains how these "bends" or big ideas connect to Common Core standards in writing and lesson planning:
Understanding how spelling, punctuation and grammar work is all about understanding underlying principles. In Patterns and Punctuation, Elizabeth Schlessman writes about how she uses inquiry to help her students notice and understand punctuation (as well as the world beyond the classroom door):
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We're launching a new month-long series on spelling instruction. In Spelling Rules - Or Does It?, Heather Rader introduces the series and maps out the topics we'll be tackling: 
Linda Karamatic connects poetry, word learning, and the morning meeting in her second-grade classroom in this week's video:

We've posted a new cluster on teaching character traits in literature, with contributions from Clare Landrigan, Franki Sibberson, Sarah Thibault, andAnn Williams:
Early winter is a terrific time to rethink which bulletin board displays are working, and which ones could use a change. Andrea Smith reworks a board that was successful in the past but is woefully empty now in Classroom Changes and Birdhouse Gourds:
This week we've posted a video upgrade bonus from Franki Sibberson. It is Part 2 of her Social Studies Word Hunt (with a catch-up link to Part 1 if you missed it):
That's all for this week!
Coming Next Week: Our focus will be making student partnerships work, with a new cluster. We'll also continue our spelling series, and post the finale of our series on new year changes from contributors.  


Brenda Power

Brenda Power is the founder of Choice Literacy. She worked for many years as a professor at the University of Maine and an editor at Stenhouse Publishers. Her publications as an author include Living the Questions and The Art of Classroom Inquiry. She has worked as a book editor and video producer for many of the authors featured at this site.