by Denise H. Stuart
Teachers today are revisiting instructional approaches and materials as they map and plan curriculum in response to the Common Core State Standards (2012) sweeping districts. Among areas of increased emphasis with these new standards are a focus on non-fiction text, higher level comprehension, and writing development (Calkins, Ehrenworth & Lehman, 2012). Blogs and resources are abundant online, and it is useful to have a guide to engage us in finding our way. Such is Tricia Stohr-Hunt, a blogger since 2006, inspired by young Alice in Barbara Cooney’s (1985) Miss Rumphius who travels the world and wants to make the world a more beautiful place. Stohr-Hunt offers background to this advertising-free blog and information about her own diverse life experiences from being a boat hand to middle school teacher. At her accessible, attractive, and well organized blog site, The Miss Rumphius Effect, this teacher educator discusses issues and ideas for teaching poetry, non-fiction and other literature for early to middle readers (Stohr-Hunt, 2013). She blogs on the value of writing to learn and offers engaging prompts to integrate writing throughout the curriculum. Engaging Educators, a professional development site that emphasizes “21st century students need 21st century teaching” notes The Miss Rumphius Effect as one of the “great literacy blogs to follow.”
This blog is easy to navigate and focused in content and discussion. The home page features timely issues and ideas. For example, as the school year ends and Dr. Stohr-Hunt reflects on its wind down with grading and tests, she shares poems that recall the year’s schooling experiences—humorous, serious, and divers—in review of collections of poetry and in excerpts of individual poems. As part of her “Poetry A:Z” section she blogs about baseball and poetry, and before that birds and biography. She includes links to downloadable writing activities and audio files of authors reading poems. From her home page one can “Browse by Content” using popular tags related to teaching content areas, books and reviews, poetry and a trip she took to China with an extensive photo gallery to give a feel of time, place and culture. Featured in this list are “Non-fiction Monday” with topics like the science of snow and bugs by the numbers and “Poetry Friday” that links poems to teaching ideas, reviews, and more. She offers an extensive set of interviews with children’s poets in “Poetry Makers” giving background information and insight into their poetry process and product. Another major heading, “Thematic Book List,” offers a variety of topics in Math, Science and Social Studies. A section in “Teaching” features ways to encourage reluctant mathematicians at home and one on thinking about graphic novels, among others. The topics are endless and thoughtfully developed. Stohr-Hunt annotates and commentates on individual and collections of thematic texts as she takes us along on her adventure, for example, finding herself on the floor of her office pulling books she is “CRAZY” about related to measurement.
Not only does the visitor to her blog get an opportunity to read and discuss ideas presented but can travel with Stohr-Hunt as she purposefully links to other current sources of information. She shares “Blogs I Read” organized to focus on non-fiction, poetry, reading inclusively, on writing and publishing, “for and from the classroom” and more and she includes most recent posts. I.N.K. is one such link to a blog of “Interesting Non-fiction for Kids” and leads with a feature article on how to empower girls “with non-fiction, not t-shirts” (Salzman, 2013). The Non-Fiction Detectives is written by “two intrepid librarians [who] review the best nonfiction for children” (Potter & Capizzo, 2013). A list of popular labels helps to find relevant topics among the extensive reviews. The Miss Rumphius Effect blog proves to be a great place to start thinking and exploring to find additional ideas and materials as we continue to develop curriculum and bring high quality children’s literature into the lives of learners.
Calkins, L, Ehrenworth, M, & Lehman, C. (2012). Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement. Heinemann.
National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers. (2010). Common Core State Standards. Washington D.C.: National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers. Retrieved from http://www.corestandards.org/
Potter, C. & Capizzo, L. (2013). The Nonfiction Detectives. Retrieved from http://www.nonfictiondetectives.com/
Stohr-Hunt, P. (2013). The Miss Rumphius Effect. Retrieved from http://missrumphiuseffect.blogspot.com
Salzman, L. (2013). I.N.K. Interesting Non-fiction for Kids. Retrieved from http://inkrethink.blogspot.com/
Denise Stuart is from The University of Akron, Ohio.
This article is part of a series from the Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG)