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Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

You can't let your failures define you

September 8, 2009

"You can't let your failures define you — you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time." What an important and powerful message for students from President Obama.

Persistence and perseverance are particularly important traits for students who struggle in school. The willingness to try, try, try and try again is so important. It's the motivation to do the repeated, guided, well crafted practice that can help students make the progress they need to make to learn to read. When I taught second grade, one of my favorite text sets was one I built around the theme of persistence.

What was in my text set on persistence? Here are five of the titles. What titles can you add?

Obviously, the Little Engine That Could. There wasn't anything fancy about my version, either. Just a familiar tale that started the theme off well.

Amazing Grace is the story of a beautifully imaginative black girl who desperately wants to play the role of Peter Pan in the school play. Undeterred by classmates' remarks, "Peter is a boy. You are a girl," and others, Grace perseveres and inspires others.

Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes. Cute, cute pictures and an adventure tale about a kitten who mistakes the moon for a bowl of milk. With a happy ending and classic Henkes appeal, a fun addition to the set.

The Carrot Seed. Classic tale of a little boy who plants a carrot seed and waits patiently for it to grow. This book was a great addition to the text set for years when the kids read the books (in contrast to using them as read alouds) because of its lower readability.

Tillie and the Wall. The story of the youngest mouse who is determined to see whats on the other side of a long, high wall. Through her determination and smarts, Tillie makes it to the other side. Beautiful pictures, well told. A wonderful read aloud.

Do you have any titles to add to the text set?


I love all these suggestions! I'm writing them all down for the next time I teach this unit. Melanie: A text set is nothing more than a collection of books. They can be grouped by theme (as in this example), illustrator, author, genre, topic, etc. When using text sets, teachers can differentiate the reading level within the text set but can still have all students reading on the same topic.

Chowder by Peter BrownThis is a very funny tale about a misfit bulldog who doesn't give up in his quest to make friends

So many great books come to mind. Here are just a few:WeslandiaSalt in His ShoesEleanor, Quiet No MoreOh, The Places You'll Go!The DotIshMiss RumphiusThe Art LessonI think you've inspired me to write my own blog post! I found President Obama's speech to be inspiring as well.Thanks!

When I taught third grade, the students read biographies of famous Americans. So many of the famous Americans had to be persistent to overcome obstacles in their lives. Some of the biographies that they read were on Helen Keller, Rosa Parks, Abraham Lincoln, Neil Armstrong, Michael Jordan, just to name a few.

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"Reading is not optional." —

Walter Dean Myers