menu   Homeroom Explore Create Share  

Why We Need Diverse Books

I love buying new books. I think in order to be an elementary teacher, you have to have a weakness for print. I can spend hours browsing the shelves looking for something special to take home. My latest purchase is Matthew de la Peña's Newberry Award winner Last Stop on Market Street.  I love the Nana in this story. 

About a year ago I made a promise to make a greater effort to buy products with pictures of students that actually looked like my students.  At the time, I was still teaching in a Title 1 school that sat on the edge of the "bubble" known as The Woodlands, TX.  While Houston is a diverse place to live, The Woodlands is still seen as an affluent, white suburb.  I wanted the students of color in my classroom to see images of children that actually looked like them.

I wasn't at the point in my awareness yet of thinking about stories that actually had meaning for them.
Fast Forward a few months later, and I stumbled upon After reading their mission and vision, I really began to think about what I chose to read aloud to my primary students. It was humbling.


Putting more books featuring diverse characters into the hands of all children.


A world in which all children can see themselves in the pages of a book.

Could my students really see themselves in the pages of the books I read to them each day? Was there anything I could do about this?

I've made small changes over this past year, but nothing that has earned me one of those invisible I'm a Great Teacher badges we secretly like to put on our sleeves from time to time.  I made another small goal- If you see a good book that has diverse characters, buy it. 

Last week I Skyped with a PhD student at Texas A&M who is researching teacher's views of diverse literature in the classroom, and her questions drew out of me even more thoughts to think about. When asked what challenges I face in regards to using diverse literature in my classroom my first thought was time. Taking the time to find and use these books. But I knew that was just an excuse. 

Time, professional development, empathy (or lack of)...there are so many reasons these things slip through the cracks of our teaching.  Unfortunately I think it boils down to unconscious bias. No matter what your intentions are, your life experience shades the lens that you look through.  

So why do I share this? Accountability mostly.  I often let my love of "busy" keep me from thoughtfully making choices in my planning for my classroom.  I've had an entire week to think about how to make the last 50 days of this school really count, and what literature I choose to use is a very big piece of the puzzle. 

How do you address this issue? Are you on a supportive team or campus that goes out of the way to incorporate these books? I'd love to hear where you are in this part of your teaching journey. :)

Currently March 2016: Spring Break Edition

Cheers to Spring Break 2016 my friends! This was a well-deserved break for everyone involved. I am having a blast sleeping, reading, visiting new-to-me coffee shops, and catching up on sharing with YOU! :)


I've had the 500 Days of Summer Soundtrack on replay all week. One of my favorite movies, and the soundtrack has a nice mix of upbeat and chill songs.


I LOVE working at PerchSA, a local co-working space here in San Antonio. This week I've managed to blog, pay bills, have some coffee, work on a technology grant, and plan a Class Dojo challenge for my 2nd graders at Perch. I am so much less distracted here than I am at home. It does make one long for the freelance life though...

Image via


About summer plans. I am skipping the Orlando TpT Conference, but hope to be heading to Get Your Teach On in Dallas. I want to save my dinero for another kayaking adventure in Washington.  If it's 90 degrees in San Antonio today (March 15th) I am going to be dying of heatstroke by June 1st.  I really want to head somewhere that requires a jacket.  Anyone else going to GYTO? Fingers crossed my PTO will fund this conference! I really want to focus on PD related to K-2 and this looks like a great fit for me. Not to mention I love hangin out in the big DTX!

Image via


The 4 people who have the San Antonio Public Library eBook copy of Glass Sword on hold to hurry the hell up. Red Queen was a great Spring Break read, and I would like to read book 2 before school starts up again. This is the first time I've read a book for fun in months. Don't make me go to Target and buy the paperback people!

Image via


Outside of the usual wants vs. needs (a maid, more time, sleep, personal chef) I'm doing well. 

Each month you can link up with Oh Boy It's Farley to share what you're CURRENTLY doing. I hope to see you there!

Oh Boy It's Farley

Currently February 2016

Well hello February 2016. It feels like you've arrived too early, but we will go with it.

I'm so excited to link-up with my friend Farley, and to show some true puffy heart love (as she likes to say) for her Oh Boy It's Farley redesign! I have to say it has been so much fun over the past few months seeing little sneak peaks into the new design.  I love her sense of style, and this blog redesign fits her to a T! Congrats my friend. You work that necktie Buck!

Oh Boy It's Farley

Now for what I'm up to Currently!


I've been listening to Andy Cohen's Most Talkative audiobook, and while it isn't as funny as I had hoped, he has me hooked. I'm dying to get to something about RHONY but for now he's dishing all the details about his days in journalism school. It really made me think a lot about the big difference in the traditional internship vs. the student teaching internship.  There is such a BIG gap in responsibility. To think- Someone let me student teach abroad in Costa Rica at an international school where some of my students were walked to class by their armed body guard! #saywhat


I'm loving my monstrous new classroom. It is HUGE. It was previously the K-2 science lab, and it is easily the size of 1 1/2 classrooms combined. It has two sinks and a closet with a sink and fridge. As if that isn't enough square foot bragging, I now have three large windows overlooking a lovely softball field. I get to see the sunrise every morning. Since leaving the cave, I can tell that my mood is much brighter. Despite having literally the most challenging class I've ever encountered, the space and SUNLIGHT really help someone like me. Here is a shot from Friday morning!


I've been thinking a lot about how to best address some of the needs in my new classroom. It is an inclusion classroom with two paraprofessionals helping during the day, and a wide-range of abilities. It is all new content and standards so I have to be realistic in what I tackle. 

I've also been thinking a lot about wine. 


A bed in my living room. I've fallen asleep on the sofa 4 out of the past 6 nights! I might as well move into a studio apartment and get a Murphy bed or pull-out sofa.  I have never felt so tired in my life. I shocked my mom by hitting my FitBit step goal everyday this past week before 4:30! 

Image via Apartment Therapy


I was going to write that I'm needing to take down the Christmas tree, but what kind of crazy person would still have their tree up on February 1st? 


I am at a loss for words. I think I'm too tired to swoon! ;) Seriously though, I want to SWOON over the kind words and encouragement so many of you have sent my way as I made I crazy change in the middle of the school year to teach 2nd grade. This has proved to be exhausting, but one of the best decisions I've made in my teaching career.  Thank you for all the teacher love. :)

We Remember

Thank you Dr. King for your voice and your message. Thank you to those who are still fighting.

May we each examine our own hearts as to how we can change and how we can amplify the message of equality and justice.

Five Donations to Ask For in Your Next Newsletter

As a classroom teacher, my parent newsletter always included a wish list for classroom supplies. Snacks, paper towels, disinfectant wipes, Kleenex, and other staples were asked for when needed.
Occasionally I'd throw in a big ticket item such as a new pencil sharpener, headphones, cardstock, and cross my fingers hoping someone would donate. A request for dice brought in enough to supply a Vegas casino!

Here are five ideas for items you can ask parents to donate in your next newsletter.

Old iPod/iPhone/MP3 Players

Aly from Just a Primary Girl has a great post about using old iPods for listening centers. Many schools are also asking for old smartphones to begin building their own Google Cardboard collection. I found in my own home two functioning iPhones and one iTouch from 2008 I will be using in my classroom in the new year! Most of these items have little trade-in value, so parents may be more excited about their students using them to learn! 

Old Board Games/Game Pieces

Here are some great posts all about how you can use old games and puzzles in your classroom. These are items parents might think of throwing out as they age but can be a great tool in your reading and math stations.

img via Primary Inspired Blog

Gently Used Books

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but it really can help new teachers grow their personal classroom library.  Whether you teach primary or upper grades, there just might be a family in your class that has a stash of picture books or chapter books collecting dust on a bookshelf they might love to donate.  To encourage donations, I printed labels for students to write their names on so that the students could put their name in the book before adding it to our library. 

Legos or Makerspace Toys

Now that many of your students received new toys over the holidays, some parents may be eager to purge or clean out the toy box to make room for new goodies! If your students have Makerspace or Genius Hour opportunities,  this would be a great time to ask for gently used Lego pieces or tinkering/building sets students are no longer using.

Don't have a Makerspace at your school? I had a parent donate several bags of snap blocks that we saved for indoor recess stations. The excitement on my 1st graders faces when I pulled out the blocks always made me laugh.


With a new year comes new goals and resolutions, and you may have a parent who has made a goal to be more involved with school activities.  Take this opportunity to revisit volunteer opportunities and instructions as a way to encourage parents to help out! You may have even had new families enroll recently who may be wondering how to volunteer on your campus.  From reading buddies to parents who are willing to cut out piles of laminated task cards, every minute helps! 

What are your favorite wish list items to include on your parent newsletter or teacher website?

Currently January 2016


I hope this day finds you happy and well as we kick off 2016.  This is always my favorite Currently with Oh Boy Fourth Grade because I love reading each blogger's One Little Word.  I think OLW is a great way to focus on your goals as we start a new calendar year. Sometimes as a teacher my brain thinks August-June, but it is truly a great way to reflect.


It's no secret I'm a podcast fanatic. I've shared many here over the years including This American Life, Mystery Show, Not Too Deep, and of course SERIAL. I'm also very into Nerdist these days. <3 I cannot get into the growing list of edtech podcasts out there. I need narrative, humor, or both. Listening to 40 minutes about app smashing doesn't distract me from the dreadmill or the laundry I'm folding, and I need a distraction!

I LOVE that this season of Serial took a different turn. Somewhat political and definitely heartbreaking. As someone who lives less than a mile from an army base, and in a city full of military personnel, it really is eye-opening.  Yesterday, I went to get coffee and read at the Starbucks next to Fort Sam Houston, and it was full of Army people. Seriously-I had to leave because I kept thinking about Serial and Bowe Bergdahl.  Hence my One Little Word...focus Daliene!


My hair is quite short right now. By 2017 I'll probably end up with a shaved head. #random #simplifyyourroutine #ihateblowdryers 


I'm thinking about an AWFUL dream I had last night. Do you have vivid dreams? Mine was so real. In my dream someone I respect said to me, "What did you think, that you were actually good?" WHOA sister. I was thinking about what had happened that would get such negativity in my head, and I realized one of the last things I watched before bed was a Periscope all about such a topic. Sheila Jane was actually saying you should love your haters and work hard. She wasn't telling me I stink...I don't think...(insert self-doubt).  Isn't it funny how our minds can jumble things up? Note to self to only watch or listen to positive affirmations before bed. Maybe this one? LOL check out the 4:20 minute mark!


Still waiting on Santa to deliver my new Mac. I've been using Mac since 2004 and it is my tool of choice. I really spent a lot of time the past week narrowing down my decision between a desktop or a new laptop.  I'll have to reveal that later this month. :)


I need a new coat. Apparently I sent all my other ones to Goodwill because I can't find anything besides my North Face kayaking jacket. Very waterproof, but not lined. It finally decided to be winter here in San Antonio. I loathe shopping at Walmart, but it might happen today as I just need something for walking the dog.

One Little Word

I'm more about setting monthly goals vs. yearly goals. There was No Spend November, Just Survive December, and now we have No Waste January. In my home and school life- no wasting time and no wasting money.   With that, my BIG goals will only be reached if I stay FOCUSED.  

Cheers and happy wishes to you in 2016.  What are you up to CURRENTLY?

Teaching in an EduWonderland Blab Show

Here is the replay of our first Remind #SpEdRCE show!

This month we chatted about Teaching in an EduWonderland. We asked teachers to share about their wishes and ideas for an ideal classroom/school. We had a great group for our first show, including Jordan from Remind Headquarters!

Thank you to those who watched and chatted in the comments section. We also had some great Tweets I shared during the show.  Here is our entire chat for replay.

We hope you'll join us Wednesday, January 20th at 7:30pm CST/8:30pm EST for our next Blab chat.