You’ve Gotta Read This — Disrupting Reading: Why How We Read Matters


Ever read a trade book that gets you excited to go back to school in the fall?   I always try to check out a few “teacher” books over the summer and sometimes I choose good ones and other times not. I actually read 5-6 books this past summer and they were all good, but this one was too good not to share with you.


Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters is written by Kyleen Beers and Robert E. Probst, the authors of Notice and Note. The premise of the book is basically that while we’ve been focusing on close reading, reading for information, reading critically, and analyzing what we read for a few years, we have not been paying as much attention to the affective side of reading.


The idea of killing kids’ desire to read for entertainment and engagement is not new: Kelly Gallagher did a stellar job exploring that sad truth in Readicide and Reading Reasons (both CRUCIAL reads for any teachers concerned with kids’ reading habits and practices, in my opinion). But this book, which just came out in April 2017, asserts that we need to keep the whole package in mind: why kids are asked to read now (is it relevant to them as humans or just important for earning a good grade or measuring their teachers’ and school’s worth?). I like how they


Many of favorite concepts in the book were nothing really new, but ideas that are so worthy of teacher attention, especially how not just to “teach struggling readers, but how to teach readers to struggle.” Reading is not always easy, and it’s not just because of big words and unfamiliar subject matter: Beers and Probst talk about how reading news about horrific events, atrocities, and tragedies can be every bit as hard: just hard in a different way. Readers need to know that it’s okay to doubt what they read, especially in today’s “is it fake news or is it real” climate. Readers need to know what to do when they do doubt, and they need to know that they are the best person to choose what looks interesting and relevant to themselves.


I like the funny “voice” in which the book is written and the blend of research and real classroom stories is perfect.


Even better, they present an easy-to-remember, simple-to-use framework that can be applied at all levels, K-12. Yep, you heard right…I, a high school teacher, am saying this framework can be used with the older kiddos, too.


The Framework: BOOK, HEAD, HEART

I love, love, love the framework they present:

  • Book – What does the book say, who is saying it (and why), and how is it said?
  • Head – What do I (the reader) already know about this? What do I think about it? What challenged my ideas? What confirmed my ideas?
  • Heart – How does this make me feel? What can I learn from this? How can I apply this in my life? What can I take from this text that makes me a better person?




For too long we have left the “heart” out of the teaching of reading. Best practices, which we teachers cling to like life rafts, emphasize having students examine the book and think about it, but at least since the Common Core became ingrained in our schools, kids’ feelings about what they read have pretty much been stamped out. I went to workshops and trainings where I was told too much time was spent in classrooms having kids discuss whether or not they liked a text: we were told to have the kids analyze the AUTHOR’s words and leave their own opinions out of it. I didn’t like hearing that at the time, but I implemented these “best practices” dutifully.


Don’t get me wrong, it IS important to have kids analyze authors’ words and really “get” what a text is saying and what it is not saying and why. However, for too long we’ve left the KIDS out of reading. How will students develop a sense of independence and confidence if their own thoughts about a text are not valued? How will students learn to value and enjoy all of the gifts reading has to offer if they are told what to get out of each text? Simple answer to both questions: they won’t.


Disrupting Thinking tells us to put the heart back into reading in schools, and I’m all for it. I really, really think you (and by “you” I mean everybody: teachers, administrators, and parents alike!) need to read this book.



Read any good trade books recently? Please share! I find those recommended to me by real people are the ones I find most valuable.  Doesn’t have to be about reading, either — I love books that just make me excited about teaching in general. They seem to be rare these days, don’t they?  :-/


Note: This post contains affiliate links. Clicking on these links may result in my earning a small commission. As always, all opinions expressed here are 100% my own. Yes, I really did love this book!

One Last Summer Outfit + Reflections on the End of Summer

Okay, maybe this post title is a liitttttle exaggerated. These technically are not the last summer clothes I’ll be wearing this season. I’m sure there will still be summer outfit opportunities on the weekends for another month or so. But still, this is the last summer outfit I’ll get to wear on a weekday since school is starting. Sniff, sniff….

Shop This Outfit:



I’m definitely feeling a little nostalgic for those hot July days already.

Deep Thought of the Day: Why do we teachers dread the start of school, but every year after school begins again, we remember how much we love teaching?


I posed this question on Instagram the other day and got a lot of good discussion: Why do we teachers often dread the start of school, but once school actually starts it’s fresh, exciting, and new? Every single time! You’d think now that I’m starting my 24th year of teaching that I would not dread the start of school (knowing that I’ll enjoy it once it begins). Nope, still dreading. Why is that? Wish I knew, because this last full week of summer before school begins is always incredibly stressful, not just from the back-to-school preparations, but also because of the mourning of summer break.


This year I’m making a conscious effort to get excited about school starting BEFORE it starts. I picked up five new trade books to read (more about those in a post next week) and have gotten some great inspiration and motivation from them. I’m still not super happy about summer ending, but I am a little less down about school starting. Maybe even slightly excited? Oh well, I know I’ll be kicked into high gear on Day 1.


Good luck to all of you teachers who are also going back to school in the coming days and weeks!



May your summer stretch on and your school year re-ignite your passion for teaching and learning, friends!



Sweet and Savory Air Fryer Dough Nuggets

air fryer dough nuggets recipe

Gather round, friends: today I’ve got something amazing for you. If you’ve been around ETS for a while, you know that I’m not the best at following written directions. That especially goes for assembling toys or measuring for curtains or blinds, but sometimes it also goes for recipes. I like to take original recipes from my mom, friends, and well, Pinterest, and then make them, changing things here and there to my taste. Sometimes this works out and sometimes it decidedly does not (my husband still talks about this Asian Orange-Peanut Chicken stir fry I made one time that was bad, bad, bad….).


Today I’m going to share with you my newest creations: I like to call them golden pillows of deliciousness. Well maybe that’s a little dramatic . . . we can also call them Air Fryer Dough Nuggets. Spoiler alert: THEY ARE SOOOOO DELICIOUS!!


The Backstory

Last week on ETS I shared my recipe for sopapillas. This is a beloved recipe passed down from my mom to my sisters and I, and everyone in my immediate and extended family goes crazy for these things. So freakin’ good! Click here for my quick and easy sopapillas recipe. In that post I wondered aloud how these sopapillas, which are fried in oil, would taste if they were “fried” in my trusty GoWISE Air Fryer. After all, the easiest, most delicious donuts in the world are made in that air fryer, and you can even make Krispy Kreme style donuts in it. Why not sopapillas? So I gave it a whirl.



Here’s What Happened

I followed my sopapillas recipe to make the same dough as always, only instead of dropping the pieces of dough into hot oil, I placed them in a single layer in my air fryer. The result was less than spectacular. Check them out:

Can you tell from the pictures that they were, well, bland? Don’t get me wrong — they were soft on the inside, crisp on the outside, and tasted fine, but they were just very plain. It reminded me a little of eating pizza crust with no sauce or toppings or spices on it. My 8-year-old had a few friends over and they munched a few of these and asked for more, so they were decent; just not anything special. Since I had all of these plain WHITE (not frying them in oil kept them dough-colored instead of that beautiful golden color the fried ones become), sopapillas that were just okay, I decided to do some experimentation.


Variation #1: Sweet Dough Nuggets

To make these, I melted some butter and then brushed it on the top sides of the air-fried sopapillas. Then I sprinkled a dusting of powdered sugar on top of the butter, like this:

These were really good: the light coat of butter brought out the flavor of the dough, and the powdered sugar gave just the right amount of sweetness.


Variation #2: Even Sweeter Dough Nuggets

Knowing I love honey on sopapillas, I took the powdered sugar sopapillas and drizzled some honey over the top of each one. These were sweeter still, and came very close to tasting like my original oil-fried sopapillas recipe. Plus, between the butter and the honey, these had more of the pretty golden color I love so much about the original sopapillas. The boys raved over these and asked if we could have them again for breakfast the next day. They liked this honey version a lot better than the ones with just powdered sugar, and I did, too.


Variation #3: Savory Dough Nuggets

Because the plain air fried sopapillas tasted so much like bare pizza crust, it got me thinking that they would be prime candidates for becoming garlic buttery, like crusty breadsticks. On a whim, I brushed a few more with melted butter and then sprinkled on garlic powder, basil, and a hint of oregano. I let the boys try these before I did, and once these babies hit their mouths, I knew they were a hit. The boys were actually shoving each other out of the way trying to get to the plate to get more. Once I tried them, I knew why: SO YUMMY! These garlic butter dough nuggets would be the perfect compliment to a spaghetti or pizza dinner. We didn’t try dunking them in marinara sauce, but that would be an obvious companion. The boys said these savory dough nuggets were so good they seemed like something you’d get at a restaurant. I totally agree, and from now on we’ll be having these incredible gems of awesomeness a lot more often.


The Recipes

Here are the recipes so you can try them for yourself. I can’t recommend the savory ones highly enough: you will love them. The others are good too, but those garlic butter ones…..well let’s just say you will not be disappointed.


1. Basic Air Fryer Dough Nugget Recipe


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp butter, softened (or lard if you have it — you pie-makers may have some on hand)
  • 1-2 cups water


  1. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Add softened butter (or lard), cutting in with a fork until it’s mixed in well.
  3. Add 1 cup of water and mix well. You may need to add another 1/2 to full cup of water (I usually add a total of about 1.5 – 1.75 cups of water total). Mixture should be a consistency that you can roll it out and it should not be sticky. If your dough is too sticky, add more flour until it’s soft, but not sticking to your fingers.
  4. Roll out small amounts of dough on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 1/2 inch thick. Then, cut it into four pieces. Or, if you’re impatient like me, roll out a big bunch of dough and cut 1 to 2 inch stripes across it one way, then cross them diagonally. You want to end up with pieces of dough that are 2-4 inches in size. The shape really doesn’t matter. You could make triangles, squares, rectangles, or whatever! It all tastes the same so it’s your preference.
  5. Place several dough nuggets in the air fryer basket in a single layer, not touching each other, and air fry at 370 degrees F for 3-4 minutes. I did the first batch for 4 minutes, then subsequent batches for 3 minutes because my air fryer was still pretty hot. No need to shake or flip these — they’ll puff and fry in that short amount of time.
  6. Repeat until all dough nuggets have been air-fried.


2. Sweet (& Even Sweeter) Dough Nuggets

  1. Make a batch of basic dough nuggets (see above).
  2. Melt 4 Tbsp of butter in the microwave.
  3. Brush the top sides of the dough nuggets with butter.
  4. Dust the tops of the dough nuggets with powdered sugar.
  5. For Even Sweeter nuggets, drizzle honey over the tops of the nuggets. Voila!


3. Savory Dough Nuggets

  1. Make a batch of basic dough nuggets (see above).
  2. Melt 4 Tbsp of butter in the microwave.
  3. Brush the top sides of the dough with butter.
  4. In a small bowl, combine 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp basil, and 1/4 tsp oregano. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  5. Sprinkle a light dusting of the savory blend over the tops of the nuggets. Then you’d better sit down when you try one of these, just in case you are overcome with the deliciousness. They are THAT good.


The Air Fryer

The air fryer I use is a GoWISE USA brand fryer and I really like it. I know Phillips makes good air fryers, too. My GoWISE was a lot cheaper than the Phillips models, but I can’t say whether it’s better or worse because I’ve never tried a Phillips. I do know that my GoWISE works really well and it’s super-easy to use and wipes clean every time after frying.


Lessons of the Day

Here are my key takeaways from this experience:

(1) Some things, like sopapillas are meant to be fried in oil and there’s nothing you can do about it.

(2) Everything tastes better with butter and sugar on it, but the butter and sugar probably negate the health benefits gained by air frying instead of frying in oil.

(3) Sopapilla dough + air fryer + butter + garlic = golden pillows of awesomeness.