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Two teachers think about and write about their lives as readers -- readers of children's books, professional books, and adult fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Yes, we still want to try to have read the Newbery, but our reading lives are much bigger than just that.
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1. Audiobooks I've Loved

I don't tend to enjoy audiobooks but am working to change that. My preference is to read self-help type books as those seem good for shorter spurts while I'm walking or driving. My good friend Stella always recommends great audios that help me reflect on life and set new goals.  And over the past few years, I've read more middle grade fiction too. I have learned how important the narrator is (with  Teri Lesesne's help) and I have learned to use the audible sample to determine quickly whether I'll be able to stick with the audio. I've tried to find narrators I love and then look for new books read by those narrators.  I am getting better at choosing books that are a good match for me to read on audio and I am starting to love my audible account.  I am hoping to build in more time for audiobooks--I realize I have lots of times that I can be listening to a book while doing other things.

I thought I'd share some of the audiobooks I've loved in the past year or two:

Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton (NARRATED BY THE AUTHOR)

The Power of Vulnerability by Brene Brown (this one is actually a series of workshops given by the author more than an actual audiobook. Her new book Rising Strong will be available on audio with the author doing the reading. Yippee!!)

Middle Grade Fiction

Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco (NARRATOR: Ariadne Meyers)

Paper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson (NARRATOR: Katie Rudd)

The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond by Brenda Woods (NARRATOR: Sisi A. Johnson)

Tell Me by Joan Bauer  (NARRATOR: Cassandra Morris)

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George  (NARRATOR: Suzy Jackson)

And these are the audiobooks on my TBR "stack" :

The Art of Work by Jeff Goins  (NARRATED BY THE AUTHOR)

The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh  (NARRATOR: Cassandra Morris)

Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia (NARRATOR: Sisi A. Johnson)

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2. It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I've read quite a bit over the last week. These are my favorites:-)

Two FABULOUS middle grade novels! LOVE LOVE LOVE both of these. (They do require some tissues though:-)

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

Paper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

Three Books about People and History. These were all different but they were all great reads and I learned a great deal from each.

The Case for Loving by Selina Alko

Two Fabulous YA books that require lots and lots of tissues:

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt

I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

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3. Learning and Unlearning

This video is fascinating. Take the 7 minutes to watch it. It is about the way we learn, how hard it is to unlearn something you thought was immutable (like riding a bike), perception, and bias.

I love this quote from the end:

"Truth is truth, no matter what I think about it. So be very careful how you interpret things, because you're looking at the world with a bias whether you think you are or not." -- Destin at SmarterEveryDay

All kinds of perfect, eh?

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4. Poetry Friday -- Hello, Sketchbook! Let's Get Reacquainted!

I got my sketchbook out for the first time in 3 years, and look what I found:

We call them "glads"
because they are;
because they make us so.

They show us
process and stages.

They teach us vulnerability --
reaching, bending, falling
with the weight of what they've become.

And yet,
they are beautiful.

They are glads.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2012

How do I sketch heat?
   oppressive heat
   blanketing heat

How do I sketch a hawk?
   flap, glide, soar

How do I sketch the trees?
   so many shades of green
   holding still as the storm builds

The sky is easy: violet.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2012

Today I made this:

Because of this book (thank you, Amy LV)...

...and because this other book has inspired me to doodle with wild abandon and much happiness...

...and because of this blog post (thank you Kimberley Moran)...

...which has this video embedded (scrub to 1:30 if you just want the Black-Eyed Susan lesson)...

Life is good.
Happy Friday.
Happy Poetry.
Happy Doodling.

Carol has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at Carol's Corner.

The July-December roundup schedule is in our sidebar, the code is in the files at the Kidlitosphere Yahoo group, and everything's set and ready to go at Kidlitosphere Central. Let me know if you want me to send you your very own copy of the code. (marylee DOT hahn AT gmail etc etc).

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5. 2 New Picture Books

I discovered 2 new picture book this week. I ordered a big stack at the library after All Write and they are starting to come in.

At All Write, I learned about lots of books but one that I was especially excited about was WILD IDEAS:  LET NATURE INSPIRE YOUR THINKING by Elin Kelsey.  I learned about this book from JoEllen McCarthy, the Book Ambassador for The Educator Collaborative in her session with Chris Lehman on Nonfiction.  I always find new books from JoEllen and they are always "must have" titles.  I am excited about adding this book to the classroom library. It is about problems, problem solving and wonder so I can definitely see it being used to start conversations about that. But it is also about animals and so much of what we do in science is animal adaptations, etc.  The authors note at the end tells that all of the quick info in the book came about from scientists studying animal behavior.  This is a quick read. Just a sentence or two on a page but it will start great conversations!

I a a huge Cece Bell fan so I have been awaiting her new book, I YAM A DONKEY (story, pictures and bad grammar by Cece Bell) .  It is a fun book about grammar that I think kids will find quite amusing (I know I found it to be quite funny!).  This is just a fun read that readers of many ages will enjoy.

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6. The Doodle Revolution

The Doodle Revolution
by Sunni Brown (her "Doodlers, unite!" TED talk is here)
Penguin, 2014
review copy from the public library

You could probably read/skim this book at five different times in your life and get five different personal life lessons from it. My big take-away this time around is that doodling is not bad. Doodling is a way to think and learn:

I want to teach my students some doodling tools so that we can doodlearn (yes, I just made that word up!) together.

But what this book gave me for right now (for today and this week and the rest of the summer) was a reminder that I don't have to wait until I'm an amazing artist to have fun with doodling. I learned to doodle new, more expressive stick figures, and use eye positions, noses, mouths and eyebrows to create a variety of more emotive faces:

And I returned to my TED challenge and illustrated notetaking by opening the TED app on my phone, scanning the featured talks, finding one with NOTICE in the title (my One Little Word for 2015) and received this excellent message from the universe:

Tony Fadell: "The first secret of design is...noticing"

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7. My Online Reading Life

I haven't felt like I've been reading a lot lately.  With the projects and things I have going on, I haven't been able to lose myself in a book like I usually do.  But then I read Donalyn Miller's Nerdy Book Club post about reading fast and short and realized that I have been reading a great deal of short texts. I thought I'd share some of my recent favorites.

I am a huge Carry On, Warrior fan and try to read Glennon Doyle Melton's blog daily. I especially loved this recent post and think it speaks to teachers too.
It's Just as Simple and As Hard as This by Glennon Doyle Melton at Momastery

I am a huge fan of theSkimm and I read it daily. But I recently discovered Skimm Guides. These writers help us out if we haven't been keeping up on an issue that seems important. They've written guides to summarize the issues and what is happening with them. They are so helpful. This week, I read the Guide explaining "The Supremes" and all the current work the Supreme Court has ahead.  It was an easy way to catch up and now I feel pretty smart about it!  (If you do not get the daily theSkimm newsletter, I HIGHLY recommend it. You will feel smarter every day because of it!

I laughed out loud at this Buzzed article--How To Know You've Found Your Teaching BFF. How would we survive without these fabulous colleagues who get us through some stressful moments and who make our jobs even more fun!

Bud the Teacher recently moved to a new role and I love the challenge he gave himself. I think we can all benefit from reading it and giving it a try.

Chris Lehmann, principal of the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia always has wise words and asks hard question. His post What If is an important one.

I've been exploring the new Stenhouse book, Well Played online.  I love the preview feature and have been getting to know the book before it is available. I have trouble reading the entire thing on the site but do like the opportunity to read short pieces as I think about how the book can help me as a math teacher.

Wordless News is a site I learned about from Kristin Ziemke during her All Write session. It is a great site I've been exploring--love the concept and am thinking of ways to use it with kids.

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8. Gardening

Summertime is gardening time for me. Those are my beets (first time I've ever planted beets -- can't wait to roast the root and saute the greens) and my basil (aka Pesto Plants). I also have tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic and onions (also the first time for those), rosemary, parsley (mostly for the black swallowtails), and chives. In the community garden where my environmental club has a plot, we have tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, carrots, onions, and beans.

Here are a couple of great books for the gardeners out there:

Jo MacDonald Had a Garden
by Mary Quattlebaum
illustrated by Laura J. Bryant
Dawn Publications, 2012
review copy from the public library

This picture book follows the traditional rhyme (I dare you to read it without singing it!), but substitutes sun, soil, worms, seeds, water, bird, plants, food, treat, and when winter comes, rest.

There is wildlife hidden in the illustrations. In the back, Quattlebaum includes information about the plants and animals and gardening.

EIEIO: How Old MacDonald Got His Farm
by Judy Sierra
illustrated by Matthew Myers
Candlewick Press, 2014
review copy -- gift from a fellow gardener

In this version, Old MacDonald starts with a house and a big back yard -- a yard that takes a lot of mowing. So much mowing that he gets a goat. After the goat, MacDonald gets a chicken. But not just ANY chicken! This one has a diploma, a suitcase monogrammed with LRH, and a plan that includes improving the soil, planting, and selling the harvest to the neighbors! In the end, Old MacDonald has an urban garden with no less than seven raised beds, plants in containers (and an old bathtub), and rows of grapevines and sunflowers. It's a new vision for what a yard can be. EIEIO.

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9. The Poetry Friday Roundup is Here!

by Anne Vittur Kennedy
Candlewick Press, 2014

As the farmer drives away from the barn on his tractor, the farm animals (and other assorted animal friends can be heard exclaiming, 
neigh neigh baa baa quack quack tweet
arf oink ree ree cluck cluck cheep!
And then the fun begins! The animals take a float trip down the river, have a picnic, ride a roller coaster, go water skiing, fly in a dirigible and have a formal evening dance. But all good things must come to an end. Dog alerts the animals
arf! ARF! ARF! ARF! ARF! afr! arf!
ARF! arf! afr! ARF! arf! ARF! arf!
And all (well, almost all) are back in place by the time the farmer has parked the tractor in the barn.

This delightful book, as you can probably tell from my two quotes, is told all in rhyming animal noises! As with all the best picture books, there is as much (or more) of the story going on in the pictures as in the text. You'll have as much fun reading this one aloud as your audience will have listening and joining in!

Just like the farmer is away from the farm, I am away from the blog today. Share your link via Mr. Linky and I'll look forward to reading all of your posts when I am home from the All Write conference on Saturday!

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10. Live Photo Blogging From the All Write Conference!

Oops! We've been so busy learning in our sessions that we forgot to take pictures and blog! Here we are downtown at Mud Love!

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11. Making Comics with Bitstrips

Near the end of the school year, I introduced my students to Bitstrips. "Introduced" means I showed them where to find all the tools, gave them the login code and got out of the way.

After spending a ton of time creating their avatars, they got down to the (funny) business of making comics. You can imagine that with an available background of a bathroom, there were plenty of cartoons that would appeal mostly to a 10 year-old sense of humor. What surprised me the most were the comics that captured a moment in our classroom

or a moment in their lives

or something completely random that shows they were playing with the tools and wound up making something that made some kind of sense!

Every year, I have students who read graphic novels and want to make their own in writing workshop. I've never had success supporting these students because of the limitations of students to draw their own stories, the limitations of the digital tools I had tried in the past, and the lack of an accessible mentor text for beginning graphic novelists.

I think this coming year might be the year of the student-created graphic novel. Instead of renewing the three subscriptions to magazines no students in my classroom have read for the past two years, I am going to pay for a subscription to Bitstrips (digital tool -- √).

And I'm going to share this book (mentor text -- √) with my writers as a graphic novel/comic strip mentor text:

by Chris Giarrusso
Image Comics, 2012

The book starts with a longer story, but the ones I really want to share with/study with my students are the 1-2 page "Comic Bits" and the two-panel "Mean Brother/Idiot Bother" strips. Every budding Kazu Kibuishi has to start somewhere, right?

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12. Poetry Friday -- Intention

by Kay Ryan

Intention doesn't sweeten.
It should be picked young
and eaten. Sometimes only hours
separate the cotyledon
from the wooden plant.
Then if you want to eat it,
you can't.

Note to self: don't pave the roads to anywhere with good intentions. Act, do, decide, speak, be...without hesitation.

Jama has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at Jama's Alphabet Soup

And there is one slot left on the July-December roundup schedule. If you want the Christmas Day roundup, let me know by leaving a comment on that post. If there are no takers in the next week, I will be glad to host a holiday roundup here.

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13. Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall by Anita Silvey

I love Jane Goodall. I love Anita Silvey. And I love National Geographic Kids.  So, UNTAMED:  THE WILD LIFE OF JANE GOODALL was a book that I HAD to preorder so that I had it the minute it was available!  I am so glad I did! I spent much of last evening reading this amazing book!

I don't think there can ever be enough books about Jane Goodall. She is one of my very favorite people to read about.  Even though I have no desire to work outside or to do anything close to the kind of work Jane Goodall does, I see Jane's story as one that invites all of us to make a difference in the work in a way that matches who we are and what our passions are.   I am fascinated by so much of her work--how she discovered her passion, how her passion evolved, how she changed so much about the ways that animals are observed and that she continues to have such a strong voice in the world.

Here are some of the things I loved:

-The foreword is by Jane Goodall and she tells a bit about her life and then gives a personal invitation to join Roots and Shoots.  It is a great message to readers and a great way to begin this book.

-The photos in the book make me happy.  There are some that I've seen before and others that were new to me.

-The book is chronological and starts with Jane's childhood with some facts I already knew from other books and movies. But there were new stories and I felt like I got to know Jane Goodall a bit better--what her childhood was like and how supportive her mother was in her life.

-I loved the chapter on Gombe and the work there but I mostly loved how well the book explains how and why Jane Goodall really has become a celebrity and why her work is so important. I think for young readers, the writing will allow them to see the impact of her work and also understand why it matters.

-There was a section about how scientific observation has changed since Jane Goodall was in Gombe and how technology has made things easier and more efficient.

-There was lots about the Chimpanzees and their personalities and the book includes a Gombe Family Scrapbook at the end--sharing some info about several of the chimps Jane knew.

-The book expanded on what I already knew about Jane and spent lots of time talking about her current work with animals and the environment.  It was interesting to read about the work she is doing to protect chimpanzees being used for research as well as those in zoos.

I really LOVED this book and I think kids will too.  This book was longer than I expected which made me happy.  I am thinking it is perfect for 4th through 8th graders. But I think it definitely has a place in my 3rd grade classroom.   The photos will draw children in but the writing will is done in a way that makes the work of Jane Goodall accessible to young readers. So excited about this book!

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14. Chris Lehman will be Speaker at 2015-2016 Literacy Connection Events

Mark your calendars now!

The Literacy  Connection is happy to host Chris Lehman as our 2015-2016 speaker. As we do every year, we'll host a yearlong study around a professional book. This year, the book will be Falling in Love With Close Reading.  The year will kick off on Saturday, October 3 (in Dublin, Ohio) with a full day session with Chris.  There will be 2 after school sessions offered for those wishing to participate in the yearlong study. Then we will end our year on Saturday, March 12 for another day with Chris Lehman.

I love these events because they start great conversations with colleagues and friends. I wasn't able to hear Chris speak at the Dublin Literacy Conference but everyone who heard him said that his work in close reading is great for all grades K-12.

So, save the date--you can pick and choose the days you want to attend, or like many teachers--attend all 4 for this yearlong study.

More info to come but as you are thinking about your own learning for the 2015-2016 school year, this might be one you want to add to your calendar!

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15. Slice of Life -- The Power of Moments

I wrote a blog post last August about our "failed" fly fishing trip to Vermont. I decided that I wasn't going to let one big expectation for this school year determine whether or not it was a good year. I made the choice to capture one shining moment every day, all year long. I bought myself a little purple journal, and every day I "caught a fish." What a gift I've given myself! Moments that would have been lost in the swift current of the flow of time are saved there for me to look back on and remember. It was a great year, and I lived it one day at a time.

My students and I captured moments every week when we created our "Top Ten" for the weekly newsletter I sent to parents. I have those newsletters archived on my class website.

On Tuesday, in the silence after we clapped the fifth graders out of the building and cheered the buses out of the parking lot, I wrote this Top 10 for the school year:

10  Our Friday routines (Poetry Friday, Top 10 and newsletter, blogging, Genius Hour), including "LUNCH!" and the laughter that brought us every week.

9  The list of read alouds on the closet door. We shared so many great books, and spent an hour finishing our final read aloud on the last day of school.

8  Our "words to live by." I loved that wall full of inspiration.

7  One Little Word. I hope the students will choose another word to live by each January. One word is so much better than a whole list of failed resolutions.

6  Our weird math schedule. At first it was so awkward to have 10 more minutes of math after related arts. But with time and flexibility, we worked that 10 minutes for all it was worth. I need to remember not to get hung up on things that don't work out the way I planned. I need to be flexible and creative and make the most of what I'm given!

5  Book clubs. The conversations and learning were priceless.

4  Open-ended ("rich") math problems. My learning curve for math instruction went steeply up at the end of the year when I started designing my own math problems, rather than finding them online. I can't wait to continue improving my math instruction next year!

3  Choice in writing workshop. The writing the students did at the end of the year, when they could choose their genre and topic, was phenomenal. I need to figure out how to build choice time into writing workshop throughout the year in between our mandated units of study.

2  Genius Hour. What a grand experiment this was! I think most of the students would put it at #1 in their own Top 10 for 5th grade. It was one of the best risks I've ever taken.

1  My class. It took longer than usual for this class to gel as a community, but perhaps it was because that gel didn't come easily or early that it made it so much sweeter when it finally happened. This group was filled with such an amazing collection of smart, funny, quirky, sensitive, creative, helpful, talented, honest, enthusiastic...characters. I am a better person for having spent the year with them.

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16. Stenhouse Blogstitute is Coming!

Stenhouse's popular summer PD Blogstitute will celebrate its fifth year this year! 

Starting a week from today, on June 15th, head over to the Stenhouse Blog for a series of posts from Stenhouse authors -- two per week -- "designed to challenge your thinking and share new ideas that you can incorporate into your planning for the next school year." 

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17. Poetry Friday -- Silence

by Billy Collins

There is the sudden silence of the crowd
above a player not moving on the field,
and the silence of the orchid.

The silence of the falling vase
before it strikes the floor,
the silence of the belt when it is not striking the child.

The stillness of the cup and the water in it,
the silence of the moon
and the quiet of the day far from the roar of the sun.

(you can read the rest of the poem here)

I'd like to add a stanza to this poem about the silence after the busloads of cheering children round the corner and disappear from sight, the sudden unnatural silence of the school building and our empty classrooms.

And I'd add another stanza about the silence of the house the next morning as we get reacquainted with each other over a cup of tea and to-do lists.

I would finish with a stanza on my knees in the garden, weeding the beets and zinnias, the silence broken only by the buzz of a hummingbird  in the coral bells.

Buffy has the Poetry Friday roundup today at Buffy's Blog, and the July-December call for roundup hosts is here.

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18. Poetry Friday -- Call for Roundup Hosts

It's that time again. Six months have passed since last we queued up to host the Poetry Friday roundups.

If you'd like to host a roundup between July and December 2015, leave your choice(s) of date(s) in the comments. I'll update regularly to make it easier to see which dates have been claimed.

What is the Poetry Friday roundup? A gathering of links to posts featuring original or shared poems, or reviews of poetry books. A carnival of poetry posts. Here is an explanation that Rene LaTulippe shared on her blog, No Water River, and here is an article Susan Thomsen wrote for the Poetry Foundation.

Who can do the Poetry Friday roundup? Anyone who is willing to gather the links in some way, shape or form (Mr. Linky, "old school" in the comments-->annotated in the post, or ???) on the Friday of your choice. If you are new to the Poetry Friday community, jump right in! If you've never participated, but you'd like to get started, choose a date later on so that we can spend some time getting to know each other.

How do you do a Poetry Friday roundup? If you're not sure, stick around for a couple of weeks and watch...and learn! One thing we're finding out is that folks who schedule their posts, or who live in a different time zone than you, appreciate it when the roundup post goes live sometime on Thursday.

How do I get the code for the PF Roundup Schedule for the sidebar of my blog? I'll post it in the files on the Kidlitosphere Yahoo group, and I'd be happy to send it to you if you leave me your email address. Speaking of the the Kidlitosphere Yahoo group, I'll try to set up reminders on the calendar there (currently it's not letting me in). Plus, I'll put the schedule on the Kidlitosphere Central webpage.

Why would I do a Poetry Friday Roundup? Community, community, community. It's like hosting a poetry party on your blog!

And now for the where and when:




30 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading



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19. Photos Framed

Photos Framed: A Fresh Look at the World's Most Memorable Photographs
by Ruth Thomson
Candlewick Press, 2014
review copy provided by the publisher
"When photography began, it was an elaborate, expensive, time-consuming, elite activity, using heavy, cumbersome equipment. Today, taking photographs can be instant, cheap, and accessible to anyone. Despite the enormous changes in photographic equipment and technology since the nineteenth century, the purposes of photography have remained essentially the same, whether immortalizing, exploring, documenting, revealing, or showing us what we can't see with the naked eye." -- from the introduction of Photos Framed
It's amazing, isn't it, that in less than 200 years, photography has become a universal art form? Children can take photographs before they have learned to hold a crayon. I think I can confidently say that every student in my class has taken a photograph. And because of that, I can't wait to share this book with them and dig into the history of photography and the art of photography.

Photos Framed is divided into four sections: Portrait photography, Nature photography, Photography as art, and Documentary photography. Each of the sections features examples from the 18th through the 21st Centuries. And each of the photographs is explored in the same ways: there is a section of text describing and discussing the photograph, a section that tells about the photographer, three questions ("Photo thoughts") for the reader/viewer to consider, a sidebar ("Blow Up") that features one tiny bit of the photo and a question to consider, and another sidebar ("Zoom In") that helps the viewer to consider the photo as a whole. Finally, there is a quote from the photographer that accompanies the photo.

I'm thrilled to see that there are multiple copies of this book available in our metro library system. I am imagining a whole-class study of this book in the first weeks of school which would lay the groundwork for students to build a photographic/visual portfolio alongside their digital portfolio/notebook (folder in their Google drive) and their pencil/paper writer's note/sketchbook.

Writing that last convoluted sentence made me realize that there just about isn't such a thing as a plain and simple Writer's Notebook anymore. All of these digital and non-digital spaces need to be developed to provide students with opportunities to capture and hold creations of all kinds at all stages of the process.  Maybe it really is time to stop calling it Writers' Workshop and call it Composing Workshop.

Hmm...the wheels are turning...

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20. Poetry Friday -- Probably Not Poetry, But a Darn Cute Rhyming Book

What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig
by Emma J. Virján
Harper, 2015
review copy provided by the publisher

So many rhyming animals (up to and including a panda in a blouse) join the pig on her boat that she finally sends them all away, which leaves her blissfully, and then forlornly, alone. Until...surprise ending!

A book with not too many words needs to have interesting pictures that help the reader and add to the story, like when the goat on the log performs a balancing act, or when the rat trades its top hat for a swimming cap when pig sends them all off the boat. And not only does this book have a pig in a wig, it has lots of hidden pig snout shapes to look for.

This book is kid-tested and kid-approved. With no prompting, kindergarteners began rhyming along with the book (although they did have to ask what a blouse was). And they loved the author's picture (she's wearing a drawn-on red wig and a pig nose).

Looking forward to more books in this fun series!

Margaret has the Poetry Friday roundup today at Reflections on the Teche. Next week we'll start building the July-December schedule!

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21. All About Them Books

This darling video by a librarian in Worthington says it all!

And may I just add, how am I supposed to get any work done when THIS showed up in yesterday's mail:

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22. May Mosaic

Row 1: Hard to believe the blooming time is long gone already! And one month later, the Land Lab is now in desperate need of another big weeding.
Picture #4 is a joke -- Teacher Appreciation gift of hand sanitizer arrived on the same day as a notice to parents that there had been a case of pinkeye in my class. Ah, the joys of teaching!

Row 2: Food for Thought at Old Worthington Library was Dan the Baker. Yum.
"Beets, With a Side of Maple and Oak"
Race for the Cure, Columbus Downtown on Race Day

Row 3: Fox in the Snow (locals, if you haven't been there -- GO!)
My gerbera daisy bloom looked like it had cellophane on it. When I transplanted it, I clipped the bloom off and looked at it up close in sunlight -- tiny tiny spiders had built a web that encased the entire bloom!

Row 4: Last picture row 3 and first picture row 4 -- tartines from Dan the Baker's Toast Bar. (Again, locals, if you haven't been -- GO!)
Rafael Rosado and John Novak at Cover to Cover for Dragons Beware.

Row 5: Rosado signing and drawing.
Jeni's is back! YAY! I had popcorn ice cream. YUM!
Iris in the sun.

Row 6: Will in the sun.
3 Bean Salad (Summer is officially here.)

Row 7: The sore throat that felt like I was swallowing razor blades was a virus, not strep, but this sign at the Urgent Care was almost worth it. Almost. "Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free puppy."
Oh, JOY! ARC of Selznik's new book!
Spotted the work of Sam Fout, our art teacher, in the real world at Rivet Gallery in the Short North.
Mini veggies at Kroger -- quarter-sized squash and finger-length zucchini. Why?

The photos in this mosaic are on Flickr here if you want to see them bigger.

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23. Weird and Wild Animal Facts

We took our kids to the Dublin Library last week and Miss Val, one of the children's librarians there, shared lots of new books with the kids, getting them excited about summer reading. One of the books she shared was one I knew I had to add to our nonfiction library.

Weird and Wild Animal Facts by Jessica Loy is a book that is perfect for elementary readers. I am always worried that our students just love to read isolated facts, which is a good start for nonfiction. But I want them to move beyond that.  This is a perfect book to start that.

This book is filled with interesting animal facts.  But after reading the author's note, I see the way these facts go together and together they tell an interesting story about animal adaptations. Each 2 page spread focuses on a common animal, one most of us are familiar with.  (giraffe, jelly fish, tarantula) and for each animal there are several facts about that animal.  The author goes on to tell us how each thing helps the animal.  For example: "Sloths are covered in unique fur that's an ideal breeding ground for algae."  The author goes on to explain that, "The algae helps them blend into the environment and hide from predators.  The end pages also include fun facts and the author includes online resources at the end of the book so readers can continue to learn about animals.

This book is one that kids will grab because it is filled with interesting facts and the photos are engaging. But it does more than share isolated facts and I love that!

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24. 2 New Early Chapter Books

I bought a few of the Sofia Martinez books earlier this year when I noticed they were a new very easy reader for early 3rd grade. But last week, I order the new book, Sofia Martinez: My Family Adventure, which is more of an early chapter book.  The author, Jacqueline Jules is one I know from her series Zapato Power which I like for 3rd graders. This Sofia Martinez book is 92 pages and is about a character I came to like early in the book. There are several Spanish words embedded throughout the text (glossary in the back) which makes it different from other series chapter books i know. I liked lots about this book and it supports readers in several ways.  There are 3-4 separate stories in this book and each has 3 separate chapters. So for kids new to chapter books, this is a good one because they don't have to hold onto the story for over several days. Each story stands alone but is about Sofia and her family.  I've already had a few kids read and enjoy this.  I love that, like the Katie Woo series, there are easy readers and early chapter books about the same character.  They can grow with them and it also starts classroom conversations about choosing books about characters we love, not because of text difficulty, length, etc.  I am hoping the author writes more in this series.

Buck's Tooth is a book that Katie Dicesare told me about. It is a short early chapter book with a fun
character and a good message.  Buck is a beaver who has one big front tooth and "it ruins everything"  When the town talent show is announced, Buck doesn't know what he is going to do. He doesn't have a talent.  The book is fun and predictable and perfect for K-3 readers. (You might know this author from the Ollie and Moon series:-)

I love both of these books for our 3rd grade classroom, especially early in the school year. They are perfect for transitional readers!

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25. Summer #bookaday Begins!

by Mike Maihack
Scholastic, 2014
review copy purchased for my classroom library

by Mike Maihack
Scholastic, 2015
review copy purchased for my classroom library

School's out -- let #bookaday begin! And what better way to begin than with a fun new (to me) graphic novel series!

Columbus College of Art and Design grad Mike Maihack has plucked Cleopatra out of history and sent her to the future as the hero prophesied to save the galaxy from the evil Xaius Octavian who destroys civilizations by deleting all their electronic data and simultaneously stealing it for himself and his uses. 

Maihack's action and battle scenes are spectacular -- very cinematic. He is masterful at using flashbacks and flashforwards. At the end of the first book, her school/training academy is planning a winter dance, and at the beginning of the second book, the dance is in full swing. The second book ends with a more dramatic cliffhanger (think massive fleet evil army spaceships in close pursuit of the tiny spaceship our main characters are on) that will leave readers anxious for the next book in the series!

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