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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.
Statistics for A Year of Reading
Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 71
If you are a student in my classroom, you know that every so often, I will yell out, “Has anyone seen my tea?” My students are used to seeing me carry my Venti sized Starbucks cup around the classroom as I work. And they become very skilled at finding it for me when I seem to have placed it on a bookshelf, a table or the floor next to my stool. They know that my mornings begin at Starbucks.
|Can you find my Starbucks cup?|
There are lots of things I love about living in Dublin, Ohio. One of them is that, in my opinion, we have the best Starbucks in the world. I find a Starbucks in every city I visit and I have yet to find one that compares to the downtown Dublin Starbucks. It is the place I stop on my way into school every morning. The Starbucks is in the middle of town and there is no drive through. No matter the weather, everyone goes in to get their morning caffeine. This 5-minute stop on my way to school, has become a favorite way to start my days and my students come to learn this about me pretty quickly.
Many mornings I walk into Starbucks to find my Venti Awake Hot Tea already ready before I even order at the counter. The cup has been marked with my name—the staff often notices when I enter. And every so often a little drawing decorates my cup. A fun treat at random times. A staff member may ask questions about the school year. I might ask one of the girls behind the counter how her new baby is doing. They know me from our quick morning conversations and we’ve come to share quick stories every morning.
Everyone is on a first name basis at "my" Starbucks. I realized after weeks of thinking that the Starbucks employees loved me most, that everyone gets the same treatment in the morning. Everyone gets the one-one-one personal hello that I do. I call it my “3-minute Cheers experience”.
Last winter, a man in front of me, in town for a business meeting said, “When you get up there, will they already know what you want?” He had been watching for a few minutes and picked up the feel of this particular Starbucks. He was amazed at the relationships that the crew had with nearly every person who ordered a drink. It doesn’t take long for visitors to realize that this place has a lot of positive energy. They can't help but smile as they watch.
This is the perfect morning stop for me on the way to school. My family and friends continue to be amazed that I will get out of the car in thunderstorms and ice in order to get my Starbucks fix. But my morning stop is about more than the tea. Every day, my day starts off in a positive way. And, I am reminded of how important those first minutes of the morning are and of how important a positive transition to each day can be. I’ve learned that a quick hello and acknowledgement can set my day off right.
I carry my Starbucks cup around all morning. I love hot tea but my Starbucks cup has come to be a reminder of my morning and the life lessons I've learned from my morning stops into Starbucks over the past 5 years. My Starbucks cup reminds me how you can really get to know someone in just a minute or two each day and that those conversations add up. It reminds me that those first few minutes in the morning matter. They set the stage for the day. Taking 30 seconds out to really say hello to each child who walks into the classroom—before the busy-ness of the day takes over, can set the tone for the day. It is easy to get caught up in “getting ready for the day” instead of really focusing on each child as they walk through the doorway.
In a Facebook post last week, my brilliant friend Jen Ochoa reminded me of a Maya Angelou quote I heard years ago, "You must remember, the very first thing a child sees, the first thing they notice when they see you, is you seeing them. They look carefully to see what your face looks like as you lay eyes upon their face. When you see a child, no matter what, remember to fix your face."
My daily visits to Starbucks are about so much more than caffeine:-)
A big theme in our Social Studies curriculum is Community. I kicked off the study this week, I introduced the idea of community and the idea of learning community as an introduction to this yearlong study. I wanted to have these conversations and this thinking started before we move into the content of local government, community resources, etc. When we started our conversation, kids shared all they knew about community. I want them to understand the citizenship part of community--that everyone does his/her part and everyone works toward community goals while individuals still have more personal goals. At the beginning of the conversation, kids seemed to know the content stuff of community (neighborhoods, parks, people, rules and laws) at a basic level which gave us a great start to our conversation. Then we moved on.
I shared two pieces with the students that first day. I wanted them to reframe their thinking a bit to think about what made a community work. I told them I was going to share two pieces as part of our discussion about community and then we'd talk about how those tied in. I wanted them to use these as ways to add to their understanding of what makes a community. These two pieces provided an amazing conversation about community and what it means to be part of a community.
Following this video conversation, I read the picture book The Little Hummingbird
(Ann Marie) by Michael Nicoll Yahgulhanaas. (Thanks Ann Marie Corgill for this recommendation!) This is a powerful story about a little hummingbird doing his part in the community.
These two pieces provided just the right stories for a great beginning conversation to add new thinking about their understandings of community.
The next day, we read What If Everybody Did That?
by Ellen Javernick. This was a quick read that reminds us why we have rules by taking readers into different settings, thinking about not following a rule, and asking, "What if everybody did that?" We then talked about all of the communities we are a part of and how each had their own goals, rules, etc. Kids mentioned school, sports teams, churches, neighborhoods, our city, etc.
On Day 3 of our conversation, I paired 2 other videos to share with students. I wanted to really focus on the idea of a Learning Community and how members of a community support one another. This conversation also included goal setting.
We watched this amazing video from Pernille Ripp
's 5th grade classroom: My Students' Classroom Vision. At the end of the clip, one of my students said, "I loved that video. It was the best." It was very powerful for them. We followed up with a conversation about being brave, being part of a learning community, individual goals, and community goals. I shared my own experiences--about how it was easy for me to meet a reading goal, as it was easy for me and I loved to read. But it was brave of me to set a running goal and to put myself out there when running was something I had to work hard at. How the book I am writing is something that has been hard for me lately and it takes some brave to not just quit. How when we know each others' goals (as in any community) it is easier to help each other meet them. It was all very informal but thoughtful.
I followed up with a clip of Kristin Chenoweth which I loved (I used the one with Kellee instead but like this one better.)
We talked about how Kristen Chenoweth was so good and how she celebrated this guest who was amazing. She cheered for her and was so happy that she was so amazing. How that says a lot about Kristen--she loves seeing others do well. Kids immediately talked about ways they support others and cheer them on when they are successful. They were as interested in Kristen as they were in the friends who must have been filming and wooohoooing throughout.
Finally, on Thursday I shared The Butterfly Video. Thanks to Steve Peterson who shared this clip with me in a blog comment last week
! It is brilliant and it fit in perfectly with the week's conversations. Again, kids were glued.
Austin's Butterfly: Building Excellence in Student Work - Models, Critique, and Descriptive Feedback
from Expeditionary Learning
My favorite part of the follow-up conversation was the mention that, "Mrs. Christine, our art teacher would love this clip. Has she seen it? I wonder if she has to do more than one draft? Does she get things right on the first try?" We decided to email her the link to the video and our question right then. Of course she emailed back to let us know that, yes, she does many drafts for lots of things, even as an art teacher:-)
This week's conversations around community were really important for many reasons. I think the kids will understand the bigger communities of city, state, world, etc. because they have thought so much about their own communities. They understand that people make up a community and that our classroom is a community, a learning community. They have a role to play in the community--for themselves and for the good of the group.
I can already tell that these videos and books have made an impact. They keep coming up in conversation and I imagine they will continue to. Just like Caine's arcade, I imagine a few will become anchors for the year. Glad we began our conversation like this and am looking forward to the way the conversation evolves over the next eight months.
I love this idea and wanted to share it. My good friend who is also a brilliant teacher, Patty Carpenter, shared this idea with me. Since she does not have a blog, I figured I should share it with the world so that others could see how smart it is. Patty is a first grade teacher and each year, her students get a Math Learning Box for home. She includes all the things kids will need to play math games, etc. at home. She starts the box with a few tools and sends new additional tools home as they need them during the year. We took the idea and changed it a bit for 3rd grade. Last week, we sent home these boxes with students. This is the beginning of it and we will add things as the year progresses. Along with this box, we are sending home a folder of the 4 math games we have played so far. We'll also add to the folder.
I've always struggled with math homework as I tend to think playing a math game gives kids more practice, is more fun, and starts great family conversations. But kids don't always have the supplies needed at all times. This box guarantees that the things kids need to play the math games and teach them to their families are always handy. And it seems like it will be a great piece of family communication as parents learn some of the games we play at school.
The kids are as excited about these boxes as I am. They helped put them together and couldn't wait to take them home. Parents have also been very positive about the idea of this type of homework. And knowing that kids have these things at home, I imagine they'll do more math than they've done in the past.
It is a brilliant idea and the cost of putting it together was pretty minimal. (I kept my eye out for things like dice and decks of cards at the dollar store and on amazon over the summer.) As we learn new things, we'll add necessary supplies to the box--it will grow as the year goes on.
|One side is a Hundred Chart. The other side is a Multiplication Chart.|
|3 regular dice and 2 ten-sided dice (0-9)|
|These go home with these items as well as a few sets of game cards that students have made and stored in Ziploc bags.|
The tomato squirts in my mouth.
"You can't have seeds
without a flower."
The clock ticks incessantly.
because the earth spins.
The students arrive in a burst of chatter.
I feel the earth move
as I watch them bloom.
©Mary Lee Hahn, 2013
I am trying desperately to hold onto my writing habits and not let school work take over my every waking minute. This is a draft. It doesn't feel quite complete, but I'm just happy at this point that I wrote at least one morning this week.
Things are starting to settle down a bit...maybe. Okay, who'm I kidding? I'm going to PRETEND like things are settling down a bit, and reclaim my morning habits of walking and writing!
I have noticed over the past few years that one of the most popular books in our nonfiction library is Weird but True! 5: 300 Outrageous Facts
by National Geographic kids. It is a book filled with 300 weird facts and kids become totally immersed, wanting to share lots of things they discover. I can see the fascination with these books and I love that they get kids reading nonfiction, but I have noticed that more and more nonfiction books for kids are merely lists of disconnected facts with accompanying photos. Kids who are drawn to books like this are also drawn to books like Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Books
which invite skimming and scanning for interesting facts. After spending 4 years as an elementary librarian, I saw the impact of being stuck in this kind of reading as students skimmed and scanned and often had misinterpretations because they were merely looking for "cool facts". These books might be a great starting point but if our kids stick with reading only these kinds of nonfiction books, they probably won't grow as nonfiction readers.
I know that the jump from WEIRD BUT TRUE to The Snake Scientist (Scientists in the Field Series)
isn't going to happen without some transition. I also know that our young readers don't have as much experience with nonfiction as they do with fiction. So, it's our job to put quality nonfiction--booksbthat move them as readers--in our classrooms. I have a great collection of nonfiction but as I watched my students over the last few weeks, I realized I don't have much that will help my WEIRD BUT TRUE readers transition to more complex books. The jump from WEIRD BUT TRUE to other nonfiction books in the classroom seems to be a bit too big.
See, this always happens. My husband doesn't quite understand. But, no matter how many books I begin the year with, there are gaps. There are kids who need different books than those I have. So again, I am on the lookout to fill those gaps. Right now, I am on the lookout for books that might be an easy transition to get these readers reading a bit more than isolated facts. I know they are not going to go for a book with too much text so I have to be purposeful in the books I suggest. This week I found two at Cover to Cover that I am hopeful will engage a few of these fact readers.101 Animal Babies
by Melvin and Gilda is not a book I'd normally pick up because it looks similar to WEIRD BUT TRUE. It is a Scholastic book that looks like lots that are out there. But when I opened this one, it looked perfect for a few reasons. Each page features a baby animal with 2 photos of the animal. Accompanying each set of photos is a 9-10 line paragraph about the animal. The font is big and fun enough so as not to be alarming and the text is not so long that it will intimidate readers. Kids will find very cool facts within the text but the facts are embedded in a paragraph. And the paragraphs are all related in that they are all about animal babies. So lots of natural comparing/contrasting of facts will happen. This book does not need to be read cover to cover which is another plus for kids transitioning to longer, more complex nonfiction. I also thought this would be a great intro to the ZOOBORNS
blog and might invite some online reading as well.
The other book I picked up (thanks to Beth at Cover to Cover) was Bone Collection: Animals
by Rob Colson. The cover of this book will invite readers in as lots of cool skeletons sit on an old journal-type cover. Each two-page spread in this book focuses on an animal but the pages work together in that one page focuses on a skeleton and the next page shows a similar animal (not in skeleton form) and how other similar species compare to the featured skeleton. Each page is filled with short paragraphs of text. Some pages also include photos, notes, labels, etc. A table of contents and index allow kids to jump in where they want so they don't need to read this book cover to cover. However, the introduction lets the reader know that the book is set up to see similarities and differences between animals and then moves us to the human skeleton where we can see how much we have in common with other animals. So this book has lots of ways for readers to enter--they can look for cool facts by reading the short pieces on a page or they can put info together by reading a few consecutive pages. Lots of opportunities to push a little further as nonfiction readers.
I'll continue to share more of these transitional nonfiction books as I find them! I'd love to hear about titles that I can add to my collection so let me know if you know of any.
by Sylivie Neeman
illustrated by Ingrid Godon
Enchanted Lion Books, 2013
Review copy provided by the publisher
Little One wants to do something big. But he's not sure what that big thing might be, and Big One is having a hard time helping him figure it out. They go for a walk by the ocean for inspiration. It's hard to do something big when you're still small. But at the end of the walk, Little One does something small that actually turns out to be a big thing.
I used this book to start our conversations about what we could do to promote peace for the International Day of Peace
on September 21. We watched the video of the international music group, Playing for Change, singing together from all around the world. (It's on the public blog on my class' website. You can watch it here
.) We talked about how small things can often be big. Each musician is doing a small thing, but together, what they are doing is big. Huge, even. We brainstormed topics like helping others, caring for the environment, anti-bullying. And we talked about our own personal experience with peace -- when and where we feel it and how it feels.
Today, as we continue our work, we will talk about the situation in Syria, about the president's speech, and about the Russians' peaceful proposal. We'll talk a bit about 9/11 and think about those who responded to that crisis with no other thoughts in their hearts but to help. I'll read aloud Gandhi: A March to the Sea
, which I mentioned in my 10-for-10
Between now and Friday, September 20, my students will be composing short narratives on the theme of peace. These narratives might eventually become poetry, fables, narrative nonfiction, songs, comics, digital presentations, posters, and more. The assignment is a narrative with peace at its heart. We'll decide the container for the narrative after the writing is well on its way. And we'll find a way to share them with the world.
What will you
do for the International Day of Peace?
I used random.org to choose 3 comments at random. I decided that I would go by comment number as long as that commenter shared their "going wild" story.
Congratulations Evie, Lisa, and Gail !!
Please email me with your mailing address so we can get you your prizes!
Two professional books that have impacted my teaching in the last several years are Choice Words
by Peter Johnston and Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
by Carol Dweck. A recent post by Clare and Tammy at Assessment in Perspective
reminded me how important this thinking has become in my day-to-day work with kids. These books have been huge influences on the ways in which I talk to children and the awareness I have of their mindset about their learning. I am amazed that even by age 8, many of our students seem to have a fixed mindset about learning and sometimes it takes lots of time to change that. Some also have a narrow view of what it means to be a learner. I think that no matter what our children's school and learning experiences, the messages they get from TV shows, books, etc. play on a very archaic idea of what it means to be a learner and what it means to be in school.
This year, I began our year by showing the kids Caine's Arcade
I showed this at 9:30 a.m. on the first day of school to set the stage for the year. Kids were glued to the clip and fascinated by Caine and his arcade. I followed up the clip with a conversation about the reason I chose this clip. I told the kids that I thought Caine was an amazing learner and it was so evident in this piece. Then we talked about all of the ways he was a learner and what it means to be a learner. Since that first day of school, kids have asked to watch the Caine's Arcade clip again and many have watched it at home with families. It was my favorite way ever to kick off a school year as I can already tell it will be an anchor for so much of our talk about what it means to be a learner.
Interestingly, this first conversation was amazing, but when we talked later in the week about classroom learning, their thoughts fell back to "It needs to be quiet," "We need to listen to the teacher," and "We shouldn't copy from other people."
So, I am in the process of collecting books that will continue the conversation about being a learner and growth mindset. I am on the lookout for books that will help us to have conversations around this idea, not only during these first few weeks of school, but throughout the year. Often, I think that the books we share early in the year share our thoughts with students. They come to know us through the books we share. But the community isn't strong enough early in the year for all students to bring their own thinking to the group yet. So, it is important that this isn't only a beginning of the year conversation. I'm gathering those books I have and I'm looking for new books to add to my collection so that this conversation is ongoing.
Here are a few of the books I've collected so far:
I've always read The OK Book
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal early in the year to talk about goals and the things we are still learning.Someday
by Eileen Spinelli is another favorite for this conversation. In this story, a little girl sets out her long-term goals and then tells us what she is doing today to help her get there.Today I Will: A Year of Quotes, Notes, and Promises to Myself
is a great collection of quotes and notes by Eileen Spinelli. Many of these will be great conversation starters about agency, identity and learning.Beautiful Oops!
by Barney Saltzberg is a great little book that celebrates mistakes and reminds us that often, a mistake leads to something wonderful!Thank You, Mr. Falker
by Patricia Polacco is a book I've always loved but have never really thought about the message it gives kids about learning and growth mindset.Walk On!: A Guide for Babies of All Ages
by Marla Frazee is a book I've loved for years and one that I've often used when teaching kids how to discover themes in books. But it also has huge invitations for talking about learning and growing.Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle
by Chris Raschka is a new one that I am excited about. It is a simple story of learning to ride a bike. But the messages that everyone can learn and grow is a big one.
Fairy Tale Comics: Classic Tales Told by Extraordinary Cartoonists
Edited by Chris Duffy
First Second, on shelves September 24, 2013
review copy provided by the publisher
From the same editor who brought us Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated Cartoonists
, we now have this fabulous collection of Fairy Tale Comics!
17 different artists, 17 different stories from the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, Bre'r Rabbit, 1001 Nights, and Japanese, English and Russian Folktales.
Readers in my classroom will recognize the work of Raina Telgemeier (Drama
) and Charise Mericle Harper (Fashion Kitty versus the Fashion Queen
). Probably 6 of the 17 stories will be familiar.
So, it's safe to say that this book will introduce readers (in a fun way) to many new graphic artists and many new fairy tales! Win-Win!
Last night, we got a new puppy. He is a 12 week old Havanese. He is VERY cute and VERY energetic. Our almost-14-year-old daughter is taking much of the responsibility and she chose the name. (This is the part where you understand how a new puppy fits into a blog about reading...) He is named Arnie, after her very favorite book Arnie, the Doughnut (Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut)
. When Ana was in elementary school, she checked out ARNIE THE DONUT every week for years. We bought her a copy, but she still liked to check out the book. And she continues to read it a few times a year. She was thrilled to see a new ARNIE book out-even though she is 14, this character continues to bring her joy! Lots of it. And since Arnie becomes a doughnut dog, it seemed even more perfect! So, what better name for a puppy that will also bring lots of joy.
Our older dog, Chloe, is not quite sure about him yet...
If, for some reason, you missed the debut of this article at The Poetry Foundation, it's not to late to check it out:All Good Slides are Slippery
by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Chris Raschka
You read that right -- Lemony Snicket. He created a collection of poems that children "might like," and Chris Raschka illustrated the collection with happy, splashy paintings. Fun, fun, fun!
From the introduction:
"The poems contained in this children’s poetry portfolio are not made for children. Poetry is like a curvy slide in a playground — an odd object, available to the public — and, as I keep explaining to my local police force, everyone should be able to use it, not just those of a certain age."
"If you are a child, you might like these poems. Of course, you might not. Poems, like children, are individuals, and will not be liked by every single person who happens to come across them. So you may consider this portfolio a gathering of people in a room. It does not matter how old they are, or how old you are yourself. What matters is that there are a bunch of people standing around in a room, and you might want to look at them."
We're gathering in the "room" (aka blog) of Laura at Author Amok
for the Poetry Friday roundup this week. See you there!
The 14 Fibs of Gregory K.
by Greg Pincus
Arthur A. Levine Books (on shelves September 24, 2013)
review ARC compliments of the publisher
There is so much to love about this book!
First of all, the main character's favorite thing to do in his free time is...WRITE! Gregory K. and his friend Kelly get together after school to write, they trade notebooks and read each other's work, then write some more.
The second great thing about this book is Gregory's math teacher, Mr. Davis, a teacher worthy of a spot on our 100 Cool Teachers in Children's Literature
list! When Gregory is in danger of failing math, Mr. Davis doesn't make him do more math, he plays to Gregory's strength and has him keep a math journal. Brilliant!
The third great thing is that there's lots of PIE in this book...along with the pi.
Here's the deal with Gregory and math -- he's the only person in his family who doesn't eat, sleep, breathe and live for math. And here's the deal with author Greg Pincus -- he tangles his character up in so many problems, the reader just about can't believe things will ever work out for him.
This is a fabulous debut novel!! More, Mr. Pincus, MORE!!
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild
is Peter Brown
's newest picture book! I have become a HUGE Peter Brown fan over the last few years and was very excited to see a new book coming out. Today is the books BIRTHDAY so we are having quite the celebration!
MR. TIGER GOES WILD has lots of the same characteristics I love about Peter Brown's writing. A great story with a character you come to love and understand early in the book. The illustrations invite revisiting over and over and the message is a fun one. This is the story of Mr. Tiger who wants to go a little wild, do something out of the box, get out of his usual routine and have a little fun. Who can't relate to a story like this?
We have all gone wild a bit in our lives. We've done things out of the norm or a little out of our usual comfort zone. Me? I am pretty much a rule follower--I don't necessarily agree with every rule and I am opinionated and mouthy about those I don't love, but I tend to do what I am supposed to do. But sometimes what you are supposed to do gets boring and I think we all need to have a little fun by going a little bit wild, just like Mr. Tiger.
As I was preparing for this blog post, I was thinking about times in my life that I've done something a bit out of the norm. It seems that I have lots of little things throughout my life so I tried to think back to the first experience I could remember of going a bit wild--doing something out of the box. Lucky for me, I've always had friends who helped me get out of my comfort zone--who had ideas that I never would have attempted or who have gone along with an idea I've thrown out there that I was never actually serious about. I have out of the box ideas but often just throw them out as a joke. I've always had a friend or two two who see my amusing ideas as real possibilities.
My first experience of a time I "went wild" was in Kindergarten. It was late in the year in Kindergarten and classroom jobs were posted. It was my turn to get the milk. Getting the milk was one of the best classroom jobs. With a friend, you took an empty crate to the school refrigerator in the hallway (very far away from the Kindergarten room) and counted out the milk for snack time. Each of us had a choice between chocolate and regular each day so the milk helpers were responsible for counting out the correct number of each kind, putting them in the crate and carrying the crate back to the classroom. It was one of the few jobs that took us outside of the classroom.
Well, on this day, I was with one of my more adventurous friends. And the routines of Kindergarten were getting a little boring. "Wouldn't it be funny," I thought, "to fill the crate with ALL of the milk in the refrigerator instead of counting only the 12 chocolate and 9 white that we needed for our classroom?" That would certainly break up the routine and make for a little fun. As soon as I thought the idea out loud, my friend loved it, so we got to work.
As five year-olds, it took a lot of work to get ALL of the milk out of the refrigerator--every last carton. We were so focused on the work of following through with our idea, that I don't think it ever occurred to us in the very long time we were gone, that this might be a bad idea.
But I do remember the look on the teacher's face when she discovered us, me stretching my arm as far as I could, to reach those last few cartons in the refrigerator. When I saw her face, it hit me that this idea was probably not a great one. It was then that I realized for the very first time, that we were probably going to get in big trouble.
But my teacher seemed so flustered that she didn't have time to reprimand us when she found us in the hallway working hard to fit hundreds of cartons of milk into a small crate. Instead she sent us back to the classroom, canceled the milk portion of our snack as it was clearly too late for that, and waited for the day to end. Her look was not one of anger, but one of relief, disbelief and exhaustion. No anger at all. Looking back, I am sure the teacher was alarmed at the two of us being lost and was thrilled that we hadn't run out of the building or something. And I am sure someone had to put the milk back.
I hardly ever got in trouble when I was little. No real reason to. My parents were very good at understanding me and realizing that most of the naughty things I did were well-intentioned. And I wouldn't say I got in trouble with the milk either. But it was clear that I had misbehaved a bit.
This story comes back to me often as a teacher. As a teacher of elementary children, I know that kids often have ideas that seem fun to them, that do not seem so amusing to me. My idea was hysterical to the 5-year old me. I couldn't imagine it wouldn't be hysterical to everyone else. My plan was to bring joy and laughter into the classroom by carrying hundreds of cartons of milk back in. I think this story comes back to me lots to remind me that often, these kids do something "wild" and it is just them playing and learning how to have a little fun without hurting anyone. I think my teacher's non-angry response was important. She definitely wasn't happy but she kind of got it--no harm done.
And because I'm a rule follower, I think we all need okay excuses to go out of our comfort zone. Since Kindergarten, I've planned lots of events that invite people to go a bit wild. I was Pep Club president in high school and that role allowed me to organize things like Punk Day and other Spirit Days. I also look for excuses to go a little wild in an okay way.
|Me (far right) on "Punk Day" my senior year in high school. Don't think any of my high school friends photoed here read this blog but if they did, they would verify that we definitely found ways to have fun and go a little wild every day in high school:-) On an unrelated note, I am realizing that this is how I wear my hair to yoga class so it stays out of my eyes but it seemed to be a better look when I was 17....|
|An excuse to go a little wild in college when I signed up for the Dance Marathon. Each hour had a new "theme" so I had an outfit for each hour. (Tacky Tourist maybe?) As you can see, my husband (then boyfriend) Scott, was not as comfortable going wild by dressing up each hour.|
The story of my Kindergarten milk idea has come back to me often lately because I worry that in schools, with this stressful testing environment, we have taken away lots of the excuses to do something "fun". I loved school my entire life--from preschool through college. I loved it because we had lots of fun in between and along with the learning. We learned lots but also had built in ways to do things out of the routine on a pretty regular basis. So we understood that learning and fun went together. And that little breaks in our learning actually made the learning part easier. I worry that we've forgotten how important the fun part is when it comes to learning. I am hoping this book reminds us of that a little.
GET A COPY OF MR. TIGER GOES WILD!
You will definitely want to get your hands on a copy of this book as soon as you can! It will be a fabulously fun read aloud for all ages. And I am sure it will be one that is read over and over and over by students. It is one to just enjoy and also one that will naturally lead to lots of discussions--one of being who you are and one of going a little wild sometimes is certainly an okay thing!
And now, for some exciting news on how you can WIN a copy of the book. A Year of Reading has been given 3 copies of Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, courtesy of Little, Brown and Company! So, if you would like to be considered for one of these 3 prizes, leave a comment on this post sharing a story of a time you've done something a little wild. You can blog about it and leave us the link or you can share the story as a comment. Winners will be announced on 9/10 so you have a full week to think about this and share!
(Note: Books cannot be shipped to PO boxes, and will ship to US residents only).
And there is even another chance to win:
To celebrate the release of Peter Brown's Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, we have a blog tour scavenger hunt for you! Visit all the blogs listed below to collect 7 letters/characters. Unscramble the letters/characters to unlock the secret phrase. Each blog is giving away three copies of Mr. Tiger Goes Wild courtesy of Little, Brown Books and Jen Vincent at Teach Mentor Texts has a Mr. Tiger Goes Wild prize pack to give away.
And our letter is.....
Thanks, Peter Brown, for another amazing book!!
Hmm...it's always interesting to observe the patterns that emerge each month. Apparently, August was about food. Fully one third of these photos document food or restaurants. There's the scallops from Skillet, biscotti and coffee and DeLucas and cheesesteak in Pittsburgh, the coffee house in Urbana, peanut butter sandwiches from Krema, eggplant salad (made with the eggplant grown in the community garden), and Jeni's on Mohawk.
And it's not every month that dinosaurs show up not once, not twice, but THREE times.
Between the tomato hornworm caterpillar (found in the community garden) that I unsuccessfully tried to keep alive for my students to see, and the exhibits at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, it was a great month for insects, too.
You can click on the mosaic to enlarge it, or visit the set on Flickr
I have loved the idea of Chalk-A-Bration
as soon as I read about the idea on Betsy's blog, TEACHING YOUNG WRITERS
. for months and was determined to make time for it each month. This Friday was the perfect day to begin. My third graders had been in class for 8 days and we had already started our Friday morning tradition of POETRY FRIDAY! I figured Chalk-A-Bration would be a natural extension.
It was perfect for so many reasons!
-Chalk-A-Bration was a great way to begin connecting online with my class this year. They could see immediately that we were part of something beyond the classroom walls.
-I showed them Betsy's blog and shared her idea of Chalk-A-Bration. I talked about how much I loved the idea--so much that I wanted to try it. That we get ideas and build on ideas by learning from and with others.
-They realized that others would see their work and that chalking on the playground would be a fun way to surprise others with fun words and illustrations.
-They LOVED the word Chalk-A-Bration and it served as a great word study discussion for the day.
-It was 15 minutes of joyful literacy!
Kids had great ideas for chalking.
Many kids had fun chalking bright, happy pictures!
Others decided to use a favorite line we read in our readaloud this week. "Make Like a Sponge!" was a funny line used in The Trouble With Chickens when the chickens were annoyed that J.J. Tully would not go out in the rain.
Others chose favorite lines from poems they enjoyed during our Poetry Friday! reading. This one --"My backpack weighs a thousand pounds." (Prelutsky)
Inspirational phrases were also popular!
And we had to share our love of books and reading!
We loved our first Chalk-A-Bration and can't wait until next month!
My collection of wordless picture books continues to grow. I not only love them as a reader but I have found so many ways to use them for minilesson work and small group instruction in the classroom. So, of course I purchased a copy of Hank Finds an Egg
when I saw that @paulwhankins recommended it. I have to be honest that when I looked at it online, I didn't expect to be impressed. It didn't seem to be what I would expect from a brilliant wordless book. But I trust Paul so I went ahead.
Well, was I happily surprised at how much (and how immediately) I fell in love with this book! It is brilliant and wonderful and sweet and perfect. Really. Another that I shared with the whole family. Both girls agreed that it was a great book. No question. It is the book that I am carrying around with me this week--telling everyone I know about. I may need a few more copies as I want to share it but I hate to let it out of my sight for too long!
The story is about Hank who finds an egg in the forest. You cannot help but love Hank IMMEDIATELY. He is the best example of kindness:-) Love this stuffed bear. The story is told through a series of amazing and intricate photographs. So when you close the book and open it again (and again-trust me), you have to wonder about the author's process. How does she DO this? How does she create and amazing character and such a powerful story with photos? Luckily, the Internet is full of great resources so you can read about her process in this interview at UNH Today
and this one at Creating the Story. Rebecca's blog
is also worth a few hours of your time! I just love love love her work and her process. And I love the joy she clearly has in that process. I am adding her to my mental list of favorite authors immediately.
This book is such an invitation to kids--so many great possibilities.. I think it is a great wordless book with a great message. I also think some kids will want to give this medium a try. I imagine they could create amazing things with this book as a mentor. And I think Rebecca's process as a writer with photos is also one worth studying with kids. I love that she doesn't take the pictures in order and that the process leads the way. As we move to more possibilities in the ways that stories are told, I think it is important as a writing teacher that my students and I learn from the experts and help my students see possibilities for the creation process.
Not many books make me want to create a diorama when I finish, but this one might!
Definitely a book I Could Read a Million Times!!
|As seen/passed around on FaceBook|
All summer it's been cool
but just in time for school
the heat comes back,
like a big muggy bully.
One afternoon, regardless of the math lesson,
the air conditioning goes out.
Just up and leaves.
Walks out of the room without permission,
leaving the door open
for the bully to swagger in,
disrupt the lesson,
and make us sweat ourselves.
©Mary Lee Hahn, 2013
Tara has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at A Teaching Life
It's nice to know that some things don't change after decades and decades (and decades) of teaching. It's Tuesday night and I'm channeling my first-year teaching self.
As a beginning teacher in a tough school in the Dallas Independent School District, I would go through the same cycle, week after week: I would spend all weekend polishing up the most perfect lesson plans ever. I imagined what I would say and how the students would react. It was beautiful. Masterful. Thoughtful.
Then Monday came.
Monday came and I got a little bit behind.
Then, by the end of the day Tuesday, I was completely behind, thrown off track, and feeling buried in a mire of papers.
I call it The Tuesday Effect.
And if you think this is the part where I tell you how I've come so far since those first years, and how I'm so on top of things and have it all figured out now...well, you'd be wrong. It's happening again, right on schedule, with technology thrown into the mix.
The only thing I've got figured out now that I didn't know then is that it's okay -- even necessary -- to leave the avalanche of work for tomorrow and get a good night's sleep. Wednesday will come and it will all work out...somehow.
When it comes to picture books, I WANT MY HAT BACK
is one of my very favorites. And this week I found another that is right up there with I WANT MY HAT BACK--CARNIVORES
by Aaron Reynolds
and Dan Santat
. And anyone who has been following my blog knows that there are no other books that are up there with I Want My Hat Back. I am so excited about this book--it is one I am carrying around with me and showing to everyone I pass. It is a book that I make people read while I watch them. Then I take it away so that I can show it to someone else. It definitely goes on my BOOKS I COULD READ A MILLION TIMES
booklist. (And the last book I have put on my Books I Could Read A Million Times list was.....#hatback).
CARNIVORES is the story of 3 carnivores who are really misunderstood. I don't want to say much more because you should experience every page of the book on your own. It is a book that I think everyone will love.
I brought the book in today to share with a 5th grade teacher who shared it with his students. A few of my past students (now in his class) let me know how hysterical they thought it was. When they brought it back, my class asked about it. I hadn't planned on reading it because I wasn't sure they would get the humor. But they did. And they totally loved it. Absolutely totally. It was such a fun book to read to kids. Watching their faces and hearing their laugh-out-loud reactions was the best way to spend a Friday.
Pretty much everyone agrees that this is a great book. Here are some other reviews of the book.Jen Robinson's Review "Carnivores is actually a hilarious riff"Waking Brain Cells
"screamingly funny, wonderfully inappropriate"
Roundtable Reviews "Without a shadow of a doubt, Carnivores skyrocketed its way to the top of my favorite children's books of all time."
If you are still not convinced, you can watch the book trailer here:-)
I'd suggest buying more than one of these books. You will want to have one with you wherever you go.
I have a whole bunch of thinking rambling around in my head as I get ready to fully implement the expectation that my students will read at home for 20-30 minutes each night.
First, I'm going to need my students to work hard to develop an at-home reading habit. I want to provide them with a variety of choices for the way they will track and report their reading so that they
will own the whole process, from the selection of their books/texts to the development of the habit, to the tracking and reporting. So far, the menu of options include
- daily writing on paper (Typically this has been a M-Th assignment that is handed in on F, but why not let the students decide what the cycle will be? Maybe they do most of their reading on the weekend, so it makes sense to do it Th-Su and hand it in M? Or they have sports and lessons so they can best complete the work on M, W, Th, Su, or some other combination.)
- responding digitally on a Google form (The form I developed has their name, title/author of their book, a genre drop-down menu, and a place to write a reflection. The student would submit their thinking four times a week. This choice would also allow for weekend reading.)
- weekly letter (This could be handwritten or typed and would summarize and synthesize a week's worth of reading. Students could determine on what day of the week they would agree to hand in their letter.)
- blogging (Hmm...I guess if I'm going to offer this as an option, I just made my mind up about KidBlog!)
Now I'm really thinking as I type. We've got a five day week next week. I could introduce each of these options (maybe not in that exact order) on M, T, W, and Th, let them practice in class, and then practice again at home. Then they could work up their plan and submit it to me on the Tuesday after Labor Day. With each child/family developing the timing of the plan and the reporting method that works best for them, I will never again be taking a whole stack of papers home on a Friday night to haunt me until Sunday night. I'll be able to spread my tracking and responding out over the week. Hmm...I'm liking this more and more!
So. I think I just wrote my reading lesson plans for next week. Does it make sense to spend a whole week working on developing a plan for and cultivating the habit of home reading? I think in the big scheme of things, a week is a small price.
The second thing I'm going to need for this to work is buy-in from parents that at-home reading is not fluff, not optional, and not designed by me to torture their family. Remember that chart that shows how a child's reading achievement can be correlated to the number of minutes a day they read?
Here is the same chart with the benefit of 10 extra minutes a day factored in. Check out those gains for the low- to mid-level readers:
I want my parents to know that I expect their child to read for 20-30 minutes each evening because research has proven that it will grow their child as a reader! I'm hoping that this (possible, intangible) reward will be enough to prompt my students' parents to help their child discover the cues they will use to prompt the routine and habit of at home reading.
For more information about cues, routines and rewards, this is a great book:
by Charles Duhigg
Random House, February 28, 2012
I'm only about halfway through the book, listening to the audio version as I drive to and from school. Duhigg's explanation of how cues, routines, and rewards work, and his amazing examples from individuals' lives to huge corporations are understandable, entertaining, and compelling.
I reviewed two new poetry books earlier this week.
My review of SEEDS, BEES, BUTTERFLIES, AND MORE! is here
My review of THE PET PROJECT is here
The Pet Project: Cute and Cuddly Vicious Verses
by Lisa Wheeler
illustrated by Zachariah OHora
Atheneum Books for Young Readers (April 2, 2013)
review copy purchased for my classroom library
The character in this book wants a pet, but her parents, "...very scientific folk..." insist that she does research according to a scientific plan -- formulating a query, collecting data and observations, and presenting her results.
Our character has a research notebook, seen at the bottom of the page when she takes her study "...in the field." Her first destination is the farm. Her poems about the cow, chicken, pony, dove, and sheep reveal the reasons none of those will be her pet-of-choice.
"The farm was interesting, and yet,
I still have failed to find a pet.
Sure of what I have to do,
I'll take my research to the
After her zoological expedition, she goes to the woodland, does a "home study," a "controlled environments" study, notes some "inconclusive investigations" and finally comes to a conclusion about the kind of pets that are perfect for an owner like her, someone who is definitely not into the maintenance a pet requires, and rather quite forgetful, as well. Her choice?
"...They need no care.
They need no fuss.
They're not aware
that they're in us.
These beasties who are hard to find
are everywhere...and they're all
I go to Mom and Dad with hope:
"May I have a..."
Can you guess?*
Such a fun book. You will want it for your poetry collection, for your science class, and for your persuasive writing unit!
Seeds, Bees, Butterflies, and More!: Poems for Two Voices
by Carole Gerber
illustrated by Eugene Yelchin
Henry Holt and Co. (February 5, 2013)
review copy provided by the publisher
This book is destined to become a favorite on Poetry Fridays in my classroom! My students have nearly worn out Mary Ann Hoberman's "You Read to Me, I'll Read to You" books of poetry for two voices. Now we've got another from which to choose!
Carole Gerber, a local Central Ohio poet and a fellow The Poetry Friday Anthology (Common Core K-5 edition): Poems for the School Year with Connections to the Common Core
poet has written a collection of 18 poems about the natural world. The color-coding and the left/right alignment of the two parts will be familiar cues to readers of Hoberman's poems, but because Gerber's poems are not as formulaic as Hoberman's, this book will also make a great mentor text for students who want to try to write poetry for two voices.
These poems will be perfect for life science units on plants, animals, and food chains/webs. For example, in the poem "Seedlings," you will find the science vocabulary "coat," "germinate," "roots," and "sprouting." Told as a mask poem, from the points of view of two seedlings, this is a poem about that first moment when baby plants lift their heads above the dirt. Turn the page and the same scene is replayed with an excited seedling in conversation with a rabbit. That one doesn't end so well for the seedling!
The combination of fun poems and bright, happy illustrations by Eugene Yelchin make this one a sure deal!
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I will apologize in advance for the lighting on these pictures. It was the best I could do with the way the light was in the hallway. I hope between the dark photos and the captions, you can make some sense of them.
Lots of people have picked up on Donalyn Miller's idea for kicking off the year
by decorating their doors with Summer Reading. I wasn't planning on decorating mine as we don't do it as a school but then @LauraKomos shared her door display on Twitter and I was instantly reinspired! Instead of doing the work I needed to do, I switched gears and went to my Goodreads account to see what I had read since summer began. I was surprised at how many books I had read and the thought of creating a door display sounded fun.
My hope in this door is for it to be a conversation starter. Many of the books I read this summer were in preparation for 3rd grade so the door will also serve to introduce students to new series and characters they might read in 3rd grade.
I struggled a bit with how to organize the door because I did not want to separate chapter books from picture books. 3rd grade is such a transition year and I know the pressure some kids feel to read books that are too hard for them --carrying around fat chapter books to look cool may begin at this age!
I decided to sort the books in a way that would hopefully start some conversation or jump start some of my minilesson work. I sorted by how I found/why I chose the books. I like the way it turned out and am anxious to see what kinds of conversations it starts.
|Books I Found When Reading Book Reviews|
|Books Recommended by Friends|
|New Books by Favorite Authors|
|Some Great Nonfiction|
|New Series Books I Discovered|
|New Books with Favorite Characters|