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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: 73
The Turtle of Oman
by Naomi Shihab Nye
illustrated (with small sketches at the beginning of every chapter) by Betsy Peterschmidt
Greenwillow Books, 2014
review copy from the public library (but I'll be purchasing this one for my classroom library)
This book is not
a novel in verse, but it is written so poetically that sometimes it feels like a poem.
This book is
a love song to HOME.
Young Aref is leaving Oman to live in Michigan for 3 years while his parents go to graduate school there. The story tells about his last week in Oman, spent procrastinating and delaying the packing of his suitcase, while savoring everything he loves the best in and near the city of Muscat in Oman with his wonderful grandfather Sidi. Together, they go to the nearby sea and spend some time on the beach. They go to a camp out in the desert and spend the night. They ride out with a fisherman into the sea. Aref spends the night at Sidi's house and they sleep out under the stars on the flat roof of Sidi's house.
When they are at the Camp of a Thousand Stars, they meet a man with a falcon who flies away from his handler, but comes back every time to sit on his arm. When they go to the beach, they visit the place where the sea turtles come back every year to lay their eggs. Out on the boat, Aref catches a fish, but lets it go back to its home in the sea. And slowly, throughout the course of the week, Aref can begin to imagine leaving Oman, because he knows that he, too, will return.
By showing us Oman through the eyes of a child whose heart is breaking to leave it, Naomi Shihab Nye gives the reader an intimate look at a place that, though very different from anywhere in North America, will invite the reader appreciate both Oman, as well as all the people and particular places that make HOME special to him/her.
Ranger in Time #1: Rescue on the Oregon Trail
by Kate Messner
Scholastic, January 2015
ARC received from the publisher
This is going to be a great series for grades 2-5!
Ranger is a golden retriever who failed search and rescue school because he can't stop chasing squirrels. He also love to dig, and one day, he finds a old first aid kit while he's digging in his back yard. When he slips the strap over his head, he is transported in time to 1850. He uses his search and rescue skills several times along the Oregon Trail to help Sam Abbott and his family.
After the story, Messner has included a very readable 10-page author's note about the time period and her writing process.
Next up in the series, Ranger travels in time to Ancient Rome!
HE THINKS WE DON'T KNOW WHERE HE'S BEEN
sneaky cat comes up
from a basement adventure --
cobwebs on his head
©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014
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 January and June 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.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, Jog the Web, 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 set up reminders on the calendar there. Plus, I'll send the schedule to Pam to put 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:January
this is the best day
--really the only day--
of my precious life.
©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014
(scrub to 4:52)
Anastasia has the Poetry Friday roundup at Booktalking #kdilit
I always love the Books for Children Luncheon at NCTE. Not only do we get o hear the Orbis Pictus Award
winners and hear amazing authors speak, we also get to sit at a table with an author or two. This year I was lucky enough to sit at a table with Tom Angleberger
and Cece Bell
. I was very starstruck the entire time and thrilled to have a few minutes to talk to these two amazing people.
As part of the lunch, you get books written by the authors at your table. So I was thrilled to see El Deafo by Cece Bell.
I've always loved Cece Bell's picture books. I loved El Deafo
from the very first page when I read it this summer. This graphic novel/memoir by Cece Bell is based on Cece's own story of going to school with a hearing aid. Her humor and honesty make this book one that stays with you for a very long time. You can hear Cece talk about her book here and if you haven't read the book yet, it's one you'll want to run out and get today. I plan to read this book aloud to my class using a Kindle version on the smart board. I have been wanting to read a graphic novel aloud that would spark lots of great conversation and this one seems perfect.
I was also thrilled to see the upcoming (2nd) book in the Qwikpick Papers
series by Tom Angleberger. I was talking to Tom before lunch about how much some of my 3rd graders are loving his Origami Yoda series and how many folded Origami Yodas I find laying around the room at the end of the day (most especially on indoor recess days)! Having another series to hand to Angleberger's fans will be fun. Even more fun is the fact that Mary Lee and I were able to read the first book in this series almost 8 years ago when it was first released. Early in our life as bloggers, before we totally understood what a blog was, Tom Angleberger (Sam Riddleburger) was one of the first authors who reached out to us and sent us a review copy of his book
. We both loved the book then are were thrilled to see it being rereleased with a 2nd coming out in April.
Loved this year's luncheon and having a bit of time with these two amazing authors!
At NCTE, I was not only lucky enough to get an ARC of The Terrible Two
but I also had a chance to meet Mac Barnett and Jory John. (I even won a prize at the Abrams booth while chatting with them:-) They were very fun and since Mac Barnett will be visiting our school this spring, I decided to put this book on the top of my pile and I finished it this weekend.
I loved this book. It is about a boy named Miles who moves to a new school. He is determined to become known as the school prankster as he was in his old school. When he arrives at his new school, he is given a "buddy" named Niles. The two do not become fast friends but they do begin a prank war and finally become partners in pranking.
I am not usually a fan of funny books. I always find funny books to be more plot-based than character based and I love to get to know the characters. But it seems that Barnett and John have created a funny book with great characters. I loved Miles and Niles and I enjoyed Principal Barkin and all of his issues. The book made me laugh out loud and had me rooting for both characters. It is not often that I find a "funny" middle grade book that I loved, but I loved this one. I am thinking the sophisticated humor that is evident in most of Barnett's work really works well in longer novels too. This is a book for all readers. I think of all of the books that are so critical to get some kids reading in the middle grades and this one should be added to that list. I can see kids becoming readers because of this book.
This book is due out in January and it seems perfect for grades 3-5. From some googling, it sounds like The Terrible Two is the first in a series of books by these authors. How exciting is that?!
|Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Will Clayton|
Even though our blog birthday was on January 1, we have celebrated it all year! On our 8th Birthday, we decided to celebrate 2014 by celebrating others who inspire us every day
. Each month this year, we have celebrated a fellow blogger whose work has inspired us. We feel so lucky to be part of the blog world that we want to celebrate all that everyone gives us each day.
In January, we launched the year by celebrating Kevin Hodges
We're going to end our year of celebrating bloggers who are children's literature fanatics, teachers, teachers-of-teachers, librarians, authors, and poets who inspire us the most by celebrating those who help to build and maintain the Kidlitosphere "community" itself.
This is a huge group of volunteers who make the world of blogging a better place by making it feel more like a cozy neighborhood and less like an indifferent city.
To honor ALL of the bloggers who keep the wheels of the Kidlitosphere machinery running smoothly, we made a donation to the CYBILS.
Not satisfied to trace
this first snow
tries to fill the place
©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014
Our first snow was a playful, fluffy couple of inches, not a destructive, multi-foot dump like Buffalo got, or a plan-changing Nor'easter like the one this week. One more thing to add to the list of my "Thankful For"s.
Today we're also thankful for Carol, at Carol's Corner
, who is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup!
Maybe I shouldn't have read what I wrote in last year's reflection
on attending NCTE. Wow. Did I really write that? Nice work, last year's me. All still true. So now what am I supposed to write?
This year I'll write about magic. I'll write about this:
I've presented at NCTE before, but I don't remember any of my sessions ever feeling as magical as this one with (L to R) Vicki Vinton, Julieanne Harmatz, Fran McVeigh, and Steve Peterson.Vicki
invented our tribe.
"Our job is to find the disconnected and connect them, to find people eager to pursue a goal and give them the structure to go achieve that goal. But just about always, we start with an already existing worldview, a point of view, a hunger that's waiting to be satisfied." -- Seth Godin
We met in the comments on Vicki's blog. We knew each other through our written words both there, and on our own blogs. We knew each other through profile pictures and tweets. When we finally met in person, it was so fun to add facial expressions and voices and hands to shake and hugs and the sounds of laughter to everything we already knew about each other.
All the parts of our session fit like the verses of a song. The chorus of our song was, "What if?"
I think we'll be singing this song we wrote for a long time to come. We'll sing the chorus in our classrooms, and we'll sing out the new verses to each other on our blogs until we find a way and a place for an in-the-flesh reunion!Here is Steve's reflection
on NCTE and our session.
Fran has three reflections -- here
, and here
Julieanne wrote a thank you note to NCTE
There was way, way more to my time at NCTE than just this one session with these four other people. There were other first-time meetings with online friends and lots of happy reunions with far-flung friends. There were many sessions that provided new learning and deep thinking. There were the obligations of the poetry committee and the CLA board.
But this one bit was magic.
Santa Clauses: Short Poems from the North Pole
by Bob Raczka
illustrated by Chuck Groenink
Carolrhoda Books, 2014
This is a very fun book.
You might have seen it reviewed (with a spotlight on the author) by Michelle at Today's Little Ditty
. It's worth looking at again.
Santa has written a haiku a day for the entire month of December, and they are collected here to give readers a peek into the secret life of Santa, beyond what we know of him in his workshop and sleigh. We get to know his love of nature, the way he and Mrs. Claus decorate for the season, and (through the illustrations) that he has a big orange cat that looks much like the one that lives in our
Buy a copy and make this a December tradition in your house! Maybe you could write companion haikus each day in December from the point of view of the elves or the reindeer!
by Lin Oliver
illustrated by Tomie dePaola
Nancy Paulsen Books, 2014
(In case you are wondering about today's post title, yesterday's post was "Very Short Poems." Go check it out. I'll wait.)
Is it ever too soon for children to learn to love the rhythms, rhymes, and fun of poetry?
Here's a great book for a baby shower gift. It will be as much fun for new parents to read over and over again as it will be for a new generation to listen to, look at, and slap their slobbery little hands all over the happy babies they see in Tomie dePaola's illustrations.
Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems
selected by Paul B. Janeczko
illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Candlewick Press, 2014
I don't know whether I love this collection more for the poetry or for the illustrations. Either way, it's a winner.
Beginning with Spring, each of the seasons is explored through eight or nine poems from a variety of both adult and children's poets.
Each poem is a snapshot, a glimpse, a moment. They are perfect for showing children the power of just a few words to describe or evoke or illuminate.
And did I mention that the illustrations are beyond lovely? They are classic Melissa Sweet. I wish I could frame every page.
This is a collection you will want, and a fabulous gift book. Share the love.
Check out Mary Ann's review at Great Kid Books
Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems
by J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian
illustrated by Jeremy Holmes
Schwartz & Wade, 2014As I noted last Wednesday
, J. Patrick Lewis' anthology title says it all: "Everything is a Poem." Last Thursday, we looked at science in poetry
, Monday we looked at nature in poetry. Tuesday, the focus was on history in poetry, yesterday we took a look at biography in poetry. Today, let's have fun with imagination in poetry.
The subtitle of this book says it all: "Crazy Car Poems."
If that didn't get your attention, check out the co-authors -- J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian. Now you KNOW you're in for some fun, right?
If you're still not sure, here's a bit from the introduction poem, "Introduction:"
"...But someday our fantastic cars
Might look like cool dark chocolate bars,
Banana splits, hot dogs or fish --
Or any kind of ride you wish..."
This book is all kinds of imaginative fun. The plays on words are groan-worthy, and the illustrations are a blast.
Poem-Mobiles was reviewed by Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup
(check out the picture of the Teddy-Go-Cars -- doesn't that make you want to use up some of the leftover Halloween candy making Snickermobiles?)
Hello, I'm Johnny Cash
by G. Neri
illustrated by A.G. Ford
Candlewick Press, 2014As I noted last Wednesday
, J. Patrick Lewis' anthology title says it all: "Everything is a Poem." Last Thursday, we looked at science in poetry
, Monday we looked at nature in poetry
. Yesterday, the focus was on history in poetry
, and today we'll take a look at biography in poetry. In one final post in this series, we'll have fun with imagination in poetry.
I grew up listening to my parents' Johnny Cash albums, and his Greatest Hits CD (The Essential Johnny Cash) is one of my go-to "setting up/cleaning up/putting to bed the classroom" sound tracks. I didn't know that much about his early life until I read this collection of poems.
Here is an excerpt from the final poem, "The Man in Black:"
is how he started
every concert from then on.
that simple statement
said it all.
the poor country boy
from the cotton fields,
traveled the world
many times over,
where he sang
and the homeless,
businessmen and farmers,
soldiers and prisoners alike.
It didn't matter how famous he got,
he never forgot
what it felt like to be cold,
miserable, and hungry.
Momma didn't have to
that his gift was special.
He knew he was not its owner
but its caretaker.
Here's Johnny Cash in 1958, singing "I Walk the Line." Check out that wink at about the 50 second mark! **swoon**
by J. Patrick Lewis
illustrated by Gary Kelley
Creative Editions, 2014As I noted last Wednesday
, J. Patrick Lewis' anthology title says it all: "Everything is a Poem." On Thursday, we looked at science in poetry
, and yesterday we looked at nature in poetry
. Today, the focus is on history in poetry. Upcoming posts include biography and imagination in poetry.
This gorgeously illustrated book of poetry for older readers teaches about 369th Infantry Regiment in World War I. Originally mobilized as the 15th New York National Guard, this group of 2,000 black American soldiers became famous not just for their tenacity on the battle field, but for the music they brought with them and which helped them to survive.
The tragic death of the band leader, James "Big Jim" Reese Europe, just a year after Armistice Day, gives this little-known story from WWI an extra measure of poignancy.
by David Elliott
illustrated by Becca Stadtlander
Candlewick Press, 2014
As I noted last Wednesday
, J. Patrick Lewis' anthology title says it all: "Everything is a Poem." On Thursday, we looked at science in poetry
. Today, the focus is on nature in poetry -- specifically, birds. Upcoming posts include history, biography and imagination in poetry.
My students and I have loved David Elliott's short, pithy poems in his collections On the Farm, In the Wild, and In the Sea. In this book, the essence of seventeen species of birds, from the ordinary sparrow to the exotic Japanese Crane pictured on the cover are captured in Elliott's words and Becca Stadtlander's gorgeous and evocative illustrations.
Sadly, last June, Holly Meade, David Elliott's illustrator for the other books in this series (On the Farm, In the Wild, In the Sea) died at age 56
. David Elliott dedicates this book to her.
Winter Bees: & Other Poems of the Cold
by Joyce Sidman
illustrated by Rick Allen
HMH Books for Young Readers, 2014As I noted yesterday
, J. Patrick Lewis' anthology title says it all: "Everything is a Poem." Today we'll look at science in poetry. Upcoming posts include nature, history, biography and imagination in poetry.
Joyce Sidman's Winter Bees is the perfect book to usher in this year's first Polar Vortex. Every day, compliments of the TV weather reporters, we are getting a science lesson in meteorology. Sidman's book will answer questions about how animals survive in the cold.
Each of the dozen poems, most about animals ranging in size from moose to springtail, but also including trees and snowflakes, is accompanied by a short sidebar of scientific information that expands the scope of this book to topics such as migration, hibernation, and the shape of water molecules, and introduces such delicious vocabulary as brumate, ectothermic, furcula, and subnivean.
The illustrations are simply gorgeous. You will want to spend as much time with them as you do savoring Joyce's poems. Watch out for that fox -- s/he wanders throughout the book!
As you and your students explore this book and Joyce's others, don't forget to check out Joyce's website
. It is a treasure-trove for readers, writers, and dog lovers.
I've been a fan of Lita Judge
for a while so I preordered her her book Born in the Wild: Baby Mammals and Their Parents
by Lita Judge. This is a nonfiction book and I wasn't sure what to expect. But I fell in love with it immediately. The book teaches readers about various mammals and the things that the babies need. How a baby animal is born, how and what different animals eat, how they stay safe and more are included in this book. The organization focuses on the similarities between animals and the descriptions show the unique differences between animals. The illustrations are adorable. My biggest surprise was how much information is in this book. Each spread has a few paragraphs of text and it is longer than the typical picture book (48 pages instead of 32). The back of the book includes more information on each animal mentioned as well as a glossary and a list of great websites for more information on animals. This book would make a fabulous read aloud and I can see lots of minilessons coming from the book. It is also a great tie-in to our science curriculum. So love this book and hoping we see more nonfiction from Lita Judge in the near future! Really a perfect nonfiction picture book!
Row 1: Kitten at the car museum (your inference is correct), last of the summer bumblers, Red Sky in the Morning...Sailor Take Warning, October Fest at the Crest, spectacular fungi in our neighbor's garden.
Row 2: First blush of color in the trees, amazing package from Steps and Staircases
Lisa, grumpy bunny at the Fairfield County Fair, truth in advertising (at the fair), wacky rooster (at the fair).
Row 3: Budweiser Clydesdales and their dog (at the fair), rides and midway (at the fair), wine tasting near Circleville, dried fruit and nuts to cleanse our palates, Ohio cheese tasting (Food for Thought event) at Old Worthington Library.
Row 4: Fall color on the branch, fall color on the ground, preying mantis on the bike path, AJ on the bike path, me on the bike path.
Row 5: View on the bike path, Jeni's reward midway through a 4 hour bike ride, Mona Lisa mural in the Short North, Brunch and Books was at Tasi (YUM!), plethora of acorns in the front bed.
Row 6: My favorite gingko tree in full regalia, Jeni's reward at the end of a 2 hour bike ride, 2014 pumpkins.
Sigh. I love October. And it always goes WAY too fast.
(You can see all the pictures on Flickr here
The shadow before me shimmers,
then has a white stripe
and a tail that's lifting
as I'm backing away
not a word.
I'm just a tall shadow
that will disappear as suddenly
as it appeared.
We both walk away
© Mary Lee Hahn, 2014
Early morning walkers in our neighborhood can't afford not to be watchful.
Speaking of watching...I'll be watching for many of YOU at NCTE! I was going to try to plan an official Poetry Friday Meet-Up, but it's going to be a busy couple of days. Hopefully I'll see you at one or more of these Poetry and Poetry Friday Peeps' events:THURSDAY:
Elementary Section Get-Together where our very own Margaret Simon of Reflections on the Teche
will be recognized as the Donald Graves writing teacher of the year! 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM in Gaylord National Resort, Maryland 1/2/3/ASATURDAY
NCTE Committee on Excellence in Children's Poetry is presenting a review of the 2014 Notable Poetry Books (2013 pub. date) 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM in Gaylord National Resort, National Harbor 12
Books for Children Luncheon with speaker Jacqueline Woodson. The 2014 NCTE Committee on Excellence in Children's Poetry will announce the children's poet who has been selected for the 2015 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children 12:30 PM - 2:30 PM in Gaylord National Resort, Maryland C
CLA Master Class: Reading Poetry Across the Curriculum (roundtables hosted by Paige Bentley-Flannery, Jacqueline Jules, Heidi Mordhorst, and me; chairs/respondents include Laura Salas, Janet Wong, Sylvia Vardell, Tricia Stohr-Hunt, and Katie Button) 5:45 PM - 7:00 PM in Gaylord National Resort, Chesapeake J/K/LSUNDAY:
Poem as Storyteller: Collaborating with Authors to Write Narrative Poetry (Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Irene Latham, Katie DiCesare, Ann Marie Corgill, Kathy Collins) 12:00 PM - 1:15 PM in Gaylord National Resort, Chesapeake 4/5
Diane has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Random Noodling
As part of a continuous collaboration among educators interested in digital learning, Margaret Simon hosts a weekly Digital Learning round-up on her blog: DigiLit Sunday. Stop by Reflections on the Teche (today's link-up) to read, discover, and link.
You may be following the conversation that is happening around the blog world this week--on whether technology has a place in our elementary classrooms. Troy Hicks
and Kristin Ziemke
responded to a post by Nancie Atwell
and then the conversation continued with brilliant posts from Cathy Mere
Let me start by saying this . Nancie Atwell is my hero. She taught me about workshop and gave me my grounding as a reading and writing teacher. And I can't wait to read her newest edition of In The Middle
. Disagreeing with Nancie is a hard thing for me to do. I do disagree with her on this one, though. However, I was where Nancie is. I did not come to using technology in the classroom quickly or happily. I did not see its power until very recently.
My Own Journey
As a writer, I remember the day that I said that I could never imagine myself composing on a computer-that I liked my yellow legal pad, that I could see myself using the computer for a final draft, but I could not imagine those first steps of the writing process without paper.
But that was when the ways we could tell stories were limited. That was when I told stories of my classroom with words and a few photos. That's when I carried overhead transparencies of those photos to tell my story at conferences and workshops.
I think back to that day and realize that I could not imagine using the computer for composing because I had no idea what was possible. I had no idea that one day I'd be able to tell my story with words and images and videos and hyperlinks. I had no idea that I'd be able to carry my photos and notes and links with me on a phone that is small enough to fit in my purse. I had no idea that I would no longer need a publisher to have an audience for my stories or that I could connect with others who were telling stories of their classrooms. I had no idea that these stories would connect me to people around the world.
I feel like an elder telling of the time I had to walk through the snow to school, but I am old enough to have gone through this process and to work through what these changes mean for the classroom. Nancie Atwell taught me about authenticity and ownership and it is something that has stayed with me and that has kept me grounded. It is also one that has been challenging to uphold these last few years as technology seems to have changed everything. It is the message of authenticity and ownership that has forced me to open up my mind to how technology is changing literacy.
I did not start using technology in the classroom quickly or without a fight either. I kind of came in kicking and screaming. I used technology a bit, but the ways I saw technology being used in the classroom went against everything I knew about authenticity and ownership. It went against all I knew about literacy learning. I saw kids watching videos and kids playing games and kids typing projects that they could have handwritten in half the time. I did not see the reason to take one minute from what I was doing in order to add technology to my already successful workshop.
Then I was put on an NCTE committee to study digital literacy. I was on a committee with brilliant people who understood the power of digital tools and the impact these tools were having on literacy far better than I ever could. Listening and learning with this group of people helped me to see that this conversation was not about technology but it was about literacy. I'm not sure what was said, but I remember a moment in the meeting where I thought, "OH, that's what is possible?" From then on I realized technology was a game changer and that because of it, the very definition of what it means to be literate was changing. I realized that these tools could empower our students as readers and writers in ways that were not possible before.
Since my kicking and screaming days, I've forced myself to dig in and to see what I was missing. I have learned from so many people and dug into what is possible. Troy Hicks
' work on Digital Writing Workshop and Kristen Ziemke's work
with first graders have been critical to my current stance. I found people who understood both literacy and technology and listened to their thinking. I learned from Bud Hunt
, Kevin Hodgson
, Sara Kajder
, Bill Bass
, Chris Lehman
, Will Richardson
, Angela Maiers
, Kathy Cassidy
, Katharine Hale
and so so so many others. And I have only been able to learn from these people because of the ways writing has changed--I am able to follow their blogs, have conversations on Twitter and respond and reflect on my own blog.
I've always believed in a workshop of the possible, in a workshop where children in our classrooms can discover what it means to be a reader and a writer. I want my students to discover all that is possible so they can be intentional and thoughtful. And I want their reading and writing lives in school to be authentic and the classroom experiences to help kids see what it means to be a reader and a writer today.In the Classroom
My kids don't see technology in the same way that I do---instead they see it as one tool for communication. Even at age 8, they are fluent in their use of these tools and intentional about the ways they use them to meet their needs. I have students who blog regularly and the growth they've had as writers because they have an audience every day is stunning. I have writers who use their iPods to set reminders so that they do not forget their weekly blog series post. I have readers who annotate on iBooks and then use those annotations to write book reviews to share with classmates. Of course, this doesn't happen with the teaching focused on writing--craft, organization, genre, etc. The key is that the teaching focuses on the writing, not the tool.
This is a photo I took last year because I was so amazed by what I saw. Students spread out on the floor using digital and traditional tools together to work through something. I see this over and over and over each day. The tools are not the focus, but they open up possibilities for learning in so many ways.
Just this week, I saw how much the technology is embedded in all that our students do as readers and writers. 12 students met before school to discuss the graphic novel, Sisters
by Raina Telgemeier
while enjoying donuts. In the discussion, one of them realized that this was a personal narrative (a writing unit of study we are in the midst of this month). Kids dug into the book again to look at her other books and realized that they too were most likely narratives--stories from her childhood. They asked if we could tweet the author to ask whether she planned to write more stories from her childhood. They also decided they might want to try some narratives in graphic novel form so I did a 2 minute intro to Comic Life that kids could explore at another time.
During the 30 minute talk, students:
-read a paper copy of the book and used sticky notes to annotate.
-sent a few tweets to the author with questions they had about her writing.
-invited a class from another state (via Twitter) to have a morning book club via Skype sometime in the future
-tried out Comic Life as a way to play with what they knew about writing narrative in another format
-discovered the power of real photos like the ones the author added to the end of her book, to add power to a narrative
-handed books to friends who hadn't been part of the morning chat
-looked up other books by this author online
-used sticky notes and conversation to write blog posts about the book and the club
The way the world works is changing and so then is literacy. Technology allows us to do things as readers and as writers that we couldn't do before. For our kids, this is no big deal. Moving between devices depending on what they need to do as readers and writers is natural for them. It is no big deal in our classroom to have a book club going on where a few kids have a paper copy of the book while others have an iBook version. It is no big deal when one person decides to draft a piece of writing in a notebook while another uses the Notes app on his iPod touch. It is no big deal when one child blogs next to a child with a writing folder.
Our jobs as literacy teachers is to harness authentic literacy and to move kids forward with a variety of tools. Our classrooms have to change and our teaching has to change if we want to run a true workshop--where readers and writers are immersed in authenticity.Not An Either/Or Conversation
I so worry when we make this a yes/no conversation--when I read articles that say exactly how much time kids should spend on technology. I worry about libraries that are getting rid of books to make room for computers and devices. I worry when someone says mobile devices have no place in our primary classrooms. This can't be an either/or conversation.
I took this picture in a recent workshop:
Once I started noticing how often we use a variety of tools AT ONE TIME, I see images like this everywhere. A reminder to me that this can never be an either/or conversation.An Important Conversation
This is a conversation we need to keep having-across levels. For those of us committed to literacy workshops, it is a topic we can't afford to ignore. As literacy teachers, we need to be open to what is possible. Over the past several years I have learned what is possible with digital literacy.
And we can't be afraid to disagree with each other, to ask questions and to study. We have to be okay with not having a for-sure answer. We have to dig in and figure out how to remain authentic and how to use these tools to help our students grow as readers and writers. We each have our own vision of what is possible in our workshops. But my thinking is we haven't even scratched the surface.
*The title of this blog post was borrowed from another one of my all time professional books: A Workshop of the Possible
by Ruth Shagoury Hubbard
by Dan Gemeinhart
Scholastic, January 2015
ARC provided by the publisher
This review copy came to me packaged in an interesting way. In a heavy ziplock bag labeled "THREE THINGS YOU NEED TO READ The Honest Truth" were these items:
a postcard from Mount Rainier, a carabiner, and a package of tissues. Actually, even the ziplock bag wound up being important to the story.
This is the story of a kid named Mark, who has a best friend (who happens to be a girl but who is NOT a girlfriend) Jessie, and another best friend who is a dog named Beau. It is a story of the deep and powerful bond of friends.
Mark writes haiku in his notebook. He takes photographs with an old-school camera that uses film. This is the story about the healing power of art.
This is a story full of spirit and heart. It's a story that makes you rage at the unfairness of life and cheer for all the angels that take care of strangers every day in a million small ways.
This is a story of a boy who runs away from home to climb Mount Rainier. It's about the need for big goals so that you can prove to yourself and the world that you are still in control of your life. It's about surviving the storm so that you get a chance to glimpse the sun coming out from under the clouds at the other end of it.
I apologize for reviewing this book so far in advance of its release date. You will want to read it. It's Dan Gemeinhart's debut novel. We will all want to read more from him.
On a separate but related note, I am going to invite my students to "market" a book they've read this year using the "three things you need to read this book" idea. Once upon a time, that might have seemed like a trite way to ask students to respond to their reading. Now it's marketing. Hmm...
The Poem that Will Not End
by Joan Bransfield Graham
illustrated by Kyrsten Brooker
Two Lions, 2014
Like many new nonfiction picture books, this book has lots going on on every page. There is the main text -- the poem-story of how Ryan O'Brian's brain is taken over by rhythm and rhyme -- accompanied by the poems Ryan O'Brian writes as he goes through his day. There are detailed and entertaining illustrations that elaborate on Ryan O'Brian's adventures. At the end of the book, there is more information about the different forms (19 in all!) and the different voices (narrative, lyrical, mask, apostrophe, conversational) he uses in his poems.
So, in the same way that a multi-text nonfiction book can be read and re-read for many purposes, this is a book that readers can return to again and again. It will be interesting to share this book next to a nonfiction book in a minilesson in reading workshop on text structures. In writing workshop, I can share it as a resource for examples of poetry forms and voices. On Poetry Friday, we can be entertained by the main story, or any one of Ryan's poems.
Lots of possibilities here!
Last January, the book launch blog tour began with Sylvia at Poetry For Children.
Check the links at the bottom of her post for other blogs on the tour.
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by J. Patrick Lewis
illustrated by Maria Cristina Pritelli
Creative Editions, 2014
What is more fun than a whole shelf full of J. Patrick Lewis poetry books? An anthology with all of his best poems collected between its covers!
Knowing that Pat has published a shelf-full of poetry books, one wonders how on earth he picked these "bests" that can be found in such wide-ranging topics in the table of contents as Animals, People, Reading, Sports, Riddles and Epitaphs, Mother Nature, Places, and A Mix?
Inspired by his title, I have prepared a series of posts that will spotlight 2014 poetry books that feature poetry in science, nature, history, biography, and the imagination. Stay tuned!
Over at No Water River
, Renee reviewed Everything is a Poem last summer. For a peek at the illustrations and some of the poems, head on over there now.