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Check it Out is a blog about Books and life in a school library. Jone Rush MacCulloch is a library media specialist at Silver Star Elementary in Vancouver, WA.
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1. Changing Locations

You can find “Check It Out”  here now.

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2. Poetry Friday: “Things I Love Poem”

The Monday Poetry Stretch at The Miss Rumphius Effect featured writing a poem about the things you love.  Mine took shape in the form of a pantuom.

Early Morning

 things I love
early dawn, wake before sunrise
slipper shuffle to writing room
coffee in hand

early dawn, wake before sunrise
word play, journal time
coffee in hand
quiet blankets the house

 word play, journal time
old photograph invites a poem
quiet blankets the house
darkness gives way to gray

old photograph invites a poem
rain and wind strike up a chorus
darkness gives way to gray
grasp the pen and begin

rain and wind strike up a chorus
slipper shuffle to writing room
grasp the pen and begin
things I love

 Laurie Purdie Salas is rounding up the poetry today.  Enjoy.

Happy Reading.


6 Comments on Poetry Friday: “Things I Love Poem”, last added: 10/19/2009
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3. Off to New Jersey

Last year, my aunt’s friend encouraged us to have a two generation photography show at the Church House Art Gallery in the First Reformed Church, Pompton Plains, NJ.  Over tea and talk, my aunt and I decided to include a third generation, niece/great niece, Marcelle.  There are thirty photos on display.

Here it is that  day which I board a plane bound for the “Garden State.”  What it not known by my aunt is that Marcelle is arriving with me.  A weekend of “Rush MacCulloch” women.

It is possible that my computer won’t be out much. My aunt does not have Internet.  I have not gotten Internet service for my Blackberry.  I may be the only person in the world like that.

Journal  I have.  I will keep notes for posts when I return.

On another note, the beginning of the school year has been challenging.  Later start time means later get home time.  I am still adjusting.  Do you know how many posts I have written in my head?  It didn’t help that in September there were two deaths in our family and news of  family/ex-family that have terminal illnesses.  Brings you up short, makes you think about what is important.

Have a wonderful fall weekend.  Nominate those wonderfu, wonderful book.

Happy Reading.


1 Comments on Off to New Jersey, last added: 10/11/2009
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4. Poetry Friday: Emily Bronte

I discovered a great Emily Bronte poem in my newly acquired book, A Year Full of Poems by Oxford. Found the book in Canada at a used book store.  It was in great condition.  Wonderful compendium for poems each month.


Fall, leaves, fall: die, flowers away
Lengthen night and day
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.

–Emily Bronte

While I am not looking for drearier days, I do love the changing seasons. Kelly at Crossover is in charge of Poetry Friday today.  Thanks, Kelly.

My bookclub meets this Sunday. We are discussing the Guernsey Literary and Potatoe Peel Society.

Happy Friday.  Happy Reading.

1 Comments on Poetry Friday: Emily Bronte, last added: 10/4/2009
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5. Get Ready, Get Set, Nominate

Tomorrow, October 1, 2009 is a very big day in the Kidlitosphere.  Tomorrow is opening day to nominate your favorite titles in many categories for the 2009 CYBILS.

Last year, I was on the Nonfiction Picture Book committee. Oh my, what a grand experience.  This summer I was honored when contacted to be the organizer for this category.  The panelists and the judges will be announced soon and we are all looking forward to our work.

A title can only be nominated once in a category so be prepared with perhaps your top five  favorites.  You may only nominate one title per category. Be sure to nominate by October 15, 2009.  That’s when nominations close.

Look here for updates.  On February 14, 2010, the winners will be announced.

Happy Reading.


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6. Non-fiction Monday: Constitution, Banned Book Week, and Bill of Rights

This is “Banned Book Week”. I love teaching about this week to fifth graders. It gives me an opportunity to tie in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights at a level of their understanding.

Today, I put lots of books on the tables for the students to examine and come up with a list of common traits. Of course, no one thought about books being challenged or banned. 

Then I asked for them to stand up if they had read some of the books: Bridge to Terabitha, The Goosebumps series, The Captain Underwear series, Harry Potter, etc. You get the drift.

Then we talked about that these books had all been challenged.  And it was here that I could book talk the following books:

From the “We the People” series, The Bill of Rights  by Michael Burgan.  It is a no frills, very factual explanation of the Bill of Rights, what they are and how they are formed.  Complete with maps, illustrations, photos, and great appendices, this is a great jumping off spot for the First Amendment.

The other book, We the People by Lynne Cheney, tells the story of the how the Constitution was written.  Cheney offers up quotes, great sources at the end of the book.  I think it gives a clear picture about how the founding fathers struggled.  Really great to use in the beginning of the school year as classrooms are establishing their rules and expectations. Greg Harlin illustrated the book.  He has done the painting for several of Cheney’s books.

It is always fun to see the faces on students regarding my own experiences with book challenges, with learning that the have a right to read but until they are 18, their parents can also tell them what not to read, and the surprise that some books are on a challenged list. 

The conversation today, provided a wonderful follow up to last weeks, “choosing a “good-fit” book since knowing what is appropriate for your family’s values and beliefs ties back to book selection.

Nonfiction Monday is hosted by Wendie’s Wanderings.  Head over and see what is happening in the world of nonfiction this week.

Get ready.  It is almost time to nominate for the CYBILS.  Nominations open October 1 and close October 15.  You can nominate one book per category. If the book has already received an nomination, be ready to nominate something else.

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7. Poetry Friday: Haiku Riddles

Tricia (The Miss Rumphius Effect) challenged us to write haiku riddles based on the book If Not for the Cat by Jack Prelutsky.  I shared that book on this blog a while back.

Here are two I wrote this week:

thin spaghetti legs
neck, limber long gathers fish
graceful in flight

grey scarf of dawn
weaves diamond dewdrops in, out
top fir boughs vanish


Do you know what they are?  Did you guess Blue Heron and Fog?  Lots of great poetry can be found at Susan Taylor Brown.

Happy Reading.


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8. Non-Fiction Monday: Night Sky

So last week a student came to me and asked, “Do you have a book with a camp for watching the total eclipse and a boy named Jack?”  I raised my eyebrows because it just did not sound familiar.  Asked my assistant and she didn’t have a clue.  Emailed the rest of the elementary library media specialists and sure enough a response, “Every Star a Soul by Wendy Mass”. Well it was sent to me and I read it on the out of town trip this weekend. 

I know what you are thinking. This is Nonfiction Monday not what MsMac read this weekend.  Well, this morning I perused the book fair which was magically put up in my absence last week. 

Lo and behold, Night Skyby Tammi Salzano jumped out at me.  What a perfect companion book for Every Star a Soul.

The 48 paged book is chock full of constellations, an explanation of the name and when to best see them in the sky.  Unlike H. A. Rey’s The Stars, Night Skyfeatures the constellations from actual photos with the lines drawn atop.  There is a list of the 10 brightest stars in the sky, a glossary, and other sky watching treasures.  And of course, the publishers added some “glow-in the -dark features.

Any stargazer is going want to get this book and use as a resource.  I wish I would have had it this past weekend as I looked at the Milky Way. (Where I was had very little light pollution.)

Title: Night Sky
Author: Tammi Salzano
Date Published: 2009
Pages: 48
Reading Level: Middle grades
Publisher: Tangerine Press
ISBN: 978-0-545-13832-1
Source of Book: Book Fair Display

It is almost time to nominate your favorite books to the CYBILS.  Panelists and judges for each category will be announced soon, very soon.

The third Kidlit Con will be happening in Washington, D.C. in October.  Organized by non other than Mother Reader, it should be fabulous.  I am soooo sorry not to be attending(family committments) More information is here.

Nonfiction Monday is hosted by Bookends. Thank you for letting others nknow about great nonfiction.

Happy Reading.


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9. Poetry Friday: Work Poem

The Poetry Stretch prompt at The Rumphius Effect was to write a poem about work.  Here is my contribution for the week:

Library Lady

library lady
what have you read lately?
need a book to take me places
library lady
do you have?
need a book to make me soar
library lady
what’s the book with a boy name Jack?
need it to write a report
library lady
why did my dog have to die
need a book to hug
library lady

Wild Rose Reader is hosting Poetry Friday.

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10. Non-Fiction Monday: Nic Bishop Butterflies and Moths

It’s getting time to think about those Cybils’ nominations for this year.  Nominations open next month for a limited time. 

Last year, Nic Bishop Frogswon in the  Nonfiction Picture Book category for the CYBILS. This is no surprise as his photos are luscious, intriguing and readers are left wondering how he  captured that shot.  If you go to his website, he explains the how to in detail and tells about some of his trickery.

So I will not be surprised if Nic Bishop Butterflies and Mothsis nominated.  This book is once again fabulously photographed.  His facts such as there are 1790,000 moths and butterflies species in the world, one  butterfly has a wingspan of almost a foot, and identifying the difference between moths and butterflies will fascinate the youngest readers. The photos support the text and I know my students will be pouring over this book for hours. I mean did you know the luna moth is mouthless?

BTW, it is not too late to become a CYBILS panelist or judge.  Please email cybils09 (at) gmail (dot) com and include the following:

  • subject line sez “cybils 09 judge”
  • include your name, blog name and URL
  • let us know your 1st and 2nd choice genres
  • would you prefer round 1 or round 2 judging?

You might want to read more about being a panelist or judge here.  I am heading up the Nonfiction Picture Book category so I will be looking for passionate bloggers about nonfiction.

Have you signed up for Kidlit Con 09?  It will be fabulous! Hosted by the fabulous Mother Reader in Washington, D.C.  I am not able to attend (sniff!)  But it’s shaping up to be a great event.  Visit here to sign-up.

Finally Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect is hosting Non-fiction Monday.

Happy Reading.


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11. Poetry Friday: Now by Prince Redcloud

I love the beginning of the school year and to me this poem, “Now” by Prince Redcloud says it best about the new year.

This poem can be found in Lasting Impressions by Shelley Harwayne, one of my all time favorites!  She has done so much to instill the love of literature and writing in students.


Close the bar-b-que
Close the sun
Close the home-run-games we won
Close the picnic
Close the pool
Close the summer
Open school

 –Prince Redcloud

Kelly (welcome back) at Crossover is hosting Poetry Friday today.  You might want to stop and read more poetry.

Happy reading.  Welcome to a new school year!


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12. Poetry Friday: Back to School

This week sitting in meetings has been the order of the day. Next week the students arrive.

I discovered this wonderful poem in Naomi Shihab Nye’s collection, This Same Sky, a Collection of Poems from Around the World:

The Pen
Take a pen in your uncertain fingers.
Trust, and be assured
That the whole world is a sky blue butterfly
And words are the nets to capture it.

–Muhammad al-Ghuzzi

Translated by May Jayusi and John Heath-Snubbs

We should all be fortunate to have students arrive thinking that words are the nets to capture the sky-blue butterflies.

ANNOUNCEMENT:  Do you blog about YA and Children’s books?  The CYBILS Awards are in their fourth year and are looking for judges and panelists for the myriad of categories.  If interested, you can find out more here

This yer I am the organizer of the Nonfiction Picture Book (NFPB).  Am excited to serve in this capacity.

Poetry Friday is over at Book Aunt. Thanks, Kate.


Happy Reading.


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13. Poetry Friday: News and Final Reflection on Reichhold’s Book

Writing and Enjoying Haikuby Jane Reichhold is a book chock full of goodness for anyone wanting to delve into this poetry form.  The remaining two chapters (only four in the book) are “Enjoying Haiku with Other” and “Using Your Haiku Skills in Related Poetry Forms”.

Chapter three covers attending poetry readings, getting work into magazines, and other ways to publish your work. 

Probably one of the coolest things I read and will share with not only my poetry kids but drama kids is four things you want your audience able to do:
1. hear
2. think
3. react or feel
4. understand
The reading of poems or saying lines in a manner that the audience gets it is one of the biggest challenges at elementary school.

 One great idea about organizing your haiku is to consider organizing by season and then by the categories or attributes of the seasons such as celestial, terrestrial, and livelihood.  Other ways is to do so alphabetically or chronologically.

Reichhold has several suggestions about creating little haiku books to give as gives.  One of my favorites was to recycle envelopes incorporating the envelope writing and stamps in the design of the book.  She suggests that when putting together a book to organize the poetry seasonally beginning with spring.

I found her section on teaching haiku in the schools to be very helpful and am excited to work my young writers:

-encourage students to use their senses and create images from them
-get them to think outside and beyond themselves (a big challenge)
-suggest that the try using 6-8 words to begin.
-provide first ors second lines and have the students come up with the original third line to start.
-display the haiku.

Reichhold writes about getting published and talks about finding on-line publishing.

This is my news.  My poem “Nirvana” was published on-line at Four and Twenty: A Short Form Poetry Journal.  Click on the shirts, p. 22.   Another poem, “Tatted Stories” will be featured on Sept 1.Both poems began as haiku.
I highly recommend Writng and Enjoying Haiku.  In fact, I may buy a second copy to have at school so I don’t have to carry mine back and forth. So glad I took the time with the book this summer.

Am back to school and next week will share a school-related poem.  More poetry goodness can be found at The Boy Reader.  He is featuring a book I adore, The City I Love  by Lee Bennett Hopkins.

Happy Reading.


1 Comments on Poetry Friday: News and Final Reflection on Reichhold’s Book, last added: 8/22/2009
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14. Poetry Friday: Book Study with Jane Reichhold

This is the ongoing book study I am doing with Jane Riechhold’s book, Writing and Enjoying Haiku.

Reichhold’s follows the twenty-four haiku techniques with a way to “actually get a haiku written.” I tried it this week with a previously written haiku. She suggests selecting a someone else’s, perhaps a style you like or a technique you admire and through this process you will revise it. I decided I had plenty of haiku for trying this idea.

The Process:

Take unlined paper and turn sideways: wider than tall

Left edge at the top, write the first line of the haiku, do the same in the middle of the paper for the second line and then at the bottom write the third line.

Work each line and come up with as many variations of the information by substituting nouns and verbs, relevant or not, Reichhold says” Let your inner self play with the words.” Do this for the first two lines.

Next look at the third line of the original haiku. Does is fit with what you have written? Do you have a better ending?

Get a clean sheet of paper and now write your own haiku from the sets of three lines. Try all combinations.

Reichhold goes on to state “listening to your inner self is the most vital thing you can do” and to save and review in the days and months to follow.

foamy ocean waves
lace pattern on wet sand
crab scuttles alone

This haiku originally appeared in May 2007. Here is how I have revised it.

Foamy ocean waves

wave foam
ocean foam
lace foam
foamy ocean crochet
ocean crochet

Lace pattern on wet sand

wet sand lace
sand lace
foam lace on sand
foam crochet

Crab scuttles alone

Solitary crab scuttles
hermit crab scuttles
ebb tide remnant
crab scampers

Revision 1:

ocean crochet
solitary crab scuttles
ebb tide remnant

Revision 2:

solitary crab scuttles
over foamy crochet
ebb tide remnant

This chapter ends with two extensive checklists for revision, over 84 suggestions! And it is followed by Bashp’s motto: Learn the rules, and then forget them.” But first learn the rules.”

Next week I will features ways to preserve your haiku, getting it published, and implications for teaching haiku in school.

Andi is hosting Poetry Friday at a wrung sponge. Find out what others are doing.

Happy Reading.


3 Comments on Poetry Friday: Book Study with Jane Reichhold, last added: 8/14/2009
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15. Poetry Friday A Day Early

 A ferry headed to Victoria, BC tomorrow, time with my college pals this weekend is the reason I am posting a day early. 

So enjoying Writing and Enjoying Haiku by Jane Reichhold.  A fabulous book on the instruction of haiku.  Today’s reflection is about one of the techniques from the last half of the list.

Techniques thirteen through twenty-four include some of my favorites to write: the “yugen” or the mystery, “sacredness in common things”, the paradox in which the haiku engages the reader and then leaves something to ponder further, and finding the divine in the common which tends to happen unconsciously.

My first blog post three years ago was based on a haiku prompt, the yugen. There is a photo with the haiku of a summer thundercloud.

messenger spirit
waving summertime greetings
twilight clouds gather

Today I read this and wonder if there is enough mystery or sacredness of common things within the haiku?  Are summer thunderclouds common enough? When I revised it for my print on demand book, Solace au Naturel, I revised it this way:

spirit orchestra
sky harp melodies ascend
heavenly bridges
diaphanous souls given
solace, vessel left behind

How could I revise it to make it stronger yet?

spirit orchestra
solace for diaphanous souls
vessels left behind


spirit orchestra
diaphanous souls
vessels left behind


twilight clouds
sky harp melodies bridge

Reichhold makes me rethink and revise. ( and I am going through all the haiku in Solace au Naturel to revise)  Perhaps revision is never completed. Next week I will share some from her “haiku revision check list”.

Poetry Friday Round-up is at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Thanks, Tricia.

BTW, Pam C. aka Mother Reader has opened up registration for the Third Annual Kidlit Con. It’s the weekend of October 16-18, 2009 in Washington, DC and promises to be a smashing event. More information here.

Happy Reading.


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16. Wangari’s Trees of Peace and the WCCPBA

I am thrilled that the Washington Children’s Choice Picture Book Award (WCCPBA) has several of the nonfiction books from last year’s CYBILS Nonfiction Picture Book nominee list.  It is a vast improvement over last year’s list.  Some one must have been listening.

Two titles on the list made our CYBILS short list. One is Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa, written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter.

I briefly mention the book last winter in my blog post about the CYBILS shortlist.  Never got around to fully sharing the book for Nonfiction Monday.

“Peopel fight over water, over food…we plant the seeds of peace.”–Wangari Maathai.  This quote is found in the back of the book. 

Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africais the story of Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan girl who went to America to school and upon returning home from her studies discovered that land stripped of its beautiful tree.  Wangari proceeded to make it her mission to revive the land.  She began in her own backyard and encouraged other women to do the same.  Eventually the “Green Belt Movement”  planted over 30 million trees.

Wangari’s work had such an impact that she was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2004 for her work.

Winter uses spare vocabulary and vivid acrylic painting in a folk style to depict this lovely story.  She includes an author’s note at the end of the story.   I am thrilled to share this book with students this coming year.

Title: Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa
Author: Jeanette Winter
Date Published: 2008
Pages: 32 pages
Reading Level: Ages 4-8
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books
ISBN-10: 0152065458
ISBN-13: 978-0152065454
Source of Book: Silver Star Library

Nonfiction Monday is hosted by Diane Chen at School Library Journal this week.  Head there for other great nonfiction titles.

Happy Reading.


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17. Poetry Friday: Summer Book Study for One

I am spending the summer with the book Writing and Enjoying Haiku by Jane Reichhold.   Reichhold’s written about twenty-four techniques to improve your haiku.  This week features the following techniques:

Using a Metaphor
Using a Simile
Using the Sketch or Shiki’s Shasei
Using Double Entendre for Double Meanings
Using Puns
Using Wordplays

Some interesting pieces of information were discovered in these techniques.  I was particularly fascinated by “Shiki’s Shasei.”  Shiki, a Japanese poet made it his mission to “depict a thing just as it is.”  He was not fond of the many common techniques used and he pointed overuse of the techniques by poets.  He loved simplicity, the telling it as he saw it. 

I read this as my husband I were traveling through the Columbia River Gorger early Thursday morning.  I decided to try the “sketch”:

early morning
sun on wide river

After reading this section, I think the key to writing haiku is to mix the techniques up and do not overuse any particular one.  In the end Shiki was guilty of what he accused others.

Good news:  I was informed today that two of my poems will be published in the August short form poetry journal, Four and Twenty.  One poem will be a “Featured Poem of the Week” and another will be in their monthly journal.

Poetry Friday is at Sylvia Vardell at Poetry For Children.

Happy Reading.


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18. Non-Fiction Monday: Yellow Star

Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy is a rare blend of poetry and memoir.  Roy has retold the story of aunt Sylvia, one of 12 children who survived the Lodz ghetto during World War II.  The story is broken up into five parts with a factual overview of each section. Then, Roy  brilliantly tells her aunt’s story in poetic free verse.  The book includes a timeline at the end.

Aunt Sylvia did not share her story with many for almost 50 years. Thankfully, she agreed to taped phone interviews which Roy used as the basis for the story.  She creates a strong first person character in  Sylvia as we see the invasion of Poland by the Germans through her eyes. 

Sylvia is just four at the story’s beginning. She is among the 270,000 Jews rounded up and put into the ghetto with barbed wire. At ten, Russians liberate the ghetto’s 800 survivors of which 12 are children.  She has seen it all the brutality, the need to hide in the cemetery with her father, and not allowed to be outside for four years, hiding in the cellar with other children.

In the final push to get all the Jewish people on the trains  to concentration camps, it is indeed a miracle that the children and their families survived the Lodz ghetto.

I have always been fascinated with the period of history.  It has been about two month’s but I keep coming back to a scene in which her father had her hide in the cemetery as he did not believe the Germans when they said would keep everyone safe.  This book is on the reader’s choice list for my state. I am looking forward to sharing it with my staff and students.  I am thankful that Jennifer Roy decided to honor here aunt by writing her story.  She almost didn’t, having avoided talking about the Holocaust for years.

Title: Yellow Star
Author: Jennifer Roy
Date Published: April 15, 2006Pages: 242 pages
Reading Level: Ages 9-12
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish ISBN-10: 076145277X
ISBN-13: 978-0761452775
Source of Book: Listened to audio book from public library.

Nonfiction Monday is rounded up at Wrapped in Foil today.

Authored by msmac. Hosted by Edublogs.

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19. Tuesday Tidbits: Five Great Finds at Bridget’s Auction

I noticed five great finds at the Bridget Zinn Auction this weekend:

David Macinnis Gill commented on his donation, an audio of his book Soul Enchilada.  If the audio book reaches a bid of $50.00, he will also throw in a signed copy of the book.

A first edition, signed by Maurice Sendak of Dear Mili by Wilhem Grimm  was just added.  This donation has been in the works for a while and just came through.

Another amazing selection of books with few bids is the “Texas Author Basket” Including The Underneath by Kathi Appelt, Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith, and Get Organized Without Losing It  by Janet Fox.

Have you been looking for a first edition signed copy of Wildside by Steven Gould?  It only has one bid.

Finally, can you believe there is an offer to critique a manuscript and some books that are still waiting for a first bid?  Susan Berger will critique 20 pages of a manuscript.  She also includes her books,  Jamie’s Dream and Earthquake.

We are in the final week of the Bridget Zinn Auction. Bidding closes at 11PM on Saturday, May 30, PST.

Happy Reading.


Authored by msmac. Hosted by Edublogs.

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20. What Was I Thinking? 48 Hour Reading Challenge, Revision Smackdown, and Bridget Zinn Fundraiser Update

48 Hour Reading Challenge

I signed up to participate in the “48 Hour Reading Challenge” from 7 PM Friday to 7 PM Sunday. My goal to read six of the 2010 Sasquatch Reader Award  and 2010 YRCA nominees. I forgot (until packing)that I would be out of town with friends all weekend.

Happy to say that yesterday was spent in the car for almost nine hours and I read.  I read four of the six (bolded and starred are ones read) books:

**The Return of the Killer Cat. Fine, Anne

Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything In It. Frazier, Sundee

**Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little. Gifford, Peggy

**Ten Ways to Make My Sister Disappear. Mazer, Norma Fox

**No Talking. Clements, Andrew

 Elijah of Buxton. Curtis, Christopher Paul

I could have started Elijah of Buxton and had planned to but then I saw my copy of Silksinger by Laini Taylor, started already and pleading to be read. So I rewarded myself by sticking my nose into its pages. Soon I was taken away with Whisper to find the city of Nazneen.  It total I read 559 pages which will pale in comparison to those who cleared their calendar to read.  But I tried and after two years of not participating due to conflict, I am happy that I could try once more.

Now rereading the rules, I did not check in. I did not blog. I read on Sunday.  Well, there is next year!!

Summer Revision Smackdown

Last weekend I was invited to join the Summer Revision Smackdown at Holly Cupala.  So last weekdid I state my goals? Did I do any revising?  No and only in my head.  Doubt that counts for anything. So thank goodness for a new week! 

My revision goals this week:

To make the changes based on our May writer’s critique group meeting.

To revise at least two haiku to submit for publication.

Bridget Zinn Fund Update

We raised $16,000 with the two auctions (one local and the on-line). Checks are arriving in the mail daily. The Paypal is operational (and taking a fee, bleh!) 

If you have not heard from me, please contact me at macrush53 at yahoo dot com.  I was gone for the weekend. Tonight’s plan?  To go into the “spinning room” to email folks and catch up on all things auction.

Authored by msmac. Hosted by Edublogs.

1 Comments on What Was I Thinking? 48 Hour Reading Challenge, Revision Smackdown, and Bridget Zinn Fundraiser Update, last added: 6/9/2009
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21. Tuesday Tidbits: Reading Challenge and Returning Library Books

Yearlong Reading Challenge

This year I encouraged students to keep track of their reading hours.  The challenge was to read 3500 hours during the year. And if they did reach goal the winning classroom could dress me up as a character of their choice.

It is interesting to see how individual teachers approach this challenge.  Some with real vigor and encouragement. Others not so much.  Some tie it in with their classroom reading time recording. Others let students take responsibility.

This year the school recorded 2650 hours of reading.  Just shy of the goal.  Three classes recorded over 100 hours, two classes recorded over 200 hours and three classes recorded over 300 hours.  Among those three competition was fierce.

Funny how what looks great on paper doesn’t necessarily translate into practical application.  I get lost in the minutia of writing out individual stars for students who read a certain amount of hours.  I stopped the idea of building a Lego castle based on hours years ago.  But what I notice is that students would track their hours just because.  And I believe that is my ultimate goal.  And yesterday when I announced that the winning three classrooms would get popsicles for their efforts, the response was amazing.  One girl’s parents wrote that their daughter had to go to the dentist and hope would not miss getting a popsicle.  Another boy, a 5th grader, was so excited, his mother emailed the teacher wondering what she had to buy for the class not knowing that MsMac was purchasing.  Sometimes it is the little things.

As a thank you for their effort, I donated $30.00 to the Humane Society.  We have a “Read to the Dog” program.  Lisa, a Humane Society volunteer and her dog, Chance come weekly and listen to kids read. As a thank you to them, we collect food and supplies for the Humane Society.  I am thinking perhaps next year a donation to the Humane Society will be the ”prize” for the reading challenge. 

Returning Library Books

Library books were due June 5.  Yesterday I called almost 90 parents to remind their child that the book needed to be returned or the fine paid.  Fifth grade will suffer the most if fines are not paid.  Imagine next fall, excited to be a middle schoolers. Activities to participate in and then be told, “You have a library fine.” Some fifth graders do not want to imagine this. 

As I write this post, a fifth grader is in the library to read and finish his book, the last thirty pages.  Another fifth grader told my assistant, “please come back, I have 10 pages left.”  I guess there can be worst things in the world than getting a library book returned.

Then there are the students who do not have the financial means to pay for lost books.  Today two brothers came in with four books from their home libraries.  The books are slightly rag tagged but the pride in the two that they had taken responsibility was priceless. 

I think that’s the lesson here, take responsibility.  Do the right thing.  Which is exactly what another fifth grader did; paid up on a fine from fourth grade.  Last year her denied losing the book.  This year he went with “I already paid.” (no record).  In the end he paid and announced to me that he had signed up for the summer reading program at his grandma’s library.  Hooray!

Summer might be hit and miss with Tuesday Tidbits. Have a wonderful summer and read!


Authored by msmac. Hosted by Edublogs.

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22. Poetry Friday: Acrostic Disneyland

Just returned from  vacation with daughter’s family.  We traveled to Disneyland. Thanks to Tricia I captured some of the experience.

Dance toward the castle with granddaughter
Infectious delight and wonderment
Seen on the face of a four year old
Not to be missed
Exuberance, the word of the day
Yesterday I was that child
Let Grandmother hold my hand
As we explored this place together
Never forgotten
Dream wishes granted

Tabatha A. Yeatts is hosting Poetry Friday.  Hop over to see what others are offering today.

Authored by msmac. Hosted by Edublogs.

0 Comments on Poetry Friday: Acrostic Disneyland as of 7/4/2009 12:08:00 AM
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23. Book Study: Writing and Enjoying Haiku by Jane Reichhold

I am doing my own book study. I picked up Jane Reichhold’s book which has sat on my book shelf for the last two years.  I have frequently thumb through it reading snippets. This summer, however, I decided to make it my focus.  My goal is sharing what I have learned and thought about each week until I return to school or finish the book.

In the opening pages of Writing and Enjoying Haiku, the author states, “I want this book to be your book –with sentences underlined, comments written in margins, your poems on fly leaves…” It is such an invitation to make it your personal class with the author.  I love that!  It reminds me of the work I did in Denver last winter, the idea to really be thinking about your reading and make notes as you read.  So along with the book I have my pen, sticky notes and highlighter.

Five favorite phrases, sentences, etc underline in the this weeks’ reading (pages1-52, which cover chapters one and part of two):

“Haiku acts as a door to our past.”  In writing haiku, the focus is on the here and now.  In reading, haiku, you open the door once again to the past.

For me, the way I live in order to be prepared to receive haiku inspiration is more valuable than the poems I finally do write…(…I do believe they are given as gifts)…”  This affirms my own thinking about writing, that when a poem comes to me so effortlessly, I have received a gift.  And I must work at being aware, nonjudgmental, and living with simplicity. The author expands on these and others.

“Haiku is based on what the author observes.”  In re-reading my haiku, I can see times when I have not observed the outside world but have gone in the direction of the telling others about what they think, feel, believe.  I  strive to put away the personal pronouns and just report what is there.

“Poetry is what happens between the words.”  In haiku those spaces are short, the brevity of the form creates a real need to create visual images rapidly.  Each reader bring their own experience to the experience; what I see as I read maybe totally different from your picture.

“Haiku should not be a run-on sentence or sound like a complete sentence with each line fitting neatly into the next.”  The reading I did this week talked a lot about going beyond the Americanized 5-7-5 form of Haiku.  There is an in-depth explanation about the language differences between Japanese and English which can change a writer’s perspective about haiku.  I have been fighting the need to use the 5-7-5 pattern for years.  It comes naturally most days (partly because it was so ingrained in me). It is not necessary.  What need to have is to have two distinct sections in the haiku.

Just as I enede my reading for the week, Reinhhold listed 6 rules for writing haiku:

1. Write in 3 lines, short, long, short without counting syllables.
2. Have a fragment and a phrase.
3. Have an element of nature.
4. Use present tense verbs.
5. Avoid capitals and punctuation.
6. Avoid rhymes.

The first two are rules that I know but will look closely at my own work.  They are two areas that need improvement.

The next section of the book shares twenty-four valuable techniques. I will divide and share the techniques over the coming weeks.

Poetry Friday is being held at Jama Rattigans’ Alphabet Soup.

Happy Reading.


Authored by msmac. Hosted by Edublogs.

1 Comments on Book Study: Writing and Enjoying Haiku by Jane Reichhold, last added: 7/10/2009
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24. Non-Fiction Monday: Shape

My  four and a half year old grand-daughter visited on Saturday.  It was a perfect day for sitting on the patio swing and reading books together. It marked the first time she sat and listened to not just one book but several.  Thank goodness for the stack of picture books received from publishers.

Among the books I read was Shape by David Goodman and Zoe Miller.  The bold shape filled cover with the letters slightly raised just invites the reader to peek inside. 

Shapes of all kinds and ways to create shapes are described in the book.  My favorite was the way to make a star with fingers.  We had to wait for grandpa to return home to do it though.

The book includes both 2-D and 3-D shapes.  It also covers tessellation, patterns and symmetry. Granddaughter and I spent a lot of time on this book.  Text is minimal with the focus on visual presentation.  We poured over the pages looking for the specified shape.  After the book, granddaughter wanted scissors to make her own shapes.

Miller and Goodman have a fun blog about shapes.  This book is a winner for young and old. I enjoyed its creative presentation

Title: Shape
Author: David Goodman and Zoe Miller
Date Published: 2009
Pages: unpaged
Reading Level: Ages 4-8
Publisher: Abrams Books
ISBN: 978-1-85437-779-1
Source of Book: Sent by publisher.

In Need of Chocolate is hosting Non-fiction Monday today. Head over and find out what others are reading.

Authored by msmac. Hosted by Edublogs.

1 Comments on Non-Fiction Monday: Shape, last added: 7/13/2009
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25. Poetry Friday: Writing and Enjoying Haiku by Jane Reichhold

In Writing and Enjoying Haiku (my book study for the summer), Jane Reichhold writes about 24 techniques to consider when writing.  I am going look at 6 per week over the next four weeks, applying them to my own haiku.  Two weeks ago, I introduced the book.

The first six:

1. Technique of Comparison: looking for how two different things look similar to create a single event.
2. Technique of Contrast: creating opposites within the three lines creates excitement.
3. Technique of Association: “how different things relate or come together”, a Zen term for it is “oneness”.
4. Technique of the Riddle: probably the oldest of the poetic techniques, the trick is to state as in puzzling terms as possible.
5. Technique of Sense-switching: speak of the sense of one thing and then switch to a different sense organ, also called “synesthesia”.
6. Technique of Narrowing the Focus: !st line, wide angle, 2nd line, normal lens, and 3rd line zoom in close up.

Based on the above techniques, I see ways to revise the following haiku to create a stronger piece.

Original Draft

morning confession
cacophony of crows
clamor in treetops
prayer litany: caw-caw-caw
solitude punctuated

Draft Two using the Technique of Narrowing the Focus:

clamor in treetops
cacophony of crows

Draft Three using the Technique of Sense-switching:

treetop clamor
cacophony of crows
morning tea sipped

Draft Four using the Technique of Contrasts:

treetop clamor
cacophony of crows

I like these drafts and feel that the haiku packs more punch as a result.  I have to wonder if it also has to do with cutting words.

Maybe you will try some haiku revision. Let me know if you do.  For me, my biggest challenge in haiku revision is to move away form the 5-7-5 pattern. 

A list of participants for Poetry Friday is over at A Year of Reading, hosted my Mary Lee! Thanks for taking some of your summertime relaxation to host us!

Happy Reading.


Authored by msmac. Hosted by Edublogs.

4 Comments on Poetry Friday: Writing and Enjoying Haiku by Jane Reichhold, last added: 7/26/2009
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