Thursday, August 10, 2017

My #pb10for10 list about Relationships

I'm so excited to be part of a new collaborative blog, Classroom Communities!  I hope you've had a chance to read the launch month of post by some fantastic educators!  There are tidbits to help you reflect, try something new and some personal stories that will tug at your heart.

When I was asked to join this project I decided to do a little digging to help my thinking about our focus.  Our byline is - Building Relationships, Empowering Learners.  I am a word nerd sometimes and headed right to  What do these four words mean?

Building - anything built or constructed

Relationships - an emotional or other connection between people

Empowering - to give power or authority to;to enable or permit

Learners - a person who is learning;the act or process of acquiring knowledge or skill

I have my favorite books for launching reading workshop, writing workshop, math workshop and routines/behaviors.  I began to wonder if I had books to help support building relationships and this is what I not particular order.  Instead of telling a summary of each book, I tried to highlight aspects of relationships in each.  It's my intent to use these books in launching conversations that help build relationships for my new learners in an effort to empower them while spending our year together.  

The Sandwich Swap by Kelly DiPucchio begins with two friends who love many things the same except their lunch.  Their lunch differences cause quite a stir and divide between the girls.  They have the courage to try different lunches and realize autonomy is a positive thing.

Ruby in Her Own Time by Jonathan Emmett is a story about a duck family with ducklings on the way.  Four strong and able ducklings are born with one, Ruby taking her time to join the world.  Once Ruby joins the world she takes that same pace to grow and learn and succeeds.

The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson takes a look at physical and emotional barriers  and how a simple question can open doors.  The girls find a way to spend time with each other and respect those barriers.

Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard has a very grumpy character who doesn't really want  to interact with others.  However, his friends think differently and decide to join him on his walk; it's a way to spend time with him.  The walk turns into a little simon says in a way and changes one grump to happy.

The Monster Next Door by David Soman begins with two characters copying each other by doing and saying silly things.  However, those silly things get a bit carried away and feelings are hurt.  You'll want to read this one to see how things get mended between a boy and a monster.

Matthew and Tilly by Rebecca C Jones is another story that starts out with friends doing everything together but then they get tired of each other.  I think it's important we model this as a part of relationships.  Matthew and Tilly play independently but realize it isn't as joyful.  

Rulers of the Playground by Joseph Kuefler creates a story where a king and queen each take over the school playground.  The playground gets divided and there are things to be conquered which leads to an empty playground.  The king and queen step down returning the playground to a happy ever after place to be.

Boy Plus Bot by Ame Dyckman begins with an injured character and the care provided by another based on what he would want done to him.  These things don't necessarily work until some guidance is offered for what is best for someone who is different.  Readers will enjoy how the two characters find common ground.

Boo Hoo Bird by Jeremy Tankard is a story about support and efforts to help.  It's a story that builds upon itself with each new character and idea of support.  The characters are full of cooperation and willingness.

The Girl Who Made Mistakes by Mark Pett is about a girl who is focused and successful until one day she makes her first mistake.  With care and support and acceptance she and her community are able to be healthier.

Picture Book 10 for 10 is Here with How To

It's going to be a great day, friends and incase you forgot how to participate in sharing your current top 10, must have picture books..
  1. Grab a Badge (I like to select the image and save image as...)
  2. Join the #pb10for10 Google Community
  3. Choose Your Favorites:  All you need to do is choose ten picture books you cannot live without for whatever reason.  In the first days of this event, everyone shared their ten very favorite titles.  This still works.  You will notice, however, that many past participants choose some type of theme to determine their selections.  We'll leave this up to you.
  4. Narrow Your List to Ten:  It isn't easy, is it?  We've seen some crafty ways to get around that number, but really ten is plenty. 
  5. Write Your August 10th Post:  Write a post about the ten books you cannot live without.  Share your post on August 10th and link it to the Picture Book 10 for 10 Community.  
  6. No Blog?  No Problem:  If you don't have a blog, this might be the perfect time to start one --- or now with the Google Community it is quite easy to just post your favorites directly into the community without a blog.  We will also be tweeting from the #pb10for10 hashtag.
  7. Comment:  On August 10th (and maybe for a week --- there are a lot of posts) take some time to read posts from other participants.  Please comment on at least three.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Developing Natural Curiosity Through Project Based Learning

A few years ago I took a week long course on project based learning and had the opportunity to hear Dana Laur speak.  When I saw she had a new book out; Developing Natural Curiosity Through Project Based Learning focusing on K - 2, I knew I wanted to hear more from her.  If you are trying to find something to anchor your work with students to their interests, their passions, and their wonderings then this book is for you.  I'm afraid we've gotten away from listening to student's voices first and jump right to content units of study using standards.  Some other great features in this text are the five stages for finding solutions; authentic challenge and purpose, information and prototyping, perspective and point of view, actions and consequences, and considerations and conclusions.  There's a great deal of information guiding the reader through these stages to always include the child and foster their growth. Bloom's taxonomy is heavily discussed and modeled through the book.  There's a whole chapter devoted to authentic reading and writing opportunities to support project learning.  Yes, skills are taught but not in isolation and with a purpose.  

This book did take me a bit of time to get through.  It's small in size and font with lots of text.  There are some examples to help you visualize what the content could look like in a classroom.  

These are nudges I found to try within my own work.
- spend time asking students what they want to learn, I use to do this

- look for local connections to share our learning with

- allow moments of play to listen for the students natural curiosities

- weave projects throughout the day

- take each stage of the planning one step at a time

Here are some quotes that are sticking with me and might interest you in looking at this book more.

"This approach moves us from a standards-based curriculum for passive learners to a standards-based curriculum for problem-solvers, question-askers, and active participants in their real world."

"Authentic challenges tap into what is relevant to our children in their present world and what intrinsically motivates them."

"Authentic projects end with final products that are designed for use somewhere other than the classroom."

"The classroom community supports the creativity and innovation promoted in an authentic project approach."

"If you view your entire teaching day as one full opportunity to extend a learning experience, rather than as a segmented one, it increases the depth in which your learners delve into an authentic learning experience."

"Our young learners flourish in environments that foster their natural curiosity and build their skills while giving them autonomy, safety, and flexibility."

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Happy Dreamer

Happy Dreamer
Author and Illustrator Peter H Reynolds
review copy from public library

I know this book has been talked about a lot but I thought just in case someone didn't know about it, I would share it today.  When we want to embrace being ourselves, accepting differences, and trying out best then readers can count on Peter H Reynolds.  Happy Dreamer brings all those concepts together in one text.  As, I read the text I found myself thinking of different people I know.  I have a creative child and the text on these two pages should be framed in our house for me to remember to understand.

"I have so many dreams it can get messy.  CREATIVE CHAOS.

Cleaning up hides my treasurers.

If you make me, I will put my things way.  But then there is less ME to show."

The book begins with acknowledging we all have lots of things going on inside our head.  He describes different kinds of dreamers and when people can dream in the beginning.  Then my heart sank when this dreamer of a character feels boxed in and alone.  I don't want to box others in.  There's a two page spread that opens up to four pages with 48 different kinds of dreamers.  I love all the possibilities shared!  Are you a sunny dreamer, nature happy, or move happy dreamer?

I think this will be a great opening to discuss learning styles and preferences.  I also think, I might read it midway through my Parent Information Night as I talk about different learners and how parents will see different levels of work within our classroom.  

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Marta! Big and Small

Marta! Big and Small 
Author Jen Arena
Illustrated by Angela Dominquez
review copy from public library

What a delightful book and I was learning so many things!  Marta! Big and Small is listed as a bilingual read aloud in the blurb on the book jacket.  This is my first bilingual book to read that put learning Spanish words within the context of a story.  I've read books that included words from another language but in a format where in this case the Spanish word and immediately followed with text to show what that means in English is wonderful.  For example; "To an elephant, Marta is pequena.  Small, very small."  Marta has lots of animal friends and sometimes acts like her animal friends.  I love the last page where she has a sketchbook with drawings of her friends.  I personally learned a lot by reading this book and think students will really enjoy it.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Life is but a...Dream

Life is but a...Dream
author and illustrator Matthew Cordell
review copy from local library

At first I thought Life is but a ... Dream would be the perfect gift to give to new parents and it is but half way through the book I began pondering reading it at my Parent Information Night.  The book begins with questions and the wonder of a new life; the hopes parents, family, and friends think of.  That line of thinking continues but the world gets bigger and this is where I think teachers fit in, "I dream you were away from us, exploring unknown places."  The book continues with opportunities, worries, and growth we think about when we raise or work with little ones.  As the dream ends and the book ends the reader is presented with three wondering questions.  Questions that make us realize while we can guide and help they have their own journey to follow.  

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Princess Cora and the Crocodile

Author Laura Amy Schlitz
Illustrator Brian Floca
Candlewick Press, 2017
review copy provided by the publisher

I shut Princess Cora and the Crocodile and realized I want every student in my room to read this and every parent.  The student part is easy, it could be a read aloud.  However, the parent part could be tricky.  In the past during the winter months I held a family book group event in the evening, this book might just be a great book to use for that event.

Princess Cora works hard every day learning and training to be a princess.  She spends long hours with her nanny, mother and father working on different aspects of being a princess.  She must be clean all the time so she takes baths three times a day.  She must be physically fit so she jump roped five hundred times.  She had to read books that were not interesting and old.  One day she can't take it any more and sends a request to her fairy godmother for help because no one listens to her.  

The next morning she wakes up to a cardboard box in her room with a crocodile inside it!  The crocodile is here to help her.  He dresses up as Cora and tries to do her normal day while Cora goes out exploring the outside; getting dirty, built a fort, waded in the stream.  Let's just say the plan doesn't work out easily for the crocodile or Cora's caregivers.  When Cora returns she's quite worried when the crocodile shares how his day went.  

She rushes to her nanny, mother, and father to tend to them and help them. Over dinner Cora shares her true feelings about her training and makes requests to change her days.  She wants more book choice, time to explore, and time to rest.  Don't we all need these three things.

As I'm writing and thinking about a family book group night, I'm thinking we'll have to serve cream puffs.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


written by Randi Zuckerberg
illustrated by Joe Berger
Harper, 2013
review copy from public library

I was looking at the new book shelf in our quaint little public library and across the room on a shelf Dot. started calling my name.  You see, I like polka dots and this is a perfect example of how a book cover can entice a reader.  I asked Mr. George my favorite public librarian about the book and he couldn't stop gushing about it.  I kept wondering, How did I miss this title?

Dot loves technology.  With two to five word sentences she shows the reader all the things she can do; surf, swipe, tweet, tap, and touch are a few examples.  After much technology doing,  Dot gets all talked out and is tired.  Her Mom sends her out the door, "Time to REBOOT!  RECHARGE!  RESTART!"  I fell in love with Mom right there.  Dot perks up with a smile when she gets outside with sunshine and remembers.  Here's the interesting twist.  All the things she shows the reader she can do with technology she does outside.  For example; she swipes when she finger paints!  The ending is the best because Joe Berger the illustrator shows the reader what balance looks like.  I think you'll like what he did.

Monday, July 17, 2017

But Why Does It Work?

written by Russell, Shifter, Kasman, Bastable, Higgins
Heinemann, 2017

But Why Does It Work? Mathematical Argument in the Elementary Classroom has a great title but I found it a little misleading.  I think the word, intermediate needs to be inserted before elementary.  There is much goodness in this book for third, fourth, and fifth teachers.  I love reading about teaching mathematics but found this book a bit challenging.  It's written with a bit more technical wording and research sitings.  If you are familiar with Number Talks, I think this is a nice extension  to that body of work.  I've never heard the phrase "productive lingering" and boy did I fall in love with it.  

These are nudges I found to try within my own work.
- encourage and allow productive lingering
- engage in mathematical argument by noticing patterns 
- encourage describing what they notice
- model and guide making conjectures
- work on representing patterns observed with math tools and resources

Here are some quotes that are sticking with me and might interest you in looking at this book mor

"Lingering" on students' ideas about important mathematics content had, they asserted, enabled their students to engage with mathematical ideas fundamental to their study of numbers and operations."

"Teachers found that after developing the habits of noticing patterns and regularities, students extended those habits to regular math instruction as they articulated conjectures about the mathematics they were studying."

"Through these explorations, students develop a stronger sense of how the number system works with different operations."

"By seeing the same idea represented in different forms, students develop a deeper understanding of the mathematical abstractions embodied in their conjecture."

"In sharing mathematical authority, a teacher must be open to the prospect of following students' thoughts as they unfold, knowing that sometimes these ideas could lead to a faulty conjecture or a winding route to the expected destination."

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Go sleep in your own bed!

written by Candace Fleming 
illustrated by Lori Nichols
Schwartz and Wade Books, 2017
review copy from public library

Go sleep in your own bed! is another fun book by Candace Fleming.  It's night time on the farm and the animals are all a jumble at bed time.  Pig just wants to go to bed but can't because Cow is there sleeping.  So Pig is firm and sends Cow to his own bed which is occupied by Hen.  The story continues in a similar pattern for horse, sheep, dog, and cat.  This would make a great choral reading with the repetitive phrase, "Go sleep in your own bed!"  There's some rich vocabulary to describe how each animal travels through the farm yard; tromped, straggled, and stumbled are a few examples.  Make sure you don't ignore the facial expressions for the each animal.  Lori Nicholas helps the characters show emotions and reactions with little details.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

the Friend Ship

written by Kat Yeh
illustrated by Chuck Groenink
Disney - Hyperion, 2016
review copy from public library

the Friend Ship is a charming story about a hedgehog who is feeling lonely.  She over hears someone is the forest talking about her and says she just needs to look for friendship.  I hope you've picked up on the play of words and incase you didn't, hedgehog jumps right up and imagines a ship labeled with masts, stern, topsail, and friends.  Hedgehog must own this ship because she sets off sailing and takes a journey where friends join her at various places.    Each friend has a reason to join the Friend Ship.  A few days later, surrounded by many animals hedgehog begins to feel lonely again.  Her friends offer words of encouragement and elephant helps her see what has been in front of her all the time.  The illustrations are done in natural/neutral tones creating a warm soft feeling for these characters.

I think this would make a great #classroombookaday - I'd like to hear my students discuss the author's message.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Picture Book 10 for 10 is just One Month AWAY!

Dear Cathy,

I'm so excited today!  It's July 10th which means August is coming up next and on August 10th we are lucky to host Picture Book 10 for 10.  I really should go back and reread your book, More than Guided Reading.  I remember writing my initial thoughts as a blogpost and discovering you left me a comment.  Talk about being starstruck!  Then you wanted to know some of my must have picture books to use in my classroom and I think that brought me anxiety, uncertainty, butterflies in my stomach.  We started chatting via Twitter and all of a sudden a little flake of an idea turned into a snowball rolling down a mountain and we were co-hosting a social media event together.

Now Cathy, I am a bit worried this year.  I've been spying on you a little bit and have noticed you are out and about.  You are on the coast and then you are getting coffee and then you are shopping for books without me.  It looks like you are zipping and zooming around stopping here and there.  I am not doing those things right now.  I'm back home here in Ohio holding down the fort.  I have a focus for my picture book sharing this year.  I purchased two new books.  I'm looking through resources for some titles to add to my list, I need 8 more.  I might even duck into my classroom to glance over the books I already own.  I really can't wait for you to see my list because it's matching up to another small project I'm collaborating on, thanks to Tony Keefer.  I like how I wrote small project, I'm pretty sure that's what Tony said in his direct tweet.  

So, Cathy I just want to remind you of the details for our #pb10for10 event.
  1. Grab a Badge (I like to select the image and save image as...)
  2. Join the #pb10for10 Google Community
  3. Choose Your Favorites:  All you need to do is choose ten picture books you cannot live without for whatever reason.  In the first days of this event, everyone shared their ten very favorite titles.  This still works.  You will notice, however, that many past participants choose some type of theme to determine their selections.  We'll leave this up to you.
  4. Narrow Your List to Ten:  It isn't easy, is it?  We've seen some crafty ways to get around that number, but really ten is plenty. 
  5. Write Your August 10th Post:  Write a post about the ten books you cannot live without.  Share your post on August 10th and link it to the Picture Book 10 for 10 Community.  
  6. No Blog?  No Problem:  If you don't have a blog, this might be the perfect time to start one --- or now with the Google Community it is quite easy to just post your favorites directly into the community without a blog.  We will also be tweeting from the #pb10for10 hashtag.
  7. Comment:  On August 10th (and maybe for a week --- there are a lot of posts) take some time to read posts from other participants.  Please comment on at least three.
Hurry Home Cathy!  You've got some work ahead of you!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Mae and June and the Wonder Wheel

written by Charise Mericle Harper
illustrated by Ashley Spires
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017
review copy from public library

I was excited to see Charise Mericle Harper of the Just Grace series has a new book written for transitional readers.  June and her dog Sammy are trying to stay away from June's older sister Isabella, she's a teenager now and doesn't like to play anymore.  Together they decide their next mission will be to find a new friend to play with and luckily new neighbors are moving in next door.  In the meantime Grandma Penny sends a gift, a wonder wheel to put together.  Chapter 8 is all about building the wonder wheel and the different categories they will inquire about each week.  June and Sammy watch the new neighbors a lot and hope she, Mae will be fun to play with.  Unfortunately, at school Mae is spending time getting to know other new friends.  The story is about fitting in, making new friends, and being a good friend.  It's not always easy making new friends and I love how June could share her Wonder Wheel with Mae; giving them something in common to start a friendship with.  I hope there will be more  Mae and June stories coming.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Pest, Duck, Jan Thomas - Perfect Combinations!

written and illustrated by Jan Thomas
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Co, 2017
review copies from public library

I knew when I saw these two new titles by Jan Thomas at our public library, I would immediately fall in love.  I found myself not reading her books in second grade as much because they are simpler. I missed the love and enjoyment my kindergarteners had with her titles.  I was surprised when I dabbled in #classroombookoftheday at the end of the year that my students had missed listening to Jan Thomas books in kindergarten and in first grade.  We read my collection and joy just radiated with belly laughter.  I can't wait to add these titles to my collection and include them in a daily read aloud at the end of our day.

There's a PEST in the Garden! is filled with voice, character energy, and humor.  There's a pest in the garden eating the crops that have started growing.  Dog, donkey, and sheep try to predict what Pest will eat next while Duck is warning them it could be the turnips!  Pest eats the item not predicted and Duck comes up with a plan to save his turnips.  I can't give it away but let's just say the new garden has a fence to avoid the Pests.  Did you notice Pest went to Pests?  The illustrations are filled with information to help tell this story.

Leave it up to Duck to be worried something is chasing him and require help from his friends.  Each friend listens to the clues and imagines an unfriendly creature.  Thankfully, Dog recognizes the creature and the friends come to find out the creature is trying to return a turnip to Duck!  The creature drops an acorn and gets scared when the friends try to chase him to return it.  This book as with all of Jan Thomas books are filled with voice, character energy, and humor.  

In both books, carefully notice the end pages before and after reading the text.  Cute connections once you've read the story.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Every Child a Super Reader

I'm so excited to study and work with the text, Every Child a Super Reader this upcoming school year through The Literacy Connection. (stayed tuned for updated information this year at  I've heard both authors Pam Allyn and Ernest Morrell speak at different conference and I always walk away feeling inspired in my work and inspired to be a better person.  

It makes me sad to admit, I've had students leave my classroom not loving or very engaged with reading and I can honestly say I've given it my best shot with each one.  I've found books of interest and even written simple books about something they like.  I've been flexible in the different types of reading and genres they can read.  I've modeled being a reader and when we do find a reading hook, I get more books by the author or in the series.  With all this effort, I still feel sad I just couldn't hook that child.  But what if...they understood more about being a reader?  What if they experienced and saw modeled strengths of a super reader?  Pam and Ernest have outlined and shared  those strengths with readers; belonging, curiosity, friendship, kindness, confidence, courage, and hope.  

Each strength has it's own chapter and begins with examples and defining the strength as a reader.  Ideas are shared for promoting this strength in your classroom.  There's a focus lesson with an action students can take for the specific strength being discussed.  Then there's a close reading lesson and directions to think through the specific strength using a mentor text.  There are suggestions for using technology with each strength and ideas to help families promote the super reader strengths at home.  

For teachers who love some details for instruction or ways to apply what they have read the last third of the book is just for you.  Concrete examples for different reading structures are discussed.   There are language stems to help discussions and each strength is described in the different reading structures and examples for what each strength looks like.  For example; in reading about reading partners courage looks like this; I work with different people in my class - even if they're not my best friends.  I could go on and on about the valuable ideas but will be sharing more about this text as we work through it this year.  

I would like to share with you another invaluable component of this text, picture book lists for each strength gathered in collections of K - 2, 3 - 5, and 6 - 8.  

These are nudges I found to try within my own work.

- throughout the year show students how 7 strengths are apparent in our/their work as readers
- focus more on building a social community around reading within our classroom
- make heart maps earlier in the year to get to know children and not just in a poetry unit
- celebrate small reading steps and more often with my readers
- explore

Here are some quotes that are sticking with me and might interest you in looking at this book more.

"Super reading impacts every aspect of a child's life: the personal, social, academic, and civic."

"The child who reads gains comfort, community and connection to the wider world."

"The lack of questions in classrooms is a direct consequence of children's disengagement from reading, writing, and a love of learning."

"Choice is crucial.  It is important to give children the agency to discover their interests, likes, and dislikes as readers in order to build their identities as readers."

"Stamina is the most underrated yet crucial element of how super readers build their muscles."

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Double or Nothing with the Two and Only Kelly Twins

written by Johanna Hurwitz
illustrated by Tuesday Mourning
Candlewick Press, 2017
review copy from public library

I was so excited to see Johanna Hurwitz has a new book out.  She's been an author I've enjoyed since I started teaching for books that are realistic and connect to readers.  Double of Nothing with the Two and only Kelly Twins is adorable and explores issues of sameness, being different, and lice.  Arlene and Ilene are identical twins.  They look alike, dress alike, and discover they like different things.  However, they do everything together until a sleepover with another set of twins or do not do everything together.  To Arlene and Ilene's surprise this sleepover is planned to be at two different houses.  The girls are splitting up and readers wonder and push through his chapter to see if they survive.  If you've experienced lice in your home or your classroom you know it's not an easy thing take care of mentally deal with.  I enjoyed reading the chapter about how the girls and their friends with the help of their school dealt with lice.  I think it could help someone after reading this.  While this is a transitional reader there aren't pictures or plenty of white space to help the reader.  Instead, this book has chapters that could stand alone which makes comprehension easier to understand.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

King and Kayla and the Case of the Secret Code

written by Dori Hillestad Butler
Illustrated by Nancy Meyers
Peachier Publishers 2017
review copy from public library

I discovered King and Kayla and the Case of the Secret Code at our lovely Main library last week in the children's section and just had to find out more about these two adorable characters.  King is a dog and Kayla is a little girl and together they are detectives.  You might be wondering how a dog is a detective.  King is a detective by retrieving things, smelling things, and thinking to himself.  It's very interesting because the humans don't understand King but his actions and the thinking the reader follows allows the reader to understand his helpful role more.  

Mason and Kayla receive letters that are in a jumbled code.  They work with King to figure out who sent them and learn how to decipher them.  I can't share the who or how the mystery is solved but readers will love how it's solved and probably want to try their own code writing.  I've been reading a lot lately about diverse books and children needing to see themselves in them, this would make a nice addition to any library for this reason.   This is a great book for transitional readers with lots of white space, picture support and text spread out.  It also looks like there are a couple more titles with King and Kayla.  I hope more books are coming.

Monday, June 26, 2017

joy write by Ralph Fletcher

I love when I find books that nurture my soul and not make me worry or panic there's more to learn or do.  Ralph Fletchers words in joy write are gentle, kind, encouraging, and offer nudges to make students and writing the focus of our work.  As I read this book I kept reflecting on the work I ready by Donald Graves when I began my teaching journey.  Ralph has created the phrase greenbelt writing to help us understand writing and writing time should be protected in it's natural environment.  This writing from us and our students should be real, authentic, informal, comfortable, personal and filled with joy/passion.  If you are feeling you need support to balance units on narrative, opinion, and informational writing then this book is for you.

These are nudges I found to try within my own work.

-give my writers moments of freedom, finding a balance genre standards

-use greenbelt writing as a way to get to know my students, as people

-remember writing workshop was not intended to be formulaic or extremely structured

-encourage, embrace, celebrate low stakes writing

-find the humor and try to enjoy feral writing students may produce

Here are some quotes that are sticking with me and might interest you in looking at this book more.

"I believe Piaget was right: we learn by doing, from our own experience.  We learn to write by writing on a daily basis."

"Blanket compliance to any program is dangerous.  Compliance doesn't allow for our intelligence, thoughtfulness, or professionalism."  (find this on page 18 for more)

"I believe it's important for kids to begin developing their own internal standards for what makes good writing."

"When you work with a reluctant writer, it's helpful to expand your definition of writing to include drawing, sketching, and doodling."

"But for many students, this low-stakes writing will have higher impact than any of the "school writing" they produce."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Rain by Sam Usher

author and illustrator Sam Usher
Candlewick Press, 2017
review copy provided by the publisher

When I began reading Rain I was touched by the relationship between the two characters; a little boy and a grandfather.  The little boy is wanting to have creative adventures out in the rain but the grandfather is putting him off a bit and wanting to wait for the rain to stop.  The boy's ideas are creative and action packed.  The grandfather listens patiently but isn't willing to join in.  The rain stops and the grandfather has a letter to mail.  The two of them get dressed to head outside and have a grand adventure.  The grandfather wasn't hesitant this time to join in and play.  The grandfather shares, "You see the very best things are always worth waiting for."  I think with the author's message directly stated this would be a great text to help students discuss things that happened in the story to help get this message across.

I love illustrations that are soft; warm tones, thin black lines to offer details and simple ways to show action.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd

I discovered the book Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd when @jenjmcdonough shared it during a Wonderopolis twitter chat.  The book begins with the question, "What is wild?  And where can you find it?"  As I read this book, I discovered it's more than just defining wild.  It's a book showing readers how to wonder and notice.  It even shows the reader that you might not notice right away but if you spend more time looking you will notice new things.  Wild can be captured with different senses.  The reader follows a young boy and girl as they explore wild in the great outdoors to a city setting.  The author lives in Washington DC; loving the woods and the beach while the illustrator Abigail Halpin lives in Maine.  I think both of their settings and experiences are clearly shared throughout the text.  This will definitely be a read aloud within the first month of school.

Here's a page of text to help nudge you to explore this book.

"Wild is full of smells - fresh mint, ancient cave, sun-baked desert, sharp pine, salt sea.  Every scent begging you to drink it in."