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

Dot.

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 www.literacyconnection.org.)  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 http://www.scholastic.com/super-reader/


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."