Monday, March 31, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Thanks to Jen and Kellee for hosting It's Monday! What Are You Reading!  Stop by Teach Mentor Texts or Unleashing Readers for the round up and see what others in the blog community are reading.

This does not feel like enough reading for Spring Break week but it didn't end up to be a big reading week for me. But I did find some gems.

I've loved Jenny Offill since I read 17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore so I was thrilled to see Sparky! by this author. A fun story about a girl who gets a pet sloth.

And Dan Santat has a new book out: The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend.  I received a review copy this week. A fun read! I need to reread and look more closely at his amazing art.  So much to look at!

And I was so happy to read Cynthia Lord's new book, Half a Chance. I love all of her books and loved this one as much as the others.

I am always looking for great nonfiction and Itty Bitty Kitty Committee looked like a good one. I spent some time browsing it and reading parts and pieces this week. Very cute kitties!

And I am about halfway through Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald. I have heard lots about it so am happy to have a copy. I'm loving it so far!

Celebrating Pernille Ripp with a donation to Global Read Aloud

We continue our year-long blog birthday celebration by honoring blogger and Read Aloud Activist, Pernille Ripp. Even though our blog birthday was on January 1, we are celebrating it all year! On our 8th Birthday, we decided to celebrate 2014 by celebrating others who inspire us every day. Each month, on the 1st (or so) of the month, we will celebrate a fellow blogger whose work has inspired us recently. We feel so lucky to be part of the blog world that we want to celebrate all that everyone gives us each day.

We have been learning from Pernille Ripp for many years at Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension. She is a generous, honest, funny, and both thoughtful and thought-provoking writer. She is a constant contributor to the world of teaching and learning and always advocates for doing what is right for kids. A while back, Franki did an interview with Pernille for Choice Literacy. Pernille tweets @pernilleripp.

And, if you didn't know, Pernille INVENTED The Global Read Aloud! This international literacy event connects students, teachers and classrooms from all over the world around books and reading.
Because she is a classroom teacher, she has made the whole process doable for anyone who wants to participate. Just like her inclusive classroom, the GRA has evolved. There are now lots of options for readers and classrooms at all levels. If you've never taken part, make it your goal for the fall of 2014. Mark your calendar for October 6, and make your voice heard right now: second round voting is open now for the 2014 books/authors for Global Read Aloud.

We'd like to support Pernille's work on The Global Read Aloud, so our donation this month will be to her very own cause!

Thank you, Pernille for all you do and all you inspire others to do!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

National Poetry Month 2014: Our Wonderful World

This year, my Poetry Month project will celebrate the myriad wonders of our world. Every day for the month of April, I will share one of "The Wonders of the World" (selected from a variety of lists) and an original poem inspired by that wonder.

Please join me in celebrating the human-made and natural wonders to be found on this amazing planet upon which we are so privileged to ride around the sun. Leave your poem or a link to your blog post in the comments and I'll add your wonderful words to my post each day.

Here are the wonders I've chosen:

1. The Great Pyramid of Giza (the only one of the Classic 7 Wonders of the World that still exists)

From the 7 Wonders of the Middle Ages:
2. Stonehenge
3. Colosseum
4. Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa
5. Great Wall of China
6. Porcelain Tower of Nanjing
7. Hagia Sophia
8. Leaning Tower of Pisa
9. Taj Mahal

From the American Society of Civil Engineers' 7 Wonders of the Modern World:
10. Channel Tunnel
11. CN Tower
12. Empire State Building
13. Golden Gate Bridge
14. Itaipu Dam
15. Delta Works
16. Panama Canal

A few of the New7Wonders of the World:
17. Petra
18. Machu Picchu
19. Chichen Itza

And 7 Natural Wonders from a variety of lists (including four of my own to remind us that there is wonder to be found wherever we look):
20. Grand Canyon
21. Great Barrier Reef
22. Mt. Everest
23. Aurora
24. Amazon Rain Forest
25. Victoria Falls
26. Polar Ice Cap
27. Sunrise
28. Chocolate Cake
29. Imagination
30. People

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Celebrate This Week!

Discover. Play. Build.
For the Celebrate this Week Link Up, visit Ruth Ayres Writes!

This week, we are celebrating a week of leisure--not of doing nothing, but of having a little bit of extra time over spring break to browse online, to read a few more posts than usual and to find some gems!  Here are the things we found online this week that are worth celebrating and sharing.

If you have not read A Snicker of Magic , it is one of my favorites of 2014 already.  I was thrilled to see that author Natalie Lloyd had a post on Nerdy Book Club this week and even more happy after I read it. It is an amazing piece that you'll want to read.  There's A Lion in My Closet.

My good friends Drew and Candis Jones created a new product for their Etsy store which I LOVE LOVE. They shared the new produce on Facebook and I was so glad I saw it right away!  I own a few too many of their necklaces but I can't imagine I could ever own too many of these bracelets! Check them out!

Then, I found this amazing Ted Talk thanks to @kylepace on Twitter. Drew Dudley's "Leading with Lollipops". Such a powerful message.  I happen upon Ted Talks I love once in a while but knew that Mary Lee had a goal of fitting more Ted Talks into her life.  So I passed it along. She loved it too.

Mary Lee here: I had high hopes for getting caught up on reading through the blog posts in my overflowing Feedly. Alas, that, and thoroughly cleaning the house one room at a time just didn't get done. I did manage to get in a TED talk with illustrated notes. Thanks for the link to Kyle's post about "Leading With Lollipops," Franki!

And I loved this piece by Tammy at Assessment in Perspective, "Practicing Until It's In Your Bones". An important message for teachers.

At Michigan Reading Association, Colby Sharp hinted that there'd be a big SharpSchu announcement coming up soon so I was thrilled to finally hear details about their new challenge!  Looking forward to hearing their thought on the Geisel winners!

My daughter and I went to see Divergent this weekend. We both loved the movie. I became fascinated by the idea that Shailene Woodley is playing the part of Tris and of Hazel in the upcoming Fault in Our Stars movie.  What am amazing actress to be able to play both of these roles well. I loved her interview that I found somehow.

One thing I like about social media is the way that it gets word out about important issues. I try to focus on positive stories but there were a few negative stories that pulled me in this week. One story that has stayed with me was the story about the runner wearing a tutu who was made fun of by Self Magazine.  I don't often repost negative stories on FB or Twitter but I felt like sharing this story was important. It is a celebration for me because once it was shared in social media, it was clear that most everyone in the world knows this is wrong.  That treating people like this is not okay.  Lots of people sharing the story as a way to take a stand against people being treated like this. A very small thing to do but small things are important.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Poetry Friday: The Roundup is HERE!

Flickr Creative Commons photo by kristin

by Robert Frost

When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk, 
I don't stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven't hoed,
And shout from where I am, "What is it?"
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.

Thanks, y'all, for stopping by for a friendly visit!

Jan at Book Seed Studio is collecting a list of books that feature young poets as characters. She shares one today.

Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme has a NH Rock Garden for us today -- could be the one the speaker in my Robert Frost poem is working in!

Mrs. Bennett at Used Books In Class had her students write the narratives behind Shakespeare's sonnets. The results are brilliant!

Michelle at Today's Little Ditty celebrates spring with e.e. cummings.

Laura Salas comes to us from Teaching Authors today with a water poem by Christina Rossetti.

Buffy at Buffy's Blog shares her March Madness Poetry Sweet Sixteen poem. There's still time to vote all day today at Think Kid, Think!

Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge workshops a haiku for us today.

Beth at Tiny Readers and Writers shares one of her four year-old daughter's original poems.

Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup is hosting a vintage tea party. She's also the official collector of our Poetry Month 2014 projects and celebrations. Be sure to let her (and us) know what you'll be up to in April!

Diane has three offerings: at Random Noodling, a poem by Tess Gallagher; at Kurious Kitty's Kurio Cabinet, a trip to the circus; and at K.K.'s Kwotes, a poetry quote by Edmond de Goncourt.

Tara at A Teaching Life has a Mary Oliver tribute to her dog Sophie, who makes her pause.

B.J. at Blue Window also has a third round poem in March Madness. Good luck, Authletes!

Irene at Live Your Poem has a Poetry Friday gift for us -- a group SoundCloud page where we can record our poems! How cool is that?!? (As soon as I'm caught up with the roundup, I'll definitely check it out!)

Linda at TeacherDance shares a sweet alphabet poem.

Keri at Keri Recommends ends her celebration of Laura Purdie Salas' Water Can Be... with her favorite spread and a give-away.

Bridget at Wee Words for Wee Ones has a pithy comment on the seemingly endless (snow forecast here YET AGAIN for tomorrow) winter.

Jone at Check It Out is playing with pantoums.

Margaret at Reflections on the Teche writes about her student-voters in the March Madness competition. She took it to another level when she had her students use one of the Authlete's words in their own poems!

Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference has poetry from the herbary today.

Carol at Carol's Corner shares her favorite spring daffodils with us.

Donna at Mainely Write has bedtime stories and grandparenting on her mind today.

Travis at 100 Scope Notes is back at it with Book Spine Poems! Dump your shelves and make one to submit for his gallery!

Crystal at Reading Through Life shares spoken word poetry, poetry in music, and a few poetry book recommendations.

Dori at Dori Reads has a cinquain from Myra Cohn Livingston.

Charles at Charles Waters Poetry has a smorgasbord of offerings today!

Lorie Ann at readertotz shares a Jane Yolen book of poetry for your little ones, and a haiku at On Point.

Supratentorial recommends a book with poetic text that explores the concept of memory.

City Muse Country Muse shares a poem by Peter Everwine.

Shannon at Van Meter Library Voice tells about a fabulous project two schools created that incorporates Rainbow Loom research and Joyce Sidman's poetry!

Kathleen at What's Next? weaves a Louis Armstrong song with her own words.

Amy at The Poem Farm shares a poem of address, a school visit, and a Poetry Month Project announcement.

Jeannine at Views from a Window Seat shares her thoughts about the new verse novel Miss Emily by Burleigh Mutén, and remembers a conversation about poetry with the author.

Sylvia at Poetry for Children shares the line-up for the Texas Library Association Poetry Roundup session. What an amazing 10-year legacy AND a great line-up for this year!

Little Willow plants seeds of hope with a line or two by Gertrude Stein.

Sherry at Semicolon Blog features Dante Gabriel  Rossetti.

Myra at Gathering Books has a Maya Angelou poem for us today.

Cathy at Merely Day by Day is wandering today.

Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town is thinking about the life of words (thanks to a student and Emily Dickinson).

Becky at Tapestry of Words is gearing up for National Poetry Month AND celebrating her 100th post!

Greg at GottaBook announces his plans for 30 Poets/30 Days this year, and shares an original poem from earlier in the week.

Joy at Poetry For Kids' Joy shares a bus ride poem.

Janet at All About the Books shares the rhyming book Animal Snackers.

Catherine at Reading to the Core offers an original poem filled with wonder.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Artist and the King by Julie Fortenberry

The Artist and the King
by Julie Fortenberry
Alazar Press, due out April 7, 2014
review copy provided by the author

Daphne is an artist, but her art -- an honest portrait of His Crabbiness -- does not please the king. Daphne's punishment is to wear the picture, rolled up, as a dunce cap, instead of her beloved red artist's beret.

Almost immediately upon donning the dunce cap, Daphne's Art kicks in. She begins to add decorations to customize the cap. "Soon she was getting compliments." And she began to sell the hats. They became all the rage.

Which enraged the king.

He banished all dunce cap wearers to the wilderness. Even his own daughter, who threw the extra cap she was carrying at his feet and walked with the others into the woods.

Daphne goes back to rescue the flung cap and discovers the king crying. They share a moment of apology and self-realization, then discover that the cap was intended as a gift to the king from his daughter. Together they bring all the villagers back from the woods, and Daphne is given back her beret.

In the current (March/April 2014) issue of The HornBook, the final essay (Cadenza) is "Reading Picture Books 101" by Robin L. Smith. I'll walk you though her seven steps with The Artist and the King.

1. Look at the cover. The cover illustration of The Artist and the King lets us know it's a windy day. This is absolutely necessary for the plot development.

2. Take the paper jacket off and see whether the board cover is different. Nope.

3. Now examine the endpapers. Plain blue.

4. Peruse the title page. The story actually starts here (I love books that do this)! Daphne is painting a picture of His Crabbiness, and the villagers who are her audience are appreciating her art.

5. Read the book all the way through without reading the words. Pay attention to page turns, white space, and pacing. This is a fascinating way to read a picture book -- thinking about the design process, movement in the illustrations, artistic decisions made by the illustrator. The story absolutely is told coherently through the pictures in this book!

6. Read the book with the words. Think about how the words and pictures work together. There are two places where the words in the illustrations interact with the words in the story. I might not have noticed that if not for this list of steps! When read on its own, the text has a nice flow, with long and short sentences and accessible vocabulary peppered with words perfectly chosen for the story: regal, mockery, banished.

7. Go back and check every gutter. Now that's something I'm SURE I've never done, but how smart to make sure that the art matches up across the gutter and that nothing important gets lost there where the left page turns into the right. In The Artist and the King, when the gutter is not used to divide the pages into separate scenes, there is very intentional movement from one page to the other across the gutter. Fascinating!

These seven simple steps make me want to dive into a study of picture books with my students! One savvy reader noted recently that hardly anyone reads from the picture book shelf in my classroom. This may be a way to get some buy-in from fifth graders who are "too cool" for picture books!

The Artist and the King will definitely have a place in my classroom library, as well as in a study of picture books, and in our discussions about theme. Three cheers for a character who stays true to her passion, her art, and who helps the unfair and crabby king to soften up and be more accepting!

Monday, March 24, 2014

It's Monday!

Not only is it Monday (for a few more hours), it's also Spring Break, so my stack is toweringly optimistic.

Right before break, I finished listening to Code Name Verity. It was all kinds of brilliant, so I'm listening to Rose Under Firenext.

Maxine Kumin's final book And Short the Season: Poemscame. I'll savor it and make it last.

Franki loaned me Nightingale's Nestand I have Shannon Hale's Dangerousfrom the library.

I've hoarded a few books I ordered for the classroom library until I can read them:

Bad Kitty Drawn to Trouble
Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Big Bad Ironclad!
Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Donner Dinner Party
Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spy

I think the final Lunch Lady (Lunch Lady and the Schoolwide Scuffle) is back on the shelf in my classroom -- I released it into the wild before I read it, so I may sneak back into school and read it while I can.

I have about twelve professional books stockpiled, but I'm not kidding myself. I hope to read:

Celebrating Writers: From Possibilities to Publication

Falling in Love with Close Reading: Lessons for Analyzing Texts--and Life
Assessment in Perspective: Focusing on the Readers Behind the Numbers
Rethinking Intervention: Supporting Struggling Readers and Writers in Grades 3-6 Classrooms

Looks like some good reading weather the next few days! (...making lemonade, in case you were wondering...)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Poetry Friday -- Pancakes!

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by TIm Hamilton

(Heaven must be a place where there are pancakes.)

Pancakes, pancakes, I love you.
Batter, butter, syrup, too.

Mix them up and pour them out,
use a ladle or a spout.

Pour them in a pan that’s hot,
cook them well, but not a lot.

Get them brown, don’t let them burn
Use a spatula to turn

them over when one side is brown.
Be careful and flip UP not down.

Stack them on a plate real high.
Look at them, let out a sigh.

Melt the butter, pour the maple
(don’t get any on the table!).

Get your napkin, tuck it in
(don’t get maple on your chin!)

Now your fork…get ready…GO!
Eat your pancakes, 10 in a row.

Oh my goodness, this won’t do –
I am full down to my shoes!

Let me rest for just a bit…
Okay, now 10 more will fit!

The bacon’s ready now, you say?
Life is good! I say, “HOORAY!”

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

Julie Larios has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at The Drift Record.

Next week, on the brink of Poetry Month 2014, the roundup will be here. I'm hoping you'll share a description of your PoMo14 project for a special roundup within the roundup.

Best wishes to the authletes who are participating in March Madness! Write on!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Boxes and Patterns and Templates

Vicki Vinton's recent post about the overuse of graphic organizers was thought-provoking. Is even the thoughtful use of an occasional teacher-made or teacher-provided organizer in order to acquaint children with the kinds of tasks they will be asked to do on a high-stakes (we're talking fail-the-grade high stakes) test overuse? We think not. There needs to be a balance. But by balance, we're not suggesting one-for-one. Balance to us goes back to "sparingly" and "thoughtful."

I was thinking of Vicki's post yesterday at Environmental Club. I provided students with teasel seed heads (harvested from the weedy area along the train tracks in my neighborhood),

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Hornet Photography
and felt, pom-poms, pipe cleaners, google eyes, clothespins and magnetic tape. The goal...or I should say, MY goal, MY idea, was to decorate the clothespin and make a refrigerator magnet that would hold their papers. I sat and cut felt and pipe cleaners for them while they worked. Here's a sampling of what they made:

Most of the outcomes bore no resemblance to the idea I had in my head when I bought/gathered the supplies. Free to make whatever they wanted, they made some AMAZING creations! (And a huge mess...) It didn't matter. I intentionally hadn't provided a pattern, so I celebrated every creation. 

When I opened Blogger to begin this post about boxes and organizers and patterns, I was struck by what met me: a template. With pre-set boxes to be filled. And I have no problem with that. Would I want to sit down to a blank page every time I write a post and create the formatting? I think not! 

Next weekend, I will make my famous three-layer-from-scratch chocolate cake. It will take some improvising: the recipient wants coffee buttercream instead of the usual frosting. But will I try to bake the cake and make the buttercream without a recipe? Nope. 

On the other hand, as I try, without success, to pin myself down on my Poetry Month poem-a-day project, I find I'm leaning more and more to something very unstructured and spontaneous. Last year's "Common Inspiration--Uncommon Creations" was a huge success and loads of fun...and very structured. 

So in life, as well as in our classrooms, it shouldn't (even can't) be either/or: ALL structure or ALL freedom. We need to notice WHEN we need an organizer or a pattern, a template or a recipe, and when we can do away with them and create freely.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life by Lois Ehlert

I forgot how much I LOVE Lois Ehlert. Well, I didn't actually forget, but I haven't dug into her work for a few years. A decade ago, when I taught Kindergarten, Lois Ehlert influenced everything I did. We loved all of her books and we LOVED a video about her life and her art. The video shared her process and photos of the table she had in her house when she was a child--the table filled with scraps and treasures. We set up our own table in our classroom and it invited creativity!

This new book The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life reminded me of all of that and all of the reasons I love Lois Ehlert. Of course I love her for her books--her books are amazing and they make me happy. But I also love her for the way she makes art and creativity so exciting for children. She is a mentor for this kind of a life in all that she does.

In The Scraps Book, Lois Ehlert shares her life as an artist. She shares it in a simple, yet profound way. She includes images from her book and photos from her childhood.  She shares her process and the ways she gets ideas.  She invites readers to live the life of an artist.  And she makes it seem possible.

For me, this book seems like a perfect beginning of the year book--one that helps launch an amazing writing workshop.  But it is also the perfect book to share anytime of the year. This week, I'll be sharing it with 2 of my students who are working on nonfiction pieces about art and drawing.  I am sure it will make its way around the room quickly.

Now, I need to go find the rest of my Lois Ehlert books again!

The Hornbook just featured Five Questions for Lois Ehlert--a great interview!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Making Learning Visible : The Brownie Problem

Lots of thinking has been swirling around in my head lately.  The last few years have been full of learning as I've left the library and gone back into the classroom.  As a librarian, I really played around with digital tools and coming back into the classroom, I'm trying to learn how those can better support learning across content.  There have been many big ideas that have shaped my thinking over the last few years.  I've always watched the work of Harvard's Project Zero and recently have paid attention to their Making Learning Visible work as documenting student learning has always been fascinating to me. This year, I also discovered the video Austin's Butterfly and our class has watched and discussed it a few times as we've learned more about helpful response.  And I've been rethinking the ways I use wall space to support student learning after reading Smarter Charts K-2: Optimizing an Instructional Staple to Create Independent Readers and Writers.  So I've been thinking about learning and documentation and response and sharing thinking in a way that promotes more learning.

A few weeks ago I read Stephanie Parsons' post on  The Sub Sandwich Problem post, a math problem her 4th graders solved and the way response pushed them as mathematicians.  We are just becoming comfortable with the concept of fractions and so I gave them a brownie problem:

You and 4 friends are sharing 2 brownies. The brownies are equal sizes.  How will you share the brownies so that each of you gets the same amount?

Students solved the problem. This took a while.  The entire math lesson took close to 2 hours and the learning was amazing. I bopped around listening to thinking and recording short bits of conversations that captured their problem solving as they worked.  After each group solved the problem, they responded to 2 other groups' work using sticky notes around the edges. They responded with things they liked, questions they had and kind suggestions that would make the work better.  Then groups went back to change things that they agreed would make their work better.

We shared our work in the hallway and I wanted to see who adding the videos could work.They weren't great videos as I was just capturing them for myself.  But I wanted to see how I could improve hallway displays to add to the learning. So I uploaded 3 videos and added QR codes for our display. These are on a district site so only people with the inside link can get to them. 

As a class, we watched the videos I posted together and talked about how watching conversation helped them as learners. We also talked about the idea of sharing our work differently in the hallway, to include not only the finished work but the thinking that went with it. We also talked about how things we do with technology don't always lend themselves to sharing in the hallway but we want to make sure to do that differently.  So, we just played around with this.

I am working to really rethink the work we share and the ways we share it. I want to take advantage of the tools we have so that we can capture and share things we haven't always been able to share "on the wall".  Just playing around with charts and documenting learning in new ways:-)