Friday, July 01, 2016

Poetry Friday -- Roots

free image from

Cleaning Dandelions Out of the Iris

Satisfying snap --
trowel cuts roots below ground.
They're bound to come back.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

Another poem about home. Next week at this time the family property will be on the market (mom lived there 60ish years; my brother and I grew up there). Sad to say goodbye to that old house, but excited that it will soon welcome a new family and become precious to them.

Tabatha has the roundup this week at The Opposite of Indifference. I won't be able to get the roundup schedule on the Kidlitosphere Central website for another week or two, but you can find July--December in the sidebar here at A Year of Reading.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Duck, Duck, Porcupine! by Salina Yoon

When I went to NCTE last year, I picked up an ARC of Duck, Duck, Porcupine by Salina Yoon. I am a huge Salina Yoon fan.  Be a Friend is one of my favorite picture books of the year and Penguin and Bear are some of my favorite characters. I was thrilled to see this new, early reader book from Salina Yoon. Doesn't the cover just make you smile?

I teach 3rd grade so finding books that move kids from those books for beginning readers to chapter books for older readers is something I think about almost every day.   I see this new book by Salina Yoon as fitting into a category that is perfect for readers who are just learning to build stamina and hold stories across time. Just like Elephant and Piggie and Ballet Cat, this book supports readers in ways few other series do. It is just perfect!

The book has 3 chapters and each is a stand-alone story which is a huge support for young readers.  The 3 characters are amusing, adorable and distinct. By the end of the 2nd story, you know the uniqueness of each pretty well.  There are talking bubbles and simple language but sophisticated humor and lots of fun!

This new book, as well as all of her others belong in K-3 classrooms for sure. This book is going to be fabulous for new readers and those moving along a bit.  It is one that is sophisticated enough that older readers will also enjoy it.  I haven't had a Salina Yoon author basket in my room but will be creating one this year.  Not only will the kids love her as readers but they can learn so much from her as writers.

And even better news? This book is the first in a series!

Salina Yoon, signing my books at NCTE 2016!


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Circle by Jeannie Baker

I have been a fan of Jeannie Baker's wordless picture books since the beginning of my wordless picture book obsession. Her art and the messages in her books are always powerful.

Circle is a different kind of book for Jeannie Baker but I loved it and can't wait to share it with our 3rd graders next year.  We have a basket of bird books in our classroom and I've try to create a basket with a variety of topics within the bigger topic of birds. I know kids often begin their reading with bird guides as they want to learn to identify various birds. But I've noticed that some readers move on from the basic identification of birds to bigger issues. The book Circle takes us on a journey with the bar-tailed godwit ("who undertake the longest unbroken migration of any animal") as they migrate from Australia/New Zealand to the Arctic and back again.  Baker creates text that helps us understand time and distance as well as the amazing thing that this journey is.  And her illustrations help us appreciate the various places on Earth that are part of the godwits migration.  Not only does she help readers understand all of that but she also invites them to understand the bigger idea of how connected our world is and that changes to one part of the world can have consequences for another. The map in the back of the book showing the migration is also fabulously helpful.  There are so many layers of conversation and learning that I think can happen because of this book and I am excited to add it to our classroom in the fall.

(Another book about this journey is The Long, Long Journey by Sandra Markle. Pairing these two would invite even more great learning.)

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Gift of a Writing Retreat

I just came back from a Choice Literacy Writing Retreat. I am always amazed at the whole idea of a retreat. I never come back feeling like I wrote as much as I could have but I realize that a retreat doesn't mean you write the full 72 hours!  I learned a lot about myself as a writer this week and how I work.  I tend to work in chunks but having long periods of time to write, without any distractions take more discipline than I usually have so it was good for me to write in a different way.

Brenda creates retreats that have everything you need as a writer. It is a gift to have time dedicated to writing. And there are some other things that make the retreats extra perfect.  Here are some things I loved about this year's retreat:

The best thing about the retreat is always the people!  I loved chatting and learning with old friends and I loved making new friends!

Location matters. We had the retreat in a little town a bit away from home.  The town does have a fabulous lake and walking trails so we started one morning on a walk.  As you know I am not a huge nature fan, but even I enjoyed the walk and the view!  A morning walk does help kick off a good day of writing.

Brenda had a yoga instructor come out one morning and we had yoga outside. Another great way to kick off a day of writing!

No writing retreat is complete without a Starbucks!  

We stayed at a great Bed and Breakfast. The meals were delicious and talking to everyone during mealtime was great fun!

There were lots of great, quiet spaces for writing!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Poetry Friday -- Homesick

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by SB


The pears on the kitchen counter
are probably ripe by now,
and the basil in the raised bed
ready to be ground into another batch of pesto.

Perhaps the coneflowers and gayfeather have bloomed,
and certainly the morning glory vines
have locked the back gate.

But when I return, the afternoon sun will glow
through the west windows

as it always does.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

This week, I've been thinking about what changes and what remains, about loss and redemption, about worldly goods vs. the riches of family and friends, about the ultimate meaning of home.

Diane has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at Random Noodling. There is one more hosting slot available on the July-December 2016 calendar. Is December 16 calling your name? Claim the date here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Young Adult Books on my TBR Stack

I don't have a lot of time to read Young Adult fiction but it is my absolute favorite! So this summer I am going to try to fit in a few that I keep hearing about. These are the 4 on top of my list.

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

 Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

 Court of Fives by Kate Elliott 

 Salt to the Sea by Ruth Sepetys

Monday, June 20, 2016

Making the World More Beautiful

I have always loved the book Wanda's Roses. I love Pat Brisson but I love the message of a little girl working to make her community brighter. And I love the way the whole community brings something to the project.  It is a book I read every year.

Two new books have been recently released that follow a similar theme and I am very excited to add them both to our classroom library next year.  I love these two books because both are based on true stories and real communities.

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell is written in honor or Rafael and Candice Lopez "and all the quiet leaders in our neighborhoods."(From the author's note.)  I love the power of this story and the way art they helped transform East Village near downtown San Diego.  I love the story, the author's note and the illustrations.

Luis Paints the World by Terry Farish takes place in Lawrence, Massachusetts.  The author states in the Author's Note that she worked as a librarian in Lawrence in 2003 and followed the work of young artists and others to design a mural for peace.

The stories are similar in theme but the vibrant personalities of each unique neighborhood comes out in the stories.  Some connecting threads in the two books are how people come together in a community and how communities can be transformed by art.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Poetry Friday by the lake at dusk

nudge the shoreline

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

Carol has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at Carol's Corner. There is one more hosting slot available on the July-December 2016 calendar. Is December 16 calling your name? Claim the date here.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Connecting With Other Writers in this Digital Age

I have been doing a lot of thinking over the last several years about how digital tools have changed our reading and writing workshops. One thing I realize over and over again is that what is possible in our literacy workshop has expanded for our students.  One way I notice this is the ways that we can connect with and learn from other writers in Writing Workshop.

Learning from texts by authors of some of our favorite picture books is always an anchor for our writing.  This is the beginning of a board we had up for a bit this year as we were learning from authors such as Cynthia Rylant and Lester Laminack.  Baskets of mentor texts and mentor authors are so important in our Writing Workshops. This is the way we learned from other writers long before digital tools came into play and is still critical.


But digital tools have allowed even more when it comes from connecting with and learning from other writers.  First of all, we can study each other's writing in more ways and kids can do that more independently now. It used to be that we could study student writing in the midst of Writing Workshop, during mini lessons or share time.  But because our students have blogs and access to sharing in Google, they always have other students' writing to read and study. And because so many students around the world have blogs, these are always accessible to our students.  They can read and study other students' work during writing workshop, at home or whenever. It is fairly new that our young writers have access to this many other young writers as they learn and grow.

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We can also use digital tools to collect student writing and other texts.  Tools like Padlet can help us collect a piece of student writing that we'd like to look at along with other connected pieces. This Padlet is one we created when we were learning about Slide Design. Several students' slides became part of this Padlet and we used it over several days to study the craft moves students mad to create slides in informational writing. Students also had access to this Padlet online anytime. Having the ability to use tools like Padlet to connect students to other students' great leads, powerful sentences, slides, etc. expands what is possible in our workshops. Whether students are creating digital or more traditional texts, these digital tools can help us collect and revisit pieces worth studying.

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And of course we can learn from authors around the world. Melissa Stewart has an amazing website with Video Mini-Lessons for writing informational text. The power of learning from someone who is a published author and whose books are used as examples changes writers in the classroom.

And we have amazing writing teachers like Ruth Ayres creating videos we can use with our students. My kids talked about Ruth Ayres like she was in the classroom because they learned so much from her quick videos.  She is brilliant at the way she teaches young writers.  And I love the way I can pick and choose lessons that my kids need.  She shows so many pieces of her own writing throughout the videos and it is just another way we can mentor to another writer because of digital tools.  If you have not seen her videos, this is one of our classroom's favorites.

I know I've shared some of these resources here before but when we look at them together, it is clear how much more is possible when it comes to connect with other writers and learn from mentor texts in this digital world.