Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Lessons From a Bike Ride

There are two kinds of hills on my morning bike rides. 

There's one that's a short but intensely steep climb. Yesterday, I had to stand up on my pedals to make it to the top, and when I got there, a jogger cheered for me, impressed that I made it all the way.

The other is the long, steady incline that gets me home. I made it to the top of that one, too, but there was no one there to cheer for me or be impressed by me.

I've been thinking about those two hills while I continue to process the words of Brendan Kiely and Jason Reynolds during Sunday's The Author Village livestream, especially the comparison of living with my own racism to an addict living with their addiction. An alcoholic's work is never complete. They are never not an alcoholic. Every day is a long, steady incline. The same is true of my racism. I can't expect to get to the top of one steep climb (with cheerleaders at the top) and be done. Every day I need to wake up asking myself, "What will you do today to recognize and correct your own racism and the racism of the society in which you live?"

There are two kinds of hills on my morning bike rides.

Both kinds of hills will make me a stronger biker. There are also long sections where the way is flat and the riding is easy. I will not let those parts make me complacent. I will not seek out rides that are completely level. Because, while I know that

there are two kinds of hills on my morning bike rides,

I also know that there are mountains out there to scale as well. Let's get going.

Monday, June 01, 2020

Beyond Reading Books About Race: A Lifelong Commitment to Study and Action

Last week, I posted a list of books that have been helpful to me on this journey toward anti-racism.  Over the past several years, I have committed a great deal of time to reading books and learning, unlearning, relearning, reflecting. I have realized that reading books is not enough, not even really enough as a first step and I wanted to share my thinking about that today.

A few weeks ago I picked up the book Lifting as We Climb: Black Women's Battle for the Ballot Box.  It was a book recommended by Julia Torres (@juliaerin80). I buy pretty much anything Julia recommends.  I know that I do not know enough about women's history and a friend called me out/in a few years ago for not knowing the history between white and black women.  And I've been trying to understand that history for years. I have been trying to learn more and this book seemed perfect. Since it was middle grade I figured it would be a quick read.

But it ended up that this book is REALLY difficult for me. It is brand new information. Names and events that I know almost zero about. I felt like I was back in high school reading a science textbook about a topic I had zero background knowledge for.  And I felt a lot of shame and guilt and sadness and anger. How could I be in my mid 50s and not know these things? How could I be having so much trouble understanding all of the important information in this book that I so wanted to read? How could these stories have ALL been missing from the women's history work that I've read and learned over a lifetime.

So, I made a new plan for getting through the book. I now have the book in three formats--audio, eBook and hardback. And I will take it slowly and give myself time to really understand it, cross reference, reread and research/dig in when needed.  I also ordered two other books (Hood Feminism and They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South (thanks to Shekema Dunlap for sharing) and have committed to spending a chunk of time this summer relearning much of what I thought I knew about women's history with a focus on race issues.

Because here's the thing. When people share books, it is not about just reading books. I do not share these books in the same ways I share great read aloud or new series books I've discovered.  For me, this work is about STUDY.  It is about a long-term commitment to study and learn and grow and act.  The books I shared on my list are not quick reads, they are not easy reads. They are not the books you read for leisure. These are books that become part of a study because  study is part of the commitment.

Yesterday I was fortunate to be able to attend The Author Village event with Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. I always learn when I hear these two speak and share their understandings and insights. So many things said by both Jason and Brendan yesterday pushed my thinking. Two things that Brendan said really stuck with me.

Brendan Kiely said part of the work is asking himself this question, "What are you doing today? Have I done enough?"

With this question, he reminds us that this is lifelong work. Both internal work and external work. That we will never do enough. But it's a commitment to do something EVERY DAY.

And then he says that part of this work is asking yourself:

"How much of my day do I spend learning so I can speak to it when asked to?"

How much of my day do I spend learning?

What I am realizing is that books and reading have been so important to my learning. But the fact that this journey is a lifelong commitment to study and action means that books are just a piece of the study.  When we commit to this work, we commit to talking to others, being intentional about who we follow on social media, being intentional about who we learn from and with, intentional about listening and learning.  We commit to spending time studying the work of people who have been doing this work for decades instead of reading a fun novel by our favorite author.  We make this work a priority-something we commit to every day. It is all of those things and so much more.

Jennifer Gonzalez (@cultofpedagogy) said it well in her Twitter thread this weekend.

Somewhere along the way, I realized that I've progressed from reading a book and talking about it with others to making a lifelong commitment to do this work.  To every day think about what I don't know and how I can fix that.  And then as Brenden Kiely said, "so I can speak to it when asked to". I hope all of this reading and all of these books help give me more knowledge and understanding to speak up.

One of my favorite quotes is from Laura Jimenez (@booktoss).

"This is why it is called THE WORK and not cake."

Once this quote appeared on a t-shirt, I purchased one immediately. It is so true.

When I see things like the Me and White Supremacy Challenge  and Dayton's YWCA's 21-Day Challenge (Thanks Stella Villaba for sharing), I see that it is a way to commit every single day.  It is a way to commit to study and to learning. It is a hope that these 21 days build a habit of study that continues for a lifetime.

I've realized that since writing the post sharing books, that this work must be about more than reading a few books.  As a white woman trying to learn all that I don't know and to understand so much, the move from going from reading books to committing to study and commitment was a subtle one but so important for my own internal work.

So if during this week, you decided to buy a book or a few books and you decided to read them alone,  or with friends, be honest about the commitment you are willing to give to this work. How can it become a priority every day? Think about the question Brendan Kiely asked on the webinar last night:

"How much of my day do I spend learning 
so I can speak to it when asked to?"

Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Poetry Friday Roundup is Here!

Gene Luen Yang was the National Ambassador of Young People's Literature way back in 2016, but his "Reading Without Walls Challenge" is as important as ever. He challenged readers to 
1. Read a book about a character who doesn’t look like you or live like you.

2. Read a book about a topic you don’t know much about.

3. Read a book in a format that you don’t normally read for fun. This might be a chapter book, a graphic novel, a book in verse, a picture book, or a hybrid book.
I spent this morning Reading Without Walls while learning about the poet Marilyn Chin. She doesn't look like me or live like me, and I was not familiar with her poetry. I "read" in a format I don't normally "read" for fun: I watched an hour-long video! The Library of Congress "Life of a Poet" session featuring Marilyn Chin being interviewed by Ron Charles of the Washington Post is worth every minute. 

Marilyn Chin identifies as a activist poet, exploring the issues of the day as well as the intersection of Asian and American worlds through her roots in Hong Kong (she lived there until the age of 7) and Portland, Oregon. The themes/topics of language (loss of language, loss of culture, loss of ancestors), names, identity, culture, and feminism shine through as you watch the "Life of a Poet" session. Plus, she's witty, sarcastic, and quick to laugh!

Here are a couple of Marilyn Chin's poems you should know (if you don't already):

How I Got That Name
by Marilyn Chin

an essay on assimilation

I am Marilyn Mei Ling Chin 
Oh, how I love the resoluteness 
of that first person singular 
followed by that stalwart indicative 
of "be," without the uncertain i-n-g 
of "becoming." Of course, 
the name had been changed 
somewhere between Angel Island and the sea, 
when my father the paperson 
in the late 1950s 
obsessed with a bombshell blond 
transliterated "Mei Ling" to "Marilyn."

The Floral Apron
by Marilyn Chin

The woman wore a floral apron around her neck,
that woman from my mother’s village
with a sharp cleaver in her hand.
She said, “What shall we cook tonight?
Perhaps these six tiny squid
lined up so perfectly on the block?”

(read the rest at poets.org)

In her career as a poet, Marilyn Chin has won just about every award, but the one that impresses me most is the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, which she was awarded in 2015. Am I the last person on the planet to have heard of this award? It is the national prize for literature that confronts racism and examines diversity. Why is this not the most celebrated book award in the nation? Why is there not a version for children's literature?

So...what inspired me to learn about Marilyn Chin today? NCTE is offering a webinar conversation with Marilyn Chin, in conjunction with the Library of Congress, and I get to be the member who facilitates this conversation! The event is open to both members and nonmembers of NCTE, so sign up and join us on June 11!

Now let's hear what you're thinking and learning about! Share your link in the comments and I'll round us up old-school!

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Stop over and wish Michelle Kogan a Happy Birthday!


Michelle has the Poems of Presence Wrap Up Celebration at Today's Little Ditty.

Molly shares another week of poems of presence, some paired with photos at Nix the Comfort Zone.

Linda's poems of presence have given her some "at-ease" time this month. Find a few recent poems at A Word Edgewise.

Christie, at Wondering and Wandering, rounds up her #poemsofpresence for the week.


The Poetry Sisters are looking back, and Tricia, at The Miss Rumphius Effect, has an EPIC look-back at a crown sonnet that didn't happen. Spoiler alert -- there's a happy ending to the story.

Sara, at Read Write Think, gave herself multiple throwback challenges with a new numeric poem to pair with an older alphabetic poem. The final result is a stunner with Big Truth in the conclusion.

Tanita, at [fiction, instead of lies], revisits the lai form from the Poetry Sisters’ 2017 challenge.

Poetry Princess Laura, at Poems for Teachers, found a poem inside one of her previous poems that sends positive vibes to her sister on a ventilator in ICU.

Liz, at Liz Garton Scanlon, wrote the pantoum she didn’t write in 2018.

Rebecca, at Rebecca Holmes, looks back to the moment she knew she'd be a scientist, but still didn't know she'd be the physicist she is today.


Ruth, at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town, shares Langston Hughes’ “Let America Be America Again,” a poem that is as true today as it was when it was published in 1936.

Jone, at Deo Writer, finds her thoughts about the current news continuing to churn, even when she seeks solace in nature.

Jama, at Jama’s Alphabet Soup, has two poems and a gallery of portraits honoring our elderly.

Alan, at Poetry Pizazz, is on the same wavelength as Hubby – missing his coffee shop, but adapting/flourishing at home.

Joyce, at Musings, shares a poem by Emily Dickinson that reminds us we don’t need to be in a building to worship.

Janice, at Salt City Verse, speaks out against the death of George Floyd, but finds solace, optimism, and symbolism in her garden.

Catherine, at Reading to the Core, found the perfect poem to inspire her online learners.

MSheehan, at A Few Words, wrote an inspirational poem of personal conviction based on recent events.

Linda, at TeacherDance, took April’s challenge last week at Teaching Authors and wrote an In One Word poem that knocks it out of the ballpark.

Margaret, at Reflections on the Teche, also took April’s challenge and wrote an In One Word poem that takes shelter in an EMBRACE.


Liz, at Liz Steinglass, wrote from Marjory Maddox’s book INSIDE OUT.

Heidi, at my juicy little universe, was inspired by Billy Collins’ Master Class.

Linda, at Write Time, has a poem about the robins outside her window.

Amy LV, at The Poem Farm, has a delightful free verse poem and offers us the invitation, “to begin a poem with the lines, "If you need someone..."

Leigh Anne, at A Day in the Life, wrote about her mother’s struggle with early dementia.

Tim, at Yet There is Method, is in with a poem about intention and roots. 

Rose, at Imagine the Possibilities, captured (literally) a very sweet moment with a wren.

Bridget, at Wee Words for Wee Ones, has a puppy poem (and pictures), plus some more Wee-sources.

Karen, at Karen’s Got a Blog!, is enjoying her garden extra-much this year.

Amy, at Book Buzz, shares a poetic memory of her grandmother’s teacups.

Carol, at Beyond LiteracyLink, has a mini-gallery of woodside goodness for calming our spirits today.

Matt, at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme, dusts off a post from seven years ago that feels as fresh as yesterday!

Sally, at Sally Murphy, is mourning the damage done to “her” beach after recent storms…but she’s also looking for a silver lining.

Buffy, at Buffy Silverman, intended to write a poem of NOW, but wound up with a beautiful poem of THEN.

Irene, at Live Your Poem, writes the truth in her newest ArtSpeak: RED poem.

Susan, at Soul Blossom Living, found inspiration for both art and poetry in the bunnies she encountered on the sidewalk.

Donna, at Mainely Write, checks in with a poem of struggle and hope.


Tabatha, at The Opposite of Indifference, shares a poem by the Australian poet Judith Wright that makes a very reasonable request of This Year.

Little Willow, at Slayground, shares a fun excerpt of a Marge Piercy poem.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

You Can't Be Neutral

Yesterday, I couldn't get anything accomplished. I spent the day horrified and angry by the events of the day.

Just weeks after two men were arrested for killing Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd was killed by police officers in Minneapolis.

And then Amy Cooper.  I watched the video of Amy Cooper calling 9-1-1 and then read Ibram X. Kendi's words on Twitter.

And, I have been thinking about the words and Ibram X. Kendi's response to Amy Cooper's apology.

And then I read this important piece by Ibram X. Kendi's in The Atlantic, 

"You can either be racist or you can be antiracist. 
You can't be neutral."

As a white woman, I have learned that much of being anti-racist has to start with a commitment to do a lot of internal work. I am grateful for the many people writing and sharing and having honest conversations with me,  so that I can begin the internal work needed to be anti-racist.

For me, reading and reflecting has been important for starting this internal work.  A few years ago I started a Padlet where I collected articles and posts that were important--that helped me reflect and begin to unlearn.

But it's the books, the deep dives into the issues of race, white fragility and racism that have been most powerful for me. This is a lifelong journey and these books have helped me begin. I've shared these books over and over and over in workshops and professional meetings.

These books are not easy reads. They are books that pushed me to reflect and realize and unlearn. These are the books that have been important to me so far and I highly recommend each one.  And I highly recommend following each of these authors on social media and then following people whose work they cite and share. And when you finish with these. find more to read and study and unlearn all of the racist ideas you may have.

Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell

My first step in this anti-racist work is to do my own internal work and these books have been helpful so far.  I've read them and I've also bought them for people I know. But this is only the first step.
As I mentioned early, this is a lifelong journey. So much catching up to do in this work. So I have a summer stack started.  I have found that audiobooks are a great way to experience some of these books. I have also found that I can't read these books cover to cover--I need time as I read to process, reflect and reread.  These are not quick reads.  I have found that every book and author I find leads me to another. So, on my stack this summer I have:

(finish) How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi (I've started the on audio but need to spend more time with it each day so that I can finish it.)

An Indigenous People's History of the United States for Young People by Jean Mendoza, Debbie Reese and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (I've started this one but need to finish and reread more deeply.)

Me and White Supremecy by Layla F. Saad

Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall

Lifting as We Climb by Evette Dionne

Dark Sky Rising by Henry Louis Gates Jr.

I can't think about yesterday's news without connecting these two events and without doing something. I know reading is not enough but it has been an important step for me and one I hope more people take.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Thoughts on Teaching & Learning: All the Ways Books Are Important to Readers

Over the past several weeks, I have found myself doing a lot of reflection trying to get this online teaching right.  I keep meaning to get my thoughts on paper but then get caught up in the day-to-day work of teaching in this pandemic era.  I know if I can catch my breath, there is a lot to learn and reflect on during this time. So, I decided that every day in May, I will share my thoughts on Teaching and Learning.  

During the last week of school, I met with students in small groups.  As we finished the year, I wanted to try to do some of the things I usually did to celebrate growth, reflect and end the year. In these small group meets, I asked each student to talk about a book that was important-- a book that was important for some reason.  I chose my words carefully, as I didn't merely want a favorite book or a book they liked. So, I asked, "Tell me about a book that has been important to you in 5th grade for some reason." And then I gave them time to think about it.

The answers gave me a lot of insight into our year as readers and it also told me a bit about the ways my students approached books as readers. There was no wrong answer, but there were so many right answers. As I look at this list, I am happy with all of the ways books were important to my 5th graders. 

The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman 
"It was the first book that made me cry."  

"It was the longest book I ever read. I never thought I could read that book by myself."

A Whole New Ballgame by Phil Bildner
"It was the first book I read that was about basketball, but it was about more than basketball. It was a sports book that was really not about the sport but about friends. I realized sports books can be about more than the game."

The Unicorn Quest by Kamilla Benko
"I loved how the plot developed and it helped me think about how I develop plots as a writer. Reading it made a huge difference in my writing."

"I skipped a lot of parts that seemed boring. But then I got confused and had to go back. I realized that parts I didn't think were important in a book, might be important later."

Refugee by Alan Gratz
"This book was so confusing at the beginning.  When a book is confusing at the beginning I usually quit or ask for help, but I kept reading and rereading and it started to make sense. I learned that I could stick with books and get less confused as I read. And it is okay to be confused at the beginning of a book."

More to the Story by Hena Khan
"I loved this book and I think it was one of a lot of books that taught me empathy. Then the coronavirus happened. Between books and the quarantine and coronavirus, I became a more empathetic person."

Love, Sugar, Magic by Anna Merianao
"This book was one I annotated (a lot!) on my own and the notes helped me really think about the book in ways I don't usually when I am reading by myself."

"This was a topic I was interested in that I didn't know I was interested in."

"This book taught me that words like 'monster' that come up in a story can have multiple meanings. I realized that books and words could have more than one meaning at the same time."

The Rain Dragon Rescue by Suzanne Selfors
"I didn't know I could read a book on my own. I usually read longer books with audiobooks. But this one I read on my own and I was surprised and happy I could do it. Then I started to read lots of books."

Projekt 1065 by Alan Gratz
"I have only read fantasy for years. I thought I only liked fantasy. But this book helped me see I could like other kinds of books and I started to like historical fiction."

In my life, books have been important for so many reasons. I plan to spend some time reflecting on the many reasons books have been important in my life as a reader and as a human and to think about ways to bring more of these conversations into my work with children.  Listening in to all of the ways my students found books to be important gave me some new ways to think about the impact of books on readers.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Poetry Friday -- Praise and Amazement

This week, I received a digital ARC of Irene Latham's September book, This Poem is a Nest.

At first, all I could say was, WOW. Over and over again. Wow. Wow. WOW. I said it to the publicist at Wordsong, and then I said it to Irene. She responded, "No project I’ve worked on has been more exhilarating than that one. Just me being me."

Irene being Irene means she wrote a poem...a "nest"....and then found ONE HUNDRED SIXTY-ONE other poems..."nestling poems"....inside that "nest!" I. Can't. Even. I'm still gobsmacked.

Here is a portion of her nest, and a few of the nestlings she wrote. These are used with permission of the publisher.

I gave it a try using a poem I wrote for my 2020 NPM project as my nest.

I Have a New Friend

I have a new friend.
We've never met.
She chalks art and exercise challenges on the sidewalk.
She leaves the chalk out.
I write and draw my thanks.
Her chalk sticks became a pile of chalk pebbles.
I left a package on her porch --
Highlights magazines and gently used sidewalk chalk.
She left a package on my porch --
coloring pages, crayons and markers, four Cra-Z-Loom bracelets.
And a note.
I have a new friend named Annie.
We've never met.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2020

Here are some nestlings. Titles don't have to be found inside the nest, but the words of the nestling have to all come from the nest and have to be used in the order they're found in the nest.

Art Exercise

Draw a porch
a package
a note
a new friend.

My Favorite Squirrel Leaves a Message

Pile of pebbles on porch and sidewalk.
A note:
we've met.

Setting Sun

On the leaves, 
the sticks,
a pile of pebbles--

Try it! It's addicting and not at all easy. But most of all, get excited for September when we can hold a copy of Irene's newest wonder in our hands!

Carol has this week's Poetry Friday Roundup at Beyond LiteracyLink, and next week, the roundup is here!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Thoughts on Teaching & Learning: A Different Summer #bookaday Plan

When this pandemic/online teaching began, I thought I would get a lot of reading done. I figured I'd have lots of time and loved Donalyn's idea of Social Distancing #bookaday.  But I really haven't read so much.  The remote teaching and worrying about everyone during this pandemic have been taking a lot of energy. But I have started to read and as I go into summer I plan to commit, as I always do to Summer #bookaday.

I love Summer #bookaday.  Each May, right before the end of the school year, I count the days of summer to set my goal. This year is a little trickier because, with retirement I don't have an easy end date but decided to go with Dublin City School's start date because I think that is the timeframe that makes the most sense to me. Tomorrow is our last official teacher workday.  (Tuesday was our last day with students-more about that later.). So, if I counted right, I'll have 86 days of summer, so my goal will be to read 86 books. That seems like a lot, but I usually meet my Summer #bookaday goal.

I feel like I need a different plan than usual this year.  Our libraries are opening but in a limited way. Typically, during the summer, I order a stack of picture books each week and spend a day reading through the pile. I am not sure that is going to be possible this year.  So, I have to think about my goals as a reader and what my priorities will be since my library access will be limited.

I think it is probably a different summer for #bookaday for most of us.  This spring was not normal and even though we have plenty of time to read, falling into books is not so easy.  Plus, as Mary Lee mentioned in her post about Goals last week, she may have to be okay not meeting her reading goals as she prepares for teaching in the fall.

It feels weird not to have a classroom to read for in the fall. Getting ready for a classroom gave me a purpose for my summer #bookaday in the past.  Finding the best new read aloud, reading the best new books to recommend to 5th graders, etc. But it seems like this might be a good summer for me to catch up on all of the books I've not been able to keep up with--young adult, transitional chapter books, picture books for primary grades.  And I am thinking I may have more time than usual for adult fiction.

I haven't been keeping up with books so much. I am behind on reading a few issues of The Horn Book so I may start there.  I also need to check out Mr. Schu's Book Release Calendar to start reserving some picture books from the library.

I have a LOT of books at home. Books I haven't gotten to that I have been wanting to read. I also packed up my classroom library and have those boxes of books ready to be unloaded in the basement. There are several there that I never got a chance to read because they were making their way around the classroom. And I am hoping to make semi-regular trips to our local independent bookstores to pick up some of the newer books I am hoping to read.  I also have several professional books I am looking forward to reading. I signed up for Book Love Foundation's Summer Book Club on Cultivating Genius.

I'll keep you posted!

How will your Summer #Bookaday look different this summer?

Some books I know I want to read soon:

Monday, May 18, 2020

Thoughts on Teaching and Learning: Goals

How does one set goals for a completely unknowable future?

And since the future always has been and always will be unknowable, why does the current unknowable future seem more murky than all the others we've lived our way into? (Perhaps that one little word...pandemic? Yeah...)

I've decided I'm going to move forward with Seth Godin's advice in mind. I'm going to "...put some effort into making an imperfect situation a little less imperfect."

My goals for the summer are "Toolkit-Filling Goals." I'm going to get my Google Educator Certification (Levels 1 and 2, if all goes well), my NewsELA Educator Certification, I'm signed up to attend the Inclusive STEM & CS Summit, and I'm going to work through all of Amy LV's Notebooking videos.

Big plans for what I will do means I will have to let go of some things. This past weekend, I gave myself permission not to try to make an entire wardrobe of masks for myself and hubby. Instead, we'll support the economy as creative entrepreneurs make all sorts of functional (and hopefully fun) masks for us to buy.

This will likely be the year I don't make my Goodreads goal. And I'm okay with that. I haven't stopped reading. I just won't make it to the number of books I've read in the past or the number of books that seemed possible last January.

The "completely unknowable future" is just beyond the bend in that photo at the top of this post. I'm going to do my best not to try to see around the bend. I'm going to keep my eyes on my feet, taking one step at a time. I'm going to watch the clouds, and look for meadowlarks in the grass. One step at a time.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Thoughts on Teaching and Learning: Worried About Our Kids

Over the past several weeks, I have found myself doing a lot of reflection trying to get this online teaching right.  I keep meaning to get my thoughts on paper but then get caught up in the day-to-day work of teaching in this pandemic era.  I know if I can catch my breath, there is a lot to learn and reflect on during this time. So, I decided that every day in May, I will share my thoughts on Teaching and Learning.  This is Day 17.

During these last two months, I have been worried about our world's children. As teachers, we knew with this online/pandemic teaching, our priorities had to be connecting in a way that helped students and families through this difficult time.  The phases of this online/pandemic teaching seem predictable--it seemed fun at first and we all thought it was temporary. But then children and families and teachers got weary and this week many of my students verbalized the sadness they were feeling. I know teachers everywhere did an amazing job of taking care of our students and teachers. I am wondering how our children will be impacted in the future.

This article--Kids Are So Over Zoom: Here's What ToDo About It--popped up in my feed today and it put in words a lot that I've been worried about. It explains a lot that teachers have been seeing. For teachers and parents, it's  worth the read.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Thoughts on Teaching & Learning: 3 Picture Books

Over the past several weeks, I have found myself doing a lot of reflection trying to get this online teaching right.  I keep meaning to get my thoughts on paper but then get caught up in the day-to-day work of teaching in this pandemic era.  I know if I can catch my breath, there is a lot to learn and reflect on during this time. So, I decided that every day in May, I will share my thoughts on Teaching and Learning.  This is Day 16.

Typically, I read lots and lots of picture books. We have a fabulous library system and I often order a stack to read through on a Saturday and then decide which ones I need to own. I've really missed out on picture books over these last 2 months-I haven't kept up on the new picture books at all. And I think my students miss them too. Usually, we read at least 2-3 picture books a day but during this remote learning, we haven't really read a lot of picture books live and together. It's something I would change for next year.

This week, we did share a few picture books on Google Meet. Both are books I need to own and they both invited great conversations. If you haven't seen Lift by Minh Lè and Dan Santat, it is a must-have. I had preordered this one long ago (I do that when I see a must-have book and then I forget about it and it is a nice surprise when it arrives!). This one is as fabulous as I had anticipated. The words, the pictures, the title, all of it. There are some great themes in this one and I think it would be an amazing book to read at the beginning of the year too, as classrooms are building community.

Brave Molly by Brooke Boynton-Hughes is a book I learned about from John Mere in a Build Your Stack session this winter. This is a wordless book and the Kindle version worked out well on Google Meet. Students could see all of the details and noticed a great deal on each page. This book addresses social anxiety, but students had conversations around fear and anxiety in general so it seemed like a good book for this week.

One book that I did not share with my class, but that I will probably share this week as a great one for summer reading is this new nonfiction picture book. You're Invited to a Moth Ball: A Nighttime Insect Celebration by Loree Burns is amazing! (I think I discovered this one from Melissa Stewart.) And such a great invitation for children and families who are stuck at home. I love this book for so many reasons. First of all, it is a great fun activity for kids and families to do at home, outside. Second it is a great mentor for How-To Writing. And there are lots of extra features that give more information. And the photos are fabulous. I became a huge Loree Burns fan several years ago when I read Handle with Care and I've followed her work since. This book is fabulous, and I can see it being a well-loved book in K-5. as it has so many different entry points.

We got good news this week--our library will be opening with curbside pick-up so I am hoping I can spend the first few weeks of summer reading reviews etc. and ordering all those picture books that I've missed knowing about.