Sunday, May 31, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Tried and tried and TRIED to find a way to participate in Mother Reader's 48 Hour Book Challenge, but it's just not going to happen this year. June 5 is our (teachers') last day of school, June 6 I'm fishing in a charity fish-a-thon for Casting for Recovery (Ohio), and June 7 I'm going to be busting to get two PowerPoints ready for a conference in Michigan June 11-12. I'll do my best to get around and comment on your posts and cheer you on.
I've got the Kidlitosphere Conference on my calendar (October 16-18) and I'll sign up and get the hotel room as soon as more details become available.
Got IRA on my calendar for 2010. Looks like I'll miss one day of state testing. Hoping that won't be a problem...
Last I knew, IRA was going to be in LA in 2010. I was tickled pink to learn that it will be in Chicago instead. My savings account breathed a sigh of relief.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
by Eve Feldman
illustrated by Tuesday Mourning
G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2009
review copy provided by the publisher
There are 13 short stories in this picture book, and when I say short, I mean SHORT -- each is only 3-4 words long. Each story rhymes. And each story depends on the pictures. For example: "Bike Spike Hike". This is the story of Billy, setting off on a bike ride. He hits a spike, gets a flat tire, and winds up having to hike rather than bike.
In the story, "Dream Beam Scream!", Milly is walking along the back of the sofa, then along a balance beam. The story ends with her jumping for joy as she holds the first place trophy. My students pointed out that the end of the story would be totally different if, in the final picture, Milly had fallen off the beam and she was screaming with sadness at losing. The stories depend on the pictures!
Because of the rhymes, these are great stories for making predictions. I also think this would make a fabulous mentor text for students who want to play around with rhyme, but who have a hard time making rhyming poems that make sense. Maybe rhyming stories would be just the ticket!
Here's my favorite story. It's about a dragon that gets a little out of control, feels remorse, and allows Milly to ride on his back while he flies: "Flame Blame Shame Tame".
Friday, May 22, 2009
by Tracy Vaughn Zimmer
from STEADY HANDS: POEMS ABOUT WORK
the teacher's tasks:
creating bulletin-board displays
writing challenging tests
preparing perfect lessons
instructing, demonstrating, explaining.
But not everyone knows
the teacher's secret torments:
a lesson that knotted understanding
a bright kid who refuses to be inspired
flames of words thrown in frustration --
to haul home
than the papers, projects, and lessons
bulging out of her bag.
I dedicate this poem to all the teachers who are finishing up the school year, completing final assessments, recording data, working on report cards, and going to camp (that would be me and my team yesterday and today). Thank you to Tracy Vaughn Zimmer who got our job right in her poem.
The Poetry Friday Round Up today is at Susan Writes.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
by Ben Hillman
Your students know and love Hillman's other three books (How Big Is It?, How Strong Is It?, and How Fast Is It?), right? Well, then, you're going to have to have this newest book in the series!
How else will you know about weirdnesses like Sleepy Bacteria, Odd Eats, Bird Magnets and Superdense Space Stuff?
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Mashall Cavendish Classics, 2009
(first published as Chingis Khan in 1991 by Henry Holt and Co.)
review copy provided by the publisher
Rumi: Whirling Dervish
Marshall Cavendish, 2009
review copy provided by the publisher
First of all, these two books are classic Demi -- beautiful rich colors, detailed pictures, plenty of gold.
The similarities pretty much end there. Genghis Khan is the story of "the greatest conqueror of all time," a military genius, a heavyweight thug. Rumi is the story of "the greatest mystical poet who ever lived," a simple man, a lover of learning who saw God in everyone and everything.
The stories of these two great men intersected in the early 1200's. Rumi's first home was in Afghanistan, but his family was forced to flee to Turkey when Genghis Khan and his Mongol army were conquering their homeland.
Rumi's story tells of his meeting with a great teacher, Shamsuddin, and the three years he spent learning from him. One day after Shams disappeared, Rumi began twirling around and he didn't stop for 36 hours. Those who perform this dance are now known as whirling dervishes.
Genghis Khan had an amazing childhood. Before he could walk, he was strapped onto a horse and taught to ride. When he was four, he practiced archery while riding horses at top speed. At 5, he was responsible for herding large numbers of camel and goats. When he was 6, he took part in the yearly hunt. At 9, his father died and he became the leader of the Yakka Mongols. He went on to become the "supreme master of the largest empire ever created in the lifetime of one man."
What a fabulous pair of books to compare and contrast two of the greatest men of the 11th Century! They just about couldn't be more different, and yet both live on in the stories of their lives.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
story and illustrations by James Prosek
Simon and Schuster, 2009
I knew that birds and butterflies migrated, but I had no idea, until I read this book, that eels do, too.
The story begins in the summer, when bird is raising a nest of babies and butterflies eggs are turning to caterpillars, cocoons and new butterflies. The eel has been in the pond for many years and is eating and storing energy for her upcoming journey.
The bird flies to Argentina for the winter, the butterfly flies to Mexico, and the eel swims out of the pond into the creek and then the ocean and eventually to the Sargasso Sea near Bermuda. The barn cat, who is in all the pictures at the beginning of the book when the animals are being introduced in their habitats near the farm (pond, meadow and barn), lays at the window watching it snow.
Spring comes, and bird, butterfly and eel's babies return to the farm.
One of the best things about this book are the illustrations. For most of the book, when Prosek is telling about their differences, each animal gets its own page. But three times during the book (fall, winter and spring), when the animals are similar in their readiness to migrate, in their winter homes, and upon return to the farm, the page is split horizontally into three sections and the animals are shown together. The only illustration I would quibble with is the map that shows where each animal goes for the winter. Instead of doing separate illustrations of the continents (main idea) and the location of the pond (detail), Prosek stretched the northeastern United States, shrank South America, and made it one illustration. Artistic license, I guess. The rest of the book is so beautiful that it can be forgiven.
This is a book that could be included in a study of migrating animals, habitats, Colonial America (didn't they eat lots of eels? didn't you ever wonder about the life cycle of the eel?), similarities and differences, nonfiction with a circular text structure, or just because it's beautiful!
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
The question our team was to help answer was supposed to be: How can the MS/HS library program and facilities be improved to support student learning and achieve the ISB Vision for Learning?
But somehow it changed in a meeting with school officials this afternoon to: Does a school need a library when information can be accessed from the classroom using Internet connected laptops?
The new question is uncomfortable, messy, and incredibly important and not restricted by any means to one particular school. It is one to which all library people need a clear and compelling answer.
As a school librarian, this is an uncomfortable question. But it is one worth thinking about. What is the new vision for libraries with things changing so quickly. And he didn't give us an answer--instead he asked for others' thoughts.
In response to Doug Johnson's question about libraries, David Warlick responded on his blog. Such a smart answer. Warlick gives us a lot to think about. But the one part I keep coming back to is his ending:
In my classroom, I always tried for a coffee-shop feel. I believed that the feel of people gathering to chat about books with people they liked, to have smart discussions and to learn with friends was what I was going for. It helped me create the environment that I wanted. I have a similar vision for the library. But now, I have this new vision of a "Kinko's for Kids" to add to my coffee shop vision. I love Kinko's--like a playground of fun tools to help you create what you have in mind. And I love the idea of it even more than a coffee shop vision by itself. Can you imagine a Kinko's and a coffee shop coming together? A coffee-shop feel. But with all the tools you need right at your fingertips. A great place to get together with friends to think, talk, learn and create. I guess I always had creation in my vision but this "Kinko's for kids" idea gives me a better vision for what it is we might be trying to create.
After the rain
A colorful slide is
made by sunlight
* * * * * * *
* * * * * * *
River of 7 colors
Appear after rain.
In the blue sky it
Before it fades,
On the 7 colors let's take a
Walk in the beautiful sight.
* * * * * * *
the bridge with
* * * * * * *
Is in front of me.
Climb on it?
One of my fourth graders used SIDE BY SIDE (a 2009 Notable Children's Book in the Language Arts that features poetry -- in the original language and translated into English -- inspired by art from around the world) as her mentor text for her poetry collection. She wrote some of her poems in Japanese and translated them to English, and she wrote some in English and translated them to Japanese. She struggled with the fact that her English acrostic was no longer an acrostic in Japanese, and her Japanese haiku was no longer a haiku in English. But she learned that such is the nature of translation. The online translator that I used to get the Japanese for her poems was also problematic. The three I've included aren't exactly as she wrote them, and the two I didn't include simply didn't mean the same thing as her poems.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Friday, May 08, 2009
from WEST-RUNNING BROOK
by Robert Frost
'Speaking of contraries, see how the brook
In that white wave runs counter to itself.
It is from that in water we were from
Long, long before we were from any creature.
Here we, in our impatience of the steps,
Get back to the beginning of beginnings,
The stream of everything that runs away.
Some say existence like a Pirouot
And Pirouette, forever in one place,
Stands still and dances, but it runs away,
It seriously, sadly, runs away
To fill the abyss' void with emptiness.
It flows beside us in this water brook,
But it flows over us. It flows between us
To separate us for a panic moment.
It flows between us, over us, and with us.
And it is time, strength, tone, light, life and love-
And even substance lapsing unsubstantial;
The universal cataract of death
That spends to nothingness -- and unresisted,
Save by some strange resistance in itself,
Not just a swerving, but a throwing back,
As if regret were in it and were sacred.
It has this throwing backward on itself
So that the fall of most of it is always
Raising a little, sending up a little.
Our life runs down in sending up the clock.
The brook runs down in sending up our life.
The sun runs down in sending up the brook.
And there is something sending up the sun.
It is this backward motion toward the source,
Against the stream, that most we see ourselves in,
The tribute of the current to the source.
It is from this in nature we are from.
It is most us.'
The whole poem is here. The round up this week is at Picture Book of the Day.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Teacher Appreciation Day is sitting down in the teachers' lounge with a first grade teacher who was in my fourth grade class.
Teacher Appreciation Day is seeing a student make her idea come to being: a play she wrote based on the book HACHIKO WAITS being practiced on the stage in preparation for performance for the whole grade level.
Teacher Appreciation Day is an email from a former parent who still checks my (pathetically maintained) classroom website to see what's going on in fourth grade and who writes with periodic book chat and recommendations.
Teacher Appreciation is a Minnie Mouse watch in the mail from a family whose children I had 19 and 13 years ago. They long ago moved many states away, but we have continued to exchange Christmas cards all these years. The watch was a "gift of time" in recognition of my 10 year celebration.
Teacher Appreciation is hearing from our school librarian about her daughter, who was in my 5th grade class, now a voracious reader that had to be teased and tickled along back then, who is graduating from college and entering the Peace Corps this fall.
Teacher Appreciation doesn't just happen on a certain designated day in May. It's all the little things that let me know that what I have done with my life for the past 20+ years has made a difference -- small differences in the moment, and lasting differences that have changed lives.
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Friday, May 01, 2009
by Bill Holm
Earbud--a tiny marble sheathed in foam
to wear like an interior earring so you
can enjoy private noises wherever you go,
protected from any sudden silence.
(the rest of the poem is here)
This poem got me thinking about all of the 21st Century gadgets we can't live without, but which create barriers that separate us from other real, live human beings.
The round up this week is at Allegro.
(Photo credit: "Earbud love 2" by Dano)