Sunday, February 24, 2013


That click in the title is the sound of us pressing the "pause" button on our blog.

We'll be back in a week.

We just need some time to THINK and REFLECT on yesterday's Dublin Literacy Conference, and some time to READ and WRITE ABOUT all these books that are piling up around us!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Poetry Friday -- Lit Conference Preso

Maria (Teaching in the 21st Century) and I are going to be presenting about Poetry Friday at the Dublin Literacy Conference tomorrow. If your ears are burning, now you'll know why!

Sheri has the round up at Sheri Doyle: reading, writing, reflecting on children's literature.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Starring Jules (As Herself)

Starring Jules #1: Starring Jules (As Herself)
by Beth Ain
Scholastic, on shelves March 2013

Jules is a list maker, a worrier, and a girl with a whole lot of pizzazz. Her friendship with Charlotte is on shaky ground, but she is hopeful that she'll become friends with the new girl from London.

Jules' pizzazz is spotted by a talent scout and she is given a chance to try out for a mouthwash commercial. The only problem is that that mouthwash is orange flavored, and Jules has an irrational fear of the flavor of oranges.

This is going to be a fun series for readers who love Clementine, Frankly Frannie and Just Grace. Although Jules has an artist mom, a chef dad, an apartment in New York City, and a teacher from Cuba ("...her English sounds like the music they play on the beach in Florida."), Jules is ordinary enough to strike a chord with all kinds of readers.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

White Fur Flying

White Fur Flying
by Patricia MacLachlan
Margaret K. McElderry Books, on shelves March 2013

Alice and Zoe's family in White Fur Flying is involved in Great Pyrenees (Pyrs) rescue/fostering. They have enough space and time and love to take in Pyrs until the right home can be found for them. They even have a rescued parrot named Lena who is quite the talker.

In a parallel/opposite story, the new family next door to them consists of a stiff aunt and uncle and very scared and silent nephew, Phillip, who is staying with them while his parents work out some difficulties.

The patience and insight of the girls and the unconditional love of the dogs work together to bring all the threads of this story to a satisfying conclusion.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


It's almost time for the Dublin Literacy Conference!
Hope to see you there!

Watch for tweets all day Saturday at #DubLit13.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Like Bug Juice on a Burger

Like Bug Juice on a Burger
by Julie Sternberg
illustrated by Matthew Cordell
Abrams, on shelves April 2013

This sweet little novel in verse is the sequel to Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie.

In this book, the main character, Eleanor, is going to go to summer sleep-over camp. Her grandmother gives it to her as a gift, remembering that Eleanor's mother loved it when she was Eleanor's age.

Eleanor does NOT like camp -- the food is bad, she's the only one who can't swim, and she misses her parents and New York City.

Luckily, she makes a new friend. Joplin is VERY tall and VERY different from Eleanor, but she winds up making ALL the difference to Eleanor.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Poetry Friday -- Take a Deep Breath and Count to Ten

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Claudio Vaccaro


My teacher’s sitting in her chair,
her head between her hands.
She’s mumbling and muttering…
I think she just said SAND!

This really isn’t like her.
I know she lives to teach.
But that was unmistakable…
my teacher just said BEACH!

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2013

It's been a rough week. Sometimes the only thing that kept me sane was my poetry writing goal. 

Linda has the roundup today at TeacherDance.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day! I Haiku You!

I Haiku You
by (Ohio author) Betsy E. Snyder
Random House Books for Young Readers, 2012
review copy from my classroom library

What (or who) do you love? Betsy Snyder's twenty haiku love poems will definitely make you want to write a few of your own.

Here are some my students came up with to share with you today -- Happy Valentine's Day!

cute little faces
hopping around behind me --
look, it's the bunnies!

I love chocolate!
It melts on my tongue so slow.
Chocolate is the best!

Delicious, sweetness!
I share my cookies with friends!
Cookies are my world!

I love monster trucks.
They do front flips and back flips.
They go really high.

They're with you always --
annoying you, comforting...
but they're still family.

Buzzer beater: SWISH!
I really like basketball --
the best game ever.

Pizza, I love you.
Pizza, pizza, you're so good.
Pizza, so good and juicy.

Dance, dance, I love it!
Every day my body moves.
I cannot stop it!

Japan is the best!
Japan has yummy food, so...
Japan is the best!

Dark carmel chocolate
with a little bitterness --
it's really creamy.

Your chocolately taste
is really really yummy.
Brownies are awesome!

Your music is the best.
You guys are so funny.
Oh, One Direction!!

I love oatmeal,
brown sugar especially.
It smells really good.

I so love bacon!
So yummy in my tummy!
So, so delicious!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Goodreads Playground

I mentioned in a post last month that some of the Columbus Dispatch Kid Readers (with the help/supervision/blessing of their parents) have joined Goodreads.

Let's back up a minute and just talk about the ways we adults keep track of what we've read. My mom has a little notebook where she writes down titles and authors. She's a voracious mystery series reader, and she needs to keep track of which books in which series she's already read. My friend Lisa is the keeper of our book club's history of reading. She's got a list that goes all the way back to our club's first book together, Lucy Calkins' THE ART OF TEACHING WRITING, which we read when it was new. I was inspired by a fellow writer for the (now defunct) OSU publication THE W.E.B. to read a children's book a week (or if not a book every week, then at least 52 children's books a year). That was back in the mid-1980's. I have a whole shelf full of notebooks listing all of the books I read for about 25 years. Then, in 2007, Goodreads came on the scene. For a few years, I kept both my notebook and my Goodreads listing, but my reading record is now completely digital.

Okay. So we keep track of what we read.

But what if we'd been doing that since we were 10 or 11 years old?

It's been amazing to watch these kids explore and play on Goodreads. First they entered just the book they were currently reading. But that soon expanded. One girl keeps a list of her 5th grade reads in her Take Home folder as well as in her Language Arts binder; she entered all 50+ books she's read this year. After that, I saw other lists expand all the way back to favorites from their early reading years. They've started creating bookshelves -- learning the power of tagging -- and they're marking books as "To Read" -- planning ahead for future reading.

I heard from a parent that sending messages is a popular facet of Goodreads -- the account was created through the mom's email, and her daughter is now getting more emails than she is -- many with the sole content being, "Hi!"

That might be a somewhat trivial part of the way the students are using Goodreads, but they are also following authors' reviews, becoming fans of authors, collecting quotes, setting reading goals, and creating book quizes. Not just taking quizes, creating them and inviting the other Columbus Dispatch Readers to take them!

Up until now, Goodreads has simply been a place for me to log the books I've read. These kid-readers have explored it like a playground, finding every interesting nook and cranny and trying it all out for themselves. I can't wait to watch their reading habits change and evolve as they move through middle school, high school, and beyond. (We'll just assume for the sake of argument that there will still be both an Internet and a site called Goodreads that will last that long as well...)

Columbus Dispatch Kid Readers blog is here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Another Post on Book Purchases

I was at Cover to Cover last Saturday, too. Like Franki, I didn't so much have a shopping list of books I was hoping to find, as I had some readers in mind that I was hoping to steer in a new reading direction with my purchases.

Historical fiction is a book gap for me and for many of my students. The huge bag of historical fiction picture books I brought from the public library was pretty much of a bust for getting them to dig into more historical fiction, so I'm going to pull every historical fiction novel off my shelves and book talk them along with the four books from the I Survived series that I picked up. Navigating Early is also technically historical fiction, and I'm anxious for the Rubik's Cube Savant and his Sidekick to read this book. Watching them solve The Cube reminds me of the way Early thinks about Pi.

For my middle-of-the-road boy readers, I'm hoping that Gordon Korman's Island trilogy will a.) introduce them to a new author, and b.) get them going on some non-graphic novels. Gary Paulsen's new book with his son, Road Trip, will have to wait until I've read it. (How much school work can I delay so that I can get this book read?!?!)

Dragonbreath is a good hybrid series -- a little bit graphic novel, a little bit text novel -- and it's very funny. I haven't been able to keep up, but I've read at least four of them. Book #8 is Dragonbreath #8: Nightmare of the Iguana. I'm trying not to buy any more graphic novels this year because a significant chunk of my collection has gone missing, but I couldn't resist just this one.

Because of Karen, I bought The False Prince: Book 1 of the Ascendance Trilogy. (I also bought it for my Kindle app -- it was the Kindle Daily Deal last Saturday!) Looks like we won't have to wait too long for book two!

Like Franki, the minute I saw Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems I had to have it, and Franki knew I wouldn't be able to resist I Haiku You (more on that one in a future post).

The new Elephant and Piggie (Let's Go for a Drive! (An Elephant and Piggie Book)) I even need a reason to own more Mo Willems?!?

All I can say about this purchasing spree at Cover to Cover is -- GOOD THING I HAD A GIFT CERTIFICATE!!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Book Purchases

I made a trip to Cover to Cover this week and picked up a stack of books.  It is so different shopping as a classroom teacher than it was to shop as a librarian.  I understand the way kids are changing as readers. I know which books are being passed around.  And I can predict ways I can stretch a child from one type of book to another. Today's trip was one with few expectations. I didn't really need anything so I wasn't sure what I was looking for. But a few titles caught my eye because I knew they might move readers.  I left with a bag of a few new titles that I am excited about and a few not-so-new titles that I think might be perfect for a few students ready to grow in new directions as readers.

I am very excited about Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems --I loved Singer and am excited about this new book of Reverso poems.

I read about Athlete vs. Mathlete on the blog Mary Lee's kids are keeping about 2013 books. Columbus Dispatch Kid Readers is a great resource for 2013 books and I think it will be an expensive blog for me to read.

I also picked up some new Goosebumps titles.  A few students have had their first Goosebumps experience with the graphic novel so I thought I'd share some of these with them.   I picked up some brand new ones as the one I have are old and tattered. Excited to see if these hook anyone.

One of my students, a Hunger Games fan, just decided to try the Gregor series because he loves Suzanne Collins. He read Gregor The Overlander (Underland Chronicles, Book 1) which is the only one I have in the room. So I thought I'd pick up #2 and #3 in case more kids start reading this.  Not many kids read it before Hunger Games but it seems to be more popular now.

I have a group of kids who has been reading We are the Ship by Kadir Nelson.  In January, they discovered Walter Dean Myers book The Journal of Biddy Owens, the Negro Leagues, Birmingham, Alabama, 1948 and loved it.  I realized that there are more historical fiction books in this journal form by Myers so thought I'd pick a few up. I think the kids who liked the other book may like them. I also think they might appeal to my I Survived fans.

And I am MOST excited about Lisa Graff's new book A Tangle of Knots. I love Lisa Graff and have yet to be disappointed by any of her books. This one looks fabulous and I hope to read it soon!

Friday, February 08, 2013

Poetry Friday -- Ummm...

Ode to the Word on the Tip of My Tongue

You're so...
(I'm speechless)

Whenever you...
(I'm mum)

The best thing...
(I'm silenced)

I love how you...
(struck dumb)

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2013

Tara has the Poetry Friday Roundup at A Teaching Life.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Navigating Early

Navigating Early
by Clare Vanderpool
Delacorte Press, 2013
review copy ARC provided by Cover to Cover Books for Young Readers

It's been a long time since a book has grabbed me by the collar and sat me down in a chair and refused to let me up until I finished it.

Navigating Early wiggled its way into my school bag and forced me to read during SSR time, as I ate lunch, and while my students were at art.

I fell in love with Jack, from flat, wide open Kansas, who pukes the first time he looks at the ocean. And I fell in love with Early, who listens to Billie Holiday when it rains. I fell in love with the stories within the story -- the travels of Pi that match both the digits of Pi as well as the adventure Jack and Early have in the backwoods of Maine.

I couldn't help myself -- I dogeared the page corner at Chapter 21 -- the first time I can ever remember encountering fly fishing in a children's book (not to mention a spirited argument about why Jesus could possibly have been "a likely candidate for fly-fishing").

Navigating Early is mysterious and magical, brimful of surprising characters, and with an ending that's a sigh of satisfaction.

Move Navigating Early to the top of your must-read list. You won't regret it.

Also reviewed by
Kevin at Kevin's Meandering Mind
Katherine at Read, Write, Reflect
Colby at Sharpread

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Amelia Bedelia -- Celebrating 50 Years

Amelia Bedelia Fiftieth Anniversary Edition
by Peggy Parish
illustrated by Fritz Siebel
Greenwillow Books, 1963/2013
review copy provided by the publisher

Hard to believe that Amelia Bedelia has been blundering along taking life literally for fifty years. I bet she still makes a mean lemon meringue pie!

This Fiftieth Anniversary Edition of the original picture book comes with seven pages of backmatter, including original advertisements, The Story Behind the Story with information about both Peggy Parish and Fritz Siebel, and a timeline of the ways Amelia Bedelia has been portrayed in illustrations from 1963 to the present.

It doesn't seem fair that while all the rest of us have been aging these last 50 years, Amelia Bedelia has been getting younger -- she began as a somewhat grandmotherly housekeeper and now she's a skinny legged girl in polkadot tights!

Peggy Parish's died in 1988, but her nephew, Herman Parish, continued the series in 1995. Amelia Bedelia can now be found in I Can Read! books (levels 1 and 2) and in short chapter books.

Amelia Bedelia Chapter Book #1: Amelia Bedelia Means Business

For more anniversary fun, visit Amelia Bedelia's website at HarperCollins, and follow her on Twitter @AmeliaBedelia.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

BRAVE GIRL by Michelle Markel

At Cover to Cover the other day, Beth handed me a stack of books she thought I'd like (She's nice like that:-)  One of the books was one I knew I had to have once I saw the cover. BRAVE GIRL:  CLARA AND THE SHIRTWAIST MAKERS' STRIKE OF 1909 Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909 written by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Mellissa Sweet.

This is a great picture book biography about young Clara Lemlich who fought the working conditions  and led the largest walkout of women workers in US history.

I loved the story. It brings an important issue to a level that young children can understand without taking away the seriousness of it.  It is also a story of a person we don't read about often, but who made a huge impact on our world.

I have been trying hard to figure out how to make our upcoming government unit more accessible to my 4th graders. Such big concepts. Books like this seem to be perfect in helping kids understand democracy, the constitution and how laws are made/change/etc.
Looking forward to sharing this one with kids.

Monday, February 04, 2013

2 Upcoming Wordless Books from Chronicle

I was excited to get a package from Chronicle this week that contained two upcoming wordless picture books. I feel like I can never have enough of these if they are good ones. So many opportunities to teach and explore for all ages.  I love when I find new ones to add to my collection.

Inside Outside by Lizi Boyd is a gorgeous new wordless picture book that captures ordinary days and the way one boy spends them both inside and outside.  There are fun die-cuts in most of the pages that connect the story and that add fun to the book. Lots to notice on each page. And the color choice is unique which I love.  Kids will want to revisit this book often and really, it just makes me happy to read it. I love the story as well as the art and the details make it even more fun.

The other book is Flight 1, 2, 3 is one that didn't draw me in from the start but one that I fell in love with once I opened it up! Now, this book will definitely draw young readers in with the cover--trains, trucks, planes, and cars do that and this cover has lots to look at (airplane, airport, etc.). At first I thought this book would be like the Donald Crews classics about forms of transportation but I was thrilled to see that it was so much more. The book takes the reader on a journey they will take if they go on a flight--from the cab ride to the airport to getting to the destination, this book captures the experiences of travelers today. I love the inclusion of throwing away liquids before security as well as the stop at the restroom before getting on the flight. But I also love the fact that the author has taken the wordless to a new level with information. Throughout the book are signs you will see in the airport as well as a diagram of the seating on a plane. A bird's eye view of how the planes are organized at gates is also shown.  This book is really packed and fun to look at. I can imagine young children will look at it over and over again.  So many possibilities for conversations and learning!

Both of these books are due out in March!

Sunday, February 03, 2013

My Reading: Learning More about BYOD

We have a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy at school.  Early in the year, most of my kids didn't have their own devices and those that did pretty much used them for ebook reading. A Kindle, a Nook, an iPod touch. But since  the holidays, more of my students have mobile devices.
Smart phones, iPods, Kindles, Nooks, etc.  All of a sudden in January, kids are involved in all kinds of writing projects and they understand the power of these tools beyond ereading.  They watch me take photos of their work on my iPhone/iPad to drop into my conference folder. They've seen me take notes on my phone when we have a guest speaker or when I need to remember something. They knew I had my twitter feed up during the Newbery announcements (not for them to follow as it was filled with inappropriate spam) but just in case the live feed stopped working.  We have one cart in the school that houses laptops, ipads and ipods.  They learned some apps early and have used the iPods/iPhones/iPads for videotaping, notes, photos, etc. as the year has progressed have started using their devices in new ways.  I have an old iPod and and iPod shuffle that I want to add to the mix of what is available to kids and the kids are (very quickly!) learning new ways to use their devices for learning.  

With all of this comes lots of learning for me. I have a Kindle Fire, but have no idea how to get a child's writing from their Kindle Fire to my dropbox. I have an iPod but again, my notes feature has a setting that automatically drops it in my email. One student mentioned a DS and I have never actually touched one of those.  So, lots of learning for me. How to find the right tools for kids on devices I don't know and how to get their work to where it needs to be. If a child writes a blog post on their iPod, I have to figure out how to get that when the children do not have email accounts.  Not huge things, but interesting challenges, nonetheless.

As I've been reading to find information on these issues, I have come across some great articles.  I have tried to look at articles that do not focus on 1:1 schools, but schools like mine that have some devices and a BYOD policy.  I am going to add these to my Pinterest board so I have them at my fingertips. These are mostly articles I'd read before but with more devices, we have more opportunities for learning. I find at this age, parents of students are very supportive of their students using these devices for their learning. We are all trying to find apps that will help them as readers, writers and learners.

I am excited about the whole BYOD option, especially now that so many more students have a tool. Between the ones they bring in and the school's technology, kids are really changing the focus on their learning.  And I am learning lots too.

Here are the posts/articles I've read recently to help me make sure I am thinking broadly about the way devices can be used.  If you have any others, I'd love to add them to my reading list!

Some Schools Actually Want Students to Play With Their Smartphones in Class

I found this entire blog on Nooks in the Classroom

44 Better Ways to Use Smart Phones in the Classroom

And I love this newest post by George Couros, BYOB:  A Bare Miniumum--Love his last two paragraphs about it being the least we should be doing and it has to be about what we are doing with these devices.

Looking forward to learning more and in watching to see what my students do with the devices in the future!

Saturday, February 02, 2013

January Mosaic

Not many photos in January.
It was a good month, nonetheless.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Poetry Friday


When I get in a rut
I remind myself:
rhythm needs jazz.

When I lose my focus
I remind myself:
jazz needs rhythm.

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2013

In January, I created a rut for myself -- I wrote a poem a day for Kathryn Apel's Month of Poetry (#MoP13) Challenge. My routine was to get up, exercise/walk, then sit down and write a poem before getting ready for school. To be able to to ready to sit down at the kitchen table and produce a poem meant that I had to have been "writing" all day long (maybe in my dreams) and during my early morning walk. By "writing" I mean constantly thinking about what I would write for the next day's poem: looking for the story, the scene, the emotion, the rich words that sounded just right together.

The biggest gain was the habit and the attitude of mind. Every poem wasn't great, of course. Very few came even close.

And there were losses. At first I couldn't figure out how to be a good group member on the private #MoP13  site where we posted our poems and commented on others'. I was posting at about 6 AM, which was near midnight in Australia when most of the other participants had already posted, commented, and gone to bed. The more I managed to get involved in the #MoP group, the less I visited Twitter (where I was already sporadic) and FaceBook (which resulted in being the last to know about things like a certain broken wrist).

I'm going to keep this rut in February, but I'm going to jazz it up a bit. I'm going to add some time (a poem every TWO days), use the dictionary (similar to, but not exactly the same way Amy LV did last April), and require every poem to rhyme. I'm also going to take today off (partly because I know what my first poem will feature a "green door").

Jazz. Rhythm.

Music -- and poetry -- need both.

April has the roundup today at Teaching Authors.