Monday, July 16, 2018

Being the Change -- Cyber PD Week 2

The #cyberPD book this year is Being the Change: Lessons and Strategies to Teach Social Comprehension.

In Week 2, we read chapters 3 and 4, which brought us from a more individual exploration of identity and the listening skills we will need to instill as our norms, to the strategies for identifying and teaching about bias and microaggressions in ourselves and the news.

I found two books that I will add to my classroom library and use with my students to explore identity and bias. (Truth in advertising/#teamworkrocks -- Franki alerted me to both of these titles!)

The Cardboard Kingdom
by Chad Sell
Knopf Books for Young Readers, June 2018

This graphic novel is a collection of short stories about the imaginative summer play of a diverse group of neighborhood kids. I'm thinking it will be my first read aloud (Kindle version), in order to set the tone for what a graphic novel demands of a reader, along with conversations about identity, bias, bullying, what makes a family...and more.

How to Be a Lion
by Ed Vere
Doubleday Books for Young Readers, June 26, 2018

The world expects a lion to be fierce and violent, but that's not the only way to be a lion. While this book might be too straightforward/didactic for some, I love the friendship between Leonard the lion and Maryanne, the poetic duck. Lots of bias to unpack, and Leonard and Maryanne find a unique way to stand up to the bullies at the end. They may not change the way others think, but they have solidified their own beliefs.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Poetry Friday -- Punctuation

poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
illustrated by Serge Bloch
Wordsong, August 7, 2018

I've been home exactly one day this week. Last Sunday-Tuesday I was at NerdCampMI, then Thursday-Sunday I am at WLU Literacies for All Summer Institute in Baltimore. 

That left Wednesday to catch up with friends at Fox in the Snow, repack my suitcase, and take care of the teetering pile at the mail table.

So. Truth in advertising. All I've had time to do is SQUEAL when I opened the envelope with the ARC of A Bunch of Punctuation. I haven't read it. I've seen the list of contributors. I'm taking it on the plane with me. I'll look for your extensive and thoughtful reviews and link them here. In the meantime, here's one that's NOT in A Bunch of Punctuation:

On Punctuation
by Elizabeth Austen
via The Writers Almanac archives

not for me the dogma of the period
preaching order and a sure conclusion
and no not for me the prissy
formality or tight-lipped fence
of the colon and as for the semi-
colon call it what it is
a period slumming
with the commas
a poser at the bar
feigning liberation with one hand
tightening the leash with the other
oh give me the headlong run-on
fragment dangling its feet
over the edge give me the sly
comma with its come-hither
wave teasing all the characters
on either side give me ellipses
not just a gang of periods
a trail of possibilities
or give me the sweet interrupting dash
the running leaping joining dash all the voices
gleeing out over one another
oh if I must
give me the YIPPEE
of the exclamation point
give me give me the curling
cupping curve mounting the period
with voluptuous uncertainty

Sylvia has this week's Poetry Friday Roundup at Poetry For Children, and she has news about another AMAZING anthology you'll want to give to the person who does the morning announcements at your school!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Making Time and Space for Nonfiction: Mock Orbis Pictus Award

One of my goals this year is to make sure that nonfiction is more valued in the classroom. I want students to find nonfiction they enjoy reading--books they read because it's interesting--not because it's for school, a project, etc. I just want them to think about nonfiction in ways that invite joy and wonder.

One thing I noticed last year was that I didn't focus on nonfiction enough early in the year.  I didn't read enough nonfiction as part of #classroombookaday.  I didn't booktalk enough nonfiction. So this year, I hope to do better.

I think participating in NCTE's Mock Orbis Pictus Award will help us start the year thinking about nonfiction in new ways.  I spent some time this week looking closely at the Orbis Pictus Award criteria and I think talking around these things will open up great conversations around nonfiction--it will give us all a new way to think about and analyze nonfiction, which in turn will probably make us better readers of nonfiction. It will also help us think about credible sources, the ways visuals and text work together and more.

The Orbis Pictus Award criteria (taken directly from the NCTE site) includes the following:
  • Accuracy—current and complete facts, balance of fact and theory, varying points of view, avoidance of stereotypes, author’s qualifications adequate, appropriate scope, authenticity of detail
  • Organization—logical development, clear sequence, interrelationships indicated, patterns provided (general-to-specific, simple-to-complex, etc.)
  • Design—attractive, readable; illustrations that complement text, placement of illustrative material appropriate and complementary; appropriate media, format, type
  • Style—writing is interesting and stimulating, reveals author’s enthusiasm for subject; curiosity and wonder encouraged; appropriate terminology, rich language

So far, I've added several nonfiction titles to the classroom library. Some that I think will be interesting to think about as we participate in Mock Orbis are:

I will continue to keep up with nonfiction and am excited about approaching nonfiction in this way this fall with my students.

If you know of any great 2018 nonfiction books we should read and discuss as part of our #NCTEMockOrbis work, let me know in the comments! Hoping to see lots of people talking about this on Twitter and Instagram as we share great new nonfiction titles. Check out the link and join us!

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Being the Change -- #cyberPD Week One

The #cyberPD book this year is Being the Change: Lessons and Strategies to Teach Social Comprehension.

I'm not going to outline the content of the introduction and the first two chapters. You need to read the book and glean your own take-aways. Here are two of mine, and a story.

#1--This is the right book at the right time for me. I wish I'd had it two years ago when racial tensions were high in my classroom. I wish I'd had it last year. I see now that those two boys aren't the ones who needed to change, it who needs to (who can) change.

#2--This book makes me exceedingly grateful that I stood my ground and remained a self-contained classroom this year (and hopefully through to the end of my teaching career). Increasingly, it seems to me that classroom community is the key element in all that I do -- in the art that is my teaching.

Story--One morning several weeks ago, there was a knock at the door. AJ answered it, and stepped out onto the porch to talk with the person. I admire (and defer to) his patience in listening to and engaging with political, religious, and sales people who show up on our doorstep. I was glad he was out there and I could remain in here on the couch reading. The woman was selling some sort of educational materials, he said when he came back in.

She returned later that evening. AJ answered the knock again, but called me to come and talk to her. She had been out knocking on doors all day long. It was hot. She needed to log a certain number of interactions (sales?) each day. Learning from AJ, I offered her a bottle of water, but she was carrying her own. With a thick Eastern European accent, she launched into a description of the product she was selling. It was a text book covering every subject (or maybe a series of text books and I just saw sample pages from each subject). I listened. I saw how the history articles were condensed into just the main points students would need to know to answer the questions at the end of the chapter. I saw how the math pages had the teacher explanation below each example so that when students were working on their homework (and look -- LOTS of practice work for students -- many, many problems for each concept) both they and their parents would know how the problems should be solved. I saw that her product could serve as the be-all and end-all for homeschooling families.

I listened, but in the end I had to tell her that I don't teach from text books. I address the standards and meet the needs of my students with resources and materials that I gather on my own, or that are suggested by my district. I described my teaching as art, rather than as the science of opening a text book to the next page. She was in awe. She had never heard of this way of teaching and learning. She thought that perhaps she would have liked to have learned in a classroom like that.

I had to send her away without a sale (I hope she was able to log a conversation with a teacher, theoretically a potential buyer). I reaped all the benefits. I was left with an even deeper gratitude that I am blessed to teach in a district that does not have mandated textbooks in the elementary school. A district that respects me as a professional and trusts the ART of teaching.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Poetry Friday -- Haiku

Click to enlarge

I love that haiku can be used to make fun of both life and haiku itself. In spite of its history of deep meaning and sparse wording, haiku can also be frivolous and a little bit silly.

Haiku can also be perfectly timed and eerily auspicious as well. We spent the third week of June in Germany celebrating the 90th birthday of my German "mother." (I was a Lion's Club exchange student in high school. The six weeks I spent with Elisabeth's family the summer she turned 50 mark a watershed moment in my growing up years.)

I want to be 90 like THAT!

This was the Daily Issa in my email inbox on Elisabeth's birthday:

old pine
starting a new year...
how many spring mists?


oi matsu ya aratamete mata iku kasumi

Tricia has today's Poetry Friday roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Making Time and Space for Nonfiction: Books for Writers

This year, I am committed to reading and thinking more about nonfiction in the classroom. That means I will make more time to read more nonfiction so that I know more nonfiction. That way, I can book talk it, share in conferences, read aloud and more. So this year, I plan to do a weekly series, "Making Time and Space for Nonfiction". Every (hopefully) Wednesday on the blog, I'll share some nonfiction thinking--a book I've read, something that happened in the classroom, some learning I did, etc. This will help me stick to my goal throughout the year and help me reflect on my learning and thinking about nonfiction
We have a basket of books in the classroom library that is rarely used. This is a basket of books for writers--books to help writers in some way. The books are fantastic and I've never thought about them as nonfiction but I realize most of them do fall under the category of nonfiction. Most of the books in the basket serve to help writers try something different.

I tend to buy lots of these because I find short texts are perfect for minilesson and small group work. I often use excerpts from these books in mini lessons or with small groups. But it is very seldom that a child chooses to go to one of these books on his/her own.

I realize I haven't done enough to teach students how and when to use these books. There are so many ways people enter books like this and I think a few mini lessons book talking these books, sharing ways to dip into the books, reading some parts aloud, etc. may make these more accessible for students. I also hadn't thought about helping kids see how online resources from some authors do similar things and that writing workshop might be the time you read/view this type of text. Creating a multimedia text set for writers seems important for the coming year.

One thing that I am learning already is that there are so many kinds of nonfiction--far more than any one list can cover.  I had never really thought about these as specifically nonfiction but I think the definitely fall into that category (or at least parts of each one do) and my role is to help make them more accessible to writers in the classroom.

At last week's Scholastic Reading Summit in Denver, Stephanie Harvey reminded us to "Look across the curriculum and make sure reading is embedded in every part of the day."  We definitely read during writing workshop but I am not sure we read the kind of nonfiction that would help us as writers during that time.  I am thinking I need a shelf of books for writers-something a little separate--even though all books can serve as mentors to writers, those books written specifically for writers may need their own more accessible space this year as I think about inviting more nonfiction reading.

Books in this basket currently include:

Writing Radar: Using Your Journal to Snoop Out and Craft Great Stories by Jack Gantos

Our Story Begins:  Your Favorite Authors and Illustrators Share Fun, Inspiring and Occasional Ridiculous Things They Wrote as Kids

The Creativity Project: An Awesometastic Story Collection by Colby Sharp

A Writer's Notebook, How Writers Work, Live Writing,  and Poetry Matters by Ralph Fletcher

Spilling Ink: A Young Writer's Handbook by Ellen Potter and Anne Mazer

Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly by Gail Carson Levine

Comics Confidential: Thirteen Graphic Novelists Talk Story, Craft and Life Outside the Box by Leonard S. Marcus

Online Resources to be Included in This Text Set

Melissa Stewart's Site-Revision Timelines as well as her Behind the Books posts on her blog

Write with Jess Keating: Write with Jess Keating Series--10 videos

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Lessons From A Bike Ride

I went for a bike ride this morning before it got too hot. I labored up a long, grueling hill with my eyes on the bit of the street just in front of my front tire. In the nick of time, I looked up and avoided a low-hanging tree branch that would certainly have smacked me in the face.

This experience seems to be the perfect cautionary tale for the school year. At some point, the newness wears off and a week can start to feel like a long, grueling hill. With our heads down and our eyes focused on only what is right in front of us, we risk shortsightedness and a reactionary way of dealing with unexpected things that pop up. Let's remember to keep our heads up and our eyes on the long view, enjoying all of the scenery around us and watching for low hanging branches. Let's celebrate the hill rather than cursing it, knowing that we will be stronger when we get to the top.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Making Time and Space for Nonfiction: Otis and Will Discover the Deep

This year, I am committed to reading and thinking more about nonfiction in the classroom. That means I will make more time to read more nonfiction so that I know more nonfiction. That way, I can book talk it, share in conferences, read aloud and more.  So this year, I plan to do a weekly series, "Making Time and Space for Nonfiction". Every (hopefully) Wednesday on the blog, I'll share some nonfiction thinking--a book I've read, something that happened in the classroom, some learning I did, etc.  This will help me stick to my goal throughout the year and help me reflect on my learning and thinking about nonfiction.

As part of my summer reading, I am trying to read more nonfiction. One book I read this week was Otis and Will Discover the Deep by Barb Rosenstock. I was expecting a picture book biography and I guess this book would fit into that category but it is a bit more.  This is the story of Otis Barton and Will Beebe who were the first people to discover the deep of the ocean.  Their Bathysphere was a device that they created to do just that. I loved the story of how these two men collaborated over time.   There is a lot to this story in terms of problem solving, collaboration, and adventure. This is a good example of a book that got me interested in an idea I didn't even know I was interested in before reading. 

The Author's and Illustrator's note at the end of the book give more interesting information and include some authentic photos. There is also a note from Constance Carter, Former Head of Science Reference at the Library of Congress who worked with Will Beebee.

The other interesting thing about this book is that it is illustrated by Katherine Roy. You may know her from her fabulous books How to Be and Elephant and Neighborhood Sharks. I am getting better at knowing authors and illustrators of nonfiction. Roy's illustrations are perfect for this story.

I'm looking forward to sharing this book with kids this fall.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Why I Don't Like Music or The Truth About My Singing

Every child deserves the opportunity to become a lifelong reader.
                                 It’s All About the Books by Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan

I don’t like music. It’s true. Friends are often surprised by this small detail about me. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I decided that I didn’t like music, but I know there were four experiences that have had a huge impact on my attitude towards music.

For my entire elementary school career, our music teacher kept me after class each week having me practice hitting a note I just couldn’t hit in class. She was very kind, yet always looked so very disappointed when I could not get the note by practicing it over and over again in front of others who were having the same problem. I was always irritated to stay after class but never too worried about hitting that note.

As 5th graders, we took part in a big tradition in my elementary school. 5th and 6th graders put on an elaborate music program. It was a big deal and very fun. It was something you looked forward to from Kindergarten through 4th grade. One day at rehearsal for the show, one of the 6th grade teachers came over to me and told me that I might want to mouth the words. At the time I was a 5th grader so a 6th grade teacher talking to me individually during rehearsal was a big deal. And I was old enough to understand that her singling me out to chat meant that I could not sing well enough to really be part of the show. I wasn’t 100% defeated until the next year, when the music teacher determined that as a 6th grader I would be an “angel” in the play—a silent role with some time on stage. And because I had a role, I would not be needed as part of the choir for singing.

Fast forward 9 years to college. I had to take a music methods course in order to become an elementary teacher. My professor was retiring that spring and one of his requirements had always been for students to teach a song to the class by singing it aloud. He requested a private meeting with me, informing me that in all of his long career, he had never heard anyone sing as badly as I did and he decided I should play the piano and say the words when I taught the song. He insisted that he had never had to ask anyone to do this but for me, it was important. During my lesson, he explained the dilemma to the class and asked me to promise (in front of our entire lecture hall) that I would never sing in front of children--as it would definitely harm them--just by hearing it.

It is truly amazing that I continued to sing but during my first year of teaching, I decided birthdays were too important so I sang “Happy Birthday” with the class when my 1st graders had a birthday. But I forgot that I had shared my singing stories with some teachers and the principal. My principal thought it was funny to “listen in” on the loudspeaker at the end of any day he knew there was a birthday in our classroom. Then he would pop down and make a comment about my singing voice.

You could say I am embarrassed about my horrible singing voice. That would be 100% true. It is really not a big deal, something I almost never think about--until it is time to sing “Happy Birthday." Now when it is time to sing “Happy Birthday” to a family member, friend or colleague, I just don’t participate—I disengage. If you are ever with me and it is a friend’s birthday, you may think it is rude that I mouth the words or I go find something else to do.

Because of this shame, I have just learned to live a very full life without much music or singing.

Imagine if these experiences had been in reading instead of singing? I know many people in the world who lead very full lives without books and reading. They have many hobbies and interests and talents outside of reading, but they may also have learned to avoid reading because of the subtle (and not so subtle) messages they got about reading from well-meaning people throughout their lives.

I am certain that my elementary music teacher meant well. She took her job very seriously and wanted me to learn how to sing. These were quick moment in her teaching life that I am certain she would not even remember or think twice about. But her first messages to me have stuck and I remember the weekly look of disappointment on her face clearly.

In 5th grade I stopped seeing myself as someone who could sing. This was solidified again in college and again as a first year teacher. In Choice Words, Peter Johnston says, “Building an identity means coming to see in ourselves the characteristics of particular categories (and roles) of people and developing a sense of what it feels like to be that sort of person and belong in certain social spaces.” (p. 23)

I think as teachers we all say and do things in the course of the day hoping it is in the best interest of our students. I am confident that all of the music teachers I had wanted what they thought was best for me. But they let me know over and over again that I was just not cut out to be a person who sings. Of course, we want students who can read, but we also want students who become lifelong readers. We want students who see themselves as readers and students who cannot imagine a full life without reading. We need to remember that in every single interaction we have with a child.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Poetry Friday -- Fireflies

If You Catch a Firefly
by Lillian Moore

If you catch a firefly
          and keep it in a jar
You may find that
          you have lost
A tiny star.

If you let it go then,
          back into the night,
You may see it
          once again
Star bright.

Want to learn more about fireflies? Click here.
I've featured fireflies for Poetry Friday two other times!

I didn't grow up with fireflies.
Did you?
Do you have them where you live now?
Do you call them fireflies or lightning bugs?

Karen has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at Karen Edmisten*.

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Stone Girl's Story

The Stone Girl's Story
by Sarah Beth Durst
Clarion Books, 2018

Mayka's father was a stone mason. He brought her to life by carving her story onto her body. She and the other living stone creatures her father created live happily together in seclusion on the mountain. But Mayka's flesh-and-blood father has long been gone, and as the reader sees in the opening scenes of the book with Mayka and her dear friend Turtle, as the marks on their bodies fade, the creatures...stop. So Mayka leaves her mountain in search of a stonemason who will return with her and repair the marks on all of her friends. When she gets to the city, she discovers an evil plot that endangers all stone creatures.

I love fantasy, but only if the author can build a world that is absolutely believable. Sarah Beth Durst has done that in The Stone Girl's Story.

This is fantasy at its best: a hero's journey to save family and friends. An Oz-like journey with fellow travelers who are also looking for help. A story with big themes:
  • the quest to be accepted for who you are is a worthy one
  • don't judge others based on their appearance or your assumptions
  • absolute power is dangerous
  • pay attention to who is telling the stories
  • know your own story and tell it proudly
  • choice is important...necessary...vital to your story
  • you have the power to shape your own story
  • an obedience mark is dangerous
  • the right words can give you freedom
  • you can learn to be brave
  • together we can rise up against evil and overpower it
  • even a monster's story can be rewritten to be AWESOME

Move this book to the top of your TBR pile. I hope you love it as much as I do. It might just be one of my first read alouds of the year next year!

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Poetry Friday -- High Plains Wind

Unsplash photo via Matthieu Joannon

High Plains Wind
     (after Wind by James Arthur)

     it's true sometimes I cannot
stop myself from lifting
     the roof shingles

unleashing tumbleweeds snapping
tree branches
muddying the pool I'm nothing
     until I happen
barreling down from the North
     filling eyes with grit
     nostrils too
pelting the streets with dusty sleet

above wheatfields
    surfing the waves of grain
so full of high excitement howling
I borrow the arid topsoil
     and fling it into the ditch

arriving with news of the bindweed
     and the horseflies
at times buffeting you so violently
in ways you register
     as fists

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2018

I am blessed to live in a climate where we have day-long gentle rains that allow the oaks to tower and the corn to grow without irrigation. We are currently several inches over the average rainfall for the year, and yet in the High Dry Plains of Eastern Colorado, even an inch of our rain could save crops and livelihoods. It's desperately dry there, and the wind is unrelenting. When I read Wind by James Arthur, I knew I wanted to tell the story of a more savage and remorseless wind than his rascally wind whose antics include turning umbrellas inside out (I never owned one until I moved to the midwest), stealing hats, and embracing as light as a touch. The wind back home is downright mean-spirited and vengeful.

On a lighter note, we filled the Poetry Friday Roundup Schedule for July-December in under a week! 

Kiesha has this week's roundup at Whispers from the Ridge.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

The Luxury of Inefficiency

Yes, I'm enjoying my summer break. Thank you for asking.

I realized this morning that the biggest gift of these few weeks off is the luxury of inefficiency.

I have been busy the last two weeks:
  • all day math summit
  • all day Casting for Recovery planning team meeting
  • Children's Literature Assembly virtual board meeting
  • July-Dec Poetry Friday roundup schedule completed in one week
  • read nine chapter books and stacks of picture books 
  • first bike ride of the summer
  • reacquainted with bi-weekly swimming schedule
  • doctors' appointments that don't require sub plans
  • a wedding
  • plans for our trip to Germany and Amsterdam
  • weeding and edging the back garden beds
  • one swallowtail caterpillar raised to chrysalis indoors and two more on watch in the garden
  • playing with new macro lens for my iPhone camera (see above)
  • tea at Asterisk
  • stay up late
  • sleep in
I have been busy, but I haven't felt particularly scheduled. That is the luxury I'm savoring for the next few weeks.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Reading More Nonfiction

I love the extra time I have in the summer to read.  I already have quite a stack of books ready to go for the summer as I use summer to catch up a bit. I love fiction and I tend to read mostly middle grade fiction in the summer. But when talking to colleagues about nonfiction in our classrooms, I realized that I don't read as much middle grade nonfiction as I could.  I tend to read a lot of short nonfiction--lots of picture books and shorter nonfiction- but if I want my students to know and love nonfiction that has more depth I know I need to commit to reading and book talking more titles. So I have been keeping track of books that I hope to read this summer--nonfiction that is a big longer than my usual picture book nonfiction reading that I enjoy (although I have included a few picture books here.). Here they are:

Strongheart: Wonder Dog of the Silver Screen by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann

Snowy Owl Invasion! by Sandra Markle

Magic Trash by J.h. Shapiro

The People Shall Continue by Simon Ortiz

The Water Walker by Joanne Robertson

Otis and Will Discover the Deep by Barb Rosenstock and Katherine Roy

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Poetry Friday -- The Final Golden Shovel

Whether you believe you can or believe you can’t, you’re right. ~Henry Ford


You are going to fail, whether
you want to or not, in big and small ways. You
can spend your time worrying about that, or you can believe
that failure is valuable. It’s the way we learn. You
are in charge of how you think about your mistakes. You can
embrace them, trying to fail better every day, or
you can wallow in your catastrophes. What you believe
will determine how well you
live. I can’t
predict your future, but I have a good feeling that you’re
going to be more than all right.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2018

In April, I wrote a golden shovel for each of my students, using a quote chosen by each student as the striking line. Only one poem was missing from the collection: mine. Here it is. Number 31. It is the blessing I bestowed upon the Hahn Squad as I sent them out into the world and off to middle school. 

Buffy has the Poetry Friday Roundup for today at Buffy's Blog.

And it's time to gather Roundup hosts for July - December. That post is here.

Poetry Friday -- Call for Roundup Hosts

It's that time again. Six months have passed since last we queued up to host the Poetry Friday roundups.

If you'd like to host a roundup between July and December 2018, leave your choice(s) of date(s) in the comments. I'll update regularly to make it easier to see which dates have been claimed.

What is the Poetry Friday roundup? A gathering of links to posts featuring original or shared poems, or reviews of poetry books. A carnival of poetry posts. Here is an explanation that Rene LaTulippe shared on her blog, No Water River, and here is an article Susan Thomsen wrote for the Poetry Foundation.

Who can do the Poetry Friday roundup? Anyone who is willing to gather the links in some way, shape or form (Mr. Linky, "old school" in the comments-->annotated in the post, or ???) on the Friday of your choice. If you are new to the Poetry Friday community, jump right in, but perhaps choose a date later on so that we can spend some time getting to know each other.

How do you do a Poetry Friday roundup? If you're not sure, stick around for a couple of weeks and watch...and learn! One thing we're finding out is that folks who schedule their posts, or who live in a different time zone than you, appreciate it when the roundup post goes live sometime on Thursday.

How do I get the code for the PF Roundup Schedule for the sidebar of my blog? You can grab the list from the sidebar here at A Year of Reading, or I'd be happy to send it to you if you leave me your email address. You can always find the schedule on the Kidlitosphere Central webpage.

Why would I do a Poetry Friday Roundup? Community, community, community. It's like hosting a poetry party on your blog!

And now for the where and when:

6    Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
13  Sylvia at Poetry for Children
20  Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe
27  Catherine at Reading to the Core

3    Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
10  Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone
17  Christy at Wondering and Wandering
24  Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
31  Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge

7    Carol V. at Beyond LiteracyLink
14  Amy at The Poem Farm
21  Erin at The Water's Edge
28  Jone at Deowriter

5    Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
12  Laura at Writing the World for Kids
19  Kimberly at Kimberly Hutmacher Writes
26  Kay at A Journey Through the Pages

2    Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup
9    Michelle at Today's Little Ditty
16  Linda B. at TeacherDance
23  Irene at Live Your Poem
30  Carol W. at Carol's Corner

7    Liz at Elizabeth Steinglass
14  Laura S. at Laura Shovan
21  Buffy at Buffy's Blog
28  Donna at Mainely Write

Saturday, May 26, 2018

5th Grade Celebration---Words to Say Goodbye

This is the first time I have taught 5th grade in a while.  I love this age and I had an amazing year with an amazing group of kids. But I did forget about the emotions that the end of the year brings out when kids are finishing up at an elementary school. Being new to the school I experienced many of the 5th grade send off traditions for the first time along with my kids.It is a week filled with so many emotions for kids, parents, and teachers. As a teacher, you can see the impact a school has on a child and a family when they are saying goodbye across several days.  We had lots of celebrations this week and lots of ways for students to say goodbye and start their next journey.  Our 5th graders are clapped out at the end of the day by the entire school. Watching children spot teachers and staff members from the past and hugging that person goodbye says so much.

I am not sure there is ever enough time to say goodbye at the end of a school year. I will so miss this incredible group of 5th graders. A lot.

Part of our last day is a moving up ceremony with students and families.  Teachers give a short talk before passing out certificates and saying goodbye.  It was harder to do than I thought.  Although giving commencement speeches is not a skill I have acquired,  the process of writing it was a great thing for me to do--a way to say goodbye to my students in a way that helped me reflect on our year and my hopes for them--thinking about what really matters most in a year. I thought I'd share it here on the blog since so much (of course) is about books and literacy. Trust me when I say that it will read better than it was actually delivered...

Hi 5th Graders! Well, we’ve had a fabulous year. I can’t tell you how lucky I feel to have spent the year with all of you—It’s been fun to watch you grow and make friends and think and learn.

When I was thinking about what to say today, I kept coming back to our time in read aloud. Read aloud was a favorite time of the day for many of us. I loved it because there is nothing like sharing a story with friends. I know each of us had different favorites and each of us connected with different characters, but I think each of us found a few books that will stay with us. I hope that someday when you are all grown up, you’ll remember some of these stories and characters who became part of our classroom community with a smile.

So I decided to celebrate this day by sending you off with 6 wishes—one from each of the read alouds we shared this year. 6 hopes from the books and characters who taught us so much.

Here goes—

I hope that like Rip and Red in A Whole New Ballgame, you find friends who bring out the best in you.

I hope that like Red in Wishtree you discover that “It is a great gift indeed to love who you are.”

I hope that you find many opportunities in your life to be kinder than is necessary. Because as Mr. Tushman in Wonder told us, “ It's not enough to be kind. One should be kinder than needed.”

I hope like Isabel in Refugee that the song that is your journey is a good one.

I hope that like Aref in Turtle of Oman that you have as long as you need to pack that metaphorical suitcase whenever you are saying goodbye to something and getting ready for a new beginning.

And I hope that like Luna and Xan in The Girl Who Drank the Moon you choose love and hope over power and sorrow.

And of course, I hope that you continue to find books and stories that matter to you.

Most of you are eleven or will be eleven soon or just finished being 11 so I wanted to end with a quote from the Girl Who Drank the Moon about this amazing age that you are:

“It was a fine thing indeed, Luna thought, being eleven. She loved the symmetry of it, and the lack of symmetry. Eleven was a number that was visually even, but functionally not - it looked one way and behaved in quite another. Just like most eleven-year-olds, or so she assumed. She was eleven. She was both even and odd. She was ready to be many things at once—child, grown-up, poet, engineer, botanist, dragon. The list went on.”

So 5th graders, you are ready to be any and all of the things you want to be. You are ready to do anything you want to do. Scottish Corners will miss you. I will miss you. But I know you will continue to make your mark.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Poetry Friday -- The Scent of Iris


The iris I took
from Mom's garden
are blooming now.

Their heady scent
keeps me company
as I weed and plant in my own garden.

Mom left behind iris
that grow and bloom far away
from their original garden

and she left behind me
growing and blooming far away
from my original home

breathing in the scent of iris
with tears running down my face
as I weed and plant in my own garden.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2018

Thank you to Margaret Simon for organizing a photo/poem swap for today, and thank you to Joyce Ray for the iris photo. I can't wait to see what she does with the one I sent her!

You can see all the photo/poem swaps at Margaret's Reflections on the Teche, because she has the roundup this week!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Poetry Friday -- Imperfect

I am honored to be a part of Team Imperfect. It's so me. Just the other day, I shared with my students that I was thankful for a new day and the chance to fail better than I did the day before. We embrace our failures and mistakes in Room 226.

Imperfect: Poems about Mistakes, collected and edited by Tabatha Yeatts, is aimed at the perfect audience: middle schoolers. We were at our most insecure about our mistakes at that age, weren't we? This is a survival handbook that will help tweens and teens navigate those tricky times.

My poem, A Note From the Architect, is in the collection.

Today on the Mistakes Anthology blog, my mistake mini is being featured. Go over and check it out.

Rebecca has this week's Poetry Friday Roundup at Sloth Reads.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Poetry Friday: One Topic Many Ways

I was so inspired by the 30 poems Amy wrote about Orion for her NPM18 project. I thought, "What a perfect way to end the year--with an engaging, choice-filled writing workshop!"

We're studying the similarities and differences between first- and second-hand accounts of immigrants, so I put the names of about 15 countries whose people have emigrated to the US in one bag, and, knowing that countries and people wouldn't be everyone's first choice, the names of about 15 animals that migrate into another bag. After the choosing (and liberal numbers of trades), we spent some time gathering information from the encyclopedias. (It's what you do when all of the computer carts are being used for MAP testing.)

Tuesday we started our digital collections in either Google Docs or Google Slides. On Tuesday, the anchor poems/strategies we looked at from Poems Are Teachers were write from first person, start with a question, and use repetition. On Wednesday, the anchors/strategies were write from facts, write from a photo, and ask What if?.

A new poetry form was invented on Tuesday. Harmony attempted a haiku, but counted words instead of syllables, so we named this form the Harmoniku. On Wednesday, Monta reversed the word count to 7-5-7, inventing the Montaiku.

Here is a selection of poems from my students:

Why We Left

When I asked my mother why we left,
she said, “ We couldn't worship freely.”

When I asked my father why we left, 
he said, “ It was the government’s will.”

When I asked my sister why we left, 
she said, “ For a chance.”

by Jawaher


I was in WWII, FIGHT!!
I had a terrible leader, Adolf Hitler.
I am strong, proud, GERMANY! 

by Harmony


Why is this baby so heavy! I am flying at 60 mph because I’m late.
Why is this baby so heavy? I betcha her parents are worried.
Why is this baby so heavy! I’m almost there!
Why is this baby so heavy? I’m getting tired!
Why is this-AHHHHHHH!!!
Why is this baby so----HEAVY!
At least the baby made it when I threw her!
I ate that big bass for lunch
So that means…..
I’m the heavy one!

by Juan

Spain. Especially
Spain. Immigrants all over earth.
Some come, some leave. Why?

by Rayan


Millions a night fly in the sky
Hunting thousands in the dark
Hunting moths, mosquitoes every night then rest

by Monta

Jama has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at Jama's Alphabet Soup.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

A Trio of Graphic Novels

I'm always on the lookout for new graphic novels to add to my 5th grade classroom library. Lucky me (lucky readers in my room!), three of our favorite series have a new book out! This trio of books really shows that graphic novels are a FORMAT, not a genre. The first is a fantasy-adventure story with a strong female protagonist, the second is mythology, and the third is nonfiction.

Monsters Beware!
by Rafael Rosado and Jorge Aguirre
First Second, 2018

A glorious ending to a fabulous series. Claudette for the win -- OVER monsters and FOR her friends and family. Great back matter that shows how the story was revised even after it was finished.

by George O'Connor
First Second, 2018

Readers of mythology love this series, and they won't be disappointed by Hermes' tale. He is quite the trickster, with surprises from the beginning of his story (he was a John Henry kind of baby, but maybe not as nice), until the very end.

by Mairghread Scott
illustrated by Jacob Chabot
First Second, 2018

This is one of the most kid-accessible in the series, while still being packed with information.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Some Glad Morning

Some Glad Morning
by Joyce Sutphen

One day, something very old
happened again. The green
came back to the branches,
settling like leafy birds
on the highest twigs;
the ground broke open
as dark as coffee beans.

The clouds took up their
positions in the deep stadium
of the sky, gloving the
bright orb of the sun
before they pitched it
over the horizon.

It was as good as ever:
the air was filled
with the scent of lilacs
and cherry blossoms
sounded their long
whistle down the track.
It was some glad morning.

Spring has finally arrived in our neck of the woods. It's as shocking and glorious as ever to see life erupt again. Never mind that in three months it will all be past its prime and in another three more after that we'll be raking up the mess again. Never you mind! Gather some rosebuds, check out the cherry hung with snow, glory in nature's first golden-green. All the rest can wait.

Brenda has this week's Poetry Friday Roundup at Friendly Fairy Tales.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Wordless Picture Books in Read Aloud

Professional Crocodile
by Giovanna Zoboli
illustrated by Mariachiara Di Giorgio 
Chronicle Books, 2017

A crocodile gets ready for work and travels to the zoo, where he is (what else?) a professional crocodile.

Owl Bat Bat Owl
by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick
Candlewick Press, 2017

The adults can't get past the differences, but the kids can. When the lives of their children are endangered, the adults are finally united.

Little Fox in the Forest
by Stephanie Graegin
Schwartz & Wade, 2017

A little girl loses her beloved stuffed animal, gets it back again, then gives it away.

*   *   *   *   *   *

These are just three of the wordless picture books I've shared for #classroombookaday this year. But how do I read aloud a book without words?

  1. Gather the students close. Let them know that it's a wordless book and that they'll have to pay close attention to the illustrations in order to understand the story.
  2. Study the cover, both front and back. 
  3. Look under the dust jacket to see if the book cover is the same or different.
  4. Study the end papers.
  5. Begin the book with the very first page turn. The story in some picture books begins before the title page!
  6. After showing a spread of the story to all of your audience (take your time moving the book so they have time to really look at the illustrations), ask, "Who would like to narrate this spread?"

That's it -- no big secret or earth-shattering instructional move. I let the students tell the story! The fascinating thing is that often the students who don't participate in a picture book discussion are the first to raise their hand to narrate, and with a keen eye for details that are vital to the story. There is no worksheet, no calling on someone who doesn't have their hand raised to try to catch them not paying attention (because with a wordless book, 99% of them are, and part of the fun of it is you can watch them looking because your head is not turned away from them reading the words!!), no quick check or written retelling. Try it! You'll have so much fun (both you and your students) that you'll make space in #classroombookaday not just for nonfiction picture books, but for wordless picture books, too!

Monday, April 30, 2018

It's All About the Books Blog Tour

We are so happy to be the first stop on the It's All About the Books book tour!  We are so excited about this book. We have always been fans of Tammy and Clare's work --loved their book Assessment in Perspective and were part of their tour then!  We love this new book and are excited about the impact it will have in schools across the country.  Make sure to stop at all the other stops on the blog tour this week!

And we are giving away a copy of It's All About the Books! To enter, post a picture of some part of your classroom library somewhere and put the link in a comment below.  At the end of the week (Friday after 5 pm), we'll choose a random winner to receive a copy of this fabulous new book! (Don't forget to check back to see the classroom library photos:-)

We asked Clare and Tammy some questions about the book. Here is what they said:

Franki and Mary Lee: How has your thinking evolved about classroom libraries over the years?

Clare and Tammy: Initially, we set up our classroom library before the students arrived at school. All of our books were organized in plastic bins and we knew exactly where each and every book was located.  Our library remained the same all year except for one book display that rotated each month. Now we include students in the process of setting up and maintaining our classroom library.  Instead of getting everything set up before they arrive, we provide the baskets, labels, and markers and let the kids set up the library.  When the students set up the library, they know where the books are and feel more invested in the space.   As they decide how to organize the books, we listen in to learn more about their interests and passions. The more students are part of the process, the more we learn about them as readers and the better we can help them find books they love.  The classroom library is now more than a place to pick books.  When we design it with our readers, and when we are set up to flexibly meet their changing needs and preferences, the classroom library truly becomes the home of an active reading community.

Franki and Mary Lee: What advice do you have for teachers about keeping up with good books to add to their classroom libraries?

Clare and Tammy: We keep up with good books by relying on our PLNs, both locally and globally.  We connect with our local PLNs by visiting book stores and public libraries to check out what is new.  We also speak with the school librarians, teachers, and reading coaches at our partnership schools to hear about what they are reading and what their students are enjoying.

Our global PLN on social media helps us know what is up and coming. We participate in #IMWAYR every Monday and join #titletalk chats on the last Sunday evening each month.  We read lots of blogs including yours - A Year of Reading, Watch Connect Read with Mr. Schu, Nerdy Book Club, and Colby Sharps book talks on Sharpread.  We have additional resources we rely on listed in the online resources in our book - OR 6.1

Franki and Mary Lee: How do you think classroom libraries should evolve over the course of a single school year?

Clare and Tammy: Readers love new books! Classroom libraries should be refreshed and revised to meet the ever-evolving needs of our students. A classroom library should reflect the growth and curricular journey of the students throughout the year. When the class studies particular authors, genres, and topics, we add these texts to the library.  As students share their personal interests and preferences we can also add these texts to our library. We are purposeful in introducing new series and authors to add complexity to the library as our students’ reading skills develop.  Throughout the year, we try to look at our library through the eyes of our students.  We ask, “Does the library offer a range of choices that will engage and support all the readers in the class?"  We take this information and use it to revise and refresh the classroom library.

Franki and Mary Lee: How has your thinking about bookrooms evolved over the years?

Clare and Tammy: We used to think about bookrooms as a place to store shared leveled texts for small group instruction (i.e. six-packs.) As we observed bookroom after bookroom not being used by teachers, we decided to revise our thinking.  Now we design bookrooms as an annex to every classroom library – we design each with the other in mind.  Teachers need books to support all aspects of reading and writing instruction, not just books for small group instruction.  As we talked with teachers, we heard again and again that they did not have the volume or range of texts they needed for their students to read independently.  It is near impossible for a classroom teacher to source a library that is equipped to meet the needs of each student year after year. We shifted our thinking and decided the largest section of the bookroom needs to support independent reading. These texts are organized by bands of text complexity into baskets of approximately 20 single titles that are categorized by genre, author, series, and topics of interest.  This design makes it easy for teachers to grab a few baskets and add them right to their classroom library.  The bookroom also has baskets of read aloud suggestions organized by grade level, mentor texts for units of study in writing workshop, texts to support content area curriculum, and even baskets of paired texts to support partner reading.  We still have some texts organized in 6-packs for small group instruction and book clubs, but this is now only one section of the bookroom.  Ideally, bookrooms supply the depth, breadth, and volume of books to supplement what each teacher needs and every student wants. All of this organized in grab-and-go baskets for a teacher to simply (and quickly) take and incorporate into her classroom library.

Franki and Mary Lee: For teachers who have very few books provided by their schools/districts, where do you suggest they start?

Clare and Tammy: This is a tough question because we believe that books are an essential tool for teachers.  When schools provide desks and chairs for students, they should also allocate funds to ensure that every classroom has a vibrant and engaging classroom library. In the first chapter of the book, we cite research to support teachers in advocating for what they need to inspire lifelong readers.

That being said, here are a few of the ideas we share in the book to get you started without school or district support …  

If you don’t have books to source a classroom library, we recommend you get in touch with your school librarian and begin by borrowing books from the school and public libraries.  You can borrow collections of texts organized by author, genre, series and topic to figure out what your students love.  Once you have a sense of what engages your students, ask the school librarian to help you gather some of these texts.  Some teachers even ask parents to help out by going to their local branch of the public library to pick up books they need for the classroom library.  Colleagues are another great option for borrowing books.  Many teachers have a wealth of books and are happy to loan books, especially texts their students are not accessing at that time of the year. Even colleagues with a small collection may be willing to rotate books between classrooms to increase their volume of books as well.

At some point, teachers do need to get some books of their own.  Scholastic book orders are a great option for teachers to earn bonus points to purchase books.  Box Tops is another way to earn money for books and families are happy to help out by organizing a collection. Families are also often willing to donate gently used books to supply classroom libraries.  Grants are another source of funding. Many schools offer grants through the parent organization or local school foundation.  Teachers also seek grants through Donors Choose and The Book Love Foundation (see question 6) to fund a classroom library.  If you do receive funds be sure to check out specials with vendors, discount book stores and even public library book sales to get the best bang for your buck!  We have many resources in our book, including lists of our favorite vendors and some of our tried and true texts, to support you once you are ready to go shopping!

Franki and Mary Lee: Can you tell us why you chose to donate all royalties from this book to Book Love. Of all the literacy organizations out there, why this one?

Clare and Tammy: When we decided to write a book advocating for more books in classrooms, we felt we had to help get more books into the hands of students and teachers.  I didn’t feel right to highlight the problem without trying to be a part of the solution. We were trying to figure out how we could make an impact.  Then we heard Penny Kittle speak at the Donald Graves Breakfast at NCTE.  She shared how Don impacted her personally and professionally, “That generosity for someone he didn’t know just became a theme in my life.” We looked at each other in that moment and knew what we needed to do.  We found Penny at the end of the session and asked her if we could join her mission for Book Love. Book Love is a not-for-profit organization founded by Penny Kittle with one goal: to put books in the hands of teenagers.  We were fortunate that Penny and Heinemann both supported our vision and helped us bring it to life by generously agreeing to allow the royalties of our book to expand that goal and put books into the hands of elementary and middle grade students as well. Each time someone purchases a copy of It’s All About the Books, the royalties go directly to the Book Love Foundation to fund elementary and middle grade libraries. This made the project so meaningful for us – a book about books that will bring books into the hands of readers – what could be better than that!

If you would like to donate directly to the Book Love Foundation simply send a check or donate online  If you would like your donation to fund elementary and middle grade libraries, please send an email to or write elementary or middle grade libraries in the memo line of your check.  Checks can be mailed to Book Love Foundation, PO Box 2575, North Conway, NH 03860-2575.