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!