Friday, May 31, 2013

Poetry Friday -- Chalk-A-Bration -- Casting for Recovery

I have a multi-purpose offering for Poetry Friday this week. 

We went over to the neighborhood park yesterday evening to blow the dust off our casting in preparation for the Casting for Recovery Fish-A-Thon on Saturday. While there, I chalked a poem on the sidewalk:

Now for the PSA:

Casting for Recovery is a leading breast cancer quality of life program. CFR isn't trying to find the cure for breast cancer; the goal of CFR is to empower breast cancer survivors by giving them powerful tools to overcome the challenges of breast cancer.

One of those tools is fly fishing.

I'm involved in Casting for Recovery as a past participant and now on Ohio's retreat team. I teach casting and knot tying.

We're having a Fish-A-Thon tomorrow to raise money for the Ohio CFR retreat. If you'd like to sponsor me on a per-fish-caught basis, or with a one-time donation, send me a message through the blog email. 

"Casting for Recovery is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that relies solely on donations to provide all-expense-paid weekend wellness retreats to 14 breast cancer survivors per retreat. Through your support, we will be able to continue to enhance the lives of breast cancer survivors by providing retreats that promote mental, physical, and emotional healing."

Betsy, the Queen of the Chalk-A-Bration, has the Poetry Friday Roundup AND the monthly Chalk-A-Bration today at Teaching Young Writers.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


It's true. I'm a sucker for #(fill in the blank)-A-Day challenges.

#PoemADay,  #BookADay,  and now #MileADay.

When Paul Hankins mentioned #MileADay (Runners World is calling it #RWRUNSTREAK, but since I'm not a runner, I have taken the liberty of renaming it), I didn't even have to think about it. A mile a day every day from Memorial Day until Independence Day? I'm in!

I'm logging a short note about my walks on FB, and another (shorter still) on Twitter. Because I know that when I go public with these challenges, I am more likely to keep the commitment. Community also helps. Lots of people have said, "That's a great idea," but I only know for sure that two friends are joining me. One is local, the other sees paddlewheel riverboats in New Orleans on her miles! For right now, all I see is my neighborhood waking up.

The book I'm currently listening to fits this challenge nicely.

The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot
by Robert Macfarlane
Viking Adult, 2012
audiobook from Audible

The author tells about the walks he takes on "the ancient tracks, holloways, drove roads, and sea paths that crisscross both the British landscape and its waters and territories beyond."

I love his writing (and thinking) so much that I also bought the book on Kindle so that I can go back and highlight favorite passages.

Here's a bit to entice you (click to enlarge):

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Great End-Of-Year Teacher Gift

by James Howe
illustrated by Randy Cecil
Candlewick, 2010

Here's a book that says, "Thank you for making school/your classroom fit my child rather than making my child fit school/your classroom."

I hope that's what you'd like to say to your child's teacher!!

(Franki's more complete review here.)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Poetry Friday -- Think For Yourself

This week, I've done a series of 3 reviews of books on the theme THINK FOR YOURSELF. (Day Two comes with a bonus -- a link to WordEyes, a site that teaches vocabulary using art. Check it out.)
  • We need to make decisions based upon what we know to be right, rather than letting others tell us what to do.
  • We need to think for ourselves, rather than listening to what others tell us to think. 
  • We need to love our friends for who they are, rather than believing what others tell us about them. 
Flannery O'Connor said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd."

Emily Dickinson advised

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant---
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind---

And Gerard Manley Hopkins famously championed all that is unique in the world:


Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                  Praise him.

What's your favorite book, quote, or poem that says to you, "THINK FOR YOURSELF!" ?

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

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Think for Yourself (Part 3)

Odd Duck
by Cecil Castellucci
illustrated by Sara Varon
:01 First Second, 2013
review copy provided by the publisher

Theodora believes that she will never be friends with her new neighbor, Chad. They are too different in too many ways. When winter comes and neither flies south, they discover that they both love star gazing and also that "...even though they were very different, they felt the same way about most things."

Then one day, they are walking in the town, and they hear someone say, "Look at that odd duck!" They each try to console the other for being called odd, then, realizing that the other thinks they are odd, have a complete falling out...which ends when they admit to themselves, and then to each other, that perhaps they are each a bit odd.

But, "It's not so bad to be odd," Theodora thought, "not when you have an odd friend."

If you dial back balance-a-tea-cup-on-your-head-while-you-swim "odd" and hang-upside-down-from-a-tree-to-grill-out "odd," you can find all the ways we each are different, and you can celebrate both differences and oddnesses! But most of all, THINK FOR YOURSELF -- don't listen to what others say!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Think For Yourself (Part 2)

The Chickens Build a Wall
by Jean-François Dumont
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2013
review copy provided by the publisher

Life in the barnyard was business-as-usual until the hedgehog showed up. No one had ever seen a hedgehog before. Rooster capitalized on the fear and suspicion of the stranger and rallied his hens to begin building a wall to protect them from the hedgehog. They worked and worked, built higher and higher.

Finally, when winter came and the wall was so high that they could just about not see the sky, Rooster declared the wall to be high enough to protect them.

Then, rustling out from under a pile of hay in the corner of the walled-in barnyard where he had been sleeping through the wall-building, came the hedgehog. And the hens discovered they had forgotten to build a door in the wall.

Can you guess what happened when the hens and the hedgehog had to spend time together and get to know each other? Can you guess what happened to the wall?

~~~   ***   ~~~          ~~~   ***   ~~~          ~~~   ***   ~~~

Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris are the amazing duo behind Burkins & Yaris (check out the Common Core (blog) and Early Literacy (Think Books) resources on their website) who have created LiteracyHead and WordEyes -- sites that teach, well, Literacy and Words (Vocabulary) through the arts. They have created a shiny new group of vocabulary words from The Chickens Build A Wall on WordEyes.

Click here to check out this freshly minted batch of vocabulary words-taught-through-art.

You'll see the word, with the definition hidden, but just a click away. Then below the word are four works of art in order from the most concrete representation of the word to the most abstract, with the fourth picture being a non-example. Click on the first work of art and it will come up in a hover-window that allows you to navigate directly to the next work of art.

Life has gotten complicated and busy in 5th grade this week, so I haven't shared either The Chickens Build a Wall OR the WordEyes words with my students. Stop by next week for a follow-up post about how my students reacted to/interacted with WordEyes and The Chickens Build a Wall.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Think For Yourself (Part 1)

This review is the first in a three-part series. All three books tackle the theme of "Think For Yourself" in very different ways. This first book is about a traditional character in Middle Eastern stories named Nasreddine. The historical note in the back of the book reads, "Stories about Nasreddine are told throughout the Middle East and beyond. They are often said to be based on a real man who lived in Turkey during he Middle Ages. The stories have been changed and added to over the years, but Nasreddine has never lost his ability to offer both wisdom and delight."

by Odile Weulersse (translated from the original French by Kathleen Merz)
illustrated by Rébecca Dautremer
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2013
review copy provided by the publisher

This story starts simply enough -- Nasreddine and his father load the donkey with dates to take to the market. Nasreddine's father rides the donkey and Nasreddine walks behind with his slippers off because the road is muddy from the last rain. In the city, someone comments that the father is lazy and irresponsible to let his son walk shoeless in the mud behind the donkey. Nasreddine's father, Mustafa, is unperturbed by the comment, but Nasreddine is embarrassed and wants to go home. The next week, when they take the wool to the weaver, Nasreddine convinces his father that his ankle is twisted so he can ride the donkey while his father walks behind. Some women they pass comment on the lack of authority of a father who lets his child ride while he walks.

Nasreddine continues to listen to what others say about the way he and his father and the donkey are traveling to market until finally he proposes to his father that they carry the donkey to market. At this point, Mustafa intervenes and guides Nasreddine to the understanding that he shouldn't listen to what others say. "It's up to you to decide if what you're hearing is wise, or if it's only a silly and hurtful remark." When Nesreddine declares, "I understand! You can't be afraid that other people will judge you or make fun of you," Mustafa (wryly? ironically?) expresses his pride in a son who can reason so well.

This may be an old story, but the message is timeless.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Assessment in Perspective BLOG TOUR!


by Claire Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan
Stenhouse, 2013

Here are Claire and Tammy's answers to Franki's interview about the book:

What made you decide to write a book on assessment?
Good question! Not the liveliest of topics we know. We found ourselves spending most of our time talking with teachers about assessment regardless of the focus of our professional collaboration. For such a dry topic, it seems to evoke so much emotion in all of us. Teachers care so deeply about their students and many see assessment as the means to decide if they are teaching well. We wanted to bring teacher voice and professional discretion back into the assessment conversation. Assessment should not be just about numbers, and not just about standardized tests. Many of us are feeling that assessment is no longer about the work we are doing in the classroom. Writing a book about the broader perspective of assessment, and how to make it meaningful for students and teachers every day, is exciting for us.

What is the biggest challenge teachers face when it comes to assessment today?
The biggest challenge is using the assessment data we have available effectively. So much time is put into the administration of assessments, but often no time is taken to look at the results and think about what the assessment results mean for our learners. For example, when a school adopts a new assessment the professional learning typically only focuses on how to administer the assessment, not on how to analyze and interpret it. When this happens we can get caught in a cycle of continually collecting assessment data without fully understanding how the assessment was designed and what aspects of reading or learning the assessment measures.

Assessments are complicated and we need to understand what each assessment measures and how to interpret the results. We then need to analyze the results with our learners in mind so we can use them to set learning goals. Our rule is: if we have it, we use it. Any piece of data, especially when triangulated with other sources of data, can provide useful information on our readers. The challenge is to add “use” to the typical cycle – we need to break the cycle of just administering, collecting, and reporting assessments, and use them!

What advice do you have for teachers to stay grounded when stakes of testing are so high?
Respect the test, but keep it in perspective. We try to remember that a high stakes test is only one data point and if we are going to truly understand our readers, then we need to look at multiple pieces of data. With that being said, we do take that data point seriously and use it to help us understand our readers. We stay grounded by not dismissing it, not over-valuing it, and most importantly by using it.

We always use multiple sources of data when thinking about a reader. So we encourage teachers to always consider and use multiple sources of data when interpreting high stakes test results. If we want to move beyond the number to figure out why a student performed in a particular way we need to analyze that number across multiple sources and intervals of data. For example if a student does poorly on the multiple choice questions of the reading portion of a high stakes test, then we can look at recent running records to determine if it was the text level of the passages on the test that caused the student to miss so many items. If the student had difficulty answering questions on the information text selections, we might look at his reading log to determine how often this student is reading informational texts. We think it helps us feel more in control of the high stakes tests when we use the results to help us teach better.

What kinds of assessments have you found most positively impact student learning?
We don’t think there is one single assessment that has the most positive impact on student learning; we think that the best way to impact student learning is by talking with our students about what we are noticing in all of their assessment data and using it to set instructional goals. That said, informal, formative data is most readily available to us so we can talk with our students more often about that data. We have, therefore, found informal, formative assessments to have the most positive impact on our students. When we do talk with students about the formal, summative data we have we find that our students respond and give us greats insights into the results. It is not that these assessments are not helpful, but we do not have this type of data daily, weekly or even monthly so the frequency of using these assessments cause them to have less of an impact.

Can you expand on your thinking in triangulating data? Why is that important?
Triangulating data is teaching! When we look at multiple pieces of data with a purpose and with questions in our mind we are believe we are laying the foundation to truly teach. Teaching is more than following a script, aligning to standards or pacing. Teaching is understanding the learner in front of us and adjusting our instruction to help each learner meet high standards. When we triangulate we are putting the pieces of a puzzle together so we can see the whole picture and understand why a student is confused or making an error. When we understand the why behind the number we can teach our students effectively – triangulating gives us the why behind the number.

For example, last week we met Tommy, a 4th grader. He is reading approximately 1 year below grade level according to his benchmark assessment. We analyzed a few running records that were administered in the past month and a pattern emerged that showed that Tommy reads inaccurately by substituting incorrect words when reading. When we analyzed these substitutions we noticed that Tommy typically ignores the middle of the word and guesses based on only the first and last letter sounds. We then assessed Tommy using a tool that measured his knowledge of phonics skills in isolation. He had a perfect score. Now we were curious! He knows the sounds and the rules but is not applying them in context. He doesn’t need additional instruction on specific sounds, he needs to learn to notice when he reads inaccurately, apply his knowledge of phonics when reading independently, and to make sure what he says makes sense in the context of the text.

If we only looked at one number, we could have jumped to the conclusion that Tommy needs additional phonics instruction. Triangulating is so important because it really helps us understand our readers and design instruction that meets his or her specific needs. Not to mention – it is fun when you really get into it and begin to notice these patterns and dig deeper to understand.

You talk a lot in your book about the student's role in assessment. Why do you think that is so important?

That was our biggest “Aha!” when we wrote this book. The process of writing really helped us clarify and make explicit what we were implicitly doing with our students. In each section of the book our biggest conversations were around the students. Students are our best source of assessment data- they give us insight into the “whys” behind their actions and help us to understand their thinking process.

For us, it really comes down to the fact that we can’t determine a student’s learning goals without talking with the student to understand his/her own thinking. We also can’t expect a student to learn and grow unless we talk with them about our analysis of the assessment data. Our readers need to know what they are doing well and what they need to learn. To us this is all assessment. If instruction and assessment are inseparable then the student must be a part of the process.

Imagine going to a doctor and not speaking to him/her about your symptoms. Then the doctor completes a physical exam and never tells you the results or what you could do to be healthier. In medicine, both the patient and the doctor are essential. In teaching, both the teacher and the student are essential in identifying what needs to be taught, choosing some goals to meet those needs, and monitoring the progress towards those goals so instructional adjustments can be made.

How do you think Common Core will impact assessment practices?
Of course no one knows exactly how the Common Core will impact assessment practices but we know it will most likely include a formal, quantitative and standards-based assessment due to the number of students being assessed by the same tool. We are hopeful that the process will give us time to learn what the PARCC or Smarter Balanced assessment measures and how to analyze, interpret and use the data. We are also hopeful that the results of this assessment will not be overemphasized but seen as one data point to triangulate with our formative ongoing assessments. In our state, the Common Core has inspired conversations around authentic on-demand assessments and curriculum embedded performance assessments that are being designed by teachers in grade level and district teams. We see a great opportunity for teachers to design meaningful common formative assessments to help them plan and adjust their instruction to meet the needs of their students.

Check out the other stops on the blog tour:

Our Camp Read-A-Lot -- May 21

Reflect and Refine -- May 22

Stenhouse blog to wrap up -- May 24

Friday, May 17, 2013

Poetry Friday -- Paired Things

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by cathyse97

by Kay Ryan

Who, who had only seen wings,
could extrapolate the
skinny sticks of things
birds use for land,
the backward way they bend,
the silly way they stand?

(the rest of the poem is at The Poetry Foundation)

Ed has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Think Kid, Think.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping

Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping
by Mélanie Watt
Kids Can Press, 2013

I know some people, actually, one in particular, who doesn't really like anything that has to do with nature. (I won't mention any names. You know who you are.)

And then there's me. I love the out-of-doors so much that I run our school's environmental club. For free.

Every kind of nature lover can relate to Scaredy Squirrel in his newest book. Scaredy decides that the best way to enjoy camping is "from a safe distance." He buys a TV.

But he has to find a way to plug his new TV in, and in the course of getting the extension cord to the outlet in the campground, he discovers the joys of the great out-of-doors.

He still plugs in his extension cord, but what he USES it for will surprise you! (No, I'm not telling. Go read the book. To children. Because they're a little like the out-of-doors -- scary at first, but once you get used to them, they're pretty fun!)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Three Bears: An Alphabet Book

The Three Bears ABC
by Grace Maccarone
illustrated by Hollie Hibbert
Albert Whitman, 2013
review copy provided by the publisher

A is for Alphabet, but B is for Bears, and C is for what they needed their hot porridge to do (Cool)...which is why they went for a walk.

Yes, this clever retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears is done in an ABC format! Very fun! And imagine the possibilities -- I'm sure there are young writers who would ably tackle the re-writing of other folk and fairy tales alphabetically.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Platypus Police Squad Blog Tour

We are thrilled to give you a sneak preview of Jarrett Krosoczka's art in his new book, Platypus Police Squad: The Frog Who Croaked

Look like fun? Here's the book trailer:

Want to know more? Here's an interview with Jarrett:
TTI is a production of Franki's Fourth Graders

How did you think of writing Platypus Police Squad?
I was actually trying to write a book called "Penguin Police Squad," but then penguins were just everywhere, so I began to search for another animal that started with the letter "P" and I came to the mighty platypus! But it all started in 2004 when I drew a character from Punk Farm a year before that book was published. A kid guessed incorrectly that my next book was about a bunch of farm animals that were cops. So that stuck with me--a book about animal cops who wore aviator sunglasses!

Why did you make the characters platypuses instead of humans?
When you work with animals, you can get away with more things than if the characters are humans. Also, platypuses are way funnier than humans! 

Why do the place and the time from each chapters change?
Each chapter represents a different scene in the investigation. It's almost as if the chapters were pulled from a case file that the detectives needed to file after the case was solved!

How many books will be in this series? Can you tell us anything about upcoming books?
Right now we are planning on four. The second book is called The Ostrich Conspiracy and it takes place in the newly built Kalamazoo City Dome. (There's a teaser for this at the end of book 1.)

How did you get the Idea to write the Lunch Lady series?
After a chance encounter with my old lunch lady, I began wondering about her life. One led thing to another and I started writing a graphic novel series about a lunch lady who fought crime!

Why are the tools used as weapons in Lunch Lady?
Well, if you saw your lunch lady walking the halls with nunchucks, you'd begin to ask questions, now wouldn't you? And Lunch Lady simply can't have her cover blown, which is why her nunchucks are disguised as fish sticks. Besides that, she does spend her entire time in the cafeteria, so she is surrounded by resources to create crime-fighting gadgets!

Still want more? Check out the Platypus Police Squad Virtual Launch Party on May 23 -- chat with Jarrett and win prizes!!

Finally, on Saturday, we will draw one name randomly from all of the commenters on this post to win one copy of Platypus Police Squad!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Poetry Friday -- Vacation

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Freddie Boy

by Wendell Berry

Once there was a man who filmed his vacation.
He went flying down the river in his boat
with his video camera to his eye, making
a moving picture of the moving river
upon which his sleek boat moved swiftly
toward the end of his vacation.

It's not that I'm already thinking about vacation (well, maybe a little). I went looking for Wendell Berry to share and I found this reminder to be in the moment, really BE in the moment.

Anastasia has the Poetry Friday Roundup today at her poetry blog.

(edited to add today's cartoon from Hugh MacLeod at Gaping Void, which seems to fit nicely with Mr. Berry's poem...)

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

P.S. Be Eleven

P.S. Be Eleven
by Rita Williams-Garcia
Amistad (HarperCollins), on shelves May 21, 2013

In this sequel to One Crazy Summer, the focus is on Delphine, the oldest of the three sisters, who is beginning sixth grade. Delphine has to deal with not having the "right" clothes, not getting the teacher she wanted, and not being able to go to the Jackson Five concert. She's learning to understand her father and grandmother, and she gets to see a part of her sister Vonetta that she didn't know existed.

Periodically, Delphine gets letters from her mother in L.A. Each letter includes, "P.S. Be eleven" at the end, and through the letters, the reader gets to know a softer part of Celine, the girls' mother, than we saw in One Crazy Summer. It's pretty amazing how much of a presence Williams-Garcia creates for Celine with just those letters.

Readers who loved One Crazy Summer will definitely want to spend the school year after that summer with these likable characters.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

2013 CLA/NCTE Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts

2013 Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts

The charge of the seven-member national committee is to select thirty titles each year that best exemplify the criteria established for the Notables Award. Books considered for this annual list are works of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry written for children, grades K-8. The books must meet one or more of the following criteria:
  • deal explicitly with language, such as plays on words, word origins, or the history of language;
  • demonstrate uniqueness in the use of language or style;
  • invite child response or participation. In addition, books are to:
  • have an appealing format;
  • be of enduring quality;
  • meet generally accepted criteria of quality for the genre in which they are written.

43 Cemetery Road: the Phantom of the Post Office, by Kate Klise, illustrated by Sarah Klise, published by Houghton Mifflin.

A Leaf Can Be, by Laura Purdie Salas, illustrated by Violeta Dabija, published by Lerner.

and then it's spring, by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin Stead, published by Macmillan.

Bear has a Story to Tell, by Philip Stead, illustrated by Erin Stead, published by Macmillan.

Book of Animal Poetry, edited by J. Patrick Lewis, published by National Geographic.

Cat Tale, by Michael Hall, published by HarperCollins.

Chopsticks, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Scott Magoon, published by Disney/Hyperion.

Each Kindness, by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis, published by Penguin.

Encyclopedia of Me, by Karen Rivers, published by Scholastic.
Endangered, by Eliot Schrefer, published by Scholastic. 
Forgive Me, I Meant To Do It: False Apology Poems, by Gail Carson Levine, illustrated by Matthew Cordell, published by HarperCollins. 

Hades, Lord of the Dead, by George O'Connor, published by Macmillan.

His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg, by Louise Borden, published by Houghton Mifflin.

House Held Up by Trees, by Ted Kooser, illustrated by Jon Klassen, published by Candlewick. 

I Have the Right to be a Child, by Alain Serres, illustrated by Aurelia Fronty, published by Groundwood.

I Lay My Stitches Down, by Cynthia Grady, illustrated by Michele Wood, published by Eerdmans.

Lions of Little Rock, by Kristin Levine, published by Penguin.

Moonbird, by Phillip Hoose, published by Macmillan.

No Crystal Stair, by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, published by Lerner. 

Obstinate Pen, by Frank Dormer, published by Macmillan.

Sadie and Ratz, by Sonya Hartnett, illustrated by Ann James, published by Candlewick.

See You at Harry's, by Jo Knowles, published by Candlewick.

Snakes, by Nic Bishop, published by Scholastic. 

The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate, published by HarperCollins.

Unbeelievables, by Douglas Florian, published by Simon & Schuster. 

Unspoken, by Henry Cole, published by Scholastic.
Walking on Earth & Touching the Sky, by Lakota Youth at Red Cloud Indian School, illustrated by S.D. Nelson, published by Abrams.

Water Sings Blue, by Kate Coombs, illustrated by Meilo So, published by Chronicle.

Wonder, by R.J. Palacio, published by Random House.

Z is for Moose, by Kelly Bingham, illustrated by Paul Zelinsky, published by HarperCollins.

Tracy Smiles, Chair; Donalyn Miller, Patricia Bandre, Yoo Kyung Sung, Barbara Ward, Shanetia Clark, and Jean Schroeder.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Fun With Dictionaries

Advice to Little Girls
by Mark Twain
illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky
Enchanted Lion Books, 2013
review copy provided by the publisher

I glanced at this book when it came in the mail, but what really caught my attention was this article on Brain Pickings that told how this book came to be published in the United States. Go ahead and click over to take a look. You'll get to see several spreads from the book, which will give you a feel for the quirkiness of the illustrations and the archaic language of Twain's text.

How to share this book with modern children, though? Here's what I came up with:

There are eight bits of text in the book. Perfect for eight groups of three. I told my students a bit about the scrapbook-feel of the book, about when it was written, and about Mark Twain. Working with a dictionary, I challenged each group to "translate" their bit of text into modern English. When they were all finished, I read each page, followed by the group reading their translation.

I was pleased with how much of the humor my students were able to understand, once they'd plowed their way through the language! Fun with dictionaries!!

Sunday, May 05, 2013

April Mosaic

At the beginning of April, the sun was just rising as I left for school. Now it's well up.

It was a month of acronyms: CFR (1st row #2), IRA (1st row #4-6th row #2),  PFA (4th row #4-5th row #4).

You can see the photos (bigger, with titles and sometimes captions) on Flickr here.

My photos on Flickr are all labeled with a Creative Commons license. That means you are free to use them (non-commercially), as long as you provide attribution that they are my photos. If you do use a photo of mine, stop back and leave a comment (and a link, if possible) on Flickr so that I can clap my hands with glee that something I've made has inspired your creation!

Friday, May 03, 2013

Poetry Friday -- Cats

Photo by Yathin S Krishnappa, on Wikimedia Commons

by Marge Piercy


You feed me, I try to feed you, we are friends,
says the cat, although I am more equal than you.
Can you leap twenty times the height of your body?
Can you run up and down trees? Jump between roofs?

by Anonymous

Quick! quick!
The cat's been sick.

(the whole poem is here, but be forewarned, it includes a disgusting but accurate description of cat behavior)

The Poetry Foundation has a whole collection of cat poems here.

Liz Steinglass has the Poetry Friday roundup today.