Monday, June 30, 2014

Friends With Fins: Interview with Author Jaclyn Friedlander

I had a fun surprise a few weeks ago when I heard from a past student, Jaclyn Friedlander.  She was a 4th grader in my class a while ago so I was thrilled to hear from her.  It turns out that Jaclyn has written two books for children! So exciting as a teacher to remember a child writing in 4th grade and then continuing that passion into adulthood!  Jaclyn was always an amazing person--filled with life and ready to change the world.  I am excited to be back in touch with her after all of these years.

Jaclyn has written 2 children's books in the Friends With Fins series (The Talent Show and The Fish Capturing Pirate) as a way to teach children about ocean conservation. She's also created an educational video and a book for the iPad.  I love the story of how these books came to be and am excited to share Jaclyn's story with my new group of students this fall.  I love to hear about the process writers use but even more interesting to me with Jaclyn's interview is the way she is using these books to teach kids about a global issue that she is passionate about. Her work is a great model for kids about how to use writing and media to make a difference in the world.

There are lots of ways for our students to learn from Jaclyn.  She has done several author visits and she is also available for classroom Skype visits.  You can visit Jaclyn's website at and you can follow her on Twitter. Friends with Fins also has a Facebook page and you can follow Friends with Fins on Twitter (@friendswithfins)

Enjoy the interview: 

Franki:  How did you get interested in writing for children?

Jaclyn:  When I was in 8th grade I was voted in the yearbook “Most Likely to Write a Book.”  I’ve always been a people pleaser so I added it to my list of things to doJ  That’s part of it, but in all seriousness, I have always enjoyed writing.  I’ve kept journals, notebooks, poetry books and I’ve written for several newspapers.  Writing is something I’ve always been interested in and when I got the idea for the Friends with Fins series, it just felt like the right time

Franki:  How did you get interested in ocean conservation?

Jaclyn:  I’ve always been interested in marine biology and if I hadn’t gone to school for acting, marine bio would have been my #2 choice.  When I moved to Los Angeles, I called several aquariums looking for a place to volunteer.  That was almost 4 years ago and now it’s something I’m HUGELY passionate about, and extremely educated in. I now not only volunteer for the aquarium, I also work with an organization called Heal the Bay as a member of their speakers bureau and as a beach captain for beach cleanup days.  I could talk for hours about conservation issues, ocean animals and the many different species.

Franki:  Can you talk a bit about your writing process? You have 2 books in the series. What process did you use to get those to publication? 

Jaclyn:  Someone said to me, if you want to be a writer, just write, so I did!  I saw a need at the aquarium for a current video that taught conservation in a fun and exciting way for children, so I wrote and produced a video called Friend with Fins that is basically ‘Sponge Bob’ meets ‘Blues Clues’ and focuses heavily on West Coast conservation issues. It is now used at some aquariums and in classrooms as a teaching tool.   It was so successful that once I finished that, I wrote a 22 minute pilot to try and have it turned into a children’s show and from there got the idea to write the books.  Once the first book was written, finding an illustrator became a challenge but after that obstacle was out of the way it was smooth sailing.  I decided to go the self-publishing route for several reasons.  The first reason was because I didn’t want to risk the book never being seen.  I have seen many extremely talented writer friends look for a literary agent for years and sit on really brilliant stories that never reach the public.  Also, I wanted to stay on my own time schedule.  I wasn’t interested in deadlines or having someone to answer to.  I’m really glad I made the decision I did because after I found my illustrator and completed the first book, I put it out in paperback and Kindle form and then it was suggested to me that we make a version that is read along for the iPad, which I also did.  Shortly after that, a teacher here in Los Angeles, Johanna Denise, reached out to me and offered to translate it into Spanish so that it could be enjoyed by both Spanish and English speaking children.  Once it was out there, it took on a life of its own.  I did some author visits at elementary schools and kids at every school were asking what the next Friends with Fins adventure was going to be, so I decided it was time to write the second book.

Franki:  Which character in your books do you most connect to and why?

Jaclyn:  I connect the most with the character of Amanda because in the stories she is a Marine Messenger who lives in an airtight dome helping sea creatures.  She travels around with another Marine Messenger in their submarine and they send conservation message back to the surface.  That’s something I wish could be real!  I would LOVE to spend time exploring the ocean and I wish there was more that I could do to make a difference.

Franki:  Can you tell us a little bit about the illustrator of your book and how he came to illustrate your books?

Jaclyn:  My illustrator, Christian Hahn, is an extremely talented 14-year-old artist.  He is my husband’s cousin and it’s actually a funny story how I decided to use him.  I had been meeting with adult illustrators in Los Angeles and wasn’t finding what I was looking for.  Many of them were very talented but their art was much more mature and realistic than what I was looking for.  I wanted something that had a youthfulness to it and that I thought children would connect with.  When I was talking with some of the family about my artist search, he overheard, went to his room to show me some of his sketches and drawings. I asked him if he would illustrate my book and he had several rough drafts for me before I even left that evening! When I’ve done author visits in the past, Christian has been able to come to a few of them, which is a valuable experience for both him and the students.  The students can see someone just a few years older than themselves published and accomplishing his goal of being an artist and he has learned public speaking and is being recognized for his talent.

Franki:  What do you talk about when you do author visits?

Jaclyn:  When I visit schools my goal is to make learning about conservation fun! After reading the book and making it come to life for the students, I do an interactive presentation that educates and entertains simultaneously.  A highlight of the presentation is four different varieties of sharks’ teeth to show similarities and differences between species, which is always a crowd pleaser.  I also utilize the Friends with Fins video and answer questions about green screen, animation, acting, production and goal setting. 

Franki:  How do you hope that your books will impact children?

Jaclyn:  I would love for children to get into good conservation habits and perhaps even teach their parents.  Using cloth grocery bags, cutting apart six pack soda plastic rings, and not using balloons (or at least disposing of them properly) are just a few of the nuggets I try to teach kids.  I also want these books to entertain and show children some of the many interesting animal species that live in in the ocean.

Franki:  Your books have some online features and iPad apps. Can you talk about the process for creating the iPad version?  

Jaclyn:  I am lucky to have amazing technical support at home in my husband, Timothy Riese! He helps me with all of the formatting for the electronic versions.  The fun part was getting some of my actor friends together to record the voices of the characters for the iPad version. 

Franki:  You were a big reader and writer when you were younger.  Are there any books from your childhood that you remember loving?

Jaclyn:  I have always loved children’s literature and to this day prefer young adult novels to regular adult fiction.  I loved being read to by parents and teachers.  My favorite books were The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, A Wrinkle in Time and then series like Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew, and the Bobbsey Twins.  My favorite picture books were Chicka Chicka Boom Boom,  DownBy the Bay and Gloria Houston’s But No Candy.

Franki:  Was there any work that impacted your writing of Friends with Fins-any authors you learned from? 

Jaclyn: When I was in elementary school we watched videos called “The Voyage of the Mimi” that taught history and then had companion workbooks and reading material.  That was a huge inspiration for me and that was the original idea behind the Friends with Fins video.  I would still like to see it go in that direction as a series of teaching tools that cross several media platforms. I was also really inspired by authors who came to visit our school when I was a child likeMem Fox and Tomie Depaola.

Franki:  Will there be another book in this series coming soon?  What are your plans for the series?  

Jaclyn:  Several kids have requested that I write a young reader chapter book of Friends with Fins.  I’m not sure if that’s going to happen or not, but I’m definitely thinking about it.  I would like to put out at least one more Friends with Fins picture book and I’m talking with production companies about turning the books into a children’s series, so fingers crossed!

Saturday, June 28, 2014


Check out more Celebration posts at

1. Franki has unveiled her new digital learning blog: Click Here Next. What an amazing resource for teachers K-5 who are anywhere on the spectrum of learning about and using digital tools in their classrooms!

2. My multi-equational "Gardener's Math Poems" poem-set was accepted for publication in Carol-Ann Hoyt's upcoming (October) anthology of poems for children about food and agriculture.

3. One of the swallowtail caterpillars that I am hosting in a big jar on the counter by the fish tank is now a chrysalis! 

4. The Choice Literacy writing retreat. What a gift to be able to relax in a beautiful setting, connect with smart and funny teacher-writers, and have the gift of TIME to be able to write without interruption.

5. This cute little baby:

Friday, June 27, 2014

Poetry Friday -- The Writer's Wish

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by see like click

The Writer's Wish

Come, words.

Pour down like rain in the night,
with or without the thunder.

Sit on my shoulder like the wren on the fence.
Sing to me; sing through me.

Rise dependably, like sun behind clouds.
Glow with promise and purpose.

Follow me down the pine-scented forest path.
Follow me, or perhaps lead me. Better yet, walk with me.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

My theme for my poems this summer seems to be "Wishes." Two have been sent out to Summer Poem Swap recipients, another is ready, and I'll keep this one for myself, and for my fellow writers at the Choice Literacy Writing retreat.

Buffy has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at Buffy's Blog.

The Poetry Friday roundup schedule for July-December 2014 is complete! THANKS! I'll get the dates and links on the Yahoo calendar and the Kidlitosphere Central Website by the end of the week.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Catching up On Professional Journals

March 2014 Teaching Children Mathematics (NCTM)
"Digital Date Equations"

Although this is not a particularly new activity -- use the digits of the date to create an equation -- I have a couple of big take-aways:

  • I rant that teachers of reading and writing need to be readers and writers themselves. If I follow the same logic, then I need to create equations, too.
  • By making some equations of my own, I know how hard it is to keep the digits in order.
  • If we begin the school year making these equations, we will be able to have conversations about order of operations, estimating, mental math, inequalities (and more) all year long instead of during a particular unit of study. Like read aloud, Poetry Friday, and 15 Minutes on Friday blog writing, this seems to be a small but mighty practice.

My equations for 6/24/2014:
(6 ÷ 2) x 4 = (2 + 0 + 1) x 4
(6 + 2 + 4 + 2 +0) = 14
(6 ÷ 24) + (2 x 0) = 1 ÷ 4
6÷ 4 = (2 x 4) + 1 + 0
62 x 4 > 20 x 14

 March 2014 Language Arts (NCTE)
"Addressing CCSS Anchor Standard 10: Text Complexity"

This article includes a really nice chart that summarizes all the ways a text can be complex:

Level of Meaning and Purpose
     Density and Complexity
     Figurative Language
     Text Features and Graphics
Language Conventionality and Clarity
     Standard English and Variations
     Register (Archaic, formal, domain-specific, scholarly)
Knowledge Demands
     Background Knowledge (experiences)
     Prior Knowledge (specialized or technical content knowledge)
     Cultural Knowledge
     Vocabulary Knowledge

ReadWriteThink Text Complexity strategy for primary readers (following this link will take you down a really nice rabbit hole of ReadWriteThink resources for all levels)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Breathe: Early Summer Edition

All around me, esteemed colleagues are reading and reflecting on professional books, tearing through #bookaday books that make them bubble with excitement, and taking coursework to advance themselves professionally.

I'm growing corn.

And carrots.

And swallowtail butterflies.

I haven't written any articles or many blog posts, but I have had a poem accepted for a new crowd-sourced anthology and I am pretty pleased with a new series of poems (code name "Wishes") I am working on for the Summer Poem Swap (and who knows what other venue).

I am healing,

celebrating good news about our test scores, and volunteering most days for our Summer Lunch program.

It's not like I've been sitting on the couch frittering my time away these past three weeks. I have to remind myself of that, remember not to beat myself up because my "did it" list isn't filled with the same things my esteemed colleagues' lists are, and continually celebrate every moment of my happy, busy, productive (on my terms) SUMMER!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

New Baskets for Our 3rd Grade Classroom Library

We should be curators of our libraries, not just collectors.
  Offering students an engaging, diverse classroom library requires more than buying books and putting them on bookshelves….Managing a classroom library requires curation-selecting the best most current materials for both curriculum needs and student interests.

  Donalyn Miller , Reading in the Wild  p. 80

I love this quote from Donalyn Miller's new book Reading in the Wild. It reminds me how important it is to be thoughtful about the books we put in our classroom libraries. When I first started teaching, I just collected books. My goal was to fill the shelves. I still love to collect books but I am a bit pickier about what goes in the classroom library and each year I reflect and revise.

It's that time of year when I begin to think about baskets of books that were not really used by students and new baskets that are needed.  Most of the fiction section of the classroom library are organized by series and author.  I find that this organization supports readers.

I am thinking about new baskets I'll add to our library this year.  Some of these are new series or series I didn't know about last fall.

We LOVED The Quirks (and author Erin Soderberg) in our classroom this year. Even though there are only 2 books out in this series, the third is due out in December and with 3 books in a series we love, we must have a basket!  This is a great series for 3rd and 4th graders and I am excited that it is becoming a series. I definitely want to highlight this one next year.

The third book in the series by Julie Sternberg was just released this spring. I Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie as a stand alone book. But I was thrilled when the author continued the story with Like Bug Juice on a Burger and Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake. I love the characters in the story and the problems are perfect for 3rd graders. I am thinking lots of kids will read this once they see it is a series.

The Magic Bone series -Be Careful What You Sniff For #1 (Magic Bone) was a huge hit in my classroom this year. One of my George Brown, Class Clown (Super Burp! #1 (George Brown, Class Clown) fans discovered it (same author) and shared it. The series definitely made its rounds in the classroom and was a definite favorite. This is also a fairly new series as the 5th one was released last week.

Two series I have not yet read but am confident they will have baskets in the fall are The Sasquatch Escape (The Imaginary Veterinary) series and Andy Griffith's series The 13-Story Treehouse. They are on my stack to read soon but I have heard from so many people that they are both perfect for 3rd graders, I imagine I'll be adding these as baskets too.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Passionate Learners: A New Professional Book by Pernille Ripp

 I am not sure how I discovered Pernille Ripp (@pernilleripp), but I am so glad I did! Her blog, Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension, has had a huge impact on my thinking and learning. Pernille is one of the most student-centred teachers I know and she shares generously with the global community. Pernille was the person who invented The Global Read Aloud, something that continues to grow each year.  I was lucky enough to talk to Pernille a few months ago for a Choice Literacy podcast and again, learned so much from her. I am a huge Pernille fan, so I was thrilled to see that she had written a book and pre-ordered it the minute that I could!

Passionate Learners: Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students is now available and once I started reading it, I had trouble putting it down.  The book is available as an ebook and I am so glad about that.  The highlighting tool came in handy and I can now go back and revisit the many powerful lines and ideas I marked.

I am so glad I waited until the school year was over to read this book.  I loved reading it as I thought ahead to the fall and what I wanted for our classroom next year.  It is the perfect summer read for thinking and reflecting.

I loved so much about this book. First of all, Pernille is such a humble educator. She doesn't claim to know all of the answers but she shares her story honestly and passionately. She talks about her journey to become the teacher she is today and shares the challenges. I don't know any teachers who feel that their classroom is a perfect match to the vision they have and Pernille lets us know that that's okay. But she lets us know that we have the control to make our classrooms what we want if we trust ourselves as teachers who know what is right for kids. One quote I loved early in the book was this, "We can change education from within. We can change the way our students feel about coming to school, but we have to take the first step."  She also reminds us that we don't have to change everything all at once. She wisely shares,  "And what I discovered was this: even the smallest changes can make monumental differences."

I loved every invitation Pernille gave me to reflect on my practice because she invited me by telling stories of her own change. She lets us know about challenges along the way and how she handled them.  She shares research she listens to and research she doesn't. She is so passionate about the environment she creates for her kids and she continues to change to meet her vision.

The book is a great combination of reflective thinking and helpful ideas. Pernille shares her thoughts and goals and then continues by sharing steps you can take to make each change that you want to make.  She talks about the year as a whole and also spends a bit of time talking about those first days of school and how important they are if we want to create a classroom of passionate learners.

One thing I was struck by was that the book is perfect for both new teachers and veteran teachers. Pernille talks directly to new teachers often in the book, encouraging them to trust themselves, trust their students, and connect with colleagues. As a veteran teacher, the book also spoke to me. Pernille understands the reason most of us went into teaching and she empowers us all to do what we know is best--even if it isn't the norm.

Pernille is an advocate for students and she is also an advocate for teachers-as-decision-makers. I am glad to have read this book early in the summer, to sit with her ideas and think about how important they are.  I know I will revisit the book, my highlights and my notes often as I create a vision for the upcoming school year.  

Thank you, Pernille for writing such an honest and powerful book!

(You can read more about Pernille and her book in an interview that she did at Powerful Learning Practice.)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Picture Book Surprises, part 3: Poetry Friday

Dear Wandering Wildebeest: And Other Poems from the Water Hole
by Irene Latham
illustrated by Anna Wadham
Millbrook Press, August 1. 2014
review copy provided by the publisher

What a surprise to visit an African Water Hole with Irene Latham!

The fifteen poems in this picture book introduce us to the importance of the water hole to the African grassland ecosystem. Each poem is accompanied by a short bit of nonfiction text that tells more about the water hole or the animal featured in the poem.

Working alone or in small groups, I can imagine students using this book (and others like it that combine poetry and nonfiction) as a mentor text for their own writing about an ecosystem, their neighborhood, or the cultures they are studying in social studies.

The other two rhyming/poetry books in this week's Picture Book Surprises series:

Picture Book Surprise #1 -- THE GREAT BIG GREEN by Peggy Gifford

Picture Book Surprise #2 -- JOY IN MUDVILLE by Bob Raczka

Jone has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at Check it Out.

Poetry Friday Roundup host/hostesses are still needed in July, August, November and December. Sign up here.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Picture Book Surprises, part 2

Joy in Mudville
by Bob Raczka
illustrated by Glin Dibley
Carolrhoda Books, 2014
review copy provided by the publisher

What a surprise to pick up the story of Casey at the Bat...the day AFTER Casey strikes out.

In the next game, Casey's got his game back on, knocking one over the fence. However, the starting pitcher has walked three straight batters and it's time to bring in a relief pitcher. Luckily, it's Joy Armstrong who's brought in on a hunch.
Because she was a girl, the fans
    assumed she'd come up short.
She'd show them soon enough that girls
    excel in many sports.
And excel she does! She hikes one pitch like a football, lobs another like a tennis serve, and delivers a third like a basketball jump shot. The batter bunts the third pitch and as the runner on third races to the home plate intent on scoring, Joy doesn't bother to scoop up the ball and throw it to the catcher, she kicks it in soccer style...for the out!

Joy's originality is a surprise, she definitely proves that she was a good choice for relief pitcher, and her name is a perfect fit for the ending of the poem:
And yes--you guessed it--
    there was joy in Mudville once again.
Ernest Lawrence Thayer's poem, Casey at the Bat is included at the end of the book, in case there are readers who need a refresher on Mudville's baseball record and famous players. Glin Dibley's illustrations use a variety of perspectives and points of view to bring the story to life.

This will be a fun read aloud, and a great mentor text for students who want to write a prequel or sequel to a well-known story or poem.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Picture Book Surprises, part 1

The Great Big Green
by Peggy Gifford
illustrated by Lisa Disimini
Boyds Mills Press, 2014
review copy provided by the publisher

Readers who know and love Peggy Gifford's Moxy Maxwell series of chapter books will be surprised to read this rhyming riddle book. In years to come, readers who know The Great Big Green will be delighted to discover Moxy Maxwell!

The Great Big Green describes every possible shade of green and many green things, both living and non-living. You might guess what The Great Big Green is...if I tell you that where it's not green, it's blue!

The detailed multi-media collage illustrations are worthy of child-in-lap explorations to find and name as many green things as possible.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Blogging in the Classroom: Thinking Ahead to Fall

I've been thinking about how best to kick off Writing Workshop in the fall. With all of the new digital tools and all of the possibilities, I want to make sure I am strategic about launching in a way that embeds the tools, but that is also grounded in all that I know about a good Writing Workshop.  For the past few years, I've had students blog (both with a class blog and on individual kidblogs). I have always felt like I've kicked those off in a good way--with lots of mentor blogs, lots of time for learning about commenting, etc.)  But I want a bit more than that this year.  This year, I want to do the study of blogs and blogging but I want to embed it in Living Your Life as a Writer and I want to make sure that I start conversations early, that we can carry throughout the year.  To help me think through mini lesson work and to give kids a visual as they begin to blog, I created this graphic.

I want students to know right away that blogging, (and any writing) requires the writer to make a lot of decisions. And with every piece a writer writes, the questions are a constant part of the process. I know this visual does not include everything but I am hoping it gives us some great ways into the conversation about being a writer who blogs.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Coming Soon: Stenhouse Blogstitute!

We are excited that the Stenhouse Summer Blogstitute begins this week. Starting on June 17, several Stenhouse authors will be sharing their latest thinking in the form of a blogstitute. Check in with Stenhouse each week for a new post.  The line up looks amazing and I am excited to hear from each of these amazing authors!

I love the Blogstitute for several reasons.  I try to keep up on all Stenhouse books because I love the philosophy of the company and know that any book I pick up from them will match my beliefs. But as hard as I try, I just can't keep up. So the Blogstitute introduces me to some books and authors I don't know.

I also love the way Stenhouse lets me preview books online.  There is so much I can see about a book right on the site. Many of the new books can be read completely online.  I also love the variety of resources (like podcasts and videos) that go along with the books.  The blogstitute helps me keep up with all that is new on the site, as well as keeping up with new professional books and authors.

The blogstitute also lets me learn from people I've learned from over the years and regrounds me a bit. This year, Stenhouse has an amazing line up.  There is a diverse group of authors--the list includes various grade levels, various content areas, various topics. It looks to be a great year!

These are the people you'll learn from this year at the Stenhouse Blogstitute:

Jeff Zwiers, Robert Pritchard, and Susan O'Hara, authors of Common Core Standards in Diverse Classrooms

Sue Kemptom, author of Let's Find Out (You can also see a video from Sue Kempton's classroom on the Stenhouse site.)

Elham Kazemi and Allison Hinz, authors of Intentional Talk

Shirley McPhillips, author of Poem Central

Dorothy Barnhouse, author of Readers Front and Center

Aimee Buckner Nonfiction Notebooks (You can also listen to a podcast with Aimee Buckner on the site.)

Kassia Omohundro Wedekind, author of Math Exchanges  (Also, listen to a Podcast with Kassia on the Stenhouse site.)

Laurie Rubin, author of  To Look Closely
Jeff Zwiers, Robert Pritchard, and Susan O’Hara, authors of Common Core Standards in Diverse Classrooms Sue Kempton, author of Let’s Find Out! Elham Kazemi and Allison Hintz, authors of Intentional Talk Shirley McPhillips, author of Poem Central Dorothy Barnhouse, author of Readers Front and Center Aimee Buckner, author of Nonfiction Notebooks Kassia Omohundro Wedekind, author of Math Exchanges Laurie Rubin, author of To Look Closely - See more at:
Jeff Zwiers, Robert Pritchard, and Susan O’Hara, authors of Common Core Standards in Diverse Classrooms Sue Kempton, author of Let’s Find Out! Elham Kazemi and Allison Hintz, authors of Intentional Talk Shirley McPhillips, author of Poem Central Dorothy Barnhouse, author of Readers Front and Center Aimee Buckner, author of Nonfiction Notebooks Kassia Omohundro Wedekind, author of Math Exchanges Laurie Rubin, author of To Look Closely - See more at:
Jeff Zwiers, Robert Pritchard, and Susan O’Hara, authors of Common Core Standards in Diverse Classrooms Sue Kempton, author of Let’s Find Out! Elham Kazemi and Allison Hintz, authors of Intentional Talk Shirley McPhillips, author of Poem Central Dorothy Barnhouse, author of Readers Front and Center Aimee Buckner, author of Nonfiction Notebooks Kassia Omohundro Wedekind, author of Math Exchanges Laurie Rubin, author of To Look Closely - See more at:

Friday, June 13, 2014

Poetry Friday: Perpetual Impasse

Flickr Creative Commons photo by Vincent van der Pas

Perpetual Impasse

Outstretched arms reach,

Open hands caress

Blank face stares.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

When I sat down to write this morning, I thought I would do a bit of "line lifting." My physical therapy exercise sheets are sitting right there on the kitchen table and I jotted down "Active range of motion."

As I sipped my tea, the clocks ticked and chimed. And my poem went off in a direction I never expected.

That's what I love most about writing: the surprises.

*   *   *   *   *   *   

While we're on the subject of time, it's TIME to sign up for the Poetry Friday roundups for July-December. You can do that here.

And it's TIME for you to head over to today's roundup at Catherine Johnson's blog.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

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 2014, 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's a fabulous article at Savvy Verse and Wit about Poetry Friday by regular contributor Tabatha Yeatts (The Opposite of Indifference).

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, Jog the Web, or ???) on the Friday of your choice. If you are new to the Poetry Friday community, jump right in! If you've never participated, but you'd like to get started, 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? I'll post it in the files on the Kidlitosphere Yahoo group, and I'd be happy to send it to you if you leave me your email address. Speaking of the Kidlitosphere Yahoo group, I'll set up reminders on the calendar there. Plus, I'll put 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:

4   Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe
11  Linda at Write Time
18 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
25 Sylvia and Janet at Poetry For Children

1   Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
8  Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
15 Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe
22 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
29 Jone at Check it Out

5   Laura at Author Amok
12 Renee at No Water River
19 Amy at The Poem Farm
26 Laura at Writing the World for Kids

3   Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup
10 Monica at The Poem Trail
17 Michelle at Today's Little Ditty
24 Cathy at Merely Day by Day
31 Linda at TeacherDance

7   Diane at Random Noodling
14 Keri at Keri Recommends
21 Becky at Tapestry of Words
28 Carol at Carol's Corner

5   Anastasia at Booktalking #kidlit
12 Paul at These 4 Corners
19 Buffy at Buffy's Blog
26 Holly at Reading, Teaching, Learning

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Connecting Comprehension and Technology

I've been very behind on my professional reading and am so glad I have summer to catch up. I picked up a copy of Connecting Comprehension and Technology: Adapt and Extend Toolkit Practices right when it came out. But with my concussion last summer and my ban on reading, I never had a chance to read the book. I love the authors of this book and I love the ideas around it. I have been fans of Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis for a very long time and loved the idea that they partnered with classroom teachers for this new book/toolkit supplement.  I love that this was a book about technology by people who are so committed to literacy learning.

I was bummed that I missed the session focused on these ideas at NCTE this fall but I had a conflict so I couldn't attend. But, in March, I went to MRA and had the opportunity to hear Kristin Ziemke. I was also able to participate in her online workshop through Heinemann this spring.  And in late May, Kristin did a Skype PD with teachers from our building. I loved the thinking and it was so in line with my own thinking--the natural use of technology as a tool and the way that she talked about focusing on the thinking, not the technology. (Maria was part of the Skype visit and shared some of her learning on her blog.)  Kristin and Stephanie are both speaking at All Write so I am hoping to learn more from them there!

So, a few weeks ago, with end of the year things slowing down, I had time to really dig into  Connecting Comprehension and Technology. I  read bits and pieces last year when I got the book but couldn't dig in, mark it up, read it cover to cover. With the added bonus of having heard Kristin speak and seeing photos and conversations from her classroom, I knew I  wanted to spend lots of time with the book. I'm so glad I did. My copy is now sticky noted and marked up and I know I will continue to dig into it over and over again all summer as I think ahead to next fall.

Here are some things I love about the book:

*Even though the book is filled with lessons, it is also about possibilities. The authors share lessons that go along with the Comprehension Toolkit and they can be used as is. They are great lessons and there are many I will try in the fall. But it is the combination of lessons and the stance the teachers in the book share that really set the stage for technology as a tool for thinking.

*There are QR codes that lead to video clips of both Kristin and Katie's classrooms in action. I love that there are examples from a first grade and a fifth grade classroom. The threads of learning are the same and it is so helpful to see what kids are doing at different stages.  The video clips are great and I used a few with my students during the last few weeks of school as we played with back channeling during read aloud, etc. It was a great way to introduce something and let them see how other kids were using it to learn.

*I love the classrooms in the book. The is not a book that focuses on technology. It is a book that focuses on thinking. It is clear from the pictures, lessons, videos, etc. that the classrooms are filled with books and paper and notebooks and conversations...and iPads.

*A few of the lessons really helped me think through ways to support some struggles my kids have had. A favorite is one on distractions on a website--how to navigate a website when there are so many distractions. I had talked to my kids about this but the way these lessons are set up really helped me see that I was talking more about the website than the thinking.  The layout of the lessons helped me think about how to add depth to the learning.

*The book is full of classroom charts, screenshots of webpages, screenshots of student work. It really gives you a vision for what a classroom could be that focuses on thinking, not technology.

This book is a great add on to the Comprehension Toolkit if you have it.  But the book definitely stands alone if you do not own the toolkit.  It's the brilliant thinking about reading and comprehension that Harvey and Goudvis have taught us, with the addition of technology.  This book shows readers what is possible when technology is used as a tool and what can happen if we hold onto best practice and naturally embed digital tools. If you are thinking about technology and literacy, it is definitely one I'd recommend. I have seen lots of books that focus on ways to use technology to support reading but this book really talks about thinking and how to use technology to support that.  That might seem like a minor detail, but for teachers who understand literacy learning it is not minor at all!