Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Audiobooks I've Loved

I don't tend to enjoy audiobooks but am working to change that. My preference is to read self-help type books as those seem good for shorter spurts while I'm walking or driving. My good friend Stella always recommends great audios that help me reflect on life and set new goals.  And over the past few years, I've read more middle grade fiction too. I have learned how important the narrator is (with  Teri Lesesne's help) and I have learned to use the audible sample to determine quickly whether I'll be able to stick with the audio. I've tried to find narrators I love and then look for new books read by those narrators.  I am getting better at choosing books that are a good match for me to read on audio and I am starting to love my audible account.  I am hoping to build in more time for audiobooks--I realize I have lots of times that I can be listening to a book while doing other things.

I thought I'd share some of the audiobooks I've loved in the past year or two:

Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton (NARRATED BY THE AUTHOR)

The Power of Vulnerability by Brene Brown (this one is actually a series of workshops given by the author more than an actual audiobook. Her new book Rising Strong will be available on audio with the author doing the reading. Yippee!!)

Middle Grade Fiction

Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco (NARRATOR: Ariadne Meyers)

Paper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson (NARRATOR: Katie Rudd)

The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond by Brenda Woods (NARRATOR: Sisi A. Johnson)

Tell Me by Joan Bauer  (NARRATOR: Cassandra Morris)

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George  (NARRATOR: Suzy Jackson)

And these are the audiobooks on my TBR "stack" :

The Art of Work by Jeff Goins  (NARRATED BY THE AUTHOR)

The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh  (NARRATOR: Cassandra Morris)

Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia (NARRATOR: Sisi A. Johnson)

Monday, June 29, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I've read quite a bit over the last week. These are my favorites:-)

Two FABULOUS middle grade novels! LOVE LOVE LOVE both of these. (They do require some tissues though:-)

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

Paper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

Three Books about People and History. These were all different but they were all great reads and I learned a great deal from each.

The Case for Loving by Selina Alko

Two Fabulous YA books that require lots and lots of tissues:

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt

I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Learning and Unlearning

This video is fascinating. Take the 7 minutes to watch it. It is about the way we learn, how hard it is to unlearn something you thought was immutable (like riding a bike), perception, and bias.

I love this quote from the end:

"Truth is truth, no matter what I think about it. So be very careful how you interpret things, because you're looking at the world with a bias whether you think you are or not." -- Destin at SmarterEveryDay

All kinds of perfect, eh?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Poetry Friday -- Hello, Sketchbook! Let's Get Reacquainted!

I got my sketchbook out for the first time in 3 years, and look what I found:

We call them "glads"
because they are;
because they make us so.

They show us
process and stages.

They teach us vulnerability --
reaching, bending, falling
with the weight of what they've become.

And yet,
they are beautiful.

They are glads.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2012

How do I sketch heat?
   oppressive heat
   blanketing heat

How do I sketch a hawk?
   flap, glide, soar

How do I sketch the trees?
   so many shades of green
   holding still as the storm builds

The sky is easy: violet.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2012

Today I made this:

Because of this book (thank you, Amy LV)...

...and because this other book has inspired me to doodle with wild abandon and much happiness...

...and because of this blog post (thank you Kimberley Moran)...

...which has this video embedded (scrub to 1:30 if you just want the Black-Eyed Susan lesson)...

Life is good.
Happy Friday.
Happy Poetry.
Happy Doodling.

Carol has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at Carol's Corner.

The July-December roundup schedule is in our sidebar, the code is in the files at the Kidlitosphere Yahoo group, and everything's set and ready to go (and January-June is archived) at Kidlitosphere Central. Let me know if you want me to send you your very own copy of the code. (marylee DOT hahn AT gmail etc etc).

Thursday, June 25, 2015

2 New Picture Books

I discovered 2 new picture book this week. I ordered a big stack at the library after All Write and they are starting to come in.

At All Write, I learned about lots of books but one that I was especially excited about was WILD IDEAS:  LET NATURE INSPIRE YOUR THINKING by Elin Kelsey.  I learned about this book from JoEllen McCarthy, the Book Ambassador for The Educator Collaborative in her session with Chris Lehman on Nonfiction.  I always find new books from JoEllen and they are always "must have" titles.  I am excited about adding this book to the classroom library. It is about problems, problem solving and wonder so I can definitely see it being used to start conversations about that. But it is also about animals and so much of what we do in science is animal adaptations, etc.  The authors note at the end tells that all of the quick info in the book came about from scientists studying animal behavior.  This is a quick read. Just a sentence or two on a page but it will start great conversations!

I a a huge Cece Bell fan so I have been awaiting her new book, I YAM A DONKEY (story, pictures and bad grammar by Cece Bell) .  It is a fun book about grammar that I think kids will find quite amusing (I know I found it to be quite funny!).  This is just a fun read that readers of many ages will enjoy.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Doodle Revolution

The Doodle Revolution
by Sunni Brown (her "Doodlers, unite!" TED talk is here)
Penguin, 2014
review copy from the public library

You could probably read/skim this book at five different times in your life and get five different personal life lessons from it. My big take-away this time around is that doodling is not bad. Doodling is a way to think and learn:

I want to teach my students some doodling tools so that we can doodlearn (yes, I just made that word up!) together.

But what this book gave me for right now (for today and this week and the rest of the summer) was a reminder that I don't have to wait until I'm an amazing artist to have fun with doodling. I learned to doodle new, more expressive stick figures, and use eye positions, noses, mouths and eyebrows to create a variety of more emotive faces:

And I returned to my TED challenge and illustrated notetaking by opening the TED app on my phone, scanning the featured talks, finding one with NOTICE in the title (my One Little Word for 2015) and received this excellent message from the universe:

Tony Fadell: "The first secret of design is...noticing"

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

My Online Reading Life

I haven't felt like I've been reading a lot lately.  With the projects and things I have going on, I haven't been able to lose myself in a book like I usually do.  But then I read Donalyn Miller's Nerdy Book Club post about reading fast and short and realized that I have been reading a great deal of short texts. I thought I'd share some of my recent favorites.

I am a huge Carry On, Warrior fan and try to read Glennon Doyle Melton's blog daily. I especially loved this recent post and think it speaks to teachers too.
It's Just as Simple and As Hard as This by Glennon Doyle Melton at Momastery

I am a huge fan of theSkimm and I read it daily. But I recently discovered Skimm Guides. These writers help us out if we haven't been keeping up on an issue that seems important. They've written guides to summarize the issues and what is happening with them. They are so helpful. This week, I read the Guide explaining "The Supremes" and all the current work the Supreme Court has ahead.  It was an easy way to catch up and now I feel pretty smart about it!  (If you do not get the daily theSkimm newsletter, I HIGHLY recommend it. You will feel smarter every day because of it!

I laughed out loud at this Buzzed article--How To Know You've Found Your Teaching BFF. How would we survive without these fabulous colleagues who get us through some stressful moments and who make our jobs even more fun!

Bud the Teacher recently moved to a new role and I love the challenge he gave himself. I think we can all benefit from reading it and giving it a try.

Chris Lehmann, principal of the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia always has wise words and asks hard question. His post What If is an important one.

I've been exploring the new Stenhouse book, Well Played online.  I love the preview feature and have been getting to know the book before it is available. I have trouble reading the entire thing on the site but do like the opportunity to read short pieces as I think about how the book can help me as a math teacher.

Wordless News is a site I learned about from Kristin Ziemke during her All Write session. It is a great site I've been exploring--love the concept and am thinking of ways to use it with kids.

Monday, June 22, 2015


Summertime is gardening time for me. Those are my beets (first time I've ever planted beets -- can't wait to roast the root and saute the greens) and my basil (aka Pesto Plants). I also have tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic and onions (also the first time for those), rosemary, parsley (mostly for the black swallowtails), and chives. In the community garden where my environmental club has a plot, we have tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, carrots, onions, and beans.

Here are a couple of great books for the gardeners out there:

Jo MacDonald Had a Garden
by Mary Quattlebaum
illustrated by Laura J. Bryant
Dawn Publications, 2012
review copy from the public library

This picture book follows the traditional rhyme (I dare you to read it without singing it!), but substitutes sun, soil, worms, seeds, water, bird, plants, food, treat, and when winter comes, rest.

There is wildlife hidden in the illustrations. In the back, Quattlebaum includes information about the plants and animals and gardening.

EIEIO: How Old MacDonald Got His Farm
by Judy Sierra
illustrated by Matthew Myers
Candlewick Press, 2014
review copy -- gift from a fellow gardener

In this version, Old MacDonald starts with a house and a big back yard -- a yard that takes a lot of mowing. So much mowing that he gets a goat. After the goat, MacDonald gets a chicken. But not just ANY chicken! This one has a diploma, a suitcase monogrammed with LRH, and a plan that includes improving the soil, planting, and selling the harvest to the neighbors! In the end, Old MacDonald has an urban garden with no less than seven raised beds, plants in containers (and an old bathtub), and rows of grapevines and sunflowers. It's a new vision for what a yard can be. EIEIO.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Poetry Friday Roundup is Here!

by Anne Vittur Kennedy
Candlewick Press, 2014

As the farmer drives away from the barn on his tractor, the farm animals (and other assorted animal friends) can be heard exclaiming, 
neigh neigh baa baa quack quack tweet
arf oink ree ree cluck cluck cheep!
And then the fun begins! The animals take a float trip down the river, have a picnic, ride a roller coaster, go water skiing, fly in a dirigible and have a formal evening dance. But all good things must come to an end. Dog alerts the animals
arf! ARF! ARF! ARF! ARF! afr! arf!
ARF! arf! afr! ARF! arf! ARF! arf!
And all (well, almost all) are back in place by the time the farmer has parked the tractor in the barn.

This delightful book, as you can probably tell from my two quotes, is told all in rhyming animal noises! As with all the best picture books, there is as much (or more) of the story going on in the pictures as in the text. You'll have as much fun reading this one aloud as your audience will have listening and joining in!

Just like the farmer is away from the farm, I am away from the blog today. Share your link via Mr. Linky and I'll look forward to reading all of your posts when I am home from the All Write conference on Saturday!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Live Photo Blogging From the All Write Conference!

Georgia Heard on Writing Nonfiction through Mentor Texts

"Mentor texts help writers envision the kind of writer they can become"

"We have to make the distinction between NF books to teach writers about craft & those we use for research."

Listening to Jennifer Serravallo talk about Goal-Directed instruction.

Oops! We've been so busy learning in our sessions that we forgot to take pictures and blog! Here we are downtown at Mud Love!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Making Comics with Bitstrips

Near the end of the school year, I introduced my students to Bitstrips. "Introduced" means I showed them where to find all the tools, gave them the login code and got out of the way.

After spending a ton of time creating their avatars, they got down to the (funny) business of making comics. You can imagine that with an available background of a bathroom, there were plenty of cartoons that would appeal mostly to a 10 year-old sense of humor. What surprised me the most were the comics that captured a moment in our classroom

or a moment in their lives

or something completely random that shows they were playing with the tools and wound up making something that made some kind of sense!

Every year, I have students who read graphic novels and want to make their own in writing workshop. I've never had success supporting these students because of the limitations of students to draw their own stories, the limitations of the digital tools I had tried in the past, and the lack of an accessible mentor text for beginning graphic novelists.

I think this coming year might be the year of the student-created graphic novel. Instead of renewing the three subscriptions to magazines no students in my classroom have read for the past two years, I am going to pay for a subscription to Bitstrips (digital tool -- √).

And I'm going to share this book (mentor text -- √) with my writers as a graphic novel/comic strip mentor text:

G-Man: Learning to Fly
by Chris Giarrusso
Image Comics, 2012

The book starts with a longer story, but the ones I really want to share with/study with my students are the 1-2 page "Comic Bits" and the two-panel "Mean Brother/Idiot Bother" strips. Every budding Kazu Kibuishi has to start somewhere, right?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Poetry Friday -- Intention

by Kay Ryan

Intention doesn't sweeten.
It should be picked young
and eaten. Sometimes only hours
separate the cotyledon
from the wooden plant.
Then if you want to eat it,
you can't.

Note to self: don't pave the roads to anywhere with good intentions. Act, do, decide, speak, be...without hesitation.

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

The July-December roundup schedule is now complete! Thank you, Irene, for taking the Christmas Day roundup!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall by Anita Silvey

I love Jane Goodall. I love Anita Silvey. And I love National Geographic Kids.  So, UNTAMED:  THE WILD LIFE OF JANE GOODALL was a book that I HAD to preorder so that I had it the minute it was available!  I am so glad I did! I spent much of last evening reading this amazing book!

I don't think there can ever be enough books about Jane Goodall. She is one of my very favorite people to read about.  Even though I have no desire to work outside or to do anything close to the kind of work Jane Goodall does, I see Jane's story as one that invites all of us to make a difference in the work in a way that matches who we are and what our passions are.   I am fascinated by so much of her work--how she discovered her passion, how her passion evolved, how she changed so much about the ways that animals are observed and that she continues to have such a strong voice in the world.

Here are some of the things I loved:

-The foreword is by Jane Goodall and she tells a bit about her life and then gives a personal invitation to join Roots and Shoots.  It is a great message to readers and a great way to begin this book.

-The photos in the book make me happy.  There are some that I've seen before and others that were new to me.

-The book is chronological and starts with Jane's childhood with some facts I already knew from other books and movies. But there were new stories and I felt like I got to know Jane Goodall a bit better--what her childhood was like and how supportive her mother was in her life.

-I loved the chapter on Gombe and the work there but I mostly loved how well the book explains how and why Jane Goodall really has become a celebrity and why her work is so important. I think for young readers, the writing will allow them to see the impact of her work and also understand why it matters.

-There was a section about how scientific observation has changed since Jane Goodall was in Gombe and how technology has made things easier and more efficient.

-There was lots about the Chimpanzees and their personalities and the book includes a Gombe Family Scrapbook at the end--sharing some info about several of the chimps Jane knew.

-The book expanded on what I already knew about Jane and spent lots of time talking about her current work with animals and the environment.  It was interesting to read about the work she is doing to protect chimpanzees being used for research as well as those in zoos.

I really LOVED this book and I think kids will too.  This book was longer than I expected which made me happy.  I am thinking it is perfect for 4th through 8th graders. But I think it definitely has a place in my 3rd grade classroom.   The photos will draw children in but the writing will is done in a way that makes the work of Jane Goodall accessible to young readers. So excited about this book!