Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Broadening Horizons, Part One

This is How We Do It
by Matt Lamothe
Chronicle Books, 2017
review copy from the public library, on order for my classroom library

First of all, props to Columbus Metropolitan Library for not pasting down the flaps on the cover so that the reader can study and appreciate the endpapers!

Readers of all ages will want to pore over every inch of this book! By showing how families from seven countries around the world in such common ways as where they live, how they get to school, how they play, and how they eat dinner, we can find the things that connect us to others, and the things that make us unique. In the back of the book, the photographs of the actual families the book is based on add to its authenticity. Wouldn't it be fun to have your students share photos of their meals, their families, their bedrooms...discovering the ways they are the same along with all the ways they are unique?

I briefly previewed this book in my 5th grade classroom, and it was positively magnetic the next time students had a chance to get their hands on it.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Science Comics: Get to Know Your Universe!

How will your students know that graphic novels are a format and not a genre, unless you have titles that are history, memoir, and

Bats: Learning to Fly
written and illustrated by Falynn Koch
Science Comics Series
First Second, 2017
review copy from the public library

Thank goodness for Goodreads and for the public library. This title came up on my Goodreads feed and I clicked straight over to the Columbus Metropolitan Library and reserved the entire series.

I was not disappointed. The Science Comics (Get to Know Your Universe) series includes books about Dinosaurs, Volcanoes, Coral Reefs, Flying Machines, and coming up is Plagues. Although it's a series, because every book is not written/illustrated by the same teams, each book is unique. No cookie-cutter here!

I'll be ordering this entire series for my classroom!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Poetry Friday -- Peony Poem

Peony Poem

an idea
sudden, surprising
like red peony shoots
the first color in a spring garden

a draft
leafy, bushy
too much green, but with buds
sweet enough to attract ants

a poem
lopsided, fragrant
overly showy, flamboyant, glorious
cut for a vase or for a grave

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

This poem was written for Melissa Manlove's challenge at Today's Little Ditty: "Write me a poem that explores how writing (or a book) is like something else. Convince me!"

Margaret has today's Poetry Friday Roundup at Reflections on the Teche.

Monday, May 22, 2017

My Stack for #cyberPD 2017

Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading
by Vicki Vinton

MUST read.

Disrupting Thinking
by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst

MUST read.

No More Telling as Teaching
by Cris Tovani

Probably more secondary and probably preaching to the choir, but MUST read because we get so caught up in galloping toward the test that sometimes we forget. (We...meaning I.)

The Teacher You Want to Be
edited by Matt Glover and Ellin Oliver Keene

Yes, next year I'll be entering my 32nd year of teaching and I'm down to less than one hand before retirement, but I'm STILL trying to be the teacher I want to be. Why stop now, right?

Friday, May 19, 2017

Poetry Friday -- Student Blackout Poems

I Wanna Be Mature
by A. E.


some days
each year
even months
I wish
I was one hundred

Irene Latham was wondering if students could be successful with found poetry/blackout poetry. We had some time this week to give it a try, and I was pleasantly surprised by my students' poems. This is one of the best so far.

I gave them this first page of Sandra Cisneros' "Eleven" in a page protector, and they used wipe-off markers to find their first drafts.

Happy Friday! Happy Poetry! Happy 4 more days of school!

Kiesha has this week's Poetry Friday Roundup at Whispers from the Ridge.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Music and History, Part Two

Soldier Song: A True Story of the Civil War
by Debbie Levy
illustrated by Gilbert Ford
Disney Hyperion, 2017
review copy provided by the publisher

"That's amazing!" Zak said, after reading Soldier Song yesterday. "All that happened because of a single song!"

My 5th graders recently completed work on a standard that asked them to describe how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described. We talked about first- and secondhand accounts. Then in writing workshop, they crafted a piece of narrative nonfiction, blending researched facts (secondhand information) with invented firsthand points of view. I shared this book with them to show that the thinking they'd developed via the reading standard and their own writing are not just standards to study or hoops to jump in school, they are alive in books being published out in the "real world."

In Soldier Song, Debby Levy focuses small, on one standoff of the Civil War -- the battle at Fredricksburg and what happened within both sides and between the two sides via a musical volley across the Rappahannock River. Woven throughout the facts are snippets of actual soldiers' letters and journal entries. The woodcut illustrations perfectly invoke the mood/tone of the story.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Music and History, Part One

Stand Up and Sing! Peter Seeger, Folk Music, and the Path to Justice
by Susanna Reich
illustrated by Adam Gustavson
Bloomsbury, 2017
review copy provided by the author

After spending the month of April with the folk singer and activist Malvina Reynolds (list of posts here, or read from April 1 here), I was interested to find similarities and differences between her life and Pete Seeger's.

Both grew up in a house filled with music, and both had parents who were politically active, though Pete's parents weren't labeled Socialists, resulting in him being denied a high school diploma.

Pete and Malvina both learned from other folk singers/songwriters. They even learned from each other, having met in the late 1940's - early 1950's. It was Pete Seeger who made Malvina's song "Little Boxes" famous.

Both Pete and Malvina wrote and performed for children.

Pete Seeger went on to have a stronger voice and presence in the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War protests, and the fight for clean water. Because he lived until 2014 (Malvina died in 1978), his voice lingers more clearly in our collective memory.

Without either Malvina or Pete, American folk music would have been less of a treasure, and less of a force for good in our world. This book, Malvina's songs, and Pete's recordings can remind a new generation of the power of music to change the world.

For a closer look at Stand Up and Sing, see Jama's Poetry Friday Post at Jama's Alphabet Soup.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Summer #Bookaday!

Well with nine days of school left, it is time to get ready for the Summer #bookaday Challenge invented by Donalyn Miller.  If you missed Donalyn's Facebook Live event where she kicked off this 9th Annual event, you an watch it on her Facebook Page.

To get started, I counted the days of summer. If I counted correctly, we have 80 days of summer so I will try to read 80 books. I try to read a book every day but sometimes that doesn't work out so it works for me to have a total number goal that matches the total days of summer. So 80 is my number this year.  I need this because I have gotten very behind in my reading lately.

I will be moving to a 5th grade classroom next year and I am excited to catch up on books for 5th grade readers. Thanks to lots of friends I am building a stack and a list of books that are popular with 5th graders today. There are stacks all over my house, just waiting for Summer Bookaday Reading time. I hope to fit in a few YA and adult fiction and of course I'll be reading lots of picture books!

I'd love any suggestions as I move from 3rd grade to 5th grade.

Here is one of my stacks!

If you have never participated in Summer Bookaday, I would highly recommend it. A fun challenge and a great way to catch up on your reading!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Poetry Friday -- Mother by Ted Kooser

by Ted Kooser

Mid April already, and the wild plums
bloom at the roadside, a lacy white
against the exuberant, jubilant green
of new grass an the dusty, fading black
of burned-out ditches. No leaves, not yet,
only the delicate, star-petaled
blossoms, sweet with their timeless perfume.

You have been gone a month today
and have missed three rains and one nightlong
watch for tornadoes. I sat in the cellar
from six to eight while fat spring clouds
went somersaulting, rumbling east. Then it poured,
a storm that walked on legs of lightning,
dragging its shaggy belly over the fields.

The meadowlarks are back, and the finches
are turning from green to gold. Those same
two geese have come to the pond again this year,
honking in over the trees and splashing down.
They never nest, but stay a week or two
then leave. The peonies are up, the red sprouts
burning in circles like birthday candles,

for this is the month of my birth, as you know,
the best month to be born in, thanks to you,
everything ready to burst with living.
There will be no more new flannel nightshirts
sewn on your old black Singer, no birthday card
addressed in a shaky but businesslike hand.
You asked me if I would be sad when it happened

and I am sad. But the iris I moved from your house
now hold in the dusty dry fists of their roots
green knives and forks as if waiting for dinner,
as if spring were a feast. I thank you for that.
Were it not for the way you taught me to look
at the world, to see the life at play in everything,
I would have to be lonely forever.

Tara has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at A Teaching Life.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Two Silly Books

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors 
by Drew Daywalt
illustrated by Adam Rex
Balzer + Bray, 2017
review copy provided by the publisher

So fun to read aloud! So fun to know the back story behind the popular game!

And isn't it true that everyone wants a worthy opponent?

by Rob Sanders
illustrated by Dan Santat
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2017
review copy provided by the publisher

There are plenty of visual clues to help readers predict the true identity of Rodzilla. By the time the truth is revealed, it is not really a surprise, but still fun, all the same.

This book is sure to be a favorite of the toddler set, and anyone who once was one!

Monday, May 08, 2017

Two Serious Books

I Like, I Don't Like
by Anna Baccelliere
illustrated by Ale + Ale
Eerdmans Books, 2017
review copy from the library

The child on the left page likes shoes (getting shoes, wearing shoes, playing dress up with shoes). The child on the right page (shining the shoes of others) does not like shoes.

The child on the left page likes soccer balls (playing with them).
The child on the right page (sewing soccer balls by hand) does not like them.

This book prompts powerful conversations about child labor and the rights of children worldwide.

by Brenda Reeves Sturgis
illustrated by Jo-Shin Lee
Albert Whitman, 2017
review copy from the library

The reality of living in homeless shelters often means that families must be split up with fathers staying in a men's unit, and mothers and children in a separate unit. The little girl in this book holds tight to the notion that hers is still a family, even if they are separated at times.

My fifth graders wondered how homelessness could happen, and were able to understand the illustrator's choice to use a very childlike style in order to reflect the point of view of the child in the story.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Poetry Friday -- Hippos

Hippos on Holiday
by Billy Collins

is not really the title of a movie
but if it were I would be sure to see it.
I love their short legs and big heads,
the whole hippo look.
Hundreds of them would frolic
in the mud of a wide, slow-moving river,
and I would eat my popcorn
in the dark of a neighborhood theatre.
When they opened their enormous mouths
lined with big stubby teeth
I would drink my enormous Coke.

I would be both in my seat
and in the water playing with the hippos,
which is the way it is
with a truly great movie.
Only a mean-spirited reviewer
would ask on holiday from what?

Surely you've seen videos of the premature baby hippo at the Cincinnati Zoo, Fiona? No? Well, let's take care of that with my favorite one where she learns to use the ramp into her pool.

I'm sorry I didn't get around to all the the end of Poetry Month posts last week. This weekend feels like there's more elbow room than I've had in months. To that I say, "WHEW!"

Jama has the Cinco de Mayo Poetry Friday Roundup at Jama's Alphabet Soup. Olé!

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

3 New Nonfiction Books for the Classroom Library

I discovered 3 new nonfiction books that I am excited to share with my students.  

I love anything by Suzi Eszterhas so when I saw she had a new book I ordered it immediately.  Moto and Me: My Year as a Wildcat's Foster Mom is Suzi's newest book and this one is a bit different. It is a narrative with more text than many of her other books. The photos are amazing as always and this book tells the story of one wildcat-Moto-and how Suzi cared for him after he was separated from his mother.  It is a great book and a great addition for readers who know Eszterhas's work or for readers in the middle grades who are ready for a bit more text in their nonfiction reading.

125 Pet Rescues is new from National Geographic Kids and it is great fun.
Each page gives the short story of a pet that has been rescued. There are lots of dogs but also pigs, goats and snakes.   Each story is a paragraph long with details of one animal's rescue and new life.  The photos are happy and the Table of Contents will be a huge help to readers. There are so many possibilities with this book for minilessons in both reading and writing.

Shell, Beak, Tusk: Shared Traits and the Wonders of Adaptation by Bridget Heos shows the ways that animals around the world adapt in order to survive. The thing I love most about this book is the way that it is organized to compare the same adaptation on different animals.  The book will introduce readers to some animals they may not be familiar with.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Professional Books on My Stack

As I get ready for summer reading, my stack of professional books is growing. Right now, these are the 4 I am looking most forward to reading.

I read Ralph Fletcher's Joy Write last weekend and loved it. It reground me-brought me back to the roots of writing workshop and helped me realize what we've lost with the additions of mandates and testing and units of study.  It helped me remember what it is that is important. I read it quickly and want to reread it this summer to really think about the year in writing workshop and to think about joy in the writing workshop.

The others are on my stack but I haven't had much time to dit in yet.

Another writing book that I am anxious to read is Feedback That Moves
Writers Forward by Patty McGee. I have been doing more with feedback and love the way it looks like Patty approaches it in this book.  The chapters I am most excited to read are "Integrading": How to Live in a Grading World and Still Gibe Feedback and When It Is Time to Stretch and Grow: Feedback for Goal Setting.  Really, when I look through the Table of Contents, they all look like fresh new thinking that will help me be a better teacher of writing.

And I love everything written by Vicki Vinton and am very excited to read her newest book, Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading.  Vicki always reminds me how to let go and let the kids do the thinking and she helps me to find ways to help them read with deeper understanding. I am so excited to read her newest thinking!

And I purchased Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You'd Had by Tracy Zager in February but knew I needed to wait until summer to really dig in and start to think about next year. This book is packed with so
much that I want to give it the time and energy it deserves. I think it will be a critical book for me.

Which professional books are on your summer reading list?