Friday, December 28, 2018

Poetry Friday -- Whose Beauty is Past Change

Pied Beauty
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

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 all trades, 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.

Seemed like a good day for an old favorite. Read it aloud and savor Hopkins' rich words. 

Next time we gather, it will be 2019, so early best wishes for a new year full of dappled things and the embrace of change. Next time we gather, I'll have the 2018 Poetry Friday Roundups archived at Kidlitosphere Central and the first half of 2019 ready to go. Until then, Donna has today's roundup at Mainely Write.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Poetry Friday -- Poetry Gifts

Photo via Unsplash

I've received three (edited to add one more) thoughtful (thought-full) poetry gifts in the past week.

1. I wrote this haiku for #haikuforhope, and Amy Ludwig VanDerwater wrote a response haiku that helped me get my head on straight for the day. Thank you, Amy!

avocado toast
(practice mindfulness)
four days until winter break
(sipping my hot tea)
new student today

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2018

Honey Nut Cheerios
 (a little scared) 
four days until winter break 
(drinking orange juice) 
will my new teacher be kind?

©Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, 2018

2. Steve Peterson tweeted me this poem, proving for good that proximity of geography is not required for a friend to know the nooks and crannies of your heart. Thank you, Steve!

3. A childhood friend I haven't seen for decades (along with geography, add time to the equation of friendship) tagged me with this article on Facebook: Why Reading Poetry Is Good For Your Brain. Some of the studies are a bit dubious, but none of us are going to argue with the conclusions, right?

4. How could I not celebrate YOU?!? This community of poet-teacher-writer-allaroundgreathumans feeds my soul. Special wink and nod to the #haikuforhope crew. It's been a wonder-full month. As always, I won't want to stop. Daily writing in a form brief enough to keep me writing daily...yeah, I'll probably keep going.

Happy Friday! (That one's especially for the active duty teachers in our crew who might be reading this on Saturday or next week! We've got this! One more day of joy and craziness with our classrooms full of beloveds!) 

Happy Poetry Friday! Buffy Silverman has the Full Moon/Solstice edition this week.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Poetry Friday -- A Visit From Poets!

My class was lucky enough today to visit with Irene Latham and Charles Waters via Zoom! What a generous gift of time for Irene and Charles to answer the students' questions.

Here are two found #haikuforhope from their talk:

nothing will change if
we shut our mouths and refuse
to talk about race

(Irene's words)

is telling
the truth

(Charles' words)

Last Friday, I reviewed Can I Touch Your Hair in an initial post about the conversations we've had around race in my classroom so far this year.

This week, I added more thinking about our conversations.

Laura Shovan has the Poetry Friday roundup this week.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Conversations About Race and Gender

(This post is the back history I promised in my Poetry Friday post about Irene Latham's and Charles Waters' book, Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship.)

My Journey
Last summer, I received a review copy of Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness by Anastasia Higginbotham, so I checked out all of her books from the library. Her writing taught me so much about how to have honest conversations with children about tough topics.

Who knew how calm and straightforward I would manage to be when I overheard a student defending transgender people. I joined the conversation and affirmed that there was nothing "weird" about transgender people. When asked, "What is transgender anyway?" I was ready, thanks to Higginbotham, to talk about the genders we are assigned at birth -- the genders that others can see -- and the true gender we feel within us, and how transgender people experience themselves as a gender they weren't assigned at birth. Transgender people may or may not choose to change their appearance to match the gender they experience. The student who asked for more information said, "Oh. That's all it is? That's not weird." Success.

I listened to So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo.

Oluo taught me more about my whiteness and my place in our white supremacist society than anything I've previously read. 

She showed me how wrong I was a couple of years ago when I was so outraged that a parent thought I was racist. If that parent thought I was racist, I was. I cannot deny her lived experience with my behavior. If I could go back, I would approach that parent with honesty and humility to learn what I had done so I could change my behavior.  

The Journey in My Classroom
Our first read aloud, The Cardboard Kingdom, gave us characters who were gender fluid in their imaginary play, bullies with back stories, a diverse mix of races and cultures and families. I projected this graphic novel via Kindle on the Smartboard. Our conversations about each of the short stories and about the characters were rich.

Our next read aloud was 24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling. This book opens with a racist bully pushing Gus' face into a cholla cactus. Rossi, a Tohono O’odham Nation girl, rescues him by giving her beloved dirt bike to the bully. From the Amazon blurb, "Conversations among the young teens reveal Gus’s burgeoning awareness of his white privilege as he listens to the experiences of his Latinx and Native American friends." We had amazing conversations about the stereotypes that were revealed and deconstructed over the course of this story. The only thing about this story that was perhaps lost on my urban/suburban students was the level of poverty of the characters. I don't think my students have ever seen, let alone been in, a trailer home!

When October 8 rolled around, we were in the perfect place in our study of the indigenous cultures of Latin America (and in our conversations with 24 Hours in Nowhere) to talk about why that day is simultaneously Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day. We could talk about perspective and about who gets to tell the dominant story of history. I hope my students began to learn that they need to seek out alternative perspectives on historical events and to always consider which voices are dominating the popular narrative and which voices are being left out or silenced. 

If you remember from my previous post about conversations around race, I have a unique place in my classroom. Along with myself, four of my twenty-six students are white. The rest of the class is Middle Eastern, Latinx, African, African American, or Chinese. When I speak to my class about race, I must always be aware that I'm speaking from behind white skin to mostly people of color. My skin represents the dominance and power in our society. There was an incident in class that might shed light on this dynamic, if I'm reading it correctly. I was pushing a heavy table and someone commented that I was Hulk. A child said I couldn't be Hulk because I wasn't green. Another child said I was the White Hulk, and this was met with, "Oooohhh!" That child had clearly stepped out of bounds by identifying me as white. I was puzzled. I said, "What's the big deal? I AM white!" I reminded them that one particular student was never afraid to identify himself as black and talk about his beautiful dark skin. Another talked about his African father. Why was it a big deal to talk about my whiteness? They got more and more uncomfortable, with several asking, "Can we please talk about something else?" This was an eye-opener. But instead of keeping me quiet on race, I was more determined than ever to have these conversations.

I read and re-read Not My Idea in preparation for reading it (and Can I Touch Your Hair) aloud to my students. Even though we had had what I thought were conversations about race, that surprising response to the direct naming of my whiteness made me nervous to read this book aloud. I focused on the ending, where Higginbotham reminds whites that we have a choice about the kind of white person we will be. Whites can sign on to historic whiteness that uses race to keep people of color down or whites can move forward with justice in our hearts and be the kind of white that works for equality and truth.

Hopefully, Not My Idea will help my white students start to understand and grapple with white privilege, while helping my students of color to realize that there are all different kinds of white people. And although the current narrative in our society presents white supremacy as the norm, we can ALL tell a new story about race, a story that begins in our classrooms with honest conversations, a willingness to make mistakes but then own them, and the desire to move forward to a truly inclusive society. 

Friday, December 07, 2018

Poetry Friday -- Talking About Race With My Students

We finished reading aloud Can I Touch Your Hair? yesterday. It was not the first book I've read aloud this year that gave us the opportunity to talk about race. Our conversations started with The Cardboard Kingdom, and continued with 24 Hours in Nowhere and Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness (a book which made NPR's list of Best Books of 2018!). I'll write about the whole journey in a separate post. Just remember, we had had growing and ongoing conversations about race before we got to this book. Also, a note about the demographics of my classroom. Along with myself, four of my twenty-six students are white. The rest of the class is Middle Eastern, Latinx, African, African American, or Chinese. This is just to say that your conversations would certainly be very different than those in our classroom. When I write that other post about our journey in talking about race, I'll dig into the dynamics of teacher/student race.

Can I Touch Your Hair: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship. The power of this book lies within each word of the title.

Poems. There will be small packages of text that will allow the reader to stop, ponder, and discuss.

Race. Get ready, because you are going to explore some hard topics here.

Mistakes. If you're going to talk about race, you're bound to make mistakes. But making honest mistakes is a far better path than averting our eyes and not talking about it at all. (If you haven't read So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo, I highly recommend it.) When you know better, you can do better the next time.

Friendship. The book's characters, Irene and Charles, begin by only seeing each other skin deep. As they get to know each other, they find they have so many more important things in common that race (and even gender) becomes insignificant. What a powerful message for children (adults, too!!) to hear over and over again. It's the danger of a single story. If we're going to move forward as a human race, we've got to stop seeing each other as just this or that. We have to get to know each other as complicated, diverse, interesting individuals!

As I said, the pairs of poems are the perfect amount of text to read, then pause for conversation. As we read along, we talked about the topics that came up -- shoes, hair, church. But when one of the students prefaced his comment with, "In movies they make the black people the athletes," I had the perfect way to move the conversation to a safer place by talking about the stereotypes that are perpetuated by the media. It's not that black people ARE the athletes, it's that "they make" the black people the athletes. Everyone had LOTS to say about stereotypes around race, gender, and age! We ended that rich conversation by sharing times when we "broke" a stereotype.

I highly recommend reading this book with children. I highly recommend making this book one part of an ongoing conversation about race.

Thank you to all who signed up to be Poetry Friday roundup hosts in January-June 2019. We filled the schedule in under one week!

Liz has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at Elizabeth Steinglass.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Poetry Friday -- Rivalry

I don't give two hoots about college football, but I've endured decades of silliness spawned by this rivalry. Here's my take on the whole shebang:

football rivalry
the streets are empty
non-fans win the day

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2018

Carol has the roundup this week at Carol's Corner. The call for January-June Roundup Hosts is here.

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 January and June 2019, 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 is an explanation that Rene LaTulippe shared on her blog, No Water River, and here is an article Susan Thomsen wrote for the Poetry Foundation.

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, or ???) on the Friday of your choice. If you are new to the Poetry Friday community, jump right in, but perhaps 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? You can grab the list from the sidebar here at A Year of Reading, or I'd be happy to send it to you if you leave me your email address. You can always find 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    Sylvia at Poetry for Children
11  Kat at Kathryn Apel
18  Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
25  Tara at Going to Walden

1    Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
8    Laura at Writing the World for Kids
15  Jone at Check it Out
22  Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge

1    Linda at TeacherDance
8    Catherine at Reading to the Core
15  Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe
22  Rebecca at Sloth Reads
29  Carol at Carol's Corner

5     Karen at Karen Edmisten*
12   Irene at Live Your Poem
19  Amy at The Poem Farm
26  Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink

3    Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup
10  Liz at Elizabeth Steinglass
17  Michelle at Michelle Kogan
24  Dani at Doing the Work That Matters
31  Mary Lee at A Year of Reading

7    Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
14  Laura at Laura Shovan
21  Linda at A Word Edgewise
28  Buffy at Buffy's Blog

Wednesday, November 28, 2018


Photo via Unsplash
Every two weeks we change desks. This limits disorganization to a short cycle, and for all the good it does (I currently have no voice), every two weeks we clean all the surfaces in the room with antibacterial wipes. I "assign" seats with a random pull of sticks, so it moves the students around the room and leaves the responsibility for behavior with them.

Last year, we started a new addition to this routine. Next to the ceiling on my big bulletin board, I started the year with a 12x18 paper that said, "Be..." and we added a word beside it on another 12x18 paper that would tell what we would be. We started the year agreeing to be "awesome," and we changed the word at random intervals until late in the year when I tied it to the desk change.

Now, in addition to a new spot every two weeks, we have a new way to be.

This week, Diana chose FLEXIBLE. It seems like a message from the universe. Without a voice, not only have I had to be more flexible in what I teach and how I teach it, but the flexibility of our classroom community has been tested...and has proven to be solid enough to carry us through.

This week, we are looking for structures (chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution, etc.) in informational texts. Rather than whisper the science lesson I had planned, we had a TKSS (The Kid Should See This) Film Festival, watching videos and identifying the overall structure of each video, as well as the use of multiple structures within a video.


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Poetry Friday

Rise and Fall

Fall takes her leave,
pelts down grainy snow,
swirls the last of the leaves
with darkness and cold.

Rising at the back of the warm stove:
leavened dough.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2018

While I was waiting for my turn at the dentist yesterday, the words leave, leaves, and leavening came to me. What you see here is about draft number seven, written in the waiting room, in my head as I washed dishes from yesterday's first batch of candy, and finished now as the dough for cinnamon rolls is rising.

It's good to be writing (and blogging) again.

I'm planning to write going to write a haiku-a-day in December, as I have for the past several years. Catherine (at Reading to the Core) suggested a shift from #HaikuForHealing to #HaikuForHope. I like that. I also like #HaikuForChange. Just plain #haiku seems like a popular hashtag as well, along with #amwriting.

Next week, watch for the Call for Roundup Hosts (January-June 2019 edition).

Last, but not least -- Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful for each of you and for this community of writers/poets/teachers/readers.

Irene has this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Live Your Poem.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Celebrating the Winners of the 2019 Charlotte Huck Award for Excellence in Children's Literature

The Charlotte Huck Award® was established in 2014 to promote and recognize excellence in the writing of fiction for children. In particular, the award recognizes fiction that has the potential for transforming children’s lives by inviting compassion, imagination, and wonder.


From the ashes of Victorian London emerge a girl, her Golem, and the sparks of child labor reform.


Discomfort precedes understanding. Understanding precedes change.

Can Lucy be her father’s missing arm? Recovery, resilience, and the ripple effects of PTSD.

Humanity comes in many colors. Can you see me?

Familia, the glue that keeps the heart and mind together.

When war invades the hearts of adults, it is the children who make their refugee classmates feel welcome.


Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Vision of an Extraordinary Educator

Raising Student Voice: Speaking Out for Equity and Justice

“Our students’ voices matter. Their voices matter in our schools, our communities, and beyond. As teachers, we want our students to discover their own voices. We want them to know the power of their voices. We want them to know the power of others’ voices, and we want them to know the power of their collective voices. Most important, we want to help them discover how their voices might impact our world and to be empowered to use their voices to speak out for equity and justice.

“Stories can help our students discover and clarify their own voices. Stories can help us to know our world better. Stories can help us to understand our world and the people in it. Authors, teachers, and librarians work to ensure that every child has books, digital texts, and other media in which they see themselves. They also work so that students have books that can help them understand others. Our students deserve stories that impact who they are and who they can become. They deserve stories that help them understand people and situations that are different from their own. They deserve stories that help them build confidence and empathy. They deserve books that validate their world as well as books that challenge their views. And most important, they deserve to tell their own stories.

“When we meet in Houston, Texas, in November 2018, it is my hope that we will focus on the ways literacy creates change and the ways in which our students can raise their voices to impact their communities. NCTE members create spaces for students to sound their voices. In 2018, we’ll come together in Houston to celebrate our students’ voices and the impact they make in the world.”

--Program Chair Franki Sibberson

Some of the featured speakers who will be at #NCTE18:

More convention information here.

The blog's been quiet this fall, but when you see this convention that Franki's been planning, you will understand why she's gone missing. It's so...Franki! The focus on student voice, the importance of equity and justice, the diversity of the featured speakers, the innovation of the "Build Your Stack" sessions. 

Me? A bit of a rocky start to the school year and 300+ books read for the Huck Award since the middle of August.

We're both eager to be back. But first we're going to soak in the words of these (and other) amazing speakers, have joyous reunions with friends we only see once or twice a year, and do work that we love almost as much as the work we do in our classrooms.

Please join me in celebrating an extraordinary educator, my co-blogger and friend, Franki Sibberson, who will assume the presidency of the National Council of Teachers of English at the 2018 NCTE Annual Convention. A fifth grade classroom teacher with the vision, passion, and energy to lead at the national level. 

Friday, October 19, 2018

Poetry Friday -- Ode to Parent Conferences

Unsplash photo via Chandler Cruttenden

Ode to Parent Conferences

Conferences, you exhaust me.
I spend hours getting ready for you,
gathering work samples,
reviewing notes,
finding the positives amongst the goals to work on.

Conferences, you feed me.
The hours I spend talking with families,
sharing stories,
comparing notes...
you help me find more than enough positives to carry on.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2018

Brenda has the Poetry Friday roundup at Friendly Fairy Tales.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Poetry Friday -- Autumn Cadenza

Unsplash photo by NordWood Themes

Autumn Cadenza

Oak leaves drift down, a brown rustle.
Crickets are hushed.
Only sound --
plop --
acorns bonk roof.
Winter is here
when they

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2018

This poem is a Zeno, a form invented by J. Patrick Lewis. It has 10 lines with a syllable count that goes 8, 4, 2, 1, 4, 2, 1, 4, 2, 1. The single syllable words rhyme.

I've seen several Zenos in the Poetry Friday Roundup recently, and I thought I'd give it a try. I was inspired by the acorns falling, and I found my rhyming words first. The temperature dropped from the 80s to a morning temperature today in the 40s. On my early morning walk today, the silence was a bit shocking -- no crickets! I'm sure we'll have some more warm weather, but winter has served notice -- she's on her way!

Laura Purdie Salas has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at Writing the World for Kids.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Poetry Friday -- The Poetry of US (mine)

Click to enlarge 

Click to enlarge

I'm tickled pink and proud as punch! I also can't wait to dig into the book and read all the poems...but the boxes of books for the Charlotte Huck Award keep coming and coming, so my reading life will not be my own until after NCTE! I'll try to make it around to the roundup this week, but I can't make any promises. :-(

Speaking of the roundup, Tabatha is hosting at The Opposite of Indifference.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Poetry Friday -- Choosing Teams

Flickr Creative Commons photo by VirtualEyeSee

Choosing Teams

There are owls in the neighborhood now.
Two barred owls wondering,

“Who cooks for you?”

They wake us in the middle of the night.
We worry about the littlest skunk.

The one with white angel wings.

The silent puff of scent who cleans up dropped seed
beneath our bird feeders each dusk.

We are simply spectators in this backyard drama.

Is it bad form to cheer equally
for predator and for prey?

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2018

Howdy! It's good to be back!

I wrote this poem in response to Naomi Shihab Nye's challenge in her Spotlight on Today's Little Ditty. It contains a question I don't need to answer.

Jone has this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Deowriter.

Friday, September 07, 2018

A Good Problem

I'm on the Charlotte Huck Award (for Outstanding Fiction for Children) committee. This is what my basement book shelf looks like:

Several HUGE boxes have already been eliminated, weeded, and donated. Those boxes in front of the shelves and peeking from the bottom right corner are TBR. Total books received so far: +/- 300.

Then this happened yesterday:

I still need to catch up on reading through last week's roundup, but needless to say, I'll be reading books instead of Poetry Friday posts this weekend! Then next weekend is the annual Casting for Recovery Ohio retreat, so I'll be part of the team who pampers the 14 breast cancer survivors with an all expenses paid weekend wellness retreat...where they also learn fly fishing! I've written multiple posts labeled "Casting for Recovery," but this is my favorite.

See you in a couple of weeks! Happy Poetry! Happy Fridays!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Poetry Friday -- Teaching


I teach,
I watch.
They fall,
I catch.

I lift,
they soar.
I brood,
they hatch.

They spread,
I gather.
I pair,
I match.

I teach,
I watch.
They fall,
I catch.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2012

An oldie goldie from (how can that be possible?) SIX years ago!

Robyn has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at Life on the Deckle Edge.

Another Must-Read...

...although I feel slightly ridiculous because the contrast between this and the book Franki posted about earlier this week contrastful. But I'm going with it.

You MUST read...

My review from Goodreads:

Don't you dare put this in your (class) library without reading it first. Don't get stuck on the knock-knock jokes thinking they are ridiculous childish humor until you see what Pilkey does with them as a plot device. Think hard about the message he gives about a bad character wanting to change. And if you don't tear up when you read p. 216-223, then you just don't even have a heart.

Dav Pilkey is flat out brilliant. I've believed that since the first Captain Underpants books, and I'm not changing my story even though he made me cry at NERD camp.

Read. This. Book.
Read. This. Series.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo: A MUST-READ!

The book So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo was recommended to me by a few friends early last spring. I bought it, put it on my shelf and didn't get time to read it until another friend strongly recommended it to me again this summer.  I decided on the audiobook version which I highly recommend. The narrator is fabulous and listening to it in the car gave me chunks of reading at a time with time between to think and reflect. This book took me a bit of time to read--about 6 weeks. And I am so glad I didn't rush it.

This book is one I'd like to buy for everyone I know.  For my husband, my children, my friends and anyone I know who has been thinking about our role in changing things in. our world.  It is packed with information and stories that have helped me better understand issues of race and oppression. The author is incredible at sharing her understanding and she is very aware of the misconceptions and arguments people have about several of the subtopics. I so appreciated her honesty and directness. She is very clear and firm throughout the book and she gave me, as a reader,  knowledge and understanding that changed who I am and helped me realize what I could do differently on a day-to-day basis.  The Table of Contents helps to show some of the things she addresses and some questions that she answers:

This book is written for people who want to do a better job at understanding and acting when it comes to oppression--I don't think you'd pick this book up if you weren't committed to new learning.  I expected to learn from this book, but I really didn't expect for it to include as much as it did or to explain things with such depth. I felt like every 15 minute spurt required that I really stop, dig into my own biases, understandings, and actions, and figure out what each segment meant for me personally.  I liked the combination of information, stories from the author's life and the clear ways that she showed how things that may seem like "small things" are really very big things. This book really helped me better understand the systematic part of systematic racism and oppression.  It also put the few things that I did understand in a context that helped me see it differently I guess.

Ijeoma Oluo also focuses on action and helps us to see what we can and should do in our every day lives to make a difference---to act instead of merely work to understand.  I have read several other articles by the author since finishing this book and I'd buy anything she writes from now on.  She is one of those people that I'd love to hear speak sometime so I will definitely keep an eye on the events page of her website.

This is a must read for sure. So much to think and talk about. I am anxious for others I know to read it so that we can talk through some of the ideas.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Poetry Friday -- More

The More You Love

The more you love,
the harder you work.

The harder you work,
the more you accomplish.

The more you accomplish,
the greater the expectations.

The greater the expectations,
the more epic the fail.

The more you fail,
the harder you work.

The harder you work,
the more you love.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2018

(I think this poem might work as a reverso!)

It's the end of the first full week of school, and these first eight days have been filled with love, hard work, and a little bit of fail (not epic...not just yet). Good thing there's always a tomorrow and a next week. We pick ourselves up and try again!

Margaret has the Poetry Friday roundup at Reflections on the Teche.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Making Time and Place for Nonfiction: Bat Citizens by Rob Laidlaw

I love discovering great new nonfiction books, especially when a great new book leads me to an author who is new-to-me. Last week I picked up Bat Citizens: Defending the Ninjas of the Night.

First of all, when I think about topics that might engage kids who don't typically read nonfiction, bats seems like a great topic.  And not only is this book about bats but the focus is on the importance of bats in our ecosystems. It is packed with information but it is also packed with information that is connected to a bigger topic which I think is important.

The layout of the pages are inviting. Lots of text on each page along with great photos and supporting facts.  Although there is a lot of text on the page, the font makes it accessible.  There are many supports for readers--a Table of Contents, Headings and Subheadings, captions, a glossary, an index and more. The book is about 48 pages long which seems a perfect length for readers who are moving to longer nonfiction.

My favorite feature of the book is the "Bat Citizen" feature.  Author Rob Laidlaw highlights 10+ bat activists--young people who are doing something to protect and help bats in some way. This is a great feature as it not only highlights kids who are making a difference, it will also help us expand our definition of the word "citizen".

Many of the Bat Citizens are part of the "Bat Squad" and the many resources for kids/by kids on the Bat Conservation International website. Lots of great resources that I'll need to explore more and so much of this connects to our life science unit of study.

As I mentioned early in the post, I immediately checked out the author--Rob Laidlaw-- after I fell in love with this book and he has so many other books that I think my students would enjoy.  He is passionate about protecting animals and shares his knowledge in a way that is perfect for middle grade students. Each book focuses on a topic such as Animal Captivity or Animal Parades. I am considering reading one of these as a read aloud and I am definitely going to check all of his other books out soon. I imagine many will be added to our classroom library and these may be the books that hook some of my students on nonfiction reading.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Yet Another Lesson From a Bike Ride

The other Lessons From Bike Rides are here

I walked up to the door of the health club and saw the sign: Pool Closed for Repairs. There went my Sunday and Wednesday swims for the next 10 days.

As I turned around and headed back to the car, I was thankful for the nice weather. I would take a bike ride instead of swimming.

The Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (she'll be a featured speaker at NCTE this year--SO excited!!) warned of the danger of a single story in her TED talk. What I realized in that moment when I turned away from a swim and toward a bike ride is the danger of a single EXERCISE story. We should always make sure we have options. Otherwise, if there is a time when we can't do THIS, we will have no THAT to turn to.

The bigger lesson is about diversification. It is good to have lots of <that> in my life so when <this> isn't possible, I've got plenty of options.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Poetry Friday -- Bright Wings

Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds
edited by Billy Collins
illustrated by David Allen Sibley
Columbia University Press, 2010

So much to love about this little book. Poems collected by Billy Collins. (The man has good taste!) Illustrations by David Sibley. (Gorgeous.) Birds.

Here's one of my favorites -- The Crows Start Demanding Royalties by Lucia Perillo.

Click to enlarge.

Christy has the bird-themed Poetry Friday Roundup at Wondering and Wandering.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Picture Book 10 for 10 -- David Wiesner

I had the opportunity to hear David Wiesner speak at the Whole Language Umbrella conference this past summer, and when I saw that he has ten picture books, it just seemed like a ready-made 10 for 10!

But there's more than that. His message about picture book design and his mission to "show as much visually as possible with as little text as possible" resonated because my first read aloud will be a graphic novel (via Kindle on the big screen). I decided that along with the work we'll do with the visuals in the read aloud, a beginning-of-the-year mini-unit spent closely studying David Wiesner's picture books will be time well spent, as well as an inviting entry point for all readers. We can dig into the way he represents multiple realities and the world off the page (The Three Little Pigs and Flotsam are great ones for that). We can study beginnings and endings. And we can look at the ways he sets up patterns and breaks them. (I'm sure there will be more -- I want to remain open to what my students find interesting and want to study). I'm hoping to see the benefits of this work echoing not just through reading workshop for the rest of the year, but also in our narrative writing unit in writing workshop.











Big thanks to Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek for cooking up this fabulous yearly event! Check out all the posts on the Google+ community. Open a tab for your public library and hide your credit card!!