Thursday, June 27, 2019

Poetry Friday -- The Lost Words

by Robert Macfarlane
illustrated by Jackie Morris

I saw this book in Maria Popova's Brain Pickings newsletter last weekend and immediately reserved a copy from the library. Take a minute to follow the newsletter link. Gorgeous, right? I just picked it up yesterday, and I wasn't at all prepared for the size and heft of the book. It's 15" x 11" and weighs about 3 lbs. Every poem I've read so far is amazing -- I will learn lots from Robert Macfarlane about the art of the acrostic poem. Every illustration is amazing -- begging to be pored over. Yup. I'll probably need to buy my own copy of this book!

The introduction to The Lost Words is what inspired my poem for Karen Boss' challenge at Today's Little Ditty to "write a poem in second person, speaking directly to a kid or kids about something that you think is important for them to know."
"Once upon a time, words began to vanish from the language of children. they disappeared so quietly that at first almost no one noticed -- fading away like water on stone. The words were those that children used to name the natural world around them: acorn, adder, bluebell, bramble, conker -- gone! Fern, heather, kingfisher, otter, raven, willow, wren...all of them gone! The words were becoming lost: no longer vivid in children's voices, no longer alive in their stories."
How can we expect these words to remain in children's language if children spend no time outdoors, or if all the wild places are tamed or removed?

Learn their names:
rocks, trees, flowers, birds, clouds, stars.
Know your home.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Buffy Silverman has the Poetry Friday roundup this week, and she, too, has written a nature-themed poem for the June TLD challenge!

Good Talk by Mira Jacob

Over the years, we've written about/reviewed lots of graphic novels here at A Year of Reading. When the Cybils were brand new, I chose to judge graphic novels so that I could learn more about the format. Perhaps my love of graphic novels was fueled by a childhood reading diet of comic books.  Stacks and stacks of comic books. (There were also shelves and shelves of books, the Weekly Reader Book Club books, mandatory purchases at the shopping mall bookstores when we drove the 3 hours to Denver, and the regular trips to the local library. But there were also always stacks and stacks of comic books.)

I've tagged 148 books "adult" in Goodreads, and three of them are graphic novels. But get this...all three of them are also memoir. I have no idea what that means. It just made me go, "Hmm..."

This is the most recent adult memoir in graphic novel format that I've read, and I think you should read it, too:

by Mira Jacob
One World, March 2019

Mira Jacobs is East Indian and her husband is Jewish. With a combination of drawings and photographs, the book is built around Jacob's conversations with her six year-old biracial son about Michael Jackson, brown and white skin, Trump's election, and police violence. Jacobs also allows readers to "listen in" on her conversations with her own parents, brother, and grandmother about how her family discriminates against her because her skin is a (tragically) dark brown, and with her mother in-law about how people at a party she throws assume Mira's the help because she's not white. There are conversations between Jacobs and her white friend about parenting, and conversations between Jacobs and her husband about dealing with white men who hold all the power without even being aware that they do.

This book, for me, was a window.* Perhaps for you it will be a mirror.* If we're going to repair the race issues that continue to divide our nation, we're going to have to use books like this as sliding glass doors* so that we can have conversations like these not just in our imaginations as we read, but in real life with the people around us -- other adults, our students and children, co-workers, politicians, family members, publishers, etc., etc., etc.

*Dr. Rudine Simms Bishop coined these terms in 1990. "Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created and recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books." (1990, p. ix)

Monday, June 24, 2019

Highlights Symposium, White Fragility and Some Other Things

Last week, Mary Lee and I attended the Highlights Foundation Building Cultural Competency Symposium. It was an incredible 3 days and I can't thank the presenters and the Highlights staff enough. Such an amazing group of people to learn and think with. Thank you Edi Campbell (@crazyquilts), Debbie Reese (@debreese), Laura Jiminez (@booktoss ), Paula Yoo (@PaulaYoo), Renee Watson (@reneewauthor), and Marilisa Jiminez Garcia (@MarilisaJimenez). If you aren't already following each of these women, you should do that now--so much to learn from this amazing group.

The required reading for the book was White Fragility. I had read the book but was glad to have the opportunity to reread it and have conversations with others who had read it. Laura Jiminez did a brilliant job at leading this discussion and talking to others with a facilitator like Laura made the reading experience transformational. If you have not read White Fragility, I'd highly recommend it.

I've been working to read and study issues of equity over the past year. I created this Padlet of resources as I read, adding posts and articles that I knew I'd want to return to--that were important to my learning. I've shared this a few times on Twitter as there are great resources if you are thinking about this and are just not sure where to start.  I love Debby Irving's idea for a 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge--"For 21 days, do one action to further your understanding of power, privilege, oppression and equity."  I would say from my own experience, 21 days is not enough--it is a great starting point but then keep going--I try to read or listen to something each day that builds my understanding in some way. Hopefully this Padlet helps others who are also trying to learn.

Link to Padlet

I bought a Highlights mug while at the Symposium.  I find that if I use a mug from an event, it reminds me of the thinking and work I did while there so the mug is a nice reminder of the thinking that happened at the symposium.  I also ordered this shirt from Laura Jiminez because this work is not so easy and the shirt will remind me of that when I wear it:-) (I ordered a purple v-neck and can't wait until it arrives! Proceeds from this shirt go to Grace Lin's #KidlitWomen and We Need Diverse Books.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Poetry Friday -- An Opportunity to Learn

Photo credit: Karen Kuehn

Hooray for our new Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo, a registered member of the Mvskoke Creek Nation! She is our first Native American Poet Laureate, and now non-Native U.S. citizens have an excellent opportunity for learning.

At this past weekend's Building Cultural Competency symposium at the Highlights Foundation (my brief post about that here), one of the speakers we were most excited to hear was Dr. Debbie Reese, a registered member of the Nambe Pueblo Nation. And, no surprise, she's also very excited that we have a Mvskoke Poet Laureate!

Here's one of my big take-aways from Debbie's talk -- what we casually call "tribes" are actually Sovereign Native Nations, and we should name the nation to which a Native person belongs, rather than generically say Native American. There were thousands of these nations, each distinct in language, location, religion, story, systems of writing, and governance. (Note to self, when I am teaching my fifth graders about forms of government, I need to move beyond Democracy, Monarchy and Dictatorship and include Native governance.) Understanding that Native people belong to sovereign nations is important because the treaties of the past were made between heads of state. (Some references Debbie suggest we explore are Nation to Nation at the Smithsonian, the National Congress of American Indians, and the young people's version of An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, which Debbie revised from Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's adult version, along with Jean Mendoza, and which is set for publication at the end of July.)

One of my favorite poems by Harjo (so far...I'm just digging in...) is For Calling the Spirit Back from Wandering the Earth in Its Human Feet. It begins

Put down that bag of potato chips, that white bread, that bottle
of pop.

Turn off that cellphone, computer, and remote control.

Open the door, then close it behind you.

Take a breath offered by friendly winds. They travel the earth 
gathering essences of plants to clean.

Give it back with gratitude.

If you sing it will give your spirit lift to fly to the stars’ ears and 

Acknowledge this earth who has cared for you since you were a 
dream planting itself precisely within your parents’ desire.

Here's some bonus music that celebrates Native culture and language. The first is an adaptation of the Beetles' "Blackbird" sung in Mi'kmaq, an Algonquian language spoken by the Mi'kmaq, the indigenous people of Nova Scotia. This was produced for the 2019 United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages. Here's a CBC post about this production, and a WBUR radio spot featuring Emma Stevens.

"My Unama'ki," sung by the same 17 year-old high school student who sang the above version of "Blackbird," is a love song for the island of Cape Breton written by students and staff at Allison Bernard Memorial High School in Eskasoni, Cape Breton (Unama'ki), Nova Scotia, Canada.

Why stop there? Here are 11 Pop Songs in Indigenous Languages You Need to Listen To, mostly from Latin America, but also Australia and New Zealand. And here's a Peruvian teenager who is trying to save the Quechua language through music. Okay. Enough with the rabbit holes.

I'm sure (I HOPE) there will be lots of posts about our new Poet Laureate in the Poetry Friday roundup this week. I look forward to learning from and with you! Linda has this week's roundup at A Word Edgewise.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Building Cultural Competency

Franki and I spent an amazing weekend at the Highlights Foundation at the Building Cultural Competency Symposium. The required reading was WHITE FRAGILITY by Robin DiAngelo, and processing this text with and without the participants who self-identified as not-white was a huge learning experience. We also listened to and learned from these remarkable speakers:

Edith Campbell who blogs at CrazyQuiltEdi and tweets @crazyquilts

Dr. Debbie Reese who blogs at American Indians in Children's Literature and tweets @debreese

Renée Watson who wrote the Newbery Honor/Coretta Scott King Award-winning PIECING ME TOGETHER and who tweets @reneewauthor

Dr. Marilisa Jiménez García  assistant professor at Lehigh University who specializes in Latino/a literature and culture and who tweets @MarilisaJimenez

Dr. Laura M. Jiménez  who blogs at BookToss, is a professor of preservice teachers at Boston University, and who tweets @booktoss 
Paula Yoo  who is an author, journalist and screenwriter and who tweets @PaulaYoo

Check out these blogs and Twitter feeds. Join the conversations. Join the learning.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Poetry Friday -- To the Caterpillar

Photo via Roads End Naturalist

To the Caterpillar

I spotted the yellow dot of your egg on the dill.
Cutting a sprig,
I brought you in.

Daily, your egg darkened as you grew.
What once was a dot
is now the tiny dash of you.

Your life obeys the rules of geometry:
line follows point,
wings bring symmetry.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Summer life with Mary Lee means that the innocuous-looking centerpieces on the kitchen table -- one juice glass with sprigs of parsley in it and another with sprigs of dill -- are actually nurseries for three tiny black swallowtail caterpillars. I keep them close so I can monitor their progress...until their frass is visible on the table! I actually saw two of the three emerging from their eggs earlier this week. They are amazing. In only a couple of days, they have doubled in size, going from 2mm to 5mm! (Yes, MILLImeters. They are TEENY tiny little critters...for now.)

Laura Shovan has the Poetry Friday roundup this week. The roundup for July-December is filled, and I send apologies on behalf of Blogger if your comment didn't stick and you were assuming you had a spot. If you got shut out, contact me and we'll prioritize you for next time.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

One Pagers

Our final read aloud for the 2018-2019 school year was The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon. School had already been out for almost a week when the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winners were announced, so I had to do a private happy dance that Styx Malone was the winner for fiction and poetry!

Back in November of 2018, I had read Jill Yamasawa Fletcher's blog post on the NCTE blog, "The Magic of One-Pagers," and the last week of school seemed like a good time to give one-pagers a low-stakes whirl.

I was drawn to the idea of one-pagers because I'm trying to get rid of all assignments that my students do solely for my eyes and my evaluation. We ran out of time to display these and do a gallery walk so that every student could see what others included and how they approached the requirements, but on a small scale in table groups, there was rich, rich discussion of the book as classmates reminded each other about characters and settings, and as they collaborated to represent the big themes and ideas in the book.

I'm sold. This is a reflection tool I'll use often next school year with read alouds, unpacking poems, processing science and social studies concepts, and...who knows what else?!?

Here's a bit about my process and some peeks at student work.

I had just finished reading Spark, by Sarah Beth Durst, and I used it to make my model. I didn't bother with color since I knew I'd be photocopying it as a reference for my students. I used meaningful shapes (sparks) to hold information, used characters/traits as my border, and only drew one simple line drawing from a really important part of the story. I wanted my model to provide comfort for students who don't see themselves as strong artists.


These are the directions I gave my students. Surprisingly, the one they got the most stuck on was #4, personal connections. Over and over I heard, "I don't have any connections to this story." The main characters in Styx Malone are black. Did my students think they didn't have any connections because they were Bengali, Egyptian, Mexican, Iraqi, Chinese, Moroccan, or white? I didn't dig in to the possibility that their lack of connection was racial. I just asked, "You don't have siblings? You've never done anything risky? You never wanted to do something and your parents refused?" Suddenly, connections were found. (It will be interesting to see if this stumbling on connections to characters who look different than the reader comes up with next year's class.)

This reader was thrilled with how neatly and well-organized her work turned out.

Naturally, my most artistic students went all out with their drawings.

Even without drawings, students produced visually pleasing work.

This is one of my favorite details, and an example of the students' deep understanding of the story's big ideas/themes. The picture is from when Caleb and Bobby Gene went against all they knew to be safe and within their family's rules to jump a train with Styx. The theme: "Don't always follow people."

One-pagers are a naturally differentiated activity that provides a way in for ELs and IEP students.

Because it was so close to the end of the school year, I knew if I sent these gems home, they would just get trashed. My students were more than willing to let me have them as examples for next year's class. They also gave me some feedback, letting me know that they wished they would have known they were going to be asked to do this when we started reading the book so they could have kept better track in their readers' notebooks. They loved how often I said, "Sure!" when they asked if they could meet the requirements in a way that differed from my model.

The best ideas come ready to be changed and modified. It will be interesting to see how this idea grows and develops next school year. After they have created a few following my requirements/guidelines, the first thing I'll change is putting them in charge of deciding what information needs to be included.

Do you use one-pagers? What are some of your success stories?

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Poetry Friday -- Constellations

summer has arrived
chicory is blooming
bright blue roadside stars

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Summer is well and truly here when the chicory and Queen Anne's Lace bloom. Besides which, we have heard the first crickets, seen the first fireflies, and eaten the first pesto. 

We Poetry Friday peeps also know summer is here when the call goes out for Poetry Friday Roundup Hosts for July - December! Choose your date...they go quickly! 

Michelle Kogan has the roundup today. 

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 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:

5    Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
12  Jone at Deowriter
19  Carol at Carol's Corner
26  Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

2    Heidi at my juicy little universe
9    Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone
16  Christie at Wondering and Wandering -- optional theme: trees
23  Amy at The Poem Farm
30  Kat at Kathryn Apel

6    Sylvia (and Janet) at Poetry for Children
13  Laura at Writing the World for Kids
20  Linda at TeacherDance
27  Cheriee at Library Matters

4    Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink
11  Catherine at Reading to the Core
18  Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup
25  Karen at Karen Edmisten*

1    Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
8    Irene at Live Your Poem
15  Michelle at Today's Little Ditty
22  Rebecca at Sloth Reads
29  Bridget at Wee Words for Wee Ones

6    Tanita at [fiction, instead of lies]
13  Liz at Elizabeth Steinglass
20  Buffy at Buffy's Blog
27  Michelle at Michelle Kogan

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

When You Go to a Museum

Last Saturday, Hubby and I went to the Dayton Art Institute to see the special exhibit "For America" before it closed on Sunday. It was an amazing collection. A requirement for membership into the National Academy is a portrait, and these (often of prominent artists) were paired with another piece by the artist who painted the portrait, or by the artist who was the subject of the portrait. There were lots of familiar artists (ie: white men), but I learned about some I will want to explore more deeply: Juane Quick-to-See Smith, an enrolled member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes; Charles White, who painted "images of dignity" of African Americans; and Isabel Bishop, an Ohio native who was a leading member of the Fourteenth Street School of artists.

But it was what we found in the museum before we got the special exhibit that had the most profound impact on me. It was an exhibit of hats. Amazing hats. Over the top hats. So many hats owned by one woman.

One woman...and what a woman! Why had I never heard of Dorothy Height?

"This hat was worn on regular days to the office."

"Success depends on your stick-to-itiveness and the passion
with which you pursue your goals.
Give yourself a start and keep going." --Dorothy Height

"If the time is not ripe, we have to ripen the time." --Dorothy Height

"Greatness is not measured by what a man or woman accomplishes,
but by the opposition he or she has to overcome to reach his goals."
--Dorothy Height

"We African American women seldom do just what we want to do,
but always do what we have to do. I am grateful to have been in a time and place
where I could be part of what was needed."
--Dorothy Height

The hat she wore when Obama kissed her.

"Giving unconditionally is not a hard concept to understand
but it is very difficult for most to apply.
You have to be willing to see giving unconditionally
as something that you can do
because you recognize that your beneficiaries are human beings."
--Dorothy Height

From the introduction placard:

"Called the "Godmother of the Civil Rights Movement" by President Barack Obama, Dr. Dorothy Irene Height (March 24, 1912 - April 20, 2010) was an educator, activist, and a leader in the struggles for equality.

...she was rarely seen without a hat.

The hats worn by Dr. Height became a symbol of her personality, determination and poise. Often called "crowns" in the African American community, the hats are artistic creations, fashion items that Height wore on ordinary days and during extraordinary events in American history."

Dorothy Height wrote a memoir, Open Wide the Freedom Gates.
She also wrote Living With Purpose
and The Core of America's Race Problem.

She is featured on The History Makers: The Nation's Largest African American Oral History Collection (a resource to explore more deeply...)

and on the National Visionary Leadership Project website (another resource to explore more deeply...).

Her eulogy by Barack Obama can be found on American Rhetoric: Online Speech Bank (yet another site that needs a deep dive).

I couldn't find any clips from the Broadway musical, "If This Hat Could Talk," but I did find an interview with Julia Garrison, who played the young Dorothy Height.

Here is an hourlong documentary that I will watch, "The Life and Surprising Times of Dr. Dorothy Height."

Maybe I should be embarrassed to go public with my ignorance of this amazing woman, but instead  I'm going to bank on the possibility that I'm not the only one and make this a teachable moment about my own personal ongoing education in all of the aspects of American History that were not a part of my school curriculums (read BIPOC and LGBTQIA aspects).

I'll also make a plug for going to museums. Go to a museum and be as aware of the lenses with which you read the exhibits as you are the lenses with which you are reading books and the world. Ask questions about the curators of the exhibit to learn what their lenses were. Try on new lenses. Look for gaps in your education. Enjoy the art and the history...and LEARN.

Sunday, June 02, 2019

My First Week of #SummerBookaDay

This is the first summer in a very long time that I haven't been traveling or working the first week of summer vacation. I knew I needed to take some things off my plate this summer so I could rest and reenergize a bit.  This first week of summer was glorious. didn't realize how much I needed to just be home without a lot of to-dos on my list.  I was able to read a #summerbookaday and it has been one of the best reading weeks I've had in a while. I love Donalyn Miller's whole idea of #SummerBookaDay and feel like I got off to a great start. 79 days of summer vacation means 79+ books. I  Below are the highlights from my reading week. I recommend all of thees books highly.

Middle Grade Novels
All of the middle grade books I read this week came highly recommended and they were all fabulous for middle grade readers.

Operation Frog Effect by Sarah Scheerger may end up being our first read aloud. We'll see. This is the story of a classroom of 5th graders and it is told in 8 voices.   This would invite a variety of conversations. It was a great read.

I received this ARC from the publisher as a happy surprise this week. I was happy to see Renee Watson writing for middle grade. This one was incredible.  Loved the characters and the story and all of NYC that was part of the story. It is more of a quiet book but definitely one of my favorites of 2019.   This one is coming out on September 3.  

Guts by Raina Telgemeier--I'm not always  huge graphic novel reader but keep up because they are so popular and important for middle grade reader  I was thrilled to see this upcoming ARC in my mailbox this week. This is a really important book, one that is about anxiety and it is authentic and right and perfect for middle graders.  So glad this book will be out in the world and so glad that Raina has such a following because that means many, many kids will read it.

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga is a novel in verse and another one that I know many middle grade readers will love.    This is the story of a girl and her mother who are forced to move to the US because of the war in Syria.  The focus is on her perspective and experiences.  

Adult Reading

I read Becoming by Michelle Obama over a few months. Since I chose to do this one on audio, I pretty much only listened while I was in the car--so about 20 minutes a day.  Since this is a 20+ hour book it took a while but it was so worth it. Such an engaging read and so insightful. So sad I am finished with this one. 

Nonfiction Picture Books

I always love seeing pictures of Cynthia Lord's foster bunnies on social media so was thrilled to see this book. This is a great nonfiction picture book that shares the experience of fostering bunnies. It is a great read and a topic that isn't out there much in children's nonfiction.  And the fact that you get a peek into author Cynthia Lord's life outside of writing is another perk!

I've read about the first woman to run the Boston Marathon but was glad to see this picture book.  It is a good story with many of the issues around women's rights embedded.  

Somehow I missed No Truth Without Ruth:The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Kathleen Krull when it was published but glad to have read it now. Another look at this incredible woman. I like to have several picture book biographies about the same person in the classroom as middle grades are an important time to dig in and see the different information and perspectives presented by each one.

So it was a great reading week and I recommend all of these highly! Looking forward to another week of reading although I do have more I have to accomplish this week, but reading was definitely a great way to kick off summer!