Showing posts sorted by relevance for query chalk. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query chalk. Sort by date Show all posts

Sunday, September 01, 2013

It's a Chalk-A-Bration!

I have loved the idea of Chalk-A-Bration as soon as I read about the idea on Betsy's blog, TEACHING  YOUNG WRITERS.  for months and was determined to make time for it each month.  This Friday was the perfect day to begin. My third graders had been in class for 8 days and we had already started our Friday morning tradition of POETRY FRIDAY!  I figured Chalk-A-Bration would be a natural extension.

It was perfect for so many reasons!

-Chalk-A-Bration was a great way to begin connecting online with my class this year.  They could see immediately that we were part of something beyond the classroom walls.

-I showed them Betsy's blog and shared her idea of Chalk-A-Bration. I talked about how much I loved the idea--so much that I wanted to try it. That we get ideas and build on ideas by learning from and with others.

-They realized that others would see their work and that chalking on the playground would be a fun way to surprise others with fun words and illustrations.

-They LOVED the word Chalk-A-Bration and it served as a great word study discussion for the day.

-It was 15 minutes of joyful literacy!

Kids had great ideas for chalking.

Many kids had fun chalking bright, happy pictures!

Others decided to use a favorite line we read in our readaloud this week. "Make Like a Sponge!" was a funny line used in The Trouble With Chickens when the chickens were annoyed that J.J. Tully would not go out in the rain.

Others chose favorite lines from poems they enjoyed during our Poetry Friday! reading. This one --"My backpack weighs a thousand pounds." (Prelutsky)

Inspirational phrases were also popular!

And we had to share our love of books and reading!

We loved our first Chalk-A-Bration and can't wait until next month!


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Books I Could Read A Million Times--Chalk

A funny thing happened at school this week. One of my kids saw me in the hallway and yelled  "Mrs. Sibberson, when I come to library today, will you have any of those empty books?"  Empty books? What could she have possibly meant?  "You know, the books with no words?" So I decided to read CHALK by Bill Thomson aloud this week, since she had asked so cleverly for wordless books.

CHALK is a great new wordless book--one that I would love to see win the Caldecott Award.  Mary Lee reviewed it a few months ago but it wasn't a book that I took the time to fall in love with right away. You see, I am a text girl and I have very little patience for taking the time to enjoy a wordless book on my own.  I do not always take the time to really take in the visuals. But this week, I discovered what a treat sharing CHALK with children is!  I love watching the kids' faces each time I turned the page.  The amazement, excitement, surprise, fear, and discovery were all so clear on their faces.  Their conversations around the book have been amazing and this is definitely a book I could read a million times.

So, today, I am adding CHALK  to my list of BOOKS I COULD READ A MILLION TIMES.  I think this is the first wordless picture book to make the list but it is definitely one that deserves to be there.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Poetry Friday -- Praise and Amazement

This week, I received a digital ARC of Irene Latham's September book, This Poem is a Nest.

At first, all I could say was, WOW. Over and over again. Wow. Wow. WOW. I said it to the publicist at Wordsong, and then I said it to Irene. She responded, "No project I’ve worked on has been more exhilarating than that one. Just me being me."

Irene being Irene means she wrote a poem...a "nest"....and then found ONE HUNDRED SIXTY-ONE other poems..."nestling poems"....inside that "nest!" I. Can't. Even. I'm still gobsmacked.

Here is a portion of her nest, and a few of the nestlings she wrote. These are used with permission of the publisher.

I gave it a try using a poem I wrote for my 2020 NPM project as my nest.

I Have a New Friend

I have a new friend.
We've never met.
She chalks art and exercise challenges on the sidewalk.
She leaves the chalk out.
I write and draw my thanks.
Her chalk sticks became a pile of chalk pebbles.
I left a package on her porch --
Highlights magazines and gently used sidewalk chalk.
She left a package on my porch --
coloring pages, crayons and markers, four Cra-Z-Loom bracelets.
And a note.
I have a new friend named Annie.
We've never met.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2020

Here are some nestlings. Titles don't have to be found inside the nest, but the words of the nestling have to all come from the nest and have to be used in the order they're found in the nest.

Art Exercise

Draw a porch
a package
a note
a new friend.

My Favorite Squirrel Leaves a Message

Pile of pebbles on porch and sidewalk.
A note:
we've met.

Setting Sun

On the leaves, 
the sticks,
a pile of pebbles--

Try it! It's addicting and not at all easy. But most of all, get excited for September when we can hold a copy of Irene's newest wonder in our hands!

Carol has this week's Poetry Friday Roundup at Beyond LiteracyLink, and next week, the roundup is here!

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Poetry Friday -- Highlights of The Flipside

I had a lot of fun with this year's National Poetry Month poems. Early in the month I started writing etherees, inspired by Liz Garton Scanlon's video lesson.

give thanks
for the clouds.
Yes, the same ones
that spoiled your picnic,
that rained on your parade,
that flooded the soccer field.
I am thankful for clouds because
without them there'd be no rainbows, and
behind them there will always be blue skies.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2020

Now, More Than Ever
in hope,
then exhale
your gratitude.
Remember these truths:
students over standards,
patience over procedures,
compassion over compliance,
care over content, and grace over
gimmicks. We must humanize our teaching.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2020

Fifth Grade Lessons
and you're learning
life requires you to
(first and foremost) show up.
Read directions, do your best,
ask for help, give help when you can.
Put one foot in front of the other.
Never take "ordinary" for granted.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2020

I wrote lots of haiku (sometimes that's all the brain space I had after a day of online teaching). Inspired by Jarrett Lerner, I kept a haiku diary for a day:

Haiku Diary for April 15

I wake up whiney
the sameness of every day
I'm on my last nerve

exercise, shower
a mug of hot tea, breakfast
sun peeks through the trees

my heart pumps, blood flows
lungs reliably inflate
some sameness is good

going to work means
down the hall into office

Google Meet is fine
but like all the rest of life
you have to show up

food delivery
a small thing for us to do
makes a big difference

lunchtime luxury
listen to a podcast
nurture my spirit

hours and hours of screens
my brain is totally fried
the cure is ice cream

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2020

Here are two of the stories I told. The first one is 100% true, but the second one is mostly fiction. In the first stanza, I am the Grandma, the second stanza is me, the third stanza is fiction (after the first line, anyway!), and the fourth stanza is where I was and what I was doing when I wrote the poem.

I Have a New Friend
I have a new friend.
We've never met.
She chalks art and exercise challenges on the sidewalk.
She leaves the chalk out.
I write and draw my thanks.
Her chalk sticks became a pile of chalk pebbles.
I left a package on her porch --
Highlights magazines and gently used sidewalk chalk.
She left a package on my porch --
coloring pages, crayons and markers, four Cra-Z-Loom bracelets.
And a note.
I have a new friend named Annie.
We've never met.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2020


When Grandma was a girl
she sometimes walked home from school for lunch.
She remembers grilled cheese and tomato soup,
kidney beans and cheese on toast,
peanut butter and honey sandwiches.

Now that school is in my house,
I eat lunch at home every day.
I like to eat the same thing I did at school --
pretzels and a cheese stick, veggies and a fruit.
Keeping lunch the same helps me remember the cafeteria.

The cafeteria was loud and messy.
I traded pretzels for bites of sushi or mini Oreos.
After lunch was recess. I miss recess --
the swings, the big toy, even the muddy soccer field.
I even miss indoor recess.

Sitting on my porch
eating my not-a-school-lunch
at home-is-now-school,
I close my eyes in the sun, listen to the birds,
and remember everything I miss about school.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2020

Liz has the Poetry Friday Roundup for today at her blog Elizabeth Steinglass. Happy May!

Saturday, April 25, 2020

I Have a New Friend

I Have a New Friend

I have a new friend.
We've never met.
She chalks art and exercise challenges on the sidewalk.
She leaves the chalk out.
I write and draw my thanks.
Her chalk sticks became a pile of chalk pebbles.
I left a package on her porch --
Highlights magazines and gently used sidewalk chalk.
She left a package on my porch --
coloring pages, crayons and markers, four Cra-Z-Loom bracelets.
And a note.
I have a new friend named Annie.
We've never met.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2020

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Planning for Small Group Instruction: Problem and Solution

Moving from 4th grade to 3rd grade has been fascinating as there is a big difference between the two ages.  And I'm realizing again that 3rd grade readers are at a critical stage in reading development.  As they are becoming more sophisticated readers, the books become more complex. Not only are they building stamina to read longer books over several days but they are also learning to infer so much about a story.  Over the last few weeks I've been working with a small group on inferring problem and solution and I've learned so much from them. My thinking is that this cycle of lessons I've used with them might be the perfect cycle to use in whole class teaching early in the year next year.

I began working with several groups of students on inferring because although my students can infer isolated pieces in a text (what a word means in the context of a sentence, what a character meant by a phrase in a book, what might happen next, etc.), I am noticing a pattern that many of my students do not infer across the text and as texts become longer and more complex, this becomes more of a barrier to true comprehension. I'm finding students who can retell a story with every story part, but they miss some subtle thing that makes the story.  Their inferring is at the basic level and they rush through-making up their mind fast without pausing to think about the whole. So, I planned a few lesson and have continued from there.

I always thought that problem and solution was a rather basic thing to teach but there are so many conversations that have come from it that I am realizing how important it is for 8 and 9 year olds.


We began with Chalk by Bill Thompson. This is a wonderful wordless picture book that I thought would make sense for inferring. I started out with inferring predictions with this group. We did a shared reading of the book as a group, talking and predicting using evidence from the pictures. Kids could predict basic things but it became evident that they were reading for isolated events rather than the whole bigger story.  They seemed to pay close attention to minor details and went quickly over events that worked together to create a story. They didn't seem to have any focus in mind as they read that could help them put the pieces together.


I asked students to go off and read a wordless book on their own. I used A Ball for Daisy
Hippo! No, Rhino!, and Where's Walrus? and each student left with one of these books  I asked them to jot notes on stickies as they read.

We came back together to talk and their stickies confirmed my thinking from our reading of Chalk. I realized  that these students were reading events but not reading for the whole story to come together in some way.  I needed to help them read across a story. There were lots of stickies about little details not connected to the big story. I know that these are important for readers , but only if they can see how they fit into the bigger picture.  So I changed my focus to problem and solution to give these students a way to focus--how to read across a story for the bigger picture in a story--more than isolated events in a sequence.


One thing that struck me in all of our conversations in the first two days was the fact that my students equated "ending" with "last page". Whatever the characters were doing on the last page was described as the ending by these students. I knew if I wanted to change the way they approached story, they needed to understand that the "ending" was not necessarily a final event but the solution or the outcome of the story.  It wasn't always the very last thing that happened.

For the next lesson, I used the wordless book Fossil by Bill Thompson. This one is patterned similarly to Chalk so I figured the kids would be able to dig deeper and see the problem and solution more clearly after having read and discussed Chalk.  For Fossil, I asked students to focus on the big problem and the big solution and we talked through it. They were much better able to do this when they weren't jumping around to lots of unrelated details. Instead, they read with a focus in mind that they wanted to get a sense of the whole story.

In the meantime, during individual conferences, we also talked a bit about the book that each child was reading during independent reading. They were delighted to discover that the books they were reading had problems and that the longer the book, the longer it took to solve the problem!


I decided that once the kids knew that stories had problems and solutions, I wanted to give them ways to look at these more deeply.  I wanted them to learn two strategies for thinking of problem and solution. One was that the title of a book is often a clue about the problem or solution. The other was that the main character often DOES something to solve the problem.

One thing I am noticing is that my students are often missing the subtle things that a character does to solve a problem.  Often a character does something (like in Miss Nelson is Missing) that seems obvious to adult readers even though it is not stated in the story.  I wanted my kids to read knowing that often characters did something deliberate to solve the problem and that readers sometimes read for that.

For this lesson, we read the book, I Want a Dog!. I picked this book for a few reasons. First of all, the problem was hinted to in the title. Second of all, the character does something very obvious to solve the problem and I knew my kids would see that.  Finally, I knew that there were lots of books about kids who want pets and I wanted to be able to build on this lesson later in the study. So,  "What did the character do to solve the problem?" was the focus of this lesson and kids caught right on, excited to know this little trick for finding solution. (They acted like they were in on a big secret!)  The focus was helpful as they weren't jumping all over the place, hoping the random details they noticed would somehow make sense to them.


Following I Want a Dog, I gave each student a copy of the picture book A Small Brown Dog with a Wet Pink Nose. This book is about a little girl who wants a dog but her solution is quite clever and the reader has to infer quite a bit to see how deliberate the little girl is throughout the story in order to solve her problem. I knew that understanding this might be a stretch but I knew that it was a good next step to really dig in and figure out what the character did.


Before I finish up with this group, I want to give them tools to go a little deeper into their understanding. I want them to see that problem and solution matters and that often a character changes over time because of the problem. I know that they are at the point that they are reading across a whole story now and they are ready to see the impact of the problem/solution on the characters.  So my next few lessons with this group will be around the idea that the main character often changes because of the problem they encountered and that readers often ask themselves, "How does the character change in the journey to solve the problem?"  I have a few books in mind for this conversation and they are all three books that make sense as next steps and for this new focus: Those ShoesThe Summer My Father Was Ten, and A Bad Case of Stripes (Scholastic Bookshelf) are the three books I'll use next. I may only use one or two depending on how much support students need with this new idea.


Planning for this group helped me to think about my planning for all small groups.  I have been involved in lots of thinking around small group instruction at school. A group of teachers is meeting to discuss Jennifer Serravallo's book Teaching Reading in Small Groups: Differentiated Instruction for Building Strategic, Independent Readers and  we have been involved in LLI training. I'm realizing that my small group instruction at 3rd grade needs to be as planned and focused as my whole group lessons.  And they need to happen over more than a few days.  Even though my groups are not really guided reading groups, they are strategy groups that need to move students to new behaviors quickly. When I started thinking about this group, the change they needed seemed too big to happen in a short time, but when I really looked at the students' behaviors and what they had in place, I was able to break the idea down into smaller chunks and change behaviors quickly. My students quickly learned to read across a story, to find the problem and solution and to focus on character actions.  Next I am confident that they will be able to see the changes a character has on their journey in the story.  These little behaviors have changed in a two week period and has transferred to their independent reading so that they are more engaged and thoughtful readers.

These kids are not necessarily struggling readers but they are struggling with this idea and it is keeping them from truly understanding what they read .  I am all about discovery, but sometimes kids need some ways into discovery. They need to know what to read for and some things to remember as readers. Then when they move into complex texts they know these things will hold true and that's where the real thinking and discovery comes in.  I've been careful to choose books that really make visible the things I want them to see that are true of many stories so that they differently on their own.  In less than 2 weeks, they've changed their expectations of story.

I am rethinking small groups to be a bit longer than usual (over 2-ish weeks) to really change several behaviors that add up over time. This cycle has taught me a lot about what transitional readers need and about how to better plan small group instruction so that in a short period of time, students can become more independent readers.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fun New Wordless Book

by Bill Thomson
Marshall Cavendish, 2010
review copy provided by the publisher

I'm always on the lookout for new wordless books for my collection. They are great for limited English speakers and for small group work on making inferences.

This one tells the story of some children who find a gift bag full of chalk hanging from a playground dinosaur's mouth on a rainy day. The first girl draws a sun on the sidewalk, and lo and behold, the sun comes out.

The kids try out one fun possibility after another, but things get a little out of hand, until someone gets the idea to draw the rainstorm they started out with so that the chalk drawings wash away.

The kids carefully hang the bag of chalk back on the dinosaur's mouth and walk on (with a final, wary glance back -- reminiscent of JUMANJI).

Friday, May 31, 2013

Poetry Friday -- Chalk-A-Bration -- Casting for Recovery

I have a multi-purpose offering for Poetry Friday this week. 

We went over to the neighborhood park yesterday evening to blow the dust off our casting in preparation for the Casting for Recovery Fish-A-Thon on Saturday. While there, I chalked a poem on the sidewalk:

Now for the PSA:

Casting for Recovery is a leading breast cancer quality of life program. CFR isn't trying to find the cure for breast cancer; the goal of CFR is to empower breast cancer survivors by giving them powerful tools to overcome the challenges of breast cancer.

One of those tools is fly fishing.

I'm involved in Casting for Recovery as a past participant and now on Ohio's retreat team. I teach casting and knot tying.

We're having a Fish-A-Thon tomorrow to raise money for the Ohio CFR retreat. If you'd like to sponsor me on a per-fish-caught basis, or with a one-time donation, send me a message through the blog email. 

"Casting for Recovery is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that relies solely on donations to provide all-expense-paid weekend wellness retreats to 14 breast cancer survivors per retreat. Through your support, we will be able to continue to enhance the lives of breast cancer survivors by providing retreats that promote mental, physical, and emotional healing."

Betsy, the Queen of the Chalk-A-Bration, has the Poetry Friday Roundup AND the monthly Chalk-A-Bration today at Teaching Young Writers.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


Betsy, at Teaching Young Writers, is having a chalk poetry celebration tomorrow to cap off National Poetry Month. Write a poem, chalk it up, take a picture, and send it to Betsy!

Poem #29, National Poetry Month, 2012

Cathy, at Merely Day By Day, is joining me in a poem a day this month. Other daily poem writers include Amy at The Poem Farm, Linda at TeacherDance, Donna at Mainely Write, Laura at Writing the World for Kids (daily haiku), Liz at Liz in Ink (daily haiku), Sara at Read Write Believe (daily haiku), Jone at Deo Writer (daily haiku)...and YOU?

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

3 New Picture Books!

I picked up 3 great new picture books last week.

Alphablock is going to be my new go-to Baby Gift Book!   It was on display at Cover to Cover and it became an instant favorite for me!  It is this amazing chunky little alphabet book!  The design of this book is amazing as each letter is cut out as a page of its own.  The text is predictable and the illustrations are more detailed than I realized at first glance.  Really, a pretty perfect book for home and school. The images on the Amazon page will help you see the inside pages.

Outfoxed by Mike Twohy is one that was on my Goodreads "Want to Read" list.  I picked it up at Cover to Cover and laughed out loud.  I am trying to read more books with humor as they are not always my faves. This one is quite hysterical and I know my students will love it.  (Even my daughter, who is 14, laughed when she read it to herself on the way home from the bookstore.)

Fossil is a new wordless book from Bill Thomson, author of one of my favorites--Chalk !  I was happy to see this from him and know that kids will make some connections between the two. This one is similar to Chalk with some important differences. Definitely one I am glad to add to my collection of wordless books.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Poetry Wednesday: Two New Gems

Yesterday I set Florian's Dinothesaurus and Lewis' The Underwear Salesman out on the chalk tray in my fourth grade classroom at the beginning of the day to shouts of, "YAY!" and "Can I read that during reading workshop?" Neither book made it back to the chalk tray during reading time -- both were read by individuals or with partners and passed from hand to hand to hand the entire time.

Dinothesaurus: Prehistoric Poems and Paintings
by Douglas Florian
Athenium Books for Young Readers, 2009

Surely you've seen the sneak peaks of poetry and art from Dinothesaurus at Douglas Florian's blog? If not, get over there right now and take a look! 18 dinosaurs are described with wit, wordplay, and creative multimedia illustrations.

There is a pronunciation guide for each dinosaur name (thank you, thank you, Mr. Florian!) along with the meaning of the name. These name meanings are rich for conversations during word study around root words. Seismosaurus (earthshaking lizard) and seismograph; Tyrannosaurus rex (king of tyrant lizards) and tyrant and rex; Troodon (wounding tooth) and Iguanodon (iguana tooth) and orthoDONtist.

The collection also includes a Glossarysaurus, a list of dinosaur museums and fossil sites, and a bibliography with suggestions for further reading.

Every illustration adds an additional layer of meaning to its poem and makes this a book that will bring readers back again and again.

The Underwear Salesman: And Other Jobs for Better or Verse
by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Serge Bloch
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2009

More wit, wordplay and multimedia illustrations to be had in this volume as well!

This book is packed with short poems (a couplet for the job of exterminator), brief poems (for the job of underwear salesman -- ha ha!!), vertical poems (for the job of elevator operator), poems that take to the streets (for the job of marathon runner), poems in two voices (for the jobs of talk show hosts and ventriloquists), poems that flop (for the job of gymnast), and poems that soar ( for the job of bridge painter and skyscraper window washer).

At the risk of being repetitive: Every illustration adds an additional layer of meaning to its poem and makes this a book that will bring readers back again and again.

Saturday, April 04, 2020

On My Walk

On My Walk

On my walk
around the block
what do I see?
I see a teddy bear
looking at me!

As we go
I look below
and what do I see?
I see chalk art
looking at me!

Walk some more
and on the door
what do I see?
I see a rainbow
looking at me!

Come back home
where we're alone.
What do I see?
A hopeful heart
is looking out for me.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2020

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Thankful For the Public Library!

The first thing you notice when you walk into my room is the books -- six shelves there (with tubs across the tops of all of them), a homemade cinderblock and plank shelf there, two tall ones there, two short ones under the chalk tray there, the one behind the small table that serves as my desk...books are everywhere.

And yet, as I worked on the details of how I would approach the nonfiction unit we were set to start this week, the details about what other kinds of learning I was going to aim for beyond the standards that guided our planning, I realized I didn't have enough nonfiction books.

Praise be for the ability to place reserves online!

Praise be for TWO library cards -- a citizen card plus an educator card!

I have 17 different volumes in the Scientists in the Field series checked out. I want to explore with my students what kind of stamina it takes to read longer nonfiction. (No, these aren't the only longer nonfiction choices they'll have, but what a great place to start, eh?)

I have 22 books by Steve Jenkins checked out. These books support a range of readers. And they are already noticing what I hoped they would -- the very narrow and creative topic choices Jenkins makes. I want him to be a mentor for their topic selection when we get deeper into the writing portion of this unit.

I have 9 books by Don Brown checked out (this is his newest ...with a name like Don Brown, it's hard to do an author search on Amazon!). He's coming to the Dublin Literacy Conference in February! He writes more literary nonfiction, without the internal text features we often see in nonfiction and with more of a story arc as the structure. He has great "stepping stone" books that might get a reader interested in a topic that they will explore further. This is another sub-goal I have for this nonfiction unit.

(If it feels like I'm stopping this post without fully explaining everything -- like I did with my word study choice time post yesterday -- blame #nerdlution. This is my 30 minutes to write and if I don't stop now, I won't get showered and a lunch made and to school on time! At least this one is better edited than yesterday's [I hope]. I'm planning to update the word study choice post with information that answers some of the questions in the comments. What else are you wondering about our nonfiction study?)

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Book Clubs

Wednesday is Book Club Day in Room 228.

Before we get deep into Book Clubs that address specific skill needs, we are getting used to thinking with partners, and digging deeper than the surface.

We started with fractured fairy tales last week.

This week, we will read wordless picture books.

I have Chalk on Kindle on all of my personal devices in the classroom, so one lucky group will read digitally.

The two newest wordless picture books in my collection are

by Aaron Becker
Candlewick, 2013


Zoom (Picture Puffins)
by Istvan Banyai
Puffin Books, 1998

I'm not sure how Zoom fits with the narrative work I want my students to continue with...perhaps I can find several more in my collection that are simply visually stunning and we can do some compare/contrast work with books that tell a narrative story and books that simply help us to see the world with new eyes...