Thursday, October 10, 2013

Stand Up for Girls on October 11!

Join LitWorld on October 11 and STAND UP FOR GIRLS!  If you don't know the work that LitWorld does, spend some time today visiting their website and celebrating all that they do for literacy!  And to learn more about STAND UP FOR GIRLS, read the post below by by Megan Karges, LitWorld Dot Connector.  And follow the tweets today with hashtag #standup4girls.

Tomorrow is International Day of the Girl, sanctioned by the United Nations to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world. Around the world, the number of girls who are not in school hovers around 66 million. LitWorld’s Stand Up for Girls campaign mobilizes girls and boys, men and women to advocate for every girl's right to tell her story to change the world.
It is a matter of life and death when girls are denied the right to read and write and to learn all that they need and want to know. In developing countries, 1 in 7 girls marries before the age of 15, and pregnancy and childbirth are the number one killer of 15-19-year-old girls. The right to literacy is a form of protection. People who can read to understand their choices, and write to define them and to share them are powerful in a civil society.

Why is girls’ literacy so urgently important? As stated by Gordon Brown, literacy is the goal of goals, a foundational human right from which all other freedoms can be attained. The right to literacy is a form of protection, allowing girls to understand their choices, and write to define them and to share them. The benefits of educating girls reap better health and economic outcomes for family, community and society as a whole.

LitWorld was launched in 2007 to empower the most isolated, at-risk and impoverished communities with a new vision of what literacy could mean to each and every person. At the heart of literacy is this: that stories and words are a mirror and a window. The girls in LitWorld’s LitClubs read and write to find out who they are, to see that stories can inspire them, and make them feel less alone. They can read and write to look out at the world, to imagine it as one of possibility for themselves and for their families. Through these programs, the world becomes a hopeful place.

Everyone can get involved in building the “safety net” for girls worldwide. Individuals hold tremendous power, and if we all stand up together for the human right of literacy the potential for rapid change is amplified exponentially.

So stand up for your mother, your mentor, your friend or your daughter. Stand up and raise your voice for educational rights. Use social media to tell friends and about the global education crisis and the Stand Up for Girls movement. All of the resources that you need to lead the Stand Up for Girls movement in your community are available at Together we will carry forward the stories of girls who could be and should be able to live out all of their dreams.

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...

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

The Perfect Antidote for BYOD

by Randi Zuckerberg
illustrated by Joe Berger
HarperCollins, on shelves November 5, 2013
F&Gs provided by the publisher (almost as if they could read my mind)

"This is Dot.
Dot knows a lot.
She knows how to tap...
to touch...
to tweet...
and to tag."

Luckily, Dot's mom sends her outside to "REBOOT! RECHARGE! RESTART!" and Dot remembers about tapping with her toes, touching sunflowers with her fingertips, tweeting with the birds, and tagging her friends as they run past.

Yes, let's not let our children get so caught up in their devices that they forget the real world around them!

(Sorry to review this so far ahead of the publication date, but it was the right book at the right time, and I can't wait to share it with my students!)

Monday, October 07, 2013


Two weeks ago I launched "Bring Your Own Device" in my classroom. Not because I don't already have enough to complicate my life, but because the theme of this year has unfolded to be "meet them where they are."

Before I ever mentioned the initiative to my students, I proposed it to parents at Curriculum Night. All five who showed up (which I'll take as a vote of confidence rather than a demonstration of apathy) were enthusiastic about the opportunity for their children to learn to use a device for more than just gaming and texting.

On that first Monday, five students brought devices. The number of devices has more than doubled since then. Somehow, there was a misconception that it was a one-week deal. Jaws dropped when I cleared that up and told them that this is a YEAR LONG deal. We started BYOD with a district Technology Support Teacher on hand to help out. We began with a lesson on digital citizenship, then scanned QR codes as one way to get to an Internet site. Next, the students learned to access the Student Dashboard, where I can upload links for them in all subject areas. We ended the morning with everyone on a school laptop for what started as a quick lesson in saving to the district cloud, but ended up being Fun With Shapes and Colors in Pages.

My ability to integrate technology every day has had its ups and downs. I am learning to be more flexible than ever and to defer to the students with, "What do YOU think?" which of course is empowering to them and why on earth did I ever have to be one who does all the thinking in the first place?

Here are some examples of how we've used our devices so far:

In reading, I gave groups the challenge of representing their thinking about the characters, setting, and most important events in the plot of our read aloud ESCAPE FROM MR. LEMONCELLO'S LIBRARY using their devices as they saw fit. They used Notes, Voice Memo, Skitch, a whiteboard app, iPods and iPads. They shared their thinking and creations using the document camera. (Air Share is aggravatingly not working for us.)

In math this week, we had a "whiteboard quiz" over geometry terms. If they had a drawing app on their device, they could use that for their whiteboard. Others used old-school whiteboards and dry erase pens.

In writing, the devices have opened up a whole new world of "containers" or formats in which students can go public with their writing. I'm anxious to see how this unfolds as they learn to use the apps they have and we find and try out new apps.

If all goes well, we'll have four new iPads soon to further complicate and enrich our classroom lives!

Friday, October 04, 2013

Poetry Friday -- Best


What does that mean,
"Do your best?"
Push myself
without any rest?

No time for play?
Never have fun?
Don't take a break
'til it's done, done, DONE?

Here's what I've learned
(disagree if you will)
it's a good idea
just to

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2013

It's been a crazy school year so far.
I'm struggling with what it means to do my best.
"My best" is a moving target.
Sometimes it means "A lot."
Sometimes my best is complicated,
and sometimes it is simple.
Sometimes it takes skill and long hard work,
but other times it takes luck, timing and inspiration.
My best at this sometimes depends on all of that.

I am not one thing.
I have many things that need me
to do my best.
So what is my best

"My best" has a floor,
but not a ceiling.

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2013

Dori has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at Dori Reads.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

September Mosaic

Ah, September! You lasted a lifetime, yet you were gone in a blink.
Broccoli Blooms and Bees
Photo app play (Poetics, Finger Focus)

You can view the set on Flickr here.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Slice of Life

When my doctor  told me I'd have to take 6 weeks off school due to my never-ending concussion, I was not happy.  (understatement) But once I'd been home for a few days, I decided I should use my time well.  There was little I could do as much of my life is consumed by "brainwork", so I decided to spend some time doing spring cleaning and finding some new hobbies--planting some things, learning some crafts, etc. I decided that regardless of how unpleasant it was to stay home, at least I'd have a clean house and I'd have learned some new crafts! I was determined to do all of those things I always meant to do if only I had the time. 

Fast forward a few months. I went into our guest bedroom and I noticed a pile of odds and ends in the corner.  Things I was meaning to donate or put away or toss.  I looked around the house and noticed other little piles waiting to be dealt with.  I realized that these were all remnants of my concussion days.  Those first weeks of time off work. Those weeks of figuring out who I could be without doing the things I love most.

Well, it is now October, 3 months from when the concussion restrictions were lifted.  And, guess what? I still haven't taken care of that pile and my guest room closet is a little bit of a mess again.  The minute I had restrictions lifted, I went back to my "regular" life.

And, the tomatoes I planted?  Well, you can see in the photo above how those turned out...I pretty much forgot about them the minute I was able to get back to my life of reading, writing, exercise, work, thinking.

I'm always looking for the big lessons in life and it seems that there is something to learn from all of this.  My thinking is that the lesson is about accepting the fact that I am who I am. I had some time to live my life without those "brainwork" things that I love most.  I tried some new things, most of which I haven't held onto.  Because really, when given the choice between cleaning and reading, I choose reading. When given the choice between watering tomatoes and almost anything else, I choose almost anything else.  At some point, I imagine the piles will get to me enough that I choose to take care of them before I choose to sit down and read a book.  But, not today.  

 If there are a few extra piles around the house, chances are I found something to do that was more worthwhile than dealing with them.  Rather than looking at the dead tomato plants or the pile on the floor and beating myself up about not doing all that I have decided "I should", my concussion weeks taught me  that I am the one who gets to choose how to spend my time.  And that alone is a gift, something to celebrate.  I realized that I have taken that for granted all of my life. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Henry's Map by David Elliot

Last week, when we visited the Dublin Library, Miss Val shared a stack of new books.  One that caught my eye was Henry's Map by David Elliot.

This is a great book. In the story, Henry is a great character:
"Henry was a very organized sort of pig. He liked knowing 
exactly where everything was in his tidy little sty."  

But once looks out his window and notices what a mess the farm is, he decides to make a map so that everyone would know what belongs where:-)

Henry goes onto make his map, walking around the farm and adding the animals on the map.  The animals are thrilled to be included on his map and the final hand-drawn map is a good one for kids who are just learning about maps.

I love lots about this book. I love Henry. He is a great character who makes me smile. I also love the illustrations as they bring the farm to life in a happy way.  Mostly, I love the humor--you will have to read the book to find out the amusing part in the book. It is sweet humor (nothing like the wicked humor or I Want My Hat Back or Carnivores!).

For primary kids learning about maps, this is a fun read.  I thought it would be great for my 3rd graders as an invitation to map writing in Writing Workshop. Creating a map to trigger stories from your life is one I learned from Ralph Fletcher and I love to share the map in the front of Marshfield Dreams. This will be another one to share in those minilessons.

This book is great fun and has lots of possibilities!

Sunday, September 29, 2013