Thursday, May 08, 2014

Poetry Friday -- Oldies and a Newbie


Thank you to the now-forgotten PF bloggers who turned me on to these books!
How could I not have these new-to-me oldies by 
Marilyn Singers and Joyce Sidman in my collection?


Something in water loves
the curve
the bend
the zigzag
the swerve...

Summer Solstice

Amid the scent of roses
and the lolling hum of bees
comes a cloud scudding briefly across the sun
or a slightly pointed breeze
to remind you that the earth has turned again
and in a long slow wink
the nights will grow
the days will shrink...

The subtitle (A Story in Concrete Poetry) doesn't do this book justice.
You can't imagine it until you see it. 
The concrete poetry is every single part of every illustration on every page. 
Plus it tells a story. 

I'd love to share the poem that is the grass, 
but it goes on for SEVENTEEN glorious pages! 
Here are a few of the clouds:

a tiny puff,
a swirl of frosting--

bright dome
of sugary white

white steamy
bread loaves rising
in he sun's bright heat,
a billowing batch 
of cumulus.


My 5th graders still LOVE these You Read To Me, I'll Read to You books! 
And now they'll learn about common and unusual tall tales while performing poetry? 

Davy Crockett

I'm Davy Crockett, frontier king,
A man who can do anything.
My story starts right at my birth:
A comet carried me to Earth.
It hit a hill in Tennessee,
And guess what happened? Out came me!

Jama has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at Jama's Alphabet Soup.

While I was busy writing poetry in April...

...Where the Sidewalk Ends: Poems and Drawings turned 40 and these all turned 50!

(All review copies were compliments of the publisher -- THANK YOU, Harper Collins!)

And this isn't Shel Silverstein, but it could be his first cousin:

by Karma Wilson
illustrated by Dianne Goode
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2014
review copy provided by the publisher

Lots of fun Silvertein-ian verse, with a few really lovely descriptive poems tucked in here and there. This one is sure to be a favorite, both for the kid-friendly poetry and for the fun illustrations.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Some New Favorite Verse Novels

Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake
by Julie Sternberg
illustrated by Matthew Cordell
Harry N. Abrams, March 18, 2014
review copy purchased for my classroom library

This is my favorite of the three books in this series so far. Eleanor and Pearl's friendship is really put to the test (a new girl comes between them), and at the same time, Eleanor has some trials of her own (getting over stage fright, her puppy going away to a two-week training camp, and her first crush). 

by Kwame Alexander
HMH Books for Young Readers, March 18, 2014
review copy purchased for my classroom library

I can't wait to preview this book with my class. I don't think I'll see if for a while after I do! The poetry is a nice blend of edgy and rap-like, plus deep and thoughtful. The main story line is junior high basketball, but along the way there is what it's like to be a twin, young love, and a father who is a basketball legend, and who has health problems.

by Margarita Engle
HMH Books for Young Readers, March 19, 2013
review copy purchased for my classroom library

This book was fascinating to read as I'm listening to THE INVENTION OF WINGS. The story of Tula, in Cuba, parallels the story of Sara Grimke in the United States with amazing similarity.

The Lightning Dreamer belongs in a text set with other biographies and historical fiction about early abolitionists around the world. It is important for our children to know the stories of these people who fought against all odds for what they believed in, and especially the stories of the women who fought for others' freedom while having relatively none of their own (not even the right to vote in the US for another 100 years).

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Some New Books in Our Favorite Series

It has been a great few months for new books about some of our favorite characters.  I love getting new books in the classroom.  I especially love getting books by authors we love and about characters we love.  Series books are key for 3rd graders. I've seen so many kids become readers because of a series they fall in love with. So I like to keep our popular series baskets up to date.  It is fun to see 3rd graders anticipate an upcoming book. It is even more fun when a student comes up to me and says expectantly, "The new Magic Bone book is out and we don't have it yet," then waits patiently while I order it on Amazon.

These are a few of the new books in our classroom--books that are about characters we already love!

Lulu's Mysterious Mission--This may be my favorite book in the series. It took me a while to get used to the new illustrations but I ended up loving them!  A really great read!

The Pigeon Needs a Bath! Who can't love the Pigeon every time?

Judy Moody and Stink: The Big Bad Blackout The cover of this one is quite a treat-glows in the dark!

Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot (Book 1) I love absolutely any book that Dan Santat illustrates and the new illustrations in this series are incredible!

Whatever After #5: Bad Hair Day  Half my class fell in love with this series
early in the year.  A perfect fairy tale series for 3rd and 4th graders.

Go Fetch! #5 (Magic Bone) This is a series my students taught me about.
They LOVE it. A funny concept and perfect humor for 8 and 9 year-olds.

Babymouse #18: Happy Birthday, Babymouse What could be better than another Babymouse book!

Invasion of the Ufonuts (Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut)  These Arnie chapter books are quite a hit.  Perfect length and hysterical illustrations throughout.

Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue: An Origami Yoda Book A few of my kids have just discovered this series and were thrilled to see this one at our book fair.

*Confession:  Today, a student came up to remind me that the we didn't have the newest Stick Dog. I said, "Oh, I'm not sure we'll get that one. Our book budget is about finished." Then I laughed out loud.  Where did that even come from?  What does that even mean? I ordered the book.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Professional Reading: Math Workshop

I returned to the classroom last year after 4 years as an elementary librarian. The two years before I became a librarian, I taught only Language Arts and Social Studies and shared my classroom with a colleague who taught the Math and Science. So it had been six years since I'd paid much attention to math.

I've always loved teaching math (which surprises lots of people) and I am actually a better mathematician than I am a reader and writer.  I've always loved math and love to watch the discovery on kids' faces as they explore numbers and problem solving and critical thinking.

So I wanted to jump back in and was happy to see that there were lots of amazing resources out there.   I picked up several professional books on math teaching that I planned to read last summer. Then I got a concussion and my reading life was put on hold.  Over the year, I continued to pick up great books and took recommendations from smart friends and colleagues.  So, my stack has grown and grown.  There are books on my stack that I've already read, books I want to read cover to cover and books that I want to dabble in to get the info I'm looking for.

I moved from teaching 4th grade to teaching 3rd grade this year and the math teaching is a little bit different. I find myself looking more in the K-3 resources these days.

Our district is moving to a Math Workshop and as much as I overall like the way math went this year, there are lots of things I need to change.  I am really thinking hard about better routines, more intentional conversations and the role of student choice in Math Workshop.

Books I've read and loved in the last year or two:

One of my favorite reads over the last few years was  Math Exchanges: Guiding Young Mathematicians in Small Group Meetings by Kassia Omohundro Wedikind. I think I read this one once I learned I was going to be teaching 4th grade. (I blogged about it when I first read it.) It was an amazing read and not only changed my ideas about small group instruction in math, but also my thinking about talk and story in the math classroom.  I'm hoping to revisit the book--I recently got a copy of Kassia's DVD How Did You Solve That?: Small-Group Math Exchanges with Young Students and am excited to watch that this summer.

I spent a great deal of time with Number Talks, Grades K-5: Helping Children Build Mental Math and Computation Strategies two years ago and really learned lots about routines and the importance of these number routines. I feel like I need to revisit pieces of this book now that I've taught a year in 3rd grade. I think revisiting the specific 3rd grade sections will help me be more effective with this routine.

I also spent time with What's Your Math Problem? Getting to the Heart of Teaching Problem Solving which helped me think about not only good problems but how to assess problem solving and how to help my students reflect on their own work.

I spent some time with Number Sense Routines: Building Numerical Literacy Every Day in Grades K-3 before I went back into the classroom but it seemed a little primary for 4th grade. Honestly, I forgot about it until I saw the ad from Stenhouse on the accompanying video (Go Figure!) from these authors and I am VERY excited to reread this one from a 3rd grade perspective.  Thinking about routines is definitely one of my biggest goals for next year and this book and video seem perfect to add to my thinking.

Books I'm Most Excited to Read

At MRA this year, we somehow started talking Math and Brian Wyzlic  invented #nerdymathclub.  He recommended 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions [NCTM] and I ordered it right there and then.  I am excited to read this one and learn more about good math discussions.

Another book that lots of people I trust are talking about is Putting the
Practices Into Action: Implementing the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice, K-8.  The focus on The Common Core is an important one for me right now as I want to see what others are thinking about the standards and how best to teach in our current era.  I love that this one focuses on Standards for Mathematical Practice rather than content standards.  I am sure it will give me lots to think about and revise.

A brand new book that I am VERY excited about is Intentional Talk: How to Structure and Lead Productive Mathematical Discussions. Stenhouse has been putting out amazing math professional books so I pretty much trust anything they have on their list. Plus, this book is about talk and I know how important that is. I have read so much about intentional talk in the literacy classroom.
Guided Math in Action

Minds on Mathematics: Using Math Workshop to Develop Deep Understanding in Grades 4-8 looks like one that will help me tweak workshop structure a bit. Even though it is written for grades 4-8, I think the chapters on work time and conferring will help me a lot. I am not sure who recommended this one to me but it is close to the top of my summer stack.

Finally, I picked up Guided Math in Action: Building Each Student's Mathematical Proficiency with Small-Group Instruction because of the focus on small group instruction but looking through it, it will also help me think through workshop in general, observation of students and quality learning opportunities.

There are more on my stack but these are the few I really want to dig into this summer.  I'm open to any other suggestions that will help with Math Workshop in Grade 3!  What are you reading?

Also, we are hoping to have some Twitter Chats around math over the summer. Keep an eye out or the hashtag #nerdymathclub (thanks, @brianwyzlic) if you'd like to join us!

Friday, May 02, 2014

Poetry Friday

Dear Jonah B, Grade 4,

Thank you for this heart-faced wonder of an owl,
and for the nighttime breezes swirling around the words.

I hope it made you as happy to write it
as it makes me to read it.

Yours in Poetry,
Mary Lee

PS -- Kudos to Jone (Check it Out) for doing this Poetry Postcard project every April with the students in her school!

In the spirit of Kevin (Kevin's Meandering Mind), one of my Poetry Month writing partners (along with Carol/Carol's Corner), I am going to embark on a bit of "line lifting." Instead of finding my poetic inspiration in photos or research about places, I'm going to borrow bits of writing and build my own around them. I think of "line lifting" a little like quilting. That borrowed scrap of someone else's words gets pieced into the quilt of my poem. You'll be able to find these poems throughout the week on my website.


I am as still as a tree
when you give me the news.

You set it free?
How could you?!?

I'm not ready --
this is happening too fast!

Hold steady.
Come to the window, you asked.

So I did.
I saw her fly.

I grinned.
It was the right time.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

Katya has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Write. Sketch. Repeat. Welcome back, Katya!

Thursday, May 01, 2014

April Mosaic

April showers brought out the night crawlers and we FINALLY got some flowers. Other than that, the month seems to be about coffee, chocolate and a haircut.

Maybe the lack of photo variety was a result of that poem-a-day thing I did.

Not a bad combination, all in all.

The set can be seen full size on Flickr.

Celebrating Jen Robinson with a donation to RIF!

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Will Clayton

Even though our blog birthday was on January 1, we are celebrating it all year! On our 8th Birthday, we decided to celebrate 2014 by celebrating others who inspire us every day. Each month, on the 1st (or so) of the month, we will celebrate a fellow blogger whose work has inspired us. We feel so lucky to be part of the blog world that we want to celebrate all that everyone gives us each day.

Our year-long blog birthday celebration continues as we honor blogger and reading champion, Jen Robinson, of Jen Robinson's Book Page.

We have known Jen since we began blogging in 2006. Jen's blog was one of the first we read and one that became a kind of mentor blog for us.  In July of 2006, Franki noticed her "Cool Girls in Children's Literature" and "Cool Boys in Children's Literature" lists and decided to start a similar "100 Cool Teachers in Children's Literature" list. Jen and other bloggers in the newly named (as of June 5, 2006, with thanks to Melissa Wiley) Kidlitosphere linked to our blog and our list. We think it's fair to say that this blog is what it is today because of that launch by Jen.

Although not a librarian or teacher herself, Jen is one of the most active proponents of reading, not just in the Kidlitosphere, but the big wide Blogosphere. She reads avidly, review thoughtfully, all while raising her very own bookworm.  She is a resource for both parents and teachers and works tirelessly to support readers everywhere.

To honor Jen's passion for putting books in the hands of children we will be making a donation in her honor to Reading is Fundamental (RIF) this month.

Thank you Jen for for sharing generously and for all you do for readers and reading!