Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Will You Be at #dublit15?

We are busy getting ready for #dubli15!  We are excited about this year's speakers! This is year 26 for the Dublin Literacy Conference and I've loved every one.  This one looks to be especially exciting.  If you haven't registered,  you can register on the Dublin City Schools website.  There will be 2 keynotes, concurrent sessions all day, a relaxing lunch with time for chatting with colleagues and book shopping/autographing. What better way to spend a Saturday?

Our featured speakers and authors this year are:

Chris Lehman (@iChrisLehman) will kick off the day with the morning keynote.  I fell in love with Chris's work when I heard him present on his book Energize Research for Reading and Writing. If you don't know the book, I highly recommend it. His new book (with Kate Roberts) is Falling in Love with Close Reading--another professional book I love. I love Chris's work because he helps us look at teaching in a way that is both intentional and joyful.  Looking so forward to hearing him at #dublit15!

Colby Sharp (@colbysharp) will be doing three sessions at the conference. Colby is one of the founders of the Nerdy Book Club and Nerdcamp. He is a 3rd grade teacher who blogs regularly at SHARPREAD.  Colby's work is always centered around giving kids voice.  If you don't already follow Colby on Twitter, you'll want to add him for sure!

The amazing John Schumacher (or Mr. Schu as you may know him) will also be presenting at the conference. John is a librarian and the person I rely on for book recommendations through his blog, his goodreads account and his Book Release Calendar.   John seems to know every children's book and every children's author out there and he shares his knowledge generously! You can follow him on Twitter at @mrschureads.

Clare Landrigan Tammy Mulligan (@ClareandTammy) are the authors of Assessment in Perspective.  They also blog regularly.Their work, like Chris's focuses on both intentionality and joy. Their book on assessment reminds us that it is about the story of a child-not just test scores--that help us as teachers.  We were part of their blog tour when their book was published and you can read their interview here.

We have 2 children's authors this year and we couldn't be more excited!

Lisa Graff (@lisagraff) will be the afternoon keynote speaker at this year's conference. When you search our blog for "Lisa Graff", you will notice we've been big fans forever.  There is not often a year that goes by that I do not read aloud a book by Lisa Graff.  And her newest book Absolutely Almost is a favorite of 2014!  A must read for sure!

Paul O. Zelinsky (@paulozelinsky) Caldecott and Caldecott Honor award winning illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky was inspired to make illustration his career when, as a sophomore in college, he took a course that was co-taught by an English professor and Maurice Sendak. Paul has most recently illustrated Z is for Moose and Circle, Square, Moose.

There are lots of other great sessions too!  You can access the conference brochure to see all of the amazing sessions being offered throughout the day.  The two of us will be part of a fast-paced IGNITE session (A-6) led by the amazing Tony Keefer.  IGNITE: Literacy in the Digital Age!  We've never had an IGNITE session at #dublit so are looking forward to trying this out!

We hope you can join us for a fun Saturday of learning and books and colleagues!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Math Monday -- Google Comes to Math Class

I am joining Mandy at Enjoy and Embrace Learning for Math Monday.

I had been struggling with an authentic reason to introduce Google Presentation to my students. I needed a time when we would collaborate on a presentation rather than each student doing his/her own. And I needed a way for collaboration to happen without students revising each other's work.

When we were working on irregular volume in math, I found a way to use Google Preso! I created a slideshow with a page for each student and shared it to their Drives. I demonstrated how to use the drawing tools to make rectangular prisms. Their job was to first build two rectangular prisms using manipulatives, then combine them into one shape, and finally represent them and solve for volume on their slide. If they got finished early, they could add an additional slide and tell the three most important things about volume. For the sake of privacy, I have taken the students' names out.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Poetry Friday -- Surprises


The sun -- a low-hanging smudge.
The pond -- a layer of ice over mud.

A movement under the ice -- a darker oval.
A late afternoon surprise -- a winter turtle.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2015

Last Friday, we had the surprise of discovering a new metro part that's right inside the city, just south of downtown -- Scioto Audubon Metro Park. We were also surprised by this turtle sighting. I'm sure s/he is buried deep in the mud this week!

Friday kind of snuck up and surprised me this week, too. It's been an odd first week back, with school every other day M, W, F. Hard to get routines reestablished (in the classroom OR in my personal life)! Having four day weeks next week (PD day) and the next (MLKing Day) won't help either. Oh, well. Gotta do the best with what you've got, right?

Tabatha has the Poetry Friday roundup at The Opposite of Indifference today.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Math Monday...on Thursday

I am joining Mandy at Enjoy and Embrace Learning for Math Monday. Franki has resolved to join Alyson Beecher's Nonfiction Book Challenge in order to stretch herself to read more nonfiction. I'm going to stretch myself in a different direction and try to focus on what's working (or not working) in my 5th grade math workshop.

This week (in between a snow day and a windchill day) we began working towards a deep understanding of division. Our standards in 5th grade do not require students to be able to do long division with the algorithm. We will be exploring multiple strategies for division.

Mandy wrote this week about the importance of play. What I discovered was the importance of manipulatives...even for fifth graders.

Students were in groups of 4 or 5 on the floor in the meeting area. Each group had different manipulatives (beans, dominoes, pattern blocks, tiles). We modeled what addition looks like (combining groups) and what subtraction looks like (starting with a big group and taking some away from it).

Then we moved to modeling multiplication, which was surprisingly hard for them. After I gave them a problem to model (3x4), they realized/remembered that they needed to make equal groups or an array. We spent a lot of time thinking about what a multiplication problem SAYS -- "Three TIMES" tells you will be repeating a process three times, or making three groups.

Modeling division was as challenging as modeling multiplication. We started with a problem that they could easily solve with mental math so that they could check to make sure their model made sense (22 ÷ 2). Knowing that partial products is one of the first strategies we'll work on once we move to paper-pencil, I also gave them problems like 68 ÷ 5 so we could talk about efficient ways to share 68 into 5 equal groups rather than counting one by one. (Starting with 10 in each of the five groups, for example, and then sharing the leftover 18 into the 5 groups.)

Our math block is cut 10-15 minutes short by related arts, which we have actually come to love, because we can come back to our work and share, or students can complete an exit ticket or formative assessment that will inform my instruction for the next day. I gave each student a sheet of notebook paper and asked them to draw a model for 19 ÷ 3 and then write three things they know about division. What an eye opener! I've got a group of 5-6 who modeled 19 x 3, and another 4 or so who modeled 19 ÷ 3, but didn't demonstrate complete understanding by giving an answer. There were students who could model, but not write anything they know about division, and there were students who could write three things about division but not model.

So, now it's time for differentiation. I need to get some students to that deep understanding of what division means (modeling), and I need to move others along to applying that understanding to various strategies! This is the tricky part! This is the FUN part!

OLW Goes to School


This year, I have invited my students to choose their own One Little Word. The above is a list of some of the words my students and the other adults who work in or visit my classroom have chosen.

I am impressed with the perceptiveness of some of my students. They didn't take this choosing lightly, and their words are ones they will be able to live into and grow with throughout the year.

Today, we spent some time with dictionaries and thesauruses looking up and brainstorming synonyms, antonyms and related words.

Perfect timing for this book to show up:

The Right Word
by Jen Bryant
illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2014

I can't wait to introduce my students to Peter Mark Roget, a man whose passion for list-making and words began at the age of 8 and resulted in the most amazing resource book of language -- a book that has remained in print from 1852 until today.

The thesauruses we have in our classroom are alphabetical. I'd love to be able to get ahold of some that are topical, the way Roget originally organized his.

At any rate, this will be the perfect book at the perfect time as my students consider the meanings and nuances of their OLWs for the year.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

NF Book Challenge #1: When Lunch Fights Back: Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses

I have been trying to keep up with good nonfiction for kids. So this year, I decided to try to participate in Alyson Beecher's Nonfiction Challenge. I certainly won't be able to read the number of NF books that she does, but my hope is 52 nonfiction books or one each week in 2015.

This week, after seeing it on the CYBILS Finalists for NF list, I decided it was time I read WHEN LUNCH FIGHTS BACK. I've seen lots of buzz about this book but hadn't sat down to read it.  And I'm glad I did.

The book is longer and more intense than I anticipated.  I think grades 4-7 are probably about right for it. It seems like a good match for readers who love the Scientist in the Field series.  There is lots to like about this book.   First of all, the premise of animal defenses is a good one and this one frames it in a unique way. Each chapter focuses on a way that an animal might defend itself. Then it goes into a story about an animal being attacked and using that defense. Following the story and photos, there is a section for each that gives us "The Science Behind the Story" and explains what is happening.  In most of these segments, there are quotes from or information about a scientist who studies the particular animal.   I love the combination of these components.

As I was reading, I realized what a great writing mentor this could be. There are different types of informational writing in each section and that comparison would make for an interesting mini lesson. The language and craft of the actual stories of animal defense are incredible and writers can learn lots from studying these short pieces of text.

In my quest to know more nonfiction authors, I realized I didn't recognize the author' name--Rebecca L. Johnson. But when I checked out her website, I realized that I do know some of her work and it is fabulous. She definitely writes for an older elementary/middle school audience. I will definitely keep my eye on her books from now on.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

November-December Mosaic

I can't believe I spaced my November mosaic! But, since November and December were a blur this year, maybe it's appropriate to blend them together.

ROW 1: It had been ages since we went to the art museum, but there was a special exhibit on the art of picture books that gave us the perfect excuse. Because they are doing construction, we had to park a block or so away and I got to see this amazing mural by local artist Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson. I found a great quote in one of the exhibits, and spied the last gingko leaf hanging on a tree outside the museum.

ROW 2: This iconic sculpture acts as a sort of entrance to the Columbus College of Art and Design. The A spans a city street at the base. In other November news, the Parental Paparazzi were out en force at our 5th grade fall concert. The day after the concert, I left for NCTE. The absolute highlight was presenting with Vicki Vinton, Frank McVeigh, Julieanne Harmatz and Steve Peterson. It was also great to meet lots of blogger-friends in real life (IRL)!

ROW 3: Jon Klassen was the speaker at the CLA Breakfast, and the students who created the table decorations knocked it out of the ballpark! I loved that bear so much that I bought him for my classroom! I knew I would need to be early to the graphic novel panel led by Mr. Schu. I had a front row seat and was there when the panelists arrived. Lucky me -- I got to sit next to the daughter of a famous author. She took this selfie of us. After the last session Sunday, Mr. Mary Lee and I did some shopping at the nearby outlet mall (I replaced my failing rolling briefcase at a NICE price). Gorgeous views of National Harbor on the walk back to the Gaylord.

ROW 4: Sunday night we took the ferry across to Alexandria for dinner, then on Monday, we drove into DC to visit our favorite bookstore/cafe, Kramerbooks, and visit the WWII Memorial.

ROW 5: More shots of the WWII Memorial. Back home, I finally had the right combination of decent weather and a bit of time, so I got the garden beds cleaned up and pulled the morning glory vines off the back fence.

ROW 6: Breakfast with a friend, writers with their work spread out, a crossword puzzle created with multiple-meaning words we found in our government/economics unit (and others from our master list).

ROW 7: A new holiday tradition is to spend an afternoon at the Orvis Store doing charity giftwrap for Casting for Recovery. We raised over $200 in two weekends this year! 'Tis the season of indoor recess -- these are all the trading cards I've saved over the years from the classroom's Sports Illustrated Kids magazine subscription! I have baked cookies for my students to decorate every year of my teaching career. This tulip was a gift from a student who knows I LOVE purple!

ROW 8: Mom's little Christmas tree (so wonderful to spend a week with her at the holidays), the joy of finding one of my favorite Indie bookstores (Tattered Cover) at the Denver airport, Christmas lights in the Short North across from Goodale Park, New Year's Eve at Z Cucina for the 6th year in a row with dear friends -- great way to usher in a new year!

You can see these photos in larger format on Flickr.

Almost every month, inquiring minds want to know: How do I make my mosaics?

First, I take thirty or more (and sometimes less) pictures every month.
Next, I make a set on Flickr.
Then, I go to Big Huge Labs and use their Mosaic Maker with the link to my Flickr photoset.
Finally, I download, save, insert, comment, and publish!

Monday, January 05, 2015

Greenglass House

I've had Greenglass House on my stack for a while.  I finally got to it and finished it up a few days ago. It was a great book and I am so glad I made time to read this one.

I'm not a big mystery fan and I don't seem to find that many great mysteries for kids. But this was a mystery I loved and I think kids will  love it too.

The story is about a boy named Milo who lives in an inn that his parents run. Many of the guests at the inn are smugglers but Christmas vacation is usually quiet, with no guests. This holiday is different however, as several guests appear at the inn. It becomes clear to Milo early on that there is something suspicious going on so he and his friend Meddy, try to solve the mystery.

This mystery is full of all things kids love in a mystery-an old house, great characters (they reminded me of characters in a game of Clue), lost things, treasure hunts, maps and bad guys.

I'm thinking this book is perfect for grades 5-6ish.  It is not short (about 400 pages) but I think if i were teaching 5th, I would definitely consider it for a read aloud.  This is also one that kids would enjoy reading independently.  

Friday, January 02, 2015

Poetry Friday -- Expectantly


Next to the lamp, an
Open book and a steaming cup of
In the chair, she sits with
Closed eyes, listening

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2015

My One Little Word for 2015 is NOTICE. In this poem, I prepare myself for whatever 2015 will bring!

Tricia has the first Poetry Friday roundup of the year at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

A Year of Reading Turns NINE!

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Will Clayton


The thing we are most proud of in this nine-year run of blogging is that our blog has been a useful resource to teachers, media specialists, librarians, home-schoolers, readers, and writers around the world.

We each have lists of our own personal favorite posts -- both our own and each other's.

In honor of our blog birthday, here are our blog readers' NINE most popular posts of "all time:"

9. From 2011, Mary Lee's Home "Work" post, in which she shared a shift in her thinking about which kinds of work students do outside of school is most valuable and celebrated the most in our classrooms.

8. From last fall (2014), Franki's post New Baskets for our Third Grade Classroom. This just goes to show that our blog readers are always on the look-out for new books and new ways to think about organizing classroom libraries.

7. From 2012, Mary Lee's First Read Aloud of the Year post describes not just what she'll read aloud, but her criteria for choosing a first read aloud.

6. From 2010, Franki's 100 Things About Me As a Reader. Something as simple as creating such a list reveals much about you as a reader. Be inspired -- give this a try!

5. From 2006, the post that really launched our blog into the Kidlitosphere, our 100 Cool Teachers in Children's Literature post. We are up to 145 Cool Teachers (in order by author's last name).

4. From last July (2014), Franki's post about a new series of informational books, the Did You Know? series. Is this post popular because of the series of books, or because it is a common way to start a search? Who cares?!? Lots of people have seen this post!

3. From April 2011, Franki's Poetry Picnic post describing a week of poetry activities in the school library back when she was a media specialist.

2. From 2010, Franki's Pebble Go post. Pebble Go is a subscription-based online nonfiction tool for students in grades K-3.


1. From 2008, with over 100,000 hits, Mary Lee's Simile and Metaphor Poems post! Not surprisingly,  this post gets a lot of attention in the spring during Poetry Month, and when teachers across the country are reviewing figurative language before state testing.