Friday, July 08, 2016

Poetry Friday -- Summer Poem Swap: BIRDS!

Hemingway and I love the mobile Joy Acey sent all the way from Hawaii! Her poem about birds can be found on the...birds!


soar      dive
wing in flight
sing to us
at morning's
first light

by Joy Acey

As a bonus, there was this iridescent beauty:

and this wish:

What a fun surprise to find in the towering stack of mail that accumulated for two and a half weeks while my brother and I were making this happen:

Katie has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at The Logonauts.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016


#ISTE16 was a fabulous experience.  But one of my favorite things was the #ISTEKids session that was facilitated by Chris Lehman and Camilla Gagliolo.  Some third graders from our school were invited to be part of the Student Voices session--a session that focused on student voices and that had all student presenters.

Students from all over the world participated. Some were there live and others were there virtually.  It was an amazing session and the kids shared such powerful messages.  Kids ranged in age from 3rd grade to high school. They were from all over the world--California, Mexico, Wisconsin, Australia, Ohio.  They talked about things important to their learning--Maker projects, global connections because of Global Read Aloud, Project-Based Learning and more.  Our 4 third graders presented on #EdcampKids.

We were invited to participate late in our school year so the kids got together a few times to pull together what we wanted to say, to think about slides, and to make sure we could do it in the 7-8 minutes we were given.  Pulling this session together with the kids was amazing. Their insights about EdcampKids and what they thought others should know taught me so much.  We had fun and we experienced deadline stress but we were happy with what we put together. (Thank goodness for Google Slides and Google Docs!).

On the next to last day of school, Mr. Sweet, one of our Technology Support teachers came over to show the kids how the Skype would work and to test out sound and other features.  

Then the Friday before ISTE, we all met in the Tech House to do some final tech checks and a few dress rehearsals.  Mr. Sweet was such a huge help--we couldn't have done it without him!

Back in Denver, Chris Lehman was busy connecting with all the kids presenting from different places, checking sound and facilitating the technology for the session.

It was such an amazing session. So many great voices saying so many important things.  We were last on the agenda and this is what the screen looked like.  I was able to sit in the audience and watch their amazingness!  They were fabulous! 

Below are the slides that the kids shared.  I am not sure if they'll make sense without the kids' words but you can get a sense of their session.  (I blogged about #EdcampKids on our blog last spring if you would like to know more about it.)

I loved the power of the Student Voices and that Camilla and Chris had the inspiration to create a session like this.  A big message of #ISTE16 was the power of student voices--that they don't need to wait until they are adults to be leaders, that they are leaders now. This session was proof of that. I hope to see more of these.
Really this was one of the best experiences I have had as both a teacher and conference participant.  

(The Student Voices session was not the only place that student voices were heard. There were students presenting throughout the conference in sessions, at poster sessions and at playgrounds.  Below is a photo of me learning from some students from Mexico--ways they are using Skype to connect and understand the world.)

Monday, July 04, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?--Online Edition

Go to Teach Mentor Texts or Unleashing Readers for the It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Round-Up!

Stuff I've read online this week:

I continue to follow-up on the responses to Kate Messner and Phil Bildner being disinvited to scheduled school visits. Publishers Weekly shared this piece: Authors Respond to Disinvites from Schools.

I am always amazed that we are still talking about reading levels but there is a good, thoughtful piece at The Teacher Triathlete. You know how I feel about levels....

Our district Chief Academic Officer, Kim Miller, shared this piece in an email last week--Why Constant Learners All Embrace the 5-Hour Rule--Such an interesting thing to think about when it comes to creativity and learning.  

And if you don't read Pernile Ripp's blog regular, I would add it to your list of must read blogs. One of her recent posts I love is The Reading Rules We Would Never Follow as Adult Readers.

I've been thinking a lot about young children and the need to teach about social justice. A good piece from Edutopia is Teaching Young Children About Bias, Diversity and Social Justice.

Resilience is About How You Recharge, Not How You Endure was an interesting new way to think of resilience.

My principal, Jen Schwanke had this great piece on her blog called Bring it to Life...Or Not?  Love the whole idea of this.

A long but interesting piece about race: White Fragility: Why It's So Hard to Talk to White People about Racism.  It is one I have to revisit as I think there are lots of important things to think about.

One of my favorite people, Ann Marie Corgill, shared this on Facebook--Not All Teachers Want to Be Administrators. It is always a hard thing for some people to understand. I loved this article as I do believe "I belong in the classroom."

An interesting piece I am thinking about from TeachThought--7 Shifts to Create a Classroom of the Future. Not sure I agree 100% but some good things to think about talk about.  

Friday, July 01, 2016

Poetry Friday -- Roots

free image from

Cleaning Dandelions Out of the Iris

Satisfying snap --
trowel cuts roots below ground.
They're bound to come back.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

Another poem about home. Next week at this time the family property will be on the market (mom lived there 60ish years; my brother and I grew up there). Sad to say goodbye to that old house, but excited that it will soon welcome a new family and become precious to them.

Tabatha has the roundup this week at The Opposite of Indifference. I won't be able to get the roundup schedule on the Kidlitosphere Central website for another week or two, but you can find July--December in the sidebar here at A Year of Reading.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Duck, Duck, Porcupine! by Salina Yoon

When I went to NCTE last year, I picked up an ARC of Duck, Duck, Porcupine by Salina Yoon. I am a huge Salina Yoon fan.  Be a Friend is one of my favorite picture books of the year and Penguin and Bear are some of my favorite characters. I was thrilled to see this new, early reader book from Salina Yoon. Doesn't the cover just make you smile?

I teach 3rd grade so finding books that move kids from those books for beginning readers to chapter books for older readers is something I think about almost every day.   I see this new book by Salina Yoon as fitting into a category that is perfect for readers who are just learning to build stamina and hold stories across time. Just like Elephant and Piggie and Ballet Cat, this book supports readers in ways few other series do. It is just perfect!

The book has 3 chapters and each is a stand-alone story which is a huge support for young readers.  The 3 characters are amusing, adorable and distinct. By the end of the 2nd story, you know the uniqueness of each pretty well.  There are talking bubbles and simple language but sophisticated humor and lots of fun!

This new book, as well as all of her others belong in K-3 classrooms for sure. This book is going to be fabulous for new readers and those moving along a bit.  It is one that is sophisticated enough that older readers will also enjoy it.  I haven't had a Salina Yoon author basket in my room but will be creating one this year.  Not only will the kids love her as readers but they can learn so much from her as writers.

And even better news? This book is the first in a series!

Salina Yoon, signing my books at NCTE 2016!


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Circle by Jeannie Baker

I have been a fan of Jeannie Baker's wordless picture books since the beginning of my wordless picture book obsession. Her art and the messages in her books are always powerful.

Circle is a different kind of book for Jeannie Baker but I loved it and can't wait to share it with our 3rd graders next year.  We have a basket of bird books in our classroom and I've try to create a basket with a variety of topics within the bigger topic of birds. I know kids often begin their reading with bird guides as they want to learn to identify various birds. But I've noticed that some readers move on from the basic identification of birds to bigger issues. The book Circle takes us on a journey with the bar-tailed godwit ("who undertake the longest unbroken migration of any animal") as they migrate from Australia/New Zealand to the Arctic and back again.  Baker creates text that helps us understand time and distance as well as the amazing thing that this journey is.  And her illustrations help us appreciate the various places on Earth that are part of the godwits migration.  Not only does she help readers understand all of that but she also invites them to understand the bigger idea of how connected our world is and that changes to one part of the world can have consequences for another. The map in the back of the book showing the migration is also fabulously helpful.  There are so many layers of conversation and learning that I think can happen because of this book and I am excited to add it to our classroom in the fall.

(Another book about this journey is The Long, Long Journey by Sandra Markle. Pairing these two would invite even more great learning.)

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Gift of a Writing Retreat

I just came back from a Choice Literacy Writing Retreat. I am always amazed at the whole idea of a retreat. I never come back feeling like I wrote as much as I could have but I realize that a retreat doesn't mean you write the full 72 hours!  I learned a lot about myself as a writer this week and how I work.  I tend to work in chunks but having long periods of time to write, without any distractions take more discipline than I usually have so it was good for me to write in a different way.

Brenda creates retreats that have everything you need as a writer. It is a gift to have time dedicated to writing. And there are some other things that make the retreats extra perfect.  Here are some things I loved about this year's retreat:

The best thing about the retreat is always the people!  I loved chatting and learning with old friends and I loved making new friends!

Location matters. We had the retreat in a little town a bit away from home.  The town does have a fabulous lake and walking trails so we started one morning on a walk.  As you know I am not a huge nature fan, but even I enjoyed the walk and the view!  A morning walk does help kick off a good day of writing.

Brenda had a yoga instructor come out one morning and we had yoga outside. Another great way to kick off a day of writing!

No writing retreat is complete without a Starbucks!  

We stayed at a great Bed and Breakfast. The meals were delicious and talking to everyone during mealtime was great fun!

There were lots of great, quiet spaces for writing!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Poetry Friday -- Homesick

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by SB


The pears on the kitchen counter
are probably ripe by now,
and the basil in the raised bed
ready to be ground into another batch of pesto.

Perhaps the coneflowers and gayfeather have bloomed,
and certainly the morning glory vines
have locked the back gate.

But when I return, the afternoon sun will glow
through the west windows

as it always does.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

This week, I've been thinking about what changes and what remains, about loss and redemption, about worldly goods vs. the riches of family and friends, about the ultimate meaning of home.

Diane has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at Random Noodling. There is one more hosting slot available on the July-December 2016 calendar. Is December 16 calling your name? Claim the date here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Young Adult Books on my TBR Stack

I don't have a lot of time to read Young Adult fiction but it is my absolute favorite! So this summer I am going to try to fit in a few that I keep hearing about. These are the 4 on top of my list.

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

 Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

 Court of Fives by Kate Elliott 

 Salt to the Sea by Ruth Sepetys