Monday, June 18, 2018

No More Culturally Irrelevant Teaching {Professional Read}

I knew I wanted to start my summer professional reading with global ideas and No More Culturally Irrelevant Teaching by Mariana South-Manning and co-authors was the perfect match for my reading goal.  I love the organization of the not this but that series by Heinemann.  They describe and identify the problem, then describe why current things aren't working, and finish with suggestions to support change.  I found myself thinking about stereotypes, surface cultural understandings, along with mirrors and doors.   I also found myself reflecting on what it means to truly understand cultures that are different than mine and pondering ways to help my own mindset and bring an awareness of the cultures within our classroom community.

These are nudges I found to try within my own work.

- explore our identities as we start the school year together in the first month
- create a class book to share the history of our names
- have the students share cultural artifacts and listen to their stories
- explore and find culturally relevant text from sources sited on p73 
- learn and talk with families about their cultures more

Here are some quotes that are sticking with me and might interest you in looking at this book more.

"Becoming "culturally competent" takes time and requires us to position ourselves as learners."

"...what they think qualifies as culturally relevant may in fact be perpetuating certain stereotypes."

"After all, culturally relevant teaching requires us to see teaching for justice as an ethical imperative we must take on and not just something we do."

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Seasons, Instagram, and Hope

There are seasons in life.  Sometimes you have to take a break, put things on hold, reprioritze and hope there will be a time and place to return with things that we do.  I just finished a season where I had to put this space on pause.  This space has been a wonderful chance for me to share things I enjoy; books, my own learning related to teaching and sometimes things I try.  It's also a space where I've connected with others and began friendships.  I'm happy to share the seasons have changed and I'll be sharing again.  I appreciate and hope you'll keep stopping by to learn along with me and join the conversation.  I enjoy a little help from my friends.

As I thought about returning to this space and the different functions of social media, I'm excited to share I've launched an Enjoy Embrace Learning Instagram account.  I often find I want to share images from my room without a lot of text.  I love Twitter but feel the purpose here for me is to connect with others about professional connect I'm sharing or reaching out to others for guidance.  With Instagram, I can collect ideas to revisit and share with you at the same time.  For example, I shared images for how I'm changing my Back to School Ice Cream Social which is really come see your room and new teacher.  If I forget my thinking today in June, I know I can scan my Instagram for help.  

You'll notice there's a new feature on the right here where you can see a small collection of my Instagram images and with just a click you can see the text for further information and images.  My One Little Word this year is hope.  I hope you'll follow my journey again and thank you for understanding seasons need to happen.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Listening In and Number Lines

We were near the ending of our math workshop.  Last week we looked at using a number line to help us show different ways to make a total money amount.  We named our work, Ways to make 35 cents.  This wasn't my own idea.  I'm in love with the resource Math in Practice A Guide for Teachers and was using an activity and paper from this resource.  

We took time to notice the number line.  It started with 0 and ended at 100.  There are lines in-between but not 100 lines.  I heard students trying to count lines using skip counting by 10.  I then heard some students trying to count lines using skip counting by 5.  I modeled how to show one way to use the number line to show ways to make 35 cents.  Together we used the number line to model two different/more ways to make 35 cents.  

I wanted to show how to use number bonds to show different ways to make 35 cents and starting to shift our work.  I mentioned the number line is one tool we could use to show ways to make coin collections and a student who needs extra support sometimes asked, "Can we put this in the math area?"  I was confused at first.  I wondered why she would want to put the paper she worked on in the math area of our room.  Then I thought a bit deeper and asked her if she would like papers like she used today in the math area.  She said yes, blank ones.  I confirmed blank papers on the shelf with our graph paper and ended my thinking with some inflection indicating I was changing this phrase to a question.  

She was so excited to say, "YES!"  I stopped right there.  What a great idea and was puzzled why I hadn't thought about this before.  It's a great math tool - a graphic organizer that can be tricky to draw for some students.  I had previously taught them how to use open number lines as a tool to show skip counting, adding and subtracting and now I'm thinking the structure of the lines on this graphic organizer and having them show increments of five might really help support some mathematicians.  Maybe an open number line is overwhelming for some students.  I'm so excited this student spoke up.  It's made me stop and think about different math organizers I could put in our math area to support them for different units of study.  It's made me stop and think about scaffolding number lines.  It's made me stop and realize it's important to have these  graphic organizers accessible for when the students want and find a need to use them.

Our days can get very busy this time of year and filled with to do list and agendas.  These few minutes reminded me to stop both the to do list and the agenda and listen.  Listen to the sweet wisdom of a seven year old.  It could be a game changer.

Friday, April 27, 2018

With My Hands - Poems About Making Things {Poetry Friday}

I love preordering books and having them surprise me in my mailbox weeks or a few months later.  Before I click pre-order I often wonder if I should preview the book physically to guarantee I will love it and need to buy it.  I don't have to preview books written by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater.  I love her books and need them.

With My Hands - Poems About Making Things took me back in time.  Many of the things Amy writes about are things I did as a child and I might dabble now in as an adult.  Leaf Pictures took me back to my grandmother's kitchen; making leaf wax paper placemats.  Fort took me to a card table set up on a rainy day with a blanket draped over it.  Drawing reminded me I use to draw with pencil and often of my future house.  The curtains would be pulled in at the middle creating a swooping draping effect at the top of each window.  I have those swooping curtains in my very own house now.

I think each of these poems are worthy of being a mentor for my own students and myself as writers and makers.  As I kept reading, I started paying attention to poetry elements my students could grab on to and aspire to use; repetition, imagery, and the five senses to name a few.  I love how the focus of this book is poetry about concrete actions and experiences.  I sometimes think people are turned off from poetry because they think it has to be grand and abstract.  Amy's book makes poetry concrete and obtainable for readers and writers.

Thank you Irene at Live Your Poem for hosting Poetry Friday this week.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Bee Book {Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge}

The Bee Book by Charlotte Milner is a book filled with 22 topics/questions about bees and each topic/question has a two page spread.  The illustrations are done in warm hues and the paper is flat; not glossy and shiny which I think adds to the mood of this earthy topic.  I love all the nonfiction text features that are being used; maps, bold print, labels, cut aways, diagrams, numbers, charts, and drawn illustrations.  There's a lot of math sharing data and comparing numbers.  

While learning all about bees in general this book is also urging the reader to understand why we need to help the bees and what makes them an important creature for our environment.  One of my favorite pages illustrates this in a progression; bees are needed for crops, which bring us food, pollination helps our flowers which in turn helps our mammals, insects, and birds.  Bees are much more than creatures that make honey and sting you.  My heart tugged a bit as I read about the decline in bee population due to humans.  I think this two page spread will tug at my readers hearts.  Overall, I hope this book brings comfort to some readers that fear bees and their stingers.

Shopping for second grade nonfiction readers can be a bit tricky.  You need more information than an emergent reader and not too much that the reader becomes overwhelmed.  At first I was a bit worried there was a lot of information and then decided the text is organized with enough white space and line breaks we could easily find what we needed.  I think The Bee Book is just right for my second grade readers; especially in spring.  

Thank you Alyson at Kid Lit Frenzy for hosting this weekly sharing.

Monday, April 23, 2018

How Many? {Math Workshop}

It took me all of thirty minutes to settle in from being gone all day, read my newest math book, How Many? by Christopher Danielson and then open my laptop to write this blogpost.  I love to look for math in my world and this book is an invitation to do just that.  It encourages the reader to go beyond the obvious numbers you see at a glance and take time to observe with a new lens; multiple lens.  

I love how the introduction encourages the readers to make choices with what they want to count and how they want to count.  He also encourages readers to linger and says the more time you spend with a photograph/page the more you will see.  I just felt the need to slow right down there and enjoy this book.  The book begins with three pages and text guiding the reader for things they may see in a box with a pair of shoes.  Have you ever thought to count the eyelet holes for laces or the stitching lines?  The possibilities are more than two shoes.  After reading the introduction I instantly eager to see beyond the obvious on each page.  For example the egg carton has one egg but I started counting the empty egg spots first.

Counting is often thought of as a primary emerging mathematician skill.  This book reminded me counting expands across topics within mathematics.  Beyond counting objects, I found myself working with multiplication and fractions.  The images in this text are perfect examples for placing mathematics in every day context.  The end of the book lists some questions to encourage the reader to revisit the previous pages with a new focus or two.  The questions felt like an invitation to linger and then my mind started racing for images I might want to take around my house and share with the question, How Many?  I think this will make a great math workshop warm up activity.  This will also be a book I recommend to families.  It's easy for families to see how to have literacy conversations and to place literacy invitations in their homes.  We need more guidance for math invitations. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Mighty Jackie - The Strike Out Queen {Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge}

How did I not know who Mighty Jackie The Strike-Out Queen was?  I have two girls who play softball.  We have a small collection about softball heroes.  We are huge fans of the movie, A League of Their Own.  I'm grateful for my teammate who brought this book to me and said, "you will love this book."  She was right!  I'm so happy Marissa Moss told the story of Jackie Mitchell.  

Jackie Mitchell was a girl who played major league baseball and in 1931 struck out Baby Ruth and Lou Gehrig; baseball legends.  Jackie loved baseball as a little girl and faced stereotypical challenges growing up; girls didn't play baseball yet alone pitch baseballs.  Jackie's story shows readers strength, going against the grain, stepping outside typical gender roles in our society, and perseverance, practice pays off, and courage.

The actual account of April 2, 1931 makes this the perfect read aloud to be a baseball sports announcer.  I could see my students inch closer with inflection and urgency to find out what Jackie would do.  Unfortunately, after this big game Jackie was banded from playing major and minor league baseball.  She continued playing with minor leagues that were so small the commissioner didn't pay attention to them.  The illustrations by C. F. Payne matched the text and created empathy for each of my students.  They were shocked an event like this could happen in history.  They felt passion for women's rights and wanted Mighty Jackie to continue playing major league baseball.  

Thank you Alyson at Kid Lit Frenzy for hosting this weekly sharing.