Monday, August 10, 2015

Happy #pb10for10 Day!


What an exciting day today is!  The number of participants surpasses our hopes.  We are thrilled so many educators are using picture books in their classrooms and even more thrilled they are willing to share their favorites to help others.  Our profession is hard work and it's our hope that our #pb10for10 sharing helps lighten the load for each of you in some small way.  There are a lot of blog posts to read and check out.  Remember to post within our community to help others find you but also give twitter a big shout out with your post and our hashtag.  With this many participants wouldn't it be great to have a positive teacher event be twitter trendy?!

Please consider commenting on 10 different lists over the next week.  It's so helpful as writers to receive feedback and showing appreciation fills your own bucket in life.  

PS - My post will be coming later.  August 10th is filled to the brim with goodness; chapter writing deadline date, first day back as a teacher work day and then meet my new students, National Kidney Services pick up for my donations from my summer purging, and then a moment or two to breathe.

  1. Contact Us:  Contact us on our blogs, on Twitter (@mandyrobek or @cathymere), or by e-mail to let us know you are joining this event.  This way we can try to be sure we don't miss anyone on the day of the event.  
  1. Grab a Badge:  Add the Picture Book 10 for 10 Badge to your blog.  
  1. Choose your favorites:  All you need to do is choose ten picture books you CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT for whatever reason.  Believe me, that's not as easy as it sounds.  Here are some tips that might help (Choosing Picture Books and More About Choosing Picture Books). 
  1. Write Your August 10th Post:  Write a post telling us about the 10 books you cannot live without.  Share your post on August 10th and link it to our Google Plus Community, on the page for 2015.
  1. No Blog?  No Problem:  If you don't have a blog this might be the perfect time to start one --- or you can find alternate ways to participate here.  Cathy and I are not huge rule followers so feel free to adjust as needed.  
  1. Enjoy August 10th:  It's such a fun day to be in the blogging/twitter world!  We feel fortunate to have so many friends new and old join us and share some book love.  This is our 6th year and each year we aren't the only ones reserving lots of library books and/or increasing our personal book budgets!





Sunday, August 9, 2015

Picture Book 10 for 10 How To, for Tomorrow!


  1. Contact Us:  Contact us on our blogs, on Twitter (@mandyrobek or @cathymere), or by e-mail to let us know you are joining this event.  This way we can try to be sure we don't miss anyone on the day of the event.  
  1. Grab a Badge:  Add the Picture Book 10 for 10 Badge to your blog.  
  1. Choose your favorites:  All you need to do is choose ten picture books you CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT for whatever reason.  Believe me, that's not as easy as it sounds.  Here are some tips that might help (Choosing Picture Books and More About Choosing Picture Books). 
  1. Write Your August 10th Post:  Write a post telling us about the 10 books you cannot live without.  Share your post on August 10th and link it to our Google Plus Community, on the page for 2015.
  1. No Blog?  No Problem:  If you don't have a blog this might be the perfect time to start one --- or you can find alternate ways to participate here.  Cathy and I are not huge rule followers so feel free to adjust as needed.  
  1. Enjoy August 10th:  It's such a fun day to be in the blogging/twitter world!  We feel fortunate to have so many friends new and old join us and share some book love.  This is our 6th year and each year we aren't the only ones reserving lots of library books and/or increasing our personal book budgets!




Pass the news along to all your crazy picture book friends.  Educators, media specialists, parents, book enthusiasts are all welcome!  The more the merrier, we are currently at 159 members!  

Cathy and I are honored and humbled to have old friends and new friends joining us.  Picture books are enjoyable and full of instructional value.  Thank you for making them part of your life and our day on August 10, 2015!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Slice of Life - What does it mean to you?

What does it mean to you?

It's my favorite new question, for today!  My middle daughter enjoys sewing and is currently making a wallet for herself.  She is trying to be more independent while soaking in some words of wisdom.

Mama's Getting Better Words of Wisdom
   (said over time, not all at once.)

1. Sewing more often will help you reach your goals.

2.  Practice more often will fine tune your stitching.

3.  Being very precise is important, everything matters in sewing.

4.  Sewing when you are tired is dangerous.

5.  Read the pattern carefully.

6.  Go slowly.

7.  Yikes, don't leave the iron down on the ironing board when it is hot.

8.  Ask for help when you don't understand or need to clarify.

This is where my favorite new question comes in.  A has been able to figure out some of the pattern directions on her own but when she is questioning something she comes and asks me what step ?, means.  Before I tell her, my reply has become, "What does it mean to you?"  I figured out I'm pre-assessing the situation with a little formative assessment.  I can tell if she's read the directions all the way through.  She can then show me with her fabric what she thinks she has to do.  I can agree or reread the directions aloud to tell her where there are some glitches in her understanding.  While doing this, I can give her a compliment or use her fabric to show her a slightly different meaning and send her back to her sewing machine.  

I think I need to use my new favorite question more often in my classroom.  At home, it's causing less frustration and more independence - something my students deserve too.

Thanks to the Two Writing Teachers blog for fostering this writing community.

Monday, August 3, 2015

RUFUS the writer by Elizabeth Bram


My "dangerous" friend @mollienye72 knows books and has been recommending several to me in the last few weeks.  I've been holding off sharing them here with you in hopes she will take my nudge and start her own blog.  We even had a name or two for Mollie's new space; Mollie's Mojo or Mollie's Books and Knitting or how about Mollie's Mojo; Books and Knitting.  Maybe this public nudge will make her think a bit more about blogging or tweeting her favorite book titles.  Either could work Mollie and in the mean time I just had to share this title, hope you don't mind.


RUFUS the writer by Elizabeth Bram and Chuck Groenink is sweet, enduring, and delightful.  I love the warm tones created with gouache, acrylics, pencils, and Adobe Photoshop.  I'm always intrigued when an illustrator mentions technology with traditional illustrating tools because I can't tell where the technology was used.

Rufus decides he isn't going to have a lemonade stand this summer and instead he creates a story stand!  Yep, you read that right.  Rufus gathers a table, supplies, and dresses up in a jacket and bowtie to sit at his story stand.  Neighborhood friends come by to ask Rufus to go swimming.  He passes on the offer because he's got to run his story stand.  After they leave, Rufus writes his first story.  Readers will enjoy then reading this story and thinking about the interaction that just happened between friends to figure out where the ideas came from.  Three more friends stop by the story stand and Rufus then gets ideas for another story readers get to read.  

What I love about this book is how the Elizabeth Bram shows readers/writers where ideas can come from and how one idea can creatively turn into a bigger story.  I can't wait to use it during our launching writing workshop unit this month.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Slice of Life - I don't like...

I was able to walk away from my bigger writing project this summer while the top editors were reading and offering their suggestions.  I got my writing back last night with suggestions, questions, and editing guidance.  I appreciate all of their feedback and it's pushing my own thinking.  However, 24 hours later I'm still feeling ICK about the process.  It's not ICK over their feedback.  It's not ICK over using google documents.  It's not ICK over the feeling of them asking for more writing and me wondering if I have any more in me.  

It's ICK about not having a face to face writing conference.  I'm desperately missing a face to face conversation with our top editors.  I know his/her kind face, pausing, thinking, and questioning is soft spoken, filled with reflection.  It's also nurturing and guiding in a way different way than these little boxes.   I want a smile from these little comment boxes.  I want the little boxes to see my puzzlement or worry, but they don't.  

As I think about this process, I find things that aren't ICK.  I love using Google Documents and love the little comment boxes where others can record their thinking and I can check them off when I have resolved them.  I also love using the comment boxes for my own notes for feedback or recording suggestions from a face to face writing conference.  I enjoy co-collaborating using Google Documents.  

This experience is going to impact my writing workshop this year.  I'm going to have to provide feedback to my students in person.  I may use a comment box or a sheet of paper or post it note but when that writer is receiving a chunk of feedback at one time, especially the first time I want it to be in person.  I want to help the writer embrace a range of emotions and be available to them, if they have questions.  I don't want my students to feel ICK about writing.

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Monday, July 27, 2015

What if? by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

It was a treat to find, What if? by Laura Vaccaro Seeger on sale a couple of weeks ago.  I originally picked it up because the simple text intrigued me for engaging student's with questioning.  There is a repeating question cycle that happens three times.

What if...?
And what if...?
Then what if...?
But then...
Or...

I thought wouldn't it be wonderful to have my students think about the same idea and notice switch the wording, to open further thinking and inquiry.  However, I realized on my second read these questions do not stand alone and this book is filled with lots of thinking.  The pictures tell the story and while the text stays the same, the images tell three different possible scenarios.  I found this completely clever as a reader and had to go back and look at the first cycle of questions to figure out the second one.  I imagine a lot of classroom discussions and multiple reads to to understand and read the different possible scenarios.  Then on my third read, I discovered this is a book about friendship and including everyone.  That message sounds like one we all need to share with students as we think about a new school year.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Poetry Friday - My New Favorite Resource


At The Farmers' Market
by Buffy Silverman

A peach,
a pear, 
a bag of beans,

Onions,
carrots,
lettuce greens.

Crispy,
crunchy,
juicy, sweet...

Pick your 
favorite 
veggie treat!


One of my goals for the upcoming school year is to use poetry more within our community for literacy work and enjoyment.  Over the years I have been better with finding poems to match our unit of study in content areas and finding poems to help us study word study features.  I've used poetry for reading mini lessons and taught units of poetry writing.  However, last year when I switched grade levels poetry was a sprinkle here or there.  Yikes!  The first step in using poetry more is to rebuild a poetry collection to use in second grade.  My students will keep their own poetry notebook and receive copies of the poems we read together and discuss.  I decided last spring I wanted my collection of poetry to focus on celebrations, content area learning, and word study features.  Poems selected in any of these three areas can be used for literacy mini lessons.  

The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong is one of my new favorite resources to help me with my goal of using poetry more.  There are 156 poems by 115 different authors, all written for children.  Each poem has a Take 5! mini-lesson that suggestions for using a particular poem with students.  These suggestions are wonderful.  They begin with a suggestion for introducing/connecting the poem to the students.  Then suggestions for engaging the students are offered along with a discussion idea for following the shared reading.  Each poem is paired with a picture book, which opens doors for all kinds of thinking and comparisons.  The last suggestion involves connecting this poem with another poem or poetry book.  We are blessed to have so much thought and guidance for using these poems with students.

The introduction/guide that begins this text is filled so much valuable information for educators.  You won't want to miss out on their ten easy tips for reading poetry aloud, thinking about using picture books with poetry, or the thinking behind lexiles and leveling poetry.  I just love this quote.

"Poetry for children begs to be heard, to be shared out loud, to be talked about.  
It is a social connection as well as a language experience."

Thank you Margaret at Reflections on the Teche for hosting this week.

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