Monday, December 12, 2011

One Watermelon Seed

One Watermelon Seed by Celia Barker Lottridge is not a new book.  I was surprised to learn it was first published in 1986 and was released in 2008 again.  I picked it up at NCTE and assumed it was new and now I wonder what the first edition looked like.  The jacket flap shares this edition has a bold cover and brilliant interior art.  If you have the first edition I would love to know the difference.

One Watermelon Seed is a perfect book to use in helping students with two Common Core standards.  Those that count by ones and then kindergarten students can count by tens.  The characters Max and Josephine plant a garden.  Each page the number of seeds increase by one and the reader is encouraged to read along with this repetitive phrase, "and they grew."  I enjoyed the perspective visible via the illustration on each planting page done by Karen Patkau.  The reader only sees parts of Max and Josephine as they plant.  My favorite page is their bare feet in the garden.  The middle two page spread is bursting with vibrant colors as the garden is in full bloom.  The story continues by counting the harvest for each seed planted.  I think the pattern of 1 seed producing 10 vegetables or fruits leads to a problem solving situation.  The majority of the time each vegetable is organized in a group of ten.  At the end of the story, the reader is presented with a small creature search within the illustrations.  An Eye Spy within a picture book is bound to be a hit with readers.  I really appreciate the natural setting for counting and counting with a purpose.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


MOO HOO by Candance Ryan and illustrated by Mike Lowery is coming April 2012 and is a book you won't want to miss!  I was very fortunate to receive this ARC while at NCTE in Chicago from Walker and Company/Bloomsbury Kids

Cow and Owl are best friends.  They do lots of things together and have great fun as friends do.  As we know, friendships can be hard when new friends come and this isn't any different for Cow and Owl when Kangaroo comes.  My heart tugged when Kangaroo left because Cow and Owl ignored him.  Then Cow and Owl realize when Kangaroo is gone and things aren't quite exciting.  Kangaroo had some good qualities and seemed to do some fun things.  After this trio reunites they decide three is better than two.  Isn't that a great message for students?  We all know sometimes trios are hard for young children. 

What I find most fascinating as a reader is the rhyming conversation between Cow, Owl, and Roo.  Two word sentences convey a storyline.  My students always love the word boo and will easily pick up on all these rhyming words with boo making this a great shared reading which will lead to independent reading.  The monotone warm hues of color used to illustrate this text are soft and inviting.  I think the characters and warmth of this book will make it a fast circulating book in our classroom library when it comes out.

This is a companion book to Ribbit, Rabbit.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Listening to Read

I've been inspired and loved the posts Katie is doing titled, Wordless Wednesday.  I saw something in my room today and thought I could join Wordless Wednesday (with a few words).  I would like to give a huge shout out and thank you to Nicole from Nicole's Book Nook.  She came to visit and observe me one day last month when I was modeling how to use a tape cassette with four really, really, really BIG headphones.  The expression on her face made me realize how old this technology must look.  I think I said, I know there must be something more current to use.  She shared how she had ipod nanos in her room, loaded with books on CD and her students are independently using them.  She teaches K.  We could figure this out too!

I got on a small mission:  asked parents for any donations, received three ipod nanos that families weren't really using, taught myself how to use itunes and created an account, and now we have three loaded nanos for read to self.  It's fascinating to observe how my five and six year olds are figuring out the nanos.  Thanks for the nudge Nicole, this has been invigorating for all of us.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Welcome Speech Room News Blog!

I've been meaning to share my colleague's new blog - Speech Room News and now she is getting much more attention via Edublog Awards.  Jenna is being considered for The Best New Blog 2011 Award.  Please consider voting for her after you check out her website filled with wonderful ideas!  Jenna is our Speech Language Pathologist for preschool through fifth grade.  Her blog shows ideas for these various levels through photos, instructions for activities, free downloads, and diagrams.  I just scanned the last four post and thought I could use her thumball idea in my classroom.  I loved her integration from the classroom to her room with inferring and comics to foster language skills.  Jenna is in a closet and I'm amazed at all she can get done in a small space.  I love finding her working within a preschool room.  It's great having someone helpful and energetic right across the hallway, I am blessed. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

NCTE - Wow!

Flicker - ManicMandy

I've been sitting on this post for quite some time.  I wasn't quite sure where to begin.  I think it all begins with one little three letter word - WOW!  I didn't have any expectations for my first NCTE.  I didn't really know what to expect except I was hopping on a plane, rooming with my friend Karen, and had sessions a little bit planned.

I've been pondering my thoughts from this amazing experience when Tony had so many great things to say and I thought he was reading my mind.  Please make sure you catch his post and know I share his thinking. It was actually comforting to run into Tony during the course of the conference and have someone confirm the "Wow factor".  Everywhere I turned there were very smart people sharing and presenting well thought out, rich thinking.  Thirteen is usually considered an unlucky number not this trip.  I was blessed to attend 13 lucky sessions to provoke thinking, reflection, and excitement.  My whole body has been walking around with an internal sense of joy.  I needed this feeling.  I needed to feel excited again about the work I'm trying to do daily.  I needed to be surrounded by people who believe in the same thoughts, practices, and want to discuss theory a bit.  While this was a trip about teaching, my profession I think I walked away with a deeper sense of people and belonging.  One reason I went was to meet people.  This sense of belonging is filled with good richness.  I wish I could bottle it all and share it with everyone. 

My sense of belonging was cultivated by so many wonderful people.  I learned from and met so many mentors in person.  I can't begin to share it all here but in the spirit of belonging these moments got me there.

1.  I had the pleasure of meeting Brenda Power, the owner and creator of Choice Literacy.  Appreciating the good food and conversations with just lovely people this evening. 

2.  Yes, I did stop Donalyn Miller and ask her a question for a friend about middle school scheduling.  She was so gracious and kind to answer "our" questions with honesty, concern, and caring.

3.  I sat behind Lucy Calkins at the opening session and could of reached out and pinched her.  I had control and didn't.  I wanted to respect her personal space and found myself in wonder with the amount of notes she took during the session.  Here is a pioneer in our field taking notes to help her grow within her work, a mentor of mine to keep.

4.  Food always brings comfort and eating with various people always brought conversations about our work but also conversations about our personal lives, thus creating balance and belonging.  I had one meal with many, including Laura Komos who I had only connected with previously via twitter.  Thanks for the wonderful eats, Chicago!

5.  Starbucks and giftcards made the perfect breakfast destination.  One conversation with Mary Lee really got the importance of taking the unexpected, letting it work out, only to discover the pleasure and delight one would of missed otherwise.

6.  I read a lot so spending some time with Kathy Collins, Ruth Shagoury, and Andie Cunningham was just delightful.  I'm going to explore The Courage to Teach, something we all may need during these difficult times in education.  I actually got to do a small book shopping trip with Andie and felt so inspired by chatting with her about life in general.  Excitement feeds excitement. 

7.  I really need to thank Franki for getting me involved and connected with so many people.  If you have ever spent time with Franki she is like an infection - her ideas spread quickly.  She is a motivator and cheerleader!  I did get my photo with her, yea!

8.  I'm really not sure I would of gone if Karen hadn't been willing to be my roommate and travel companion.  I usually don't travel without four others.  It was amazing to pack one suitcase and a purse for four days.  Karen had so much great advice for navigating ncte, great conversations, and a Chicago tour guide.  She even got me to the American Girl Doll store and a bit of Christmas shopping done.

9.  I loved talking with Stella and knowing she too speaks fast with excitement made our conversation probably something to watch for others.  I loved walking fast in the city with Katie.  I loved Ann Marie's sincere smile and excitement to be sitting together at dinner.  These were times for stories and stories foster connections.

10.  At one point, I was overwhelmed.  I can't fib about that!  At this point, I might have a been a smidge homesick for my girls.  I mentioned to Cathy my pb10for10 partner I was going to stop blogging, writing, and take a break from it all.  Sometimes it's best to end on a high note and walk away.  Well Cathy, I'm not going anywhere.  I'm back.  I need this sense of belonging in my heart. 

So many links I could make but I want to enjoy the writing and my connections, I hope you do too.