Monday, September 30, 2013

Me First!, Is it best?

I found a new mentor text to help students monitor their actions this past weekend.  When I saw the book, ME FIRST! by Michael Escoffier and Kris Di Giacomo I instantly thought I have another book with the same title - Me First by Helen Lester that I have used every year as we start the year.  I usually don't know when I will use it.  I wait and watch, listening for the words - ditch, ditching, cut, cutting, and got in front of me or took my spot.  Helen Lester's Me First, has always worked to help discuss how we are all going to the same place and it doesn't matter where we are in line as long as we stay together.  

ME FIRST! by Michael Escoffier and Kris Di Giamcomo is perfect and an easier read to help students think about being first and maybe not wanting to be first.  The duck family has five members and one younger duck always wants to be first.  Mother duck guides her ducklings outside, fishing, to bath time and then to dinner.  Each time one duckling moves fast and shouts, "Me First, Me First."  This plan works for a bit with success until it is dinner time.  Then fast moving duckling is a bit taken back when the dinner menu is announced, quickly turning and slinking away.  You must pick up this book and find out how clever the "Me First." duckling is.  I burst out laughing when I read it the first time and I can't wait to hear the laughter in our kindergarten classroom.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Teachers' Choice and book selection criteria

I am excited to share with you I am participating in the Teachers' Choice Project, sponsored by the International Reading Association.  I am even more excited because three other teachers at my school joined me for this project and together we have been given the opportunity to read new books, think, share, and review books with each other and our students.  We are representing grades K-3.  The Teachers' Choice Project began in 1989 and you can read annotated lists from previous years on their website.

The criteria for selecting a Teachers' Choice Project is going to make me think differently about books.  We are looking for books that present characters realistically without stereotyping.  We are looking for books with a valuable message that might provide a unique point of view.  I will be asking myself are there elements that reflect our times.  I am really fussy about the language within a book and I'm glad to find out the Teachers' Choice Project is looking for books with poor grammar or slang where warranted.  The dialect for a story is to be realistic for the setting or situation.  Does the story expand the curriculum?  Is the story informative? I am so glad we get to consider the artwork.  Is the artwork pleasing?  Do the illustrations fit the text?  Does the book use a variety of art forms?  Does the story help children understand themselves?  And then the Teachers' Choice criteria includes example questions that might be raised by reading this book.  I love that we want a book to further our thinking after it has been read.  

I wanted to share the criteria and thinking I am being asked to consider because I know so many of us are thinking about books and selecting books to use with our students.  I found myself thinking about books a bit differently then I would on a daily basis.  I will be sharing a couple of books each month That I receive courtesy of the IRA and the Teachers' Choice Project.   

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Connect with Nature Pinterest Board

We went to the Columbus Zoo over the weekend and I happened to pick up a flier about apps to help families connect with nature.  I had my youngest daughter with me and thought what a fun list to explore and use together.  

Leaf Snap sounds fascinating.  With this app, users have the ability to snap a photo of a leaf and get it identified.  I later found a fun Leaf Snap fact, the idea came from an 8 year old.  How empowering is that for our students?  His father helped create the app, along with others. 

Later Sunday night, I began exploring the app list and thought I need to share this with my families at school.  I need to share this with my friends.  These apps are to be used while you are in nature.  They are based on what you are seeing.  They really aren't nonfiction books or resources redone in an app format.  I love how the are interactive in the sense of observing, doing, and acting. I began thinking this is a Pinterest project.

Here's a little secret, I am a novice, beginner, fussy, Pinterest user.  My mentor and friend Cathy is always sharing ideas and setting my bar for growth higher.  First, I created a personal account.  It's truly based on my personal interest and so far, I usually create or use the pin right away.  I don't pin things for teaching or school here in an attempt to balance or take time off from school.  I recently created a class Pinterest account to share ideas with families.  It's a tool many people are using. I want to reach my families in a way they use technology and again my friend Cathy does this too.  Mentors are inspiring.

After using the list of apps from the zoo I began searching some further apps I thought fit the collection - Connect with Nature.  Enjoy and I hope you stop  to notice nature on your own or with your students.  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Chart Happy!

I had a principal one time ask me what I do with all the information I read.  I thought it was a bit odd but it did cause me to stop and think about my response.  I read professionally to learn new things.  I read professionally to improve my practice.  I read professionally to affirm my thinking and practice.  I read professionally for enjoyment.  I love reading about other's thinking and stories in the field of education. Tonight I spent some time taking my learning from reading Smarter Charts and putting that learning into action.  I should of taken a picture of my messy classroom floor with drafts and piles of post its laying around.  I also had the book Smarter Charts out to refer to and guide my thinking.  I read a suggestion in the book to start keep a sketch book for charting.  I didn't think I was that skilled to have a chart sketch book but I could see the purpose for drafting in a sketch book.  I went through a few sheets of paper as I thought about horizontal or vertical or rows or columns.  I've got to stop by twitter at @chartchums to see their chart posting for the day.  I've also started taking pictures of my charts and I'm going to keep them in an Evernote notebook titled - My Charts because I just started a notebook titled Chartchums Charts where I can save all their wonderful inspiring ideas in one spot and tag them.