Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Eli, no!

Eli, no! by Katie Kirk is a just right book for any classroom.  Emerging readers will love it for the patterned text and how easily they can join in for a shared reading.  Older readers will love the character Eli and find ideas for writing.  I think this is my new favorite dog book.

The opening line lets you know this book is going to full of adventure.  "Eli is a good dog, but sometimes he is bad."  The word sometimes lets the reader know there's more to come and possibly that more to come isn't so great for Eli.  The story is told in a serious of questions showing scenarios of when the narrator might be made at Eli, always with the same response - "Eli, no!"  What a great way to see our sight word no in print.  What a great way to use inflection as a reader and identify exclamation marks.  

I think this book tugs at  my heart a bit because Eli is a brown dog.  I have a brown dog.  My dog Annie has moments like Eli where she eats too much food, where she tries to jump on a bed, or makes a fuss.  In the end we always love our Annie and her adventures give us stories to talk about and tell.  Check this book out to see if Eli's family feels the same.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Book Whisperer - Reflection #4

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller is the focus for this year and the Literacy Connection group here in Central Ohio.  As I read Chapter 4 – titled "Reading Freedom,"  I continued to think a lot about my kindergarten classroom and my readers at home.  

I loved reading through the discussion Donalyn shared with her students about book choice.  She honors reality for readers.  The really good reasons we pick books; authors, series, genre, and recommendations.  She also honors real reasons for picking books; rereading a book, reading the ending first, easy books, one genre, and abandoning books.  The readers in my room are growing and fostering their reading lives.  We are learning about print and how it works together to tell a story.  My students have been picking books to read to take home for reading from early in the year.  We launched independent book boxes with choice books.  We talked about why we pick books. We pick books because we have a purpose, an interest, we understand, and we know the book.  These ideas do come from The Daily Five book by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser.  I think their guidance and explicit language works well for our youngest learners who are experiencing school for the first time.  I did adjust the meaning of their "Know - I know most of the words" to I have seen or heard the book, making it a known book not so much about the word reading right now.   It has been fun hearing my kindergarten students explain why they chose books with care and reflection.  They mention characters and authors.  They mention being an expert on a topic.  They are creating a reading life for themselves.  My students have "Mrs Robek"/guided reading books in their book box and two choice books.  We shop at the same time but I hope to move this to our morning explore and create flexibility for when the books are changed.  

Setting reading goals helps students catch the reading bug.  My students need to catch the reading bug and need to practice daily.  Donalyn mentions reading goals build independent reading habits.  My students do need to do this.  I love Donalyn's balance of guiding her students to read in different genres and allows room for a substantial amount of student choice.  I woke up one day right after the holidays and reading this book thinking about launching guided reading.  This is independent reading for my students.  We need and can accomplish a reading goal.  Our books are small and thin but that doesn't negate the work needed to navigate the text.  I want them to catch the reading bug now, too.  We are going to read 25 books a quarter!  That sounds like a lot I think for a kindergarten student but remember we are early and emerging readers.  My students attend school just 20 days a quarter and I'm sending home an independent read each day.  We have paper books we send home and keep home that highlight our word wall learning.  There are about 40 days in a quarter and that doesn't include weekends.  So, I'm not asking them to record a book for every day.  I want to help them set a goal, work towards that goal and feel accomplishment while catching the reading bug and growing their reading.  I'm going to keep this quote in mind from the text, "It is important to celebrate milestones with students and focus on their reading successes, not their failure to meet requirements, which only serves to discourage students."

On the home front, I found myself thinking about my two older daughters and how they have spent many summers especially rereading favorite series - Harry Potter and Hungry Games to be exact.  Donalyn shares a quote from her blog that really hit home on the home front for me.  "...Books are multi-layered; one reading is not enough and this is known only to those who truly read. - Joann on "The Book Whisperer."  When I read this, I thought my girls must truly read and maybe I don't.   Rereading a book doesn't seem to be something I do personally but I did while teaching third grade.  I found some titles just to be more enjoyable each time I reread it for various reasons.  I found myself thinking again about my two older readers with this quote, "Readers travel through both worlds, that of high art and that of popular culture."  They both have ventured into the vampire world of reading with a popular series and then my middle daughter has become fascinated with vampire books.  A topic I can't wrap my head around but I understand more now thanks to Donalyn.  Who knew Donalyn would help me professionally and as a parent!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Good Deed leads to Piggy Bunny

I was book shopping at the end of NCTE, looking for new books to take back to the classroom.  I was stalking the MacMillan booth.  Anticipating the the happy feeling of snatching some great new finds in three minutes.  Three minutes passed and I starting snatching books, quickly because there were other snatchers getting good deals.  I picked up Piggy Bunny by Rachel Vail because it was illustrated by Jeremy Tankard.  I've been waiting to see more work from Jeremy Tankard since falling in love with his boo hoo bird and crew characters.  Just as a picked it up a man came up asking nicely if he could have this book.  He needed to take something home to his daughter.   I've never felt this tug of war before I was here first, I waited around, you can't have the only copy and recent work of Jeremy Tankard.  He walked away, I felt a twinge bad but I really wanted to bring home this pink pig on the front cover home and talked myself into being strong.  He returned and explained his five year old daughter really loved pigs and wanted something from his trip that was a pig.  How could a parent and kindergarten teacher said no to a child's passion?  I gave him the book.  He had been scouting it out from his vendor booth for four days.  Then the nice woman, I wish I remembered her name thanked me for giving him the book.  She had said she would hold it and forgot and offered to send me a complimentary copy.  I gave her my address and just a couple of weeks ago had given up hope on receiving this book.  It came yesterday.  Jeremy Tankard's pink pig is mine!

Piggy Bunny is the story of a pig, Liam who has different dreams than growing up and being a pig.  He wants to be the Easter Bunny.  He practices hopping, trying to enjoy salad, and delivering eggs.  His family isn't very supportive and loves Liam the way he is.  When I read his parents encouraging words I was reminded of Chrysthanemum by Kevin Henkes.  So reassuring and soothing.  Everyone wants to stop trying being something he wasn't.  He is heartbroken.  As in real life, there is one person in Liam's life who supports him and helps encourage his passion.  

The illustrations by Jeremy Tankard are charming, funny and adorable.  A great mentor for showing kids how to illustrate movement.  A great mentor for kids to see how the background color choice can make pink pigs pop.  A great mentor for showing how a black outline defines an object or a character.  I'm not sure how to word this way to use Jeremy Tankard as a mentor but his drawings are detailed but simplistic.  They are not filled with fine lines and small details.  Kids draw big and kids need mentors like him to guide them.

A huge shout out to the nice lady at the ncte MacMillan booth for reminding me good deeds are important and paying it forward does come full circle.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

OLW - Quotes

Taken from Google Images

Another quote I've chosen to think about this year with create.

"You can design
and create
and build
the most wonderful place
in the world.

But it takes people 
to make the dream a reality."

Walt Disney

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Anything is possible, create and propose!

I feel this is my mantra right now, Anything is possible, create and propose!  Go!

Yesterday we had a meeting at TRECA, the group sponsoring this adventure with all participants and administrators for each building.  I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed.  Being encouraged to think outside of the box gives one a feeling of being in a box at times.  These were the things I heard from the organizers that are inspiring and bouncing around in my mind.

-we are wanting different, #of kids, time, personalized, curricular structures

-has to be sustainable

-does not have to include technology

-create a program to spread around the rest of building

-come up with the next greatest idea

-SAMR, wanting the projects to be modification or redefinition of tech

-transformation of a learning environment

-a true change has to be really thoughtful

-include PD, equipment, network, conferences, travel, time

-we are partnering to make something awesome

-not a grant model, we will help redraft and redraft
-what would a wonderful learning environment look like?

-products may not exist, idea and we will help get it designed

-focus and measure student growth, engagement, personalization

-think outside the box

What do these things make you think of in a primary, Kindergarten classroom?  I'd love to hear any suggestions or thoughts you might have.  Brainstorming is better in collaboration.

OWL - Quotes

Taken from Google Images

One quote I've chosen to think about this year with create.

"The desire to 
create is one the 
of the 
human soul." 

Elder Uchtdorf

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

OLW - Invitation

from Google Images

For those of us that have chosen a word for the year or even make resolutions these both are really invitations.  It's an invite to think differently and take action to further ourselves on a journey.  When I started to make a list of things the word create was going to invite into my life I honestly had a list of twelve quite easily.  The mathematician in me divided that up into one a month and panic swept across my body.  This isn't meant to be a to do list and fast paced.  I know I need to slow down my life a bit.  So, I redrafted my list (several times) and came up with five areas I wanted create to focus on for me.

Create is an invitation to write.  I discovered during the past year I enjoy writing.  I've let my family writing, scrapbooking side slide.  I don't know if I did any in 2012 and you know things in life happen daily worth capturing.  I also discovered through my work with Choice Literacy I really enjoy writing professionally and have goals to share and write more with them.  I also enjoy blogging and am thinking about the direction I want to take here.  I would love to hear back from you about what you enjoy or would like to see on my blog.

Create is an invitation to plan thoughtfully.  Planning thoughtfully will require thinking about balance.  I tend let work consume much of my life.  One has to appreciate this passion but I know my whole brain and body is being neglected at times.  I hope to plan more thoughtfully at school, The Joy of Planning by Franki Sibberson guided me to think more about this which in turn will free up some time at home to create and nuture my mind and body.

Create is an invitation to run.  Yes, this still remains a goal for me.  Honestly, in 2008 I began this journey and that was the year i was going to run a 5K.  It's not 2013 and this can't go on any longer.  This past spring and summer I trained and I could do it.  I know many of my friends are saying I could do it today.  However, I let school dominate my time this fall, I didn't run several times a week so now it's a mind over matter event once again.  I've started running again, I'm on week two and I have a 5k with a March date in mind.  

Create is an invitation to make things.  I feel peace and balance when I am making things.  I'm talking about my personal life here.  I enjoy knitting, scrapbooking, sewing, cooking, baking, gardening and reading for enjoyment.  I hope to share with you some things I do to find peace and balance during the year.  For Christmas, I got a new serger sewing machine and this is really something far different than my 25 year old Singer. 

Create is an invitation to enjoy.  In this busy life we lead, I find myself constantly asking myself to find what I enjoy about everything I try to accomplish.  It's easy to caught up with the busy life and make it all a to do list, robotic-ally completing.  For example, yesterday our dogs needed to go to the vet.  Annie did great with her weight and getting her nails trimmed.  Cooper is a slight mess with a soar spot on his leg, a major ear infection, and gained 6 pounds since July.  He came home with a four medications, a shot in his leg and a diet.  I could be slighly annoyed this took an hour and fifteen minutes but I enjoyed talking with our vet and asking questions to understand why these things happened to him.  Creating relationships and caring are things I enjoy.  I hope you enjoy your day today.

Monday, January 7, 2013

the surprise

the surprise by Sylvia van Ommen is a new wordless picture book I picked up this weekend at our local Cover to Cover shop.  I knew I was excited but didn't really understand how excited I would become.  I spend the afternoon in a Literacy Connection workshop with Franki Sibberson.  Franki was talking about mini lessons and books we could use to foster strategies,  literary elements, and genre.  One of her messages was how powerful wordless picture books are for getting students at all grade levels engaged with strategies, literary elements, and genres.  I couldn't recall the title and my description of the book didn't recall anything familiar for her.  If you have ever spent time with Franki then this is a huge accomplishment.  She knows books, she collects books, she talks fast about books and inspires all to do more with books. 

the surprise is about a fluffy sheep, a big fluffy sheep who rides a moped.  Yes, a big fluffy sheep riding a moped is a darling illustration you must see.  Sheep rides the moped to shop with lots of bottles in different colors.  Sheep rides home and pours the red paint/dye all over its' body.  I have never dyed my hair and found the steps sheep takes fascinating.  Sheep pours dye, watches a clock, rinses, uses a blow dryer, and then shaves it off!  Now sheep is naked and needs to wear a sweater.  Sheep takes the red fluff to Poodle who begins spinning it.  Sheep mopeds back home and begins to knit.  If you have ever knitted, knitting takes time.  What is sheep making is a natural question burning for any reader right now.  I just can't tell you because the ending is expected but unexpected and just too darling.  Please go out and find this book.  It just can't be missed!

Back to my time with Franki today.  She encouraged us to find books we could use in mini-lessons.  I would use this book to talk about characters and the relationship between Sheep and Poodle and ? (I can't let you know the ending).  I could also see this book being a fun book to spend time retelling to help understand plot.  I'm sure the theme of caring and/or friendship would easily come up too.

OLW - My Word Means

From Google Images

My word for the year is create.  I found this simple definition that is just perfect for me.  As a verb, create means to develop in mind or physically.  That is exactly what I want to do.  I want to develop my mind further and my body further, which I think will create my soul.  

I am not currently taking Ali Edwards One Little Word Workshop at Big Picture Scrapbooking because the honest to goodness truth is for the last two years I have signed up, started, and not quite finished.  The wonderful thing about Big Picture Scrapbooking is I have access to all my course materials at any time.  So, this year I am revisiting it each month and picking the writing prompt I want to work with.

The first step is to get to know my word more.  Using a thesaurus I found synonyms and picked the ones that would guide my journey this year.  I found author, construct, design, compose, make, shape, form, conceive, plan, produce, parent, start, concoct, discover, invest, initiate, generate, perform, bring to existence, set, and actualize.  I love this collection of words.  Create feels just right to me this year.  I find peace within me comes from making things.  I feel balance when I can do different things within a day.  I have lots of ideas and lots of things started.  I need to see things finished for peace.  Thank you for joining me on my journey.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Happy New Year - One Little Word

Photo from Google images

Happy New Year 2013, better late than never and I wanted to share with you my One Little Word for 2013.  Instead of creating a New Years Resolution and always wanting to have many I've chosen to participate in the One Little Word project and ideas from scrapbooker/storyteller Ali Edwards.  The past five years I have chosen enjoy, aware, nuture, discover, and change.  They have helped me do a lot of thinking as each year begins.  This year as I thought about my previous choices I don't know if I really feel any constant follow through as the year progresses.  I'm great at creating plans and organizing things.  Little truth be known my family makes jokes all the time about my "overuse" of the alphabet system.  However, I still haven't run my 5K and I was ready this summer to do it for the first time.  I dabble in lots of things so I went searching for a word that would bring more action and could apply to many aspects of my busy life.

I am welcoming the word - CREATE for 2013.  Stay tuned for more thinking this week.