Sunday, December 14, 2014

Reflecting before a Holiday Break

Sunday Storytime.  I received the ornament pictured from my friend Maddy last year.  She is one of my oldest daughter's best friends and we have spent a lot of time together over the years.  When she gave me this gift a year ago, I honestly burst into tears.  Maddy was a senior in high school.  I was feeling a little down about teaching kindergarten because I just felt like I wasn't making a difference with two classes and their limited attendance.  This photo is of Maddy and I when she was in kindergarten.  I did/do make a difference and my heart knew that from this thoughtful gift.  I couldn't bring myself to placing the ornament on the tree this year where it might get lost or blend in with everything else.  Instead it sits on my windowsill and reminds me throughout my day, the work we do matters and is remembered.  We have to hold on to these small moments and nuggets in our lives.  It's the kids that count and bring us joy.  We need to slow down to look and feel that joy in the communities we have created.  That's my plan for this pre-winter break holiday week.  

I want to wish everyone a Happy Holiday season.  I have so many ideas swirling in my head about blogging, four more days of school, and report cards that I find myself excited and truly enjoying second grade.  I also have so many ideas about the holidays, projects at home, my own reading, my own writing, and getting crafty that I find myself bursting at the seams to just be home.  I also can't wait to pick up my oldest tomorrow night and have all three of my girls here for a month!  I know readers this sounds like a lot but I'm positive you all have things you are excited about right now and bursting at the seams to have time to do.  We all have busy lives in one way or another.  In an attempt to find balance and find the time to just be; my blogging break is going to start tonight.

Happy Holidays, Safe Travels, and Enjoy!  I'll see you in 2015!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Poetry Friday - Trying Haiku

oh my, fleece lined tights
thicker, heavier, warmer
delightful winter!

I'd like to thank my friend Mary Lee for inspiring me to try some Haiku poetry writing.  You might want to get your own inspiration while she is writing 
Haiku - a - day at Poetrepository.

Thank you to Paul at These 4 Corners for hosting Poetry Friday this week.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Familiar Authors Different Story - The Chicken Squad

I've been excited to find authors I know from a series or just a single book and discover they have other titles and stories to share with readers.  The Chicken Squad is by Doreen Cronin who I know as a picture book author.  Doreen Cronin makes me laugh.  She makes my students laugh and this laughter makes all of us enjoy reading.  The Chicken Squad brought many smiles and much laughter as I read it aloud to my seconders this past month.  

I love how the four chicken characters are introduced!  Each character has their own self portrait and information on a page.  The reader learns their nickname, reads a short physical description of each and then learns their real name.  Each character has speciality which is important within the story.  This support was wonderful in helping my readers keep track of several characters. 

The quick version of this story is squirrel has been scared by something in the yard and the four chickens are great at figuring out mysteries.  I love the sequence of questions they use to gather information.  I enjoyed how precise they are in describing colors.  I enjoyed math vocabulary was used in figuring out what was scaring squirrel in the yard.  

Here are three lines I love from this story and hope you find, if you pick this book up.

"Big is not a shape," sighed Sugar.

"Brave squirrels are not afraid of diamonds!"

"Don't get your feathers in a bunch, Poppy," said Sugar.  

Thursday, December 4, 2014

New to Me - Celebrate! by Jan Reynolds

My second grade-reading journey is very exciting because I am continuously discovering new books to me. Celebrate! Connections Among Cultures by Jan Reynolds is the perfect book to begin a discussion or unit of study about celebrations and cultures.  The book focuses on the components of a celebration; gathering together, food and drinks, decorating ourselves, music, dance, and the use of fire.  

This photographic essay is beautiful and rich with information about each component in different cultures.  I especially enjoyed the pattern of learning about four or five cultures and having each section end with an example from the United States.  A few of the cultures shared in this book were familiar to me but most of them were not familiar to me.  

The book ends with a summary around the notion there are many ways to celebrate the human spirit.  It helped me think about many things and the reasons cultures celebrate.  We celebrate to show we are thankful, to celebrate changes in our lives, celebrate people and important events.  After reading the book left to right and top to bottom I realized I wish I had read it differently.  I wish I had read the headings for each section first to discover components of celebrations and let my students ponder these thoughts.  Then reread the book with the text descriptions for the different cultures shared.  This would allow us to focus the idea of different cultures and different celebrations exist in our world. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - I Am Amelia Earhart

I am in love with my new discovery, I am Amelia Earhart by Brad Meltzer.  I remember reading biographies and reading about Amelia Bedelia when I was a child and the biographies I read didn't look  like this.  I am Amelia Earhart by Brad Meltzer is filled with warm illustrations that are interesting, insightful, and supportive to the text.  The book starts with Amelia Earhart as a child and right away the reader learns about her strong will to be different and wish to do things differently.  She didn't like the idea of wearing dresses, playing with dolls, and wanted to have adventures.  The reader learns about Amelia's childhood.  She built a roller coaster in her back yard with ramps and was able to get airborne for a bit.  I think having kids connect to moments in a person from history is brilliant.  Their accomplishments are important but having kids realize successful people from the past were just like them is creating connections that will drive the reader to find out more.  As the story continues, the illustrated young Amelia continues and tells the story of the Amelia as she grows up.  I love that the point of view is from the first person.  The reader also learns Amelia had to work very hard, she had stamina and perserverence.  Qualities we talk about needing in our own learning and classroom community.  What a role model for students of all ages.

Thank you Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for organizing and fostering nonfiction reading in our classrooms and homes.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Math Monday - How do you use math?

Welcome and thank you for stopping by Math Monday, I hope you will consider joining the conversation.

I recently attended the NCTE conference where the same message kept creeping into my sessions.  If you are going to teach reading, you need to be a reader.  If you are going to teach writing, you need to be writing yourself.  If you are going to teach poetry, you need to read poetry.  I bet you can see where I am going with this.  If you are going to teach math, you have to use math.  So, how do you use math?  Are you a math mentor for your students and share how you use math in your life?  When we know there is a purpose and reason for learning, engagement and motivation for learning is higher.

I recently realized I use math a lot when I am running.  When I'm running outside, I start my Runkeeper App and listen to numbers being rattled off to me every five minutes.  I like to know the distance I have ran, my pace, and how long I have been running.  I can then process the distance or time I have ran and figure out how much further I have to go to meet my goal for the day.  I've also found numbers can drive my running.  By listening to my five minute update, I can figure out if my pace is slowing down and try to speed it up a bit if I want a certain goal to happen for the day.  I also celebrate those moments when I've got a bit further than expected.

When I run inside, I find myself processing fractions.  For some reason while running on a treadmill, I break up my 30 minutes into thirds but then I can switch that to halves at 15 minutes and then two thirds is a much happier fraction to think about!  When I want to think about success and what is behind me the fraction of five sixths lets me know the end is in sight.  I also use decimals when I set my pace for the day and know that even a tenth of a number can make a little difference and reduce my time at the end of a run.

This is just a small slice of my life and how I use numbers.  When and how do you use numbers to help you with something in life?  If you are going to teach math, remember to be a math mentor!

Leave your link within a comment and 
don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are thinking mathematically!

To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
it would be nice for you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Math Monday post, don't forget to use #MathMon!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Math Monday - Assessing Mathematical Practices #1

Welcome and thank you for stopping by Math Monday, I hope you will consider joining the conversation.

I saw a tweet last week that peaked my interest and sent me over to Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You'd Had by Tracy Zayger; particularly her post on Making Sense, please take a moment to read it to understand my work below.  After reading this post and watching the short video I wanted to try the same assessment to see if my students were actually making sense of problems they could try and solve.  I've been working on helping my students understand the first mathematical practice recently and thought the work Tracy described in her post would be an interesting interview to conduct.  

I used the problem her friend modified and below are my student's responses.
There are 25 kids and 5 dogs ini the classroom.  How old is the painter?

Student - Wait, rereads.  I don't really know anything about the painter.  I would need to know something about the painter.

Student - What painter?  it didn't say there was a painter!

Student - Why is the painter involved?

Student - What do you mean by painter?  It doesn't say painter in the problem.

Student - What do you mean, how old is the painter?  How would I know how old the painter is?  It doesn't say anything else about the painter.

Student - Painter?  I don't know what that means.  I've heard of painter before (an ESL student)

Student - 25 kids plus 5 dogs, I don't get the problem.

Student - I don't get it, it doesn't take that much sense.

Student - I can't - it says nothing about the painter.

Conclusion - 9 students made sense with their response from above and 11 students did not.  

My students who didn't solve correctly all took the numbers 25 and 5 and said they either equalled or is 30.  There was no way to predict how my students would make sense of this problem and figure out they didn't have enough information to figure out the answer to the question.  Boys and girls were successful.  I had several surprises in these responses.  Students who are quick to compute numbers didn't always figure out they didn't have information about the painter.  A few students who work a bit hard to compute problems figure out this problem wasn't making sense. What I enjoyed the most was watching those who figured out the problem didn't make sense and their verbal reposes, I hope you can infer the inflection many of my students used.

It looks like we have more work to do with mathematical practice one, focusing on making sense of our problems before solving them by thinking carefully.

Leave your link within a comment and 
don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are thinking mathematically!

To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
it would be nice for you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Math Monday post, don't forget to use #MathMon!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Math Monday - PD Book Review Month-to-Month Guide

Welcome and thank you for stopping by Math Monday, I hope you will consider joining the conversation.

I just finished reading Second Grade Math  A Month-to-Month Guide by Nancy Litton.  I know I'm always need for a great read about mathematics when it's published by the Math Solutions group with the forward coming from Marilyn Burns herself.  As the title indicates, Nancy takes the reader through an entire school year with ideas and suggestions month by month.  I've been teaching for quite some time and still find nuggets of goodness to walk away with.  The first chapter actually address your classroom set up, organization, and routines before the children arrive.  It's reaffirming as an educator to find suggestions I had in place and to discover ideas with a more sophisticated twist for second graders.  I will definitely do a name sort with a Venn diagram looking at syllables and letters in the name at the same time on the first day of school next year.  I  implemented our morning routine right away to include Today's Number Routine, a book about equations.  What struck me the most as I read this book, was the amount of time needed in second grade for developing place value, addition and subtraction understandings with students.  This book was written before the Common Core Standards came to be and these three areas should of been dominating our focus back then, also.  There are several math games my students are loving and quite engaged with that I've chosen to use in class and then have them shared at home as part of our Family Math program.  Another idea from the month of April, was to do a graph with how many letters are in your name but to take it a step further; which letter is used most often in our first names.  Writing about our math process and thinking is a piece of each activity and each activity is centered around the mathematical processes which is the heart and soul of applying mathematics.  If you are looking for a book to anchor your thinking and math workshop then I would suggest any of the books in this series.

Leave your link within a comment and 
don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are thinking mathematically!

To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
it would be nice for you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Math Monday post, don't forget to use #MathMon!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Math Monday - A Math Video Library to Explore.

Welcome and thanks for stopping by for Math Monday!

Today I wanted to share a resource I have just begun to explore.  Teaching Math: A Video Library, K-4 is brought to us by the Annenberg Lerner organization.  An organization committed to advancing excellent teaching by producing and sharing multimedia resources.  They also provide lesson plans for the ideas they share.  They have been in existence for three decades.  This organization not only focuses on the student as learner but also the classroom teacher.  They also have resources for all content areas and provide videos for all ages.  

My friend who shared this with me did have a couple of cautions.  Her first advice when watching a video is to look at the math being taught and done.  Her second tidbit of advice is to not analyze or look at the classroom setting.  She said the videos are old and our classrooms today don't look like the ones in the videos.  However, she did say if you can look beyond the setting and focus on the instruction valuable things are to be learned and explored.  

I can't wait to use The Window Puzzle, number 13! My friend recommended this to me as one that could meet various needs within one classroom. The video is interesting to watch and confirms different approaches students may use depending on their own mathematical development.  I also love and anticipate I will find more activities where there is more than one solution possible encouraging independent thinking and multiple solutions.  Enjoy and share in the comments if you discover a problem/activity you will be trying in your classroom.

Leave your link within a comment and 
don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are thinking mathematically!

To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
it would be nice for you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Math Monday post, don't forget to use #MathMon!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Google Drive in the 2nd Grade Classroom

I was inspired by Franki's post this week about Google Drive in the 3rd Grade Classroom and thought, I could write about that.  Then Mary Lee wrote a post for yesterday about Google Drive in 5th the Grade Classroom and again I thought, I could write about that.  I had to chuckle when Franki wrote her first attempt at using Google Drive was a disaster because I had visions of that myself.  Therefore, I went slow and steady as I would have in kindergarten. Students are so intuitive but in laying the foundation for a new tool, I felt guided small steps were needed for more independence later on.  I am so proud and happy about our progress over the past three weeks.

I was in a team meeting and our librarian wanted to help us with some lessons in our computer lab.  She mentioned using word to type a document of sorts.  I sat listening and then tossed out, "why not use Google Drive?"  Each of our students have an account.  We get through it via a school district portal.  Each student has a special log in and password and Google Drive will automatically save their work.  I think everyone was a little hesitant and as the thought sat for a bit we decided to try it.

Our first proactive step was to make individual account information cards.  It had their login and password information.  We talked about being safe and not sharing their login information with anyone, which they love.  They won't even let their neighbors take a peak.  Another proactive step we took since our tech work is done in a computer lab, was to assign the same laptop to work at each visit.  (Yes, we took down a PC lab to have traveling laptops which had complications in several areas so we hard wired the laptops in to a different classroom and have just computer lab now.)

Our lovely librarian Heather launched logging in to our district portal and then navigating to Google Drive.  She has great insight and patiently gives tricks and tips to help them make keyboarding, buttons, screens, keypads, and mouses all come together for younger learners.  By the time we left that first day, each student had typed a title/heading.  With their title/heading they learned about left, center, and right alignment.  As I went back to the classroom and thought about observing Heather with my students, I realized we could turn this into an About the Author page to be used during the year when we publish books.

We returned to a second lesson with Heather and I believe we worked through logging in and typing in text about ourselves.  My students were composing on the computer as they typed.  It was easy for them, nothing written ahead of time.  I think the topic of themselves helped make this first experience was an easy idea generator.  Heather guided my students in how to type capital letters and the need for a space after each punctuation.

Heather was out for our third lesson but I wasn't scared to be on my own.  We finished up typing our About the Author pages and learned about the red squiggly line under words as an editing guide.  Heather had an idea of using Pixie to create self portraits to copy and include an our About the Author writing.  Which was exciting but I did Pixie self portraits in kindergarten with these students and realized I could share their first day photo with them in a shared document to use instead.  Using a shared document is a huge feature of Google Drive and one I might find a reason to use later in the year, so I thought why not show them now how to use it.

On Tuesday this week, I showed them their shared with me folder.  I guided them in copying the photo and placing it in their About the Author page.  I guided them in resizing the photo and placing it in the center right above their title.  I was out of time so we left for the day only to return on Wednesday to print.  However, before we could print I realized students had written books in portrait and landscape layouts to share with others.  So, we learned how to make a copy of a document and rename it.  Each student has an About the Author page portrait and About the Author page landscape.  This way all they need to do is print the one they need for future books.

When I reflect on our work over the past few weeks, it seems like a lot and I'm sure sounds overwhelming to some readers.  I was the only adult for three sessions and yes there were small glitches with students on and off so here are my tips for success.

1.  Model the steps using a projector of sorts and then leave the information they need on the screen to refer back to.

2.  Do things in very small steps and wait til everyone is ready.  For example, click on the title and get the box to rename your piece, now stop and wait.

3.  When modeling and giving steps, students turn sideways and can't touch the computers until I say something like, "now it's your turn, make it happen."

4.  Don't do it for them.  Point to the area they need to click or move a cursor to.  They can do it.

5.  Patience is required.

6.  Let them feel a smidge of frustration, that will guide them towards learning and retaining.

My students are eager now to work in Google Drive from home.  Some of them shared they tried to login from home but didn't get very far.  If you have ideas for launching something small and meaningful they could work on at school and home I'd appreciate your comment.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Math Monday - Understanding Mathematical Practice #1

Welcome and thanks for stopping by for Math Monday!  I'm so glad I didn't get a post up last night or this morning before I went in to school because today's math learning is far better than my other ideas.

In taking a step back and rethinking my math workshop and instruction, I realized I had my students engaged in problem solving but they didn't have ownership or understand the 8 Mathematical Practices.  The 8 Mathematical Practices are truly the things mathematicians do to live a mathematical life.  Readers read books.  Scientist observe.  Writers write. Mathematicians work with numbers and problems.  

Using the book Putting the Practices into Action reviewed in an earlier Math Monday post, I launched some work today to understand the first mathematical practice; Make Sense of Problems and Persevere in Solving Them.  Susan O'Connell and John San Giovanni give great ideas for explaining and showing children how to understand each mathematical practice.  What I really like about their primary suggestion for this mathematical practice is to work with the same data/information each day with a different problem to solve.  We did a lot of thinking and I asked a bunch of guiding questions thanks to Susan and John which led my class to discover we are doing a lot of thinking before we can even answer the problem.  

To summarize our learning, we created an anchor chart with our ideas.  I hope this might help you.  The actual chart building is based on the work from Marjorie and Kristi @chartchums on twitter and their blog is Chartchums.

Leave your link within a comment and 
don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are thinking mathematically!

To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
it would be nice for you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Math Monday post, don't forget to use #MathMon!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Landform Books

I sometimes wonder if I change grade levels just to explore new books.  It's a simple equation!  New grade level + new content standards = reasons to find new books.  I decided I needed to save money and get back to borrowing books from the library.  I did that, only to discover these books were worth owning and paperback copies were ordered.

We just finished working with maps and learning about different landforms.  Capstone Press has a great series with pieces I could use for providing focused and concise information about three landforms or bodies of water; rivers, mountains, and islands.  Each book has information on the left page of a two page spread with a full page photograph on the right side of the spread.  The text on each page is about four to six lines.  Each book informs the reader how the landform is formed, famous land formations, and how people interact or use the landform.  Each book has nonfiction features to help early readers navigate; a table of contents, a glossary, other book suggestions for the topic and internet resources.  One feature I really enjoy about the the books by Capstone Press under the Pebble Plus subtitle is the amount of white space on between the lines of text.  It really helps early readers navigate reading much easier.

The books I found and just had to order were - 

Islands by Kimberly M Hutmacher

Mountains by Kimberly M Hutmacher

Rivers by Alyse Sweeney

Thank you Alyson for hosting Nonfiction Wednesday, it's nice to visit again.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Math Monday - Making Changes

Welcome and thanks for stopping by for Math Monday!

I've been grounding my math thinking and teaching of mathematics this week by reading Second Grade Math, A Month to Month Guide by Nancy Litton.  This book is from the Math Solutions/Marilyn Burns group, which never steers me wrong.  I've read and used the kindergarten and third grade books in this series and have found both filled with useful ideas to implement and make part of my current teaching assignment.

My class has been starting each morning with a good questions/rich math problem and one of the changes that lays ahead for us is to bring problem solving to the forefront of our daily work via the mini lesson and independent work time.  Therefore, I wanted to change our beginning work for the day as students stagger in and begin thinking for the day.

When I read about Today's Number: A Daily Routine I knew this had potential for us to grow and think more about mathematics.  This is an idea I've used randomly in the past and not as a daily routine.  The target number for the day is either the number for how many days you've been in school or the calendar date.  The students use a journal/notebook to make "A Book of Equations".  The target number for the day guides equations the students will generate and record.  Students will work independently.  They will share ideas at the end of morning meeting and transition into math workshop by learning from the equations friends are sharing.  

These are some key questions I read that I will be using with this new routine that will help us apply and be engaged with the eight mathematical practices.
      Does this equation work?
      Can you convince yourself that it does?
      I see a problem with that equation.  See if you can figure out what I mean.
      Can you prove your equation is true?
      What make you think that?
      Did someone else think about it in a different way?

One new idea for me with a routine like this is to help expand a student's thinking by sometimes offering guidelines to reinforce concepts taught in class.  Each month the reader will find suggestions to expand the students' thinking about equations.  Some ideas shared from the September chapter are - "use only addition, use combinations of ten, use doubles, use only subtraction, and use both addition and subtraction."  

I've tried this a few times this year within our good questions/rich problems and found my students needed encouragement to tell me several ideas about a number.  I found many students would find equations by using an easy pattern, for example - minus one.  I found my students didn't vary the operation used or use more than two parts to make the target number.  I found this a bit disappointing.      I want to see varying operations, a range of numbers, and a range of strategies.  I think working with equations each day can help with this.  I also think and know by conferring with students during this time, I can differentiate to help student's work with numbers that will extend their own thinking.

Here are some more thoughts grounding me with this new routine.   

"...look for opportunities to help students see new ways to decompose numbers, notice number relationships, and use mathematical operations meaningfully."  

Also, students will be recording lots of thinking within their equations and they are bound to record mistakes.  "...remind yourself that such mistakes are OK and that you don't have have time to correct each child's book every day."

"...this routine is a playful way for the children to develop number understandings."

Leave your link within a comment and 

don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are thinking mathematically!

To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
it would be nice for you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Math Monday post, don't forget to use #MathMon!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Math Monday - Numbers Inform

Welcome and thanks for stopping by for Math Monday!

I've had this idea for quite some time to discuss and share math more within my own blog and within our blogging community.  I shared my idea with the post - Launching Math Monday!  It was summer-ish still and everyone has lots of energy when it's summer-ish.  I enjoyed launching and sharing several Math Monday posts.  There was a little excitement on twitter over the idea.  Two friends have joined and posted along with me on Mondays.  I enjoy sharing math thinking but school life is busy for everyone, myself included.  I wasn't sure if this was a great idea or worth the time and energy right now.

I was with friends this past weekend and I over heard someone tell their blog partner, "we've never blogged to gain followers or readers."  I've been thinking about this comment.  Another blogging friend shared a comment she received or heard during a presentation she was doing, "blogging is for bragging."  Teaching is a hard profession.  Teaching can be a lonely profession.  Blogging for many is about sharing ideas.  Blogging for many is making connections with like minded people and for meeting people who stretch your thinking.  Blogging is risky for the writer.  We all have different comfort levels and things we are willing to blog about.  Blogging can be a platform to live a writerly life, as we guide our students in doing.  

To be honest, I haven't done a Math Monday post in a few weeks.  I think math is hard for many to share, think, and write about.  With just a few friends joining I wondered if it was a valid idea to continue to pursue.  I struggled with this the past few weeks and realized I needed to look at my data.  Readers may not be joining, quite yet or leaving comments but they are stopping by.  My data shows the Math Monday posts have had 86, 65, 79, 119, 180, and 185 visits.  I never expected the numbers to be this high!  Maybe these posts are helpful to others.  It makes me think of the movie, A Field of Dreams.  "If you build it, they will come."

Math Monday will be back in it's original format next week. Please consider joining and sharing anything related to mathematics.

Leave your link within a comment and 

don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are thinking mathematically!

To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
it would be nice for you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Math Monday post, don't forget to use #MathMon!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Classroom Lens - Writing Workshop

Classroom lens posts will capture the weekly realities in my classroom.  Teaching is hard, messy, and beautiful.  Be prepared to see any of these each week and know each of these are worth experiencing.


Adding comparisons in personal narratives to help the reader feel like they are right there.


Conferencing with writing partners.


Questioning how to make the pronunciation of a word, stretched out.


Skin tone drawing tools are in their own special containers for intentional illustrations.

                                                   Writing partners support each other.

Mapping out ideas before writing and using a timer to increase stamina.

Trying out spelling ideas.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Poetry Friday - Switching on the Moon

Switching on the Moon  A Very First Book of Bedtime Poems collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters is new to me and one I think every home should have.  When the girls were younger we found poetry to be a quick fun read on those nights were bedtime started a bit late or when they were exhausted.  In the classroom, we have been using Owl Moon as a mentor text to write narrative stories and one of my students came bouncing in one morning filled with excitement to share with me she had a poetry book at home by Jane Yolen.  We've had the book on loan for a week now and my students are asking daily for a poem to be read aloud.

The book is organized into three sections; Going to Bed, Sweet Dreams, and In the Night.  In very small print in the back I found the authors gathered poems from various English speaking countries and on purpose they kept spellings and word usage in their original format.  This will open doors for vocabulary/language discussions.  The topic of the poems selected are often topics students will have background knowledge for; snuggles, teddy bears, nighttime, stars, moon, night lights, and bats.  The illustrations are beautiful!  G. Brian Karas creates warm, inviting, and caring illustrations using gouache, acrylic, and pencil.  I wish this was around when my own girls were smaller, I know we would of loved it.

Poetry Friday is being held at Jama's Alphabet Soup.  Thanks Jama!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Picture Book Partiality - Chalk and Cheese

Picture Book Partiality Post will highlight picture books I am using and/or discovering.  I am still very fond of picture books and consider them a favorite format to use in the classroom.  

Chalk and Cheese by Tim Warnes was recommended to me by one of my students.  It was a gift from his grandmother and we both agree his grandmother can pick great books.  Chalk and Cheese are best friends who are very different from each other.  Cheese, a mouse from the country is visiting Chalk a dog who lives in New York City.  Cheese is excited about many things and also nervous about some of the different sites he visits.  Throughout the story, comparisons are given between the two friends.  Often followed with, "Chalk and Cheese are quite different.  But they are friends just the same."  I think it's important as children create friendships and we build communities to share the message that friends like and do different things.  Their day together in the city is filled with exciting adventures, some icky, some pure fun, and one getting lost which was a big scary.

When looking at the layout of this book I knew immediately why my student recommended this book.  He loves humor.  The book is filled with speech bubbles, large font and punctuation to help communicate each character's voice.    The layout can be a fill page spread or a combination of sections or boxes.  It has a bit of a graphic novel feel and a bit of Piggie and Elephant.

Chalk and Cheese have their own website with Tim Warnes with a comic strip series.  The series is currently on hold for other projects but the previous posts would be something worth looking at with students for mentor text and pieces to read.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Happy Book Birthday, Frank!

Happy Book Birthday, Frank! by Connah Brecon.  This is Connah's first book published in the United States and I hope it receives a warm welcome in schools, libraries, and homes.  Frank is a bear.  The first page offers opportunities for predictions.  "Frank is late.  Frank was always late."  As I read these opening words, I rambled off a few reasons why I thought Frank could be late quite easily.  Only to learn my prediction was wrong.  Frank is not late because he forgot his cell phone.  Frank is not late because he left his wallet at home.  Frank is not late because his child had a had time getting out of bed.  Frank is late because he is helpful!  I want a Frank in my life.  It appears this wasn't a problem for Frank until he had to go to school.   I reread the book several times and am still questioning why Frank was late the first day of school.  For 5 days Frank is late to school and 4 of the days the reader learns why Frank is late to school.  Each time he is late he has helped someone else in need.  On the fifth day of school Franki is almost to school on time when an event happens at the school and he is needed to save the day from a Giant Zombie Lizard King.  Frank has a little bit of difficulty saving the day from the Giant Zombie Lizard King on his own and his friends are trying but they can't do it on their own either.  Then Frank has a great idea, work together!  We all need to hear this message more and be encouraged to act upon it in our daily lives.   

Connah Brecon's blog is filled with photos, sketches and his thinking which would be perfect to share with students looking for tips from published writers.   

Make sure you stop by and see the Frank! Book Trailer.  It's an adorable conversation between the author Connah Brecon and his daughter.  Her imagination and his illustrations just help you show this book will spark writing ideas for students.

I'd like to thank Running Press Kids for my review copy, September 2014.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Math Monday - Putting the Practices Into Action

Welcome and thanks for stopping by for Math Monday!

Today I want to share with you my new favorite professional math book, Putting the Practices Into Action, Implementing the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice K-8 by Susan O'Connell and John San Giovanni.  It instantly went to be one of my top three overall, must have resources to guide my mathematical thinking and teaching.

The whole book is showing the reader what each mathematical practice is and can be in your classroom.  "No matter how much content is "covered" in math class, students are not mathematically proficient without attention to these standards."  The mathematical practices takes the content we are teaching and requires students to apply and understand.  Each mathematical practice has it's own chapter and the chapters follow a similar format.

     -understanding the standard
     -understanding the problem solving process
     -developing strategies
     -building problem solving disposition
     -how do we get there? 
     -helpful ideas
     -classroom tips
     -classroom examples with student dialogue
If you are ever stumped when working with problem solving there are lots of questions to ask and ponder.  A list of great questions is provided and shared in the book.  There are a variety of sample projects to try or guide your own thinking for the students sitting in front of you.  Rich problems take a traditional problem solving situation with one answer and stretch the mathematician to think of ALL possible solutions and/or explaining their thinking.

Do you ever get stumped about what to look for in students work and how to respond?  This book can help, because each chapter comes with a list of observations to look for under the standard while problem solving and then a list of teaching moves to help guide the student forward.  If you want to understand more about the application and tips for guiding students for deeper understanding then this book is for you!

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Familiar Authors, Different Story – Bean Dog and Nugget

I’ve been excited to find authors I know from a series and discover they have other titles and stories to share with readers.  I recently found, Bean Dog and Nugget written by Charise Mericle Harper who I’ve loved for her Just Grace character and books.  When I saw Bean Dog and Nugget I thought about the little boy who is revisiting lots picture books during reading workshop and is a huge Mo Wilhems fan.  I personally love the clean, crisp, and clear layout/illustrations.  Sometimes graphic novels overwhelm me and I think this format will be perfect for students trying a graphic novel format for the first time. 

Bean Dog is tall and skinny while Nugget is a small circle.   Nugget has a new ball and plays catch with Nugget until it disappears into a bush.  While this may not seem like a big problem to an adult reader, this could be for young children.  Together Bean Dog and Nugget brainstorm ideas that aren’t very feasible for getting the ball back.  Then they use their imagination, get dressed to conquer the bush as Super Dog and Ninja Nugget with success. 

The storyline in this title and The Cookie are simple and sweet.  Real life problems young children have.  I really think these books are perfect as an introduction to a graphic novel format.  The reader can easily navigate the smaller boxes of text while using the illustrations to help tell the story and add to their comprehension.  The characters are also fun and humorous which some readers need to get hooked on reading.

Here are two lines I love from this story and hope you find, if you pick this book up.

“Somebody took my shiny new green ball that was special to me!!!”

“SUPER DOG!  NINJA NUGGET!” – the diagram really enhances this line.