Saturday, February 28, 2015

Celebrate This Week - #olwnourish

Today is the perfect day to share how I embraced my one little word - nourish for 2015 participate in Ruth's Celebrate This Week community.  I really tried to be intentional and recognize what nourishes my soul for February but I made some discoveries this month that were interesting.  While February is the shortest calendar month it's been the longest month in Ohio with winter kicking in full force which makes me more anxious for spring.  Sometimes you have to enjoy what nourishes your soul and miss a photo opportunity.  Sometimes what nourishes your soul is hard and takes patience.  I'm going to ponder more but maybe nourish leads to learning and growing - inside and out.


Row 1 - final four, her dedication page, exploring German Village with good friends
Row 2 - quilt fabric shopping, #nf10for10, college visit
Row 3 - fun with data analysis, sewing, Eric Litwin and I!
Row 4 - finally fun in the snow, great pd book, quilt top
Row 5 - finally a decent snow fall, planning, fun shoes
Row 6 - quilt piecing, Girl Scout cookies, reading

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Math Monday - Lemonade in Winter

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

How could I resist this book? Lemonade in Winter A Book About Two Kids Counting Money by Emily Jenkins is so perfect for any of us experiencing a cold and snowy winter.  We finally had a decent snowfall this past weekend and I happened to buy this book when the windchill was -21 keeping us home from school.  

Lemonade in Winter is a great book to jumpstart problem solving using money.  Pauline is observing the winter conditions through her winter and announces they should have a lemonade stand.  Her parents don't agree and support a few reasons why this idea will not work.  Her younger brother John-John is willing and excited to help.  Counting and finding out the total amount of quarters is the focus of this story.  They gather all the quarters they can find to go supply shopping.   The supply shopping trip summary is the reader's first experience with adding money for a total amount.  They hurry home, make their recipes, and set up their business.  As you can imagine the street is quite empty on this snowy day.  They brainstorm lots of ideas for business; they advertise, provide entertainment, have a sale, and make decorations.  


This page right here is when I would stop showing the illustrations and read just half of the text.  Then I'd let small groups or math partners problem solve together, finding out how much money Pauline and John-John made from their lemonade sale.  After the students share solutions, I'd return to the book by rereading this page and share this illustration.  Pauline and John-John are a bit sad after they figure out how much money they made but find a solution to make them feel better.  I'm so excited about finding this at our local Half Price Bookstore, it was just $5.00!

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 #mathmonday!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Celebrate This Week - Dublin Lit 2015!

Today I celebrate a great day each February when I can gather with old friends, local friends, friends from afar, and make new friends.  I'm so fortunate to live right around the corner from the Dublin Literacy Conference and realized last night I will have lots of small moments today to celebrate.  Celebrations of learning and friendships.  I hope to share and update this post during the day with my celebrations. I hope you will stop back and join my journey.

Thank you Ruth, for supporting us in finding the positive in our busy lives.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Nonfiction 10 for 10 is HERE!

Happy Nonfiction 10 for 10 Day!  Thank you for joining us.  Cathy and I are thrilled to have you stop by and read our favorite nonfiction books right now, today at this very moment.  

Please leave a comment on a few blogs to foster community and dialogue around nonfiction books and/or share your own list of books for others to enjoy and gather ideas from.  

Here's how to share your own list.


Here are the official details to participate and it's really easy, 
we hope to see you there.

Teaching second grade this year has been an exciting daily adventure in reading and selecting books to use with and for my students.  I've rediscovered my own childhood favorite genre - biographies!  I loved reading about people in history when I was in elementary school. They make history come alive and provide so much information about how our life today came to be.  The world of biographies has certainly changed since the late 70s and here are my top 10 favorites as of today at this very moment, in no particular order.

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin.  Combining snow, passion, and photography is a winning combination in my book.  Wilson Bentley was a pioneer in studying snowflakes and preserved when others didn't see value in his work.

I am Amelia Earhart by Brad Meltzer is about one of my childhood idols.  I had never been on a plane until I was married and 24 years old but the idea of a girl taking adventures and flying far distances to set records was inspirational then and I find her still intriguing how.  I love the adventure stories Brad collected to tell within this biography and how following your dreams is possible.

A Picture Book of Abraham Lincoln by David A Adler was not available in the late 70s but David Adler is a classic in biography writing.  I enjoy this book and his other biographies for the traditional biography format and characteristics.  He starts with Abe's childhood, it's told chronologically, and his contribution is presented clearly for students.

Marvelous Mattie How Margaret E Knight Became an inventor by Emily Arnold McCully was an average girl who dreamed and sketched ideas.  Eventually her idea came true as she drafted and created a machine to make durable paper shopping bags.  Mattie lived during the Industrial Revolution when woman were supposed to take care of things around the house.  Inspiring how important sketches are.

Star Stuff Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos by Stephanie Roth Sisson is a story embracing imagination and wonders.  His inquisitive nature led him to create mechanical explorers that were sent to space including Voyager spacecrafts that captured information to help us understand what is beyond Earth.

Wangari's Trees of Peace A True Story of Africa by Jeanette Winter tells the story of Wangari Maathai, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and her quest to rebuild forests near Mount Kenya.  Her project began by replanting 9 baby trees and sharing her idea with other woman who started planting baby seedlings too.

Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet is about puppeteer Tony Sarg who was creative and willing to try new ideas.  I grew up watching Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade each year and now my girls and I watch it as we prepare for Thanksgiving.  I never thought to wonder about how it all started.  I never thought about there being a time when there wasn't enormous balloons that were walked by lots of people.  I am still in awe of the beginning of something I have taken for granted for so many years.  It's important to learn about how things came to be.

Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell is about Dr. Jane Goodall and really captures her young childhood in a simple direct story like format.  Jane follows her dreams and makes discoveries to share with others.  I find this a great book to peak interest in reading biographies for students who are not nonfiction fans.  For those students who are fact finding hounds they will enjoy the more indepth information in the back of the book.

Mr. Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis is the story about George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. and how he created the ferris wheel for the World's Fair to out shine the year before when France built the Eiffel Tower.  George made observations of a water wheel and wanted to enhance the concept of a circle spinning and added the idea of creating a ride.  The project had some set backs and George kept persevering until the end.

Sarah Gives Thanks by Mike Allegra is one story I did not know and am happy I discovered this tidbit of knowledge related to Thanksgiving.  Sarah Josepha Hale was a writer who shared stories that focused on women since most writers at this time were men.  She went on to be the editor for a ladies magazine and found her opinion mattered to others.  Sarah started a movement to make Thanksgiving a national holiday and convinced President Abraham to agree.  

So there we have it.  Five biographies about women and five biographies about men to equal ten nonfiction picture books on February 19 ( aka 1 + 9 = 10).  Happy Reading and Sharing!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

New to Me - white fur flying

My second grade-reading journey is very exciting because I am continuously discovering "new to me" books.  white fur flying written by Patricia MacLachlan is a delightful story about helping, caring, and discovery.   Zoe's father is a vet and her mom rescues Great Pyrenees dogs.  Her sister Alice is a story teller who's vivid imagination stirs stories up.  Phillip moves in next door and doesn't speak.  His aunt and uncle are caring for him and they are new to "parenting".  

Relationships can be sweet, simple, and quiet.  Relationships take time and so does healing.  With time and healing new opportunities can happen and second chances are given.  The descriptive language in this book made me stop and pause a bit to think and reflect about the word choices selected by Patricia MacLachlan.  It's never quite clear why Phillip is living with his aunt and uncle, leaving this reader with more questions and discovering the answer didn't really matter to tell this delightful story.

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

"We watched white fur flying into the room, carried by the summer breezes coming off the porch."

"A little slice of sunlight marked the place she had been."

"But then, surprise, it is someone else who shows you what is really there, like the truth a photograph shows."

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Slice of Life - Life Lessons from Visiting with Author Eric Litwin

Starting our school day with Eric Litwin a couple of weeks ago was absolutely the best!  We were laughing, singing, moving, and enjoying literacy.  I really enjoyed hearing Eric share his story.  He is a former teacher.  He then chuckled and called himself a recovering teacher.  He found as a teacher he needed books with more movement, call and response, repetition, and music.  He shared he left the classroom for books.  His intention when he left teaching was to help children learn how to read.  He's done just that and plans to continue doing this important work with active literacy.

Eric shared stories about his journey.  Part of his journey was creating the first four Pete the Cat stories which were a huge success and launched his book writing career.  He also pointed out books in a series can have more than one author as Pete the Cat does.  What a great angle to share when two people decide to stop working together, very respectful and simple.  I hadn't thought about series having more than one author as an explanation but they can.

The highlight of my day was being a page turner for Eric as he performed Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons, which is one of my favorites.  Watching our primary grade students sing and enjoy Eric's work with him reminded me how important it is for students to connect with authors and those working on writing.

We were able to hear his new project but were asked to not speak of it, take photos or do any video recordings.  To honor his wishes I can't tell you any particulars but can share it sounds like a lot of fun for students and families to enjoy.

It should be out this fall.  My students really enjoy his new book, The Nuts; Bedtime at the Nut House.  I initially thought the concept of nuts not wanting to go to bed was too simple for my second graders.  I was quickly proved wrong as my students made connections and wrote their own tales of avoiding bedtime.  Which are honest and quite adorable to read for enjoyment.

In just 45 minutes I was reminded of a few life lessons.  You can change your path in life and follow your dream.  Those dreams can come true.  Details don't have to be shared when plans change and being positive about those changes is nice.  Sharing secrets with lots of people takes bravery and being one of those people receiving a secret feels like a gift and requires respect.

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

Monday, February 16, 2015

Math Monday - Bar Model Anchor Chart


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

I love conferring during math workshop.  As with literacy, it truly lets you get a snapshot up closer of a student's thinking.  While working with a student last week I realized he didn't know how to get started using a bar model.  Depending on the resource you use, you will find bar models, tape diagrams, and model drawing are all synonyms for the the same idea. All three of these help mathematicians make sense of a problem.  They help the students visually see what the words are all about.  During our conference, I realized my words were not enough to help this student.  He sat there with the same puzzled look on his face after he read the problem and before I started talking about the steps we take to create a bar model.  I asked him if pictures might be helpful with my words and referenced other charts in our classroom and he said, "Yes, I think that would be helpful."  Together we sketched a rough draft for this anchor chart and here are my final touches.

Having students use bar models/tape diagrams/model drawings is new to me this year.  If you have any tips or thoughts or experiences please join in the conversation by leaving a comment today.  I'd love to know more from you.

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 #mathmonday!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Time with Storyteller Kevin Cordi

Our school was very fortunate to have storyteller Kevin Cordi come and visit our school for a morning presentation.  I've seen Kevin present at our school previously.  I've chatted with him while at NCTE and every time I visit with him or watch him do a presentation I am inspired and want to know more.  I went to his presentation this year with a piece of paper and a pencil with great hopes of writing down tips for fostering or becoming a storyteller.  However, I realized very soon he was there to be a storyteller for all of us to enjoy and he wasn't there to teach us.  He was there to be a storyteller and in subtle ways a teacher.  When I made this realization, I put on my detective hat and looked closely and made a list of discoveries.

Storytelling is...
uses sounds
uses voice inflection
uses facial expressions
encourages movement
encourages audience participation

I loved this phrase he used - "storytellers need story listeners."

If you ever have the opportunity to see Kevin present I would highly encourage you to take advantage   of the opportunity.  If you can take a class with Kevin, I'm sure it would be enjoyable and filled with learning.  I'm also happy to know Kevin has published two books and is writing more for those of us who want to explore storytelling further.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Math Monday - Mastering the Basic Math Facts in Addition and Subtraction

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

Mastering the Basic Math Facts in Addition and Subtraction - Strategies, Activities & Interventions to Move Students Beyond Memorization by Susan O'Connell and John San Giovanni is my go to resource right now.  This book is written to help students understand math and be successful with math.  I love this sentence in the introduction, "Our goal in today's math classroom has shifted from memorizing fact and procedures to increased understanding of math skills and concepts."

Susan and John write about our students needing three things to master basic math facts; conceptual understanding, strategic thinking, and practice for fluency.  Each chapter focus' on a math fact strategy is filled with ideas to meet the needs of our students.  There are a couple of activities to introduce the strategy and promote thinking for understanding.  Great ideas for mini-lessons.  Next, you will find activities and/or games to promote automaticity which leads to practice for our students.

Susan and John expand what I have seen as traditional math fact strategies and we find it working and helping us in my classroom.  Something that was new to me was to use ten an addend within fact fluency.  Their reasoning is this, "This skill will be critical later as students use +10 facts as a way of simplifying facts that are near 10. (9 + 4 is simplified to 10 + 3).  Their strategy organization is; +1/+2, +0, +10, doubles, making ten then using ten and using doubles."  I love how they show students how to use something they know for new learning.  This also applies to using their addition facts to know their subtraction facts.

There is a CD- Rom filled with valuable resources for the activities and assessments in this resources.  I love how each strategy assessment is short and sweet, 16 or 20 problems to solve.  The assessment piece also includes a written component as a formative assessment to see if students can explain their understandings.  

The authors also have a book for multiplication and division which I think would be a great resource for older grades.  

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 #mathmonday!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Slice of Life - Sliding Paper Under the Door

She wants to be alone, yet I'm worried why she is behind her bedroom door.  It wasn't a quiet entrance to her bedroom.  The door is locked and there are sniffles.  I try to touch base.  It wasn't well received.  I wait and fold laundry.  I try to touch base again using a soft gentle knock and voice.  It wasn't well received.  I find more laundry to keep folding.  Then I think of a new idea.  I grab a piece of paper and a pencil.  I sit in the hallway outside her door and jot a a phrase or two, purposefully writing a question.  I slide it under her door and wait.  I can tell she picks it up to read.  I wait.  The paper slides back with a one word answer.  We continue to communicate in this manner for a bit of time until the door opens and hugs are received.

Sometimes space is needed.  Sometimes verbal words are too hard.  Sometimes writing is easier.  It brings peace, safety and a refocus needed to continue with the day.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for fostering the Slice of Life writing community.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Math Monday - Math Fact Fluency has Literacy Connections

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

Today I'm sharing the beginning of a parent letter I just revised in regards to basic math fact fluency.  The more I've thought about it over the years the more I've seen connections between my literacy and math instruction.  I believe these connections have kept me balanced in my expectations and reasons for building math fact fluency.  

Dear Parents,

Brushing your teeth before going to bed each night and saying “please” and “thank you” are good habits.  Biting your fingernails is a bad habit. 

A habit comes from doing something over and over again until you do it without thinking.  Developing basic number fact fluency is developing a good habit for mathematic learning. 

Our math standards state –
Fluently add and subtract within 20 using mental strategies.  By end of Grade 2, know from memory all sums of two one-digit numbers.

Our I can statesments are –
            I can fluently add within 20.
            I can fluently subtract within 20.

Math is so much easier when you are able to commit the basic facts to memory.  I recently heard this – fact fluency is to math what sight words are to reading.  I thought, Ah ha this makes sense!  We read our sight words orally quickly.  This helps us work on multisyllabic words and comprehension. We need to recall our basic facts so that we can solve multi-digit addition and subtraction problems correctly with confidence and without simple mistakes.  I’ve shared this with the students, counting on our fingers to solve basic math facts would be the same as still sounding out sight words.  For example; c-a-t.  They all giggle because decoding cat seems silly now in second grade.

We understand the concept of addition and the concept of subtraction.  Now is the time to mentally recall the answers to basic math facts with automaticity.  “Automaticity is achieved through brief, frequent, interactive activities that provide students with repeated exposure to math facts.” (O’Connell and San Govanni, 2011)

I follow this information with a list of strategies for working with math facts at home, a list of strategies the students will learn, standard flashcards and fact family flashcards with tips for using them.

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 #mathmonday!