Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Boy, Were We Wrong About the Weather!

We stopped by our local tiny local library over the weekend and Boy, Were We Wrong About the Weather! by Kathleen V. Kudlinkski just jumped off the shelf and into the arms to come home.  The title alone sounds like a daily conversation here in Ohio when there's a small chance of snow nearby.   I think this book not only helps readers learn interesting information about weather but it's also about history with a focus on change over time.  

The book begins with the Sumerian warriors who believed the weather god, Enlil, was creating thunder and lightening.  The believed if they danced Enlil would get in a better mood and the storms would stop.  As you can imagine, the text says - "Boy, were they wrong!"

The story flips back and forth from a past to present day or more current time frame with a current explanation for past thinking.  For example, the reader learns sailors from Spain met the Tiano Indians who taught them the storm go, Huracan caused the storms they had just sailed through.  People didn't believe their stories when they returned home and then the reader learns how scientist today study hurricanes.  

Many different types of weather are explained in this story with modern day science thoughts.  Did you know the Chinese thought if a dragonfly flew up and down instead of side to side it would rain soon?  I didn't know this and now I wish it was summer to see dragonflies and investigate this idea.  

I love the ending of this book.  It encourages the reader to become that scientist that makes people say, "Boy, were we wrong about the weather!"

Thank you Alyson at Kid Lit Frenzy for encouraging us to share nonfiction picture books all year on Wednesdays.  

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Slice of Life - An Open Letter to Honda

Dear Honda,

I didn't always think I would love your Odyssey minivan.  I actually wasn't thrilled to buy my first Honda Odyssey minivan.  I was nauseous and outgrowing your lovely Accord station wagon as we expected our third baby.  I thought this was going to be a short term relationship on that cold winter day 13 years ago.  Our relationship is anything but short term and I should probably confess more about our relationship.  My husband works for you and we moved to the Midwest to work for you.  So, our relationship started long before the day we bought our first Honda Odyssey minivan, it began in August of 1992.  Let's get back to the current status of our relationship.

Over the years, we've been blessed to lease company cars for two years.  I am currently driving my 5 minivan.  I've driven midline models and top of the line models.  I think I fell in love with you when the sliding doors became an option and I could have them open with groceries and three kids in tow or the many bags I carry out of my classroom each night.  I not only love you for these features but driving a minivan has come in handy when I was the traveling soccer mom doing the carpool thing or going camping with Girl Scouts.  What's been more enjoyable is driving a Honda Odyssey minivan when the grandparents visit and we can all go places in one car very comfortably or the long drives for family vacations with beach gear and dogs in tow.  Falling in love again can be a good thing and happened with the vacuum in my current minivan.  

I have to confess though with all this love and our relationship going way beyond short-term status, I am quite sad about the current color options and I just want to make a recommendation to your company.  If you want to see a revival of the minivan love for others - then why not offer some colors  that are softer, lighter, less dreary?  I don't think a shocking color is the color for your target audience but Moms with three kids still have minivan needs without looking dreary.  They need to move things back and forth to college, they still have groups of kids to drive around, vacations to take and grandparents who visit.  They might even want to drive around a carload of girlfriends for FUN!

So, Dear Honda - please consider just looking at your color options from your Pilot line and brightening up the image of your fantastic Honda Odyssey or even bring back one or two from pervious years; light blue, cashmere, a hint of green would just be nice.

Thank you and if you really want to rock the minivan world, what about a convertible?  A del Sol Super Sized.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for inviting teachers to write and share their writing with each other.  This community helps teachers and students grow in writing.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Nonfiction Wednesday - Secrets of Air

Secrets of Air written by Mi-ae Lee and illustrated by Hae-ryun Jeong brings a challenging topic to life for early scientists.   The front cover has an interesting tidbit of information.  The editor is listed with the author and illustrator.  It's none other than Joy Cowley.  I love Joy Cowley books for emerging readers and this book doesn't disappoint.

The illustrations are a full page and a third of a two page spread.  The first two thirds of the page on the left is where the text is placed throughout the book.  I just enjoyed this layout and knowing where to find the text as I read each page.  Big concepts about air are shared with the reader in mind.  An air fact drives the page but the author carefully makes connections to help the reader process the information.

Here's an example; Air is close to the earth, above the pointed roof and between the trees.

Then on the same page; When we go to the top of a high mountain, there is less air so it is harder to breathe.  

Students will think about the movement of air, warm and cool air, sound waves being carried, oxygen, the weight of air, and air being invisible.  So many important ideas for early scientists.  

Thank you Alyson at Kid Lit Frenzy for encouraging us to share nonfiction picture books all year on Wednesdays.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Slice of Life - Did I hear her right?

She asked me to read her paper when I got home from parent teacher conferences.  This was her second attempt on the project and a much better version.  We make a few adjustments.  We have a few questions for her teacher and I purposefully created these questions so she had to ask for help and clarification.  We are getting near the end of her piece and I'm starting to feel how tired I really am from the day when I'm not sure I heard her right.

"Under-case the word Cinema."

I know I turned and looked quite puzzled.  I wasn't sure I heard her just right.  I questioned what that meant.  She looked at me as if I wasn't listening.  Her expression made me stop and think I should understand the word under-case.  But I didn't understand so I asked again for clarification.

"You know, make the c smaller."  

I burst out laughing and we had fun talking about uppercase and lowercase.  It's always interesting to hear how students or your own children create phrases to explain what they need.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for inviting teachers to write and share their writing with each other.  This community helps teachers and students grow in writing.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Math Monday: Make Your Own Place Value Disks

This past summer I learned about new math manipulative  - place value disks.  

The ETA - Hands 2 Mind website offers this description.

"Place value chips (disks) are non-proportional models that can be used once students have a solid understanding of our place value system. Colored chips with values imprinted on them allow students to develop strategies based on properties, reinforce traditional algorithms, and build understanding of the meanings of mathematical operations and other topics such as rounding to the nearest."

We wanted to order some as a grade level.  As I began looking at various vendors, I soon realized to order the recommended amount for five sections of second grade we needed to spend between $450.00 and $500.00.  Yikes!  Everybody has a budget or should choose wisely how to spend any budget money available.

I then began brainstorming because when I began teaching we repurposed many common objects and turned them into tools for the classroom;  bread tags, bottle caps, old screws and nails, and old keys to name a few.  Beans were the best counters around.  Then I realized, poker chips could be place value disks.  Sharpie markers could be used to label them.  

We got them for five classrooms for just $45.00!  It did require a bit of work labeling them but by saving money here I was able to order everyone true yardsticks and true meter sticks for each classroom.  It's hard to teach what a yardstick is, if it's 39 inches on a meter stick.  I purchased ours at a one of my favorite, "old fashion" stores - Star Beacon.  I believe you can order from them online or at least call and they ship anywhere.  


Friday, November 6, 2015

Helen Lester Author Visit!

Helen Lester is a rock star in author visits!  She's adorable, charming, sweet and funny.  I've used her stories for years to help launch my classroom community and think about our actions with each other.    I was excited she was coming to our school but once I met her I became ecstatic!  

Her journey began as a teacher and turned her into a writer.  Her students inspired her by who they were and by what they did.  It took her three years to get her first book published.  She finds she does her best writing not at a desk.  She writes while walking in the woods, or when she is bored and once she wrote a book not he back of a grocery list.  

Helen shared so many tidbits about writing, you've got to know them all!

- Writing is like baseball.  The author is the pitcher and the illustrator is the catcher.  

- Hatching - notes on paper for a book

- Writing is like a maze.  You try things that work but they don't always work.

- When she gets stuck she tells herself she is thinking.

- Best thing about being an author is people laugh in all the right places.

- The more you exercise your writing the better you get.

- Keep your old stuff in a Fizzlebox.  It holds ideas to be used one day, maybe.

These were wise nuggets for students learning to write and adults.  She shared personal stories.  She taught us how the do the Flap Waddle Dance like Tacky the Penguin.  She even had a clog dancing penguin that was hysterical to watch.  She is quick on her feet and tells you about life just as it is with humor and truth.  If you can cross paths with her, I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Slice of Life - Slowing Down

Finished the unit, moving on and launch the Unit 6 Week 1 Day 1.  That was Monday early afternoon word study until my students went to lunch and recess.  Mondays are great, I get an hour of no duties and meetings.  Quiet promotes reflection and barely obtainable in an elementary school.  My reflections kept circling around the suggested resources guidance of 80% scores on post assessments are considered mastery of a unit.  Half of my students just missed it.  There was overall improvement but we didn't meet that expectation.  

Then my reflection went to the unit itself.  In this unit we were to work on combining syllables to form multisyllabic words.  A further description is two closed syllables together which is really code for compound words.  If there are three consonants together, the blend usually goes with the second syllable to divide the word, like children.  The students were introduced to more suffixes; full, meant, it, ness, less, able, and en.  We introduced the sounds of au and aw while reviewing previous suffixes and some other various sound groups along the way.  We also had 6 tricky sight words to learn, which we did.

I've been asked/told to use this resource.  I know the creator put a lot of thought into it.  It's a spin off of an individualized program for word study and I'm really thinking taking something individualized and smashing more together for a whole classroom setting isn't the best idea.  These are a lot of concepts for you average seven year old to wrestle with.  So, we are jumping off the Unit 6 Week 1 Day 1 bandwagon and spending more time with spelling multi-syllable words to breathe and enjoy words.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for inviting teachers to write and share their writing with each other.  This community helps teachers and students grow in writing.