Tuesday, January 26, 2016

#WonderChat and #nf10for10

I'm so excited to share I am co-hosting a #WonderChat this coming Monday night with my friend Cathy Mere.  We are honored they contacted us and saw value in our #nf10for10 event, coming up later this month.  Connecting with Wonderopolis feels just right in many ways.  They produce nonfiction pieces of writing for readers to read.  They encourage readers to ask questions and be inquisitive.  They provide lots of tools to engage readers with comprehension strategies and vocabulary learning.  

Cathy and I have generated some fun questions to think about combining Wonderopolis with nonfiction picture books.  We have some tidbits to share with participants during our chat.  I'm really excited about all of these tidbits but I'm bursting at the seams about one in particular that I have to give you a little hint about right now!  

I have an early #nf10for10 post coming out that night where I pair a Wonder with a nonfiction picture book.  I'm convinced there's a wonder for almost any nonfiction picture book out there.  It was so EASY to find a wonder and connect it with one of my favorite nonfiction books for this post.  

I hope you can join us this coming Monday!  
Encourage your friends to come too!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Gooseberry Park - Cynthia Rylant - My Favorite Read Aloud

Ok, claiming a Favorite Read Aloud might be a bit of a stretch because I have many favorite read alouds but Gooseberry Park by Cynthia Rylant has many things I just love about it to earn this title.  

1.  It's my favorite WINTER read aloud.  The story takes place during winter time and an ice storm presents some pretty big challenges for the characters.

2.  It's my favorite LENGTHIER read aloud.  Unfortunately, with schedule changes and time over the years I tend to shy away from lengthier read alouds.  However, the chapters in this book are short enough to finish when you have a few minutes and also allows you to read more if you have the time and the students are begging for more.  

3.  Student ENGAGEMENT is high!  As I already mentioned my students beg for more of this story because the characters are interesting, funny, and tug at our hearts.  You'll meet Kona the dog, Stumpy the squirrel, Murray the bat, and Qwendolyn the hermit crab, along with Professor Albert.  Yes, this is an interesting combination of animals to create a story with.

4.  Student's INTERACTION is positive.  You know you have a great read aloud when student's sit leaning forward at the carpet, laughing, and sighing at all the right places.  Their smiles and glistening eyes tell you they are hooked and reading this book was a great decision.  We can't forget to observe body language as a formative assessment piece.

5.  I was shocked to learn this book was published in 1995!  It's twenty years old and I hadn't read it aloud since I taught third grade and remember my students loving it back then.  This just reminds me with all the new and wonderful books being published, we can't forget some of the great ones we have used in the past.  This was the perfect book to spend more time with as we eased back into learning from winter break.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Nonfiction 10 for 10 is coming!

Today is the official start for the Nonfiction 10 for 10, blog-o-sphere sharing event countdown. It is just one month away!  This year the timing is even more perfect because there are 29 days in February so there's an extra day for reading post and gathering titles you want to explore.  Happy Leap Year!  We are hoping new and old friends will join us to share their favorite nonfiction picture books. February is the month of love and most teachers I know LOVE books.  

Cathy and I host the Picture book 10 for 10 in August which is always fun because we are fresh and excited for a new school year.  In 2013, our friend Julie suggested hosting a Nonfiction Picture Book 10 for 10 and boy were we glad she did!  We didn't mean to ignore the world of nonfiction with our picture book love.  After doing some research on the kinds of books people were sharing for #pb10for10, we noticed most posts were sharing books that didn't include nonfiction titles.   

If you are nervous about joining, please don't be.  We know the school year is busy for everyone.  Your posts can be as simple as a list of titles.  People enjoy a small nugget to peak their interest but don't feel this event requires a dissertation about each book you are sharing.  How you share is totally up to you.  I'll share my past posts to give a sense of what yours could be.

My 2013 list  - general list of favorites
My 2014 list  - was a theme list - nonfiction books for a house with three girls.    
My 2015 list - had a genre focus of biographies I love in second grade  

Here is our twitter hashtag feed - #nf10for10, to stay up to date with those joining us and reminders. 

Here are the official details to participate and it's really easy, we hope to see you there.
  • What:  10 nonfiction books you can't live without!
  • Hashtag:  #nf10for10
  • Who:  Anyone interested - educators, media specialists, librarians, parents, etc.  
  • When:  Friday, February 19th - Yahoo, it's the start of a weekend!
  • Where:  All posts will be linked on the 2016 #nf10for10 page of our Picture Book 10 for 10 Google Community Site.  

Monday, January 11, 2016

Math Monday - Fact Fluency - Why Twitter?

Last week I began my yearly wrestle with fact fluency because what I know to be best isn't easy.  It takes articulation, documentation, trust, practice, and time.  I trust my decisions but when your decision isn't a timed test, you sometimes want and need reassurance.  I began with a Google search about fact fluency and discovered these recent gems from National Council Teachers of Mathematics.

Then I thought about some of my mentors in teaching mathematics; authors I've read and people I follow on Twitter.  One reason I love Twitter is the accessibility to people willing to share ideas.  When I get stumped, I often think of a mentor and wonder how they would answer the question.  I figure if they are on Twitter, they are willing to have conversations and share ideas with people.  So, I reach out and ask my questions and every time my mentors have been so helpful.  Look at these two Twitter conversations I had last week and I'm sure you will want to start asking mentors questions or maybe even start using Twitter!  

Previous posts about Fact Fluency can be found here.

Monday, January 4, 2016

#nerdlution YES!

I saw a tweet with the #nerdlution hashtag during winter break and quickly returned to holiday, family, rest, and fun.  I wasn't even sure if it was happening again or if people were reliving memories.  Then I read Franki's #Nerdlution 2016! and she sums of everything #nerdlution for us!  Stop by there to get the history, the why, the how, and the urge to join!

Yesterday I shared my One Little Word 2016 - STORY and participating in #nerdlution is just right for me!  I hope you'll take a moment to know my behind the scenes thinking for my #nerdlution.  The bottom line is I need to document my stories which will be done through writing.  So, I wrote this post last night on Day 1 and will continue to write each day for 50 days.  My goal is 20-30 minutes.  

I'm a bit worried about doing it each day and need to be held accountable.  For my own personal accountability I made a checklist.  I wanted to see small steps of success so I chose to organize it in a 5 x 10 array but if you like you can orient it horizontally and have a 10 x 5 array.  

You can access the checklist and share with a friend for your own accountability via this shared google drive pdf, #nerdlution checklist.  However, the point of joining any community is to share success, encouragement and accountability so I plan to share on Twitter when my writing is done and name or code what type of writing I've done.  Some of my writing will go public and some of my writing is personal but I will write!

Thank you #nerdlution community in advance for your support as I explore my goal of STORY.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

One Little Word 2016

Happy New Year 2016!  I hope everyone has had a relaxing break filled with family, friends, and time for yourself.  I've enjoyed my time away at home focusing on things that make us happy and resting.

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.  If you haven't read anything by Ali, I highly recommend you stop by her blog.  The past seven years I have chosen enjoy, aware, discover, change, create, embrace, and nurture.

My word for 2016 has been percolating for the last month and I'm really excited about it.


As in I have stories to tell.  
I have stories to capture.  
I have stories to remember.

So, this upcoming year - 

I want to notice stories.  As I thought about the word story I realized much of life is made up of stories.  Sometimes stories involve people, sometimes stories involves the thinking behind an object, event, or action.  

I want to document stories.  I want to document our stories, my stories, their stories.  I want to document things in our family life and in my classroom.  I use to scrapbook regularly a long long long time ago.  I look back at those pages and see stories that fill my heart.  If you know anyone who likes to create/craft we tend to collect things.  I have the tools to document, I just need to do it.  My classroom record keeping is something I have found hard to keep up with and try to remember in my head. My students deserve better documentation of their learning and this can only help me plan and be a better teacher.  I need to share our classroom learning with families better.  I tried to use a new tool this fall and neither I or the parents are thrilled with it so I'm returning to what I love. I also want to document my stories professionally with more consistency.

I want to create stories.  I realized over break when I chose to sew or make things there's a story behind why or how or what I am using.  These are stories to share.  I also want to think create stories by spending time with people and doing things with people by choice not because of an obligation or a to do list.  I want to have stories happen within our home, locally, and hopefully as trips.  When I think about trips though they can be day trips and don't have to be grand.

I want to foster stories.  This one really surprised me as I discovered it.  I have three beautiful teenage daughters.  I want to help them foster stories for themselves and think intentionally about what they do and how they spend their time.  I want to foster stories for my students to rush home and share with their families.  I want to be intentional in fostering my own stories.  As I thought about fostering stories I realized not all stories are pretty or happy and those have a place in our journey.  They help us grow and shouldn't be overlooked or not documented in some way, sometimes.

I want to have story variety.  These are areas in my life I want stories to be present; fitness, food, family, classroom, friends, and surprises.

Thank you for joining me on this journey and hopefully cheering me along the way.  I know I'm enjoying reading other posts and thinking behind One Little Word decisions.