Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Slice of Life March Challenge Warm Up

I'm cruising along with my two four legged furry friends.  We are rounding the road and making our second pass of the pond.  I stop - a bit startled.  I start wondering, how did I miss this white sparkling spot glistening on top of the pond.  I never linger on an early morning walk, but I did today.  The spot I'm observing is a perfect circle with flickering horizontal lines.  I look up and see the moon - my spot is the reflection of the moon.  As I unlinger, I figure out it's the angle in which we were walking that let me see the moons reflection.  It soon disappeared as we continued cruising on our journey.  I hope the sparkling and glistening spot and that moment to linger guides my day.

I had the privilege to spend time with Amy Ludwig VanDerwater this past weekend of the The Poem Farm and was inspired to notice more, write about those observations, and collect writing.  I also usually write on my laptop for a post but today I used my special notebook to write first.  I think I have a little niche I want to think about during the March Slice of Life Challenge.  Let the writing begin.

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers group for hosting and encouraging a writing community.

Friday, February 19, 2016

10 Favorite Books to Promote History - #nf10for10

Here's my official Nonfiction 10 for 10 post for 2016!  Wahoo!  Last year I shared my rediscovering my love for biographies.  I knew I had added many new titles over the past year and thought I would make this a list of 10 New Must Have Biographies.  I discovered two of my books were shared last year but I still love them and there are no rules about how much you have to change a list.  Then I realized as I was building this collection of biographies, two of my books are really historical fiction which is based on true events but makes my list not 10 New Must Have Biographies.  I thought about changing out the two repeats and the historical fiction pieces but I decided I could come up with a new name - 10 Favorite Books to promote History.

I'm so glad I pulled this collection today and am thrilled to have so many people join our nonfiction book loving event.  I learned a few things about my classroom library today.  I need to carefully decide which genre my books fit in biography or historical fiction.  I've been growing my biography section but my historical fiction tub is probably my weakest link right now.  I'm beginning a social studies unit very soon and hope to look at history in segments of fifty years to see change over time.  Maybe I have an idea for next year's collection already.

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.

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.

A Passion for Elephants, The Real Life Adventure of Field Scientist Cynthia Moss by Toni Buzzeo is a must have for every classroom.  I think scientist are often viewed as people in lab coats inside a room with lots of beakers and potions and notions.  Not Cynthia Moss!  She wears shorts, travels by plane and jeep to study elephants.  She sketches, photographs, takes notes, and learns elephants do defend each other, care for each other and cooperate with each other.

The Original COWGIRL, The Wild Adventures of Lucille Mulhall by Heather Lang is just a fun book to read and enjoy.  We often hear about cowboys but a cowgirl?  How fun!  Lucille isn't like most girls in the 1890s.  She wants to be a ranch hand.  Caring for the land and the horses who use the land.  She worked hard to learn how to ride and rope a horse which led her to tour with a rodeo!  What a great story to show you can do anything!

Knit Your Bit! by Debra Hopkinson is technically historical fiction inspired by real events.    During World War 1, the American Red Cross decided there wasn't enough warm clothes for the soldiers began a national movement which led to knitting clubs springing up all over our country.  Men, women, and children were all involved.  This is a story about a community who made a difference and gathered to knit.  

Jackrabbit McCabe and the Electric Telegraph by Lucy Margaret Rozier and Leo Espinosa is another historical fiction Jackrabbit McCabe grew up loving to run and raced against anything; stagecoaches, horses, and trains near where he lived.  The community loved to cheer him on.  This was great fun for everyone until the electric telegraph came.  Jackrabbit had been running messages for people for quite some time but had the race of his life when he was up against the telegraph man to deliver the same message.  A great introduction to morse code.  

Marvelous Cornelius, Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans by Phil Bildner.  This book caught me off guard a bit.  It's a biography about a sweet sweeper, Cornelius Washington.  A sanitation worker who worked hard, was an integral part of his community and made a differences.  He shortly died after Hurricane Katrina.  I'm so glad to have read this story about a positive person who loved his job and his community.  

Clara and Davie, The True Story of Young Clara Barton the Founder of the American Red Cross by Patricia Polacco.  When Clara was young she had a lisp which made her school experience hard.  Davie her older brother persuaded her family to home school her.  Clara loved the outdoors, animals, and seemed to know how to help people when they were hurt.  Davie needed Clara's help after an injury. This book tells of his recovery and of her interest that led her in starting the American Red Cross. 

Earmuffs for Everyone!, How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs by Meghan McCarthy is a delightful book about improving. It's the story of hand muffs to ear slippers to ear muffs.  Chester Greenwood was an inventor of many things but his greatest achievement wasn't designing something new but adapting older versions of things to keep ears warm by redesigning the earmuff.  

Strange Creatures, The Story of Walter Rothschild and His Museum by Lita Judge is a story about a boy who was so shy he barely spoke.  He was home schooled and loved creatures, spending a great deal of time outdoors.  After attending a circus he was inspired to share his idea with his parents and began talking about collecting animals to create a museum.  This story shares his journey of collecting the largest zoological collection and creating a museum. 

Happy Nonfiction 10 for 10 Day!

It's Friday and today is the day we would love to have everyone and anyone join us to share 10 nonfiction picture books you just can't live without!  If you are just stopping by for the first time and want to know more, check out my post from last month, Nonfiction 10 for10 is coming!  

I have a confession, I wrote a quick post connecting nonfiction picture books with Wonders for Wonderopolis for our #WonderChat and tried to have that be my post for today but Cathy didn't think that would work.  I really think she just wanted to know more about my favorite books which is how this all started.

Stay tuned, my post is coming in later today after I teach.  There's a little secret to be told, we'd love to have the post all go live today because that's what makes the event so fun but if you get a little busy with life, putting a presentation together and doing some blueprinting work at Central Office then you have the weekend to join in on the fun.  Don't tell Cathy and Julie, but I sometimes adjust the "rules".

Here is our twitter hashtag feed - #nf10for10, to stay up to date with those joining us today.  Please tweet out your post and place it in the Google Community.

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.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Hamster Princess Harriet the Invincible

I just finished reading Hamster Princess Harriet the Invincible by Ursula Vernon of the ILA Teacher's Choice Award reviews and I've discovered participating in this project is stretching me as a reader.  It encourages me to read genres I wouldn't naturally pick.  It helps me stick with a book when I might abandon it.  It helps me look for things to enjoy as I'm reading.

This book has some fairy tale similarities but Harriet the Invincible is not your typical princess.  Her name alone gives the reader a clue there will be unusual things happening.  Harriet has a curse placed upon her when she is an infant.  The curse is to take place when she is twelve years old.  Her parents want to protect her forever.  Harriet realizes one day, since she has to be alive for the curse to take hold when she turns twelve she can do unusual things and doesn't get harmed.  She fights ogres, rides a quail, slays dragons, and goes cliff diving to name a few of the unusual things this princess does in anticipation of a long sleep.  

Harriet's parents wish she was home, safe with them.  She does return a couple of days before the curse should take hold of her and unexpectantly changes the curse which then causes a string of actions needed to fix the new curse.  There are a few things readers can learn from Harriet the Invincible; your actions and words can discourage people from helping you, you can be brave and make changes even when you have no invincible protection, and teamwork works.

I'm going to need to look at Ursula Vernon's other series, Dragonbreath.  

Friday, February 12, 2016

Seeds, Bees, Butterflies, and More! By Carole Gerber

Daffodil Bulbs

                              It's dark here!
                                              You're right.  That's true.
                              It's full here!
                                       Yes, things are slow.
                              It's cramped here! 
                                    No room to grow.
                              It's time now!
                                  Can you be sure?
                              Good-bye now.
                                  I'm coming, too!
                              Let's push now.
                                             We're breaking through!
                              It's bright here.
                             I see the sun.
                              It's warm here.
                                    The winter's done!
                              We'll bloom here.

Wheeee!  Let's be yellow.

Last week I joined Poetry Friday by sharing Messing Around on the Monkey Bars, the first in three posts about poems for two voices.  Poetry is a great tool for teaching and modeling fluency.  I'm finding Poems for Two Voices making our work even a bit more intentional because we have to wait and read what the other voice is saying while listening.  

Daffodil Bulbs can be found in Seeds, Bees, Butterflies, and More!  By Carole Gerber and is just beautiful.  A collection of poems about plant and insects, each not only describing or showing nature but teaching us some factual information.  Here are some titles within the books; Pansy and Poppy, Hitchhikers, Seedlings, and Roots.  I love the author's note at the beginning letting the reader know how to read each poem; voice 1 is one color and voice 2 is another.  When the words alternate colors both voices read together.  I'm interested in asking my student's which visual cue is easier for them to read and use; font size or color coding.  

               This post is the first in a second in a three part series 
               for developing fluency using poems for two voices.

                I'm happy to be sharing again with the Poetry Friday.  This week Kimberley is hosting the round up at Written Reflections.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Messing Around on the Monkey Bars by Betsy Franco

New Kid at School

Where did you come from?

Far Away.

Miss your friends?

Every day.

Where do you live?

Maple Street.

What's your name?

Call me Pete.

How old are you?

Just turned eight.

You like hoops?

Yeah, great.

Got any friends?

Nope, not yet.

Wanna play?

You bet!

New Kid at School can be found in Messing Around on the Monkey Bars by Betsy Franco is a collection of school poems for two voices.  As a teacher, I always find having a new student challenging once your year is rolling and the community established.  However, I also find it a learning opportunity for everyone.  When I found this poem, it just reminded me what I always hope my students will do.  I think this might be a good poem to use with students before a new student arrives to help understand what it might feel like to be a new kid.  You can find more fun topics for students to read and connect with; bus rides, monkey bars, lunch money, jump rope, recess, and lost and found to name a few.  

The voices are cleverly indicated by voice 1 presented in a normal font width and voice 2 is presented in a bold font.   Easy cues for younger readers to use.  The author has provided the readers with helpful information.  In the beginning there is a great explanation and guidance for how to read the poems with two voices.  At the end of the book, the reader will discover adventurous ways to read some of the poems. 

This post is the first in a three part series 
for developing fluency using poems for two voices.  

I'm happy to be sharing again with the Poetry Friday community.  This week Tricia is hosting the round up at The Miss Rumpus Effect.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Kylie Jean Green Queen by Marci Peschke

Kylie Jean Green Queen by Marci Peschke is a perfect book for second grade because Kylie is a second grader!  I love books with characters the same age as my students.  There's always an automatic connection.  Kylie Jean is spunky, self motivated, and fun.  She lives in Texas.  Her favorite color is pink.  An interesting fact about Kylie Jean is she has two brothers but one of them is her dog.  She refers to her dog Ugly Brother throughout her story as an actual brother.  I think students will get the giggles each time they hear about Ugly Brother.  

What I love the most about this book is the message that younger children can make a difference and come up with good ideas.  We need more books empowering children.  Kylie Jean over hears the fifth graders talking about their project for Earth Day and decides she wants to create her own project because the fifth graders never think the second graders can do anything.  In sharing her idea with friends, they decide they could organize a playground clean up day at school.  Kylie Jean and her friends not only launch this project but get the whole town involved to make a positive difference. Kylie Jean has a knack for asking the right person to help with a specific job.  While reading how the project develops, the reader will also follow two story lines about goals.  Kylie Jean hopes to be a beauty queen and her grandmother the president of the Garden Club.  Of course the goals are met but the journey there is cute and charming.  

Along the journey the reader will learn many factual tips for conserving energy and water.  Things that can be done on a daily basis to live out the mission of Earth Day.  Making this a perfect read aloud right before Earth Day this year.  I was happy to learn this is Kylie Jean's newest book but there are more Kylie Jean books! I'm still wondering why I am just meeting this adorable character.

Monday, February 1, 2016

#nf10for10 Sneak Peak with Wonderopolis!

It's an honor to host a #WonderChat tonight with my friend Cathy Mere.  

Wonderopolis is a perfect companion for nonfiction picture books and I thought I would share a #nf10for10 post early to give you some concrete examples.  When I began pulling ten nonfiction books I like to use from various favorite nonfiction authors I was surprised how easy it was to find a Wonder related to my picture book!  #nf10for10 is all about sharing books we love and I think pairing a Wonder with a picture book is one of the best ways to compare and contrast important points between too text.