Monday, November 6, 2017

Step Back {Math Narrative}

I was launching a unit on telling time and decided to use an idea from Math In Practice, Teaching Second-Grade Math by Susan O'Connell, John San Giovanni, and Allison Peet.  They suggest having students build a human clock to help understand the clock is a circular number line.  I followed their suggestions got twelve students started and sat down with the rest of the students to observe.

My eyes darted from conversation to conversation.  I noticed the students who were leading the work and those who observed and waited to find their placement.  I observed some more as their work gathered momentum and then I smirked.  I found my teaching point.  I found a misconception.  Students had placed twelve at the top of a circle but then placed 11, 10, 9, and 8 to the right of the 12 where 1, 2, 3, and 4 should be.  They completed their circle and no one looked back at an analog clock to catch this slight error.  

I had the students count around the circle as I held up a Judy clock.  A small panic struck our room and students started to show faces of, "that's not right."  We looked at the Judy clock together and our "that's not right" faces turned to "we've got this" and instantly they were rebuilding the clock the "just right way".  Everyone wanted to try this so we had a second group try and we discovered they built a human clock much faster.  This led us to a discussion about learning from others and trying more than one time to do something.

When I attended our local state math conference a couple of weeks ago, @mlipinos used the words, math narrative and I was intrigued.  Maybe stepping back and taking time to observe we help us all capture math narratives.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep

I was trying to read the other week in a park and was quite distracted by two squirrels playing independently and then together at the base of a tree.  This was a little foreshadowing to my upcoming book sale shopping experience.  I couldn't resist picking up Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep by April Pulley Sayer and illustrated by Steve Jenkins.  At first glance, I thought the book was an easy read and maybe too easy for my second graders.  Then I read it again while shopping and discovered the simple text structure was packed with information about squirrels.

Think about this sample text - 
Tail umbrella.
Tail as flag.
Tail for balance.
zig and zag!

Maybe it's my recent personal encounter with squirrels or the carefully crafted cut and torn paper collage illustrations but I'm thinking this book is a perfect mentor text for writing from your observations.  As I read many pages, I kept nodding my head and saying; I saw that.  Not only is this about squirrels but about their impact on trees.  

The book has a wonderful four page insert at the end with additional information for readers to understand the ideas presented within the simpler text; tails as tools, feeding time, and overwhelmed by acorns are a few sections.  She also offers suggestions for further reading.  This information here makes this book accessible for readers in any grade.  I also think it would be interesting for older students to start with the last four pages and discover where the simpler texts ideas came from.


Monday, October 30, 2017

I Know Numbers!, My Newest Math Picture Book


I Know Numbers! by Taro Gomi is my most recent math picture book purchase!  I've been talking with students for years about numbers in their lives and this book is a great addition to this line of thinking.  A variety of characters, young and old share different ways numbers are a part of their daily life.  There's a boy checking his temperature wondering if tit's high or low.  The look of worry on his face is so realistic.  I love the page with the mama weighing herself and I'm happy to share it's a happy weight for mamas.  There's an old rotary dial phone and a television with number buttons on the actual Tv base.  Clothes and shoes are being tried on, various sporting activities use numbers, and numbers show distance.  Lots of great examples to spark some thinking about the relevancy of numbers within our daily lives.  The illustrations are warm and demonstrate the how numbers of used.  Makes sure you give plenty of time for students to soak those in!                                                                                                                                                     

Monday, October 23, 2017

Top Ten Things I heard from Math Heroes while at #OCTMconnects, a Math Conference!

This past Thursday and Friday I had the privilege to attend our local state math conference.  This wasn't my first time to attend and it won't be my last.  It was so fun to see familiar faces and make new connections.  This year I attended a meeting for emerging leaders and what a fun session it was to see preservice teachers motivated and committed to their careers while inservice teachers shared passions and hopes for making the teaching of math more visible and helping each other.  Passion fosters excitement and the presenters I spent time with were passionate, positive, and became my heroes.  This list will just touch the surface from my two days, if you would like to know more about something let me know.


Top Ten Things I heard from Math Heroes while at #OCTMconnects, a Math Conference! 

10.  "Hey, you went a little more literacy this past year!"  I was shocked a math hero noticed what I was sharing and posting.  A little nudge to find balance in my sharing because I equally love literacy and math.

9. "Do we really want kids coming home and having a second shift?"  A question raised while discussing homework.

8.  If you live in Ohio, look at the new model curriculum for mathematics.  It states no timed test!  Fluency is being efficient, flexible, and accurate.  We need to look at structures to build and support fluency; fingers, flash dot cards organized and un-organzied, five grams, ten frames, twenty frames, and rekenrek.  

7.  I participated in my first Mystery Number Skype and what a fun way to use technology and think about numbers with friends from different places in our world.  Lisa Murray @lmurray has lots of experience and ideas or you can check out the hashtag #MysterySkype.

6. Zearn.org was mentioned in a few sessions and with positive teacher feedback.  I haven't had the time to explore it yet but looked back and realized this was a ten top from last year too.  Maybe it's a technology piece to explore.  

5.  I've never been to a conference where in multiple sessions one book is repeatedly mentioned.  Of course, I came home and ordered my copy of Principals in Action: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All is also in e-book format for a fraction of the paperback cost and of course, if you are a member of NCTM you get a small discount.

4.  Lots of coding learning for me.  There are four Pillars of Coding; variables, loops, conditionals, and functions.  There is current legislation to add coding courses and a teacher certification to the math departments.  

3.  While exploring coding avenues myself, the presenters said, "we want you to be comfortable with failing because that’s how you learn."  I had some fails while exploring coding and what a good feeling to have as a goal - get comfortable with failing.

2.  Not only was the book Principals in Action recommended lots there was a lot of discussion about the Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices

1.  OCTM is hosting a book group this year in a Google Community - Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You Had and twitter chats are going to be weekly for just 30 minutes on Thursdays.



Thursday, October 19, 2017

OCTM - Math Workshop Makes Connections




I'm so excited to be spending today and tomorrow at this year's Columbus Connections the 67th annual conference for Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics.  This year I'm sharing a how-to anchored in my story of mathematics and finding what makes sense for me and my students in a time of great demands.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Pam Allyn with The Literacy Connection

This past Saturday was a magical day here in Central Ohio.  The Literacy Connection brought Pam Allyn (co-author of Every Child a Super Reader) out of New York City to the Midwest to inspire and reaffirm what students need.  As I sat with colleagues from my district, I realized she wasn't only guiding us in our work with students she was filling our hearts and buckets to get back in the trenches and fight the good fight.  She urged us to stay true to our beliefs and was thrilled so many teachers had taken a Saturday to learn and grow.  While it's hard to give up a Saturday, if it's the right season for you I'd encourage you to do it.  It's more relaxing than taking a week day during the school year and builds relationships.  There's time to talk and listen.  There's time to catch up with old friends and make new.  I'm so glad I got to share this experience with so many teachers.




Ten thoughts from Pam Allyn that will guide me through the year - 


- "teaching is scientific about what works and then there’s also the love", so true we can't forget to love what we do, love the students we are with, and find moments of love.

- "we are in the world of ticket tape and it's scary but literacy gives us a safe space." 

- "have students read 20 minutes a day, independently."  

- instead of struggling readers, she recommends shifting our mindset with striving readers and reminded us reading levels have their place but students are not a reading level

- "our striving readers are our most fragmented readers, no more pulling during read aloud or independent reading"

- "we are micro-managing reading levels", she urged us over and over again, this isn't necessary.  

- "Books are just books until you put a relationship into them and they become different.", foster relationships with books

- "main thing we want to know about our kids - are they happy?"

- "let’s create a super reader community with our parents.  There's plenty parents can do around the social emotional and engagement piece.  They don't know what to do, get them involved."

- "illustrations also show 7 strengths of the Super Reader."

Thursday, August 10, 2017

My #pb10for10 list about Relationships

I'm so excited to be part of a new collaborative blog, Classroom Communities!  I hope you've had a chance to read the launch month of post by some fantastic educators!  There are tidbits to help you reflect, try something new and some personal stories that will tug at your heart.

When I was asked to join this project I decided to do a little digging to help my thinking about our focus.  Our byline is - Building Relationships, Empowering Learners.  I am a word nerd sometimes and headed right to dictionary.com.  What do these four words mean?

Building - anything built or constructed

Relationships - an emotional or other connection between people

Empowering - to give power or authority to;to enable or permit

Learners - a person who is learning;the act or process of acquiring knowledge or skill

I have my favorite books for launching reading workshop, writing workshop, math workshop and routines/behaviors.  I began to wonder if I had books to help support building relationships and this is what I discovered...in not particular order.  Instead of telling a summary of each book, I tried to highlight aspects of relationships in each.  It's my intent to use these books in launching conversations that help build relationships for my new learners in an effort to empower them while spending our year together.  

The Sandwich Swap by Kelly DiPucchio begins with two friends who love many things the same except their lunch.  Their lunch differences cause quite a stir and divide between the girls.  They have the courage to try different lunches and realize autonomy is a positive thing.


Ruby in Her Own Time by Jonathan Emmett is a story about a duck family with ducklings on the way.  Four strong and able ducklings are born with one, Ruby taking her time to join the world.  Once Ruby joins the world she takes that same pace to grow and learn and succeeds.

The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson takes a look at physical and emotional barriers  and how a simple question can open doors.  The girls find a way to spend time with each other and respect those barriers.


Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard has a very grumpy character who doesn't really want  to interact with others.  However, his friends think differently and decide to join him on his walk; it's a way to spend time with him.  The walk turns into a little simon says in a way and changes one grump to happy.


The Monster Next Door by David Soman begins with two characters copying each other by doing and saying silly things.  However, those silly things get a bit carried away and feelings are hurt.  You'll want to read this one to see how things get mended between a boy and a monster.


Matthew and Tilly by Rebecca C Jones is another story that starts out with friends doing everything together but then they get tired of each other.  I think it's important we model this as a part of relationships.  Matthew and Tilly play independently but realize it isn't as joyful.  

Rulers of the Playground by Joseph Kuefler creates a story where a king and queen each take over the school playground.  The playground gets divided and there are things to be conquered which leads to an empty playground.  The king and queen step down returning the playground to a happy ever after place to be.


Boy Plus Bot by Ame Dyckman begins with an injured character and the care provided by another based on what he would want done to him.  These things don't necessarily work until some guidance is offered for what is best for someone who is different.  Readers will enjoy how the two characters find common ground.


Boo Hoo Bird by Jeremy Tankard is a story about support and efforts to help.  It's a story that builds upon itself with each new character and idea of support.  The characters are full of cooperation and willingness.


The Girl Who Made Mistakes by Mark Pett is about a girl who is focused and successful until one day she makes her first mistake.  With care and support and acceptance she and her community are able to be healthier.







Picture Book 10 for 10 is Here with How To



It's going to be a great day, friends and incase you forgot how to participate in sharing your current top 10, must have picture books..
  1. Grab a Badge (I like to select the image and save image as...)
  2. Join the #pb10for10 Google Community
  3. Choose Your Favorites:  All you need to do is choose ten picture books you cannot live without for whatever reason.  In the first days of this event, everyone shared their ten very favorite titles.  This still works.  You will notice, however, that many past participants choose some type of theme to determine their selections.  We'll leave this up to you.
  4. Narrow Your List to Ten:  It isn't easy, is it?  We've seen some crafty ways to get around that number, but really ten is plenty. 
  5. Write Your August 10th Post:  Write a post about the ten books you cannot live without.  Share your post on August 10th and link it to the Picture Book 10 for 10 Community.  
  6. No Blog?  No Problem:  If you don't have a blog, this might be the perfect time to start one --- or now with the Google Community it is quite easy to just post your favorites directly into the community without a blog.  We will also be tweeting from the #pb10for10 hashtag.
  7. Comment:  On August 10th (and maybe for a week --- there are a lot of posts) take some time to read posts from other participants.  Please comment on at least three.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Developing Natural Curiosity Through Project Based Learning

A few years ago I took a week long course on project based learning and had the opportunity to hear Dana Laur speak.  When I saw she had a new book out; Developing Natural Curiosity Through Project Based Learning focusing on K - 2, I knew I wanted to hear more from her.  If you are trying to find something to anchor your work with students to their interests, their passions, and their wonderings then this book is for you.  I'm afraid we've gotten away from listening to student's voices first and jump right to content units of study using standards.  Some other great features in this text are the five stages for finding solutions; authentic challenge and purpose, information and prototyping, perspective and point of view, actions and consequences, and considerations and conclusions.  There's a great deal of information guiding the reader through these stages to always include the child and foster their growth. Bloom's taxonomy is heavily discussed and modeled through the book.  There's a whole chapter devoted to authentic reading and writing opportunities to support project learning.  Yes, skills are taught but not in isolation and with a purpose.  

This book did take me a bit of time to get through.  It's small in size and font with lots of text.  There are some examples to help you visualize what the content could look like in a classroom.  



These are nudges I found to try within my own work.
- spend time asking students what they want to learn, I use to do this

- look for local connections to share our learning with

- allow moments of play to listen for the students natural curiosities

- weave projects throughout the day

- take each stage of the planning one step at a time



Here are some quotes that are sticking with me and might interest you in looking at this book more.

"This approach moves us from a standards-based curriculum for passive learners to a standards-based curriculum for problem-solvers, question-askers, and active participants in their real world."

"Authentic challenges tap into what is relevant to our children in their present world and what intrinsically motivates them."

"Authentic projects end with final products that are designed for use somewhere other than the classroom."

"The classroom community supports the creativity and innovation promoted in an authentic project approach."

"If you view your entire teaching day as one full opportunity to extend a learning experience, rather than as a segmented one, it increases the depth in which your learners delve into an authentic learning experience."

"Our young learners flourish in environments that foster their natural curiosity and build their skills while giving them autonomy, safety, and flexibility."

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Happy Dreamer

Happy Dreamer
Author and Illustrator Peter H Reynolds
review copy from public library

I know this book has been talked about a lot but I thought just in case someone didn't know about it, I would share it today.  When we want to embrace being ourselves, accepting differences, and trying out best then readers can count on Peter H Reynolds.  Happy Dreamer brings all those concepts together in one text.  As, I read the text I found myself thinking of different people I know.  I have a creative child and the text on these two pages should be framed in our house for me to remember to understand.

"I have so many dreams it can get messy.  CREATIVE CHAOS.

Cleaning up hides my treasurers.

If you make me, I will put my things way.  But then there is less ME to show."


The book begins with acknowledging we all have lots of things going on inside our head.  He describes different kinds of dreamers and when people can dream in the beginning.  Then my heart sank when this dreamer of a character feels boxed in and alone.  I don't want to box others in.  There's a two page spread that opens up to four pages with 48 different kinds of dreamers.  I love all the possibilities shared!  Are you a sunny dreamer, nature happy, or move happy dreamer?

I think this will be a great opening to discuss learning styles and preferences.  I also think, I might read it midway through my Parent Information Night as I talk about different learners and how parents will see different levels of work within our classroom.  



Thursday, July 27, 2017

Marta! Big and Small

Marta! Big and Small 
Author Jen Arena
Illustrated by Angela Dominquez
review copy from public library

What a delightful book and I was learning so many things!  Marta! Big and Small is listed as a bilingual read aloud in the blurb on the book jacket.  This is my first bilingual book to read that put learning Spanish words within the context of a story.  I've read books that included words from another language but in a format where in this case the Spanish word and immediately followed with text to show what that means in English is wonderful.  For example; "To an elephant, Marta is pequena.  Small, very small."  Marta has lots of animal friends and sometimes acts like her animal friends.  I love the last page where she has a sketchbook with drawings of her friends.  I personally learned a lot by reading this book and think students will really enjoy it.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Life is but a...Dream

Life is but a...Dream
author and illustrator Matthew Cordell
review copy from local library

At first I thought Life is but a ... Dream would be the perfect gift to give to new parents and it is but half way through the book I began pondering reading it at my Parent Information Night.  The book begins with questions and the wonder of a new life; the hopes parents, family, and friends think of.  That line of thinking continues but the world gets bigger and this is where I think teachers fit in, "I dream you were away from us, exploring unknown places."  The book continues with opportunities, worries, and growth we think about when we raise or work with little ones.  As the dream ends and the book ends the reader is presented with three wondering questions.  Questions that make us realize while we can guide and help they have their own journey to follow.  

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Princess Cora and the Crocodile

Author Laura Amy Schlitz
Illustrator Brian Floca
Candlewick Press, 2017
review copy provided by the publisher


I shut Princess Cora and the Crocodile and realized I want every student in my room to read this and every parent.  The student part is easy, it could be a read aloud.  However, the parent part could be tricky.  In the past during the winter months I held a family book group event in the evening, this book might just be a great book to use for that event.

Princess Cora works hard every day learning and training to be a princess.  She spends long hours with her nanny, mother and father working on different aspects of being a princess.  She must be clean all the time so she takes baths three times a day.  She must be physically fit so she jump roped five hundred times.  She had to read books that were not interesting and old.  One day she can't take it any more and sends a request to her fairy godmother for help because no one listens to her.  

The next morning she wakes up to a cardboard box in her room with a crocodile inside it!  The crocodile is here to help her.  He dresses up as Cora and tries to do her normal day while Cora goes out exploring the outside; getting dirty, built a fort, waded in the stream.  Let's just say the plan doesn't work out easily for the crocodile or Cora's caregivers.  When Cora returns she's quite worried when the crocodile shares how his day went.  

She rushes to her nanny, mother, and father to tend to them and help them. Over dinner Cora shares her true feelings about her training and makes requests to change her days.  She wants more book choice, time to explore, and time to rest.  Don't we all need these three things.

As I'm writing and thinking about a family book group night, I'm thinking we'll have to serve cream puffs.




Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Dot.

written by Randi Zuckerberg
illustrated by Joe Berger
Harper, 2013
review copy from public library


I was looking at the new book shelf in our quaint little public library and across the room on a shelf Dot. started calling my name.  You see, I like polka dots and this is a perfect example of how a book cover can entice a reader.  I asked Mr. George my favorite public librarian about the book and he couldn't stop gushing about it.  I kept wondering, How did I miss this title?

Dot loves technology.  With two to five word sentences she shows the reader all the things she can do; surf, swipe, tweet, tap, and touch are a few examples.  After much technology doing,  Dot gets all talked out and is tired.  Her Mom sends her out the door, "Time to REBOOT!  RECHARGE!  RESTART!"  I fell in love with Mom right there.  Dot perks up with a smile when she gets outside with sunshine and remembers.  Here's the interesting twist.  All the things she shows the reader she can do with technology she does outside.  For example; she swipes when she finger paints!  The ending is the best because Joe Berger the illustrator shows the reader what balance looks like.  I think you'll like what he did.

Monday, July 17, 2017

But Why Does It Work?

written by Russell, Shifter, Kasman, Bastable, Higgins
Heinemann, 2017


But Why Does It Work? Mathematical Argument in the Elementary Classroom has a great title but I found it a little misleading.  I think the word, intermediate needs to be inserted before elementary.  There is much goodness in this book for third, fourth, and fifth teachers.  I love reading about teaching mathematics but found this book a bit challenging.  It's written with a bit more technical wording and research sitings.  If you are familiar with Number Talks, I think this is a nice extension  to that body of work.  I've never heard the phrase "productive lingering" and boy did I fall in love with it.  

These are nudges I found to try within my own work.
- encourage and allow productive lingering
- engage in mathematical argument by noticing patterns 
- encourage describing what they notice
- model and guide making conjectures
- work on representing patterns observed with math tools and resources


Here are some quotes that are sticking with me and might interest you in looking at this book mor

"Lingering" on students' ideas about important mathematics content had, they asserted, enabled their students to engage with mathematical ideas fundamental to their study of numbers and operations."

"Teachers found that after developing the habits of noticing patterns and regularities, students extended those habits to regular math instruction as they articulated conjectures about the mathematics they were studying."

"Through these explorations, students develop a stronger sense of how the number system works with different operations."

"By seeing the same idea represented in different forms, students develop a deeper understanding of the mathematical abstractions embodied in their conjecture."

"In sharing mathematical authority, a teacher must be open to the prospect of following students' thoughts as they unfold, knowing that sometimes these ideas could lead to a faulty conjecture or a winding route to the expected destination."

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Go sleep in your own bed!

written by Candace Fleming 
illustrated by Lori Nichols
Schwartz and Wade Books, 2017
review copy from public library

Go sleep in your own bed! is another fun book by Candace Fleming.  It's night time on the farm and the animals are all a jumble at bed time.  Pig just wants to go to bed but can't because Cow is there sleeping.  So Pig is firm and sends Cow to his own bed which is occupied by Hen.  The story continues in a similar pattern for horse, sheep, dog, and cat.  This would make a great choral reading with the repetitive phrase, "Go sleep in your own bed!"  There's some rich vocabulary to describe how each animal travels through the farm yard; tromped, straggled, and stumbled are a few examples.  Make sure you don't ignore the facial expressions for the each animal.  Lori Nicholas helps the characters show emotions and reactions with little details.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

the Friend Ship

written by Kat Yeh
illustrated by Chuck Groenink
Disney - Hyperion, 2016
review copy from public library


the Friend Ship is a charming story about a hedgehog who is feeling lonely.  She over hears someone is the forest talking about her and says she just needs to look for friendship.  I hope you've picked up on the play of words and incase you didn't, hedgehog jumps right up and imagines a ship labeled with masts, stern, topsail, and friends.  Hedgehog must own this ship because she sets off sailing and takes a journey where friends join her at various places.    Each friend has a reason to join the Friend Ship.  A few days later, surrounded by many animals hedgehog begins to feel lonely again.  Her friends offer words of encouragement and elephant helps her see what has been in front of her all the time.  The illustrations are done in natural/neutral tones creating a warm soft feeling for these characters.

I think this would make a great #classroombookaday - I'd like to hear my students discuss the author's message.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Picture Book 10 for 10 is just One Month AWAY!

Dear Cathy,

I'm so excited today!  It's July 10th which means August is coming up next and on August 10th we are lucky to host Picture Book 10 for 10.  I really should go back and reread your book, More than Guided Reading.  I remember writing my initial thoughts as a blogpost and discovering you left me a comment.  Talk about being starstruck!  Then you wanted to know some of my must have picture books to use in my classroom and I think that brought me anxiety, uncertainty, butterflies in my stomach.  We started chatting via Twitter and all of a sudden a little flake of an idea turned into a snowball rolling down a mountain and we were co-hosting a social media event together.

Now Cathy, I am a bit worried this year.  I've been spying on you a little bit and have noticed you are out and about.  You are on the coast and then you are getting coffee and then you are shopping for books without me.  It looks like you are zipping and zooming around stopping here and there.  I am not doing those things right now.  I'm back home here in Ohio holding down the fort.  I have a focus for my picture book sharing this year.  I purchased two new books.  I'm looking through resources for some titles to add to my list, I need 8 more.  I might even duck into my classroom to glance over the books I already own.  I really can't wait for you to see my list because it's matching up to another small project I'm collaborating on, thanks to Tony Keefer.  I like how I wrote small project, I'm pretty sure that's what Tony said in his direct tweet.  

So, Cathy I just want to remind you of the details for our #pb10for10 event.
  1. Grab a Badge (I like to select the image and save image as...)
  2. Join the #pb10for10 Google Community
  3. Choose Your Favorites:  All you need to do is choose ten picture books you cannot live without for whatever reason.  In the first days of this event, everyone shared their ten very favorite titles.  This still works.  You will notice, however, that many past participants choose some type of theme to determine their selections.  We'll leave this up to you.
  4. Narrow Your List to Ten:  It isn't easy, is it?  We've seen some crafty ways to get around that number, but really ten is plenty. 
  5. Write Your August 10th Post:  Write a post about the ten books you cannot live without.  Share your post on August 10th and link it to the Picture Book 10 for 10 Community.  
  6. No Blog?  No Problem:  If you don't have a blog, this might be the perfect time to start one --- or now with the Google Community it is quite easy to just post your favorites directly into the community without a blog.  We will also be tweeting from the #pb10for10 hashtag.
  7. Comment:  On August 10th (and maybe for a week --- there are a lot of posts) take some time to read posts from other participants.  Please comment on at least three.
Hurry Home Cathy!  You've got some work ahead of you!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Mae and June and the Wonder Wheel

written by Charise Mericle Harper
illustrated by Ashley Spires
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017
review copy from public library

I was excited to see Charise Mericle Harper of the Just Grace series has a new book written for transitional readers.  June and her dog Sammy are trying to stay away from June's older sister Isabella, she's a teenager now and doesn't like to play anymore.  Together they decide their next mission will be to find a new friend to play with and luckily new neighbors are moving in next door.  In the meantime Grandma Penny sends a gift, a wonder wheel to put together.  Chapter 8 is all about building the wonder wheel and the different categories they will inquire about each week.  June and Sammy watch the new neighbors a lot and hope she, Mae will be fun to play with.  Unfortunately, at school Mae is spending time getting to know other new friends.  The story is about fitting in, making new friends, and being a good friend.  It's not always easy making new friends and I love how June could share her Wonder Wheel with Mae; giving them something in common to start a friendship with.  I hope there will be more  Mae and June stories coming.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Pest, Duck, Jan Thomas - Perfect Combinations!



written and illustrated by Jan Thomas
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Co, 2017
review copies from public library

I knew when I saw these two new titles by Jan Thomas at our public library, I would immediately fall in love.  I found myself not reading her books in second grade as much because they are simpler. I missed the love and enjoyment my kindergarteners had with her titles.  I was surprised when I dabbled in #classroombookoftheday at the end of the year that my students had missed listening to Jan Thomas books in kindergarten and in first grade.  We read my collection and joy just radiated with belly laughter.  I can't wait to add these titles to my collection and include them in a daily read aloud at the end of our day.

There's a PEST in the Garden! is filled with voice, character energy, and humor.  There's a pest in the garden eating the crops that have started growing.  Dog, donkey, and sheep try to predict what Pest will eat next while Duck is warning them it could be the turnips!  Pest eats the item not predicted and Duck comes up with a plan to save his turnips.  I can't give it away but let's just say the new garden has a fence to avoid the Pests.  Did you notice Pest went to Pests?  The illustrations are filled with information to help tell this story.

Leave it up to Duck to be worried something is chasing him and require help from his friends.  Each friend listens to the clues and imagines an unfriendly creature.  Thankfully, Dog recognizes the creature and the friends come to find out the creature is trying to return a turnip to Duck!  The creature drops an acorn and gets scared when the friends try to chase him to return it.  This book as with all of Jan Thomas books are filled with voice, character energy, and humor.  

In both books, carefully notice the end pages before and after reading the text.  Cute connections once you've read the story.


Monday, July 3, 2017

Every Child a Super Reader

I'm so excited to study and work with the text, Every Child a Super Reader this upcoming school year through The Literacy Connection. (stayed tuned for updated information this year at www.literacyconnection.org.)  I've heard both authors Pam Allyn and Ernest Morrell speak at different conference and I always walk away feeling inspired in my work and inspired to be a better person.  

It makes me sad to admit, I've had students leave my classroom not loving or very engaged with reading and I can honestly say I've given it my best shot with each one.  I've found books of interest and even written simple books about something they like.  I've been flexible in the different types of reading and genres they can read.  I've modeled being a reader and when we do find a reading hook, I get more books by the author or in the series.  With all this effort, I still feel sad I just couldn't hook that child.  But what if...they understood more about being a reader?  What if they experienced and saw modeled strengths of a super reader?  Pam and Ernest have outlined and shared  those strengths with readers; belonging, curiosity, friendship, kindness, confidence, courage, and hope.  

Each strength has it's own chapter and begins with examples and defining the strength as a reader.  Ideas are shared for promoting this strength in your classroom.  There's a focus lesson with an action students can take for the specific strength being discussed.  Then there's a close reading lesson and directions to think through the specific strength using a mentor text.  There are suggestions for using technology with each strength and ideas to help families promote the super reader strengths at home.  

For teachers who love some details for instruction or ways to apply what they have read the last third of the book is just for you.  Concrete examples for different reading structures are discussed.   There are language stems to help discussions and each strength is described in the different reading structures and examples for what each strength looks like.  For example; in reading about reading partners courage looks like this; I work with different people in my class - even if they're not my best friends.  I could go on and on about the valuable ideas but will be sharing more about this text as we work through it this year.  

I would like to share with you another invaluable component of this text, picture book lists for each strength gathered in collections of K - 2, 3 - 5, and 6 - 8.  


These are nudges I found to try within my own work.

- throughout the year show students how 7 strengths are apparent in our/their work as readers
- focus more on building a social community around reading within our classroom
- make heart maps earlier in the year to get to know children and not just in a poetry unit
- celebrate small reading steps and more often with my readers
- explore http://www.scholastic.com/super-reader/


Here are some quotes that are sticking with me and might interest you in looking at this book more.


"Super reading impacts every aspect of a child's life: the personal, social, academic, and civic."

"The child who reads gains comfort, community and connection to the wider world."

"The lack of questions in classrooms is a direct consequence of children's disengagement from reading, writing, and a love of learning."

"Choice is crucial.  It is important to give children the agency to discover their interests, likes, and dislikes as readers in order to build their identities as readers."

"Stamina is the most underrated yet crucial element of how super readers build their muscles."