Thursday, January 26, 2017

Don't Judge a Book by Its Cover!

I did just that.  I judged Dirty Bertie GERMS! by Alan MacDonald by its cover.  I picked it because for two reasons; I need more boy characters/books in my classroom library and the front cover looked gross-ish.  Bertie isn't very cute.  He looks a bit of a mess and there appears to be mucus spraying everywhere!  I expected Bertie to be a silly story about silly things appealing to boys.

I was wrong and pleasantly surprised.  The story begins with a realistic situation.  His sister gets the chicken pox and he tries desperately to get the same germ so he can stay home from school.  His attempts are cute and funny.  When I finished chapter four, I discovered the next chapter was chapter one.  I had to do some further investigation to discover there are three stories about four chapters each within this book.  A huge win for my student's who need shorter books to help them comprehend and transition to longer text!  The second story is a charming story of how Bertie becomes his grandma's dance partner in a contest and how they hope to win.  The third story is about an evening he spends with a new boy babysitter.  Let's just say it wasn't his typical babysitter experience.  

An avid reader in my room was telling me about the second book during a reading conference last week and couldn't stop gushing about how much he liked the book.  We did some investigating and found out there are 27 Dirty Bertie books!  After reading this first one I found a great deal to get all 27 books and they are on our way to our classroom.  Dirty Bertie might appear a little messy but he's full of charm, laughter, and good things for second grade readers!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Finding My Mojo {Celebrate This Week}

This weekend I'm celebrating finding my mojo - the art or practice of casting magic spells.  Now I must share right away I know I can't cast magic spells in reality however, I can create opportunities for possibilities.  Possibilities for students to have choice.  Possibilities for students to share their voice.  Possibilities for students to share their learning to teach others.  Possibilities for students to publish their thinking.  Possibilities to work with purpose and intent.  

I decided to close my writing teaching resource.  I decided to use the webs we created to collection information about guinea pigs which helped us understand our new class pet and create a planning sheet for student's to plan their own informational book.  Their planning sheet included a spot to choose their page topics and a checklist for nonfiction features to include.  I checked their plan and then I got busy talking to a student.  When I looked up, I was a bit surprised and thrilled to see how engaged every student was.  It was beautiful.  It was purposeful.  It was magic and my mojo was back.  

My mojo includes teacher choice; taking curriculum standards/goals and finding a meaningful way to foster student learning with purpose.

Thank you Ruth at Ruth Ayers Writes for encouraging us to find daily celebrations in our lives.  If you want to read more positive things stop by this week's post, Love is An Apple Core.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

#nf10for10 Sneak Peak {Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday}

It's been a long time since I joined Alyson for Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday but I knew I wanted to "launch" my #nf10for10 rally with those who are dedicated to nonfiction books.  I haven't joined this community in quite some time.  That doesn't mean I'm not reading nonfiction.  That doesn't mean I don't value nonfiction and it doesn't mean I've stopped sharing books.

But I do have a confession.  When I realized this event was right around the corner I questioned, do we really need it?  We are all busy.  There's so much goodness being shared about books already.  I questioned why and discovered...

1.  It's our 5th anniversary!  Anniversaries need to keep happening.
2.  I love projects with Cathy Mere.
3.  I love the connections people make with others who enjoy nonfiction books.
4.  I love friends who are willing to look at nonfiction books closer.
5.  Nonfiction books are different and need to highlighted, shared, and loved.

So, while these reasons appear to be a bit selfish, I bet anyone who has participated in either nonfiction 10 for 10 or our picture book 10 for 10 events might feel the same way.  So, I'd love to have you, your teammate, your friend, your neighbor - anyone you know should join us.  

In 2010 Cathy and I hosted our first picture book event.  In 2013, Julie Balen suggested we add a nonfiction picture book event that worked the same.  Participants choose 10 - well, usually 10 (they're a crafty bunch) - nonfiction picture books to share.  On the day of the event, we'll ask that you visit the Google Community site to add your nonfiction link to the 2017 #nf10for10 tab

  • What:  10 nonfiction picture books you can't live without.
  • Hashtag:  #nf10for10
  • Who:  Anyone interested --- educators, media specialists, librarians, parents, and book lovers.  
  • When:  Friday, February 10th
  • Where:  All posts will be linked on the 2017 #nf10for10 page of our Picture Book 10 for 10 Google Community Site.  
  • How:  Stop by our community site, join the community, and share your favorites on February 10th. 

Please spread the news and help us generate excitement.  Here's a sneak peak for one book that will be on my list this year.  You'll have to stop by on February 10th to find out why.

Thank you Alyson at Kid Lit Frenzy for hosting Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday!

Wednesday Wisdom; Words to Live By

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

That Tiny Little Box {Slice of Life}

I'm staring at a tiny little box.
It's as if the box is calling to me.  
Click me.  
You can do this.  
You can set a goal and work towards it.  
You can be more active in this community.  
It will help you personally and professionally.  
It will hold you accountable.  
It will let you be a model for others.  
It's as if the tiny little box is staring back at me now, daringly.

Epilogue - 

I couldn't click without more information.  I emailed a few friends who recently had been looking at the same tiny little box with how to questions.  Within 24 hours, I clicked the tiny little box and set a goal to read 100 books in 2017 and keep track of it within the Goodreads community.  I'm already excited how this little click and goal is taking action within my life, almost daily.  Stay tuned I'm sure it's going to show up in further slices this year.

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers group for hosting our writing community.  

You can find other slices from today by stopping by the link provided and thank you for joining me here today.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Can you count backwards from 100 by 7s? {Math Monday}

My in-laws were here over the holidays and my father in-law mentioned he just had his annual physical and everything went well.  He shared they asked him to do two tasks and he thought it was to show mental wellness.  When he told me the first task, I knew right away he passed that with flying colors.  He had to recite the alphabet backwards and he's been doing that for as long as I have known him.  A task I can't do.  

When he shared the next task I was worried but he didn't act worried.  The task was to subtract 7 from 100 down to 0-ish.  He didn't let on he couldn't do this or that he struggled so I wanted to know more and started an investigation.   I was envisioning regrouping mentally and I was stumped because it was taking me too long to think it through.  I asked him how he figured this out and he said, "oh it was easy - you subtract 7 one time and then subtract 10, adding back 3 each time."  I had to ponder and visualize this; only to confirm he was right.

I would assume much of my father in-laws math education involved learning how to regroup.  I was so proud of him for using an effective strategy to show his mental wellness.  Often parents I work with struggle to understand how strategies other than regrouping can make sense and be effective.  I'm going to share this little nugget with people when they need a concrete example for why we teach different strategies.

I also think this is a great story to share with students who also need to know why we study things and why different strategies can be helpful.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

One Little Word {Celebrate This Week}

This week I'm celebrating my one little word but not just selecting it; I've decided to slow down and spend more time with my word from last year.  Many moments, days, and projects I wish I had more time and as I pondered a new year and a new start with a new word I kept feeling like I wasn't done with my work from last year.  I tried to think of synonyms for last years word and came up with capture and record.  However, when I thought about the word capture I thought about physically catching lightening bugs or garden invaders that I don't want.  When I thought about the word record, I thought about record players and songs from when I was growing up and I have no intentions of focusing on singing.  

I listened to Ali Edwards and Elise Cripe in the podcast, episode 117 and where Ali encourages people to "show up, be curious, and try stuff."  She also mentioned she likes to exhaust the word she chooses along with finding joy and happiness with the choice she makes.  As I reread my thinking and post One Little Word 2016, I feel good about noticing, creating, and the fostering pieces but not everything I wrote about last year.

I struggle with capturing and documenting in my home life and my school life.  I think if I take Ali's advice and "show up, be curious, and try stuff" I will exhaust my word with joy and happiness.  I took time to share my word because I wanted to make sure I could start this project by trying stuff; taking action and I did.  I completed the January prompt for Ali Edwards One Little Word Class.  Okay, confession time - I'm just doing the course from 2016 that I never completed last year and I'm thrilled with my end result and the thinking I have for this year. 

One action step I'm taking this year is to share my mantra for the week; words to live by.  I was inspired to do this when my friend Cathy Mere started Wednesday Wisdom.  I asked Cathy if I could join her and she graciously said she would love to have someone to walk along side.  My hope is to have 52 Wednesday Wisdoms related to story to publish in a little coffee table book.

Thank you Ruth at Ruth Ayers Writes for encouraging us to find daily celebrations in our lives.  If you want to read more positive things stop by this week's post, Give Love Away.

Friday, January 13, 2017

NOW {Poetry Friday}


What do you love to do?
Make time for it.
Work will be there
Always constant
Love is fleeting
So is a sunrise
The bloom of an iris
A walk in the park
A child’s laughter
Time with a friend

What do you love to do?
Go do it, savor it


Regie Routman

Reggie Routman closes her book, Teaching Essentials with this poem.  I read this title back in 2011 and shared the poem during the summer months.  It hangs on my inspiration board as a guiding reminder.  These thoughts shouldn't wait until summer for educators and they seemed like a great way to start a new year.

Thank you to Keri at Keri Recommends for hosting Poetry Friday this week.