Friday, June 30, 2017

Haiku 7 {Poetry Friday}

flicker on blink off
twilight bursts welcoming dusk
summer magic glows

I've been observing my evening visitors for about two weeks new they would become a haiku in no time at all.  In making my list of words this week I did a quick definition search to make sure I understood twilight and dusk; making sure I used them in the correct order.  I'm always focused on the syllable structure but find it interesting I brought in a little science order for my word placement.  I went outside to take a picture tonight and observed in darkness; they disappear.  I played around including this in the last line but wanted to capture I think fireflies are pure magic.  

Thank you Diane at Random Noodling for hosting Poetry Friday this week.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Double or Nothing with the Two and Only Kelly Twins

written by Johanna Hurwitz
illustrated by Tuesday Mourning
Candlewick Press, 2017
review copy from public library

I was so excited to see Johanna Hurwitz has a new book out.  She's been an author I've enjoyed since I started teaching for books that are realistic and connect to readers.  Double of Nothing with the Two and only Kelly Twins is adorable and explores issues of sameness, being different, and lice.  Arlene and Ilene are identical twins.  They look alike, dress alike, and discover they like different things.  However, they do everything together until a sleepover with another set of twins or do not do everything together.  To Arlene and Ilene's surprise this sleepover is planned to be at two different houses.  The girls are splitting up and readers wonder and push through his chapter to see if they survive.  If you've experienced lice in your home or your classroom you know it's not an easy thing take care of mentally deal with.  I enjoyed reading the chapter about how the girls and their friends with the help of their school dealt with lice.  I think it could help someone after reading this.  While this is a transitional reader there aren't pictures or plenty of white space to help the reader.  Instead, this book has chapters that could stand alone which makes comprehension easier to understand.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

King and Kayla and the Case of the Secret Code

written by Dori Hillestad Butler
Illustrated by Nancy Meyers
Peachier Publishers 2017
review copy from public library

I discovered King and Kayla and the Case of the Secret Code at our lovely Main library last week in the children's section and just had to find out more about these two adorable characters.  King is a dog and Kayla is a little girl and together they are detectives.  You might be wondering how a dog is a detective.  King is a detective by retrieving things, smelling things, and thinking to himself.  It's very interesting because the humans don't understand King but his actions and the thinking the reader follows allows the reader to understand his helpful role more.  

Mason and Kayla receive letters that are in a jumbled code.  They work with King to figure out who sent them and learn how to decipher them.  I can't share the who or how the mystery is solved but readers will love how it's solved and probably want to try their own code writing.  I've been reading a lot lately about diverse books and children needing to see themselves in them, this would make a nice addition to any library for this reason.   This is a great book for transitional readers with lots of white space, picture support and text spread out.  It also looks like there are a couple more titles with King and Kayla.  I hope more books are coming.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Humor is the Best! {Slice of Life}

"Let me get some popcorn and watch this go down!"

I can't remember the details.  I wish I had written it down sooner.  I was talking with my youngest daughter trying to navigate something.  It was in the morning, after swim team practice and she didn't like my idea.  I think it was probably something with picking up her bedroom so it was reasonable.  It might have been to pick up something from the first floor but either way - it wasn't going as smoothly as I had hoped.  A simple yes would of been great but I got something better.

My middle daughter stating what she's thinking - "Let me get some popcorn and watch this go down!"  She burst into a belly laugh and we did too.  Once we stopped laughing, whatever needed to get done got done.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Monday, June 26, 2017

joy write by Ralph Fletcher

I love when I find books that nurture my soul and not make me worry or panic there's more to learn or do.  Ralph Fletchers words in joy write are gentle, kind, encouraging, and offer nudges to make students and writing the focus of our work.  As I read this book, I kept reflecting on the work I read by Donald Graves when I began my teaching journey.  Ralph has created the phrase greenbelt writing to help us understand writing and writing time should be protected in it's natural environment.  This writing from us and our students should be real, authentic, informal, comfortable, personal and filled with joy/passion.  If you are feeling you need support to balance units on narrative, opinion, and informational writing then this book is for you.

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

-give my writers moments of freedom, finding a balance genre standards

-use greenbelt writing as a way to get to know my students, as people

-remember writing workshop was not intended to be formulaic or extremely structured

-encourage, embrace, celebrate low stakes writing

-find the humor and try to enjoy feral writing students may produce

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

"I believe Piaget was right: we learn by doing, from our own experience.  We learn to write by writing on a daily basis."

"Blanket compliance to any program is dangerous.  Compliance doesn't allow for our intelligence, thoughtfulness, or professionalism."  (find this on page 18 for more)

"I believe it's important for kids to begin developing their own internal standards for what makes good writing."

"When you work with a reluctant writer, it's helpful to expand your definition of writing to include drawing, sketching, and doodling."

"But for many students, this low-stakes writing will have higher impact than any of the "school writing" they produce."

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Being Able To {Celebrate This Week}

This week I am celebrating being able to...

send our middle daughter to Kent State University for their Fashion Academy.  A pre-college experience for high school students interested in studying fashion design.  What an incredible experience for someone who is trying to decide on a college to attend and career to pursue.

afford this adventure for her; by working hard and setting some priorities we could make it possible.

help her explore her passion.  Her passion isn't really available here in a high school curriculum so I/we work hard to help her explore, learn, create, and be active where her heart wants to take her.  

It's a fun journey to watch.  She smiles, she beams, she's happy which in turn makes me happy.

       Thank you Ruth for encouraging us to stop and think about Celebrations.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Haiku #6 {Poetry Friday}

bee - zip dart up down
gentle landings carefully
gathering nectar

This week I used a photo from last week that I took purposefully for a haiku.  As I gathered my list of words and started a draft I had trouble thinking of the last word in the second line.  This syllable work makes me focus on words with more intention.  Carefully wasn't on my original list so I skipped a line to show it was added after my initial ramblings.  Then I wasn't sure what word I wanted to end this haiku with and did a Google search, adding nectar after carefully on my list.  I like thinking about the process here and hope it benefits my students next year.

Thank you Heidi at my juicy little universe for hosting Poetry Friday this week. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Rain by Sam Usher

author and illustrator Sam Usher
Candlewick Press, 2017
review copy provided by the publisher

When I began reading Rain I was touched by the relationship between the two characters; a little boy and a grandfather.  The little boy is wanting to have creative adventures out in the rain but the grandfather is putting him off a bit and wanting to wait for the rain to stop.  The boy's ideas are creative and action packed.  The grandfather listens patiently but isn't willing to join in.  The rain stops and the grandfather has a letter to mail.  The two of them get dressed to head outside and have a grand adventure.  The grandfather wasn't hesitant this time to join in and play.  The grandfather shares, "You see the very best things are always worth waiting for."  I think with the author's message directly stated this would be a great text to help students discuss things that happened in the story to help get this message across.

I love illustrations that are soft; warm tones, thin black lines to offer details and simple ways to show action.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd

I discovered the book Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd when @jenjmcdonough shared it during a Wonderopolis twitter chat.  The book begins with the question, "What is wild?  And where can you find it?"  As I read this book, I discovered it's more than just defining wild.  It's a book showing readers how to wonder and notice.  It even shows the reader that you might not notice right away but if you spend more time looking you will notice new things.  Wild can be captured with different senses.  The reader follows a young boy and girl as they explore wild in the great outdoors to a city setting.  The author lives in Washington DC; loving the woods and the beach while the illustrator Abigail Halpin lives in Maine.  I think both of their settings and experiences are clearly shared throughout the text.  This will definitely be a read aloud within the first month of school.

Here's a page of text to help nudge you to explore this book.

"Wild is full of smells - fresh mint, ancient cave, sun-baked desert, sharp pine, salt sea.  Every scent begging you to drink it in."

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Same Idea in a Different Genre {Slice of Life}

With much anticipation I wait for the first blossom to appear.  I start by soaking the seeds overnight in water to help them get jumpstarted.  I gently place them in the soil and watch for weeks as vines grow in height and wrap around the trellis.  That first morning glory blossom takes me back in time each year.  I'm about 8 or 9 years old and it is summer vacation.  We hop out of the car and find grandma.  She's usually in the house or we find her at the beach in her swim suit ready for her day.  She's excited to show us her morning glories.  We skip and hurry down near the lake.  Every year, in the same spot her old tree stump is wrapped in morning glory vines.  The old tree stump is probably three feet round in diameter and about three feet tall.  It's thick and wide; looking like a mini jungle in the yard.  There they are bursts of blue and pink blossoms!  Round and open, welcoming us for the day.  They are magical in my heart and mind because by lunchtime they will be closed; resting for another greeting the next day.

My first morning glory blossomed last week and I was immediately brought back to my grandmother's yard and having her next to me.  She was a lucky woman and lived on the lake year round.  I was a lucky girl because she was a short drive away and I could go any time I wanted to.  At first, I collected words and shared Haiku#5 this past Friday for Poetry Friday about morning glories but immediately I wanted to write a little slice; a narrative using the same topic.  I think I need to encourage my classroom writers to try the same thing; the same idea in a different genre.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for organizing our Slice of Life writing community.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros

The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros was my first summer professional read and lifted my soul.  It gave me hope and reminders why I became an educator.  I read it on my Kindle and have over two hundred notes.  I can't think of another book I've read recently that had so many thoughts I wanted to refer back to help my overall thinking.  The premise of the book - "I'm defining innovation as a way of thinking that creates something new and better...innovation is a way of thinking.  It is a way of considering concepts, processes and potential outcomes; it is not a thing, task, or even technology."  This is a book for classroom teachers and administration.  Often there are things mentioned for the whole of a district but as I reflected on those thoughts they apply to a classroom setting.  

If it's in your stack this summer, move it up.  If it isn't in your stack stop what you are doing and buy it or borrow it as soon as possible!  If you've already read it, you might want to revisit it.

These are nudges I found to try within my own work.
-start things slower, establish relationships with students and between students
-make growth mandatory for myself as an educator and my students
-create things with the knowledge we are acquiring, taking a growth mindset a step further
-adjust to my learners, don't let them fall into a pattern of compliance
-teach about resiliency, try and fail and try again
-try some new or different things at a district level to "lead"
-blog more again, share and connect with others

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

"Change is an opportunity to do something amazing."

"We forget if students leave school less curious than when they started, we have failed them."

"...relationships are at the crux of everything we do"

"But to develop these traits in our people, we must empower them; we must inspire innovation, rather than demand compliance."

"Change is inevitable.  Growth is optional."

"I believe it's possible to have kids who are deep thinkers, creators, and innovators, and still do well on their exams, but I do not want to forsake those critical elements for the latter."

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Fullness by Choice {Celebrate This Week}

This week I'm celebrating fullness by choice.

I watched a bee this week busily working it's magic on a plant outside a doctor office.  I thought, it's moving quickly, buzzing about just like I do.   Then I realized, this bee is very focused on the task at hand.  This bee is choosing to stay on this one plant; it wasn't plant hopping.  This past week was a week of fullness but as I watched this bee, I realized the fullness was by my own choice and I really enjoy choice.

Fullness by choice looked like this - in the summer

three days of softball games to total six
a swim meet where we were a heat winner with two PR
hosting teenage friends
painted my bedroom on my own
read my first pd book
started another book I can't put down
three runs
knitting at softball
reading at swim meet
there was inspiration
there was organization 
ice cream

I hope you get the idea.  While the list is starting to look too full or a to do list.  It wasn't.  It was filled with joy, laughter, smiles, frustration, help, love, effort, patience, cheering, listening, and redirection. 

Thank you Ruth for encouraging us to stop and think about Celebrations.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Haiku #5 {Poetry Friday}

hello - bursts open
morning greeter daily joy
magic every June

This week as part of my writing process I found myself stopping and noticing nature without my notebook or the time to draft a list of words.  Instead I snapped a picture and then took the time later to ponder my thoughts about those moments.  

Thank you Carol at Carol's Corner for hosting Poetry Friday.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Haiku #4 {Poetry Friday}

lush rich vibrant greens
Spring transitions to Summer

I had another plan for Haiku #4 and was going to use my list of words from last week and think differently.  However, I explored a fairly new Metro Park in our area tonight and found myself collecting words as I was running.  Then I was stringing words together and counting syllables.  I was a bit surprised to find myself "writing" while running.  Maybe that list of words will be revisited when I get stuck one week.  As I was writing, I really wanted to capture the big feeling I felt while exploring this park and when it came down to one word I recounted the syllables many times to make sure it was five.  I always think of haiku as a string of words but discovered it doesn't have to be.

Thank you Mary Lee at A Year of Reading for hosting Poetry Friday this week.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Farmer Duck is 25 Years Old!

Readers everywhere are so lucky Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell and Helen Oxenbury is being celebrated by Candlewick Press.  In 1992 it made it's first appearance in the inaugural list of new books for Candlewick Press.  Together they have had an integral part in developing readers.

This book couldn't be more timely to be revisited.  We need books about friendship, justice, and fairness.  Poor Duck does all the work around the farm while the farmer lays in bed eating chocolates and being lazy.  Even though it's summer, I think I need to find a group of emergent readers to join in and chorally read this with me.  I can hear them in my head after I read, "How goes the work?"  They read with energy, "Quack".  The animals plot how to get the farmer out of bed and their plan surprised me a bit.  It leaves the animals working together to run the farm.  While the text appears perfect for emerging readers I think older students would have a lot to say around justice and fairness.  I'm also thinking it's a great visual for teamwork.

As I read this book, I thought it would pair well with Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin.  A huge shoutout to Candlewick Press for this copy to preview.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Just Stop...{Slice of Life}

My youngest returned from camp today.  She was tired and hungry.  I gave her some space and went about doing some "helpful" things around the house.  (aka my new word for chores)  I passed by to check in while she was watching TV and she said, "Mom, do you want to come and watch this next Bones with me?"  I was in the middle of a mental list and told her in a little bit.  Then I realized she's been gone and she's a little bit tired AND she asked me to do something.  That doesn't happen very often with teenagers so I stopped that mental list, grabbed some lunch and sat with her to watch an episode of Bones.  It's important to stop and just spend time with others.  

I need to remember this in the fall when school starts.  It's important to just spend time with others to build a community and relationships.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Monday, June 5, 2017

A Squiggly Story by Andrew Larsen

A Squiggly Story by Andrew Larsen is a book to revisit a few times to discuss different aspects of writing workshop.  Right away, I could empathize with main character as she describes her older sister.  Quite often younger siblings have a comparison hurdle to overcome.  The little brother is stuck, unsure how to get started writing and worried he doesn't know how to write.  The older sister is encouraging and they actually have a little writing conference to help him get started.  The older sister is positive and offers suggestions, isn't that what we try to do as teachers?  I'm reminded about my classrooms filled with kindergarten writers.  The little boy brings his story to sharing circle at school and "reads" his story which is a verbal retelling more detailed and involved than his actual writing.  I love how the little boy admits he's stuck and his peers offer helpful suggestions.  Writers grow with peer feedback.  The ending is a celebration in itself for this new writer and one I can't give away.

I'll be honest, at first I wanted the boy's writing to be more phonetic because I thought the book was about the actual writing but it's not.  It's about a process.  It's about a community that supports each other.  This will be a must read for next year in our room.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Accepting {Celebrate This Week}

This week I'm celebrating accepting the unknown.

I've been wrestling with something for a month now and over time I've realized it's out of my hands.  About a month ago, I was told there is a 50% chance I will changing grade levels next year.  I have changed grade levels several times over the years; about every five years I get an itch.  I don't have the itch right now and it's not familiar territory so I'm feeling uneasy.  I'm not sure when there will be a decision so I have my school life on hold.

Accepting my school life is on hold has required a lot of acceptance.

In accepting this in-between I'm reading adult fiction, organizing fabrics, walking, running, driving the girls around, gardening, seeing friends, celebrating birthdays, and enjoying my first week off.  Right now I'm accepting the unknown because it's opened time and doors for new things.

Thank you Ruth for encouraging us to stop and think about Celebrations.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Haiku #3 {Poetry Friday}

clear blue sky clarity
bright sunshine brings joy and hope
June invites stillness

I decided to eat breakfast outside this morning and just notice - using my sense of sight and hearing.  I've been making a list of words to start my haiku writing of my observations and then playing around with how they might go together.  Today's list is quite longer and included sounds of birds and shadows of flight.  Maybe these list will circle back and help another day.

Today's Poetry Friday is being hosted by Buffy at Buffy's Blog.