Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Glorkian Warrior Delivers A Pizza {Exploring Graphic Novels}

This week I'm exploring and getting to know more about graphic novels for younger readers.  On Sunday I celebrated what began this journey, with Being Out of My Reading Comfort Zone.  

The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza by James Kochalka is funny and full of fantasy ideas.  The Glorkian Warrior is a three eyed skinny alien.  He gets a call to deliver a pizza and has quite the journey trying to get this done.  Glorikan Warrior and his side kick,  super backpack have a super car they aren't too sure how to drive.  They run into Glonk; a giant who loves pizza.  However, the reader will soon discover Glonk may not really be a giant.  Then there's an egg from a space ship which means an alien baby for them to interact with.  Their interactions are charming and humorous.  The pizza eventually gets delivered but they find out the journey may not have been necessary.

I learned graphic novels aren't always quick reads.  This book took some time for me to read, several short sessions.  There's more action than my previous reads this week and the illustrations were key in showing this.  The colors were also selected and organized to help tell each chapter. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Many Adventures of Johnny Mutton {Exploring Graphic Novels}

On Sunday, I celebrated Being Our of My Reading Comfort Zone with Ruth Ayers and community.  It's been about ten years since Baby Mouse and Lunch Lady entered my life.  I've been teaching younger grades recently and thought I would share books I'm exploring to learn more about graphic novels myself.  I'm also not going to google - What is a graphic novel?, until next weekend.  I want to explore, learn on my own and share my learning here.

The Many Adventures of Johnny Mutton written and illustrated by James Proimos is filled with six short stories.  A great feature for transitional readers who might be striving to retain longer stories.  The first story is a story we are all familiar with...a baby left on the front porch of a house.  But this baby isn't a human baby, it's a baby sheep who a human agrees to raise and care for.  This sets Johnny up for being a little bit different which guides his adventures and interactions with others.  He is funny and I really enjoyed his twists that make him successful in unlikely situations for a sheep.

I learned graphic novels can have short stories that can stand alone.  This graphic novel seemed to have more story through out the book above or below the graphic box making the reading a bit more involved than just speech bubbles.  As a reader, I love epilogues and this book has a follow up for each character on a page titled; Where Are They Now?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

"Rules" vs Helping {Slice of Life}

Prologue - Snack is necessary and for the majority of my career I've had families donate bags of snacks and I would quickly pass out the same thing to each student.  My first building did it this way so everyone would have snack.  It was easy to give out and quicker.  My second building had everyone bring their own but I held true to what was comfortable until a few years ago for health reasons within my classroom.  When I made the switch I decided I would not provide any snack, even if students forgot.  

Last Week - It was independent reading time.  The room was quiet and students were reading.  My heart was in turmoil.  He forgot his snack.  Usually that's okay but today I happened to ask if he ate breakfast because he shared he was hungry.  He hadn't eaten breakfast.  I kept thinking about any food I might have to share and realized I had some pretzels in my lunch today.  He left for a restroom break.  I grabbed a brown institutional paper towel and my bag of pretzels.  At his seat, I put a small handful of my pretzels and wrote a note in pencil; I had some pretzels in my lunch today and thought I could share them with you.  Love, Mrs. Robek.  I went to the park bench at the carpet and waited for him to come back.  He read my note and slowly lifted his head searching the room for me.  I motioned a thumbs up and he just beamed ear to ear.  We exchanged smiles and my heart was no longer in turmoil.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Johnny Boo {Exploring Graphic Novels}

On Sunday, I celebrated Being Our of My Reading Comfort Zone with Ruth Ayers and community.  It's been about ten years since Baby Mouse and Lunch Lady entered my life.  I've been teaching younger grades recently and thought I would share books I'm exploring to learn more about graphic novels myself.  I'm also not going to google - What is a graphic novel?, until next weekend.  I want to explore, learn on my own and share my learning here.

Johnny Boo The Best Little Ghost in the World! by James Kochalka is a fun story about two ghost friends and an ice cream monster.  As you might imagine an ice cream monster is a fun loving character and not that scary at all.  Squiggle and Johnny Boo start the book with a game of chase.  Their friendship has dialogue I'm sure our students can encounter on the playground.  Language around super powers, cheating, and sorries.  They decide to get ice cream and have strong feelings that the ice cream monster is mean.  I don't think anyone who likes ice cream can be mean.  It's a cute ending about becoming friends and solving worries.

I learned graphic novels can have chapters.  This book is illustrated in just five colors and I like that color scheme.  It seemed less busy than others in my stack and let me focus not he words; in and out of speech bubbles.  This is obviously in the genre of fantasy which made me think about graphic novels being a format; not a genre.  I just discovered there are several stories with Johnny Boo for my readers who love series books.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Morning Mystery {Exploring Graphic Novels}

Yesterday I celebrated Being Our of My Reading Comfort Zone with Ruth Ayers and community.  It's been about ten years since Baby Mouse and Lunch Lady entered my life.  I've been teaching younger grades recently and thought I would share books I'm exploring to learn more about graphic novels myself.  I'm also not going to google - What is a graphic novel?, until next weekend.  I want to explore and learn on my own.

Morning Mystery by Christianne C Jones and illustrated by Remy Simard is part of a series, My 1st Graphic Novel.  I fell in love with this book before I even read it because after the title page there is guidance for the reader, How to Read a Graphic Novel.  Perfect even for me, an adult reader.  

Brynn is too tired to get up in the morning and has a rough start.  There is water in her slippers.  The toothpaste went everywhere; creating a mess.  After pouring her milk at breakfast she noticed it was green!  She looks around the kitchen for clues and finds answers when her mom turns the calendar for the month.  I think readers will really enjoy finding out who is behind her unusual morning start.  

I learned graphic novels can be realistic fiction.  The layout can be easy for readers with just one - three text boxes to navigate per page.  With the help from the How to Read a Graphic Novel I carefully read each box of text and illustrations in order to increase my comprehension and joy.  I also think this book would make a great guided reading group because the story line is easy to follow and relatable for students.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Being Out of My Reading Comfort Zone! {Celebrate This Week}

This week I'm celebrating being out of my reading comfort zone!  I've watched my boys at library check out repeatedly check out Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Captain Underpants.  I find the hardest thing about working with second grade readers is they become good word decoders but don't stop and think to completely comprehend.  So, I silently cringe when these thicker books go home but then I find peace because they have a desire to check something out from our school library and are motivated to hopefully read it at home and maybe they will get help.  I have Baby Mouse and Lunch Lady from my third grade days and really feel right now for these readers they might be a bit hard.

Last week, as I cringed and couldn't wrestle with peace I asked my school librarian for something like Wimpy Kid and Captain Underpants in a graphic novel format but more accessible for my readers.  I tell her I have Baby Mouse and Lunch Lady from my third grade days and really feel right now for these readers they might be a bit hard.  I know they can read the words but I want the comprehension piece of reading easily accessible.  I wanted graphic novels because I thought they might appeal to these readers I kept observing and I thought I might find some with humor along Wimpy Kid and Captain Underderpants.  She took me right over to her graphic novels section, I didn't know our library had one and started rattling off lots of different titles for me to consider.  She was also so proud she left empty space for this section and hopes to grow her collection.  At that the same time, I sent a tweet to Colby Sharp who got right back to me along with a few others to help me find accessible books.

I'm working my way through a dozen books.  I'm learning lots of things about this format for books.  I heard Mary Lee Hahn say once, they are a format and not a genre.  This is not a format I would choose to pick up and read.  My youngest daughter loved Smile but that is the only graphic novel I think we own.  When I was little, I loved the Snoopy cartoon and have some books of Snoopy cartoons I got.  While I'm learning lots about their format, features, and different genres I feel like I'm out of my reading comfort zone.  I feel like I'm going into each book a bit hesitant until I find something that makes me chuckle or comfortable.  Its good to be stretched.  Its good to do something I ask my students to do.  Its good to try.

Thank you Ruth at Ruth Ayers Writes for encouraging us to find daily celebrations in our lives.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Dear Cathy, it's #nf10for10 in 1 Month!

Dear Cathy,

I couldn't believe it when you sent me a message the other day asking me about sharing Nonfiction Picture Book 10 for 10 today.  I felt like it was still August and we were basking in all the glory of Picture Book 10 for 10.  But when I woke up from that memory, I realized the temperatures have dipped.  The snow has been flying and the weather forecast on my favorite weather app is getting my hopes up this weekend could look like Buffalo here in Ohio.  You know that just makes me excited and if I get snowed in for days I might just start gathering ideas for my Nonfiction Picture Book 10 for 10 list.

Can you believe it's our 6th anniversary for this event?  If we still had babies at home we'd be sending them to kindergarten or first grade.  That's a lot of growing and each year I think we are so fortunate to have others help us grow this event by talking about nonfiction picture books.  

I have to be honest, I no clue what I might want to share this year.  I took a trip down blogging memory lane to discover the first year was a collection of all time favorites.  I've shared books to promote history, favorite biographies, books in my house with three daughters, and last year I wrote a post to help a friend with a second grade reader that focused on books for independent reading.  I think nonfiction books can be tricky because you don't always have to read the whole book so sometimes you can read snippets and not have to have the book be at an independent level.  I bet that thought will get you thinking and send me a message.

Thank you for the reminder, Cathy.  This is going to be a wonderful event and I hope our readers will think about joining themselves, invite teammates, friends, and new acquaintances because the more the merrier!

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 2018 #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:  Saturday, February 10th
  • Where:  All posts will be linked on the 2018 #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. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Unusual Sighting on my Walk {Slice of Life}

We woke to an icy morning and school is closed but the temperatures are finally above ten degrees so we are out walking.   My four legged furry friend and I are enjoying the white dusting of snow.  We are careful stepping on the icy layer underneath.  He stops along the way to smell things around him.  It feels great to be on our usual path, a mile loop in the neighborhood.  As we approach the pond, all is quiet.  The kids playing hockey yesterday must have realized the ice had started to melt and wouldn't be safe.  I see something out of the corner of my eye.  A creature with tall skinny legs, an oval body, circle head, and a pointy beak.  It's standing on the ice.  At first this image seemed normal but then I remember it's completely the wrong season for what I think is a heron to be standing on the pond.  I can't figure out why he would be there.  Poor thing was all scrunched up.  His habitat was frozen.  He couldn't land smoothly and swim around.  By the time I circled back he was gone from the pond.  Now I wonder why he was there?  Is he injured?  Is he a she?  Can he survive the winter months here?  What I do know is I will be on the look out for this what I think is a heron on future walks this winter. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

What I Learned by doing a Goodreads Reading Challenge

I'm so excited to share I made my first ever Goodreads Reading Challenge goal for 2017!  I was very hesitant about setting a goal for the first time and worried more about putting a number to it but as I watched friends make their goals I decided to be brave.  I was going to set a low obtainable number but that seem like a challenge and this was going to be a reading challenge.  I decided to push my worries away and decided to read 100 books in 2016.

These are somethings I learned by doing this challenge.  I liked being faithful to Goodreads and recording what I read.  I loved seeing the number of books get recorded and updates if I was on track for making my goal.  I loved seeing what other friends were reading and appreciated when someone liked something I wrote in a review or a book I read.  I tried to update my reading progress as I read but it began to feel like a daily reading log.   When my progress didn't move or change, I felt like I was failing a bit as a reader.  I was doing well recording my reading until this fall and the start of a new school year.  

I did a quick scan to learn about what I like to read.  I read six professional books, two young adult books, seven nonfiction self help books, many picture books from different genres and early chapter books.  I use to think picture book reading wasn't really me reading but it is.  I need to read them to be a better teacher but I truly enjoy picture books and always have.  I discovered sometimes readers might read about a topic they don't want to share with others; its personal.  I didn't record those titles but just recently discovered I could keep track of them for me and keep them off my feed.  I'm sure I missed recording some picture books I read at school so maybe I surpassed my goal.

I decided to join the Goodreads Reading Challenge again for 2018 and keep the same goal. I'd love to read more young adult books in 2018.  It's a way for me to connect and have something to talk about with my daughters.  I have quite a TBR pile of professional books and adult books to read.  I'd like to make a dent in both of these collections.  I do enjoy reading early chapter books  and picture books for my classroom, I want to include them in my reading this year.  I liked having a way to connect with other readers and I think I could be more engaged in the Goodreads community than just posting what I have read.  

My feelings as a reader from this challenge are already carrying over into my teaching.  This week we will start each independent reading with a Status of the Class share.  I believe it's the physical real life version of the Goodreads feed.  I believe this helps motivate and create a culture of readers.  I had my students start to record finished books last week in their reading notebook.  In the past I've created forms but I thought this way might be a bit more organic and I wanted to see how they take ownership for recording books they've read.  I hope to guide them through their own reading reflections at various points this quarter.  I don't know how long we'll keep this list going but I think I can show them how to use it to help find authors and genres they like.  I think both of these actions will help them create their own reading identity which is really important with second grade readers.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

One Little Word 2018 {Celebrate this Week}

My One Little Word for 2018 is Hope.  I shared this on Instagram a week ago and didn't know if I was going to write about it publicly even though I love reading everyone's thoughts and reasons.  I always write publicly about my One Little Word and think it helps bring clarity but this year is different.  Then my friend Deb left this comment, "Are you hoping for specific things, Mandy?"  I thought this was a great question from someone who cares and I still wasn't sure how to answer this so it has sat unanswered.

I discovered hope while talking with Ruth at NCTE about The Giving Keys.  She shared her experiences with these necklaces and I confirmed this is something my daughter mentioned she wanted.  One of Ruth's stories was about the word hope.  I had to look up the definition because something about it just felt right.  Hope according to - the feeling that what is wanted can be had or the events will turn out for the best.  That right there filled my heart.

This word reminds me of the year when I chose embrace.  My girls all had some major shifts coming up; college, high school, and middle school.  I knew our family dynamics were going to change and I could saddle up and embrace it or crawl up and worry.  2018 will bring more major shifts to our family and while I will choose to embrace, I will have hope.

Our oldest is in the middle of graduate school interviews and waiting for notification letters about the outcome from her applications.  She could stay close to home at our favorite undergraduate school or she could be out of state.  I have hopes for either outcome.  My middle daughter got accepted to start her freshman year at her number one choice here in state but two hours away.  Different than our first twenty minute experience.  She is eager and ready to follow her dreams so I have some hopes for the next eight months while she is here with us daily when life beyond is exciting.  While I'm excited to have some one on one time my youngest; she's quite worried about not having her sisters close.  I understand; from the minute she was born she's always had them coming and going.

Deb, I do have hopes for specific things.  I love to gather projects and I hope to get things accomplished without buying more.  I hope to sew, to read, to exercise, and work on my health.  When I decided to write today and rekindle this blog I realized it's okay to not take all writing public. I have some very personal reasons for the word hope and I believe readers and writers have moments where personal can be respected and support given without details.  Some stories aren't mine to share.  Social media makes things so easy to share but not all things do need to be shared.  We are safe.  We are healthy and sometimes everyone takes one day at a time and that's where hope comes in - events will turn out for the best.

Thank you Ruth at Ruth Ayers Writes for encouraging us to find daily celebrations in our lives.