Saturday, August 10, 2019

Ten Years - 1 Book Each Year {Picture Book 10 for 10}

When Cathy and I met and Picture Book 10 for 10 began I never envisioned ten years later I would be gathering and writing posts about my must have picture books.  I am grateful for Cathy.  While she maintains a huge spot on my mentor/teaching hero list she has become a colleague, confidant, and friend.  I can't wait for school to start next week because it means our Tuesday Talks via Voxer will pick back up.  I am grateful for Twitter and how that plays in a role in all of us sharing great book titles and connects us with kindred spirits.  I am grateful for you - readers and participants who make this project even possible.  This project isn't about Cathy and Mandy.  It's about the community and sharing that will happen today.

So, without further ado - here's my list for 2019.  Just one book from the previous lists.  I have 100 books to narrow down to 10.  I was teaching kindergarten and now I'm teaching second....I might need a crystal ball.



1. (2010)  Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Eric Carle changed my life in college!  I was sitting in my reading methods course at SUNY College at Buffalo when Dr. Phelps read this book in class.  I was introduced to a predictable pattern, shared reading, Eric Carle, collage hand made papers, turning the page slightly ahead of the text to encourage student participation and I'm sure much more.  I remember thinking this was much more fun and engaging than the basal readers and reading groups I grew up with.  I've never had a group of students who didn't fall in love with this book.



2. (2011) Cornelius P Mud, Are You Ready for School?  by Barney Saltzberg is a book while simple in text the inferring and ah ha moments expand primary grades.  As we reread this book together we really notice humor within the illustrations.  Cornelius is a great character for young students, they can connect with him.





3. (2012) Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox is about older people, it's about spending time with them, it's about memories.  Memories give us ideas for writing.  As in this story, memories help us remember.   I think we need to work harder and bridge the gap between our young and old.   I think we need to work harder as a profession to help students make writing easier by writing about memories and things they have done.  I just love the relationship between these two characters.













4. (2013) I can't believe I removed this book for a year and am glad it's the one making it to the top ten in ten years. Ish by Peter Reynolds is a must have for any classroom to embrace the arts and the differences between artist capabilities.  It encourages the reader to look at things in a different way, with a different lens.  Looking at things with a different lens is essential for 21st century learning.  Glad you, stayed, Ish!













5.  (2014) Once Upon a Time Niki Daly shows us how Sarie doesn’t mind the hot sun in the South Africa and worries about being at school and learning how to read.  The reader follows Sarie’s journey and how she does learn to read.


6. Oh no, 2015 I actually didn't write a post.  This always falls during the changing of summer to getting ready for school seasons and I could only find hosting/sharing post for participation.  Life gets busy and that's okay.
















7. I Wish You More (2016) by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Wishes aren't just for birthdays or seeing the first star at night.  I usually read this story at the end of the year but I'm thinking about starting the year with it and then revisiting it at the end of the year.


8. (2017) 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. 











9. (2018)  I am a Warrior Goddess by Jennifer Adams gives us guidance for tackling your day and affirmations for how you can help others and tackle your day.  I used this book to guide students in writing affirmations to hang with their self portraits.


10.  (2019) I Will Be Fierce! by Bea Birdsong is an empowering new picture book with our main character ready to tackle her day.  I love the very first page.  Our main character sits up in bed, raises her arm up high with a fist and declares, "Today, I will be fierce!"  The following pages and illustrations show the reader examples of what being fierce can look like.  













Thursday, August 1, 2019

Picture Book 10 for 10 is COMING!

Dear Cathy,

I was very worried about you here in July.  I wondered if you would return from the beautiful sites I saw on Instagram and I did notice you weren't sharing any book titles.  Which makes me wonder if your list this year will have anything new on it.  I hope our participants realize their list doesn't have to completely change each year.  Mine doesn't always.  This is a challenging day and event for me.  It started with you wondering my ten must have books.  How is this even feasible with so many wonderful books published each year?  We both enjoy reading and buying books.  I do think you are better about using our public library and I've been trying to do that more and more.  Maybe my list will have to be books I actually own.  Maybe my list will be my all time favorites with a title or two swapped out.  Maybe my list will be about repetition or emotions.  I have ten more days to make a decision, thank goodness.

The Basics
Want to join the conversation? 

  • What:  10 picture books you can't live without.
  • Hashtag:  #pb10for10
  • Hosts:  @mandyrobek (you're here), 
  •              @cathymere (Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community)
  • Who:  Anyone interested --- educators, media specialists, librarians, parents, and book lovers.  
  • When:  Saturday, August 10th
  • Where:  All posts for 2019 will be linked to Cathy's blog:  Reflect and Refine

Here's how you can participate:

  1. Grab a Badge (just copy the URL address of the one above or take a screenshot)
  2. 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 or thread to connect their selections.  We'll leave this up to you.
  3. Narrow Your List to Ten:  It isn't easy, is it?  We've seen some crafty ways to get around that number.  
  4. Write Your August 10th Post:  Write a post about the ten books you cannot live without.  Share the link to your collection here, at Reflect and Refine, on August 10th.  
  5. No Blog?  No Problem:  If you don't have a blog, this might be the perfect time to start one --- or there are a million digital ways to join.  You could post from a Google page, create a S'more, share in Twitter (and copy the Tweet link), or any other creative idea you may be considering.  We will also be tweeting from the #pb10for10 hashtag.    
  6. 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, July 29, 2019

I'm Worried by Michael Ian Black {Mental Wellness}

I'm Worried by Michael Ian Black has a fun twist in my collection of worry books.  There are three characters; a potato, a flamingo, and a girl.  The potato states, it's worried.  Sometimes I think it's helpful for something completely different than yourself have the same feelings you may have.  The girl and flamingo do some probing and discover the potato is scared of the future.  The future worries are giant - anything can go wrong.  I enjoyed reading the girls guidance as she took both characters on a memory walk revisiting slightly bad things that happened to each of them;  potato rolled off  table and flamingo stuck her/his beak in a jar of peanut butter.  She even has her own slightly bad memory and she points out they were okay in time each time.  Then potato and flamingo have an idea that will protect them from worries and in reality it's silly and doesn't last long.  The book ends with a big life idea.  "Since we don't know what's going to happen in the future, maybe we should just enjoy the now."  This book isn't just for children and there is a humorous ending to bring readers giggles haven't some that reflection on life.


"Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act." (mental health.gov) I hope you find this post helpful in supporting mental wellness. "Wellness is an approach to preventing illness and prolonging life as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases." (dictionary.com)  

Let's be proactive in and out of our classrooms.  If you are looking for more resources Nationwide Children's Hospital here in Columbus, Ohio has valuable resources and  to transform children's mental heath.  #OnOurSleeves

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The Fantastic Elastic Brain Stretch It, Shape It by JoAnn Deak

Last week I attended a two day workshop on Whole Brain Teaching.  One of my favorite parts was learning about the brain and how all the different parts come together and a chant with motions to help students understand.  I fear that over time my students are sitting way too much and need to move and groove.  I'm so lucky my friend asked if I knew about The Fantastic Elastic Brain Stretch It, Shape It by JoAnn Deak because I didn't.

I've reread the book several times and I'm wondering how did I miss this one!  The book begins by defining what the brain is and what it does; highlighting the different parts.  The Amygdala is fascinating.  It's in the center of our brain and controls our emotions while the Prefrontal Cortex helps us make plans and decisions.  The book shares information about practicing and stretching our brains.    I often tell students we learn the most when we make mistakes and this book confirms my thinking.  There's a page discussing the different areas of the brain that are needed to learn how to play the piano and could launch a great discussion about their own learning interests and how they are using different parts of their brain.

I'm so happy to have found this book for the first month of school.  It's a great introduction for Whole Brain Teaching and of course, growth mindset.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Her Haircut Leads to Much More.... {Slice of Life}

She started pacing.  She called her oldest sister for advice and probably reassurance.  She had a friend come over to go with her for support.   They left early to get a drink at Starbucks without caffeine.  I met them at our one and only favorite hairdresser.  She walked in taking deep breaths and shaking her arms, "I've got this."  She shows nervousness, anxiousness, uncertainty, and then she says - "Let's do this."  Our one and only favorite hairdresser makes a ponytail and measures the length.  My daughter grabs her friend's hand and snip.  Ten inches are cut for a donation.  Two more inches are cut while shaping and redesigning.  Joy ends our session.

As I watched all of this transpire, I thought about those feelings of nervousness, anxiousness, and uncertainty.  Feelings that can really be prevelant as a new school year starts for everyone.  What I noticed was my girl riding the wave of these emotions and reaching out for support from her friend - verbally and physically.  Let's remember to pause and take in what we feel and reach out for help.  




Thank you Two Writing Teachers 
for fostering this writing community called A Slice of Life.

Monday, July 22, 2019

I'm Happy - Sad Today by Lori Britain {Mental Wellness}

I am so happy author Lori Britain reached out to me and sent me a copy of her new book.  I'm Happy - Sad Today embraces and guides readers with the many emotions they can feel in the same day and most likely very close in time.  Lori refers to these as Mixed - Together Feelings.  The book begins by identify emotions and how they feel different based on the situation.  Then Lori begins sharing mixed - together feelings.  For example; going to school on the first day of school can feel scary and brave together.  Another example is when a baby sibling is born and the big sister can feel proud and jealous.  I love this combination - frustrated and determined.  My favorite part of the book is when the sweet main character acknowledges she can feel more than one feeling at a time.  The book ends with ways the main character can handle these emotions and they involve talking, listening, sitting, being active, using her imagination, movement, art, and word play.  That's right - why not mix emotion feelings together!  Try these on for fun - mad, happcited, loveappy, and glappy.

The illustrations by Matthew Rivera are set against a bright white background and the colors hues are just right for helping this story be told.  They are vibrant and yet subtle.  They show diversity in a time we need diverse community examples and mentors.

The book has a lovely ending for caregivers and parents.  There's a guide for talking about feelings and strategies for supporting social emotional growth.  



"Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act." (mental health.gov) I hope you find this post helpful in supporting mental wellness. "Wellness is an approach to preventing illness and prolonging life as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases." (dictionary.com)  

Let's be proactive in and out of our classrooms.  If you are looking for more resources Nationwide Children's Hospital here in Columbus, Ohio has valuable resources and  to transform children's mental heath.  #OnOurSleeves

Friday, July 19, 2019

In the Past by David Elliott {Poetry Friday}

I spent this past school year collecting books about dinosaurs.  When I met my readers last year I had two avid dinosaur book readers with not one single book in my huge collection.  Dinosaurs had been an interest in my early days and over time they weren't looked at I weeded them out.  I was so glad to learn there's a new interest from readers and then to discover authors and publishers are recognizing this new need.

In the Past by David Elliott and illustrated by Matthew Trueman is beautiful and part of the nonfiction poetry collection in my room.  I do not know much about dinosaurs and found this book to be a perfect amount of information and didn't make me feel overwhelmed.  Each poem is about one type of dinosaur and describes things about their physical traits, behaviors, and/or habitats.  The dinosaurs shared are also organized in a timeline starting at the Cambrian Period to the Quaternary Period.  

As a non dinosaur reader, I found the illustrations so supportive and needed for my own comprehension.  There's a note saying the illustrations were done in mixed media and I wish there was more.  The monotone shades used really make the book flow nicely.  

The book ends with a note from the author that is just lovely.  I enjoyed his honesty in admitting at the time of publications his facts and information is current and that our information about these creatures is constantly evolving.  The book does conclude with a blip about each dinosaur mentioned with your traditional nonfiction fact format.

I shared this book with a rising third grader during a softball game a couple of weeks ago and he loved it!  He knew he liked to read about dinosaurs and really enjoyed the poetry format.


Thank you Carol at Carol's Corners for hosting Poetry Friday this week.  
It feels good to be back sharing poetry and blogging again.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Gradual Release at the Dog Park {Slice of Life}

It's sunny.  It's a perfect summer day - not too hot and warm enough to swim.  We load the car with two legged humans and our four legged friend.  Honestly, the dog park that's free with water access seems a bit of a drive and I tag along because they all like going.  I get there and do some self talking.    I'm a bit spoiled when it comes to water spots.  I grew up on a Finger Lake in Upstate New York.  I love pebbled lake fronts and love the sand at the ocean.  Today the sand seems gritty and dragged in replicate something much nicer.  There's wet four legged friends chasing each other around and I flinch each time they pass hoping to not get sprayed with that wet dog shake.

My husband and girls are all in.  They find a stick and start throwing it and Winniee leaps through the air landing in the water with complete joy.  A younger couple drift our way with a black lab puppy and we learn it's his first time at the water.  He's probably between six months and year old.  He watches Winniee come back and forth; in and out of the water.  He begins to wade in and darts back out; still keeping an eye on Winniee.  Maybe fifteen minutes in to our time together he takes the plunge and follows her out to her stick.  He's swimming!

I start reflecting on the gradual release model and find myself questioning modeling.  I modeled projects in the classroom when I was younger that became direct replicas when my students tried the independent piece.  I'm often cautious about modeling something completely, if it's a physical product.  I find discussions to be different.  However, watching two dogs work through the modeling, gradual release model in a way has me pondering and revisiting what is needed for the gradual release model to create independent and success at the end and with ease.

for fostering this writing community called A Slice of Life.

Monday, July 15, 2019

I Will Be Fierce! by Bea Birdsong {Mental Wellness}

I Will Be Fierce! by Bea Birdsong is an empowering new picture book with our main character ready to tackle her day.  I love the very first page.  Our main character sits up in bed, raises her arm up high with a fist and declares, "Today, I will be fierce!"  The following pages and illustrations show the reader examples of what being fierce can look like.  Together the words and the text show us she can drive back dragons which are really puppies, walk among the giants which are really grownups, and she will break away from the ordinary.  She paints herself riding the shell of a turtle while her classmates paint just an animal.  Another favorite part in this book is when she's checking out a huge stack of library books and refers to them as a mountain of knowledge and the librarian as the guardian of wisdom.  This story is about overcoming your fears, seeing things differently, and ends with needing some rest while being your own hero.

This book could be used to to help students "Turn the Mind" and think about the opposite action of their current feelings.  "I also think "I will be fierce!" is an affirmation that could be used to help our mindset when we get stuck.



"Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act." (mental health.gov) I hope you find this post helpful in supporting mental wellness. "Wellness is an approach to preventing illness and prolonging life as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases." (dictionary.com)  

Let's be proactive in and out of our classrooms.  If you are looking for more resources Nationwide Children's Hospital here in Columbus, Ohio has valuable resources and movement to transform children's mental heath.  #OnOurSleeves

Thursday, June 20, 2019

The Don't Worry Book by Todd Parr {Mental Wellness}

As soon as I read, The Don't Worry Book by Todd Parr I wanted to somehow find funding to put this book in the hands of every classroom and home.  We all worry and Todd validates that on the first page and then defines worry on the next.  He then shares examples of when we could worry with his bright drawings that show detail for those worry emotions.  His worry examples cover all ages; from when you are trying to sleep, use the bathroom or have too many things to do.  I love the two pages where he address technology usage; "when watching TV or from looking at screens too much."  

The second half of the book shares ways to help overcome your worries; talking to someone special, dancing, and why not put a pair of underwear on your head.  I can just imagine my second graders bursting out with giggles.  Another suggestion that I imagine being a good list to write down is to remember the things that make you strong.  He closes his story with an image of different people.  The people who love you and will take care of you.  We all need to remember we have others to reach out to and that okay.



"Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act." (mental health.gov) I hope you find this post helpful in supporting mental wellness. "Wellness is an approach to preventing illness and prolonging life as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases." (dictionary.com)  

Let's be proactive in and out of our classrooms.  If you are looking for more resources Nationwide Children's Hospital here in Columbus, Ohio has valuable resources and movement to transform children's mental heath.  #OnOurSleeves

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Hello Summer and the Transition, {Slice of Life}

Hello Summer,

You've started off just right and in full swing.  I came home Friday night and packed my busy bag for an hour and fifteen minute car ride for a day of three softball games.  In that bag, I packed; my kindle with a book to finish, my knitting project, a craft magazine, walking shoes, an early reader chapter book, bullet journal and pens, walking shoes, and socks.  We arrived at the ballpark and I began my summer softball rhythm.  During warm ups, I walk anywhere from one to two miles.  I return for some reading time and once the game starts I have to put away my reading.  It's hard to read and watch the game.  I brought out my knitting - a simple dishcloth pattern that goes back and forth with a couple of stitch variations.  I watch.  I cheer.  I might question something.  I soak up the sun and sitting.  We had three games and this routine becomes a pattern for the day.  

I finished my book.  I finished off two dishcloths and started a third one.  I read my magazine and felt crafty inspired.  I connected with people and might have gotten a small sunburn.  I logged 20,000 steps which is a small miracle - softball for me is a lot of sitting.  It's all good.  I discovered a day like this snaps the hello summer transition phase.  It thrust me into a different schedule.  It forced me to do different things and preplan those different things.  It reminded me to sit and allow for space to be in the moment.  

I find the transition to summer can be tricky and take a few days to let go of that go, go, go pace of life.  I find taking a vacation right away or now even a day trip can speed up the process and let my body and mind rest more.  I hope you enjoy your transition to summer - it's here or it's coming.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.  




Thursday, May 16, 2019

Waiting for Chicken Smith by David Mackintosh

Waiting for Chicken Smith by David Mackintosh is a fun read as we head in to the summer season.  The narrator tells the story of returning to the same cabin on the beach each year with his family and waiting for his friend Chicken Smith.  As the narrator waits, we learn about his relationship with Chicken Smith; where they go at the beach and what they do together.  As a reader, I kept wondering where is Chicken Smith and expecting him to turn up as I turned the pages.  This year seems different and the narrator can't find Chicken Smith.  It appears his house isn't opened for the season.  While it's a bit sad to learn Chicken Smith's house isn't opened the narrator forms a new friendship that isn't expected and probably wouldn't have formed if Chicken Smith was there.  I see this new friendship as one of necessity and warmed my heart.

Thank you Candlewick Press for this advance reader copy to share with others and my students.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Bear's Book by Claire Freedman

Finding writing ideas can be tricky and I love that Bear in Bear's Book by Claire Freedman wants to write because his favorite big book of stories is so well read and loved it's falling apart.  He needs more stories and is empowered to write his own.  He sits down expecting to write a story with "exciting beginnings, dramatic middles,  and happy-ever-after endings."  I bet you can imagine what happens next...his paper sits blank.  He begins a journey seeking out ways to help good ideas come to him.  His path crosses with several friends and he begins to help them out along the way.  When he returns to his blank page he sits for a bit and then realizes he could use his adventures to start his story.  I expected his story to be a personal narrative and was surprised when it was an adventure with surprises and a touch of truth.  I think this will help students striving to find an idea and learning how to twist reality for a bit of an adventure they can read and enjoy.

Thank you Candlewick Press for the advanced reader copy to share with students wand friends.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Laptop Repair Reaction {Slice of Life}

I walked in thinking I was going to need to leave my laptop for a repair.  The numbers on the keyboard weren't working and the storage wasn't shifting after deleting large files.  My laptop is probably semi-organized and one of my goals for the summer.  Luckily, my husband had done a backup the night before so when the kind Apple Genius said, we'll need to reset your computer and replace the keyboard; I was ready.  I knew going in to the store I would probably need to leave my computer for overnight.  What I didn't know is my keyboard part would need to be ordered and I would be without my laptop for maybe five days.  I left the store and starting shaking off the worries of not having a laptop a bit like Sharpay Evans from High School Musical, including the little shrill.  My high schooler looked at me and said, "Mom that's a bit dramatic, you'll be fine."  I wasn't sure, she thought I was being silly and I hope one day when her technology isn't available or working she'll remember my little panic and her advise.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Sitting, Waiting, Sunsets {Slice of Life}

I arrive late and yet on time because the team arrived late so the game has just started.  I chat with a couple of friends on my way to our side of the field.  I pull up my chair next to a friend who I was happy to see with the perfect view of first base.  I watch the game and wait.  My girl didn't start.  No worries.  I wait some more.  The game gets exciting.  We come from behind and I'm still waiting.  No worries she played a full game last night.  I chase away some worry thoughts about why and give in to sitting and waiting the whole game when number 19 walks out; top or bottom of the sixth.  I decide to take some photos when the sunset changes becoming a perfect backdrop.  Softball forces me to sit and wait.  Today reminded me why - when we sit and wait I take time to notice simple, natural things.  The yellow and orange surrounded by blue - chasing away gray skies.  It's a busy time of year in our schools and it's easy to find the gray moments overwhelming.  I'm going to try and sit a bit more, wait a bit more with students and without to find the sunsets or sunrises that make the work of each day rewarding.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Monday, April 8, 2019

I Can Only Draw Worms {Math Monday}

I Can Only Draw Worms by Will Mabbitt made me laugh and smile.  I initially thought it was perfect for kindergarten and first grade.  I was a little bit on the fence for second grade because the text is simple, the drawings are simple, there's a bit of math and a bit of writing thinking.  Nothing was strongly swaying me to purchase this book until my friend read it and belly laughed through the whole book.  I then knew this book was something for any grade.  We need to laugh more.

The book begins as a counting book; adding a worm each page or two.  Along the way the writer begins to write little stories about each worm.  The little stories are some far out ideas for worms.  Before we meet worm eight there's a dreadful accident.  We now have two half worms!  Here's a bit more math in this funny book about a writer who can only draw worms.

The dedication is at the end of the book and is perfect for anyone who enjoys math or not.




Thursday, April 4, 2019

Thank Goodness for Bob by Matthew Morgan {Mental Wellness}

The first two page spread sets the tone for this important book.  "Max worried a lot.  Unlike his dog, Bob, who didn't worry at all."  The reader then learns about different worries Max has.  One worry made me chuckle - Max is standing next to a pool with his bathing suit on worried he isn't wearing enough clothes.  I think the pool can be a worrisome spot for many people.  Max's worry gather and gather until he doesn't feel right.  Unfortunately, Max isn't comfortable talking to anyone.  Then one day he begins talking to Bob and the reader finds out different ways worries can appear once we say them out loud.  Some are silly, small, and disappear.  Max doesn't worry as much and this might be the most important sentence - (we all worry, after all - it's natural)


"Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act." (mental health.gov) I hope you find this post helpful in supporting mental wellness. "Wellness is an approach to preventing illness and prolonging life as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases." (dictionary.com)  Let's be proactive in and out of our classrooms.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Stardust by Jeanne Willis

Stardust by Jeanne Willis and illustrated by Briony May Smith is a sweet story.  A little girl wants to be a star and tries to do things just right.  She has a sister always one step ahead.  Her sister finds lost things, knits perfectly, and wins a costume contest.  This little girl is quite sad and goes to sit in a field at night making a wish to be a star herself.  Her Granddad shares a story that starts with once upon a time.  Once upon a time the sky was dark and Granddad shares a charming story guiding his granddaughter to realize everyone is made of stardust and shines in their own way.   Siblings can feel overshadowed and this book will help reinforce we all shine in different ways.  Thank you Candlewick Press for the sneak peak and copy to add to our classroom library.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

A Radiating Return {Slice of Life}

Ah, the first day back from a long vacation is always so nice.  The room just radiates with happiness. There's an excitement in the air as everyone reconnects.  We gather for morning meeting and part of this rhythm is the opportunity to share anything with our community.  Usually it's about 4 - 6 kids each day of the week except for days we return from a break.  Everyone gets to share after a long break and today that decision was confirmed when hands shot up really quickly with just the mention, "Who has something to share?  Students took turns sharing one idea to our community; ears pierced, visiting grandparents, a cruise, an island, six states to get to Florida, a hot spring, a playdate.  The ideas shared were grand and also from staycations.  I record their ideas always looking for ways to connect and foster relationships and writing ideas.  Today my heart tugged the most when W shared, "I went to a bookstore."  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.  

Monday, April 1, 2019

Shuffleboard Becomes a Math Warm Up {Math Monday}


I love discovering #mathinmyworld opportunities to share with our students and I've let this idea get put on the back burner for a bit of time.  While playing several games of shuffleboard and doing lots of mental math as the score keeper I decided I not only had an example of math in my world - I had a math warm up activity.  Today I shared what shuffleboard was, showed a picture of the court, explained how to play and got really excited about the force  and motion involved, and then I explained the scoring.  I gave the students partners to work with and asked them to figure out how many points were scored each round or turn.  I saw some puzzled looks and modeled the first two rounds with a table to help keep track of my thinking.  The room became a gentle buzz with productive math talk.  Definitely an idea to play around with more - maybe there's a new math warm up routine here.  It's easy to see writing and reading in our world - let's find, share, and discuss math in our world that's relevant and applicable for our students to wrap ideas around.




Sunday, March 31, 2019

Congratulations! {31 of 31 Slice of Life}

Happy 31 Days of writing friends!  I love typing the word congratulations alone as a text message and sending the receiver falling confetti.  I'm sending each of you lots of congratulations with confetti!  I'm so excited I wrote for 31 days.  I've been trying to find my writing mojo and nothing works better than writing daily.  I like to make plans and began this journey with a Monday through Friday slice from school and the weekends were something from home.  I really tried to focus on small slices so the writing was focused and I didn't get overwhelmed with volume.  I'm proud I kept writing through the flu.  I appreciate readers sending me well wishes and checking in to make sure things got better.  That was so kind.  We went on spring break and geckos became a writing topic which just confirmed writer's gather ideas as they happen.  I enjoyed checking in with other writers and following your journey.   I'm pondering offering the classroom slice of life to my students after having a successful journey myself.  Again, congratulations and confetti to everyone!

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

How to Beat the Gray...{30 of 31 Slice of Life}

I was greeted at the grocery store with the floral department today and got a bit distracted from my mental refill the fridge grocery list.  I scanned the floral department for daffodils and didn't see any.  Then I saw tulip bud bunches.  I pondered the price and it was okay.  My shopping goal was close to home, easy, and get what we need today.  I remembered the current weather conditions; gray gray sky with nonstop rain since we landed at 8:06am.  Yesterday I captured my thoughts on a week of sunshine and that was all I needed to take the tulip purchase plunge.  I had a few color choices; pink, yellow, red, and an orange and yellow combination.  I went with the orange and yellow combination to help me stay positive on a day of gray.  The yellow edges reminded me of our week in the sun and will brighten the week ahead.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Sunshine Thinking {29 of 31 Slice of Life}

Today I was in sunshine all day and each day for the past six days.  Sunshine is bright and healing.  Sunshine invites activity.  Sunshine feels warm on the outside and on my inside.  Sunshine brought sitting, laying, and rest.  Sunshine brought reading and conversation.  Sunshine brought exploring.  I need to hang on to these sunshine thoughts and take some of this home with me.  I need to find moments of rest and exploring.  I need to find moments of reading and conversation without noticing the various things I could be doing and chores that might need tending.  I'm going to make moments of stopping and sitting in the sunshine when our regular scheduled routine returns.

Thank you Two Writing Teacher for fostering this writing community.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Geckos Are in our New Destination {28 of 31 Slice of Life}

A says, "there are no geckos here."  I think to myself how can that be?  We only drove less than an hour and a half and stayed in the same state.  Fast forward to the next day, less than 24 hours.  A says, "oh - there's a gecko and more than one."  As I glance her way a little excited her observation from yesterday was wrong; I see a creative response.  It had just stopped raining after a couple of hours and the sun was back.  "Look, it's a swimming pool for the geckos!"  No squeals or toe tapping followed - win for the geckos!




Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Anxiety and Rollercoasters {27 of 31 Slice of Life}

"I want to ride the green rollercoaster." and off they went.  My husband and youngest daughter who is now fifteen years old.  It's a good thing they said it super fast and left.  I do not like rollercoasters at all and never have.  I realized today, I not only have my own rollercoaster fear - it's now a fear of my own children riding them.  I felt so anxious and felt dizzy looking at it knowing they might be on it.  Usually I can watch them and just think yuck, not me.  Today, if I tried to look at it I think I would of burst in to tears.  This might sound dramatic.  I know there's science and engineering behind the design of rollercoasters.  I know it took bravery to ride it.  It made her happy and still I walked around and prayed it all turned it out okay.  It did - she rode the green one again and enjoyed the peak speed of 65 miles per hour.  I enjoyed my feet on the ground.


Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Gecko Friends or Enemies? {26 of 31 Slice of Life}

Squeals and a little toe tapping came my way from A and she's pointing to two darker gray/black geckos.  The conversation goes like this - "Mom, they are fighting."  "They can't be fighting - they are probably playing."  "Um, that one has the head of the other one in it's mouth!  I think that's fighting!" I finally look the direction she is referring to and not only does one gecko have the other gecko's head in it's mouth; it's dangling the whole gecko off the pelican statue they are playing on.  They appear frozen in time.  I step a little bit closer and they are still frozen in time.  I wait and together they fall to the ground only to get back up on the pelican statue together and possibly start over their playful moment.  I think if they were fighting they would have gone their separate ways.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Real Time - I Spy Game {25 of 31 Slice of Life}

The five of us head out on a kayaking adventure soaking up the blue sky, bright yellow sun, and luscious green native plants.  Its quiet and peaceful.  There are some giggles as we navigate around each other and occasionally bump into each other.  The wind is in our favor and we can just float along for moments.  Then we notice a turtle - hiding between the sticks and branches laying within the river.  Then we spot a few more in varying sizes.  They are so peaceful resting on branches soaking up that bright yellow sun.  It's interesting how they balance their shells on top of a log.  Sometimes we see one or two together.  Sometimes there's a cluster.  Spotting turtles felt like an I Spy book the girls liked when they were little or a Where's Waldo book that was quite popular when I started teaching.  Then I remembered my own joy with my Highlights magazine and their seek and find pages.  It never got old spotting turtles.  Each time we saw one there was joy - being in nature is bringing us joy.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

A New Friend? {24 of 31 Slice of Life}

They stand together on the driveway until the gecko is spotted on the garage exterior wall.  A steps back with a small squirmy dance while B takes three steps forward and puts her arms out trying to encourage the gecko to jump to her.  She patiently waits and verbally invites this new gecko friend to jump into her arms.  Not just once, two more times.  Her new gecko friend doesn't seem to be accepting the invitation from the 5'11" teenager.  Geckos move pretty quickly here in Florida in their natural habitat and it's amazing this one stays and lingers so long.  Maybe the gecko friend is actually contemplating her offer.  I wonder if the gecko felt relief when grandpa was ready for that golf cart ride to the the tennis courts.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.