Saturday, March 28, 2020

Humor is Welcomed {28 of 31 Slice of Life}

Baking has become a past time for one of my daughters.  We are enjoying freshly baked chocolate chip cookies after dinner.  She made a double batch and plans on dropping some of to her friends later tonight.  My other daughter takes a bite and says, "this cookies doesn't have enough chocolate chips."  The baker replies - it's like an Easter egg hunt.  We all started laughing.  Humor is welcomed and needed during a pandemic.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community and offering this challenge.

Rallying for One More Hour {27 of 31 Slice of Life}

Today I took a midday run; two miles.  I planned my day around the raindrops that keep interrupting my life and staying engaged with my distance learning.  As I returned to the bottom of my driveway, I didn't feel like going inside quite yet.  I knew I needed to go back inside.  I had Seesaw posts to view and respond to.  I wanted to get them done before my Zoom PD with Kristin and Katie.  I decided to lay down on the blacktop and capture any warmth that might be radiating from the sun. I was surprised the blacktop wasn't as warm as I anticipated and then I remember it is only March and not July.  I laid down, closed my eyes and tried to rest my mind.  Resting my mind wasn't happening.  Nine days didn't sound that long nine days ago.  Distance learning has brought new learning, new ways to connect, and new worries.  Thinking can be tiring.  I wasn't sure I had one more hour in me.  I closed my eyes.  I took a selfie with my eyes closed to document this moment and bam.  I rallied for that last hour. 

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community and offering this challenge.


Thursday, March 26, 2020

Distance Learning Grading to BLUEBIRD! {26 of 31 Slice of Life}

I was on the phone with a friend I work with and we were discussing an email we got earlier about grading what we are now calling distance learning.  When, I blurted out mid-sentence, I have a bluebird in my backyard!  Then I talked at a rapid pace explaining I've had this special bluebird feeder for a few years and I've never seen a bluebird go in and out.  It's a traditional rectangular hanging house with plexiglass longer sides so you can see through it.  There's a dish inside that houses bluebird energy food right now because I couldn't find mealworms at the store.  There are two holes at either of the short ends allowing just right sized birds to go through; that being a bluebird.  I don't have a bluebird box here at the house and help over see a bluebird trail at school.  I'm in love with them and now I'm thinking I need a bluebird house at home now.

As I reflected on this moment today, I think it was a sign.  It was a sign that the world is turned upside down personally and professionally.  Things are not going to make sense for quite some time AND I need to find ways to shift my thinking.  We are on pause.  Stop and notice.  Celebrate what you stop and notice.  The pace can be slower.  Decisions of others are out of my control and I can only show up each day and try.  That's all any of us can do.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community and offering this challenge.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

4pm Win! {25 of 31 Slice of Life}

Earlier in the day. in the middle of a Mario Kart tournament that was just created I announced -  at 4:00pm we are going to the park.  No one squawked back at me.  I thought they didn't hear me and just kept walking.  I had already announced the sunshine was out and we needed to take advantage of it. Maybe they knew there was no negotiating time in the sunshine.

I went for a short run and returned at 3:59pm to find my people gathering to get shoes and coats on.  Something felt odd about this and I wasn't going to question it.  My husband was able to stop working from his makeshift basement office.  The girls were done playing this round of Mario Kart and we decided to leave the dog home.  Less things to worry about.

We drove down the road a bit to a park we can easily visit and were there for an hour.  It's not a big park.  There's a loop in the woods with a break off path down to the pond.  Here I decided to see if we could jazz up this walk and explore across a dried up creek that leads into the pond and walk some fallen trees.  The youngest a junior in high school was all in.  We were very daring with the height being at the most three feet off the ground.  On the return she thought she could jump the creek and I warned her if her feet got wet we'd still keep walking.  She fell in with one foot, it was wet, the mud pulled at her short boots AND we kept walking.  

After the loop in the woods she and I took the loop through a prairie field while the other two waited on a bench.  I was so surprised she came with me and she said she was worried I could be kidnapped. Who has energy for kidnapping right now, I asked.  We chatted and noticed things and chatted some more.

I think this all worked today because there was sunshine.  We know we have to take advantage of our "Ohio stay home" guidelines which let us get outside while social distancing.   I also thought it worked because I gave them a warning and made a statement.  It wasn't a question.  This was a huge win for parenting teenagers and young adults.  Sometimes those toddler moves of mine still work.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community and offering this challenge.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Flexible and Grace {24 of 31 Slice of Life}

As I wrestle with slicing each day I think - Things are different.  Routines as they were are not here right now.  My teaching world is not as it was and I'm learning new things daily.  I'm working hard to connect digitally with my students daily so our connection to each other stays active.  Last week was overwhelming and this week we are finding a new groove while being asked to stay at home.  I gather slices in my head daily and then it might take a couple of days to get them out.  For me, I had to let go of physically writing each day to help find balance and take some pressure off.  I'm being flexible and shifted my goal to be 31 slices by the end of the month.  As I asked my families at school, I'll ask you for grace.  Grace for understanding and grace for being part of this journey in uncertain times.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community and offering this challenge.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Home Office Hours? {21 of 31 Slice of Life}

I slept in and made a small plan for my day and it got derailed as most days have so far.  The derailments that came up weren't bad derailments.  They were just needs or wants of others.  As we ventured out with Clorox wipes for final bedroom needs at IKEA's curb side pick up and fabric to make blankets for the bestie friends we can't see right now, I found myself wondering...can I hang a sign up for office hours availability?  Helping others settle in has become a huge priority here.  Going from three here full time to four has been a bigger adjustment than normal.  My friend said to me today, I don't miss those days when all the college disorganized stuff comes home and she reminded me we usually have a warning when it's coming.  That made so much sense to me and I had to remind myself on top of all of this - we flipped her bedroom.  We are almost there; having her settled in.  I see light at the end of this welcome home early phase.  

For now, I'm not offering office hours - it seems a bit odd to do at home.  I know once things are settled physically; more will settle within us.  I'm headed out for a long walk bundled up without my dog.  I think going alone with a few podcasts will clear my head.  I might even sneak in a yoga session here at the house; I'm missing those before family movie night.

 Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community and offering this challenge.

Friday, March 20, 2020

A List and Grace...{20 of 31 Slice of Life}

I woke up this morning worried about my days.  This week they were fully consumed with online learning and helping my own children navigate this new way of living.  I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and thought I need a schedule and realized as things come up for others I usually respond and a schedule wouldn't work.  However, a list of things I want to do each day could help me find balance and make sure we were doing things that help us connect and create with each other.    So, I wrote a fluid, flexible, and list of fun.  Maybe a list would help this weird sense of time and questioning I feel we are all in.  I wrote it.  I shared it.  It got a bit derailed today and there's always tomorrow.  I'm giving myself grace.  Grace might just be my new favorite word.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community and offering this challenge.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

A Ghost - 19 of 31 Slice of Life}

I find peeling off painters tape rewarding, soothing, and an accomplishment.  That means the walls are painted, the trim is painted and we can start rebuilding the space just painted.  My energy level usually spikes and I start shifting and moving things to make it home again.  I try to use existing things and plan for a few new to keep the new momentum going.  This week I'm learning not everyone operates this way.  Her energy level didn't spike.  While she's very excited for her new space she's been overwhelmed.  Overwhelmed is bringing a rollercoaster of emotions and rightfully so.  She thought she would be on campus til May and independent. I'm walking a fine line of coach, director, listener, therapist, and ghost.  Yes, a ghost because sometimes I have to disappear and give us both a break.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community and offering this challenge.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Normal and Not Normal. {18 of 31 Slice of Life}

A piece of normal and not normal was welcomed today.  We got to the door for a weekly appointment we have and there was a sign on the door that no one could wait in the waiting room with the directions to sit in my car.  She waved at me and went to wash her hands, also in our directions on the sign.  I told her I'd see her in a bit.  Having this appointment today felt normal and as soon as we got there everything was not normal.  I didn't want to sit in my car.  The light raindrops had lifted and I had the idea to sit outside.  I sat wondering why the sky had to be gray and then I embraced the birds chirping.  Learning recently things in flight are a sign/represent hope.  These birds gave me some moments of hope.  Then the raindrops came back and I sat in my car.  I read a book which is what I would of done in the waiting room so maybe that was another moment of normal.  I think once things settle with school and home more normal will be back and a new normal will become.  

I had to find balance in the recent turn of events and slicing was paused.  Tonight I caught up with a post for each of the past few days...they were drafted in my head and I just couldn't get them out.  If you'd like to read more about my journey this week, please look back.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community and offering this challenge.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Tears of Joy {17 of 31 Slice of Life}

I've been sitting quite a while this morning implementing the first day for e-learning/remote learning. It's been an interesting journey.  I thought I understood quite a few things and at times I felt like I was lost.  I did with some questioning along the way with my friend, Google.  Sometimes Google helped. Sometimes I needed to rephrase my questions.  Sometimes there wasn't an answer and I did some rethinking.  I've launched a few activities in Seesaw with a link for Flipgrid.  I'm feeling uncertain, tired, and working on avoiding overwhelmed when...the first response from a student comes in.  I wanted to cry; sweet tears of joy.  I heard a sweet voice describing his thinking and strategy while using the drawing and recording tool in Seesaw to solve a math problem.  I didn't realize how important it was for me to hear and see them during this time away.  We've been away before.  We had winter break, we've had long weekends and spring break is approaching.  All of those have a beginning and an end.  Right now had a rushed beginning and I pray for a quick ending.  Until then I watch each response about math problems, writing about reading, and writer's notebook entries with joy inside.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community and offering this challenge.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Who's Helping Who? {16 of 31 Slice of Life}

I'm staying.  An email had come from our building principal that when we had our things ready for families we could go home and work from home.  Teachers were given the option to put things outside at the curb and families could do a drive by pick up.  It's also report season time and more preparation for remote learning.  I appreciated that message and offer and hunkered down til 4pm.  I had offered for my families to come in for their child or with their child if they wanted to book shop for themselves.  Our public libraries have closed and books were needed for independent reading at home.  Each time I heard footsteps approach my door I smiled.  It was so nice to have closure with families and many students came in.  It was so fun to help students build reading stacks.  Some had plans already for what they wanted.  Some were willing to take some new suggestions.  Some lingered a bit pondering what they wanted and there was a sense of calm with our departure from what we know.  If parents needed me to pull a book stack it was fun to read what their child wanted and I often snuck in a stretch or something new.  I received a couple of emails thanking me for helping their child have closure and I really felt they helped me more than I helped them.   New adventures await...staying connected is going to be key.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community and offering this challenge.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

The Essentials {15 of 31}

As I entered the building, there was an eerie feeling.  Things were shifting and going to be different.  It felt a bit like packing a hospital bag for each pregnancy.  I had a list, what are the essentials they each needed.  I don't want to overwhelm anyone.  I want to give just enough to maintain and make it engaging.  I had planned a balance of technology focusing on connecting with me and each other and real books and connecting at home.  I had planned familiar things and things they could do independently after a little guidance.  I started making stacks around the room for their pick up on Monday; family math folder with three games, reader's notebook for writing about reading, writer's notebook for collecting ideas, three blank booklets for stories, a book stack if parents replied with a request list.  As I closed the door, I felt prepared and feeling prepared helps calm the what's next.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community and offering this challenge.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Accepting What You Can't Control {14 of 31 Slice of Life}

Today was bumpy.  It had twists and turns.  I anticipated a smooth day with an agenda to figure things out at home.  The twists and turns happened because each daughter has to accept changes to their lives that were made for them and they can't control.  Softball season has been put on hold.  Living independently and experiencing college as one should has been put on hold longer than anticipated.  Anticipating a day full of connecting with second graders and getting ready for our time apart was put on hold.  Twists and turns brought sadness, tears, hugs, naming emotions and sitting with them.  I saw a hashtag today that made me smile and think there are things we can control.  #notcancelled - I think that will be my focus tomorrow.  There are things we can control and embrace that are good for us.  Be strong friends in these times of uncertainty.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community and offering this challenge.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Buckle Up....{13 of 31 Slice of Life}

School backpack on my shoulder, yoga change of clothes backpack on the other shoulder, tote bag on the same shoulder, lunch box in my hand with a crate housing a math project that I could work on at home during our shut down is a juggling act as I reach my super sized sports car (aka mini van).  Earlier in the day my high schooler stopped by and brought out my classroom plants to the van.  I see some greenery through the windows.  All day I felt I was juggling things in the air and rotating through different things that needed to be done.  It was a productive day without students and as I reached the van I was willing to drop all the balls and things in my hand.  I open the van door and laugh out loud; all alone in the parking lot.  I stop and smile.  The humor of high schoolers can be simple and funny.  I pause and wonder did they do this because they cared?  My yellow crate filled with plants was safety belted in to the seat for their ride home.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community and offering this challenge.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Easing My Mind {12 of 31 Slice of Life}

Piglets.  It's all I needed to hear when I got to the farm to visit and think about the benefits of gardening at my own school.  I visited various areas of the farm and looked at ways we could implement ideas at my school knowing I was being called to the Piglets.

Eleven.  Eleven baby piglets were sleeping soundly in a heap.  I spent a few minutes counting to make the sure the sign of eleven was correct.  They were flopped on top of each other and the counting was tricky.  Then I noticed the variations in coloring.  Some were speckled like a Dalmatian dog.  Some had patches of shading and some were solid shades.  I was surprised that the medium sized mama had so many babies.  

Suddenly one piglet springs up and mama heads over.  She lays down and more piglets spring into action - headed her way for nursing.  They are trying to latch on, grunting baby piglet sounds and flopping all over her.  One piglet in particular heads up over her back - I found myself cheering him or her on.  As soon as the piglet reached the top of her back - Whee, it kept right on coming sliding down the other side to her stomach and joining his or her siblings for nursing.  

I needed to stop and observe this afternoon.  I needed to marvel at the joy of little ones.  I needed to learn piglets in a litter come in different markings and shadings as puppies do.  I needed to breath and be with friends while the world around me spins a bit too fast.  Today we learned we are shutting down all of our schools in Ohio for three weeks.  There was a time of day with unknowns and we have work ahead of us with report cards do and online learning or away learning to be planned.  

Thank you baby piglets for easing my mind and day.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community and offering this challenge.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Rethinking Writing Tool Organization {11 of 31 Slice of Life}

They looked at me puzzled today when I shared I wanted to reorganize our writing tools by color.  I shared I thought it would improve our illustrative work and help us make better decisions.  They still looked puzzled at me.  I mentioned it could be hard trying to find a specific color in a container of crayons and they didn't seem to think that was harder.  I tried to think quickly from their point of view and realized that's all they knew.  I containers with lots of crayons and they've always just searched through for the color they wanted.  I realized I needed to think quickly to show them a new way or reasons for my thinking and to get their buy in.  I grabbed a handful of purple crayons and showed them the range of shades.  

I did some thinking out loud.  
I have five purple crayons.
They all aren't the same color.  
If I wanted to draw spring flowers, I'd pick this light shade of purple.
If I wanted to show anger, I'd choose this very dark purple.

Then the puzzled faces turned to heads nodding yes and smiles.  

I can't wait to see how our illustrative work changes and conference over their decision making.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community and offering this challenge.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Virtual Learning Bombarded My Day {10 of 31 Slice of Life}

I woke up to a text message with a screen shot of an email sent to my grad school daughter.  The summary was her university is putting face to face classes on hold and all classes are moving to remote learning til the end of the month.  Students can stay on campus or come home.  She's actually living in an apartment doing an internship so she's not on campus in classes.  She's twenty minutes away and will stay independent down there.

Early afternoon, I was reminded - seriously I never thought about my other college daughter in the morning when another screen shot email came through via text messaging.  She's an undergraduate student and was being urged to come home for remote learning for almost five weeks.  I could hear her anxiety through the phone.  I asked if she was feeling okay and/or if she was scared.  This part of coming home was not making her anxious.  It was the unknown about her courses.  How would she learn sewing construction remotely?  Three assignments are due next Wednesday so are those due dates staying the same?  I told her teachers would figure that out and communicate with her. 

We have a teacher work day to complete report cards and got an email today that the first two hours have to be spent figuring out remote learning in the event we close school.  Ohio has three reported cases tonight and I learned just one case in our district will have us all staying home.  I think we need to be aware of work that will put parents as teachers  - they aren't teachers.  I think we need to be aware of worksheets being used to fill time.  I think we need to realize we can't provide 6 hours and forty minutes of work each day remotely.   

I think there are things we have ready to go for authentic participation.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community and offering this challenge.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Changing a Routine to Meet Student's Needs Better {9 of 31 Slice of Life}

I sat in my rocking chair and had a flashback.  Remember when you truly honored flexible seating one hundred percent and student choice.  It's the beginning of March and I'm being asked for new reading spots for the month.  Somehow we fell into a pattern of picking spots each month to help with some list of things I thought important one day.  When I began sharing the idea of picking their own seats daily based on what their body needed someone spoke up and shared, "we use to do that."  I said out loud, "why did we stop that?"  Another student replied with, " I think we had a bad day of reading the whole time."  My students don't have spots any other time of the day except for reading and writing.  All of a sudden, having spots for reading and writing workshop felt all wrong.  We had a quick discussion reviewing possible reading spots, some parameters for the number of people at our carpet space and coffee table.  We discussed the different kinds of seating options and knowing what your body needed right now, in this moment.  We also discussed how it might change day to day and to have a back up idea incase someone else is in your first choice.  We tried it on Friday and again today.  As I sat back and observed, my readers were more engaged.  Choice matters and no one knows better than they do what their body needs.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community and offering this challenge.

Early Morning Sounds...{8 of 31 Slice of Life}

I throw on a pair of sweat pants.  Drink my warm water with lemon and grab the dog leash.  My faithful friend is eager to stretch out from her crate and greet me.  She loves an early morning walk and we head to the garage.  As the door lifts, I realize it's darker than usual.  I then remember day light savings is here and last evening the sunset was delightful an hour later.  The temperature is a bit warmer and we start our journey.  As we turn left from our cup-de-sac I start hearing new sounds in the distance.  At first, I thought it was a pair of birds chirping to each other.  Then I listen in and the trills and chirps were two different octaves and vocal patterns.  I decide it's two pairs of birds across the street or the sidewalk just talking to the other one of the pair.  Then I wondered if different birds understand each other and if it would feel like different languages for humans.  Maybe I just passed through a bird neighborhood and it's early risers.  The rest of our journey is quieter and we soak in the quiet until there's a squirrel in the shadows off in the distance.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community and offering this challenge.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Smiles Dimishish Anxiousness {7 of 31 Slice of Life}

It's 6:00pm and my computer isn't cooperating.  It says I cannot connect using a Google Hangout link.  I make several attempts.  I shut down my computer.  My friend calls and I try to login again and it works.  I can see my friend's face and we giggle...I disconnect.  It feels silly to stay on the phone now that our Google Hangout is working.  Two other members are smiling at me and my anxiousness about getting in is diminished.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community and offering this challenge.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Sleep before Slicing...oops. {6 of 31 Slice of Life}

I woke up today and realized I fell asleep last night before slicing.  I was disappointed and thought this challenge was over.  For a small moment I thought I wouldn't do slice anymore.  That wasn't very wise mind thinking.  I realized it's over for winning a prize at the end and while I love the chance for a freebie, I don't need anything tangible in my life.  I'm actually in the middle of trying to purge things in my crawl space as I write.  

I need the internal things this challenge will bring.   I need to keep working on my writing habit.  I need to keep looking and simmering with moments.  I need a routine for writing.  I need the feedback and and connection with others around my writing.  I feel joy reading other slices and all of these things are internal needs.  So, I share my oops and my thinking around sticking with it with probably two slices today.  I do like keeping up with things and having my numbers all in alignment.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community and offering this challenge.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Four times a year he asks... {5 of 31 Slice of Life}

I've been teaching for quite some time.  Four times a year I have parent teacher conference nights.  I feel like with each parent teacher conference season we've developed a tradition.  It's a short exchange and each time I know it's coming I'm still a bit surprised he asks.  It's always the same answer.

Him - "Will there be food for you?"
Him - "You can't go til 9:00pm without food."
Me - "Yes, there will be food.  The PTO is bringing in dinner."

or depending on the season or reason

Me - "I'll run out because I'm doing them on another night."
Him - "I can bring you something, if you want."
Me - "No, I've got it.

I'm not sure why this tradition has developed and it feels odd at times and then I stop and realize it's' nice to be thought of because it is a long day into night.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community and offering this challenge.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

My Whole Heart Melted {4 of 31 Slice of Life}

Every day we take the same dismissal path.  I line the students up in order of their drop off spots.  Every day three students go to our commons area for Y Club, our after school space for students who need extended care.  Every day we say goodbye and I keep the class moving to the next destination.  Today, that goodbye was different.  I didn't just say goodbye...I said, "it was nice to spend time with you today" and J replied with; "I'll miss you."  

My whole heart melted.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community and offering this challenge.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Received Kindness {3 of 31 Slice of Life}

We chatted and I left a bit frazzled.  I forgot about some work we had to do outside my classroom today and thus forgot I had a guest teacher coming.  Her position doesn't require a guest teacher and she was sympathetic.  I told her I'd figure it out and be ready soon.  I got to my room and felt overwhelmed.  I had plans and wasn't sure someone else could understand my notes.  Guest teacher plans are written with greater detail.  She came down in a couple of minutes and asked, how can I help?  I didn't know and began to give my typical response - I've got it and I stopped.  I then said something like, "actually - I need this copied for more details and the books pulled from my filing cabinet."  She quietly gathered things and offered kindness when I was a bit frazzled.  Just what I needed to accept. 

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community and offering this challenge.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Rain? Indoor Recess? New Idea! {2 of 31 Slice of Life}

We are bundled and ready to head outside for a much needed fifteen minute recess.  It looks like the rain stopped and there was no building wide email saying we were inside, it actually said out as of 10:50am and now it's 11:15am.  I'm feeling relieved for my students.  We just finished our fourth day of normed reference testing, the Terra Nova and in second grade I read every question; 50 to be exact and they need a break from sitting and listening.

I open my door and I'm greeted by both recess teachers saying it just started to rain.  I ponder this message, grab my own coat, and out we walk to our Outdoor Education Center.  A pavilion with one full wall of cement block, a roof, and three open sides. For fifteen minutes I watch a cluster of three boys chit chatting, a pair of two girls playing a hand jive game of Avocado, a game of tag in the same area of a game like Red Light Green Light.  These two running games looked like one at times and I was in awe they all seemed to understand there were two games going on in the same space.  

I watched.  I observed.  I can give some feedback to a family wondering about friendships.  I also watched students enjoy each other and come up with ideas that required nothing extra.  I don't mind the cold or a little wet and I'm glad I thought outside the box so we all got some fresh air and down time.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community and offering this challenge.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Rusty to Writing {1 of 31 Slice of Life}

I've started this post twice with two different topics and both times; highlight and delete.  Neither time felt like a slice.  The story started going bigger.  I felt like I was rambling.  I wanted to wrap it up and there was more to say.  I'm rubbing my eyebrows and accepting my writing is rusty.  I'm excited to slice.  I like to watch and anticipate what will turn into a slice.  Sometimes my slices are lists that others read as poems.  Sometimes my slices are a list of questions.  Sometimes my slices are formed after I gather words as a list to simmer for a later in the day slice.  Sometimes my slices are last minute and racing the clock.  Sometimes my slices are early morning.  Sometimes my comments are check ins with my personal friends.  Sometimes my comments help me meet new friends.  Sometimes my comments are the three people who posted before me.  As I ponder these thoughts and feelings, my writing is rusty any more.  I've remembered how to slice...see you tomorrow.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community and offering this challenge.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Welcome to #nf10for10 with Books for the Zoo

Welcome to Nonfiction 10 for 10 for 2019!  We are so excited to have you stop by today and explore nonfiction books with other book lovers.   The three of us; @mandyrobek@cathymere, and @jacbalen can't wait to connect with everyone and we are grateful to learn from each of you stopping by today.  Please share the link to your post in the comments at Cathy's blog - Reflect and Refine and use the hashtag #nf10for10 on social media platforms.       

A year ago I started volunteering at our local zoo.  It's very fun and last month I had a thought.  The zoo would be a fabulous place to spark and promote nonfiction reading.  I began wondering how the zoo could do that and envision an informational board with maybe five book titles per animal or one book title with a QR code for more.  I wonder if the public library could partner with curating these list or maybe it's something offered on the zoo website for families.  Here's ten books I'd start placing on lists for families.

ABC: Zooborns!

ABC ZooBorns! by Andrew Bleiman - is an alphabet book highlighting baby animals with a close up photo.  After each animal is identified there's one sentence with a little fact easy for beginning readers to understand.

ZooBorns!: Zoo Babies from Around the World

ZooBorns! zoo babies from around the world by Andrew Bleiman grabbed my attention right away when Beco a baby elephant from our zoo was the first animal shared.  Each baby animal has full page photo spread.  We learn the "personable" name of the baby animal and a fact or two that makes sense with the photo.  Did you know animals at the zoo have names like Rosie?

Snow Leopard: Ghost of the Mountains

Snow Leopard Ghost of the Mountain by Justin Anderson was my sneak peak a couple of weeks ago.  Readers will find this narrative story filled with language that is descriptive and informative.  In reading about a snow leopard's paws; "They are huge - it's as if she is wearing shoes that are much too big!  They help her to spread her weight and travel across the deepest snow without sinking."

The Bat Book

The Bat Book by Charlotte Milner helped me understand more about the exhibit I least enjoy.  We have some very large bats and how they hang upside down creeps me out AND I learned they have to do this because they can't take flight from the ground as birds do.  The layout is warm, inviting, and easy to follow.  I also learned some really interesting ways bats are helpful to our ecosystem.

If Polar Bears Disappeared (If Animals Disappeared)

If Polar Bears Disappeared by Lily Williams is a favorite in our classroom with the recent birth of our baby polar bear.  This book helps support the idea of conservation and how losing polar bears would have a ripple effect to other species.

If Elephants Disappeared (If Animals Disappeared)

If Elephants Disappeared by Lily Williams follows the same idea as polar bears and could also help rally some activists for this beloved creature. 

Giraffes (African Animals)

I might be sneaking in more than ten here with this title, don't tell Cathy Mere.  Pebble Plus by Capstone Press has a collection of beautiful books for early readers on one specific animal in each.  Photographs capture the animals in their natural habitat and the text compliments each photo with just the right amount of information.

Manatee Winter: A Smithsonian Oceanic Collection Book

Manatee Winter by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld is an older book and a gem.  It follows a mother and her calf and shows readers how manatees can be harmed by boats.  Our zoo is a rehabilitation center for manatees and releases most of  of our visitors back to the wild with updates about their successful reentry.

All About Alligators (All About Series)

Another older book I enjoy is All About Alligators by Jim Arnosky.  Right away he addresses and distinguishes the difference between an alligator and crocodile.  These older books help students see informational text can have hand drawn images and still share information.  We discovered this year a big misconception that photographs automatically meant it was nonfiction.

Hippos Are Huge! (Read and Wonder)

HIPPOS ARE HUGE by Jonathan London is a book I wish we could use at our zoo.  We don't have hippos and this book brings hippos to life for the reader.  The illustrations are big and focused with fascinating facts in larger print with more detailed facts in a smaller print.  Did you know the hippo is the second largest animal to the elephant?

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

#nf10for10 Sneak Peak {Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge}

January has been rolling right along here in the midwest without any snow days and time just got away from me.  I woke up this week and realized Cathy Mere and I were a bit late in sharing we are to host another year of Nonfiction Picture Book 10 for 10.  A fun day of readers sharing their 10 must have nonfiction picture books.  We'd love to have you join us on February 10, 2020.  Details to come about how to join us.

Snow Leopard Ghost of the Mountain by Justin Anderson is a sneak peak for my Nonfiction 10 for 10  list.  I can't wait for Cathy to see my little hint here...I bet she's still thinking about her collection of books to share.  

This book is illustrated with soft warm tones that I found quite enjoyable to spend time.  They made me pause my day and slow down my reading.  The story takes place in the Himalyan mountains as a zoologist searches for the snow leopard.  Readers will find this narrative story filled with language that is descriptive and informative.  In reading about a snow leopard's paws; "They are huge - it's as if she is wearing shoes that are much too big!  They help her to spread her weight and travel across the deepest snow without sinking."  I can really visualize the snow leopard staying on top of the snow.

Most pages have a blurb of more direct informational text to inform readers.  It's in a smaller font and often at the bottom.  I love that it's set aside and this book could be read with just the narrative, just the informational and both.  There's more information for readers about conservation for these creatures and an index with internet links to learn more and help with their conservation.

Thank you Alyson at Kid Lit Frenzy for helping us enjoy and celebrate nonfiction books all year.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Follow A Question {Poetry Friday}

I've jotted questions in my notebook and I've encouraged students to collect questions.  This week I learned about taking a questioning reminds me of the girls when they were younger and asked questions everywhere we went.  This week I'm reminded, "When we ask questions and write, we figure out what we think."

Will it snow
or just stay cold?

When it snows
the sun shines bright
turning gray to white.

White glistens
White sparkles

White brightens me inside and out.

© Mandy E Robek, 2020

This is the third idea in Poems are Teachers - How Studying Poetry Strengthens Writing in All Genres by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater.

Thank you Catherine at Reading to the Core for hosting Poetry Friday.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Boy and the Bear (Sneak Peak)

The Boy and the Bear is written by Tracey Corderoy and illustrated by Sarah Massini is a delightful story about friendship.  Boy wears a knit red cap and wants to play except he's alone.   Until, a paper boat floats across the water with the word Boo! written on it.  Messages are exchanged via paper boats which I found to be a charming idea.  Boy discovers the notes are from bear, a tall blue bear who isn't very good a little boy games.  He tries without much success.  Together they build a treehouse and spend a lot of time there until the first snowflake comes.  The frozen pond has a paper boat that says Must Go.  I'm sure you can predict the ending with spring arriving.  Sarah Massini did a delightful job of color selection and the placement of these with a bright white background.

                 Thank you Candlewick Press for the advance reader copy.