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.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Let Art Inspire (Poetry Friday)

I learned about ekphrastic poetry this week.  Ekphrastic poetry is written in response to art.  It was great fun to look and note my observations within the piece of art.  Then Irene Latham encourages us to step outside the art; asking what happened before or after.  I scrolled through my camera roll and found some photos from a trip I had at The Baltimore Museum of Art after NCTE in November.

mother and child
nestled together

warm shades of color
frame the two


a moment to notice
what feels just right

© Mandy E Robek, 2020

This painting is titled, Mother and Child by Pablo Picasso from 1922.  This is the second idea in Poems are Teachers - How Studying Poetry Strengthens Writing in All Genres by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater.

Thank you Sally Murphy for hosting Poetry Friday.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Astro Girl by Ken Wilson-Max {Sneak Peak}

Astro Girl by Ken Wilson-Max is a great new narrative fostering science interest and inquiry for young girls.  The story is a conversation between Astrid and her father.  She shares she wants to be an astronaut and he questions her about the different things she would have to do as an astronaut.  My favorite two page spread is their conversation about having to do science experiments and they are making cookies in the shape of rocket ships.  Baking is science!  Then the conversation stops and you these two characters are leaving to get Mama.  At this point, I did stop and then wonder where was her Mama.  I was surprised and didn't predict where he had been.  I want you to have the same experience.

The last two pages of the book have short space facts that are interesting, simple, and perfect nudges to explore this topic further.  Who knew a dog named Laika was the first animal to go into orbit.   Five female astronauts are highlighted with a short simple fact.  

Thank you Candlewick Press for the advance reader copy - it was enjoyed by my young neighbor girls for a couple of months and I just got it back.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Jot from a Photograph {Poetry Friday}

One thing I love about writing is you can begin again . I had a plan to read and try each poetry writing idea myself from Poems are Teachers by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater and did it for a few weeks when the book first came out.  Today, I'm restarting this plan and am excited to use this to help my new notebook grow.

Two things I found helpful from Amy to ponder and consider using with students.

1.  "Photos are windows through which we see into different times, cultures, and lives."
2.  "To "stay open is an important - and sometimes challenging - skill for a writer."

As I looked at my photo I gathered thoughts on a graphic organizer Amy suggested using.  I captured thoughts about what I saw, feel, think, wonder and know.  I found myself using some of these ideas and adding some new ideas as I wrote.

biking along
neighbor and kids
clumped together
watching something


pond turtle
laying eggs

legs shift
body shakes
round and white
golf ball size
gathering hole



©Mandy E Robek, 2019

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

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Goodreads Reading Challenge

Each year I sign up for the Goodreads Reading Challenge and set goals I think are easy to obtain.  I read all year; especially in the classroom and over time I stop taking small moments to record my reading.  I know how powerful keeping a list of books is as a reader personally and professionally.  

As I looked at my goal and recording from last year I was a bit disappointed.  I had read 100 books and my recording was less.  I began thinking maybe this challenge isn't for me.  Then I decided to scroll through my Goodreads feed and all of a sudden I was going big in 2020.  If Mary Lee and Franki can both set goals of 200 books, so can I.  It will make reading a habit - my one little word in action already.  I read an adult book for fun in two days over break and it felt so good.  

I started doing some math - 200 books in ten months would be 20 books a month.  That seems doable with all the picture book reading I do.  Then I needed exact numbers and my calculator says 200 books in 12 months needs 16.66 books a month.  I do realize this will need to flow a bit.

I think this short reflection of my reading life will guide some reading thinking next week in our classroom.  I think I will be more sympathetic with students striving to keep a reading list themselves.   I also don't think it's fair to ask students to do the work I'm not doing so I'm glad I didn't walk away from the Goodreads Reading Challenge.  I hope you'll follow me along at Goodreads.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

One Little Word 2020

I spent today getting to know my one little word and solidifying my thinking for 2020.  Habit is a noun and helped me think about it's definition.  I collected these tidbits to help me think about it's definition; an acquired behavior, a customary practice or use, particular practice custom or usage, and a regular disposition - leaning  towards mindset thinking.

I then clicked over to and enjoyed finding synonyms to frame my initial thinking.  There were some obvious words; pattern, routine, and way.  I enjoyed discovering quirk, groove, thing, and style.  

As I thought about the definition and synonyms I made a list of the invitations the word habit is going to offer me.  I found I didn't want my list to be specific actions.  I've done this before and had the feelings of less when I can't keep up to over zealous goals.  I think habit will offer me; wellness, variety, well rounded moments and feelings, wholeness, and connected.  Not only connections with others - connected with myself.

I've enjoyed revisiting Ali Edwards course for One Little Word and collecting my thoughts in a scrapbooking fashion - documenting fashion.