Wednesday, January 25, 2023

What Do You Do with a Problem? by Kobi Yamaha

Recently my students are bringing picture books from home and asking me to read them to the class. I love when they share a snippet of their home book collection with us. Last week I don't think my student realized how much I needed the book she brought.

What Do You Do with a Problem? by Kobi Yamaha and illustrated by Mae Besom is in our classroom library and I hadn't read it to the class yet and I don't know why. It would be a great book to read earlier in the year for our community to refer back to when problems arise.

I love the main character and the honest sharing for the worries that come with a problem. As we think about worries they grow and spread to new worries; this text explains all of this in a natural way and the illustrations softly show worries and how they expand.

My favorite lines in this book are...

"My problem held an opportunity!

It was an opportunity for me to learn and to grow. To be brave. To do something."

I think the idea of problems being viewed as an opportunity is one our students can navigate with help and an idea I'm currently pondering myself. This book is just what I needed and reminded me when we recommend books to others we can't plan the full impact a story may have on another person.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

The Breaking News by Sarah Lynne Reul

The Breaking News written and illustrated by Sarah Lynne Reul has been in my classroom library since it was published in 2018 to have on hand to help my students process hard things. 

In this story a family hears bad news on the television and we read how it impacts the adults trying to make sense of it. The daughter is the narrator and notices how it's hard for her parents to conduct typical routines around the house. As she gets on the bus for school, she notices everyone else is feeling the bad news.

Her teacher urges the class to look for the helpers; "good people trying to make things better in big and small ways." The narrator decides she wants to help in a big way and tries to help around her house. Unfortunately, the big things she tried to do weren't noticed so she switched to doing small things around her house. She had hoped by helping the bad news would go away.

I love how she engages her family at the end with planting and sprucing up their neighborhood. A change in scenery, caring for something else, and improving or changing a space around us are all things we can do to help shift our mindset.

The bad news is never defined; which I love because the story can be applicable for bad news impacting countries, communities, families, and individuals. Bad news can look different for different people at different times. It's interesting what the media can determine and define as breaking news.

I didn't realize then I would find a day to share it with my whole staff and then give four copies away to helpers in my own life. This is one book I think every classroom needs.

Monday, January 23, 2023

10 Things I've Learned During the Past Two Weeks


10 Things I've Learned the Past Two Weeks...

1. When intent and purpose change there are surprises.

2. Silence is a way to show support and needs to be noticed.

3. Kind and encouraging words from others are necessary to endure twists and turns.

4. Look for the helpers in your life and embrace them.

5. In person conversations are essential.

6. Name, sit, and feel the range of emotions.

7. Accept and embrace the positive messages about who you are and what you do.

8. Kind and encouraging words are a blessing.

9. Crying alone and with others is okay.

10. Taking a risk involves being brave and makes you vulnerable.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Adding to my Reading Plan this Year - Part 1

I am a collector of books and it presents a problem. My stack of books to be read grows larger and the amount of reading to reduce the pile can become overwhelming. I personally find when I'm overwhelmed I need to create a plan. Realizing this I began pondering the action steps shared yesterday and wondered if there are more action steps I can take that would work towards my reading challenge goal and decrease my To Be Read (TBR) stack.

First I identified the biggest genre of my stack and it's informational. Then I identified the biggest topic within the informational stack and it's professional reading - I have a passion; a love for reading about teaching. Each time I switch grade levels my first response is to collect the latest and greatest to help me have options for being more prepared. 

When I reorganized my collection with this last switch, I actually put a post it note on the inside title page to indicate it's not read. It was actually a trick to reduce the TBR pile on the floor and reduce the overwhelming feeling. I use to be able to keep up with my TBR pile and then a few personal things came up in my life and my reading took a turn. I want to return to professionally reading and want to reduce my TBR pile.

I've decided to add two things this year to my reading plan and both are things I encourage my third graders to do. The first thing is to pick two professional books from my TBR stack and make them part of my reading stack each month. If I read two a month that would be twenty-four for the year - one fourth-ish of my Goodreads goal. I'm also going to share my picks at the beginning of the month here and on Instagram with the hope by going public it will help me be accountable. Goals are easier to obtain when we have cheerleaders on our side. I thought about picking three or four and realized I wanted to set space for reading other books.

This month my two books are ones I just added to my TBR stack. A newly published book and one I missed when it was published and wish I hadn't. I'll be back tomorrow with my other reading plan addition.


Monday, January 2, 2023

Celebrating My Own Reading!

I'm excited to share, I met my reading goal last year for the first time after several failed attempts using
Goodreads. As I reflected on the reason why this year was different for me a few things came up. I simplified my recording plan at Goodreads and made a few other changes thanks to the guidance of Stephanie Affinito at A Lit Life.

Instead of lots of shelves for genre or format I now have a want to read, currently reading, and read shelf. This made recording my books quicker. I also kept my reviews simple and short sometimes mentioning the format or genre - usually just a sentence. My plan is to share more here on the blog and these reflections would be longer. 

I also learned about Stephanie's google form - My Reading Life A Bookish Spreadsheet I could collect data about what I was reading.This year the form had me track titles, authors, my personal rating, intended audience, genre, format, abandoned, and source. Many of the things I tried to keep track of in Goodreads. I found this personal spread sheet to be easier to use and one I could easily catch up with after a read several titles. When I saw Stephanie share this format, I was intrigued with the graphics the data could then generate. Looking at the graphics I found areas of reading comfort and opportunities to stretch.  

I also nudged myself to read more for fun - adult literature only on vacations. I joined for the first time in my life an book group for a fun read via Stephanie's Patreon Community. Thanks again to Stephanie for nudging me to gather with others around a common book and experience a book club beyond the ones I do with students. I find myself collecting quotes to share during our monthly meetings, sharing surprises, wonderings, and disappointments. Participating in a book club gives me a reading goal and helps me set aside time within my week to prepare for the book club. 

I always thought I was leading a reading life by reading books and realize these changes during the past year have made my reading life more engaging, intentional, and reflective. All things I try to model and ask my students to do. 

Three things have come from these experiences this year. I increased the volume of books I read. I learned how to look at my own data and stretch my reading choices. I connected with others around books and found a community I could participate in and not lead. I look forward to continuing these actionable steps in 2023 and hope to connect with more readers here in this space and the other ones mentioned earlier. I also want to nudge you to find your own path in being a bit more intentional with your reading.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Tucked In {Poetry Friday}

Tucked In

After viewing the exhibit 

face washed
teeth brushed

room picked up
day is done

questions asked
stories told

books read
prayers said

covers lifted
snuggled in

hanging on
sleep encouraged

@ Mandy Robek


Projects help me be accountable. I'm diving into Amy Ludwig Vanderwater's Poems are Teachers How Studying Poetry Strengthens Writing in All Genres again. This week Amy and Irene Latham guide readers with Let Art Inspire. I just happened to visit The Columbus Museum of Art last night for a workshop and snapped this picture of original art from Maurice Sendak's Little Bear series of books. I wish I had snapped a picture of the title. "Poetry after the art allows us to bring ourselves into the piece, not just as an observers, but as participants," Irene Latham. Irene's website has more ideas called Art Speak. Little Bear was part of my first daughter's "mom approved" VCR video collection and we rewatched this beloved series many times. Looking at this print and thinking outside the frame brought back memories of bedtime with her and her sisters.

Thank you Buffy Silverman for hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Thank you, Amy LV! {Poetry Friday}

I know last week I restarted a poetry plan and I decided to pause that plan for an impromptu moment from my classroom. I saw a tweet this morning from @amylvpoemfarm where she was sharing her Friday post on her fabulous resource, The Poem Farm. I was intrigued with the idea of making an if list for poetry. My class has been reading poetry to start our Fridays. Just last week we started picking one to share with others and I felt an itch to help them write poetry. 

We started our day by reading poetry and a quick morning meeting. We paused our time together for music and shared poems we wanted others to hear when we got back. Then I shared with them one of our favorite authors Amy Ludwig Vanderwater had a blog and I saw an idea I thought we could try. We read Amy's post and listened to her recording. I wondered if we could write an If...poem together and then they could try one in their writer's notebooks. 

We collaborated using a shared writing format. A pattern emerged as students took turns. We had the ending before the third and fourth stanzas. We talked about short lines and slowing down as we reread our developing draft. This represents our community. It represents our us as learners and it represents our physical space.

We had to publish our writing and each child did an illustration. It was joyful to listen to the illustration conversations. They knew which lines they were specifically illustrating. We are going to put individual copies in our Poetry Folders we use for practicing all things fluency.

Thank you Amy LV for inspiring our writing thoughts and hearts. XO

Thank you Jone for hosting Poetry Friday this week.