Tuesday, March 31, 2015

{#sol15} Music Programs 31/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

Elementary students can be so enthusiastic when they are performing in their music productions. This evening was a treat as I watched two different programs. The first and second graders sang about not being sleepy and their bedtime routine. My favorite song was unsurprisingly, "In the Pages of a Book." The kids held up some awesome books during this one. There are great lyrics, "I can be myself or someone else in the pages of a book....I can lose myself or find myself in the pages of a book."

The third and fourth graders were having a beach bash and wishing for summertime. I couldn't help but wish for it right along with them. This has been a long school year with our construction work going on since October. Many students were full of joy and energy dancing up on the stage. They brought huge smiles to my face.

Thinking about the past month of slicing also brings a smile. This has been a learning experience and sharing with so many people is the best. Thanks for being a part of my writing journey this month.

Monday, March 30, 2015

{#sol15} A Touch of Spring 30/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

It's difficult to believe that this is the second to the last post of March already. The month flew by and most days, the words came easily.

It's also difficult to believe that the snow is finally gone. Today my dog and I had a fabulous walk in the sunshine with no jacket required. No bath was required either. That's a first. Ever since November, we have had snow, sand, salt, and/or mud to deal with so a walk always led to bathing the dog. Not surprisingly this meant that my dog had way fewer walks during winter. He is a tiny thing and also has difficulty with the cold so most days we would instead play fetch up and down our long hallway instead.

Being able to walk all the way to the park and back without having to carry a shivering wet mess of a dog was a wonderful treat. His tail was wagging and I'm sure if I had one it would have been wagging too.

We may still get one or two cold blasts, but today we had spring in our steps. We'll take as many of these days as we can get.

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. Jen Vincent over at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye from Unleashing Readers decided to put a children's and YA spin on it and they invite anyone with an interest to join in. You can participate by creating your post then visit one of their sites to add your site. Finally, visit at least three participant blogs and comment to spread the love.

If you want to know more about what I am reading, visit me at my Goodreads shelf. Images via Goodreads unless otherwise noted.

The Past Week: 

Adelita and the Veggie Cousins/Adelita y Las Primas Verduritas by Diane Gonzales Bertrand is a book to use when teaching about veggies, but it isn't a riveting story. The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County by Janice N. Harrington cracked me up. The collage is well done and the story is entraining and funny. Trouble by Jane Kurtz was one that I read at the Ethiopia night I went to last week. I believe it's a retelling of an Ethiopian tale. It's lighthearted and fun too. Finally, Sybil the Backpack Fairy #1 (Nina) by Michael Rodriguez was a cute middle grade graphic novel about a girl who finds a mischievous fairy and another creature in her backpack. Trouble and Chicken-Chasing Queen were my two favorites.

Aside from finishing those four books, I am also in the midst of a few. I'm reading several at a time. I'm also listening to The Plague of Doves one more time since I know the secrets now. As soon as I finished it a week ago, I put the first CD right back into the player. :)

The Coming Week:
I'll be re-reading Gabi a Girl in Pieces and hopefully I'll finish a few of the ones that I'm currently reading. Beyond that, I'm not sure if I will finish any unless some picture books jump into my hands. Have a great week!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

{#sol15} Doodling 29/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

This picture is my attempt to hurry along our spring. We don't have green grass, blooming flowers, or blue skies yet, but they are coming. The book Picture This by Lynda Barry encouraged people to doodle. She writes, "A spiral is portable, reliable and takes up unbearable time and space and thoughts that torment. It gives us an active place to rest and be." 

I've found this to be true. My doodles often have spirals. They are comfortable and require little thought. They give my mind a rest. I'm listening to the second Octavian Nothing book trying to get through all of the Printz awards and honors. It's a challenge to me as I find it quite dry, but the addition of some doodling should make it more palatable. The doodling won't distract me from the story, but will give my body something to do in the meantime.

It's been a relaxing morning that included a little baking. I made strawberry scones, boiled some eggs, and made homemade chai (using the recipe from Lucy Knisley's fabulous graphic novel Relish). My family woke up in stages and everyone had a bite. I love the yummy smells that are still lingering on in the house. Now I'm off to listen and doodle and sip some more sweet chai.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

{#sol15} Celebrate! 28/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres has a link-up on Saturdays where people link to posts that are celebrations about their week. I love this reminder to celebrate every week.

Many of my celebrations this week made it into my Slice of Life posts. Slice of Life is one of my celebrations. It hasn't been nearly as difficult as I thought to post each day this month and truly, the best part may be reading and commenting on other people's posts. The posts have been thought-provoking, beautiful, emotional, and sometimes hilarious. It's a treat to visit the many blogs and enjoy the writing and life journeys of others.

Another treat was seeing the trailer of Meg Medina's new picture book, Mango, Abuela and Me, coming at the end of the summer. It looks so fun.

Tuesday was a day of thinking. It was the conclusion of some professional development that a team of teachers from my building attended throughout this year. We learned about Culturally Responsive Classroom Practices. We're hoping to implement some of the classroom practices that we learned in the coming year and are already trying to use some of them in our own spaces. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as we get the information to other staff members. I'm excited to see what we can do.

On Wednesday evening, creativity was the theme. I was able to go to a craft night and have a beading lesson. Ever since attending the American Indian Summer Institute in 2013, beading has been something on my bucket list. A young Mohican woman there was working on beadwork for a Powwow and it was beautiful. The artistry was stunning. Being able to learn how to string beads together was nice, but spending time with women and girls while we worked on different projects and talked was also very relaxing. I hope to be able to participate often.

Thursday was a busy day as I taught and then went to a presentation about Ethiopia. Having read Black Dove, White Raven within the past month had me wanting to learn more about this fascinating country. We learned a lot about the country and its people. Following the presentation, I made my way to our elementary school dance. Joining in the fun was a spirit lifter. Several teachers were out on the dance floor and we had a blast acting silly and dancing around with our students. This all made for a long day, but one filled with goodness.

Related to culturally responsive practices, a new resource appeared on my radar that will help me gather resources related to Native Nations of Wisconsin. It also helps others. Someone was just asking me yesterday how to get information to local elementary librarians about what resources to purchase and I was able to direct them to this resource. Win!

The week was filled with excitement and fun as our school celebrated our Spirit Week and that is a celebration in itself. Seeing everyone dressed in crazy ways and being silly together made for a lot of laughter and many smiles. Coming up, we have a short week and then my son comes home for a few days. Life is good.

Friday, March 27, 2015

{#sol15} American Indian Nations in WI 27/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

I love social media. A post yesterday alerted me to the creation of a new Facebook group providing  some fantastic resources. The group is called Wisconsin Librarians and Teachers Supporting Act 31. They posted a great list of books and online resources that help with teaching about the American Indian Nations in Wisconsin. For librarians or teachers wanting to add to their library collection, this is an excellent place to start.

We already own most of the titles listed for elementary, but it was nice to see a few titles that were new to me. They also had some great titles for teachers - like this one I picked up from our public library:

Debbie Reese had mentioned Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask on Twitter a while back, but I hadn't gotten to it yet. It's in my house now so maybe soon.... 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

{#sol15} Ethiopia 26/31

hosted by Two Writing Teachers

This afternoon, UW La Crosse hosted an event focusing children's literature, culture and life in Ethiopia. A panel presented about their experiences in Ethiopia. Some had gone on a medical mission there, some were members of the press that had worked on a documentary during that trip and two had lived in Ethiopia when they were growing up. 

After reading Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein, I was especially eager to hear more about Ethiopia and the people who live there. We saw pictures of the work being done through Project Mercy and heard about those experiences. We also saw some of the documentary. 

One of the women who had grown up in Ethiopia was Jane Kurtz. We heard her talk about her books, literacy and Ethiopia Reads . From the website, "Ethiopia Reads collaborates with Ethiopian communities to build schools, plant libraries, teach teachers, boost literacy and provide youth and families with the tools to improve their lives." I read her book Trouble this afternoon and now will be on the lookout for more of her works. We have several in our school library that I will be reading soon.

Ethiopia looks like a beautiful place that I need to add to my travel list.