Friday, October 31, 2014

Poetry Friday - Autumn Leaves


It's Poetry FridayTeacherDance is hosting this week. She has a Halloween theme going on today. My poem isn't one for the holiday, but it does celebrate the season. I was in a collage mood and was playing with the "leaves" that I cut out from magazines. They seemed to tell me that they needed a haiku.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Non-fiction Picture Book Challenge




Alyson Beecher over at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts a Non-fiction Picture Book Challenge and has a roundup every Wednesday. I love the encouragement to explore more non-fiction.

We just finished up a Scholastic Book Fair last week and a few nonfiction titles caught my eye. Two by Sandra Markle stood out - What if You Had Animal Hair? and What if You Had Animal Teeth?





Aren't the covers just fantastic? They scream, "Check me out!" I grabbed a copy of both for our library. Each two page spread features a large and small photo of the actual animal and then one full page illustration of a child as they might look with that critter's hair. The illustrations of the children are often humorous. Aside from the illustrations there are facts about the animal's hair type and notes about it's purpose. There is also a note included about what it would be like for the child to have that hair. 

I am loving the creativity of these pairings and know that this is just the kind of book to hand a child or adult who believes that nonfiction isn't their thing. It would also be a great mentor text or springboard for creating your own pairing. I can just see students researching hair types of different animals and illustrating what it would be like on their own head. They could also move onto other feathers like skin or feet.

The author prepared some interesting activities to use and shared them on her blog here: Big Hairy Deal: The Perfect Activities to go with What if You Had Animal Hair?

When writing about hair, I can't help but think of a few fiction picture books that could be paired here. One in particular that stands out in my mind is Dalia's Wondrous Hair/El cabello maravilloso de Dalia.

I haven't had a chance to closely read What if You Had Animal Teeth? but it looks like another winner. The illustrations are fun and the text seems engaging. I appreciate that the illustrator used a diverse cast of children too.  I can't wait to share these with students.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Slice of Life

 

The Slice of Life Challenge was created by the people over at the blog Two Writing Teachers. The challenge is to write about some part of your day and share it each Tuesday then give feedback to at least three other bloggers.

Over the past few days, many of the activities in my library have involved technology. These activities have not been without challenges. Students were navigating websites that they had never experienced before or had only tried once or twice the year before. Between assisting students who needed to log on to a Chromebook (I don't have enough desktops for all) in addition to getting around in the websites, I was a busy lady hustling to and fro. What I saw happening brought a huge smile to my face though. As I buzzed here and there, students were also doing their part to help those near them.



Of course if someone raised their hand, I helped, but students often took care of each other and worked together to solve problems. Sometimes I need to remember to hang back and let them step up.  I buzzed a little slower and watched them grow. 

It reminded me of something Colby Sharp commented on Saturday. He mentioned that Franki Sibberson had suggested having a "classroom expert list" posted in the room that. It would list the students and their strengths so they can use each other as resources.  I echo his thought, "I love when they get support from each other instead of me."

Monday, October 27, 2014

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 shelfImages via Goodreads unless otherwise noted. 

Last Week: 
These were some of the picture books that we read during our family reading night. They all have cakes or cupcakes as part of the story. I was so happy to find Mrs. Biddlebox. I am NOT a morning person and would love to be able to drag in the ickiness of a morning and bake it into a cake. The illustrations are by Marla Frazee so they are beautiful.


This was actually the shape and size of an easy reader, but had only one sentence on a page (though it was bilingual so I guess it had two really). It was quite funny though brief and I'll be ordering it soon.


How it Went Down was an excellent young adult novel that explores racism and violence within a situation very much like those in our newspapers. I reviewed it over at Rich in Color. Dumpling Days was my favorite read of the week - a family story centered around food. Perfect.

The Meaning of Maggie wasn't what I was expecting. I didn't realize it would be about a family dealing with a medical issue. I had seen the trailer and thought it was a school story or rather just a story focusing on a meticulous and ambitious young girl. I did enjoy it to a certain degree, but the main character kept confusing me. She was eleven and intelligent. She loved learning and had plans to be president. Maggie's precocious. The contradiction is that she is often very innocent and unknowing. Sometimes her voice is more like a second or third grader and at others it's more like she's a teen. Her father has an illness that scares her and the whole family is hiding the seriousness from her (why?) and for the longest time, Maggie doesn't use the library (that she loves) to find out about it. Finally she starts investigating, but long after it makes sense with her personality. There were a few other things that caught me like the native american comments around Thanksgiving. They made sense with an eleven year old's understanding, but didn't seem necessary so I am not sure why they are there. I didn't enjoy it as much as I had hoped. There were too many things that knocked me out of the story. Another thing was the Take Your Daughter to Work day. I don't remember that in the 80s. I looked it up and it didn't start until 1993. I wondered if the author set the story in the 80s to keep Maggie from easy Internet access to the information her family is hiding. The book is okay, but maybe just doesn't work as well for adults that might question such things.

The Coming Week:

I am almost finished with City of Bones. I have enjoyed it, but I'm not sure if I will continue with the series since I have so many other books waiting. Oops, before publishing this, I went ahead and finished this one. I don't want to redo the picture though. ;)

Wonderbook is heavier reading that I expected, but the illustrations are fantastic and break it up a bit. A Girl Called Problem seems good so far. I keep trying to read Foreign Gods, Inc. but whenever I stop reading for any reason, I have a hard time remembering to pick it up again.

I am also about to start Darkroom: A memoir in black and white by Lila Quintero Weaver. I have had it on my to read list for quite a while and finally grabbed it this weekend.

I will likely read other things, but I am not sure what they will be. Happy reading to all!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Celebrate!

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 day.

Wow! I have so many things to celebrate this week.

* Today I attended Widening the Circle - an Indigenous Education Conference, which is why my post is late. I've been to it in past years and it's always a fantastic learning experience. I will be writing more about this for Slice of Life on Tuesday. One of the messages was to advocate for our students - to "speak the truth" which was also a message at another conference I attended earlier in the week: Culturally Responsive Classroom Practices. Both of these events were times of encouragement and learning. They were also opportunities to connect with others who have a passion for the same issues. It's energizing to be with people that are working for the same purpose.

* The We Need Diverse Books campaign had all kinds of things to celebrate this week too. They have many initiatives planned and in progress. They kicked off a fundraiser and have already raised almost $25,000 of their $100,000 goal. It's exciting and shows that diversity in kidlit matters to many people.

* We participated in Read for the Record and also had a Family Reading Night that evening. It was the same day that I was away for a conference, but I still got to read with families in the evening. Our announcements explain what that was like.


* I was able to attend a presentation by KaYing Yang at the local university. She showed this video which shares the story of Hmong Americans in their voices.


She discussed immigration, gender equity and domestic violence. It was an evening full of learning.

* I am still enjoying my drawing class. We got to see a demo of print making. It made me want to buy a gelli. We also discussed pictures based on the material in the book Picture This by Molly Bang.

* My daughter is now a licensed driver!!!!! I did NOT have to get up at 5:30 this morning to take her to the high school to go to Minnesota for a competition. 

* Finally, I have been winning many things. I won books from two different blogs this week. I also won two books as a door prize at a public library event. At the university lecture, I also won the door prize which included candy, a nice candle and a few other misc. items. Clearly I should have bought a lottery ticket this week. ;)

This was an extremely busy week, but I really appreciated the learning opportunities and connections with people.

Monday, October 20, 2014

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 shelfImages via Goodreads unless otherwise noted. 

Last Week: 

To save time and space here on the blog, I will just highlight a few of the best from the week. Laughing Tomatoes and Firefly July were two wonderful collections of poetry. I loved The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus. What a fascinating person! Leroy Ninker Saddles Up, The Fly and How to Outrun a Crocodile provided me with a lot of laughs and smiles. I read Floating on Mama's Song because it's illustrated by Yuyi Morales and I am trying to read all of the books that she has written and illustrated. It's beautiful as I expected, but the story is also a lot of fun. 

Another one that stood out was Playing Loteria. What's special about this book is that the boy is going to stay with his grandmother, or abuelita, on his own. The key here is that he doesn't speak a lot of Spanish and she doesn't speak a lot of English so he is concerned about the visit. There aren't a whole lot of stories dealing with this language issue, but there are children that experience this and others that don't even realize this happens. It reminds me of one other picture book, Sitti's Secrets where a girl goes to visit her grandmother with the same type of situation though a different language. I look forward to sharing Playing Loteria and maybe even introducing the game.

The Coming Week:

I am really enjoying City of Bones more than I expected to given that someone I know told me the love triangle annoyed her. I'm listening to it, so it's slow going. I haven't gotten very far in Foreign Gods, Inc, but will still likely finish up this week. I have mixed feelings about The Meaning of Maggie, but it is a quick read and is certainly interesting (I'll explain more once I finish). How it Went Down is tough reading and I am not very far into it yet. I will be very busy this week, so I am not sure how much more I will get to, but will likely finish these. It should be a good week for books. I hope you have some good reading ahead of you too.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Celebrate!

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 day.

** We had a Scholastic Book Fair this week. It is a lot of work, but the students love wandering through to see the books and gadgety things. The books that sold out were Sisters, Bugs in My Hair, Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel, Emperor Pickletine and Creepy Carrots. The most popular gadget was pens that write on things without showing up until you shine the light on the writing and erasers that were mini smart phones. I was informed that they were the perfect size for American Dolls.

** Parent teacher conferences were this week. I enjoyed my revised schedule because I had long, slow mornings before work. I wrote about that for my Slice of Life on Tuesday.

** My writing group is still meeting at school. I don't think we have more than 20 students anymore, but we still have double digits of kids and they are starting to form mini-groups. They gravitate toward writing partners or small groups of students that they feel comfortable sharing their writing with and chatting about it. On Thursday, I introduced word wars. NaNoWriMo takes advantage of the spirit of competition. You agree on a set amount of time and then all involved write furiously during that time. The winner is the person who wrote the most words. Yes, this may seem like a strange method, but it is so freeing. Personally, I have a very obnoxious inner editor that keeps me from getting words on the page. A word war is one way that allows me to push past that noisy editor. I spew words onto the page. Some are good, some are not so good, but once they are on the page I at least have something to revise. A handful of students thought it sounded fun and gave it a try. They loved it.

** Our public library is supporting NaNoWriMo with programming this year. On Nov. 1, they are having a Write-In. I am hoping that some of my students will be able to participate. My daughter and I will spend some time there. They have planned six hours of comfy chairs, snacks, giveaways and time for writing.

** I had a lovely bone scan this week because of pain in my foot. Yay! I do not have a fracture. Now a little bit of physical therapy and I should be good to get back to running and zumba.

I hope that you had much to celebrate this week. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Poetry Friday


It's Poetry Friday. Today's Little Ditty is hosting this week. She has a Halloween theme going on, but with our building project going full steam, my mind has been focused in that direction. If you want a taste of what has been happening, watch the first minute or so of our announcements.






The New

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Slice of Life


The Slice of Life Challenge was created by the people over at the blog Two Writing Teachers. The challenge is to write about some part of your day and share it each Tuesday then give feedback to at least three other bloggers.

Today is a conference day at school so we have a different work schedule - noon to 8:00 p.m. This means a day to sleep in. I also got to sit by the window and enjoy a special treat. I had oatmeal with slices of Honey Crisp, a bit of brown sugar, cinnamon and golden raisins. Yum. All this while I smelled my chai (from Lucy Knisley's book Relish) warming up on the stove. Another big yum. It totally put me in the Autumn spirit. There was a slow rain plinking outside and our trees are changing.

Along with the gentle rain (I had to open the window a crack to enjoy that sound), I also heard the chimes from our back porch. They are muted in the house, but are always there when we have a breeze.

video

We got the chimes after my father-in-law died. He was a musician and they are a wonderful way to remember his life and love of music.

I appreciate the schedule change that conferences causes. These special mornings are a gift.

#MustRead2014 Update


The fabulous Carrie Gelson over at There is a Book for That has started a reading challenge called #MustReadin2014. We each created a list of books that we "must read" in 2014. I included the Printz books since I started that challenge last year. I also added the books that were on the Best Multicultural Books of 2013 list created by The Center for the Study of Multicultural Children's Literature. Since the challenge was designed to whittle down our To Be Read lists, there are also books on my list that have been waiting for years. One has been on my list since the summer of 2010. My To Be Read shelf on Goodreads has well over 1,000 books on it, but I kept only 110 for by #MustRead2014 shelf.

My first update was posted back in April here and I had read 26/110. The second was in July and my total was 41/110. Now my total is up to 49/110. I slowed down significantly. This is because I started spending more time working on the other reading challenges that I am part of: The Africa Reading Challenge, The Latin@s in Kid Lit Reading Challenge, and the Diversity on the Shelf Challenge. Many of the books on my #MustRead2014 list are the Printz winners and honor books. Quite honestly, I was getting bogged down by them. Printz books are often dark and/or very bizarre. I can only take so much of that so I switched to reading the Pura Belpré winners and honors for the Latin@s in Kid Lit challenge and was having way more fun. Here are the books from the list that I have read since June.

July/August


The Round House was incredibly intense, but I was glad to read another of Louise Erdrich's books. She is a fantastic writer. She always draws me in and I feel like I am a fly on the wall. It was interesting to learn about the legend of Ponciano Guitierrez. It has a trickster quality to it as Ponciano uses his smarts against the Mountain Thieves. It's a fun story and would be a nice addition to a traditional literature unit.

September


The Creator's Game was a story about a boy who is on a la crosse team, but actually isn't very good at it. He starts to improve as he learns from his grandfather who is visiting him at night, though he is dead. I liked the story and the family interactions, but the illustrations were not what students would expect. I think students may skip the book based on the simplicity of the illustrations. 

Sugar was a fantastic experience. I loved this historical fiction set in the south during the time after the civil war. I did not know that plantation owners used Chinese labor until just recently. This was the second book I read this year that showed that experience. This was truly a multicultural book as we saw the plantation owner's son, a black girl, and Chinese workers learning about each other's cultures. If you don't know anything about Sugar, watch this excellent book trailer:


October


I started to get more deliberate about working on this list again, though you might notice a glaring lack of Printz titles. I may get back to them sometime. The two picture books were fun. I liked When Turtle Grew Feathers though some of the rhyming bothered me. I can see it being a great one to use in comparison with the Tortoise and the Hare. Tamalitos was a great poem with food. The illustrations weren't my favorite, but I do like any opportunity to pair books with food. Looks Like Daylight was excellent. I enjoyed hearing from more than 40 different Native young people. They share a great deal of wisdom as they tell of their experiences and dreams for the future.

I am hoping to pick up some more of the books on my list, but since I am still only at 49/110, it is highly unlikely that I will finish them all in 2014. I suspect that it will be the Printz books that keep me from my goal. There is always an opportunity for a #MustRead2015 list. Perhaps I should have started with a much lower number? I am still getting tons of books read, just not the exact set that I meant to read. I am easily sidetracked. ;)

Monday, October 13, 2014

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 shelfImages via Goodreads unless otherwise noted. 

Last Week: 
Picture Books



When I went to visit the CCBC, I was able to read a pile of picture books which really increased my volume for the week. The ones that made me laugh the most were Shh! We Have a Plan, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole and The Monkey and the Bananas. These three books also had me creating a shelf on Goodreads - irony.

The ones that put tears in my eyes were Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla, The Lion and the Bird, Firebird and Viva Frida.

Young Adult


Someone grabbed Child of Dandelions for me. It was quite interesting because it takes place in Uganda during the presidency of Idi Amin when he was ordering all Indians to leave the country. It is told from a young girl's perspective. She and her family were born in Uganda, but her grandfather had come from India when Britain was still in power. The other young adult book I read was on a much lighter note. I laughed quite a bit and had a great time listening to To All the Boys I've Loved Before. 


I really enjoyed listening to We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball. I learned a lot, but it was also told in such a way that it felt like a conversation. Pablo Remembers is an older title that I reviewed here. It's a nice way to learn about Day of the Dead celebrations. Looks Like Daylight: Voices of Indigenous Kids started out a little slowly, but once I was hearing voices of the youth, I was hooked. This is a fantastic collection of personal narratives that gives readers a way to see the many ways of life that different Native young people experience. Storm Chasers is part of a non-fiction series, but I grabbed it because I know some students who would love to find out more about that job. It has simple text and great photographs.

Adult 


This was on Playaway, so I only read it while doing laundry and things like that so it lost some of its continuity. David Sedaris made me laugh and I thank him for that.

The Coming Week:

I am currently reading Between Sisters and a digital ARC of How it Went Down (from NetGalley). I have also just started a Playaway of Anchee Min's book Pearl of China. I have a set of CDs of City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. I am probably starting Foreign Gods Inc this week also. The rest of my reading will likely be rather random. Have a great week of reading!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Celebrate!

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 day.

** One of the biggest celebrations this week was being able to visit the new location of the Children's Cooperative Book Center (CCBC) in Madison. The CCBC is so much more spacious and comfortable now. There is room on the shelves! Also, it is always a treat to be in the same room with so many people who love books. We talked literacy, professional development, events to come and of course - books!

A big added bonus was their lovely ARC shelf.
** I was able to read a lot of recently published picture books this week and this one was a special treat for me:


Frida was such a vibrant, creative, and unique individual. Yuyi Morales shares the spirit of Frida through this beautiful book. I had tears and I read it multiple times in a row. It was quite an experience. 

** We had the first two meetings of our 4th and 5th grade writers group. I had a few more than 20 students stay in during their lunch recess to write together and talk about their writing. They were sprawled all over the library at tables on the floors, on comfy chairs and couches.

** This week we had the groundbreaking for our school. 
It is exciting for all of us to see the big equipment and see the changes happening little by little. We will have a second story and all new learning spaces by the time it is finished next year.

** While I was in Madison, I was able to visit with my son. That always makes a week special.

** The book fair materials arrived. Students are always so excited as they see the boxes slowly get opened and set up. Their eyes have a certain gleam when they see the crates.

I hope that your week was also full of celebrations!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Non Fiction Picture Book Wednesday


Alyson Beecher over at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts a Non-fiction Picture Book Challenge and has a roundup every Wednesday. I love the encouragement to explore more non-fiction.



Goodreads Summary: From October 31 to November 2, people in Mexico celebrate the festival of el Dia de Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. This photodocumentary follows Pablo and his family as they prepare to honor the memory of Pablo's grandmother. Also available in a Spanish Language edition, Pablo Recuerda.

My Thoughts: I appreciate George Ancona's ability to transport readers to another place and time. His photographs have a sense of immediacy. They are full of life and they share so much information.  His text adds any missing pieces of information we may still need. The body of the book shows how one family prepares for and celebrates the Day of the Dead. The note at the end provides a history of how the fiesta came to be celebrated. I enjoyed learning more about this holiday and look forward to sharing parts of this book with my students. 

A Few Fiction Titles for Pairing:
The Dead Family Diaz by P.J. Bracegirdle
Mi Familia Calaca by Cynthia Weill
Rosita y Conchita by Eric Gonzalez and Erich Haeger
The Day of the Dead by Bob Barner


Other Resources for Day of the Dead:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Slice of Life




The Slice of Life Challenge was created by the people over at the blog Two Writing Teachers. The challenge is to write about some part of your day and share it each Tuesday then give feedback to at least three other bloggers.

The audiobook To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han was playing in my car yesterday and it attacked me. Well, attack might be too strong a term. Perhaps wounded me would be more appropriate.

The two sisters, Margot and Lara Jean, were having a discussion. Margot is the eldest and she is speaking to Lara Jean, "...like I am a child and she is a wise old woman of 42."

I may have gasped aloud. "Wise old woman of 42!?!" Seriously. I believe I may have even spluttered a bit. Fortunately, the vehicle was empty except for me. It's entirely possible that I looked more than a bit gobsmacked. I paused the CD and backed it up to see if my ears were functioning properly. On a second listen, the words were still the same. And indeed, on the third time too.

Old is not a word I am ready to accept. I am prepared to believe that my elementary students see me as old, but really - a sixteen year old wouldn't think that too would they? Please say no. This is probably where I should reveal that 42 was a few years ago for me.

Driving the rest of the way home, this phrase, wise old woman of 42, kept banging around in my head. Earlier this year I read 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne's Book of Precepts by R.J. Palacio. There I found a precept from Horace to start off my school year, "Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise." So I was working toward the "wise" part of the description this year anyway. Thinking abourt this totally ruined the precept for me though because the phrases rolled around together and it came out as, "Begin, be old, and venture to be wise." Ack! I may never read it the proper way again without thinking about aging. Now it makes me giggle a little and that might not be such a bad thing.

**Update to the post - I thought I would add the tweets:

Monday, October 6, 2014

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 shelfImages via Goodreads unless otherwise noted. 

Last Week:


The Coming Week:


Sorry so brief, but no time to write. ;)
Have a great week!