Friday, November 25, 2011

Thankfully Reading Weekend 2011

As a Thankfully Reading participant, my first challenge is to write about a book that I am most thankful for from any time in my life.  This should be an easy task, but there are so many books that I am thankful for that I am having quite a difficult time focusing in on just one.

I think back to the early books like The Very Hungry Caterpillar that helped me learn and practice my own early reading strategies.  I remember books like those in the Ramona series that showed how my little sister was not the only pest in the world.  I remember Are You There God it's Me Margaret that assured me that I was perfectly normal and that growing up was tricky for everyone.  The Hobbit completely blew my mind and Gone With the Wind made my little heart break.  Robin McKinley and Anne McCaffrey both managed to show me that women can be strong and intelligent despite what most literature displayed.  

There have been so many wonderful books in my past, that narrowing it down to one that gets my thanks is just impossible.  If I have to name the book that has shown up repeatedly in my life that I am thankful for, it would be Little Women.  I first read a children's version of it in elementary school.  I read it over and over again.  Then, in middle school, I read the real deal.  I have read it many, many times and always cry over Beth, am annoyed by Amy and Meg, cry with Jo and adore Marmee.   The way the family cared for each other touched me in the midst of my difficult years.  I really related to Beth, since I was painfully shy myself, and I longed to be more outspoken like Jo.  We owned the book, so it was available to revisit and I lived with the Marches anytime I felt lonely.  I am thankful that Louisa May Alcott wrote that and many other books that were childhood and teenage friends of mine.  She brightened many a day for me and helped me in my quest to overcome my shyness and to deal with my temper (the one area of myself that was very much like Jo).

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Balloons Over Broadway

Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet is a wonderful way to learn the history of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  In addition, the book is a fantastic work of art itself.  Melissa used unique collages to illustrate the text.  The illustrations really fit in well with the picture she paints of Tony Sarg, the puppeteer that engineered the giant balloons in Macy's parade.  He was an inventor that used anything around him creatively to solve problems.  I loved learning that the parade grew as a way to honor the traditions of the immigrant staff members of Macy's and allow for celebration.  Mostly it was just fun to see the way Sarg invented whatever he needed and kept trying things that might have seemed impossible to other people.

Here is a video showing how the modern balloons are inflated before the parade.  In the book, it said they used sandbags to restrain the balloons, but now they use nets.

In the video below, you get to see how they test out the balloons and practice moving as a group.

A sample of some typical things seen in a Macy's Parade

It was cool to learn that Tony Sarg also had two apprentices.  One, Bill Baird, went on to create the puppets seen in the movie The Sound of Music (video clip on YouTube).  The other was Jim Henson, who created The Muppets.

Here's is the latest incarnation of The Muppets opening during Thanksgiving week.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thankfully Reading Weekend

Here is an opportunity, or excuse as it may be, to read, read, and read over the Thanksgiving holiday time.    The Thankfully Reading Weekend invites you to read a little or read a ton, but read as much as you can.  I have never participated before, but it appears that the main point is to make time for reading.  In Jen's words, it is "an excuse to do an insane amount of reading over the long Thanksgiving weekend!"  Happy reading!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Friendship and Hope for A Changing World

I love this video from D-PAN (Deaf Professional Arts Network).  I hadn't ever heard this song, but it would be great to show at school when discussing friendship or at the beginning of the year.

I had completely forgotten about D-PAN though I have seen some of their work in the past.  Obviously a lot of their work focuses on the deaf like the video Waiting on the World to Change, but beyond that, the material  speaks to respect for others regardless of our differences.  You can see that in the powerful  video Beautiful with the music of Christina Aguilara.

I can't help but think of the book The Deaf Musicians by Pete Seeger and Paul DuBois Jacobs when I watch the combination of music and signing.  It would be a great text to pair with the videos.  Many hearing people don't associate music with the deaf or hard-of-hearing, so this book and the videos can be quite an eye opener.  In 2007, Tony Evans wrote a review of the book on the blog Deaf Echo, and closed with this, 
"I do hope that many of his admirers and fans see this book, read it, and reconsider deafness and what being deaf means today. At the very least, I hope they’ll understand that the interpreter standing on stage at any concert or artistic function isn’t there to distract, or to be annoying, but to help those of us who want to attend to share in the arts."
I am fortunate that my aunt thought to post one of D-PAN's videos because it was a great reminder of the wonderful work that they are doing and the positive message that they provide for us all.  I hope you take some time and experience the art of D-PAN.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

10 Cool Things I Learned on Twitter This Week

Inspired by Colby Sharp's post in combination with my appreciation for Twitter, I felt that I must also share what I have learned on Twitter recently.

1. @MrsBMG-shared that Toontastic was free this weekend - so I got a great app I've been wanting - FOR FREE!

2.  @langwitches- shared a copyright article by Wesley Fryer that included memory device for teaching wise way to search for audio (and other additions to presentations) Harry Potter Can Fly: 
H = Homegrown
 P = Public Domain
 C = Creative Commons 
F = Fair Use

3.  From the same copyright article I was led to a fantastic site, digccMixter, that has links to places that provide audio for use in presentations, videos etc....

4.  I read and participated in more great discussion around the picture book I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen at #hatback (particularly with @colbysharp, @mentortexts, and @PaulWHankins)

5. @pageintraining and @MarciaDressel provided much needed #NaNoWriMo encouragement and @maureenjohnson shared advice for how to survive

6. I was unsurprised but happy to learn via @the1stdaughter that @Patrick_Ness won the Galaxy National Book Award for A Monster Calls.

7.  Twitter has led me to Picture Book Month and #picturebookmonth is chock full of ideas that I can't wait to use in my library.  I will likely have my students recommending their faves in the coming weeks.

8. @Tamara_Jaimes Tweeted "Following familiar authors gives kids (&me) a peek into the writing process of the best writing mentors. It's instant credibility!"  Made me think I might need to show a few author tweets at school.  Hadn't thought to do that.

9. @JensBookPage led me to great article by Mo Willems (@The_Pigeon) about why we need books.   His article even helped me with writing hints for my NanoWriMo book.

10. I got to find out about many new and old books to add to my To Be Read pile through #Fridayreads and #bookaday and of course #Titletalk.  There are so many awesome people on Twitter that love reading and literacy.  

Twitter is an awesome tool and is a whole lot of fun.  I am loving how it influences my teaching and my library while providing more than a few laughs.  Thanks to all of you wonderful Tweeters busy teaching and learning with each other.