Monday, January 30, 2012

I hardly have a moment to breath much less type up a post, but I am going to rush through it in light speed and get back to my other work.

This past week was a slow week for novels, but a really quick week for picture books.  I was tearing through those.

Newbery Challenge: This week I finished Tales from Silver Lands and Shen of the Sea.  Neither of which will be living in my heart forever.  Enough said.

Caldecott Challenge: Nine Days to Christmas and They Were Strong and Good were also not high on my list unfortunately.  I liked Nine Days to a certain degree, but They Were Strong and Good had some serious problems culturally.  It really showed how far children's literature has come.

Best Book of my Week: Wonder by Palacio - the characters were fantastic and she did a wonderful job with the changing points of view.  Loved it.

For the rest - a list.
Big Wig - fun facts about hair - a Nerdy Nominee
Flying Beaver Brothers and the Fishy Business - fun graphic novel
Worst of Friends - a little fiction in with what looks like a non-fiction book
Tales for Very Picky Eaters - hilarious early reader
Babymouse the Musical - all-time favorite Babymouse
Babymouse Cupcake Tycoon - cute
Race the Wind
The Clever Boy and the Terrible, Dangerous Animal
It's a Big World Little Pig!
See Me Run - very cute
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind - excellent non-fiction
The Man in the Moon
Time to Sleep, Sheep the Sheep
Dinosaur vs the Potty - hilarious and pretty adorable
Pinkalicious, Purplicious, and Goldilicious - now I know why they keep checking it out - fun stuff
Starry Night Hold Me Tight
Love, Mouserella

This coming week I am finishing Sparrow Road and will just be reading a hodgepodge of Newberys and Caldecotts while having fun with lots of random books too.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Technology Petting Zoo

This week flew by so quickly.  I feel like I have been on a roller coaster.  I had a crazy week at school, but in the midst of it all, I did have the chance to put together a technology petting zoo on Thursday.

Quite a few teachers were able to stop by.  It is something I have been wanting to do ever since I saw Sarah's example on her blog Page in Training. I shared the NookColors, iPad apps including how to create and store video, some online comic creators that I learned about in my Digital Storytelling for Kids class, our Playaways, how to make google forms, and our computer microscope attachment.  I had fun showcasing these neat tools that we have available to us.

One teacher has already put the google forms to use in a big way by creating a survey today.  Love it!  Others got ideas for what they would do on Digital Learning Day Feb. 1st.  One teacher and I set up a Playaway with her room sound system to use with the whole class.  One teacher used the iPad cart today that hadn't used them yet this school year.  Hopefully I will be able to do some more things like this.  I had a lot of fun and I hope the staff members did too.  Most of all, I hope that learning will be positively affected by these types of events.

Monday, January 23, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

What I Read this week:

For the Newbery Challenge I finished The Dark Frigate (1924) and got started on Tales from Silver Lands.  I did enjoy the pirates and ship adventures, but am struggling a bit to get through the tales.

With the Caldecott Challenge, there were many more titles this week.  I giggled through Madeline's Rescue, King Bidgood's Bathtub, Finders Keepers, and Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears, reminisced with The Rooster Crows: A Book of American Rhymes and Jingles and Wee Gillis, enjoyed visiting islands with The Little Island and Time of Wonder.  I also read Many Moons (rather silly characters) and Freight Train (fantastic concept book).

A few newer books caught my eye like Shoe-La-La! which was a silly romp with pink and sparkles.  I also stumbled upon two very sweet books Hug Time and one of my new favorites Plant a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Peter Reynolds.   


Petunia Goes Wild was another fun book too.   I laughed and laughed through the newest Bink and Gollie: Two for One.  Those two friends are just fantastic and so full of life.  I smile the humongous smile with them.

I didn't manage to read many non-fiction books this week, but the ones I did read were wonderful.  I especially enjoyed Never Forgotten.  It's an amazingly powerful book that will stay with me for a long time.  The other non-fiction book I got to read was on the Nerdies list - A Butterfly is Patient and had beautiful illustrations.

For next week:

I want to dig in to some of the books that I learned about during the Youth Media Awards today - starting with Close to Famous and Tales for Picky Eaters.  I will finish Tales of Silver Lands and start Shen of the Sea.  If I get a chance, I will also read read Stick by Andrew Smith (YA).  And of course, I will keep trucking along with the Caldecotts.

Have a great week of reading!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Writing Workshop with Kate Messner!!

So excited to see Kate Messner's blog today.  I have been doing a happy dance and my dog thinks I have gone mad.  I cannot wait to show my students tomorrow.  They will be super excited about it.  To win the signed book is really cool, but getting a free writer's workshop series is extremely and amazingly awesome. Big smiles keep popping out on my face.  That just made my week.

I am also loving the cover art of Marty Mcguire Digs Worms!  A little squirmy and a lot of fun. :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I have had a fantastic week of reading.  I read picture books, chapter books and managed to get in some non-fiction too.

Picture Books
I was able to read a few more Nerdy nominees.  First, I read Stars by Mary Lyn Ray and illustrated by Marla Frazee.  The pictures were simply beautiful and worked so well with the pictures. I wanted to go lay out under the stars after this one if it wasn't so blasted cold out.  Later in the week I was able to enjoy A Dog is a Dog by Stephen Shaskan.  This one was cute, funny, and super engaging.  I can't wait to share either of them with my students. I know they will both be crowd pleasers.  I still have 22 Nerdy Nominees to go, but I am whittling down that list a few at a time.

I also worked on my Caldecott Challenge by reading Cock a Doodle Doo by Berta Hader.  This is an old fashioned little story about a little chick.  It was okay, but not fabulous.  I did enjoy Seven Simeons: A Russian Tale by Boris Artzybasheff quite a bit more. The illustrations were delicate and quite interesting.  The story also had such a pompous king that I just had to giggle all the way through.  Laura (@liblaura5) has a fantastic video review of this book.  Animals of the Bible edited by Helen Dean Fish, was a little dry and quoted the King James English version.  Not my favorite though I did appreciate seeing the Daniel in the Lion's Den story that I haven't thought of for quite some time. I would definitely have given Seven Simeons the award over Animals of the Bible if it had been my choice.  The Ageless Story by Lauren Ford was another one that really wasn't one of my favorites.  I found it an interesting book, but only in a kind of historical way.

I also read Postcards from Buster: Buster and the Dance Contest by Marc Brown shows a group of Hmong girls getting ready to compete.  It is a very short book with not a lot of detail, but it is great because there are not many picture books that show Hmong characters in a contemporary setting.

 I read A Little Peace by Barbar Kerley.  I love the pictures of people from all around the world and the message of making the world a better place.  It went well with Me...Jane and Jane's message to young people.

America is Under Attack: September 11, 2001: The Day the Towers Fell was emotionally charged, but I appreciated the way the story is delivered for children.  The harsh facts aren't ignored, but the book isn't sensational.  Stories are shared about actual people.  Some were survivors, but others are not.  The book is an excellent introduction to a horrifying part of our history.

Newbery Challenge
I finished The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle by Hugh Lofting.  Wild animals that talk, a shipwreck, and many other adventures keep this book lively.  It reminded me in some weird way of Pippi.  Here is someone who has a little something extra and adventures at the drop of a hat and doesn't worry much about what will happen next.  I found this infinitely more enjoyable than Story of Mankind.

Young Adult
The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner was a great book for my Friday evening read.  The main characters were very engaging and believable.  It also made me want to read Of Mice and Men again.

By far the most phenomenal book of the week though was The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  One of those I will need to think about for a long time.  I will likely read it multiple times too.  It brought laughter and tears and some deep thinking.

For next week:
Newberys: I will finish up The Dark Frigate and start Tales from Silver Lands
Caldecotts: Just keep reading, just keep reading
Nerdy Nominees:
Big Wig: a Little History of Hair, A Butterfly is Patient & Page by Paige
Some good non-fiction

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Newbery Challenge

I am so excited to be reading for the Newbery Challenge.  There are so many people participating and sharing neat things like this:

which is a lot of fun - Thanks @liblaura5!  

I finished Story of Mankind - the very first Newbery book, but haven't been able to start Dr. Dolittle yet.  I am hoping to get that one tomorrow.  The Story of Mankind was a bit of a challenge.  I enjoy history, but usually in smaller doses.  Of course, because it was a challenging book, I feel pretty great about finishing. 

This challenge should be a lot of fun since so many people from the Nerdy Book Club are participating and discussing the challenge on Twitter at #nerdbery.  It's not too late to join us.  To find out all about the challenge, stop by Mr. Schu's page Watch.Connect.Read. by clicking on the Newbery badge on the right side of my blog.

Monday, January 9, 2012

It's Monday! What are you Reading?

Sheila over at Book Journey started  

This led Jen and Kellee over at Teach Mentor Texts to start 

We went back to school so I have not been reading as much this past week, but I am still hard at work on my reading goals for the year. 

This past week I read the very first Newbery Award winner - The Story of Mankind by Henrik Willem Van Loon. Whew that was a long book. It wasn't that there were so many pages, but it was a history book that was almost like a textbook.  I couldn't just zip through like with a novel. 

I have also been reading books from the Caldecott Award list.  Swimmy and Frederick are cute books by Leo Lionni and inspire me to make a collage.  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by Wanda Gag totally reminded me of my childhood when I had read it.  I have never noticed how much Snow White is like Goldilocks before though.  A Story, A Story by Haley was a fun Anansi story that also reminded me of another story - Tar Baby.  One Morning in Maine was wonderful and had the character Sal from Blueberries for Sal.  I didn't know McCloskey had written more about her.  I read a nursery rhyme book called Four and Twenty Blackbirds and it had some of the grimmest nursery rhymes I have ever seen.  The final Caldecott of my week was Barkis, an adorable dog book.  The story was just okay, but the dog was cute.

I also read one book from the Nerdies nominations - a historical fiction book called Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.  This book is emotionally challenging as it shows the struggle and journey of several families from Lithuania as the Russians take over their country and send them off to work camps.  It was a part of history that I never knew and Sepetys did a fabulous job.

One of my favorites of the week was Dragon Castle by Joseph Bruchac.  This was a wonderful fantasy and I am not even sure when or where I heard about it, but I am glad I picked it up.  I felt like I could see the surroundings of this Slovakian story.  Bruchac drew me right into the midst of the story.

For the coming week, I will be quite busy at school so I am not sure what I will get done, but on deck I have The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle (for Newbery Challenge), Animals of the Bible, Madeline's Rescue,  and a few others (for Caldecott),  and Stars (for Nerdies). 

I wish you a fantastical week of reading!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

On an Exciting Ride

I have just begun to discover what kind of wild ride I am going to be on for the next few weeks.  I have joined a collaborative learning environment called Digital Storytelling for Young Learners.  This workshop will be lead by some amazing people from all over the world.  As I see other students signing on from Istanbul, Argentina, Japan, Greece, New Zealand, and many other countries, I feel excitement because we are truly working together globally.  We are sharing from our classrooms and from our wide variety of backgrounds and I will be happy to learn with and learn from so many teachers.

I am getting ready to go play in the digital sandbox that the moderators have set up for us.  It has all sorts of fun new toys for me to play with like Comic Master, Story Bird, and Creaza.  All of these toys or tools are useful for digital storytelling.

I hope to learn a lot and bring some of these great tools to our school.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

It's Monday. What Are You Reading?

Sheila over at Book Journey started  

This led Jen and Kellee over at Teach Mentor Texts to start 

With this meme, the aim is to get people to reflect on the reading they did during the past week, and to also make a reading plan for the coming week.  Sheila had a great idea and Jen and Kellee tweaked it with a kitlit focus. It's a great way to see what other people are reading, but I really like that this might just get me to make a plan for the week.

This past week was chock full of reading and it would take pages and pages to talk about all of the books I was able to sink into so I will do this in list format first.

The Great Migration - Journey to the North by Eloise Greenfield
Guykyu: A Year of Haiku for Boys by Bob Raczka
Diamond Willow by Helen Frost
Won-Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku  by Lee Wardlaw
Lemonade: and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word by Bob Raczka
Hip Hop Speaks to Children

Picture Books
Itsy Mitsy Runs Away by Elanna Allen
Lost and Found by Shaun Tan
Tia Isa Wants a Car by Meg Medina
My Uncle Emily by Jane Yolen
Just in Time Abraham Lincoln by Patricia Polacco
Flight of the Dodo by Peter Brown
Monkey Truck by Michael Slack
Tell Me the Day Backwards by Albert Lamb
Blue Chicken by Deborah Freedman
The Bippolo See and Other Lost Stories by Dr. Seuss
The Biggest Bear by Lynd Ward
The Story of Babar: The Little Elephant by Jean de Brunhof
April's Kittens by Clare Turlay Newberry
Be Gentle with the Dog Dear by Matthew BaeK
The Boy Who Loved Words by Roni Schotter
Charlie is Broken by Lauren Child
Rainy Morning by Daniel Pinkwater
The Sea Chest by Toni Buzzeo
Monday is One Day by Arthur Levine
Mei Li by Thomas Handforth
Andy and the Lion by James Daugherty
The Happy Day by Ruth Kraus
Once a Mouse by Marcia Brown

Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm by Jon Katz
Lincoln Tells a Joke: How Laughter Saved the President by Kathleen Krull
Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom by Sue Macy
Just a Second by Steve Jenkins
The House that Baba Built by Ed Young

Middle-Grade Novels
Jefferson's Sons by Kmberly Brubaker Bradley
The Trouble with May Amelia by Jennifer Holm
Pie by Sarah Weeks
Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Graphic Novels
Around the World by Matt Phelan
Babymouse: Rockstar by Jennifer Holm
Babymouse: Mad Scientist by Jennifer Holm
Binky Under Pressure by Ashley Spires
Babymouse: Heartbreaker by Jennifer Holm
The Eternal Smile: Three Stories by Gene Luen Yang
Nursery Rhyme Comics

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King
Addie on the Inside by James Howe
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Ashfall by Mike Mullin
Ashes by Ilsa Bick

I love vacations. :)

Since we will be back in school, the plan for the coming week is to finish The Story of Mankind and read a few Caldecotts. Going back to school will slow down my reading significantly, but it will be great to be with the kids again. 

New Year - New Goals

I have been reading New Year blog posts all day. So now it is finally time to set some of my own goals.

1. Read 650 books as part of the Goodreads Reading Challenge 

2. Participate in John Schu's Newbery Challenge (read all Newbery award books by Dec. 2013)

3. Read all of the Caldecott books (including honors) as part of the Caldecott Challenge at LibLaura5 with Laura and Anna at AtoZ Library

4. Finish the last 29 Nerdy Award Nominees that I have not yet read

5. Read at least twice as much non-fiction this year than last (about 50 books)

School Related
1. Arrange for Skype Author visits for every grade level

2. Read more non-fiction with every grade level using some of the info from Passport Nonfiction from Sarah and Amy

3. Have my first Technology Petting Zoo like @pageintraining

4. Collaborate and connect with teachers, librarians, and students beyond our district

1. Complete a graduate class Library Services for Children and YA

2. Remain calm and at peace as much as possible in spite of son's graduation from High School

Yikes. As I sat here, the list just grew and grew.  This is not a list of resolutions, but a hopeful list of things to accomplish over the next twelve months.  Here we go.  Off on another adventure.  Happy New Year!