Project 365 on Flickr is one way I'm thinking about my own 21st Century Literacies this year.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Project 365 on Flickr is one way I'm thinking about my own 21st Century Literacies this year.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
- Bananas are bushes that grow 20-30 feet in a year and die after producing just one bunch (100 total).
- Before the Chinese even knew about tomatoes, they had a sauce named kat siap, made of the brine of pickled fish. This name and the idea of this sauce has spread around the world and has had a variety of main ingredients. The first tomato ketchup is about 200 years old. In the U.S., we now use more salsa than ketchup.
- The grenade and the garnet both get their names from the pomegranate.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Franki's post, "How Did They Make That," has gotten several interesting comments. In the post, she tells about her students deconstructing the Scholastic Book Fair video, not in terms of content, as she expected, but in terms of how it might possibly have been made.
"I think this generation are creators and producers. They are moving beyond the viewing that I did as a child. I watched videos and enjoyed them, they view critically and with an eye to creating. I think that's because they can create and publish so easily. I think its a really exciting perspective and look forward to what they do in the future. My problem is what to call writing today. I originally started calling writing workshop, author workshop, because I was focusing on authoring but now... what do you call it when they are blogging, creating photo essays and music videos? It's so much more than authoring."
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Mother Reader has asked me to join Jennie (Biblio File), Melissa (Book Nut) and Tricia (The Miss Rumphius Effect) in leading a panel discussion for book bloggers at the 2009 KidLitosphere Conference.
Friday, September 25, 2009
October 21: Miss Rumphius Effect
October 23: Carol’s Corner
In their book, Georgia and Jennifer discuss how to create a “landscape of wonder,” a primary classroom where curiosity, creativity, and exploration are encouraged, and where intelligent, inquiring, lifelong learners are developed. They provide teachers with practical ways – setting up “wonder centers,” gathering data through senses, teaching nonfiction craft – to create a classroom environment where students’ questions and observations are part of daily work.
As a special treat, Stenhouse will wrap up the blog tour with a live webcast with Georgia and Jennifer on Oct. 26th at 8 p.m. EST. This will be a great opportunity to join a small group discussion with the two authors. ***Five participants for this live webcast will be chosen (names-on-slips-of-paper-drawn-from-a-bowl kind of chosen) from the comments in this post and the blog tour post on October 19.*** If you would like to have your name thrown in the bowl, be sure you mention that in your comment and include your email address so we can contact you if you win! No special software or equipment are needed to participate in the webcast – just a phone and your computer!
From now until the beginning of the tour you can also receive free shipping when you order A Place for Wonder. Just use code “blog” at the checkout when you order from www.stenhouse.com or by phone at 800-988-9812. The book will start to ship Sept. 25, so reserve your copy now!
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I also picked up LOST AND FOUND: THREE DOG STORIES by Jim LaMarche I am newly interested in finding more "collections" of short stories in picture book forms. I think these collections are a great tool to help kids think about story and theme.
In this book by Jim LaMarche, there are three dog stories. Each is short. 12ish pages each. Each one focuses on a different dog and his/her relationship. In each story, someone is
Monday, September 21, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
One World, One Day
Every Human Has Rights: A Photographic Declaration for Kids
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Looking out at the faces of the children when Katie is sad and then sadder is almost heartbreaking. I imagine my face while reading these parts is a little sad too. But there are funny parts too. Like when Katie gets excited, she howls, "AROOOOOOOO! AROOOOOO!" And the kids have great fun joining in on those howls! And their faces change when things finally work out for Katie and the kittens. It is one of the books that you want to hug when you are finished!
Monday, September 14, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Not long after we started our blog, we worked with readers to think about and create a list of 100 Cool Teachers in Children's Literature. We got the idea from Jen Robinson who had created a list of 100 Cool Girls of Children's Lit. For our list we said "We're looking for thoughtful teachers who understand kids and learning and are active, intelligent people who love their work."
At this time of year, no matter where you are, if there are books, there is a "Back to School" book display. So many books for this back-to-school time of the year. It is funny how in tune I am to "cool teachers" when I read new books these days. What messages are we giving our kids about schools and teaching with the books we read? Does the teacher respect her kids? Is he/she a stereotypical teacher who has to be "in charge" and teaches from the front of the room. As we spend the week celebrating teachers, I spent some time looking back at the list. I thought about which of the books were keys to my own thinking of my teaching--what kind of a teacher do I want to be? I think stories are a great way for us to think about what is possible as teachers. I am not talking about Hollywood stories like Mr Holland's Opus (although I love that story). I am talking about the teachers who do the day-to-day work that makes a difference for kids.
I always love to look over the list of books and remember those favorite teachers from children's lit. Each has taught me something different about the kind of teacher I hope to be. Depending on the day and my mood, different books stand out to me and help me reflect on my own work with students. For me today, these are the books that remind me of what is important for me as a teacher.
I love Mr. Fabiano in Ralph Fletcher's book Flying Solo by Ralph Fletcher. Mr. Fabiano is not really even "in" the story. If you don't know this book, it is about a classroom (Mr. Fabiano's classroom) on a day when the substitute doesn't show up. Instead of letting someone know, the kids decide to run the day on their own. I love this story and this teacher because to me, this is the big goal of teaching. Can my kids learn without me? Have I taught them to be independent and engaged that goes beyond them playing the game of school. Mr. Fabiano has definitely created a classroom of independent learners.
Mrs. Olinkski in The View From Saturday by E. L. Konisburg may be one of my favorite teachers of all time. She is brilliant. This is the story of children who are part of an academic team. Each child brings different strengths and weaknesses to the group and they become an amazing team. Mrs. Olinski's gift is for helping each student find his voice and helping the kids build community between them. What they can do together is far more than what each can do on his or her own and that is the lesson I learned from Mrs. Olinski.
I love Mr. D'Matz from The Clementine Books by Sara Pennypacker. Clementine is a great character. One of my favorites. But it is clear throughout the books that Clementine has a bit of trouble staying still in school. She is smart and busy. A child that not all teachers would understand. But Mr. D'Matz does more than understand her. He genuinely like and values her for who she is and celebrates that. And Clementine knows it.
And I like Mrs. Mallory from The Last Day of School by Louise Borden. Mrs. Malloy is not a huge character in this book. But it is clear through the story that she has created an important relationship with each of her students. That even with the excitement of the last day of school, there is sadness in the end to the relationship that has developed between teacher and student.
And a new book that I think deserves to be added to the list is WILLOW by Denise Brennan-Nelson. This book was introduced to me by a teacher in my school who had brilliant conversations with her students after reading it. For me, this teacher reminds me that teachers are learners first. We can and should learn from our students. We can't keep doing things the way we always have. Instead we have to celebrate the things that the kids bring to the community and invite them to be themselves in our classrooms.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
As part of our Celebrating Teachers Week at A Year of Reading, we wanted to let you know about the 21st annual Dublin Literacy Conference that will be held in Dublin, Ohio on February 20, 2010. This conference (in Dublin, Ohio) has been run by teachers for 21 years. This year, we are focusing a bit on 21st Century Literacies to celebrate our 21st Year. Speakers include professional experts Tim Tyson, Katie Van Sluys, Ann Marie Corgill, and Kevin Hodgson. Children's authors include Melissa Sweet, Patrick Carman, David J. Smith and Denise Fleming. We are excited about the conference. Anyone who is interested in submitting a proposal can find the form on the Dublin Literacy Conference website. A complete program with more speakers and sessions will be released in early December. It is always a great day of learning.
So much of who we become as teachers has to do with our first few years in the profession. I was lucky to get my first job in a great school with a great staff. My mentor and team of teachers were supportive and I always felt like I had a voice--that my ideas were valued. I started teaching long before we had any formal mentoring program but my mentor was the best--she brought me plants, shared ideas, gave me advice on challenges I was having, helped me get over the mistakes I made, asked for my ideas, and supported my ideas. She treated me as a colleague--a colleague who she enjoyed working with--from Day One. But more important was the fact that she got to know me as a person. She invited me to dinner, stayed after school to chat and shared her own struggles and challenges with me. I really couldn't have had a better mentor those first few years. Now, I oversee the Entry Year Program in our district so I have been thinking back to my mentor and my first team of colleagues. I could not have known then how lucky I was to be able to find my professional voice with such an amazing group of people. I have learned, over the years, that it is the relationships we build and the professional voice we find those first few years that sometimes mean the most in terms of our future as teachers. As a veteran teacher, I hope that beyond the formal mentoring programs that are now set by the district and state, I hope I can be the kind of mentor to new teachers who helps them feel valued, gives them a voice, and supports them along the way.
Another book that I am VERY excited about is a new one by Jen Allen called A SENSE OF BELONGING. If you know Jen Allen's work (BECOMING A LITERACY LEADER), you know that she is a brilliant coach--working for years to learn how best to support teachers at all levels in their teaching. In this new book, Jen Allen focuses specifically on the needs of early career teachers. Jen knows that there isn't one thing that we can do to help teachers find their voice in the classroom. Instead, she has learned that there are several things that can work together to support new teachers and she shares each of these strategies in depth.
Jen starts the book by reflecting on her own first year in the classroom. For many of us, we haven't thought about that first year in a very long time, but for most of us, it was not an easy year. Jen is honest in her struggles and the questions she had about whether she wanted to stay in the profession. Luckily at the end of her second year of teaching, she was invited to join a group teachers who were working together to create a school within a school and was then able to feel energized by her work.
Jen uses her own experiences as well as the experiences of other new teachers and her work as a literacy coach to design routines to support new teachers in her district. She sees the issue of teacher retention as an important one and one that can be fixed with the right supports. This book shares the strategies and stories that have worked for her. She takes us through all of the ways that she supports new teachers--from building relationships to analyzing assessments to planning curriculum. She understands the kinds of things that new teachers are feeling at different points in the year and has learned to support them through some of these stages. Jen believes strongly in beginning teachers and she also believes that they deserve support those first few years in the classroom. She says,
"Teaching is too hard to go about it alone. It is too easy to lose momentum for our new ideas and become discouraged with the profession that at one point were were so excited to join. I believe that built in layers of support within schools can make a difference in our ability to retain new teachers within districts and our profession."
Jen also has a DVD set called LAYERED COACHING that ties into the work in this book. You can view a clip of the book on the Stenhouse website.
Jen Allen is committed to supporting new teachers. She knows that new teachers can't do it all alone and that there are ways to build a community that supports these new teachers in a school. For anyone who works with new teachers, this is a must read. For administrators, teacher mentors, people in state departments who work to design programs for new teachers, this is an amazing resource. We can all learn so much from the experiences she's had learning from and with new teachers in her schools. This book is invaluable.
(You can read Jen Allen's entire book online at the Stenhouse site. You can also join an online study group that Stenhouse is offering on the book.)
Monday, September 07, 2009
Sunday, September 06, 2009
A while back, I somehow came across the blog IT'S NOT ALL FLOWERS AND SAUSAGES. I don't quite remember which post I first discovered but I became quite hooked on reading this blog. I was a little surprised at myself. Mrs. Mimi's tagline for her blog is, "This is a blog for TEACHERS WHO ROCK and are frustrated by the day to day drama that gets in the way of our interactions with children. Don't get me wrong, I love my job, but sometimes a girl has gotta vent..." Mrs. Mimi certainly knows how to vent and she is HYSTERICAL when she is venting. And she has an avatar that moves--which I find fascinating on every visit. So, I read the blog for a while. It was my guilty pleasure--not really admitting to anyone that I was reading it. Then I became curious--how does she get away with saying some of the things she says? Come to find out that she is very sneaky about her anonymity. There was no way I could figure out who she was or where she taught. Brilliant girl. I ended up sharing blog posts with lots of friends and everyone who reads her seems to become a fan. So, when I found out that she had a new book coming out (titled IT'S NOT ALL FLOWERS AND SAUSAGES: MY ADVENTURES IN SECOND GRADE), I pre-ordered it right away! My book arrived last week and I finished it on Thursday.
Here's the thing--I usually stay away from negativity and venting. It brings me down. But Mrs. Mimi's venting is often right on--venting about things that are unfair to children and teachers. She manages to stay focused on what is important in teaching and vents about those things that get in the way. She believes that the classroom and the classroom teacher are key and that too many things get in the way of that. She cares deeply about her students and works hard to do the right thing for them, regardless of what gets in the way. She isn't one of those lazy teachers who whines and complains. She is honest about the frustrations of being a teacher and how she deals with the frustrations--how she manages to remember what is important.
I love this book. If you like her blog, you will love this book too, I think. The book is a kind of extension of the blog. In it, Mrs. Mimi (whose name we learn is Jennifer Scoggin who teaches in New York) takes us through a year in second grade. She is honest at the beginning to tell us that names have been changed, characters collapsed and stories have been dramatized. And she is clear that she is not attacking the place that she works. She loves her work and her school but wants to share the frustrations that she deals with. And how it is her students, "her little friends", who are often the ones who save her in the day-to-day of teaching.
You can tell right away what kind of book this will be because the first chapter is called, "Holy Crap, It's August!". (See how hysterical she is!) This is how the book begins. Right away, she dismisses the teacher stereotypes--teachers with theme sweaters who sit around and do nothing all summer. "Well, first we have the stereotypical image of an elementary school teacher who loves terrible thematic sweaters, sensible shoes, and necklaces made exclusively from dried pasta products and Tempera paint. This teacher may be sporting some sort of dangly thematic earring that may or may not blink. Perhaps she is brandishing a pointer as well. I think this teacher's soundtrack might include hits from artists such as Raffi. Fortunately, she exists mainly in the cloudy, and very delusional, childhood memories of the classroom held by many who seem to think they went to school in a Norman Rockwell painting or something." She puts it all right up front when she shares how much work she does to prepare for a new school year. She then continues through the year, sharing the joys and challenges of spending the year as a classroom teacher. The stories of her children are great--all of us who work with children have these stories. The small moments that happen in a classroom that remind us of how lucky we are to do the work we do. Mrs. Mimi shares lots of these. Each one made me smile.
Mrs. Mimi continues to take us through the school year-sharing the struggles she has with balancing home and work, dealing with crazy interruptions to her teaching, paperwork and data overload, and the difficult colleague. She shares the highlights too--"An unsung bonus of the teaching profession is the ability to rationalize the need for back-to-school clothes." She shares those moments when something makes sense to a child--those moments that can keep us energized for months. And she shares this importance of her "Super Colleagues".
This is more than a book about a teacher---it is a book about a teacher in this era of teaching. She says, "Right now, however, it feels like I get paid to be a human shield to protect my friends from all the chaos and drama that happen outside the walls of the classroom." Mrs. Mimi is a teacher who is trying to do all that is being asked of us and to still be the best teacher possible for her students. A teacher who knows that scripted curriculum and crazy mandates make our work so much harder and less effective. Mrs. Mimi understands and celebrates the fact that classroom teachers all have their own ways of doing things--and that there are many ways to be FABULOUS and to meet the needs of your children. She talks about every day stresses (field trips gone wrong, fire drills in the middle of great lessons) and the bigger frustrations that sap our energies.
I imagine this book will offend some people. She is honest and sometimes negative. She complains about some of the people she works with. And she swears a bit. But it didn't offend me. For many reasons. First of all, Mrs. Mimi works hard. She puts her all into the work with her kids and believes in every one of them. She is a champion for teachers and can't understand why the needs of the classroom aren't put first. Most importantly, Mrs. Mimi clearly believes in her kids and never says a negative thing about one of them. Mrs. Mimi is also a learner. Although she makes jokes throughout the book about how arrogant and fabulous she is, she is also the first to admit her weaknesses and to tell readers that she is a learner, trying to figure things out and doesn't have it all figured out. She is the kind of colleague that I love to work with. And, if I am honest with myself, I know that we all have stories like the ones she shares--the frustrating things that happen to us as we work to keep our students' needs first. And, we all (thankfully) have Super Colleagues who keep us energized and keep us focused on the things that are important. We all live similar joys and frustrations every day.
This book is definitely Fabulous. It was a reminder to me, that this work is hard. Really hard. So hard that it is often HYSTERICAL. But, in the end, we know that as teachers, we are lucky to be able to spend our days with children in elementary schools across the country. Love this new voice for teachers. I consider myself an official Mrs. Mimi fan.
Saturday, September 05, 2009
I just picked up the new book THE RUNAWAY MUMMY: A PETRIFYING PARODY. Last year, Michael Rex wrote another Petrifying Parody--GOODNIGHT GOON that has been quite popular in the library.
I always enjoy parodies that are done well and I love this one. In this parody of THE RUNAWAY BUNNY by Margaret Wise Brown, a little mummy wants to run away. But when he tells Mother Mummy, she says, "If you run away, I will get you! For you are my rotten little mummy!" The story continues with the little mummy telling his mother what he will do if she tries to get him. He threatens to become a gargoyle, a ravenous plant, and a humongous beast to name a few. Mother Mummy has a solution for each of these things. The illustrations are done in darker, frightening colors. Compared to the sweet, calm illustrations in THE RUNAWAY BUNNY, I found them quite amusing.
There are a few references to both GOODNIGHT MOON and THE RUNAWAY BUNNY in some of the final illustrations (when the little mummy threatens to turn into a "boy"). They amused me quite a bit too.
Actually, the whole book amused me. It is VERY well done-a great story to enjoy and also a great example of parody to share with students. I think kids will love this one and will see the humor if they know THE RUNAWAY BUNNY. I am excited to have both of these parodies in the library. Hoping that Rex has a 3rd one coming out next fall!
Friday, September 04, 2009
"For generations, Trucks have been sharing these beloved tales, rowdy rhymes, and honk-along songs. Finally, these classics have been gathered into one big, noisy, high-octane collection!"
This book is filled with rhymes, poems and songs featuring some of our favorite Trucktown characters. Some of the titles include "Jack Be Nimble", "The Wheels on the Truck", and "Pop! Blows the Diesel". (You can see a short video of Jon Scieska reading some of the poems aloud.)
The rhymes are quite clever. The word play is quite fun! And the illustrations are as amazing as all of the others we've seen in the Trucktown series. I continue to be amazed that these illustrations are the result of a group effort by David Shannon, Loren Long, and David Gordon. How they went about the process to pull their artwork together is fascinating. And brilliant.
This is definitely going to be a favorite in the library. Not many poetry books about trucks and this is a fun one. I also think kids who love the Alan Katz books will love this one as well. I have been looking for great new books to use for shared reading and I think this one will be perfect for that. We will have a great time reading them together. I think kids of all ages will love this one!
Thursday, September 03, 2009
Book #7 is called "Never Race a Runaway Pumpkin". As with all of the books, Roscoe tells us his side of the story from his time-out chair. Roscoe wants to win a contest at a local bookstore by estimating the weight of a giant pumpkin. But he has become very superstitious and superstitions cause a bit of trouble. Roscoe is as amusing as ever and you can certainly see how he means well. My favorite line from Roscoe in this book: "Big brothers should come with a set of earplugs." No one says it like Roscoe does!
I love the last two pages of this book--actually after the story has ended. Roscoe shares his list of "10 Useful Things I Learned at the Bookstore". It is a great list. My favorite is #7: "The bookstore manager cannot call your favorite author and ask why it is taking so long for her to write another book." Love this character's voice.
So, another great Roscoe book! I don't think I'll ever get tired of this character!