Thursday, January 28, 2016

Poetry Friday and Deconstructing a Standard


RL.5.6. Describe how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described.

That's the 5th grade reading (literature) standard we're just beginning to work on in my class. So that my students can better understand what's expected of them, we deconstructed the standard, brainstorming around these words: describe, narrator, speaker, point of view, view, and influence. Next, we rewrote the standard in our words. Then, I gave them this poem and a series of scaffolded questions that would lead them to describing how the speaker's point of view influences how events are described.


Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Robbphotos1


FLIGHT

Outside my apartment
is a small patch of grass
and a parking lot.
Beyond that is a ditch
full of dirty snow and trash.

But across the road
are power lines
where a hawk often perches
long enough for me to sketch.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2015



Lo and behold, it worked! Not all, but some, realized that the point of view of the speaker is that of an artist, and "they see everything that is ugly but they can make it beautiful." The speaker will "make things better in the picture." And "An artist can see in detail, and they can make art out of whatever they see." Not bad for a first try.

Catherine has this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Reading to the Core.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Conversation Around A Birthday Cake for George Washington

Recently, I wrote about the controversy over the book A Fine Dessert. There was a lot to think about if you followed the conversation, and as teachers and librarians, I think it is imperative that we are not only readers of children's literature.  I feel like it's also important that we are aware of the books we are reading and the issues surrounding them.

This month, Scholastic published a book called A Birthday Cake for George Washington.  Shortly after it was published, Scholastic released a statement stating that it was decided that they would be pulling it from distribution.

This was a pretty unprecedented move, but the controversy surrounding A Birthday Cake for George Washington, regardless of Scholastic's decision to pull the book, addresses the important issues about the way slavery is portrayed in children's books as well as important issues that deal with diversity in children's books.

Below are the posts I found to be worthwhile reads over the past few weeks.

January 4
Smiling Slaves in a post Fine Dessert World, Kirkus

January 6
Andrea Pinkney wrote about the book before it was released in the post, A Proud Slice of History.

January 6
And Debbie Reese addressed the issues in the book before it's release in her post, What Will They Say?

On January 15 Scholastic responded to the feedback it was getting about the book.

On the same day, January 15 Teaching for Change posted a review, Not Recommended: A Birthday Cake for George Washington

On January 16, Children's Book Causes a Stir for Inaccurate Depiction of Slavery.


And on January 17 the issue was discussed on ABC News.

January 17
Recalled

January 18
Amid Controversy Scholastic Pulls Book About Washington's Slave.

January 18
Smiling Slaves at Storytime


January 18
Hornbook: A Bumpy Ride (This one is an interesting read and the comments are also worth the read, whether you agree with them or not.)

January 19
Megan at Reading While White: No Text is Sacred


On January 20, award-winning author,  Kimberly Brubaker Bradley weighed in on the discussion.

On January 22, the National Coalition Against Censorship issued a statement about Scholastic's decision.


On January 23, Daniel Jose Older tweeted his response to the statements made relating to censorship. These are collected in a Storify: On Censorship and Slavery.

This has all given me a great deal to think about.  Two other pieces that I have revisited but that are not directly related to the Birthday Cake for George Washington issue are:

This amazing TED talk, The Danger of a Single Story

And this response to the reaction to the  diversity in this year's award books. January 17, Not Mutually Exclusive

Lots to think about and lots of change that needs to happen.  


Friday, January 22, 2016

Poetry Friday -- Double or Nothing


via Unsplash

Because temperatures were in the single digits,
I threw on the old red barn coat
I used to wear for winter dog walks.

I saw you looking at the frayed cuffs,
the faded canvas,
the corduroy collar.

I've owned this coat longer than you've been alive.
What do you own now that will last that long?
Probably nothing.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016




labeled for reuse -- Google Images
I began my day
with thoughts about 
racial and economic 
inequality

and I read the news
of the Afghan woman
whose nose was cut off
by her husband.

Then I spent
twenty minutes
drawing the opening
amaryllis buds

and the only thing
in my mind was this
everyday miracle.
Nothing else.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016



I wrote these poems in response to the Ditty of the Month Challenge that Douglas Florian offered up at Michelle's Today's Little Ditty.

Tara has the Poetry Friday roundup today at A Teaching Life.




Thursday, January 21, 2016

World Read Aloud Day -- Friendship Week



How does reading help us connect and make the world friendlier?

It gives us something to talk about -- BOOKS! What a blessing to belong to communities of readers, where the currency for a good conversation is as cheap and easy as "What are you reading now?"

And how does read aloud do the same thing? By giving a classroom full of diverse readers lots of books in common to use as reference points and compass points and discussion points.



Monday, January 18, 2016

Be A Friend by Salina Yoon

I so love Salina Yoon's new book Be a Friend.  I am a big fan of Salina Yoon--I love her Penguin books.  I love anything I've ever seen that she's written and illustrated. I am excited about her upcoming Duck, Duck Porcupine book that is coming out this spring. What a great new series for young readers.

But my favorite Salina Yoon book is her new picture book called BE A FRIEND.  The book seems absolutely perfect to me. It is a simple book with a powerful message. There is so much to think and talk about. I read the book to my 3rd graders early this week and we could have talked for hours. It is a book that has already been revisited several times as readers notice new details in the text and have new thoughts about what it means to be kind, to be a friend.  It is the first MUST-OWN of 2016, I think:-)

The book trailer was premiered on Mr. Schu's blog along with a letter from Salina Yoon.




And Salina Yoon wrote a post on The Nerdy Book Club blog last week titled What It Means to Be a Friend.

I followed lots of posts and photos of some of the book release parties and celebrations for this book and love every image I saw. The book makes me feel lots of joy.  And there are some great prints and things over at Salina Yoon's blog. I am thinking I may need one as a treat when I finally clean up my office.

Just love this book!


Friday, January 15, 2016

Poetry Friday -- On Collaboration


via Unsplash

THE TUFT OF FLOWERS
by Robert Frost

I went to turn the grass once after one
Who mowed it in the dew before the sun.

The dew was gone that made his blade so keen
Before I came to view the levelled scene.

I looked for him behind an isle of trees;
I listened for his whetstone on the breeze.

But he had gone his way, the grass all mown,
And I must be, as he had been,—alone,

As all must be,' I said within my heart,
Whether they work together or apart.'

But as I said it, swift there passed me by
On noiseless wing a 'wildered butterfly,

Seeking with memories grown dim o'er night
Some resting flower of yesterday's delight.

And once I marked his flight go round and round,
As where some flower lay withering on the ground.

And then he flew as far as eye could see,
And then on tremulous wing came back to me.

I thought of questions that have no reply,
And would have turned to toss the grass to dry;

But he turned first, and led my eye to look
At a tall tuft of flowers beside a brook,

A leaping tongue of bloom the scythe had spared
Beside a reedy brook the scythe had bared.

I left my place to know them by their name,
Finding them butterfly weed when I came.

The mower in the dew had loved them thus,
By leaving them to flourish, not for us,

Nor yet to draw one thought of ours to him.
But from sheer morning gladness at the brim.

The butterfly and I had lit upon,
Nevertheless, a message from the dawn,

That made me hear the wakening birds around,
And hear his long scythe whispering to the ground,

And feel a spirit kindred to my own;
So that henceforth I worked no more alone;

But glad with him, I worked as with his aid,
And weary, sought at noon with him the shade;

And dreaming, as it were, held brotherly speech
With one whose thought I had not hoped to reach.

Men work together,' I told him from the heart,
Whether they work together or apart.'


This poem goes out to Heidi Mordhorst, with appreciation for her burst of submit-a-proposal-for-NCTE16 energy and the lingering joy of drafting and editing together on a Google Doc until the words (and word count!) (and presenters!) slipped into place like the proverbial hand in glove (with two hours to spare on Wednesday night!). Fingers crossed that our session is accepted!

Keri has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at Keri Recommends.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

World Read Aloud Day -- Curiosity Week



We're getting ready to begin a new read aloud in my classroom, and this is definitely a time that fits with the World Read Aloud Day theme of CURIOSITY. My students can't wait to find out what I've chosen, and I'm wondering how they'll react to and interact with the book.


I've chosen The Lion Who Stole My Arm by Nicola Davies. I think it will be interesting to compare the "journey" of Pedru as he works toward revenge on the lion who attacked him, to the journeys of Mark and Joseph in Dan Gemeinhart's two books.

Our next read aloud after this short (under 100 pages) but intense read will be Pax, by Sara Pennypacker, which is set to come out February 2. I've never chosen read alouds around the same theme all year long, but we got started with these powerful, heart-wrenching journey stories, and I'm CURIOUS to see what it will be like to continue with books on the same theme throughout the year!


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Youth Media Awards


The winners of the ALA Youth Media Awards were announced yesterday morning. (Complete list of winners here.)

I'm still scratching my head a bit at the Newbery winner -- the picture book Last Stop On Market Street. I'll withhold judgement until I've had a chance to read it.

But which of the winners DID I read this year?

All three Newbery Honor books -- The War That Saved My Life (my pick for winner), Echo, and Roller Girl

Caldecott Winner -- Finding Winnie

Sibert Honor book -- Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans

Stonewall winner -- George

Both middle grade Schneider winners -- Fish in a Tree and The War That Saved My Life

I'm currently reading one of the Coretta Scott King Honor books -- All American Boys

Pura Belpré Author Award -- Enchanted Air by Margarita Engle

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

All in all, it was a good reading year for me!


Monday, January 11, 2016

This Week's Online Reading


(Visit Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for the  It's Monday! What Are You Reading? roundup!)

I have a lot of writing deadlines in January so I have not read much fiction. I am trying not to start a book because I know that it is hard to write when I am wondering about characters I love. So I have been reading a lot of online pieces and I have found so many worth sharing. So for today's "It's Monday! What Are You Reading?" I thought I'd share some of the powerful things I've read this week. Once I started the list, I realized I should give credit to the people who shared these with me through email or social media but I wasn't that organized. So thanks to everyone who shares great reading, especially the pieces below.



To the White Parents of my Black Son's Friends by Maralee Bradley

Is the Drive for Success Making Our Children Sick? by Vicki Abeles

Mom: What do I expect from my children's elementary school? Certainly not this. by Valerie Strauss

Let's Debate: Homework! by Kristi Mraz

10 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently by Andrew Tate

Beyond Working Hard: What Growth Mindset Teaches Us About Our Brains by Katrina Schwartz

Growing Pains by Jen Schwanke

 Reading Right Now Recommendations from Kristin Ziemke

Ann Patchett on the Return of Bookstores

Assessments as Hope by Cassandra Erkens

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Poetry Friday -- Haiku Gifts




When I saw these little 2"x2"x.5" canvases at Michaels Arts and Crafts, I couldn't resist them, even though I had no idea what I'd do with them.

During my Haiku-a-Day in December, one of my brainstorming pages had these rich 5-syllable opposites: eventually/in the nick of time and truth abandons them/we discover truth. I added two different concrete 7-syllable lines, and realized that by mixing and matching, my 9 phrases could make multiple haikus.

I got out my watercolor colored pencils and made up this set for my brother for Christmas. He had sent me Jane Reichhold's WRITING AND ENJOYING HAIKU: A HANDS-ON GUIDE for my birthday, so it seemed like an appropriate gift. (I'm not all the way through Reichhold's book yet, but I'm loving it!)

Here's to the joy of creating art with words and visuals!

Tabatha has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at The Opposite of Indifference.




Wednesday, January 06, 2016

World Read Aloud Day -- Seven Strengths Countdown



LitWorld is counting down the weeks until World Read Aloud Day by highlighting a different strength of read aloud each week.

This week is BELONGING WEEK ("When has reading helped you feel like you belong to a community?")

In my classroom, the books I read aloud bring the class together as a community -- a truth this year in particular.



We started the year with Dan Gemeinhart's THE HONEST TRUTH (I reviewed it last year here.) When we finished, I suggested to the class that we share a "lighter" book next. They were vehemently against it -- they begged me for another book with hard issues that they would feel in their hearts. Another book that would make them gasp with fear, and cry with relief. Another book that would put them in the shoes of a character  who is dealing with hard problems.

We had a chance to Skype with Dan Gemeinhart, and he showed us the arc of his next book, SOME KIND OF COURAGE (available January 26). In a stroke of good luck, the arc arrived the next day in a box full of arcs from Scholastic.



SOME KIND OF COURAGE was our second read aloud of the year, and it was all kinds of magic. The book can be compared to THE HONEST TRUTH in its theme, characters, and story arc. Both are stories of quests, but SOME KIND OF COURAGE is historic fiction, rather than realistic fiction. Gemeinhart has the ability to write memorable scenes, and his mixture of sad or nerve-wracking scenes with humorous scenes is masterful. We are Skyping again this Friday, and we feel privileged to be one of the first classes to give him feedback on this book. I don't think I'm giving anything away when I say that we'll be giving him two thumbs up!

Because of a change of schedule, four of my students were going to be missing read aloud two out of the four days we have it. I was completely flummoxed about what I should do. There was just no other time in the schedule when I have them that I could work it in, and I didn't want to deny all the rest of the kids just for those four. I was stuck. Then their teacher came to me and shared that they are feeling the same way. Missing read aloud was a non-negotiable for them. So we worked it out so that my four can stay for read aloud and not miss anything in their other class. WHEW!

If that's not a testament to the strength of our classroom community around our read aloud, I'm not sure what is!