Monday, June 30, 2008

I am reading Twilight and loving it!!

This summer my own reading started off great with the 48 hour book challenge. Days afterward, I felt I couldn't get back into it with camps for kids, swim lessons and baseball games. Well, no need to worry, I rekindled that summer reading with Stephenie Meyers first book in a series of 4 ( the 4th out in August and paralleling the hype of Harry P series). Briefly, this young adult series is a love story involving a small town girl and her relationship with a vampire. I have talked with 3 friends who have read it and loved it. One friend is a real character lover and loves Edward ( the young male vampire). As I was checking it out at Powell's, I noticed the trailer for the movie that will be released in the fall. Check it out. Let me know what you think. Ok, back to reading.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

My Dog, My Cat, My Mama and Me!

This book jumped out at me on one of my shopping trips to Cover to Cover. I saw Bob Graham's name on the cover and immediately thought of a favorite book in our dog basket, "Let's get a pup!" said Kate. I was first turned onto Bob Graham by my friend and Kindergarten teacher Jessica. She is a dog lover and lover of picture books about dogs. My students seem to be natural dog lovers and enjoyed the adventures of a family adopting two new dogs. This new title is illustrated by Bob Graham and written by Nigel Gray. It is a perfect story for shared reading when we read aloud together. It has repetition and rhyme. It even has a flap to lift on 3 of the 17 pages in the story. I think at first glance readers may mistake this for a preschool read aloud. I have to say this is so not the case. With a few reads together, I know my students will be fighting over it during independent reading. My own Kindergartner takes this book with him every time I ask my boys to grab something to read in the car. The text begins with these words...My dog got fatter and fatter. I didn't know what was the matter. Then, do you know what she did? She went into the cupboard and hid. She was fat when she went in, but she came out thin. (Don't you want to read on and find out why?) I took a peek. Wouldn't you? (lift flap) She'd had puppies! One, two. The repetition and pattern continue with the fat cat and the pregnant mom. You can guess what happens to them.

I also think kids in first grade love to create during writing workshop and what better way to invite them to create in a purposeful way by studying this book. Kids could be purposeful with pattern, flaps, asking questions and voice. I think this book has quite a bit to offer young writers and readers.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What about my daughter's writing?

I just finished an evening walk with one of my friends. As she was about to get into her car to head home, she asked me to remind her of some authors or series books that would work for her daughter (who will be beginning first grade next fall). I suggested a few and we talked about the ones her daughter liked and disliked. She shared with me many of the strengths that her daughter has as a reader. She talked about her fluency and expression. I asked her about understanding the texts she is reading. I also talked with her about her strategies for reading new words. It was a short quick check in and I think my friend felt good about how she was supporting her choices and conversations with books. And then my friend asked (what I think is a really smart question)...what about my daughter's writing? Isn't this often the piece that is left out when we think about balanced literacy? We talked for awhile about strategies that she could when writing with her daughter. I think this is such a grey area for parents. My friend had so many specific questions ( I can't remember them all) that I attempted to guide her.

I did try to clear up that fact that handwriting and writing are not the same. ( content)
I also reminded her to invite her daughter to write with the grocery list, thank yous, etc. (purpose)
She asked me what to do when her daughter asks about how to spell a word. Knowing that she is just starting to experiment as a writer, I talked with my friend about being careful to do all the thinking for her daughter. In the classroom, I often ask my students to repeat the word they are writing so they can think through the sounds. I also reminded her that it is ok if she doesn't record every letter. We want her to keep writing and not worry about everything being perfect all the time. Praise her attempts and choose 1 thing to teach her about. (spelling)
I gave her suggestions to help her with thinking about ideas for writing
(generating ideas)
But I also wanted to make sure I reminded her that rereading her writing is good practice as well as asking the child to find 1 thing to fix up. (revision)

We talked about a lot and my first thought was I probably overwhelmed her but then I thought again about how she seemed like she had a better understanding about how to talk and work with her child. I think parents need to be able to have conversations about how to support their readers and writers. I am a bit inspired to share this story during open house this year. Maybe it will open doors to more questions and conversations.

Friday, June 20, 2008


I was reading from a daily reflection book that I own called Sacred Space. The excerpt reminded me to ..."not store up for (my)self treasures on earth; but store up for(my)self treasures in heaven." I have been consumed with the woes and financial stress of a new home. Honestly, I don't know if I am even really enjoying it without worrying about affording it. This might be too much information for all of you but I know that all of us have stress and worries that keep us from what is really important in life. Today I am reminded to see clearly, love others and follow my heart. "For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be." It is so easy to forget. tomorrow, I will need yet another reminder.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

If you'll like

I just stopped by Barnes and Noble and added to my summer buys. Franki asked me to check out Sally and the Purple Socks and while I was there I found two more books I had to have. Here's are my 3 buys and why:

(new purchased titles on right and older titles I was reminded of on left)

If you liked Superhero ABC you'll like...Batman: The Story of the Dark Knight
(I know your probably thinking oh no...a book about a movie or a tv cartoon because I usually don't like flimsy paperbacks that retell movies with an abbreviated storyline but this book has many positives!) Ralph Cosentino like Bob Mcleod has created comic looking characters and text in a picture book format. Ralph uses fully colored two page spreads adding text boxes full of story and information about Batman. The books begins...WAYNE MANOR IS WHERE MOST PEOPLE THINK I LIVE BUT ONLY BATS KNOW MY TRUE HOME. The reader finds out more about the batcave, bat-signal, batmobile and Batman's mission. Batman's history is revealed in the following pages and readers will want to read on as the format is quite unique. Some text boxes are horizontally framed on a page and then vertically on other pages. The book ends with a full page and details about Batman's enemies: The Joker, The Penguin, Catwoman and one I hadn't heard of...Two-Face. This book will appeal to the readers who love superheroes and I know we will be noticing pictures, organization and craft during writing workshop.

I you liked Who took the cookies from the cookie jar? your readers will love Who ate all the Cookie Dough?

Karen Beaumont has simplified this rhyme in picture book format. Karen is also the author of a favorite book of mine, I Ain't Gonna Paint No More! This makes me happy because I know my early readers will be able to come back to read this book again and again. The book starts EENY, MEENY, MINEY, MOE! WHO ATE ALL THE COOKIE DOUGH? I just love this and I know kids will remember it and practice reading it on their own. What a great read and practice for fluency! And, doesn't everyone love cookie dough? The Kanga looks around to see who might be eating all the cookie dough and spies lion, zebra, llama, cheetah, hippo, monkey. The books ends like this... Does anybody know? We know! We know! We know who! (See if you can guess it, too!) It was...Baby Kangaroo! This book will also fit perfectly into our word study time as we notice rhyme and the repetition of many high frequency words.

Sally and the Purple Socks will be a great read and think aloud for reading workshop. I have already read it to my own kids twice and they loved thinking ahead to what might be going to happen next. Readers will get to practice their picturing reading many parts of the story to think through what happens and make inferences. I love the story and it has a circular feel. I had trouble putting my finger on what other book was similar to it. I guess I could say New Socks by Bob Shea because both have similar topics but both books are told differently and organized differently. I asked my second grader if this reminded him of anything he had read and he said it reminded him of the seasons ( I think again because the story ends similarly to how it begins). I also loved the author's word choice which lends itself to noticing for primary writers. I picture conversations about how Lisze Bechtold uses words and phrases like...Sally danced in them. Sally napped in her warm purple blankets...she slept on her luxurious purple carpet. These examples will serve as a model for how authors think about their words or how authors revise to help their writing sound smooth and give the reader a clear picture of what they mean. This is just a good book! Maybe you can think of something it reminds you of???

Monday, June 16, 2008

Summertime Shopping

Summer shopping for me is so much fun because I can spend more time thinking about what I buy. During the school year, I am hoping to pop into the bookstore quickly finding books recommended to me or that I have on my list of "need to buys." Summertime gives me exactly that...time to think about what books I enjoy, how I will use them in my classroom and how I can help get my students excited about reading. This summer I will admit to you that I have already spent $300 on new books or books on my list (shhh...don't tell my husband). I know that the books that I invested in will help me help my students in a variety of ways. In the next few posts I will share my rationale for my purchases ( this will help me feel better about spending all that money too). Seriously, I think by sharing books and new books in my classroom, I am modeling lessons in identity and book choice. To me these lessons are crucial in helping kids discover their love for reading.

Melanie Watt Basket: My new addition: Scaredy Squirrel at the beach
I already have a Melanie Watt Basket that the kids love to read from. Melanie has written the Scaredy Squirrel series (visit this link at year of reading to get to know more about Melanie and Scaredy) and a book called Augustine. The favorite in our room this year was a book called Chester. Melanie's newest book is part of her Scaredy Squirrel collection and is called Scaredy Squirrel at the beach. If you know Scaredy, you know he has a lot of voice. This is something I know I will encourage my writers to think about as we read the collection. Because of its voice, it also is appealing to readers and the series factor adds yet another reason for kids to visit this basket again and again. Scaredy insists that everyone put on No.65 sunscreen before reading his new book. Though Scaredy's series is fiction, Melanie cleverly incorporates features of non-fiction in this book. As Scaredy is planning to build his own beach, readers experience some "how-to" writing. Scaredy has a page dedicated to what he needs to get started for building a safe beach with labels and pictures and then an illustrated 6-step plan. Readers will enjoy reading through Scaredy's passport, itinerary, and beach map. Scaredy is always prepared and not much of a risk taker but this adventure is sure to inspire writers to take some risks in their own writing!

Stay tuned for more summer finds!!

Friday, June 13, 2008

New Book: I'm the Best Artist In the Ocean

I was super excited when I was shopping for books today and found out Kevin Sherry's second book about a giant squid was on the shelves. I loved his first squid book, I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean , and so did my students. Kevin introduces us to a very observant squid who begins to name all the creatures he is bigger than.
I'm bigger than this crab. I'm bigger than that shark (shhhh!) I'm bigger than this fish, that fish this fish and that fish. I'M THE BIGGEST THING IN THE OCEAN!
The squid is then unexpectedly swallowed by a large whale and instead of realizing his doom, he shouts, I'm the biggest thing in this whale!

Kevin's newest book, I'm the Best Artist in the Ocean, tells the tale of squid's artisan adventures. The cover and pictures are delightful and just as inviting as the last book but I have to admit I wasn't excited about the title: I'm the Best Artist in the Ocean? Do squids draw? Ok...ok I guess I need to remember I am reading fiction. Well in this story squid can draw anything.
I can draw fish, I can draw crabs, I can draw manta rays... and jellyfish! I can draw anything!
Squid draws all over the ocean until the shark confronts him about making a mess.
Squid corrects him and the pages open up to the blue whale covered in squids drawings...
You mean Mess-terpiece!

Which book wins for story?
My vote: The biggest thing in the ocean; I couldn't wait to finish this the first time I read it. Loved the ending

Which book wins for characters?
My vote: both; love how the squid is naively self consumed

Which book should you own?
My vote BOTH! I love that it they are both readable and repetitive and perfect for early readers. It feels like a series book for K-1 kids.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Moments to write about

Yesterday we signed up for the Summer Reading Program at the Dublin Library. This library happens to be next to a gorgeous stream with a number of small waterfalls all surrounded by layers of rock and trees all tall as the sky. The area is called Indian Run Falls. Until yesterday it was one of our city's best kept secrets. For the first time, we discovered the wooded path and sets of steps that surround the stream after hearing about its beauty from our old neighbor. As we started in down the path, the boys and I were all sharing a new sense of adventure...a new wood...a new path...unsure of its ending. Larry was running trying to see if the waterfall was really there. We followed closely behind and with my voice cautioning to watch out for the poison ivy (we've already had our share of it this spring!). "Mom look! The waterfall!" I heard and as we walked further we discovered a few more. We found a safe path for flip flop hiking and headed down to the water. It was breathtaking. The boys and I walked through the stream climbing rocks and even noting a few dead fish. We spent about an hour adventuring through the stream and along the paths.
As we climbed up the dirt path to leave, I noticed a moth twitching on the ground clinging to a dry leaf. I picked it up gently showing the boys and talking about whether it was truly a butterfly or moth. We noticed it climb onto my thumb. It stayed there not able to fly away, Injured I assumed. I thought about how I wished I was unable to fly away. I wished I could stay in that morning forever. I didn't want to leave that childlike happiness that I was again experiencing with my own children. But we did leave, hot and sweaty by the time we reached the beginning of the the path. We couldn't stop talking about our adventures driving home. I know we are all looking forward to going back.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Challenge Wrap-Up

I am officially declaring the challenge over for myself. I didn't read as much as I would have liked but I feel off and running for summer. I read for approximately 7 hours ( this included the time spent posting ). I was distracted and know that next year I need to leave and find a place where someone is calling "mom!"

I finished Greetings From Nowhere and 42 Miles both books I loved.
I began The Magic Thief and then started A Curse Dark as Gold when I my son was reading the Magic Thief.
I also read the entire Sunday paper which I often never get a chance to do!!

I will know how to set more serious time aside for reading next year...great challenge!
Thanks MotherReader.

Summer Goals Meme

Before thinking about...SUMMER!! I was thinking about how wrapping up the school year is always emotional for me and each year I underestimate the feelings I actually experience. I have to say that I was fighting tears I stood waving goodbye to the buses as we (the staff) always do on the last day. I think I was overwhelmed thinking about how I knew I would not see my students next year as I am changing buildings. I was worried about a student of mine that was in denial about school ending for summer. And I generally just have trouble letting go of the little pieces of my life that I spent 173 days with over the last 10 months. Ok...I needed write through that before I started thinking through my goals for the summer.
Mary Lee and Franki over at A Year of Reading
have tagged me for summer goals.
Here is what I am trying for this summer:

1. Write more
3.Fancy up my blog a bit
4. Clean out/organize rooms ( like the garage, basement and 2 closets)
5. Take time for my family's list of things we want to do this summer
6. Exercise every day

My Family's List of to do's:
Rollerblade together
Zombezi Bay (water park)
swim at the pool
visit the cupcake store in Powell
take a COTA bus ride up high street
go to the downtown library
visit grandpa's lake house on Johnson's Island

Saturday, June 7, 2008

On my way...

Just finished it and LOVED it!! I think my favorites were Aggie and Willow. I also loved Kirby and Loretta...ok well I LOVED THEM ALL! They all were so unique yet so similar. It felt like the characters balanced each other and helped one another. I loved how Barbara used letter writing as a another way to really get to know these characters and their family members. I loved the way it didn't feel like I was reading chapters but rather finding out more about people I began to care about. I was so worried that Kirby might be caught with the pin...I was so happy when he bravely handed it over and he no one hated him or yelled at him. Beginning to love ourselves makes it easier to share love with others... I can't wait to read the rest of Barbara's books this summer!!

I also know that picture books don't count but I have been distracted along the way this evening by my boys (5,7,8) and enjoyed some new finds like...Mo Willems newest Elephant and Piggie books(I Love My New Toy and I will surprise my friend), Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever, Hug a Bug, Round Like a Ball and Silent Music. Many of these I will review later.

Next up: 42 miles
The Magic Thief
A Curse Dark As Gold
I am not sure where to start?

Here I go!!!

It is officially 1:57pm and I am just beginning (hopefully without interruptions...haha) the 48 hour challenge. To begin this most anticipated event, the Columbus Bloggers met at a local eatery and then enjoyed shopping at our favorite bookstore, Cover to Cover. It was wonderful to see friends from A year of reading, authentic learner, literate lives, talkworthy, and to meet Stella over at My world-Mi Mundo.

The morning was made even more exciting because we had the opportunity to meet and talk with Sarah Prineas who has written The Magic Thief, which was in stores Tuesday!! Check out her webpage and link to her blog at live journal. The Magic Thief is on the top of my stack as I am now going to stop typing and get reading!!!

Last note...thank you Mary Lee for the pictures. I am awful about remembering my camera and think I need to invest in the kind that fits right in my purse!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Books We've Loved This Year

After kids made individual lists of favorites (which I am just slipping into their report card as a summer rereading guide for parents), the top picks by my first graders for this year include...

This received the most votes and the kids wrote they like this book because "it is funny." Books that make us laugh are always are a hit.

Mercy had the second most votes and was popular because "I liked the pig and the neighbors Baby and Eugenia." Characters win here!

"I like Tanka Tanka Skunk because it sounds like a song. It has repeating words. It is easy to read." Easy to read and sing...anything to extend that fluency practice. I have to find more like this over the summer!

"I like Bossy Bear because it has repeating words. I like the pictures. I can read it!" Simple text and good pics help Bossy Bear into our top ten.

Ok...I forget the exact words my kids had for this one because I left that post it at school. I love it because it is about a lost book and involves lots of imagination and picture reading. Visit Mary Lee's study of how kids reacted to this read aloud. Such a creative post!

We spent a week or so rereading, making our lists, writing and and talking about why certain books caught our attention this year. I think this is a big part of reader identity. (Knowing what you like to read and why) It also happens to be incredibly fun!!!!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Looking back

The end of the year is in sight. I was thinking about what has made me stop, think and change this year.
My team...I can't help but think about how lucky I was to work with two of the most kindhearted and caring teachers this year. They both have taught me quite a bit about friendship and teamwork. They have an obvious love for children but also for others. Thanks girls!

My students... this year have started to learn what true patience looks like, sounds like and feels like ( thanks in part to a book called Being Good). I will just admit that I was challenged. I thank the author and the many friends that I bounced ideas off of...they helped me remember that kids come first.

My students...if not for these amazing kids, I would not have been challenged to think about what makes them tick or not to tick. After learning with them this year, I find myself setting goals for next year : how can I bridge fluency at home (reading and rereading easy books more often and communicating this with house?) and how can I make publishing more creative and integrate with technology?

My own kids and family...I can't wait to wake up and say "What should we do today?" Thanks for letting me put work first sometimes.

Summer, here I come!!!