Friday, August 28, 2009

The Goblin and the Empty Chair by Mem Fox: Wow!

Listen to Mem Fox read her newest book here. I can't stop playing it over and over. I am addicted to hearing this new "fairy story" as she refers to it (I am assuming fairytale). It has elicited so many emotions for me, so many questions, inferences and I just need to talk to someone about it!!! What do you think?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What do you notice about our room?

Today as we began our second year together, I asked my students to notice something changed or new about our classroom. Noticing is such an essential skill for learners as kids use observation across the curriculum. It is also fun and something that most kids can do. So, after asking them to jot down their observation we quickly grouped similar observations. Here is the data ( I was so interested by their observations):

6 kids noticed right away that we had 1 new computer
3 kids noticed something about our round table (it has a new scale on it) (one post-it was modeled by me)
4 kids noticed the new chairs and bean bags
3 kids noticed many new books
4 kids noticed other things (new chart on wall, new partner to share coat hook with...)

This time helped me find out what is important to kids about space and learning. I can tell they enjoy and value technology. They enjoy little nooks and places to sit and get comfortable as they learn as 7 out of 20 kids noticed pieces of the room that really had to do with furniture.

The noticing set many other questions in motion that helped me to begin to explain routines and management of supplies and folders. It was so much fun, I think we are going to do it tomorrow as we notice the school hallways!

Monday, August 24, 2009

First Day!!

Tomorrow is it!!
Good-bye summer.
Hello school!

Lots of reading aloud
Talking and sharing

Learning will happen as the
students lead the way.

Looking forward to being caught up in their natural
thirst for wanting to know more.

Can't wait to giggle, wonder, learn to get lunch, take turns, make new friends and then feel the exhaustion of the day.
Then I'll remember what it feels like to start the school year.

Happy First Day, First Week or First Month...whatever it is for you now!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Up to my ears in work

Today at work, a friend of mine said she couldn't wrap her brain around one thing. I feel like this at the beginning of the school year too when there is so much to do and think about that it is often difficult to find a focus. I have caught myself running around the classroom trying to tackle three tasks at once but never really finishing any of them. I hate the feeling of being up to my ears in work.

This weekend (before the actual school bell rings) I am going to try to be up my ears (literally, like the boys) in family. I need to slow it down and enjoy before (what feels like) the race begins. Tonight we started off having dinner at our favorite pizza place in town. Tomorrow, a soccer game and then who knows what next!

You can see that we are up to our ears in ears of corn here in Ohio!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

New Find: Ameila Bedelia's First Day of School

I was thrilled to see Herman Parish (Peggy’s son) create a stair step for our readers who often dive right into Amelia Bedelia books. In this new story of the young Amelia Bedelia, teachers will have read aloud opportunities to think about the word play that often overtakes the series books that kids just pick up off the shelf. I see myself using this picture book as a scaffold for readers who might not understand the literalness of Amelia on their own. This book offers us picture support and plays with familiar homonyms and expressions of which kids have background for. It will be a read that I know I can use at the start of the year and the start of a series study.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Poetry on Display

Today I went through my poetry basket to remind myself of the newer books I have added this past spring and summer. I want to remember what worked for my students as well as place out some new finds. The first book I wanted to set on my display shelf is Button Up! by Alice Schertle. I fell in love with this book after read the first few poems. Each poem is written from the perspective of a piece of clothing. I happen to have a student in my class who used this book as mentor text as he wrote poetry for the second half of the year. By reading poetry aloud, I will be reminding my students of all the strong mentor texts we have in our room as writing workshop begins again! A favorite in our room last year, Jack's Soccer Jersey, begins like this:
When Jack plays soccer we get our kicks
I'm Jack's jersey.
I'm number 6.

I show the number for me and Jack
6 in front
and 6 in back.

Another poetry book I will be displaying is SCORE! 50 Poems to Motivate and Inspire by Charles Ghigna. When I first saw this last spring, I knew I needed it. It was when Mandy at Enjoy and Embrace Learning reminded me of it again. Here is her review. I flipped through and found a poem that I will post in my second grade classroom and we will read together for a number of reasons. I love to have short pieces that we all read and think about as I think second graders will still benefit from the practice of shared reading. Also, we will not only explore the meaning for each of us but I will use this text to notice words and features of words that will guide word study. The poem is called DREAMS ALLOWED. I am anxious to hear what dreams my second graders have for this school year.

The third book of poetry that I have set out to highlight is Falling Down the Pages A book of list edited by Georgia Heard. I grabbed the advanced copy of this at NCTE last fall and was fortunate enough to have Georgia sign my copy. There are many school poems that seem appropriate for the beginning of the year. Poems like: Ways to Greet a Friend, On the Menu for School Today, In My Desk and Booktime. One of my favorites is "Things To Do If You Are A Pencil" written by Elaine Magliaro of Wild Rose Reader. This book of poetry is unique yet simple and I am hoping my kids will want to slip this in their reading bins.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Summer Recommendations from Beth Muncy

I was ready to reserve some titles online tonight at my local library when I found a link and video of what sounds like 3 great books. I saw the share link and copied the video to share. I am thinking I need Stanza by Jill Esbaum!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Voice Thread: Bike Ride (click ok then play)

Today we took a bike ride and documented the ride by taking pictures. The kids and I shared the photography work. My middle son (who had already played with voice thread) jumped into retelling our ride. I couldn't stop thinking about all the planning/prewriting he was doing as he would practice storytelling with each slide. He would often stop and delete his comment after hearing himself. He would hear what he wanted to change after his voice was played back to him automatically after the initial recording. It was great practice for him and fun.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What is this?

Sometimes when shopping for books, I change my mind about whether I like the book or not once I have read it a few times or have talked to someone about it. I think this happens for many of us and often in the classroom. A book that didn't sound good or look good at first is later picked up by a reader and then enjoyed. This happened to me with the repetitive book called What is this? by Antje Damm. I picked this book up first liking the cover and then later put it back because the words changed so much ( from cursive to print to all sorts of creative stuff...the words are created with string, leaves, glue and such) I discredited it thinking it would be too much for my readers. But, after looking through the book a few more times and loving the cover, I couldn't leave the store without buying it. It is a small book 6 1/2 by 6 1/2 inches. I like small because it is different and fits in kid hands. The cover gives the reader a small clue about the guessing you'll do throughout the book. The only words you read are "What is this" on the left of the two page spread and then you see a picture of something on the right side of that spread ( most often an ordinary household object placed meaningfully on the page) . The subsequent page shows a picture of what the photographer/author created using the object. I have to say I thought about Not a Box and Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis as I flipped through this book. Not as easy to imagine and guess but the same fun. I think that is essentially why I bought this book. It is fun. I think it will remind kids that reading is fun. I did for me.

Antje has another book called Ask Me that was reviewed by 4 people on amazon and all loved it. It seems to be a great book for starting conversations and includes funky pictures to laugh and talk about. I 'll be checking this out next!!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Words Are Like Faces by Edith Baer

I am always looking for books about words. Last year we started a basket in our classroom library that we put books that helped us think about patterns, meanings and spellings of words. This summer I found, Words Are Like Faces, a book that speaks of the strength of words. I will be using it to kick off our discussion of word study in the classroom.

Edith Baer rhymes the text as she writes and explains the beauty of words. She writes of the many characteristics of words: spoken, written and mailed. She writes of the loveliness of words and the ugliness of words. She makes many comparisons throughout the book giving it a poetic feel. I like...words can be plain like a loaf of fresh bread, comforting words like your very own bed. She ends the book encouraging the reader to: use words to get off your chest what your trying to hide--words tell what people feel deep inside. I just love this last line. For me writing words is one of the best therapies for expressing excitement, frustration and stress. It it healing. Here's hoping Edith's words about words inspire some thinking from my second grader's.