Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Though I have been away from writing for awhile, I haven't stopped thinking about what works for kids as learners. In fact, this fall, I began collecting my thoughts about how primary classrooms can begin to embed and embrace digital reading and writing for primary learners. Tony Keefer and I shared some of our thinking at NCTE and I am excited to dig deeper in January with some amazing leaders and thinkers in the tech and workshop arena. Beginning the week of Jan.8th, I will be blogging alongside:
Bill Bass at Mr. Bass Online
Troy Hicks at Digital Writing, Digital Teaching
Kevin Hodgson at Kevin's Meandering Mind
Tony Keefer at Atychiphobia and
Franki Sibberson at A Year of Reading
We are excited to initiate conversations around mentor texts in the digital writing workshop. We hope you will join us by reading, commenting and sharing your thinking. We are all smarter together. Looking forward to learning with all of you!
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Monday, August 8, 2011
Brownie and Pearl Take a Dip is the fourth in Cynthia Rylant’s series for early readers. In this third book, Brownie (an adorable little girl about the same age as primary kids) and Pearl (her brown and orange pet cat) prepare for a swim in the small blue pool. Brownie gets her suit, Pearl gets her beach ball and they both put on their sunglasses. Brownie takes a dip and so does Pearl but she doesn’t last long.
These two characters are perfect for first graders. Last year I noticed a number of girls wanting to hold on to this series in their book bins. The text on each page is short and a bit repetitive. This book and many others in the series like: Brownie and Pearl Step Out and Brownie and Pearl Get Dolled Up, Brownie and Pearl See the Sights make up one of my newer baskets of series picture books in the classroom library. And coming in Sept: Brownie and Pearl Hit the Hay.
I love this book because it has so much versatility. It could be a color book, a label book (that tells a story), or even a book about finding a friend. It is one of those books to read at the beginning of the year because everyone could read it after read aloud. It is also a book you could easily pull out and study pattern and repetition in as writers. And, I would pull this out later in the year to discuss what the book is really about. Emily Gravett is a genius.
I am always on the lookout for strong non-fiction titles for primary readers. I often am looking at the pictures/photographs, the amount of text, the organization of the book when deciding on whether it would be a beneficial primary read. This book of animals organized by their colors according to the rainbow. It has crisp colorful photographs with just the right amount of text for emergent and transitional readers. I love it!
The notion of bravery in first grade drives much of what we do throughout the year and especially in the in first month of school. So, I am looking for “superhero” stories everywhere I go. (I happen to find this book while surfing the shelves at half price books.) In their superhero adventures, Max and Pinky transform into superheroes after trying many superhero outfits. Mighty Max and his stubby sidekick (Pinky is so confused about what a stubby sidekick is) save whales, battle snow monsters until, yep, Pinky is upset with his title and quits. Will their superhero friendship survive? This book of course embraces kids being able to do anything but also made me think about how often upset feelings happen in the classroom. Pinky and Max can help model how friendships do overcome.
There are so many things in the world,
So many important things
To be taught
To be shown.
But the best things,
The most important ones of all
Are the ones no one can teach you
Or show you
No one can discover them
The book places you (the reader) in many places and moments where noticing and wondering are of the essence: dangling your toes into a pond, blowing the seeds of a dandelion, and embracing the softness of a puppy. I love how it enables you to feel truly in charge of your learning when so much of student learning is often controlled by what we as teachers do or have to do in the classroom.
One of the first studies we think about as readers and writers in the classroom is a study about pictures. It is crucial that young readers and writers really take time to think about how pictures help us understand a story and about how we as writers create pictures can help the reader understand our thinking. I have used titles like The Zoo by Suzy Lee and How to Heal a Broken Wing to help us study pictures.
A Ball of For Daisy by Chris Raschka is a wordless picture book that I enjoyed reading this summer. It is about a dog and her ball. It has lots of opportunities for predicting and thinking solely using the pictures. Chris also uses multiple frames on a page to show the passing of time thus allowing us to help kids think about how they could do the same.
My students love I Spy books. They also love the Spot 7 series books. I think it is because of the simplicity in these finding books. We as teachers feel guilty when kids want to sit with these for hours but really we have to make sure they get time to do just that: sit and be with a book they enjoy. We can balance with our objectives and curriculum and expectations but I also think they should sit and be with books they love, even books that they may not be reading continuous text. We want them to think and enjoy reading. This book: I Spy with My Little Eye is a perfect primary think and read. It is repetitive and very predictable: both great things for our early readers and even the readers we think should be doing more. I think it will make all kids happy.
Sparkle and Spin : A Book About Words by Ann and Paul Rand
Ok, this book was a book given to me in my district’s word study curriculum. It is very old but so great for introducing kids to thinking about the power of words and what they are. I am thinking it would be a great read before asking kids to think about their favorite word. A great way to start the year with thinking about the importance of words in many contexts.
Last fall I heard Ann Marie Corgill share this title during our NCTE presentation and I am just getting to purchasing it. It is the story (based on a South American tale) of a little humming bird bravely carrying water droplets attempting to douse a forest fire while her animal friends run from the raging fire. It sends the message to all kids that there is strength and dignity in bravely standing up for what you know is right.
Lastly, I read Fish Wish this summer and realized it might have some possibilities in our study of patterned text during writing workshop. As writers, we look hard at pattern books for ideas, structure, endings, beginnings and craft. I am thinking kids might love to begin their pattern books like Barner, “ If I were a ________.” And then imagine and share why. This book has a structure that kids can emulate in their own writing.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
Last week I sat down with my science curriculum to map out some science units. My goal was to come up with 3 big ideas that will encompass the more specific targets that are laid out in earth, space, life, physical and technology strands of science. I came up with 3 themes for these that I think will help kids understand that curriciulum targets aren't just a one day learned in isolation kind of thing. ( I think I've struggled with this for years thinking I had to do magnets for 2 days and then matter for 3 days, etc.)
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
I have taken a break from frequent postings over the past couple months as my family slowly packed and moved out of our home. We are blessed to be staying with family (my sister, brother in law, neices and nephew) as we patiently wait for news about our next home. "Camp DiCesare" is what our living situation has been termed by a neighbor and I think the name fits. Needless to say, you can imagine the change we are all bravely (and some generously) experiencing.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Happy Mother's Day!!
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Monday, February 21, 2011
It has been awhile since I have had time to breathe and more importantly, blog. February is a great month but always busy with quite a few family b-days, snow days and our annual Dublin Lit Conference. I have to admit that I get a little down because of the cold weather here in Ohio that often lingers through March. To help myself stay out of the dumps, I decided to join Franki's e-reader challenge and have a good book to look forward to as well as think about the pros and cons of reading digitally. I have Across the Universe on my iPad and I am LOVING IT. Today I just joined the e book club on good reads.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
It seems like sometime since I have posted about a new favorite book that has grabbed my readers and my writers. So today I want to tell you about a book that Franki told me about. This book is called Cat Secrets by Jeff Czekaj.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Yesterday, we celebrated the 100th day of school. This is such a an exciting day for us because we have shared 100 days together as learners.
Monday, January 17, 2011
Saturday, January 15, 2011
I've been thinking about how important it is to know yourself. Or maybe, it is more the importance of being able to think and reflect about why we do the things we do. Then I started thinking, why am I having these thoughts? Maybe it is because I have some people pleasing flaws that steer my mind to obsess over if what I said or did in a situation. I sometimes overly worry, was I too harsh or hurtful? Most of the time my words/actions aren't overly anything because I am often harder on myself than I need to be. Maybe it is because of a conversation I had today with a friend who is trying to figure out how to be more balanced. As she shared her thinking, I thought about how I am often stopping to evaluate my priorities to feel more balanced. I have to weigh what I need with what my family needs with what my students need with, yeah, the list goes on... Or, maybe it is because I am trying to write about word learning in the classroom and I can't stop thinking about how important it is to share assessment data with kids. Sharing what I find out about my students from assessments even in the context of a simple conversation can help my kids become more aware of what they know (or need to know). All of these thoughts (I am hoping) connect to the story I want to share next.
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Over the holiday, we spent lots of time playing games. Our new favorite is Quirkle. I think it fits our family because the kids and adults can play independently (this is nice because in the past our second grader has had to team up when he isn't understanding a game). While it is a game of pattern building with either color or shape, to win it requires lots of strategy to acquire the most points. It takes a little under an hour to finish the game. I also like the game because we are not sitting on the laptop, touches or ipad all night. Don't get me wrong, I love to be on line reading and the kids love their music and apps but this is helping to keep us talking, thinking and laughing with each other too.