Sunday, October 28, 2007

Books with voice

Melanie Watt held the trophy for the kid's favorite picture book last year. Yes, Scaredy Squirrel never remained in the Melanie Watt basket of books for long. "Where is Scaredy Squirrel Mrs. DiCesare?" little L would always say. L and I would make a general announcement as to its whereabouts and the borrowing from one another would begin. Why can't schools provide 5 copies of new favorite picture books (I usually buy 1 for the classroom) instead of 5 copies of leveled books. My kids always want the new, brightly colored, full- of- voice and humor picture book. Ok, back to the purpose of the post. This year, the book that is in sought out daily is a book I found last spring by David Horvath titled Bossy Bear. David is also the co-creator of uglydolls. I knew I had spotted these ugly creatures around town. My own boys love Bossy Bear and would be thrilled to have an uglydoll (Christmas is around the corner). My favorite is Moxy. David also blogs at UGLYBLOG. Check him out!

When I first read Bossy Bear this spring, I laughed out loud and immediately jumped into character pretending to be the little blue tyrant. Just looking at Bossy Bear, I felt his selfishness...the spotlight, his gold crown and cape and the word "mine" coming from his head. He is all about what he wants and that is why I think this book hits home with many of my kiddos.
Bossy Bear's favorite word is GIMMIE! He demands things to go his way, yells at others when he has to wait, and he orders others around. As you can imagine, he doesn't have many friends. When a little pig and dog do ask him to play, it is his way or the highway. And that is when Bossy Bear realizes the pain of lonliness. The pain is short lived as he orders someone new ( a turtle) to hand over his balloon. Surprisingly, the turtle does and Bossy Bear questions, "you don't think I am bossy?"
"You are bossy," said the turtle.
"But you don't have to be."
Turtle's acceptance and honesty is the beginning to a new friendship and the ending of the book.

Just this past week K asked me... "Where is Bossy Bear Mrs. DiCesare?" This weekend I purchased my 2nd copy for the classroom!! Kids love to read and reread books with voice. I can't wait to tie this one into writing workshop too!!

Friday, October 26, 2007


Friday's Post:
You know during the course of a day when the lightbulb goes off and you have those little ah ha's. I find myself are more aware an emotion, a behavior or sometimes I notice something brand new. Sometimes the ah ha happens during a conversation with someone or as I observe my students interacting with each other or another adult. It is when that stepping back and watching happens when I feel like I can reflect on how I can better meet the needs of others students, my own kids, my family or friends.

Today I had a few of those moments in the classroom. I thought about a moment I had with a writer when I jumped in to comment too soon. Later, I realized how I could have been patient enough to let that child lead a little more. I thought about a kiddo conversing with an adult and the time this adult took to really share and listen. This ah ha made me aware of how I need to be patient with conversation. Then I thought about when I was listening to a student read and I jumped in too soon with a prompt. I could have been more patient. Each one of my students deserves patience from me. Some days it is easier to give than others. I find when I slow myself down and practice patience with my self, I begin to breathe patience in the classroom. Usually if I feel I have had a patient day at school, I am not so patient when things get hairy at home and vice versa...patient, listening at home not so much as I'd like at school. There's that struggle with balance again.

Saturday's post:

On a lighter note...
Today I took a Cover to Cover break! I love the goodies I purchased (my goal was to spend under $100..didn't happen) and have filled my school bag with for Monday. I also love feeling like Santa at Christmas when I come in with new books. They will be fighting over them! I will share a few of my favs this week.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Are you groovin?

I was reading a bit about how Sarah at Amick's Articles uses music to help with management and routines during reading workshop. I love to sing and incorporate music in the classroom. I am wondering if and how primary and intermediate teachers incorporate it into their rooms? Is it just a fun thing? Do teachers use it in purposeful ways? Here are 2 of my favs. Do you use music?

The Good Green Earth by James K.
This song from the album Good Morning Sun Good Evening Night. It is a class favorite and one that I learned to sign last year as I was blessed with an interpreter and hearing impaired kiddo. I use this as a break between workshops as my students are building stamina. The song is close to 6mins long and we sing about days of the week, months of the year and seasons. As we sing and move, I invite the kids to jump for the day of the week we are on and squat down for their birthday month. We sign some of the song too! It is all move, sing and just have a little fun together.

Curious Geroge Soundtrack
by Jack Johnson

3 R's is my favorite and I love to crank it up during our recycling unit. I turn the refrain into a poster that I use for shared reading and the kids love reading and singing the words. We talk about the ideas Jack Johnson sings about taking care of the earth.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hand Written Treasures

An odd thought came to me after I wrote a reflection in a book I read daily called Sacred Space. For some reason, I remembered a happy thought of organized note taking in high school. I loved to take notes (I feel a little strange admitting it to you). I loved to use a blue, ball point pen on crisp lined notebook paper. I still like to write with those pens but it seems I am writing less on paper and typing more on the computer. I mention this because at church today the priest mentioned that technology has evolved so much in the last 30 years that he feels that he rarely writes handwritten notes or letters anymore. He mentioned that he has started to write letters again (you know the handwritten kind) just to shock people! I think he has a bit of a point. What is better than a hand written letter or card on a special paper that the writer intended for you? I have a friend who sends me thank yous and little gifts through snail mail and her hand written words are treasure. I have saved each letter she has sent me. I won't ever empty the trash on her mail.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Aaaarrrgghh! Spider!

I was drawn to a couple books at Borders this weekend. I wanted to purchase 10 but limited myself to two. I knew llama llama mad at mama was a must have after reading about it at A Year of Reading. My class loved the first book llama llama red pajama and I can't wait to read Mad at Mama tomorrow.

I also purchased a book called Aaaarrgghh! Spider! I was drawn to the cover which has a glittery web from which a spider, the main character in the story, hangs. I opened the book up immediately was happy to find the story is told by the spider. I also loved the pictures and so did my own children. We found ourselves looking for the "real" pictures within the cartoon type drawings. It reminded me a bit of the illustrating techniques used by Doreen Cronin (Bounce) and Mo Willems (Knufflebunny). The first page spread appears upside down as the spider sits on the ceiling explaining how he wants to be a real family pet. The spider tries what he thinks are clever ways to demonstrate he would make a great family pet. Each time he appears in a new part of the house, the family screams "Aaaarrgghh! Spider! Out you go!" The little girl in the story finally notices the sparkly webs the spider resorts to making in the backyard and the family adopts him for a pet. This is where I felt the story lost me a bit. The spider becomes a real pet and goes everywhere with the family. I did come back to enjoy the ending when the spider feels such a part of the family he invites in all his friends inside and the story ends similarly to how it begins with "Aaaarrgghh! Spiders!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

It has been awhile

It has been too long since I have had time to even think about what I want to think about. My first night of conferences is behind me. Interims (our first report card) have gone home and my assessment folders are off to a good start. I can breathe a little more again. I am anxious to get back to writing.

Here's what I have been thinking about:
Word Study: It is a hot topic at our literacy meetings as many of our tricky kids aren't really transferring what they are learning and noticing about words to their writing. I am thinking about how word study happens all day and trying to document ways it is supported in ww, shared writing, shared reading and through anchor charts.

Writing Workshop: Turning standards into " I can..." statements for kids
This month my team and I looked at the big ideas we practiced during writing workshop (these first 6 weeks) and the kids took ownership and evaluated themselves according to these " I can" statements. Here is what we saw kids needing:
I can think and write about ideas I have on my own (writer identity)
I can stretch and write words (word study/spelling strategies)
I can read my writing (revision strategy)
I can use spaces (organization)

Of course each of these targets are just tidbits of all the discussion we had about how and where writers get ideas, are brave about writing and stretching words, reread and fix when writing doesn't look right, sound right or make sense, and how writers organize writing on pages.
I also know that these "I can's" are practice and will be built upon throughout the entire year.
I am liking how the kids are understanding and responding to these "I can statements." I am anxious to see how they will unfold into our punctuation, nonfiction, poetry and small moment studies.

Reading Workshop: My kids love to read and have books they love. One kiddo goes back to Bad Kitty everyday for our initial read anything time. Another is addicted to a hot wheels book he chose and purchased through scholastic. Today we read Charlie Chick and it was a hit. (the kids love this is a noise making pop up book but what loved that they noticed was that is has repetition and just a few words on a page). I also copied the cover of this book and it became one of the anchor charts I use for the diagraphs. I will model how to refer to it during writing workshop when they stretch words with the "ch" sound. I know I need more time with interactive read alouds and comprehension talk but Sept/October has really been about tools for reading new words and noticing everything we can about books (from I wonder's to what basket can sort this book).