Friday, February 29, 2008

"Use Your Mouth and Use Your Manners"

These wise words belong to Lester Laminack, who I so happily spent the day watching in action. Lester has many catch phrases I picked up last week as I watched him interact with a group of primary and intermediate learners. For me this phrase use your mouth and use your manners will help with the speaking traffic that happens as my kids think out loud. I've been waiting for guidance in my own classroom for how to manage "thinking voices." He explained that using your mouth to ask questions, speak thoughts, agree, disagree or connect to others thinking is big for kids. I agree that it is one of these reasons my kids are engaged during group time. He also balanced this thought with an analogy of cars on road. He explained to us and the kids that drivers in cars take turns, wave to each other and stop when another is moving. Lester reminded the kids that as learners we do this in conversation with each other. He practiced a conversation collision with a student to show another how we can say..."oh excuse me, finish your idea." I needed this. I also needed his advice for making sure that our quieter voices are heard in the classroom. He suggested reminding our strong "out loud" thinkers to give a turn to those who hadn't been heard. He is amazing with the kids!!

Other Lesterisms that I left thinking about...

" Reading is breathing in and writing is breathing out."

"We are teaching out of our knowledge base as we are guided by our hearts."

Books he recommended for reading:

Why We Teach by Linda Alston

Push by Saffire

A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J.Gaines

Monday, February 25, 2008

These are a few of my favorite things...

It has been a crazy February!! I have so many topics I want to blog about but not enough time! (I am hoping for a 3rd snow day tomorrow as our county is under a winter storm watch so that I can dive into a topic) So for tonight I thought I would mention a few of my favorite things right now...

New Blog!! Literate Lives
This is a new kids lit and teacher blog worth visiting. It is maintained by librarian, Bill, and fifth grade teacher, Karen, both of whom love books and making sure their students are getting their hands on the newest and best. I also just went to their session at the Dublin Literacy Conference where they shared their favorite finds!! Check out my friends!

The Cow Who Laid An Egg
This book is a hit with first grade! Marjorie is tired of feeling plain and boring and not as good as the other bicycle riding cows. Her chicken friends decide to boost her spirits by planting an egg under her one night. Waking up to an egg makes her the talk of the farm and she begins feeling very unique. The other cows question how a cow could lay an egg but Marjorie is delighted with her prize and finally feels special. This funny and unique farm story is a great read aloud with delightful pictures. It has been in Mary's book bin all week. She is a transitional reader and it is a perfect just right book for her. I hope I can get her to share with others next week?

Strawberry Freckle Face
OK...I am a bit skeptical of actresses writing picture books but I have to say that this story was adorable and a hit with my first graders ( and maybe I don't know enough about Julianne Moore as a writer). I purchased it because I have a little boy in my classroom with freckles covering his entire face. He is a sensitive soul and I was hoping this book would catch his eye. Though, it is a story of a little girl who hates having freckles ( and tries every which way to get rid of them) the frustration she feels is identifiable for anyone with freckles. She hides under a mask one day until uncomfortable and itchy. When she pulls the mask off, laughter from a baby who points to her beauty marks helps her begin to accept her outward appearance. How can you be upset and not join in with the innocence of a baby? Having hidden from her friends, they are delighted when they see her without her mask. Freckleface Strawberry begins to feel loved for her person instead of her appearance (though she is still hopeful she grows out of her freckles). The boy with freckles in my room just pulled this book down to picture read it and was showing me all the parts he loves. I love that I found this book!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Already Ready by Katie Wood Ray and Matt Glover

Already Ready by Katie Wood Ray and Matt Glover
I borrowed from a friend this weekend and am very interested in this newest Katie Wood Ray book because I have primary writers ( some of who have had limited writing experiences) and because I have a 4yr old who loves to tell stories and hear stories. Katie Wood Ray has inspired my own workshop through her primary workshop book, About the Authors.
This book begins with a very important premise that Katie and Matt make sure we are reminded of..."this book is not about teaching writing, it's about nurturing writers." They speak to the reader about understanding pre- school and K writers in the first part of the book, explaining why it's beneficial for kids to make books and explaining that even our youngest kiddos can view themselves as writers. The second part of the book is filled with "practices that nurture writers" all in the context of the NEYC guidelines for developmentally appropriate practice. I will be using lesson ideas like what is a picture book, differences between books, purposes of different books and will put her suggested book list to work in my room. ( I did notice many of the titles overlap with some of the books mentioned in About the Authors) Finally, I think I was most appreciative that Katie and Matt reiterate through their book the importance of looking at writing as a process and not a series of steps. This book nurtures the conversations, questions and discussions about how and why writers do what they do even for the little ones.