Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Exploring More

Angela over at WNY Education Associates has invited everyone to join in professional conversations this year. I found her experiences and and links helpful as I have set goals for myself to keep learning what else is out there through the use of technology. I feel like I am always a step behind what is next and often when I am exploring a new tool it takes me sometime to wrap my brain around it. I have to figure out how these tools (twitter, wikis, ning and social bookmarks (delicious)) will help me share, search and organize information. Check it out!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Have you twittered?

You might be wondering what Twitter is all about. It was after friends of mine jumped on board to experiment with this new tool for exchanging, sharing or following information that I did as well. I have been on Twitter for about a month and found that I am checking in like I check email. The set up of twitter allows for picture icons which make checking in easy to do in seconds. Twitter also limits information shared to 140 characters so you have to limit your thoughts or responses. I have found that I am following many of the people I know more closely, sometimes linking to new information posted by people I want to learn from and in general learning a ton about technology. It has been a good thing. Today, this week even, I feel like I am at a stopping point. I am not sure how twitter will help me grow next. I am going to be patient and see what happens. Hope to see you on Twitter, my home page is katiedicesare.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Cat and Mouse

Today was the second time Cat and Mouse by Ian Schoenherr caught my eye. The first was at NCTE in the publishers booth and the second was today at the library. While I am patiently waiting for many of the books I reserved that could be Caldecott worthy, I decided to add Cat and Mouse (which had two votes for a mock Caldecott on good reads) to one of the read alouds I will introduce after holiday break.
As I read this story, I was immediately reminded of the antics of Tom and Jerry. These characters (cat and mouse) tease and provoke each other to the story lines of two familiar ryhmes (Hickory Dickory Dock and Eeny Meeny Miney Mo). Each time it seems the mouse has the upper hand. Though after chasing, creeping, sneaking and pouncing, these two seem to work it all out. Worst of enemies but best of friends at the end. The pictures are beautiful and I love the extra large font of the nursery rhyme text. The text in between the rhymes of course connects the story and is rhyming as well. I am anxious to hear what the kids will say and predict about this unpredictable friendship.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Thinking books...

I have been behind on reviews of picture books and purchasing new books. Holiday break always gives me time to try to catch up. I was talking about Caldecott contenders with a Franki today and then did some of my own searching. She reminded me about the great list (of mock winners and contenders) posted at Fuse 8 and then I found a list at good reads. Both these lists helped me sort out the books I have already introduced and read aloud. I also have a working list of the books I want to read before the announcement of the Caldecott on Jan.26. I know I want to have some discussion and talk about the books we have already read that are we love and new talk about some that I will bring introduce after break. I know I might have to do some picture reading with some of the titles as some aren't as first grade friendly. Here are my lists:
We've Read:
Little Yellow Leaf
A Kitten Tale
Old Bear
On the Farm
The Wave
A River of Words (thanks to Mary of my favorites!!!)
A Couple of Boys Have the Best Weekend Ever
Fred Stays With Me

I am reserving at the library ( there is a waiting list for quite a few of these)
or will just buy if I love them:
The House in the Night
That Book Woman
Wabi Sabi
Abe's Honest Words
What to do about Alice
Tadpole Rex
Building Manhattan
In a Blue Room

I have to say I feel better with a list.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Observations from a mother

You are probably thinking, "What is this picture about?"

I couldn't help but run and grab my camera when I watched Mo's arm so gently moved across Larry's back as they share adventures at Club Penguin while playing on the laptop. My heart started to jump as I witnessed one of the greatest gifts I have in my boys and their love, friendship and I can't leave out their fights!!! This was just a moment I had to capture so I wouldn't forget it.

Now for the other observations about this picture...
my youngest, Curly is creating pictures as he sits up against the ottoman. Don't worry, what you can't see is the tv on in the background and the huge rip across the loved ottoman (12 years old and still counting) that is covered by the cream blanket. Can you see the blanket? Yea, now imagine a slice across the top of it and stuffing coming out. It is not pretty...but not yet one of my biggest priorities.

You also didn't hear the grouchy mouths and mopey bodies as I asked the boys to help me pick up the room about 2 hours ago. These other pieces are just realities I can't escape as a mom. I will hold on to the 3-4 minutes of love between brothers. Pictures can be so honest yet so deceiving.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Poetry Friday

Happy Friday!
A first grade original by a young poet in my room:

the World
When the world
gets to gethr
there is a
shot uv
gley for
what you see
is your poetry

Invented spelling translations:
shot uv (shout of )
gley (glee)

No one says it better than a 7 year old.
Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


My writers and I have been taking this last week before school ends for holiday break to immerse ourselves in poetry during writers workshop. I haven't asked them or required them to write any (yet) . I know December needs to be about lots of choice as their excitement is heightened ( due to the season) and because we had just finished up a unit where I was specific about what their practice and final product needed. As the kids and began workshop, I talked with them about how poets read lots of poetry to become better writers. So we have been reading lots of poetry (and I just love to read it with them). We have read some of my favorites and some of their favorites (the girls in my room have been naturally drawn to a book of poetry called Nibble Nibble by Margaret Wise Brown). My favorite is April Rain Song by Langston Hughes.
As we read we notice and practice what we notice. Lucy Calkins in her Units of Study in Primary Writing features the poems by a young primary writer: Zoe. The poems Zoe has written seem to hit home with many of the writers in my class. Zoe's poem, The Pencil Sharpener, is a perfect place for us to begin noticing. After reading the poem aloud, the kids notice that they see something very different in their minds. We talk about the pictures that each one of us has in our minds and then record them on paper. Our first step to learning to becoming a poet is to imagine or make a picture in our mind. The kids begin a list of tools that will help us write like poets and this idea of imagining or envisioning is first. I take their pictures surrounding them around the text for Pencil Sharpener and we begin documenting how we are emerging as poets by posting our thoughts. During the week, we continue and document how poets think about things in new ways. Now, a few kids are trying poetry without being required to write it. Today we read a classmates poem about popcorn that used many sounds that helped us hear the poetry. I used her text with other mentor texts ( 3 short poems I read aloud that include invite the reader to hear what is happening )and it was powerful for that writer. The kids added that poets listen to things in new ways. One student began writing her own anthology today called My World. A few others have started to choose to write it. We will continue finding the poets inside of ourselves this week. It is a happy way to end December.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Posts About Gifts

There have been many posts about which books are best to buy for gifts this holiday season. Mother Reader has posted 21 Ways To Give a Book. HipWriterMama has posted book ideas for preteens and The Miss Rumphius Effect shares her purchases and ideas about what to buy the readers ad writers in your life. I have made purchases for my students, my kids, family and friends. I don't have time to share it all now but wanted to share what I bought for my students.
This book is called a sketch and tell book and I purchased it online at Dick Blick. I paid 1.59 per book for 22 kids and I know it will be worth every penny. (I am probably going to buy a cool pens or pencils to go with this.) I was inspired when my Kindergarten son came home with one after a visit to the bookstore (a gift from the grandparents). He wrote in it all day.
I also know this will work as a gift because one of my students brought in a Bare Book that his mom purchased for him. She noticed that he has taken a interest in writing and knew this book would inspire him. He has been writing at home and brought it in to share with the class. The kids were like drooling over his book. I am crossing my fingers that this idea is a hit!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Four on Friday

It has been a busy week...

1. My writers have been busy rereading, fixing and fancying up pieces of writing they have been working on during our unit on punctuation. We explored ways writers use punctuation and why it is important to writing. Some kids created question-answer books exploring the question mark, others wrote stories and practiced periods, exclamation marks and some even explored the quotation marks as they added some "talking" (not quite dialog) to their writing. One little writer tried the ellipsis. He wrote a Thanksgiving book using If you See a Kitten as a mentor text. John Butler writes if you see a kitten say...meow and if you see a pig say...pee-ew! The little writer in my room wrote: We played football...ouch ouch. We ate turkey...yum yum. There is more to this great book but I can't remember the rest. This mentor text was a recommendation in About the Author's by Katie Wood Ray. This picture book is so versatile and I love how kids can read and write like the text in this book. John Butler is the author and has other books that work in my room.

2. It is a cookie weekend. I have all the ingredients for sugar cookie cut outs, fudge, peanut butter kiss cookies and a layer bar with coconut. I want t0 make wedding balls too but need a good recipe. I will be baking many gifts this year!

3. Today we (as a family) received a random act of kindness. We don't know from who or why. There was a warm happy feeling in our hearts and we are going to talk about how we can do the same for another family.

4. I was looking through my professional books and came back to Brenda Parke's book Read It Again! It is an amazing resource for shared reading and how to approach it purposely within the classroom. Brenda helps you jump start ways to introduce and come back to texts that kids need practice with again and again!