Saturday, January 31, 2009

Voice Threads: Poetry by a 3rd Grade Class

I love the voice thread. I have been experimenting with them and exploring others who are using them. Check out this thread about poetry created by a third grade class.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow Day

We enjoyed a day at home due to snow today.

Larry was anxious to sled and plunge in the crunchy snow covered ice. Luckily last year's boots fit.

Moe doesn't like to get wet. He had NO desire to even step foot outside. No boot worries here.

Curly was dying to get outside but we weren't sure about boots. First pair I found were way too small. He didn't care until he slid them on. Then I found a pair that I thought were going to be too big. I warned him they may be too big. He said, "It's ok Mommy I am almost 6!"

It was so precious just hugged him. My little guy is getting big.
Oh yea, the boots did fit.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Caldecott and Honor Books

It was on Monday morning that the winners were announced. Trying to teach while clicking back between ALA and twitter was tricky to say the least. I jumped happily when I read a comment on twitter inferring that that A River of Words had won, so I sent an email to the staff announcing the winner. I was thrilled and quickly announced to my first graders that the Williams Carlos Williams story had won! Cheers of joy and clapping followed because they knew this awesome biography. A few minutes later, after receiving a confirmation email from Franki, I noticed I had misinterpreted the information. A River of Words was an honor book but not the Caldecott winner. Whoops! I jumped too fast and was skimming comments instead of really reading them. Luckily, the gorgeous picture book The House in the Night was the winner and my kids had heard this great title as well. I re-sent an email announcing the actual winners apologizing for the mistake. My learning for the morning: Don't try to twitter while teaching and conferring with 21 6-7 year olds. Oh well! They did love the excitement of the Caldecott. I had a few kids who had drawn their own Caldecott award on the books they were writing that morning. Even young writers have dreams of recognition.

Here are the winners:
Caldecott and Honor Titles :

Winner : The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson

Honors: A River of Words by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet
How I learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz
A Couple of Boys Have the Best Weekend Ever by Marla Frazee

Friday, January 23, 2009

Trying to stretch myself: 21st Century Literacies

In an effort to stretch my learning as well as the learning of my students, I jumped on board the 21st century literacy boat by doing 2 things this week.

(1) Through a PTO grant, I applied for a class set of 6 Insignia Cam Corders that could be checked out of the library and put in kids hands to document learning. After sending a staff email to get a sense of interest, I had 7 teachers respond that they would likely use them in their classrooms. (Yeah!!) Now, just cross your fingers!!

(2) I am embarrassed to say that for the first time my kids went as a class to the computer lab. They have been playing on the Macs I have in my room all year but today we played on Pixie as a whole class. It was awesome. The kids walked in with a poem that they worked on fixing and revising (first grade style...noticing with a partner something they could fix or change) the day before. With their writing in hand, they added a text box and tapped away!! They then learned to add stickers (pictures) and some used the paint tool to add backgrounds and drawings. They had a ball!! I also learned to add their voice to their poem, save it as a mpeg and successfully emailed one poem home!!

I have been trying figure out how to add an mpeg (so you could see and hear her poem) to blogger but am completely stuck! If any of you experts know how, leave me a comment.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

One Little Word

After reading a post by Stella a few weeks back, I have been thinking about what my "one little word" could be this year. I knew if I thought too hard about it, I wouldn't figure it out. I knew that if I were patient, I would hear it. I would see it. I would feel it. I would find that word, that I want to embrace this year.
Last Sunday I listened to a man share words about the importance of "realizing that our own good is linked to the common good." I couldn't help but think about how every little kind word and action impacts others. I couldn't help but be reminded of how important it is to respond with love. As a teacher, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a spouse and a friend I am challenged to respond with love each and every day. Love that is listening, comforting, and sharing. Love that is setting boundaries and expectations. Sometimes it comes naturally. Other times I fight it. Love sometimes takes every bit of energy that I can muster but I know in the end that if I love so will others.
My word in four

Primary kids using technology and sending a message to the world

You HAVE to see this!! I am not sure if anyone has posted about this fabulous message from first graders to our new president, if you haven't seen it. GO here now!
Anne are amazing!!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My Book Box

My students spend a good part of the morning with their own book box. In this box, they keep their practice books, their favorite books, their poetry and song binder, their bag for taking home books, a notebook for writing thoughts about books, pencils, post-its and other little treasures that often make their way into the box. Their box houses their most important reading and thinking in our classroom. SO, when I saw the book: My Book Box, I had to have it!

Will Hillendbrand has written a sweet story of an elephant and frog who playfully create ways to pretend with their box. It is a bug box, a pizza box, a pasta box, a toy box, a hide-and seek-box and then elephant decides on a book box. The book box travels and transforms as the two friends enjoy sharing stories throughout the day then ending with sweet dreams at night.

My youngest Curly LOVED this story. In fact, we spent time this weekend helping him paint and create his own book box. Tonight, curly decided to add the finishing touches: flaps to close the top of his box. He then ran to our book room to gather some of his favorite book and pile them inside. Oh the joy a box can bring a five year old!!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hello , Day!

I was very happy to buy the book, Hello Day by Anita Lobel on Saturday. With one copy left on the shelf, my very gracious friend Sarah let me take this one home. Sarah also recommended it to me and told me it was one of the contenders (for her mock Caldecott) that the kids were enjoying at Chapman Elementary.
What first makes this book so wonderful (to me) is that I have loved Anita Lobel for years and was thrilled to see her write and illustrate a patterned book. Second, the pictures and easy text are just primary perfect!! It is another to add to your shared reads that you and the kids enjoy together. Each farm animal starts the day saying good morning.
The Goose said, "Honk." The Pig said, "Oink." What they all meant was "Hello, day!"
Owl gently ends the day with his "whoo-oo" or good night.
The organization of the book makes this a do-able mentor text for first graders to notice, discuss and model.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Shared Reading

I am always on the look out for picture books with repeating text on each page that will serve as a fun read together during shared reading. I like to use the repetitive text for word study and just plain old fun. I found two books over break that I thought I would try... (one of which we read this week)

Where Are You Little Frog
by Kayleigh Rhatigan

This delightful read has the kids guessing where little frog is on his journey to different parts of the farm. It is a playful rhyming book that has short text and fits right into the hands of primary readers.

I Am the King by Leo Timmers
Who is most fit to be king of all animals? Well, the animals who happen to try on the crown. Each decides that the golden hat suits him
best...pig, crocodile, elephant many others declare.."I am the king!" But, who really takes the crown? Well, you know.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Cybil Finalists

If you haven't visited other blogs who've posted links to the announcements, well, they are here.
As a primary teacher, I was most interested in the fiction picture books, early readers, poetry and non-fiction categories. After visting bestbookihavenotread, I thought I too might post about what I have read and some new reading plans after discovering the finalists.

In the the Fiction Picture Books Section, I realized that I truly have only read 2...A Visitor for Bear (well worth the read) and How to Heal a Broken Wing ( I am a huge Bob Graham Fan and loved this one...lots of opportunities for picture reading). I have reserved Big Bad bunny and Wabi Sabi. I love Chester but have not read Chester is Back! (I will just be buying this for my Melanie Watt basket) My own children enjoyed this as much as the first.

In the Early Readers Section, I was thrilled with the newest Elephant and Piggie nominees. These are just huge hits with first graders too. Mercy Watson Thinks Like a Pig is a keeper and becoming very popular with some readers in my room. Maybelle and Houndsley will be on my radar.

In the Poetry section, the one book that seems most primary friendly is On the Farm. You can see my thoughts about this book here.

The last section that I searched through was Non-fiction Picture Books. I read and own 2...A River of Words and Fabulous Fishes. Fabulous Fishes has been quite popular (the pictures and short amount of text seems perfect for 6-7 yr olds). I am reading A River of Words the day I get back as I connect my kids back into poetry (it is a biography of a poet, Willie Williams) Other titles that sparked my interest were Frogs and the Astronaut Handbook.