Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mo Willems Does It Again!!!

I have much to share about NCTE but I can't help but shift gears and tell you about a couple arcs I begged for at the Harper Collins booth last weekend. They are both new books that are expected to be available in February of 2010. I just added them to my pre-order list on amazon

Mo Willems introduces us to a new series perfect for our preschool, K and first grade readers. He has created a very likable Cat (simple enough for kids to draw) in his new book called Cat the Cat, Who Is That? In this book, Cat meets many new friends who in just a page, we get to know by the voice in the word bubble. You meet, Mouse the Mouse, Duck the Duck and Fish the Fish. Our favorite (so far) is Fish the Fish because after being greeted by Cat the Cat, he says "Hey Dude!" The kids laughed after hearing his voice and noticed that he like to blow bubbles. The text because it is focused on our youngest readers is repetitive and predictable yet engaging. The story ends as Cat the Cat meets an unexpected character (large alien-looking fellow) who she has no idea what to call. Don't worry, she jumps into playing and shouting "Blarggie, blarggie" with him. You might be thinking..."blarggie?" I was but my first grader told me this was his favorite part. The words "blarggie, blarggie" made him belly laugh.

In the other arc I received, Let's Say Hi to Friends that Fly, Cat the Cat is featured on the cover asking, "Are you ready?" The kids in my class were very ready and anxious to find out more from Cat the Cat. This story is a patterned text with the question, Can you fly (Bee)the (Bee)? followed by an answer from the character (watch me!) and then a page describing how the creature flies ( Cat the Cat also repeats words of encouragement to each friend throughout the story like...Go Bee the Bee! You can also see that the text rhymes. I love that Mo has weaved in so many features of early text that supports readers (high freq words, repeating words, picture support, predictable text, rhyme, brief pieces of dialogue that support fluency). Well, the story ends as Cat the Cat and her friends bump into Rhino the Rhino (who is sitting on a pigeon- looking coil spring rocker you would see in the ground at a park). Of course they are thinking...Can you fly Rhino the Rhino? My kids thought he might fly away on the Pigeon but that wasn't the case. I'll let you be pleasantly surprised in February!

Last, I found another in the series on amazon called What's Your Sound, Hound the Hound? I am sure it will be as wonderful for early readers as the others. Thanks Mo for creating books that kids love and want to read on their own!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

NCTE: The learning begins

In about an hour, I am headed to my first session of the NCTE Annual Convention. I am anxious to hear Ralph Fletcher, Gresham Brown and Kate Morris speak about the Pleasures of Language. Next, we are off to the Elementary Section Get Together! Can't wait to fill you in on all my new discoveries.

It is a Happy Thursday !!!!!!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Here comes the big, mean dust bunny! by Jan Thomas

The sixth Jan Thomas book, Here comes the big, mean dust bunny, arrived in my mailbox Saturday! Tomorrow there will be excitement over her newest book in my classroom. This fall, we started the year with Jan's fifth book, Can you Make a Scary Face? This story completely won the kids over as they interacted with the ladybug telling the story. Last year, The Doghouse was our favorite. Jan has figured out how to make young kids laugh, read, write and read some more. I am very anxious to hear their thoughts on her newest book. I am thinking they will decide that it should be added to our list of series reads as much of the work we thought about this fall was noticing features of series books (we included picture book series titles in our study). I am also know they will be laughing and loving it!

Jan's newest book features characters from another book in her repertoire called Rhyming Dust Bunnies. Ed, Ned, Ted and Bob, the rhyming dust bunnies are back to adventure in rhyme but run into some trouble as the big mean dust bunny bullies his way into their play. Don't worry, he gets a taste of his own medicine when Fat Cat sits on him (SPLAT)! The loyal Ed, Ned, Ted and Bob are there to rescue the thug with a tug and then a HUG! Don't miss adding it to your Jan Thomas collection!!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty

I purchased Jeremy Draws a Monster on a whim. I found it online featured as a new release at amazon and thought it looked good. Sometimes I get lucky without previewing a book then purchasing and this was just the case with Peter McCarty's new book.

In this picture book, you meet a little boy named Jeremy, who longs to play with the kids outside but isn't quite confident to jump right in. So, Jeremy draws himself a blue monster (similar to Harold creating adventures with his crayon). Jeremy quickly realizes though, that his creation (the blue monster) is more of a pain than anything else. After the demanding monster drains him of all his energy, Jeremy draws the monster a bus and a bag and sees him on his way. He decides to give playing outside a try!

This story unexpectedly worked as a text that helped us think deeper about character and connections. In fact, students began to think about other texts that this book reminded them of...books like Bossy Bear (the monster and Bossy are both very demanding and bossy) and Harold and the Purple Crayon (Harold and Jeremy both create their own problems and solutions) and Babushka's Doll by Patricia Polacco ( the young girl in Babushka's Doll and Jeremy learn from their experience of having to take care of an unexpected burden).

The conversations the students had with this short and sweet picture book were well worth the chance I took buying online. Many kids came back to it as an independent read in the morning and during workshop. I am not sure if I would recommend impulse buying online but once in awhile, it works!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

authentic writing by my 4th grader

My husband and I woke up this morning to this contract:

We were laughing at his keen sense of negotiating and his honesty. (He was falling asleep by nine last night!) I asked him where he came up with this idea and he mentioned that another boy in his class had tried it. You'll notice we haven't signed it yet but how could we refuse?!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Would you like to learn how to draw a dog?

I checked the date of my last post and realized that it has been awhile. I am still here (barely) treading water to stay afloat. I feel like I am trying to wrap my brain around too many things at one time. But tonight I had some extra time and I wanted to come back to the posts on Pixie ( you can click here, here and here to visit) so that I could share with you a slideshow turned into a movie that one of my students created. I have asked her parents permission to share her piece with you on my blog and I am excited to do so. Before I do, I want to list some of the practice that the kids have experienced taking a written piece and publishing with technology.

Students have learned to ...
Take their picture ( with the camera attached to the monitor) and manipulate the picture
Add a text box, type, use the shift key for uppercase lettering, change their font
Add stickers
Create with paint tools and shape tools
Add their voice to a slide
Undo something they wanted to change
Add multiple pages, manipulate and change the order of pages
View their slideshow and notice what is working and what needs changed
Save their work
Export their piece as a video

I am amazed at what they have created and I wish I could share them all with you. Please know they are completely kid created. It would be wonderful for them to look perfect (spelling, punctuation, etc.) but I had to be realistic with balancing time guiding them ( very little I have to say) and allowing them independence with their creation. Here is Grace's How To Draw a Dog. (After viewing online, I noticed the voice attached to the slide lags due to the buffering but I think you will get the idea...)