Friday, December 31, 2010
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
I spent about an hour and half last night at the bookstore. My trip to Cover to Cover had been on my mind ever since holiday break started last Thursday. I love to have time to read and think about the books that I plan to buy. After reading through more than 38 books, I left the store with 9. I am very happy with my purchases. Today I want to share a book that reminded me immediately of Cathy's post titled: Oh No! Scissors in Writer's Workshop. This book is called Out of Sight.
Out of Sight is a large hardback (11x16) book that is filled with pop-ups. I know, you are probably thinking that pop-up books are a disaster because kids are prone to ruining them. That thought entered my mind when I first opened this book, but I quickly let it go once I started turning the pages. The book is filled with flaps creatively designed to make you think about the animal and non-fiction information revealed underneath. Just flipping through it had me anticipating the many opportunities for discussion and conversation about how the book is organized and why illustrators made the decisions they did for each flap.
I think this book will be a great mentor text for kids creating their own non-fiction books. Kids who love to use scissors will begin to turn their wheels with how to create flaps. And, couldn't the flaps work well as a bulletin board during a non-fiction study. There are endless possibilities for this book.
After sharing it with some friends, I couldn't help observe one reader jump on her phone to look for an answer that was posed under one flap: Can you name all 8 species of bear? She and another friend started a 5 minute conversation about all they knew and could find out about species of bear. It was fascinating and powerful. I am anxious to see what happens when my students get their hands on it. Don't worry, I am already thinking about reminding them about how to handle pop-up books.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
This week, enjoy the pictures of kids observing, problem solving, thinking and creating while playing.
Lucy created a pattern book with the stencils we pull out to trace for play.
You'll also notice the beetle creation thoughtfully crafted by Ben using the straws and connectors.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
when I was little
when i was little
One of the most exciting aspects of a primary writing workshop is learning to use and play with the tools that writers need to help them compose, change and fix up their ideas. Different kids have different tools of choice. Some kids love the colored pencils, others always go for the crayons and still others grab the markers. We always have on hand an abundance of post- it tape, scissors, staples for the staplers and scotch tape.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Do you remember reading Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? I do and I laughed out loud when enjoying this book years ago. Well, Judith Viorst and Lane Smith have teamed up to create a wonderful new early chapter book for transitional readers. It has chapters that are short and match the stamina of young readers. There are many pictures throughout the story and lots of repetition in the storyline that supports kids just getting into chapter type reads. I picked it up yesterday and loved it!
There is nothing better than walking in the door after a long weekend or a break with new books to read aloud and share. This weekend I found a new picture book called Miss Lina's Ballerinas by Grace Maccarone. It is sure to be a hit with the girls who love to dance or are interested in ballerinas. I love the cover and the beautiful, vibrant drawings come to life with each page.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
I feel like the learning I am taking away this year from NCTE has been embedded in many of the conversations I have had with educators over the two days I spent collaborating, listening and learning. My mind is racing with new ideas and questions just by listening to the many wise words of others. Like...
How can I build in time for deeper discussion and reflection about what picture reading looks like ? How can kids read and replay books for others? (Kathy Collins)
The definition of "just right" book sometimes makes me uncomfortable because of each student's need, purpose and personal decisions for reading. How can I communicate this concept in the classroom without limiting my students? We know much of reading is about balance. (Cathy Mere)
How am I really inviting kids to grasp the notion of meaningful talk in the classroom? How can I step back and help them understand: why it is important to have it and how does it sound? What are some picture books that could support this? How can this trickle into our work on the blog: thoughtful commenting, reading posts by thoughtful kids? (Ann Marie Corgill)
"Comprehension is more than just teaching strategies. We have to be responsive and reactive to what kids know." (Sharon Taberski). How can I foster a balance for understanding with readers? Our work in the classroom comes from our students. (Laura Robb).
If we can get kids to know themselves in one aspect of learning, we can transition this self-reflective type thinking into other areas. Who are you as a reader?
"Shut up, listen and learn." (Don Graves quote used by Patrick Allen) How can I foster kids work as problem solvers within the classroom community?
Kids quoted " I think I am an independent reader when my teacher trusts me. " There is so much to be learned about TRUST in the classroom. Debbie Miller said: We need to trust ourselves as teachers.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Collaborating with Learners Using Picture Books
Yesterday was an exciting day collaborating and presenting with Cathy Mere, Ann Marie Corgill and Kathy Collins. I have been energized by the conversation, preparation and time with these amazing women. I feel like the learning I am taking away this year has been embedded in many of the conversations I have had with educators over the past two days. My mind is racing with new ideas just by listening to many wise words.
Cathy M and I worked through slide share together and it was yet another piece of new learning this weekend. You can see our presentation here and at Cathy's blog as well as Ann Marie's blog (soon).
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Bill Gaskins of Creating a Path For Learning in the 21st Century has hosted a series of posts about the impact that blogging has had in the lives of educators. My post today is cross posted on his blog. Be sure to check it out the earlier reflections shared by librarians, consultants and teachers that were featured on his blog this week.
What has changed you as a learner? When reflecting back to my personal memories, there are a few times that stand out for me. Learning with my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Green (because she believed in me), placing as regional runner-up for the Optimist Club’s Oratorical Contest as an 8th grader (which boosted my self esteem) and my student teaching experience with Steve Shack (working alongside a strong model) are all memorable moments in my life that have altered what I know about myself and what I have learned about teaching.
When asked to think about how blogging has transformed me as a learner and a teacher, my first thought is that it has developed my identity. Blogging has helped me feel like and take risks as a writer. I know that I am not the most the most profound or intellectual writer but I have come to feel like a person who has a message to share. A message that others will in turn offer feedback and reactions to my thoughts. I was not this empowered as a student. Though interested in learning, I found my place at the back of the classroom, a student who was nervous about saying something “wrong.” Blogging has allowed me to express my thoughts on topics that I feel strongly about: teaching, children and creative ways to enhance learning. So, first and foremost, blogging has given me a voice. A Year of Reading, Liz in Ink and MotherReader were a few of the first blogs that helped me find my own voice.
As a beginning blogger, I learned about bravery. I wrote what was on my mind wondering, would anyone read this or think it was worthwhile. I questioned my posts. Were they “good” enough? Was what I saying of value or did invite connections in my readers? I learned to let go of these thoughts, taking risks even when I was unsure of myself.
With more blogging, I am learning the value of collaboration. Sir Ken Robinson speaks of importance of collaboration in his presentation on Changing Paradigms. He talks about how “great learning happens in groups and that collaboration is the stuff of growth.” As a blogger, I find myself reading about ideas in posts, connecting with those ideas and then linking to them in some of my own posts. The excitement of collaborative learning drives me. I am inspired to hear from other bloggers who write about topics that are meaningful to me, comment about my connections or ask questions when I want to know more. Blogging also motivates me when I am posting about a topic that I am excited to share and receive feedback from other bloggers. With blogging, I am realizing how others thoughts (Weblogg-ed and Be Playful), questions and wonderings are expanding my understandings of the world. Blogging invites unending possibilities for collaboration.
Another significant lesson I have embraced as a blogger is the power of reflection. Reflection, as defined by dictionary.com, is “a fixing of the thoughts on something; careful consideration.” By blogging, I have entered into a realm of reflection that is deeper and public. Often, I take a happening or moment from my day at home or in the classroom and I think further about it by writing a post. Just by the act of first reflecting, I have found myself then experiencing something else: questioning. My own experience is similar to the process that Scott Filkins, editor of NCTE inbox, refers to in his post: The Value of Questioning in Professional Growth. Scott writes about his process of discovering his need to formulate questions within classroom situations and acting on those questions. Blogging has been that first stepping stone in my personal learning journey. It initiates my thinking about an idea, which then leads me to question that idea, and later to act on it in the classroom. With this process, bloggers like Cathy, Ann Marie and Julie have strengthened my ability to reflect, question and act on my own teaching.
Learning is not about right or wrong, rather, it is discovering what you love, searching for more and creating with what you are learning along the way. Blogging has allowed me to discover my own voice, dabble in collaboration, reflect then make changes in my own practice and share my love of teaching and learning with others. Next: How can I begin this learning journey with my own students ?
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Stephanie Parsons has written a great resource for teachers called First Grade Writers. I especially love her unit of study on pattern books. This unit has helped my students begin to understand and feel successful noticing structures that authors and illustrators use to create a book. Studying different patterns connects so much of the thinkingwe are already doing as readers (noticing the repetition in text and the supports certain books have for early readers) and as mathematicians.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
As, I used my 33% off coupon at Borders to day to buy, Back to Bed, Ed! the gentleman at the register (who told me was a former school librarian) commented about how much he loved the illustrations in this book. I couldn't help but feel the same way as when I first eyed the book a few weeks ago.
Monday, October 11, 2010
My classroom library is filled with baskets of books. Books about superheroes, friendship, songs, cats, dogs, sports, trucks, family, animals and people. There are non-fiction baskets by topic, baskets of rhyming books, pattern books, math books and books sorted by author. Baskets work as an organizational tool, an anchor for partner reading, a tool for extending and building reading stamina and much more. Each time I read aloud a book (about 4-5 books a day), I talk about which basket the book comes from. I may model how to put it away or ask kids to think about which basket the book could be placed in.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
I fell in love with the book Love that Puppy by Jeff Jarka last year. I love how it steps kids into books with a graphic novel feel. Last year my students loved reading it, enjoying the silly antics of a little boy (Peter) who decides to become a dog. This year, I found myself using it during our picture study in writing workshop. The students and I noticed the many expressions Jarka creates using the characters in the story. The kids also noticed how he tells us more on one page of the story by organizing his pictures in boxes.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
This IKEA table is host to learning that we have going on in the classroom. During the first weeks of school, it held the plastic animals from animal bin. I also displayed the book Creature ABC ( which I love). It was a great place for many kids to play during student walk-through and begin to learn to cooperatively play with animals and blocks in the first few weeks of school.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
And, it completely amazes me that my students are already at home posting. I shouldn't be so struck because I know the thrill of blogging but it is incredible to witness their excitement as well as the community and connections already being formed in two, yes two short days.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Writing workshop has been running happily each day with kids loving time to write their ideas. Katie W Ray inspired me to try studying pictures in these beginning weeks of school after reading her book, In Pictures and In Words. I know the noticing students are participating in will only help them throughout the year as we investigate and read more books by great authors and illustrators. These first few weeks, I used much of what I noticed kids needing and wondering about to decide which picture books to study in workshop. The books that made the list are :
When I started blogging, I remember reading and reading blog posts until the wee hours of the night. I would find blogs I liked and explore their blogrolls. I have to admit, that until I began my pregame work for PLP, I really hadn't started to understand how rss works. I would connect to those in my blogroll (who were also in my google reader), connect to commenters on other posts, read posts that I was interested in from the tweets I perused in twitter and read around just bookmarking along the way. Bookmarking was only allowing me to keep the address of the blog tucked away. When would I remember to come back to read those blogs (even other bookmarks for that matter but that may be another post)?
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Don't know if you've enjoyed Pete the Cat but we have been totally loving him. The Kinders at our school made these awesome pictures of Pete in their favorite color shoes (shoot, forgot to take a picture) their illustrations are hanging outside our library for all to smile at and enjoy. My friend Maureen helped me with the idea that kids could create Pete in their own shoes. So, I am making a book about our names to have fun with Pete at the same time. Here are a couple pics before I put the book together. I decided to call it Pete's Wearing Our Shoes to keep it somewhat simple. The introductory page will say: "Pete the Cat is trying some new shoes. Is he wearing yours? " Each page will have repetitive text...Pete loves Mandy's shoes. Pete loves Jack's shoes, etc. Melanie has created a retelling kit and podcast using Pete the Cat. Have you shared some Pete fun? Share please!
Friday, September 17, 2010
In a few weeks, I begin one of my journeys in learning this year. I am excited be part of the Dublin cohort for Powerful Learning Practice (an opportunity for job embedded professional development). In fact, the learning has already begun with what Sheryl Nussbaum Beach describes as pre-game activities before our face to face kick off in October. Part of these pre-game activities is to share some of the expectations I have for my own learning this year and pose any questions that I am thinking about. So after completing some of the pre-game tasks I have been thinking...