Sunday, September 30, 2012

Good Discoveries This Week!

This post connects to a kidlit meme hosted by Jen and Kellee at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTS.  Come link to their blog to check out all the terrific reviews by others.  
          It's Monday! What are you Reading? is another meme hosted by Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS where many others share Kidlit and adult books read.
           If you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag#IMWAYR when sharing your link!

     I didn't find time to finish a long book this week because of time and because I received The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater and stopped reading my other books to start it.  So far, good beginning!  I did manage one audio book and some picture books, new and old, some fun and some maybe's.  

True (…Sort Of by Katherine Hannigan 
          All right then… Those words are used so sweetly in this book that I needed to begin with them.  They wrap the story around us, the readers, like a hug.  And then there is a whole new vocabulary, like Deli-icious and Chisel (an un-cuss word), or SurPresent, a gift one is surprised by.  I listened to this book during the past two weeks. The main character, Delly Pattison is a pre-teen with a temper who is constantly getting in trouble, and it seemed to be a long while before things started to move.  The Boyd family comes to town, and that is when different things happen, most often good.  Perhaps if I had read the print book, I would have hurried through those early pages in order to find the real story, which involved another girl who didn’t speak, a boy with a stutter, Deli’s sweet little brother CB, and a bully.  One crisis happened and then a final one, but this young woman, Deli, who was so mischievous, turned out to be a lovely and thoughtful person whose words brought tears.  It is a book that could be a good read aloud, so that the early mischief could be discussed and then those subtle turnings--that the author wrote beautifully--could be a good experience for the class.  Much to discuss in all the book! 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

100,000 Poets

Marjorie at PaperTigers is our host today the last of September's Poetry Fridays.  I hope you all have a good time reading everyone's sharing. 

Tabatha at  The Opposite of Indifference asked others to contribute a poem to commemorate 100 Thousand Poets for change, which officially occurs on Sept. 29th.  It's a world-wide gathering of poets for social, environmental and political change.  My poem comes from both loss of loved ones to war and pride in those who fought (fight) for us.  It is with mixed feelings that I write.


Whose mother cries for them, what wife sighs for them?
Now, offer prayers to the children who yearn for them.

And what of the soldiers who think of their homes;
they sigh as they dream, through the memories roam.

Peaceful for those times they’re able to rest
before going on duty, and put to the test.

They feel warmth and kinship for family afar
keep photos in pockets, sugar in a jar.

And at home, the mothers, and children and wives,
are working so hard to carry on with their lives.

They're keeping the futures wrapped close for the making
for one day when finally war memories are fading.

photo credit: The U.S. Army via photopin cc

Monday, September 24, 2012

More Slow-More Learning

The Tuesday Slice of Life is hosted by Ruth and Stacey at Two Writing Teachers.  Go look, read, and reflect!

Yesterday I wrote my post about books read last week, including this in an introduction to a new picture book shared by a friend and colleague:  One of my colleagues has chosen to do a 'food' year with her primary students. They will study gardens, growing in the wild, different cultures, cooking, and any other topic connected to food. We share many picture books and I count it as a pleasure whenever I can find a book about food that she doesn't know. I learn a lot from her about books, but also about teaching the youngest students in our school.  I am always grateful when I talk with her because she shows such intention in her teaching.  Each thing she does has a reason to "be" in her classroom and in her work with students. My talks with her make me think about my own ideas, enhance them and sometimes change them.  

      Some time in the past I wrote a post titled "good teaching is a conversation".   I have the pleasure of many conversations with colleagues because that is my job, and I end my days reflecting on those words, taking notes on the learning that I've done just through the talk.    
      While considering these ideas, it is my hope that as much as possible, everyone will take the time to slow down and talk with colleagues, ones next door and those on the other sides of your buildings.  Sharing teaching ideas, reasons why, good parts and not so good are ways we can grow in our teaching without spending one dime on workshops or professional books, although those are of value too.  The professionals, remember, are right there in the building with you. Please take time to experience some of those slices-of-life conversations I'm describing.
photo credit: mrsdkrebs via photopin cc

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Amazing Picture Books This Week

          This post connects to a kidlit meme hosted by Jen and Kellee at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTS.  Come link to their blog to check out all the terrific reviews by others.  
          It's Monday! What are you Reading? is another meme hosted by Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS where many others share all kinds of books they are reading.
           If you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag#IMWAYR when sharing your link!

        Finishing Choice Words by Peter H. Johnston this week seems so appropriate because I also read five marvelous picture books, with "choice words" indeed. Don't miss any of the following books!  They entertained, made me think, and offered new ways to approach several different topics.  I am grateful to the authors and illustrators for their fine work.

And The Soldiers Sang – J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Gary Kelley

It's difficult for me to think that people could read this book and not realize that war is terrible, and nothing heroic can change that. It's such a gorgeous book, both story and the haunting art by Gary Kelley. I was teary by the end, and read it twice more. Go find this book and read it. And then you will realize the craft of the words, although also sad, and the beauty of the illustrations. It is poetry: "In November, grief arrived on the second hand, by sniper, shell, sleet, and snow." A young soldier tells the story in what he says is his "gilded daybook, his father's parting gift" The daybook serves another poignant purpose in the story, which you will see when you read it. Great book.

We All Went On Safari A Counting Journey through Tanzania – Laurie Krebs, illustrated by Julia Cairns

A wonderful new counting book takes readers on a journey through Tanzania, learning about the animals that live there and some names that are given to the children by the Masaai natives whose home is there. Beautiful and colorful illustrations are painted in bright primary colors with children walking along 'on safari' as they observe the animals on the journey. The backmatter is extensive, offering a short piece about the Maasai people, more Swahili words like the animal names along with the meaning of the children's names. It's a good book for beginners to learn about people from other countries.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Best Words - With a Little Sugar

Renee LaTulippe at No Water River is our wonderful host today on Poetry Friday.  She is extra sweet today because she is offering a candy bowl of treats, both from her own tasty words and from others who are joining her party.  Come join her.
 I brought some candy to share at your party, Renee!

Since Renee has shared the list of the Cybils’ Poetry Judges, I won’t repeat the list, but want to say I’m thrilled to be a part of this group, and looking forward to reading some of the best poetry that will arrive in the new year from the first round judges.  I know I'll learn a lot from my group members!

My poetry becomes mixed fare as I write.  It’s a goulash of school, home and family as I reflect upon the events of my life.  Lately I’ve been reading a book titled Choice Words, by Peter H. Johnston who offers strong arguments and numerous examples of how our words as teachers affect students’ growth.  As I read, I imagine my own scenarios throughout my teaching, wondering when and if I used the best words, in the best order.  If that sounds familiar, it’s because it's a definition of poetry by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  And so I take that definition this time to apply to teacher talk instead of poetry, learning from another educator about those ‘best words’. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Take It Slow!

The Tuesday Slice of Life is hosted by Ruth and Stacey at Two Writing Teachers.  Go look, and read, and reflect!

On August 15th, Ruth Ayres posted a piece about slowing down.  I don’t print every post I like, but this one I did, and have used parts of it when I talk with my colleagues.  It is mostly about taking the time to tell stories, giving support for everyone that, in Ruth’s words: You have a story to tell.  You have the ability to tell it.  Others need to hear it too.  

Those are important and inspiring words, yet the ones that also resonated with me were to slow down and pay attention to the message we are trying to send.  And there is a poem, “A Lazy Thought” by Eve Merriam shared by the first commenter that ends like this:  It takes a lot/Of slow/To Grow.  You can read the entire poem on Ruth’s post.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Book Discoveries- Um, um, good!

This post is part of a kidlit meme hosted by Jen and Kellee at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTS.  Come link to their blog to check out all the terrific reviews by others.  
          It's Monday! What are you Reading? is another meme hosted by Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS where many others share all kinds of books they are reading.
           If you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag #IMWAYR when sharing your link!

My Name Is Bilal      by Asma Mobin-Uddin, illus. by Barbara Kiwak
There aren't many picture books that I have found that include background cultural history of Muslim children and the challenges faced today by doing things different than the other kids in school. This is a book that does just that. It is a good story of two US born kids who change schools and find they seem to be the only Muslims. There is a bullying incident, a lesson learned and a good ending. I am less positive about the ending because it seemed too quick to be realistic. Yet, the book offers good opportunities for conversation and learning. The illustrations are well done, realistic acrylic painting I think.

Stitchin' and Pullin': A Gee's Bend Quilt - Patricia C. McKissack, illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera

I recently read and loved Leaving Gee's Bend by Irene Latham, a book that shows a different background than the usual discovery and resulting museum displays about the community of Gee's Bend. This picture book, illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera, is beautifully done, giving just enough of the story to help us become more interested in the intriguing story of the people of Gee's Bend and of the quilts they created. It tells of rites of passage as well as traditions, of loving homes and legacies.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Opposites Inside

Thanks to Diane Mayr at Random Noodling for being our host today for Poetry Friday.  The round-up is there if you want to join us.  Diane says "Yee ha!"  So come on over.

          And also thanks to Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect for her Monday poetry lessons, suggesting a new challenge for writing each Monday.  On this day, she wrote about the structure of a trimeric, which I tried.  I have written about our drought here in Colorado and across the US several times this summer, so again I did, using Tricia's idea.  Then, two nights ago, it rained, starting in the middle of the night, lasting until about lunch time. Heaven in a raindrop!  For today's sharing, I offer my wet and dry trimerics.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Slices of Life Aren't Always Easy

Tuesdays, the Slice of Life Community is hosted by Ruth and Stacey at Two Writing Teachers.

      Some of you know that my husband has Parkinson’s Disease with Lewy Body Dementia.  It is not a good thing to have. This past year has been very tough.  Because of his decline, I’ve had to place him in a nursing home because I could no longer care for him.  Most recently, he has been sick with a UTI (urinary tract infection), evidently the plague of elder people at risk with other health problems.  So the slice of my life since last Thursday has been in a hospital, helping with my husband’s care, especially trying to wake him up enough to try to eat something.   Then reading or writing while he slept, which was most of the time. 
      Hospitals create their own worlds, I have realized, with special rules and communities, people who wear badges hanging around their necks, and people who laugh when they can because much of the time they could be crying.  There are computers for each patient in the rooms and a phone that I can call the nurse with instead of a button pushed.  Each nurse and nurse assistant carry pager phones.  Tech has entered this world. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Good Books Make My Days

Jen and Kellee host this kidlit meme at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTS.  If you want to read about good books, come look.
          It's Monday! What are you Reading? is another meme hosted by Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS where many others share all kinds of books they are reading.
If you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag #IMWAYR when sharing your link!

Dead End In Norvelt by Jack Gantos
       I listened to Jack Gantos read this, his Newbery winner that treats history like a winner, too. It took me a while to enter into the story, but I soon realized the deeper meaning Gantos was telling us readers. It's a coming of age, pay-attention-to-the-past, crazy story about a boy named Jack, his neighbor down the road charged by Eleanor Roosevelt herself to take care of the town and Jack's Parents so at odds with each other, but still so loving. Spicy mixtures make good stories, and this will make the taste buds tickle.

Anne Frank, The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon
       It's hard to believe one can like a book that offers information I've already known. This graphic story brings everyone to life differently, from the artist's view, and I loved how each frame revealed another aspect of this family's story, and also more about Anne. A favorite book is still the one by Miep Gies, who served as the link to the outside, but this is now number two.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Poetry Friday Time - Evening's Gift

       Always creative Katya is our host for Poetry Friday today.  Check out everyone's posts at her blog, Write.Sketch.Repeat.  Thanks for hosting, Katya.

Evening's Gift
I sat out tonight, savoring the cool air
and there, there
moving by my fence,
trotting, slowing, stopping,
right there at the cottonwood -
a fox.
Smaller than I’ve seen before.
I held my breath.
So close.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

About Poop! A Review

           I visited Teach Mentor Texts this morning and found they were participating in non-fiction picture book Wednesday, a meme hosted by  Kid Lit Frenzy and The Nonfiction Detectives.   I'm not sure I'll always have a non-fiction book to review, but I just finished a wonderful one and wanted to share with everyone.   Please visit Kid Lit Frenzy and The Nonfiction Detectives to see what non-fiction others have to share, too. 

 I’ve long wished to travel to Venice, a most romantic-sounding city, but I wouldn’t have wanted to go there in the 1700’s.  Sarah Albee, writer of Poop Happened! A History of The World From The Bottom Up tells us that Venice’s concert halls, where the music of Vivaldi, Handel, Bach, and Mozart are being played, there were no bathroom facilities at all.  People simply relieved themselves wherever they wanted. She also asks the reader to  Imagine what the concert hall must have smelled like after a three-hour performance.
This book is almost 200 pages of pure, interesting information, yet unfortunately it tells a woeful tale of polluted waterways, homes, rivers, and air—past and present. And it takes hundreds of years and many pages to get to the life-saving discoveries of microbes begun by the work of a Dr. John Snow, carried further by Louis Pasteur, and concluded with the isolation of the cholera microbe by a German Scientist, all this in the late 1800’s. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Online Tools Take Time - But Reward too

Ruth and Stacey at Two Writing Teachers host the slice of life community each Tuesday.  Come join us!

         Some things at school have changed so much since my return to teaching (a long while ago).  I remember when we first were able to get online that I told students that they must spend time using the Internet for their research.  Now I would say they should find a certain number of print sources.  The learning curve for teachers, in addition to all the other tasks, is huge.  
Most of this new learning has happened because of the Internet and the possibilities of reaching a much wider world more easily.  I don’t think I need to reiterate the many ways that teachers can support students in the new kinds of communication of whatever they want to say.   Sometimes when I search I find it overwhelming.  Is this the best one?  How does this work?  Does it require e-mails?  Is there enough choice in creating? 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Books Rarely Disappoint

Jen and Kellee host this kidlit meme atTEACH.MENTOR.TEXTS.  If you want to read about good books, come look.

          It's Monday! What are you Reading? is another meme hosted by Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS where many others share all kinds of books they are reading.

        If you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag #IMWAYR when sharing your link!

Small As An Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
        The story is similar to One For The Murphys by Linda Lullaly Hunt.  It is poignant, about eleven year old boy Jack whose mother cannot care for him, yet does love him very much. It is also filled with danger, and a constant reader’s anxiety for Jack.   His mother makes bad parental choices because she is bi-polar, and evidently has during much of the boy’s young life, we learn as he tries to figure out the memories he has during what he calls her ‘spinning’ times.  The story shows that this time, however, she has gone too far, and leaves him in a campground while they’re on vacation.  He is determined to return home (Massachusetts from Maine), but through his mis-adventures, actually is able to figure out some truths about his life.  The elephant connection threads its way through the story in different events that have been memorable to Jack.  If only children in crisis could figure out that they are not alone, as these words say in the final pages of the book:  “All along the way, Jack realized, he had never really been alone.  He had been part of a makeshift herd, one that had spread out over miles.  They had communicated with heart sounds that were sometimes so soft, they weren’t always discernible to the ear.  But they had found one another, and they had helped one another.  Just like a true herd.”

Declaration of Interdependence – Janet Wong  
         I was fortunate to have won this book sometime in the summer, but admit that I have not read it all the way through until recently.  The coming election has me looking for good texts to share, and these poems by Janet Wong will certainly be one source for lively discussions and writing in the coming weeks.  She covers so much political territory, both about the importance (We The People) and the craziness of voting (The 2012 Iowa Caucus), the challenge of all working together (The Whole Team) and a favorite (Winners and Losers) which begins “I was excited for a minute--/I thought my guy could win it!”.  And when the poems end, there are numbers of pages with quick-write ideas to craft one’s own poem, and a call to share ideas on the blog site for Declaration of Interdependence.  It’s a terrific anthology for this, our election year.

The Arrow Finds Its Mark, A Book of Found Poems – Georgia Heard, editor, illustrated by Antoine Guilloppé
        I finally read through this cover to cover and found so many ideas to share with students.  What a great idea to empower their observational skills when they read, anywhere!  Wonderful poets that we know and love have used their creative powers to find poems in such places as Facebook (Charles Waters), a lasertag results report (Robyn Hood Black), the book, Drawing On Both Sides of The Brain (Amy Ludwig VanDerwater), and a road sign (Laura Purdie Salas).  Other poets like Georgia Heard,  add their own creative powers too in addition to these wonderful poets who contribute to Poetry Friday.