Saturday, August 31, 2013


           I think it was last year when Betsy Hubbard began her end-of-the-month CHALK-A-BRATIONS on her blog, Teaching Young Writers.  It's been lots of fun seeing what and how people chalk.  Since I moved, I've been 'chalking' on my IPad with an app titled ChalkDraw.   Don't forget to go to Betsy's blog to see all the other links to Chalk-a-bration!  

Thursday, August 29, 2013

One Moment

             Tara Smith at A Teaching Life is our host for Poetry Friday.  Come visit all the links today! Thanks Tara!  Tweet at #PoetryFriday.  Have a nice holiday weekend everyone!

              David L. Harrison hosts several ideas for writing poetry on his website, including the Word of the Month. This month the W.O.M is 'train'.  When I sat to write, I thought I would write about my husband's father who was a Union Pacific engineer and told many stories about his travels.  However, the pencil traveled to a different story/memory.  Then, for last week's Poetry Friday, Jeannine Atkins wrote a beautifully inspiring post she termed "deepening", about revising one's poems.  It helped me do a little more with the poem.  If you missed Jeannine's post, return to read!  I'm not sure it's finished yet, but it is a poem I enjoyed writing, will enjoy sharing it.

Monday, August 26, 2013

About Students - Different Looks

Ruth and Stacey host this Tuesday Slice of Life on their blog, Two Writing Teachers, creating a wonderful writing community.  Hope you can join us, or at least come visit to read.  

       At my school, the core teachers have conferences with parents and students before school begins.  Before that, they’ve written letters to both, and received replies.  Both these things help teachers begin to understand their students, or to re-connect with those they’ve already had the previous year, well ahead of the first day of school.  I did this for years and by the end of Monday (students come Wednesday) my mind was swirling with information.  After all that, there is one more day and then WEDNESDAY.

       Although I already knew so much about my students, after Wednesday, there would be more added, important details filed away for contemplation, at least those that will help me plan for activities, certain social conversations, kinds of challenges, etc.  I realize that first impressions are not always correct, but teachers intuit certain things about their students, they are able to build upon that in order to enhance or to divert from it.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Good Reading-From Your Recommendations!

Thanks to Lee Ann Spillane at Portable Teacher for this nifty Monday Reading badge!

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is hosted by Jen at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTS.  And shared with Ricki and Kellee at UNLEASHING READERS.   
         And, also visit Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS that offers more reviews of all kinds of books, adult and children. 
 Tweet! at #IMWAYR

Thanks to Ricki, Kellee, Jen and Sheila for hosting so we can find great books to read! And to everyone who joins in for the terrific recommendations!

My Name Is Parvana – written by Deborah Ellis
         This is book four in the Breadwinner series, just out last year. It mostly finishes the story of Parvana, yet there will be a part of me that wishes for more about this courageous young woman whose life has been filled with danger almost always.  Ellis used flashbacks to keep any new readers informed of the past events of Parvana’s life, although I wonder if it was helpful?  When Ellis referred to some happening or other, I kept thinking there were so many other details to the event.  The book captures the months of the school started by Parvana’s mother after their reunion. We read about this controversial school for girls along with the flashbacks and then parallel with Parvana in a jail cell being interrogated. The story is filled with one tense moment after another.  And the surprise is that this time the “jailers” are American.  The “bad guys” through all the books have changed identities, yet to have them become my own fellow countrymen is shocking.  Deborah Ellis has written still one more part of an intriguing story, one that students can discuss in comparison to their own lives, hopes and dreams.  I imagine quite a lot of “what if” questions during discussions of this book. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

New Year-New Reading

            Poetry Friday is hosted today by Betsy at her wonderful new poetry site, I Think In Poems.  Thanks to Betsy, we'll be sharing our thoughts today, one of the last days before our students arrive.  

Flickr Creative Commons photo by Frank Douwes on Wikimedia Commons

            Back in April for Poetry Month, Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading began sharing photos from Wikimedia Commons, offering some lessons in respecting artists' property rights and property infringement, along with writing poems each day in response to the photo or other media.  I was hooked by the photos and sounds she shared, and with Mary Lee as a terrific mentor, I found I could write "something" most of the time and share in the comments.  There are a few poems I kept, but the images seem to have faded away, except for this one.  

             Here at the beginning of school as we talk about our reading goals and plans for students, and I observe the boxes of new books in the library, and many more in classrooms, I remember this photo, wondering how many children around the world wait for a book, and consider that a book, any book, is a treasure.  I think I will share this with students, and we will wonder together about this child in Tanzania reading a book! A former student has started a school in Kenya for girls, and has told me that many of the youngest students' "work" was combing the trash dumps for anything to sell at market. Perhaps we will explore ways to help others obtain books to love?

Here is what I wrote in April:


It’s market day.
I needed to find
a treasure to sell,
a piece of metal,
a toy to mend.
Instead I found
my own kind of gold,
and sat down
right then
to look.
                                                                   Linda Baie ©All Rights Reserved

Monday, August 19, 2013

A New Look at Learning

           Ruth and Stacey host the Tuesday Slice of Life on their blog, Two Writing Teachers.  Come visit!

             School is starting, and all of us are planning, planning, asking questions, making handouts, cutting out materials, and waiting!  Waiting for the most important thing, the students!  And how will they learn?  In a million ways.  I had a good evening Saturday with my granddaughter Ingrid who visited for a sleepover.  Our favorite thing, to eat at Noodles and go to Target.  I know that sounds rather funny to think that a trip to Target can be fun, but we go up and down the aisles looking at items, with Ingrid asking many, many questions.  What's that? How does it work?  Why are there so many _________ lamps, glasses, balls, vacuums, etc.?  This time I did purchase something for her, a scooter!  We planned to go to the little park near my home and rushed home to see how this new riding toy worked!  Well, we found out more than I had planned, and I learned something as a teacher, too.  When we got home, I realized that I would have to put the scooter together!  And, with Ingrid's help, we did!  

Sunday, August 18, 2013

One Terrific YA Novel, Plus!

Thanks to Lee Ann Spillane at Portable Teacher for this nifty Monday Reading badge!

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is hosted by Jen at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTS.  And shared with Ricki and Kellee at UNLEASHING READERS.  Come visit everyone to see what they're reading! 
         And, also visit Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS that offers more reviews of all kinds of books, adult and children. 
 Tweet! at #IMWAYR

Announcement!  It's time to think about the Cybils, the blogger's children's and young adult literary awards.  Information and applications for being a round one or round two judge can be found here on the Cybils blog.  I was a judge for the first time last year and loved the experience.  I know many of you are so knowledgeable about these categories, so check out the explanation and give it a try!  


This Place I Know, Poems of Comfort – Reviewed Friday-the link is here

Chapter Books

Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of The Universe – written by Benjamin Alire Saenz  
          It takes a long time for children to grow into adults.  We who are adults think it goes very fast, but for teenagers, it seems like an eternity.  For Dante and Aristotle, the two protagonists in this story, it is not only a long, long time, but also a painful journey sometimes.  Ari (Aristotle) says in one part of the book: “I wanted to feel those words in my mouth as I spoke them aloud.  Words could be like food—they felt like something in your mouth.  They tasted like something.  ‘My brother is in prison.’ Those words tasted bitter.” Without any giveaways, the book is not only about boys growing up, but about families respecting that those boys are growing up and need more than love, they need “words”.  I realize that’s mysterious, but I don’t want to tell anything about the book, I want you to read it!  It’s a celebration of all the wonderful shades of life’s events, a book filled with special characters as well as very special moments. I won this book a few weeks ago and I'm so happy I did! 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Anthology for Hope

Lisa, at Steps and Staircases is hosting today.  Stop by!

I often find poetry anthologies new to me at my library or through reviews.  Today I'd like to share a rather old one with poems selected by Georgia Heard one year after the September 11 attacks titled This Place I Know, poems of comfort.  The poems were selected to help those children who witnessed that terrible violence and for all who, in the book jacket's words, need a bit of comfort and hope.  Each poem is illustrated by an accomplished artist as well.  It's a beautiful book, and I just happened to see it at my library recently and it's been on my TBR pile.  Of course I can't share the poems in their entire, but thought I might share lines from a few, and links to some, to persuade you to find the book to enjoy the words and beautiful art.  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

One Thing - All Year

Ruth and Stacey host this Tuesday Slice of Life on their blog, Two Writing Teachers, creating a terrific community.  Hope you can join us, or at least put up your feet for a while and visit some of those who've written today.  It's good to have an audience!

It's time to begin school again, and I had one conversation today about building community, one priority for preparation for the new school year.  There is so much more to prepare, and I know that all of you teachers are working hard to get ready.  You're in the midst of a flurry of prep, or perhaps you've just started.  I want to bring up one topic today that is important to me as both a teacher of students and a coach of teachers.  

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Monday Reading - Terrific Both Old & New

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is hosted by Jen at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTS.  And shared with Ricki and Kellee at UNLEASHING READERS.  Come visit everyone to see what they're reading! 
         And, also visit Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS that offers more reviews of all kinds of books, adult and children. 
 Tweet! at #IMWAYR

Chapter Books

          Twerp – written by Mark Goldblatt
            These sixth graders, this group who hangs at Ponzini, a vacant lot so named because of an old man who lives near, are interesting.  It’s not always easy to know that twelve year old boys think so much, but Mark Goldblatt has shown us a boy named Julian, one who is not perfect, but thoughtful and vulnerable and silly enough in his immaturity that makes you want to cry.  I taught middle school students for a lot of years, and when people laughed and asked me why I did it, it was because of students like Julian.  Many times I met him (or her) trying hard to figure out how life worked, needing some help many times, but I had to be sneaky.  Julian has a sneaky teacher for language arts who, after the group was suspended for doing something awful to a neighborhood boy, made Julian begin to write about it.  And that is the book, Julian’s story of his life with his friends and with his sister, and his first experience with girls.  It’s poignant and fresh and really, really true to life.  Julian figures some good things out that give us hope for him in his future life.  I am reminded of Gary Schmidt’s books The Wednesday Wars and Okay for Now, also books that show such thoughtful boys who are figuring out how to grow up well.  I loved the book.

Friday, August 9, 2013

It's Picture Book 10 for 10 Day!

Cathy Mere (Reflect andRefine) and Mandy Robek (Enjoy andEmbrace Learning) are hosting our favorite PB(picture books) 10 for 10 sharing today! There is amazing sharing, your lists will grow!

       It’s actually hard not to share the books I’ve shared before here and here; they are still favorites, but here are ten more.  This time I focused on the goal of sharing stories that show diversity in some way.  It is important to me to show students that there are many kinds of people who accomplish wonderful things in different ways.  It’s a good thing to celebrate differences.

Lingering At The Beach

    Renee LaTulippe at NoWaterRiver is hosting us today for Poetry Friday.  Come see what wonderful things she has for us, plus visit all the other Poetry LInks!  Thanks Renee!

            The senses seem to be so much more important when visiting the beach.  I have recently returned from a week on Captiva Island and am still there in a way, can’t stop thinking about what a wonderful time I had with my family on the ocean shore.  It is a special place to be.  I envy those of you who are near water, or who can make it to the ocean rather quickly.   I’ve been to many oceans, with family and with students.  I have had the pleasure of introducing them to students who had never traveled so far from Colorado and now to my two young granddaughters. 

Now, they know

Monday, August 5, 2013

Slicing From The Beach

Tuesday Slice of Life-hosted by Ruth and Stacey at Two Writing Teachers-Come visit!
       Back from my vacation to Captiva Island.  Here are a few slices of sweet stuff for you to enjoy.  I took my favorite ocean book along, Henry Beston's The Outermost House.  His words: The seas are the heart's blood of the earth.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Recent Good Reads!

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is hosted by Jen at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTS.  And shared with Ricki and Kellee at UNLEASHING READERS.  These sites host a meme where many link up to share the book's reading the week previous.  It's always fun to visit other's sites to hear what they're reading!  And, also visit Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS that offers more reviews of all kinds of books, adult and children. 
           Don't forget to tweet!  #IMWAYR

Announcing!  Cathy Mere (Reflect and Refine) and Mandy Robek (Enjoy and Embrace Learning) host a favorite PB(picture books) 10 for 10 sharing on Aug. 10th-amazing sharing, your lists will grow!

And-Kellee and Ricki (of Unleashing Readers above) served on the award committee for 2013 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award for Young Adult Fiction.  You can read about the winners and the honor awards here on the ALAN site.  The winner is The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.  I'm happy to say that Endangered by Eliot Schrefer (reviewed below) is a finalist!

Chapter Books

            Beholding Bee – written by Kimberley Newton Fusco
            It’s not an easy thing to tell about a story without telling you ‘all’ of the story, especially when it’s as sweet and satisfying as this one was.  For all the children who feel “different”, who are ridiculed even by those who only stare, this is a book to treasure.  We follow the strong protagonist, Beatrice (Bee), who lives with Pauline in the back of a hauling truck as they work for a traveling carnival during World War II.  And Bee is allowed to stay because she has a diamond-shaped birthmark that covers a big part of her face, and Ellis the carny owner has big plans to ‘show’ her when she gets older.  Pauline is caring for Bee because her parents were killed in a car accident when she was very young. For an eleven year old, Bee has already had a number of tough things happen to her, but also some good things.  Pauline is a thoughtful young woman who makes you feel good that she actually decided to take the responsibility for raising a child.