Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Must Reads-Books Needing Love-2015

                  Carrie Gelson of There's A Book for That and Maria Selke of Maria's Melange started us down the path of giving love to all the books that came before, the ones we have on shelves, but still haven't been read! There is a small group of us that shared lists titled #MustReadIn2014. You can view that list if you click on the title on the bar above. I've read 13 of the 26 I listed. Someday I may read them all, but maybe not. For whatever reason, I haven't had/taken the time for them. Here is my list for 2015, hashtag #mustreadin2015!  I'm hopeful that I will read more than this past year's list showed. I have moved a few of the books from last year's list to this one!
Thanks for the nudge, Carrie & Maria!

All The Answers - Kate Messner
Navigating Early - Claire Vanderpool
Seraphina - Rachel Hartman
The True Blue Scouts of Sugarman Swamp - Kathi Appelt
Grasshopper Jungle - Andrew Smith
Shadow Throne - Jennifer Nielsen
Half A Chance - Cynthia Lord
Blue Lily, Lily Blue - Maggie Stiefvater
Where Things Come Back - John Corey Whaley
Love, Amelia - Alma Flor Ada
The Great Trouble - Deborah Hopkinson
The Red Pencil - Andrea Davis Pinkney
Winger - Andrew Smith
Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets - Evan Roskos
March - Lewis, Aydin, Powell
How I Discovered Poetry - Marilyn Nelson
for adults
Dog Songs - Mary Oliver
Quiet - Susan Cain
All The Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr

for professional development

Nonfiction Notebooks - Aimee Buckner
What We See When We Read - Peter Mendelsund

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Final Books - A Great Year of Reading

           It's the final Monday of the year, time to share the latest books and link to our hosts: Jen at TeachMentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing ReadersSheila at Book Journeys started a meme to share all kinds of books read each Monday, then Kellee, Ricki and Jen formed theirs for only children's lit. Come visit, and tweet at #IMWAYR.
     If you haven't seen it, here is the 2015 challenge by Gathering Books. It's always fun to participate in another reading challenge. Check it out! I'm aiming for level four- over 35 award winning books!

            Here's what I've read in the past week. Vacation, even with family visiting, offers lots of wonderful time for reading!

The Family Romanov – written by Candice Fleming
           This has been a great book to read over break, with long stretches of time to digest all the information about the tragedy of Tsar Nicholas and his family. I use the word tragedy because in the way he was presented here by Ms. Fleming, he seemed weak and stupid to me. I kept hoping he would literally “see the light”, yet he clung to the advice of his beloved and trusted wife, Alexandra. And you know how touched, then heavily influenced she was by the “starets” (Russian work for prophet) also known as Gregory Rasputin. If it weren’t so terrible for millions of Russians who died of either starvation or the war, I might hold some sympathy, but the years under the Tzarist rule as well as then Lenin and Stalin were never kind to the ordinary citizens. The story is fascinating to read and contemplate. Amazingly, at the end, I find that some of this story is still not complete!  You’ll need to read to discover what is still continuing.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Our Light Bouquet

Time for the weekly Slice of Life at the Two Writing Teachers blog.  Tweet at #SOL14  

       Thanks to Stacey, Tara, Dana, Beth, Anna and Betsy for the spectacular year of posts at Two Writing teachers. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to everyone!

        I posted last Saturday about a special ending we have before my school departs for our winter break, and here is part of what I said:
          There are a variety of special days that our families celebrate this time of year, and some do not celebrate any holiday; however, we do believe that light is important in all of our lives. Every year, each class and other groups (like the trip teachers, math and music teachers, etc.) creates a display of some kind that shows ways that something or someone lights up our lives. 

          This time I've added more photos of different ways some of the classes shared who or what brought light into their lives. I wanted this 'repeat' because it feels like an important part of including everyone in celebrations especially during this time of year.  I found a quote of Muslim origin that speaks to this: “A lot of different flowers make a bouquet.”  My hope for all is that you find light in numerous ways in your lives.

Click for full screen to read the captions!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Grateful for Book Love

      I'm grateful each Monday for the sharing of books that happens because of the following blogs:

Sheila at Book Journeys
Jen at TeachMentorTexts
Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers

          Thanks to these tireless hosts and all of those who link up, my pocketbook is empty, but my reading life is rich!  Happiest of holidays to you all!

The following book meets the challenge made by 2014Latin@s in Kid Lit (See the button on the right to explore this terrific blog resource.)

What The Moon Saw - written by Laura Resau

          Fourteen-year-old Clara Luna has never met her grandparents. Her father left them in their small village in Mexico to find a better living in the U.S., has never returned, and now those grandparents have sent an invitation for Clara to visit. What happens to her and what she discovers about herself in the months of the visit is the story told beautifully by Laura Resau. The chapters alternate between Clara’s story when she discovers she is a healer, and then her abuelita’s, also a healer. It’s self-discovery, adventure, with a little romance included despite the clash in culture. At first, I wondered how a girl from the suburbs could possibly make it in this tiny village with small  huts for sleeping and cooking only. The spiritual aspect of the story also entices. It’s almost as if we are in a dream, with Laura’s gorgeous language. Here’s one short part as Clara first tastes mushrooms on her pizza: “Usually mushrooms taste like dirt to me, but these taste like forest secrets.” The book is worth the experience of different ways of living, and looking hard at self as well as being present. I loved it!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Welcoming Winter, Celebrating Light

          Thanks to Ruth Ayres at Discover, Play, Build we celebrate our week of special moments.

Tweet at #CelebrateLu

Amazing things happen in our final week before the vacation begins: our holiday walk on Monday, two good work days on Tuesday and Wednesday, the staff party, the students' breakfast on Thursday, and the Celebration of Light.  I am also grateful for the wonderful parent support I've received from the parents of my new students. 
   There are a variety of special days that families celebrate this time of year, and some do not celebrate any holiday; however, we do know that light is important in every life. Every year, each class and group (like the trip teachers, math and music teachers, etc.) create a display of some kind that shows various ways that something or someone lights up our lives. Today is the last day of fall, and then the winter solstice, a special day to many throughout the world. Here are a few pictures of different ways some of the classes shared who or what brought light into their lives.
My students created a box home sculpture, lit them, and wrote how their homes provided light in their lives.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Poetry Holiday

        Join all Poetry Friday bloggers at Buffy's Blog today. No matter what holiday you celebrate, it's a lovely time of year for gathering.

        You may know Ursula Fanthorpe (known as UA Fanthorpe), but I discovered some of her work just a few years ago, and enjoy her new-to-me look at some treasures of life. This piece in The Telegraph shares three of her poems, and that she began writing Christmas poems for friends in 1974, and sent them in her yearly Christmas cards. You can find a collection of these poems in Christmas Poems: BC:AD here

Here's a favorite poem by UA Fanthorpe for Christmas:


This was the moment when Before
Turned into After, and the future's
Uninvented timekeepers presented arms.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Pondering Wandering

Time for the weekly Slice of Life at the Two Writing Teachers blog.  Tweet at #SOL14  

       Thanks to Stacey, Tara, Dana, Beth, Anna and Betsy for all the support in this community.

at my old cabin
         Time to consider a new one little word, and to reflect upon the year past with my word, wander.  Merriam-Webster states that wander means “to move around or go to different places usually without having a particular purpose or direction.”  Although I have wandered to other places this year, usually with intent: the All-Write in Indiana (to see and be with online friends, to learn), to Missouri with daughter and all three grandchildren (road trip to see my brother and family), and to Pennsylvania to join a poetry group (writing, writing), I feel that those trips and others closer to home still mean “wandering”.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Book Love on Monday

         Thanks Sheila, for starting Book Journeys, so Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Ricki and Kellee at Unleashing Readers can start It's Monday! What Are You Reading?-such fun, such a lot of books to love!
                 Tweet at #IMWAYR
         Before the holidays are over, I'd like share two books for you to enjoy if you celebrate Christmas.

Santa Clauses, Short Poems from the North Pole – written by Bob Raczka and illustrated by Chuck Groenink
             This can serve as a marvelous countdown to the 25th; however, you can just find the book and enjoy it in one sitting, too. Raczka has written 26 haiku to share in the countdown to Christmas, and what beautiful ones they are, accompanied by detailed, nostalgic illustrations. One thing that is wonderful is the way Mrs. Claus is included in some of both the story and the pictures. Another is that there are a few pages showing Santa reading, one time alone, last minutes of the day? And another reading to the reindeer. Santa and Mrs. Claus are a loving couple. Raczka writes—for Dec. 18th page: “Mrs. Claus and I/wrapped neatly in our bed quilts—
matching packages.” The end papers are filled with Christmasy images, like candy canes and bells.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Celebrating, Still & Again

             Thanks to Ruth Ayres at Discover, Play, Build we celebrate our week of special moments.

       Choosing the many gems of the week to celebrate is just fun. The week was good, the weather was back to t-shirt weather (although ending Sunday with snow), and Friday capped it off with decorating my tree with Ingrid. We had so much fun I forgot to take a picture!
        I don't get to spend as much time with my youngest granddaughter, Imogene, because of being so busy (them and me) and our schedules don't always coincide. But she spent last Sunday afternoon with me, went to school to help me do some work, and we played outside for a while, with shadows, walking around the grounds looking at dried flowers and seed pods, and climbing some of the big rocks. She is a little elf, and such fun, a true 3 1/2 year old!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Poetry Friday Appreciating

        Paul Hankins, at These 4 Corners, is hosting us on Poetry Friday today. Thanks Paul!

            I'm back in the classroom again, have written a number of times about it, the pleasure of being with students all day, and the challenges of moving into the rhythm of teaching full time again. Today, I'd like to share my writing with students about a perfect morning. 
Best view in the school. 

Glad To Be Back

Mozart helps us nestle--
contented students.
Gray clouds hover outside,
sleet spits at the windows;
small murmurings and
brain clouds float inside.
A chair scrapes. Someone coughs.
A student sighs; I wonder why. 
They sit at computers,
fingers tapping.
Others journal,
pencils scratching.
Quiet voices wing in from the hall:
“Hey, great to see you, how are you all?”
Time to move, and re-sharpen pencils
for workshop gathering at the carpet.
Sharing words, sharing dreams.
Everyone's still thinking hard,

even before lunch.
Linda Baie ©All Rights Reserved

Monday, December 8, 2014

Newest Learning

Time for the weekly Slice of Life at the Two Writing Teachers blog.  Tweet at #SOL14  

       Thanks to Stacey, Tara, Dana, Beth, Anna and Betsy for the special support of this community!

        I started this year in my fifth year as the Literacy Coach, and two months later, I'm back handling a classroom again. Some things have been amusing, some startling. I soon realized in the early days that I was in a different mindset as a coach than as a teacher. Oh, I'm still coaching, but there are those other things I had forgotten:
          First, it suddenly occurred to me that I had to do recess duty! While I don't dislike it, I just hadn't remembered to go.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Bunch of Fun - Monday Reading

       Thanks to Sheila at Book Journeys It's Monday! What are you Reading? was started. For adult and children's books, check out Sheila's blog posts and links!               
         Later, Jen of Teach Mentor Texts and Ricki and Kellee at Unleashing Readers started another group with a children's focus.  
                                                                  Visit all the links for reading ideas!

Tweet at #IMWAYR

            I loved all the books I finished this week, and have some wonderful new books from the library waiting. Although I'm so busy, I have been reading...
            Winter Bees, and Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen
was reviewed on Poetry Friday, here.  It's gorgeous non-fiction poetry, with side pieces of extra info!

A Bird On Water Street – by Elizabeth O. Dulemba
                  A historical fiction novel about Jack, a thirteen year old destined to follow his father, and grandfather into the copper mines in Coppertown, but all he really wants is to see the green of trees, and to hear the birds sing. It’s a rather low-key book considering the serious theme, the dangers to the environment and to humans from the pollution of mining. It chronicles life in a real-life town in this industrial mining town in Tennessee, and the everyday adventures of these young adults. There are photographs of the way a real town looks during the mining, absolutely no vegetation, no birds, insects or other living creatures. Even fish in the streams are gone.  Life is spare, but the characters come to life in everyday happenings, music Fridays, Sunday church, and boys going sledding on cardboard. I found it a little slow, but compelling in that I wanted to find out what was going to happen when Jack’s father and other miners went on strike. There is that story, and further true information in the author’s note.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Whoosh of A Week!

   Thanks to Ruth Ayres at Discover, Play, Build we celebrate the week of special moments.
 The time at school before the holidays fills and fills. It's like a holiday basket overflowing each and every day. Last week I celebrated family time during our time of Thanksgiving. This week I'm celebrating my week with students, working each day to complete projects for their units, read their books, preparing for different "events" that happen in the final week before winter break. 
         Students in my school study different topics independently, and here is what some of the students worked on this week: a blueprint of a house model that will soon be created, a report of the events in the 20th century that caused changes in fashion. an editorial about social media effects on friendships, models of energy-wasting parts of vehicles and possible 'fixes' for them, and plans for a public art piece to be painted in a school stairway. You can see why individual conferences, lists and lists of materials needed are on all of our minds. It was a good, settled week of work for most, including some reading, writing, and art as well. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Delightful Winter Bees

       Poetry Friday on this first December Friday is with Anastasia Suen here!

         I know others have spoken of this new poetry written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Rick Allen, and I, too, want to add my own words of praise for Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold.
        There is delight in looking at Rick Allen's paintings, so filled with color and action that even the snowflakes seem to drift off the page. And the fox makes me shiver as it smells the vole underground.
        The pictures in the book celebrate Joyce Sidman's poems, inviting others to gather, to share in the words of winter. Each one holds its own surprises of different structure and content.  I love the moose: "I bask in the moon/as the coyotes croon/with my moose-mama close by my side." And those bees, "Deep in the winter hive,/we burn like a golden sun." My favorite line, with the chickadees: "The sun wheels high, the cardinal trills./We sip the drips of icicles."

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Wednesday-non-fiction fun

 You can find favorite non-fiction picture books every Wednesday with Alyson Beecher on her blog, KidLit Frenzy
underGround - written and illustrated by Denise Fleming
         It's hard to resist resist the poetic and gorgeous illustrations Denise Fleming gives us in this wonderful book. She shows and writes "Creatures dig/Past highways and by-ways/Squirm-ways and worm-ways./ And there they are, chipmunks and worms and moles, all kinds of creatures doing things  underGround! The back matter identifies each of the animals shown, and gives additional information about how they work underGround. Young children will be fascinated.

Slicing and Putting Things Away

Time for the weekly Slice of Life at the Two Writing Teachers blog.  Tweet at #SOL14  

       Thanks Stacey, Tara, Dana, Beth, Anna and Betsy!

         I introduced the Slice of Life with students yesterday. They wrote, broke into groups, and shared. From my observations in one group, it seems that they "got it", and were willing to try describing a piece of their lives. I kept it low-key, and we'll write again tomorrow. This group does have good writing experience, but now the challenge is to get them to narrow the focus, revise in all the different ways to revise to make the writing good. Step one, step two... and on! Exciting!
And I wrote too:

            There are those who say that messy desks open up paths to creativity, but I'm wondering. My desk at school is not messy, but is piled high, and no, I'm not going to show you a picture of it, but I am going to discuss one tiny slice of my life that occurs about twice a week. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Children with Tough Lives

Thanks to Sheila at Book Journeys It's Monday! What are you Reading? was started. For many kinds of books, check out Sheila's blog posts and links!

             Later, Jen of Teach Mentor Texts and Ricki and Kellee at Unleashing Readers started another group with a children's focus.  Visit all the links for reading ideas!

Tweet at #IMWAYR

              Not as much time to read, plus I've been putting together a group of short stories for students, too, so fewer books this week, but they're good!  These books meet the challenge given by Latin@sIn KitLit. See the button on the right!

Libertad - written by Anna Fullerton 
           Someone recommended this book a few weeks ago and I got it, and finally read it. It is another verse novel, pairing well with Caminar by Skila Brown, which I also enjoyed. This time, the author starts the journey of the main character, Libertad, and his younger brother, Julio, living with their mother in a shack right by the Guatemala City garbage dump where they sift through the trash to find things to sell. Through happenstance, Libertad finds a marimba, which he repairs, and practices playing. This reminds him of his father, a musician, who has gone to America. They have one slip of paper with his phone number, but really no way to call, and of course, no money anyway to make a call. Through a tragic accident, their Mami is killed and they begin an even longer journey to the US, to find their father. The back matter speaks of so many children alone, fending for themselves, being attacked or burglarized for even the few coins they earn at the dump. And this too happens to the boys, although there are good moments and kindnesses from some people along the way, too. The story of those good things, and then the scarier moments, sometimes seems unrealistic to me, but I will rely on the author's note about her research in this serious plight of children in South America. It is not as frightening a story as others, and perhaps would be a good read aloud for middle grade students, to introduce them to another story of children in need. The poetry is clear prose, arranged for effect, often poignant, and sometimes startling in the content. For example, "Shoes": Julio sits on a bench/and swings his feet so the cool air/flows through the holes/our journey/has made in the soles/of his shoes." To include rhyme, and even a positive comment during this miles-long walk the boys are doing seems beautifully done to me.

Celebrating Each Moment

       As my daughter-in-law said, why does the time go so fast!  Thanks to Ruth Ayres at Discover, Play, Build  I'm sharing my week of good times.

            At my school we don't take the Wednesday before Thanksgiving off, but have a half day of celebration, named "Grandpeople's Day". Although some students are absent, on their way to family celebrations far away on this holiday, others have their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and close neighbors come to visit, take a tour of the school, attend an assembly of different classes sharing, and finally visit classrooms. For this visit, I've already had students complete what is called the "Thanksgiving Visitor", where they choose any three people, past or present, to invite to their table. The guests this year ranged from Michelangelo, a grandmother never known, an unknown soldier who died in the Civil War, and on. The guests are always as diverse as the students. We gather in a group to share, and after student sharing, invite the visitors to tell us who they might invite, and why. It's a contemplative exercise, inviting our visitors into the classroom again for this brief time, always satisfying. I celebrate the students who were thoughtful, and the visitors willing to add their own ideas.