Sunday, January 31, 2016

It's Monday

         Visit Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else who link up.  I'm still in the midst of the Cybils judging which means reading some of the finalists again, being sure that we are choosing well. The winners in all the categories will be announced on Feb. 14th, Valentine's Day.

I finished another from the #MustReadIn2016 list, and it was terrific! See above for the entire list and the explanation of this group.

All American Boys - Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

          I imagine all of us have a story that connects with this book. What I hope is that the connection is real, and reminds us to be better, to be strong for making lives different. Reynolds and Kiely have written a story that demands change in all of us.
          Who are the "all American boys" in this novel? They are Rashad, black, and Quinn, white, both at the same high school, both alternately telling this story. It is Friday night, and Rashad is anxious to get going, "party time".  He stops in at Jerry's the neighborhood store that sells everything, and what could be called laughable events, turns terribly tragic. Rashad is hurt; Quinn is a witness. Two boys talk to us from the mixed-up feelings of what happened that Friday, and in the week that follows, the changes in the way they think about life and what matters. From Quinn: "I didn't want my life to change from the way it was before I'd seen that." and "If I didn't want the violence to remain, I had to do a hell of a lot more than just say the right things and not say the wrong things." From Rashad, looking at Family Circus cartoons that he saved: "To think that life could always be as good as breakfast with your family, and sharing the newspaper with your dad, looking up to him, imagining that one day you'd read the whole entire paper and drink coffee, too. To think that my life could be as perfect as Billy's."  The book calls us to change, too, and makes a powerful statement from the lives we live. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Celebrating After All

              I'm celebrating each Saturday or Sunday with Ruth Ayres at Discover Play Build. Come join in to share your own special celebrations.

           Sometimes my life is so busy, then Saturday arrives and I think I have nothing to celebrate, or I think I have everything to celebrate. A good week fills with nice things, and along comes a chink in it, and I hope for goodness in the weeks ahead. A family member is ill, will begin treatment soon, and while I celebrate the wonderful parts of my life that continue, I am sad for this part, and hopeful for good news in the weeks ahead.

         The teacher I work with gave a wonderful lesson this week, followed by a good conversation.
          Imogene comes to stay after school on Wednesdays. Imi is an active four year old, running, climbing, tumbling. She loves books, too, but the first thing we did this time was rush to a new playground before the sun went down. She ran and climbed and laughed, and it was a joy to watch. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Poetry Friday - Traveling

Catherine at Reading To The Core is hosting Poetry Friday today, and has a special guest, Irene Latham, talking about her new book coming Monday, and about her writing. It's a lovely post. 

          I'd like to share something I learned this last week with you. Perhaps you know about this, but I didn't, and now I want to visit. Some of you may know I've started volunteering at a used bookstore, a coop that's been in business for a long time in a nearby neighborhood in Denver. A customer last week bought a book of poems by Carl Sandburg and we began a conversation about poetry and favorite poems/poets, etc. This man said he has just returned from visiting family in North Carolina, and while he was there, he visited the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site, one of the homes preserved where Sandburg lived. He said he loved the visit, that everyone should try to see it. 
the main home

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Non-Fiction - New and Old

Thanks to Alyson Beecher's Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge at Kidlit Frenzy!

         Come read to discover everyone's recent nonfiction picture books.

       Tweet - #NFPB16

Reading and enjoying the new and the old.

              With amazing photographs, Sandra Markle tells the decades-old and satisfactory story of saving these beautiful Tamarins. Scientists all over the world, in the wild and in zoos, worked to solve the problems of decreasing numbers and loss of habitat. They found ways to ensure that tamarins would finally thrive and reproduce in zoos, and then created new ways for them to move from territory to territory by forming living 'tree bridges' so the tamarins could (and would) move safely from forest to forest. The forest were isolated because of clear-cutting to grow crops. There is much additional information, a glossary, a timeline, and an index as well as an author note and websites where one can find out more. It's a great story of success, and one that one might wish could also be written about other animals facing extinction on our earth. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

New Ideas For Collaboration

        I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community today, and it's always good to read what everyone shares.  Thank you Stacey, Tara, Anna, Betsy, Dana, Kathleen, Beth, and Deb.

        First, I want to compliment Kathleen and Tara for their recent wonderful posts about teachers writing, for themselves and with their students, then the push to get the word out via Voxer and other social media, etc. You can find the posts here and here
       Because I'm retired, it doesn't seem as if I could do much, but I will at least share what I've done with students in the past in future posts. I've always written with my students, thought we were all in it together, and that's what one did. I was thrilled to read and then later listen to Donald Graves, Nanci Atwell and Lucy Calkins, of course others later. It is a pleasure to be part of a group that cheers for things like this. It's a pleasure to write!
         Last week, I attended a workshop via the Alternative Licensing Program for which I'm working. This program places the interns enrolled in the program in various schools, and I am working with the teacher  as support, and his assistant (the intern) to oversee the intern's progress, help him learn and grow strong as a teacher so that he can be ready for his own classroom. 

          This workshop's focus was learning together through observations. The part that interested me is something I know now as an experienced teacher, but I really don't remember if I knew it as a beginner. As you teach, do you give yourself feedback as you move through a lesson? I've talked about "self-talk" as the teaching happens, and I think it's similar to what we discussed. We were asked to imagine coaching the interns as collaborators, moving their thinking into imagining themselves in the lesson. We will videotape later in the year, but now it's up to memory, and my notes. Asking the intern to, for example, imagine the lesson's opening. What happened that worked well? What did not? How could it change? 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

ABCs and Bears - Monday Reading

         Visit Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else who link up.  This past week was certainly exciting. My list to books to read grew longer, although I was proud that I had read many of the award winners, and that is thanks to all of you who share the books you love. Don't stop!

      Finally I read Roller Girl, by Victoria Jamieson
            I say this often enough about books. Now I really want to share this with my (former) students, girls and boys! How wonderful that so many real-life problems for young adolescents were included so cleverly by Victoria Jamieson in this book. And all in a graphic form, entertaining while giving the main character Astrid a strong, strong voice. There are varied themes, yet friendship is the strongest one, and honesty in friendship is something all of us need to learn. If you haven't read it, you'll need to in order to see how Astrid learned quite a bit as she became Asteroid, a real Roller Girl.

        A new 2016 alphabet book!

ABC Dream - written and illustrated by Kim Krans
             Discovered at my library, a brand new wordless alphabet book, beautiful for looking and seeing all the ways each letter page shows something that begins with that letter. When I read about this on Kim Krans' site, she first published the pages in black and white in 2011, but now they're gathered into a book, black and white with a watercolor wash on some parts. All of the pages have easy-to-find items for early readers, and some objects seem a little more challenging. For example,  the "L" page includes the letter L filled with "lace", and a "lamb" "leaning" on the bottom part of the L. There is also a "lion" "lying down", and "leaves" on branches in various places on the page. See how cleverly the author/artist sneaks in the letters! One more thing! The L sits on a "line". This would be a fun art mentor text for a class creating individual pages or a personal alphabet book. If you need help, the things included are listed at the back.

You can find Kim Krans' site at The Wild Unknown to take a peek at her lovely art.

        I've gathered and read several books about bears. Some you may know, but all were new to me. It was fun seeing the different looks at the bears in each book.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Celebrating Time

              I'm celebrating each Saturday or Sunday with Ruth Ayres at Discover Play Build. Come join in to share your own special celebrations.

          I wrote about the ordinary earlier this week, and wrote a poem about nothing yesterday. It feels as if I have immersed myself into moments of contemplation these days. It was a good week: time with my grand-girls, time observing and talking with that teacher-to-be, time exercising, time for phone calls from friends and family, and time at home-reading, writing, cleaning. The weather is lovely, and I love being able to be outside walking. I also read a little Thoreau, from a book of selections from his journals. His words, "Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in" fills me with delight. So today I celebrate TIME, just as Thoreau wrote, dipping into that stream and enjoying every minute.
          Wishing you time to spend doing what you love, whatever that may be.

one more sky picture - our skies are so beautiful

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Weekend Plans from Poetry Friday

         Tara Smith at A Teaching Life hosts our Poetry Friday this week. Thanks to her we have a beautiful description of snow, although the forecast for all of you in the east calls for more than what May Sarton describes. I hope you all stay warm and safe.

         It's always a pleasure to see what guest is visiting Today's Little Ditty and Michelle H. Barnes so we can learn more about them, and to see what the challenge for writing is for the month. This time, Douglas Florian visited, with a challenge to write about "nothing". You can read the post here if you haven't read it. Already several poets have written marvelous responses to this challenge. Be sure to visit Michelle often!
         Here is my response, ready for your weekend.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Two More Amazing N-F Picture Books

Thanks to Alyson Beecher's Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge at Kidlit Frenzy!

         Come read to discover everyone's recent nonfiction picture books.

       Tweet - #NFPB16

        I'm doing some catching up with non-fiction books that either won awards last week, or have been on my list to be sure to read. How could I have NOT read these? I guess there are just too many to get to them all. But now I have read more outstanding books. I hope you've enjoyed them if you have read them, or find them soon if you haven't.

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement - written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Ekua Holmes

Monday, January 18, 2016

Slicing Ordinary

        I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community today, and it's always good to read what everyone shares.  Thank you Stacey, Tara, Anna, Betsy, Dana, Kathleen, Beth, and Deb.

         I've been researching the definition of "ordinary", mostly because that's what my slices of life are much of the time, "ordinary". There seems to be pressure to be "out of the ordinary" or even "extraordinary", and I feel it. I don't mean here for SOL, but out in the world, in ads, on commercials, etc. What I found is that the word has its roots from the Latin root for rule. In that same site, here are synonyms given: common, usual, average, fair, mediocre, middling, characterless, nondescript, commonplace, cut and dried, mundane, routine, so-so, run of the mill, and on. So, how does the root word 'rule' move into the negative? If one follows an ordinary day, that means to me that the 'rule' of the day is that one chooses actions that are done often, perhaps every day, and completed (I'm trying not to use words that evaluate). Sometimes it's satisfying to be done, like when the bathrooms are clean. Sometimes it's lovely when a task is done that one is proud of, like finishing a piece of writing. And sometimes it's something that needs doing whether you like it or not, like paying bills and figuring out the money. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Monday Reading - Kind Deeds

         Visit Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else who link up.  This past week was certainly exciting. My list to books to read grew longer, although I was proud that I had read many of the award winners, and that is thanks to all of you who share the books you love. Don't stop!

In The Footsteps of Crazy Horse - Joseph Marshall III, with illustrations by Jim Yellowhawk
              All my life I’ve heard the stories of Crazy Horse and especially the Battle of the Little Bighorn, and usually it was from a sorrowful perspective of the loss of General Custer and his men. This time, Joseph Marshall has written a wonderful book for middle grade readers from the perspective of Native Americans, particularly Tasunke Witko, known as Crazy Horse. Jimmy McClean, a Lakota boy, although his name does not show it, is being teased at school because his name doesn’t seem to mean he’s Native Lakota, and because he has light hair. His thoughtful grandfather, Nyles High Eagle, takes him on a summer trip to learn about Crazy Horse, and the heritage Jimmy can be proud of. Marshall uses oral stories from the Lakotas to tell this story as Jimmy and his grandfather visit important parts of Crazy Horse’s life all the way to the heart-breaking surrender. Jimmy gains perspective about the sadness of loss on both sides, but pride in the way Crazy Horse led his people, in his courage in war and in thinking of his people. Each chapter’s heading is a lovely painting by Jim Yellowhawk, and there is a glossary and bibliography. A map at the beginning of the story helps the reader trace the paths of Crazy Horse. Children reading this will enjoy the journey, and learn that history should be approached from all points of view. 

          I’m catching up on books that came out last year that others loved and I never read, and also managed to read one more from 2016, Saline Yoon’s terrific Be A Friend, newly arrived, and one that could be paired beautifully with Stick and Stone. And, I just realized that a theme of each of these picture books is kindness, doing the right thing, even when it's hard.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Keeping Those Little Things Little

              I'm celebrating each Saturday or Sunday with Ruth Ayres at Discover Play Build. Come join in to share your own special celebrations.

            It was a good week, starting Monday with those wonderfully exciting Youth Media Awards. I have enjoyed all the writing from authors and book bloggers in reflection since Monday. I had a good meeting with the teacher I'm working with, I had the grand-girls more often than usual because my daughter was on an art trip and I was giving a little relief to their papa.  I had another time at the bookstore, and on Friday, had my car in for the usual maintenance--all good!
          But yesterday (Did you imagine a "but" coming?) something happened that just made me tired, tired of figuring out stuff. Afterwards, I felt like celebrating, but during the late afternoon and into the evening, I was so frustrated. It was a Friday, the beginning of a long weekend, and as I sat writing, I noticed I was getting chilly. The thermostat showed a temp lower than usual. I have two systems, radiators run by a boiler and air-conditioning from another unit. I can hear the boiler running just as everyone can hear the forced-air furnaces, and this time I could hear it running. but the radiators were cool. Eventually, as the hours passed, they became cold. And the temp dropped. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Poetry Friday-Celebrating Words

         Keri Collins-Lewis hosts Poetry Friday today at Keri Recommends. Thanks to Keri today, we get an extra bit of magic. Be sure to read her inspiring post!

           Starting Monday, a huge celebration of children's books has been happening. The Youth Media Awards were announced at the Midwinter ALA for the 2015 publishing year. Many wonderful books came out last year, including poetry novels-in-verse, poetry by one person, and anthologies. I own so many marvelous poetry books for children and teens, from a long time ago to now. Yet, I don't remember a time in all of my teaching that there has been such a wealth of poetry and beautiful words available for teachers to share with students. Many of you are part of that wealth, and should be proud that you are bringing beautiful poetry to children of all ages.

          There are also numerous poems celebrating poetry, and one I'm sharing today is by Dylan Thomas. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. 

           Notes On the Art of Poetry ~ Dylan Thomas

I could never have dreamt that there were such goings-on
in the world between the covers of books, 
such sandstorms and ice blasts of words,,, 
such staggering peace, such enormous laughter, 

                                                 The rest is here.

And you can listen to it on YouTube, while watching a short video created for it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Non-Fiction Stories To Celebrate

Thanks to Alyson Beecher's Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge at Kidlit Frenzy!

         Come read to discover everyone's recent nonfiction picture books.

       Tweet - #NFPB16

        I am posting twice today because I'm also on a blog tour thanks to The Children's Book Review. Go to my post here to read about the newest addition to a geography series, and a giveaway!

        It was so exciting to see who won the Sibert Award. Although I only predicted one of them, and I still need to read two of them, I'm glad that Alyson gave us the idea to keep reading wonderful non-fiction so we might have an idea of who could win a medal!  Here is a list of those awarded:
Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras, written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh, is the Sibert Award winner. - Need to read!

Honor Books
Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans, written and illustrated by Don Brown - Read, loved it, and predicted!

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club, by Phillip Hoose - Read, loved it, forgot it was a candidate!

Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March, written by Lynda Blackmon Lowery as told to Elspeth Leacock and Susan Buckley, illustrated by PJ Loughran - Need to read!

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Ekua Holmes  - Need to read, have it as of today!

 Here are the  books I read this week:

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Geographical Wonder of a Book Series & a Giveaway

Come Travel to Italy, with Carole P. Roman

If You Were Me and Lived In ... Italy

            Neil Gaiman wrote, “Books make great gifts. They have whole worlds inside of them.” Carole P. Roman’s series of books about countries all over our world offer those “whole world” experiences to children. There are many children in our country who do not have the opportunity to travel to other countries, even to other states. Fortunately, Carole Roman began writing books for young people that will take them far, and spark an interest for further research as they grow older.
             Carole has written books in this series about seventeen countries, beginning with the award-winning title If You Were Me And Lived In . . . Mexico. You can find all the books here on her Amazon author page, plus learn about her other books, about pirates and yoga! Carole’s latest travel book, If You Were Me And Lived In . . . Italy, flies us across the ocean to southern Europe, as she writes, lo Stivale (the boot) or as we know it here in the United States, Italy. She begins with the geography, the spare text telling what the country is, what it is often called if you live there (lo Stivale). The opposite illustrated page shows a boy and girl holding the world, pointing to Italy, and that boy and girl take us on a tour of their country throughout the book. I like the way the illustrator, Kelsea Wierenga, sometimes uses photographs with her own drawings to make interesting composites. On one page there is text about a weekend activity, going to Olimpico stadium to watch a football game, and the illustration shows a stadium picture in the background, with those sketched kids cheering and clapping in the foreground.

Monday, January 11, 2016

One Thing I Love That's Important

        You can write a slice for the Two Writing Teachers community today.  It's always good to read what everyone shares.  Thank you Stacey, Tara, Anna, Betsy, Dana, Kathleen, Beth, and Deb. 

Tweet @ #Sol 16

           Instead of bookmarking, I often use the "reading list" feature on Safari, and these past few days I've been reading an article or two to catch up what I thought, sometimes weeks ago, I was interested in reading. I've recently read an article from Orion Magazine by a man who has taught writing to prisoners in Arizona for forty years. You can find it here. In it, he has brought several points of importance to all of us, including our students. Yes, I think I will always think of teaching and students no matter how many years out of the classroom. One part he shared included words of Charles Dickens, from a book titled American Notes, and including some of the time he visited American prisons. In that time, prisoners were kept isolated from every contact with humans, even the guards. Dickens wrote: “It is my fixed opinion that those who have undergone this punishment must pass into society again mortally unhealthy and diseased.” The author notes that Dickens suggests there is a connection between humans and a natural environment, and deprivation of that is permanently damaging. The author moves on to today's current prison architecture which, he has found throughout his work, that there is no place for prisoners to experience even a blade of grass or a tree. They only might notice a pigeon flying by through the small slits/windows in their cells. I do not propose that I know very much about a prison's impact on the inmates after reading only one article. However, I do know the positive impact on learning that being outside while playing, exploring, and observing has/had on my students, has on my grandchildren, and has on me. 
           Those of you who are on Facebook (I keep forgetting about Instagram) know that I post lots of pictures from being outside, morning and afternoon walks, even noticing something wonderful from a car window. And often I want to "show" someone, or return home to capture it in writing or sketching. I remember many times taking my class outside to write, or to sketch something. I asked them what surprised, what looks like something else, how does the light change as it moves over the campus? When I did, they seemed both happy, focused and relaxed. So I wonder, how much time do you all spend outside, yourself or with your students if you teach? I know a few who post beautiful pictures from walks you take. Do you believe it matters?  It may be just as good an exercise on a treadmill. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

It's Monday - New Books Plus One 'Must Read'!

         Visit Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else who link upSheila at Book Journeys began this sharing, and it's now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

             By the time Monday is over, we'll know about so many happy authors and illustrators because the Youth Media Award Ceremony will be done! Congratulations to all those whose names were called! And those who didn't hear their names will be disappointed, yet we all know how many wonderful books we've shared this year, and the books of those authors and illustrators will still be read and loved and read again.

I Am Henry Finch - Alexis Deacon and Viviane Schwarz
           This dear little Henry Finch doesn't quite know what's going on in his life, but he is tired of all the greetings and goodnights by ALL of those other finches who surround him. Henry decides to try something new, which doesn't work out very well, although there is an epiphany in his darkest of experiences, one with a beast. Then, Henry finds the courage to do something brave. This is a book for everyone. It's funny, philosophical and one you might want to read again and again just in case you missed something important. The thumbprint art of Viviane Schwarz is so clever. I was pleased to see the different kinds of personalities she showed in these simple illustrations.

           I didn't have time to order 2016 books from the library, and after all, it's only Jan. 11th, but I found one brand new 2016 when I stopped by my local branch. It is a special new book by debut author J. J. Austrian and illustrator Mike Curato, of Little Elliot fame! It's about love in all its forms, and you can read a blog post here by Mike Curato about how very special it is to him.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Celebrations All Week

              I'm celebrating each Saturday or Sunday with Ruth Ayres at Discover Play Build. Come join in to share your own special celebrations.

         For those of you who returned to your classrooms this week, I hope it was a good time back, re-uniting, making new plans for learning, enjoying the community all over again. I missed the good part, but must say I didn't miss the early rising/getting out the door at 7am. I am enjoying the quiet being at home/after Christmas/New Year start. Most Christmas things are put away, but I keep out what we used to call our kitchen tree. It sat on a shelf in the kitchen at my old house. It will stay until February hearts take its place. 
        It was a good week of quiet celebrations. One of which I don't have a photo of is that I've been invited to join a book group by a former colleague, some other former colleagues and some new people, too. It was a wonderful evening taking time to talk about a book and listen to others share their ideas, too. I will love this time.
       I was at school this week for a short while, and had the pleasure of seeing a former student, now nearly finished with college! What a pleasure it was to hear her enthusiasm with her passions, and she spoke of our time together as still under-pinning her learning. It made me feel so good.
       Here are a few photos of good things to celebrate during this past week! 
Another sky picture-people flying home or back to work
on Monday when I picked up Ingrid. We went for ice cream!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Poetry Friday-Swap Love

         Tabatha Yeatts of The Opposite of Indifference, and the creator of the Poem Swaps that give us so much pleasure is our lovely host today for Poetry Friday

          It's way past time for thank yous. Please forgive me Margaret Simon for being so late. Too much company on Fridays made it a challenge to share either Christmas or New Year's. But isn't this wonderful to still be sharing our Winter Poem Swap treasures, still giving much pleasure. I received the following from Margaret right before Christmas, and am still reading and loving this new anthology from Georgia Heard. Thanks again to Tabatha Yeatts for organizing the Swap!
          Margaret mentioned in one of her recent posts that she went to an art session where she learned to make gelli paper. I am intrigued by this kind of art, and hope I'll get to make some one day, but in the meantime, will enjoy the wrapping paper created and used for my gift. Also included is that wonderful bookmark and gift tag, more created by Margaret.