Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday 7.30.14

NF PB 2014

We know that a big part of the CCSS is to include more informational texts into ourstudents' reading.  I quickly discovered I had a "gap" in my reading diet - the genre of informational texts!  To help me fill the gap this year, I am going to participate in Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesdays!  This is a great link-up hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy.  Please visit this website to see other educator's link-ups.  My goal is to read at least one informational text each week and post information on the blog.  The more books and subjects I read, the more I can encourage (my #OLW for 2014) other teachers to use in their classroom! 

Clara and Davie
Clara and Davie by Patricial Polacco
Polacco always writes so intimately and from the heart.  This story is no different.  Written about the childhood of young Clara Barton and her relationships with her family members, particularly that of her brother, Davie.  I loved getting this inside look at young Clara's childhood.  I do know the basic information about how Clara became a nurse and started the Red Cross, I thought it was interesting to see what led to her future.  Through Polacco's writing, you can feel Clara's passion and see her calling!
I think this book would be a great mentor text for narrowing an idea down.  Perfect for a biography unit to show how you can narrow a topic down and write "smaller".
Pair with Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors by Tanya Lee Stone

Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell
I pulled this book out because it is a nominee on the IL 2015 Monarch Book Award list.  This fits perfectly with the theme of the week - making writing ideas smaller - and could be paired with Clara and Davie as another mentor text.  This story tells about the early life of Jane Goodall and how her passion for helping animals started.  I adore the last page of text and the photo!  At the end there is an author's note and a letter from Jane Goodall.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

SoL 7.29.14 I went ape-ing this weekend and dared greatly


Slice of Life is a weekly event hosted by Two Writing Teachers.

My Twitter friend, Greg Armamentos (@dashthebook), likes to tell me "you must do the things you think you cannot do" (Eleanor Roosevelt).

That was put to the test this past weekend.

A few weeks ago I found out that for my future-sister-in-law's bachelorette party, one of the activities we would be doing is going to Indianapolis' "Go Ape".  Check out this video if you want a good visualization of what I was about to do:

Go Ape is a "Treetop adventure" in Indianapolis that includes zip lining, tarzan swinging and obstacle courses up in the trees.  Go Ape promises to "unleash your inner Tarzan."  I wasn't so sure my inner Tarzan wanted to come out...  The zip lining required me to hit the ground running or if I came in backwards (which I did every time), keep your legs loose, allow your heels to slow you down, and get a backside of wood chips.  Then there were 3-5 obstacles on each course (4 total, with one mini-get-you-ready-for-this course).  On several, you have to travel from one block to another, I ended up doing some small splits - imagine "Buddy" from the "Elf" movie when he does the splits going up the escalator.  

As my sister and I started calling it, we were all set to go "ape it up", but inside I was shaking.  I had to give myself a big pep talk.  I'm the "athlete", after all.  I've run marathons, I've done open water swims (ok, just one this past Thursday, this has really been a big outdoor adventure week for me!).  This is just one more adventure under my belt.  The zip lining part I was ready for, the obstacles, not so much.  I'm kind of a linear activity person.  My hips and knees are not the best, so I do well going on a straight plane.  These obstacles would have me moving in ways I wasn't so sure about.  

As it turned out, ape-ing, was quite fun.  For sure, the hardest workout I've ever had!  My neck muscles are still a little sore!  But I'm glad I went out of my comfort zone and tried something new.  

Not all new adventures turn out positively.  But, I'm glad that I tried it. I think it's good that I felt nervous about something but I did it.  I didn't know if I could do this.  I didn't know how it would turn out.  But I "dared greatly".  Now excuse me, I need to go ice down my body.

Monday, July 28, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 7.28.14

This weekly post comes from Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers.  It's a great source to find new books to use with your students.

As of today, school starts in 3 weeks.  The beginning of school always brings excited anticipation for a new year, but it also means my reading has to slow down!  And it means I need to bump up my reading, I don't think I've gotten far in my summer Must Reads list!  

I read a lot of books, particularly picture books this week.  All are reviewed on my goodreads page.  Here are some of the standouts from the week:

Picture Books

Mogie: The Heart of the House
Mogie: The Heart of the House by Kathi Appelt
5/5 stars
Having experience with staying at a house close to a hospital, I can't tell you what places like Ronald McDonald Houses do for families with sick, injured or recovering children.  They are amazing.  I love that this book shows them but also what the people - or in this case, animals! - do for the kids.

The Most Magnificent Thing
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
5/5 stars
Why did I wait so long to read this book??  This book and the following 2 I've owned since their release dates (awhile ago now), but I'm just now getting the time to read them.
I love this book because it's me.  I have an idea in my head and sometimes it's so hard to get that idea down on paper, whether writing or drawing.  And that's me when the little girl get so frustrated she ends up hurting herself.  Well, I don't always hurt myself, but I know that feeling of explosion!  And then needing a walk to clear your head, and coming back to your project with a clear mind.  Love this book.  It will pair really well with....

What Do You Do with an Idea?
What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada
5/5 stars
Yup, this one has been sitting in my house for awhile too.
I love this book because I think you can do so many different things with it.  I think it also take multiple readings of this book to really either get it, or to form your own idea of what it is talking about.  And there will be different ideas that come from different thinkers.  It's going to be a really good book to talk about in a classroom!  I think I'll actually use it with older kids.  I think they will be able to interpret it in different ways.
I think this book would also be good to use to show how your thinking changes as you read it.  At least, my thinking changed.  

The Mermaid and the Shoe
The Mermaid and the Shoe by K.G. Campbell
4/5 stars
My last PB that I've had for months and just finally read.
Sweet story, I love books that show how people can find their own passion/identity/person.   Also great to add to fairy tale collection.
I loved K.G. Campbell's illustrations in Flora and Ulysses, which is the primary reason why I bought this book.  The illustrations were beautiful and stunning to look at.  But... did anyone else get a little weirded out by the interesting shell placement?  They just looked odd to me!

The Bathing Costume: Or the Worst Vacation of My Life
The Bathing Costume or The Worst Vacation of my Life by Charlotte Moundlic
4/5 stars
This is the perfect book to read right now, in the summer.  It's written across a week of young Ronnie's life while going on vacation with his grandparents and mean, older cousins.  Ronnie, being the youngest, is of course the butt of all jokes.  Literally.  At one point he has to wear a "bathing costume" (aka swimsuit) that is huge on him and falls down.  This book is deceiving because it is a picture book, but is longer and is separated by each day he is on vacation.  This would be a good read aloud for the beginning of the year because of the length of the book, because so many kids will relate and the laugh out loud moments!
Thanks Alyson for originally showing this book!

The Bad Birthday Idea
The Bad Birthday Idea by Madeline Valentine
4/5 stars
This book should be read to (and by) anyone who has siblings!  Tale as old as time...
Younger sibling wants to play with older sibling and the older sib's cool toy.
Older sibling says no.
It's the younger sib's bday.  Younger sib gets the NEW model of the coveted toy.
Older sibling does something not good....

for me, it was Cabbage Patch Dolls.  And I was the older sibling  *hangs head in shame*

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch by Anne Isaacs
4/5 stars
Perfect book to use with 3rd-5th grade.  Great examples of exaggerated language.  I love how the illustrations add to the story.  Longer picture book and a lot to talk about with older kids!

Informational Texts

The Fly     The Worm
The Fly by Elise Gravel
The Worm by Elise Gravel
3/5 stars
Thanks to Carrie Gelson, I found this new series - Disgusting Critters.  In both books I read, I repeatedly said, "ewwww!"  This series stays true to its name (disgusting critters) by providing true, but disgusting information but in a fun way that will attract young readers.  The books provide just basic information, no details or nonfiction text features and no additional information at the end.

Middle Grade

The Great Greene Heist
The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson
4/5 stars
I snuck this book in earlier than anticipated because I needed to get ready for #sharpschu book club!  I knew I needed to read it early to make sure it was ok for my 9yo.  It's a little above that level, but nothing stood out as being inappropriate.  I'm sure she missed a few things, but she overall understood it pretty well.  I loved reading her tweets.  She had better insight to the book than I thought, and certainly said more in her tweets than she did in the conversation I had with her about the book!  The best news of the night came from the author, Varian Johnson, that he is currently working on a sequel to the book!
Here's my Goodreads review:

The Fourteenth Goldfish
The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm
5/5 stars
I received an advanced digital copy of this book from Net Galley.
I can't wait to actually have a copy of this book in my hands to pass out to kids.  This is a perfect example of a talented author - Holm writes a book that is so different from her others (well, there's maybe a little bit of "Squish" in here!) and still writes it so well.
I think kids will like reading about Ellie and her grandpa.  I hope they hold the question, "when does science go too far" in their heads as they read this book.  Check it out on 8.26!

Listening with my ears

Things Not Seen (Things, #1)
Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements
This book has been in my TBR pile for years!  I think the outside pages are actually yellowing, that's how long I've had this book!  I saw the audio CDs at the library and figured this would be a great way to get this book read :)

Currently Reading

I will finish this book this week!  
The Enchantress Returns (The Land of Stories, #2)

Coming up next:

Night of the Twisters     We Were Liars

And continuing to read these too:

Read Write Teach: Choice and Challenge in the Reading-Writing Workshop     Readers Front & Center: Helping All Students Engage with Complex Text

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday 7.23.14 and #cyberPD week 3

NF PB 2014     

We know that a big part of the CCSS is to include more informational texts into ourstudents' reading.  I quickly discovered I had a "gap" in my reading diet - the genre of informational texts!  To help me fill the gap this year, I am going to participate in Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesdays!  This is a great link-up hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy.  Please visit this website to see other educator's link-ups.  My goal is to read at least one informational text each week and post information on the blog.  The more books and subjects I read, the more I can encourage (my #OLW for 2014) other teachers to use in their classroom! 

What's New? The Zoo!: A Zippy History of Zoos
What's New? The Zoo! A Zippy History of Zoos by Kathleen Krull

This book tells exactly what the title says - it's a history of zoos. Organized by date, Krull details changes zoos have undergone through the ages.  Spotlighting origins of zoos all over the world, students will have a geography and history lesson in one!

A few facts stand out:
* Egyptian Pharaoh-Queen Hatshepsut used exotic animals to make her appear mightier.
* Aristotle had his own private zoo so he could study animals and eventually write our first encyclopedia about animals called The History of Animals
* countries have sent each other animals native to their lands as friendly gestures.
* present day Mexico City had the largest zoo of its time... in the 1500s!  And it's still one of the largest in world history!
* the National Zoo in D.C. was the first to proclaim a goal to protect animals of extinction.
* there was a zoo in Germany that used moats, artificial rocks, trees and hedges to keep animals away from patrons - no cages!

One of my favorite parts of this book is the gorgeous illustrations by Marcelius Hall.  Done in calliacrylic in k and watercolor paint on watercolor paper, the illustrations are detailed, yet calming to look at.

Animal enthusiasts will devour this book!

It's week 3 of our month long #cyberPD where people all over are reading Donalyn Miller's Reading in the Wild.  It has been fascinating going back and reading other educator's thoughts.  So often it jogs my memory of a thought I had but had forgotten.  Or it makes me think of new possibilities that I hadn't come up with.  Join in the conversation or just read and learn!  Today's round up of thoughts and musings are posted at Michelle Nero's blog, Literacy Learning Zone

Chapter 5:  Wild Readers Show Preferences

What I want to remember:
* I've read this in another professional book as well, and I think it's a point that we need to remember.  So often we talk about the different genres, but how often do we go into explicit detail and make sure students not only know the differences between the genres but also how to APPROACH reading a genre.  When I sit down to read a ___ book, I know certain things are going to happen.  Once we've taught students characteristics of a genre, what to expect when reading one, then give students choices of books to read from that genre.  Of course, do some read alouds to have class discussions, especially when modeling, but give students choices to independently read.  They need to have time to play with, apply and problem solve what they have learned.  They also determine what genres they prefer and why.

Takeaways for teachers:
* "We must push ourselves to read widely in order to best serve our students - as role models who read for diverse purposes and reading advisors who know a lot about books that appeal to all types of readers.  The more widely we read, the more expertise we offer to our students." pg. 167     I love this quote.  I feel like it is important, but it's not necessarily everyone's belief.
* I think this is a great question to ask yourself in regards to students who reread the same books over and over:  "Students reread books for three main reasons:  they want to absorb a treasured story into their skin, they want to cement their knowledge of topics and ideas, or they don't know what else to read." pg. 175  Only one of them need help switching to a new book.  
* This is a powerful statement, "When we tell students they can't reread a book they love, we put our goals in front of theirs." pg. 176  Ouch, I know I've stopped many a reader from doing this!
* Something that is not typically assessed is reading habits, specifically engagement with reading.  I love these two questions:  Does the student "fall" into their reading?  Is the student fully invested when they have time to read?

Takeaways for students, when they ask "Why do I need to read more?"  
* Because "wild readers' preferences become more valuable, reliable, and accurate the more they read." pg. 169
* Readers who know their reading preferences can use that knowledge of that genre to select other texts.

I can't wait until next week for our official Twitter chat with Donalyn!

I'm looking forward to continuing the conversation by reading your thoughts.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

SoL "It's hard being a parent" 7.22.14

Slice of Life is a weekly event hosted by Two Writing Teachers.

It's hard being a parent.
It's hard watching your child try but not succeed.
It's hard when you know they can do it, but didn't get it right.
Sometimes you can't help but get upset.
Sometimes words come out that shouldn't.
It's hard having to say you are sorry.
That you handled the situation wrong.
It's hard being a parent.
But it's good when you do the right thing.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 7.21.14

This weekly post comes from Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers.  It's a great source to find new books to use with your students.

I had a couple of days where I didn't read anything this week!  Well, that should say I didn't finish anything!  But then I found some creative ways to get my reading in :)

Picture Books

Dog Days of School
Dog Days of School by Kelly DiPucchio
5/5 stars
LOVE this book!  It's the Freaky Friday boy-dog version!  Such a kid-friendly book for point of view discussion.  And kids will LOVE seeing the boy drink out of the toilet :)

My Pet Book
My Pet Book by Bob Staake
4/5 stars
Can't wait to use this one with a few others at the beginning of the year to talk about a "readerly life".  I'll use this book to talk about how books make us feel.

It's an Orange Aardvark!
It's an Orange Aardvark! by Michael Hall
4/5 stars
This was my surprise read of the week.  Reminds me of Ed Emberly's Go Away Big Green Monster with the little cut outs.  Loved the ideas the ants came up with - great for description, word choice, adjectives!

Take Me Out to the Yakyu
Take Me Out to the Yakyu by Aaron Meshon
4/5 stars
2015 IL Monarch nominee
Cute story about a boy comparing American and Japanese baseball.  I liked the author's notes at the end.

Informational Texts

Dare the Wind: The Record-breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud
Dare the Wind by Tracey Fern
3/5 stars
Add this story about Eileen Perkins and her determination to navigate and sail the open seas.  Another good text to add to your strong American women unit!

Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story
Shining Star:  The Anna May Wong Story by Paula Yoo
4/5 stars
Thanks to Crystal (@librarygrl2) for sharing this one originally.  I had read at least one story that Anna May Wong had been mentioned in (by Lisa See), so I was interested in learning more.  This biography showed how her perseverance during a time when American was biased against Chinese got her where she ultimately dreamed of being - on the silver screen!

The Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Pilot and the Little Prince by Peter Sis
5/5 stars
My goodreads review:  I really enjoyed reading this biography because it portrayed the author of The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, in a manner different than expected. de Saint-Exupery lived a much different life than I had previously known, and Sis does an amazing job detailing de Saint-Exupery's passion in such a fascinating way. I loved the basic text about his life, but it's really the illustrations that bring this book to life. Sis makes the captions in the illustrations so different than usual informational texts, I found myself pouring over each one. It was a joy to read about someone who followed their true passion and made it a reality.

Middle Grade

Super (Supers of Noble's Green, #2)
Super by Matthew Cody
I finished listening to this book this week.  I really enjoy the "Powerless" series.  I haven't heard as much about this series out on Twitter and on blogs, but I highly recommend it, especially for reluctant boy readers.  It has a mystery, suspense, high action, super heroes. Both Powerless and Super are great reads.  Can't wait for Villainous, the conclusion of the trilogy, on Aug. 26!

Adult read

Mambo in Chinatown
Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok
I really enjoy this author.  She has written 2 books that I highly recommend.  If you've read and enjoy Lisa See, you'll enjoy Kwok's stories.  This one centers around ballroom dancing, which was enjoyable for me!

Currently Reading

The Great Greene Heist
The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson
getting ready for #sharpschu on Wednesday!

The Enchantress Returns (The Land of Stories, #2)
The Land of Stories:  The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer
I had to take a break from this one to finish a few others, but I really like it so far!

Professional Reading

Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer's Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits
Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller
I love Donalyn's writing style.  It's straight forward but driven by such passion and energy!  I'll be posting my final #cyperPD post about this amazing book on Wednesday.  I hope you've been able to check out some of the conversations people have been having.  It's amazing getting to read everyone's thoughts and comments.

Still reading my 2 other professional books, but have gotten farther in them!

Hope you've had a great reading week!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Celebrate This Week! 7.19.14

It's always good to end the week on a positive note.  Sometimes we concentrate on the negatives.  We have a choice.  Choose positive.  Choose to celebrate.  I will be joining Ruth Ayres and her weekly link-up, Celebrate This Week.  Check out all the other celebrations HERE

This week I am celebrating summer reading - not mine - but our students'!

We made a change for this summer and decided to open our school library a couple of times.  For the most part, our school community is fairly middle-class where our students stay pretty busy over the summer in camps, swimming lessons and other park district activities.  How often are they reading or going to the library, could be a different story.

Since this was the first time doing this, we decided to open the library just once a month - once in June, once in July.  Along with the library being open for book-checkout, we had several activities planned.  Our media specialist had activities planned around a book for our younger students.  Kids who had just completed 3rd and 4th grades, could participate in a book club.  I lead a group that read The One and Only Ivan and my colleague ran the book club that read Rump.  

We held our first date in June, shortly after school had let out - get those readers back in!  Our book club groups were smaller than I anticipated, but everyone was excited to start their book at home and meet again next month.  Almost everyone checked books out - some leaving with more books than they could carry!

This past week we had our second opening.  I think there was a little smaller group than the first time.  Could be a lot of families were on vacation.  My Ivan group started out with some Ivan yoga (thank you Carrie Gelson for your ideas).  After discussing the book, we watched the trailer that debuted that very day for the upcoming picture book about the real story of Ivan. 

My colleague's group had a great time skyping with Liesl Shurtliff.  We shared new book titles with students.  We talked about book challenges, and trying something new, like reading books from the Illinois Bluestem nominee list.  Then they were off to the library to check out more books.

For this being our first time doing this, I would love to see it continue.  I think it's a great opportunity for our students to check in at school during the summer and enjoy some casual reading and book talks with teachers and other students.

I would love to see this program grow.  I would love to have more families come.  I would love to have more students participate in the book club.  I would be interested in having more book check out dates. Next time, I would promote it more.  This was an idea that we had relatively late in the school year and I think we could have promoted it more.  It made me sad that only one reading intervention student came.  This really could have made a difference for those students, I wish I had seen more of them!  More, more, more - always more to do!

But, for the time being, I will celebrate our first year of doing this and look forward to MORE :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday 7.16.14 and #cyberPD week 2

NF PB 2014     

We know that a big part of the CCSS is to include more informational texts into ourstudents' reading.  I quickly discovered I had a "gap" in my reading diet - the genre of informational texts!  To help me fill the gap this year, I am going to participate in Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesdays!  This is a great link-up hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy.  Please visit this website to see other educator's link-ups.  My goal is to read at least one informational text each week and post information on the blog.  The more books and subjects I read, the more I can encourage (my #OLW for 2014) other teachers to use in their classroom! 

I'm reading what you're reading!  Part 3:  The buzz on bees

I love this weekly post because it has added to my nonfiction reading.  But sometimes it takes me seeing a book a couple of times in a post before I pick it up.  All of the books I'm spotlighting originally were reviewed on someone else's blog or their Goodreads post.  I'm showing them again because maybe for you, seeing it here will be what gets you to read the book!

Bee Poetry

UnBEElievables: Honeybee Poems and Paintings
unBEElievables by Douglas Florian
Florian shows his unbelievable (or should I say unBEElievable?) talent by writing these poems and illustrating them in his unique way.  Each page has a poem detailing the bee community - the queen, the drone, the worker bee, etc. There are even some on beekeepers and about how many bee communities have been disappearing.  Each poem has some accompanying facts about the poem topic.  The poems are written so even our young readers will learn something new and enjoy the rhythm and fun word play in them.

Seeds, Bees, Butterflies, and More!: Poems for Two Voices
Seeds, Bees, Butterflies, and More! by Carole Gerber
I read this book in particular for the bee poems.  One in particular would be great to share if you are a doing a bee unit - "Honeybee Dance" is a sweet poem that shares with the reader the importance of the dance a honeybee does and the purpose of it.  The poems in this book are told in 2 voices which begs young readers to have fun reading with each other!  At the end of the book, the author ties together all of the topics from the book by explaining how each rely on the other in order to grow!

Narrative Informational Text

Flight of the Honey Bee
Flight of the Honey Bee
 by Raymond Huber

Great narrative informational text about the scout bee and the important work it does for the hive.  I think narrative informational texts have an important place in the learning for a young reader.  They still aren't ready for some of the cut and dry nonfiction reader and they are most comfortable with fiction texts.  This one is great for teaching information while reading a story.  And if that's not enough, the author adds bits of information on each page to add to the learning!

Informational Text

The Buzz on Bees: Why Are They Disappearing?
The Buzz on Bees:  Why Are They Disappearing by Shelley Rotner
I read this book awhile ago but reread it for this post.  This is the first book I read that looked into the missing bee epidemic.  I really like the question/answer format of this book.  Sunday Cummins also has a great close reading activity for primary students on her blog using this book.

The Case of the Vanishing Honeybees: A Scientific Mystery
The Case of the Vanishing Honeybees by Sandra Markle
Another fantastic text that gives a variety of explanations as to why honeybees are disappearing.  The first book I would use in a K-2 classroom, this text is a bit longer, goes into more detail, so I would use it in 3-4 classroom.  It's been very interesting reading these books and since this was a new topic for me, it's been very telling how I kept taking knowledge I had learned in previous books and applied them to my current book.  This book had fantastic photography and the text was laid out in a child-friendly manner.  Great notes at the end of the book, as well.

For even more great bee titles, check out Carrie Gelson's post on bees!

Hope you buzz to your library and find these books :)

It's on to week 2 for #cyberPD.  Last week it was amazing going back and reading everyone's posts about the first two chapters of Donalyn Miller's fantastic Reading in the Wild.  The conversation is mind-stimulating and thought-provoking.  I hope it's given you something to think about!  This week our posts will be rounded up on Laura Komos' blog HERE.  Can't wait to see the conversation!

Chapter 3:  Wild Readers Share Books and Reading with Other Readers

"We must show our students what a wild reader looks like through our example."

Thoughts for teachers:
* "If we want children to read more, we must provide them with classrooms, libraries and homes where reading is the norm."  Again, like last week, I'm thinking that yes we have classroom libraries, but we need to be more explicit about them.  There needs to be more discussion about them, what books are in them, how and when we read, share and talk about those books.
* Start including book recommendations in newsletter and bottom of emails (in the signature).  By sharing what you are reading, someone can pick up on it!
* Show what you are reading:  signs on doors (made by you and students), kids can put signs on their lockers to show what they are reading.
* During morning announcements have a student share what they are reading or a recommendation.
* Let kids bring home books from the classroom library, not just the school library!
* Re look at homework... what homework is necessary?  What is beneficial?  I liked the idea of a "page log" - kind of like Status of the Class.
* Think about how you can make a community of readers in your class.  Donalyn shares benefits of a reading community including:  connecting with other readers, increasing how much they read on their own, peers challenge each other, they suggest titles to each other... 
* Think about what you do when you read a book... do you make a diorama?  Write a book report?  What authentic, organic ways can kids share their reading?
* I loved the idea of taking pictures of kids holding up a recommended book and putting it in a digital frame.

Thoughts for parents:
* "If we want children to read more, we must provide them with classrooms, libraries and homes where reading is the norm."  I think families are so busy nowadays, that reading has taken a back seat to so many other activities.  While other activities are important, it's imperative that families figure out where reading can fit in.

I thought most of this chapter was geared more towards what we can do at school to help promote sharing and talking about books.  However, what we do at school, will help this wild reading behavior increase at home.

I thought these quotes based on research were important:
"The most effective reading teachers are teachers who read."
"Teachers who read for pleasure are more likely to employ best literacy practices in their classrooms than teachers who do not read for pleasure."

Chapter 4:  Wild Readers Have Reading Plans

"The difference between readers and nonreaders is that readers have plans."
"Planning for future reading provides students with direction and purpose, reinforcing that they are readers today and will still be readers tomorrow."

Wow.  Powerful statements.  But how many times do we stop and talk to our students about this?  I started doing this more last year after reading this book the first time.  It was a start and I'm hoping to build upon that this year!

Another big statement for me was thinking about this statement:  when students are always told what to read... which leads to this question:  how do students develop ownership for reading when they are never given ownership?  Who are students reading for?  

Ideas for teachers to help students make plans:
* make plans for reading over break and then follow up with students upon return.  Make sure they have books to read - let them take books home!  Make lists of books to read.  Set goals for over break.
* Talk to students about their reading.  Ideas for older students:  book challenges, book gaps, goals, must-read list, book-a-day or 40 book challenge.  Ideas for younger students:  genres, book-a-day (reading or listening), reading series.
* Encourage students who read the same book at some point in the year to talk to each other about it - encourage conversation!  It leads to community!

What keeps coming back to me over and over is being explicit with our students.  We cannot expect all students to have a readerly life, or for them to even understand their reading preferences.  By explicitly talking about them and making them known, kids will understand more about themselves as readers - a book identity!

What stuck out to you this week?  Can't wait to see your thoughts!

Falling off my bike and learning from it SoL 7.15.14

Slice of Life is a weekly event hosted by Two Writing Teachers.

"It's like falling off a bike", nope, wait, I think the saying is something about "it's like riding a bike".  But this story is different.  It's about falling off a bike and getting back on.  It's about reading being hard, but keep trying.

So... as I mentioned in this post I fell off my bike last week.  Let me first back up a little and give you some background.  Back in 2008 I was a "recreational" working out type of person.  I went to some aerobic classes, did some running and swimming, went to spinning and lifted (raised?) weights (small ones).  But the people at my gym were hard-core fitness people - marathoners, Iron Men... and they were all very nice people.  I decided to be like them.  I originally wanted to try a tri, after all, my strength is the swim.  My friend, who I had coerced to join me on this endeavor, said no swimming.  We decided on a half marathon and if you're going big like that, might as well do it right and do your first 1/2 at Disney!  Well, 3 marathons, 11 half-marathons and I don't know how many 10ks and 5ks, my legs hurt.  I don't want to not train for something, after all, that's where I get my goals from, so I decided to go back to that originally idea and try a tri!  As I said, swimming is my strongest of the 3, so I feel confident there.  Biking, well, I'm good at spinning so I should be ok, right?  Then I went to the bike shop and saw the bikes with their little hard seats and their little tires (seriously, have you seen how skinny road bike tires are??).  My first thought was I would get pedals that have the cages so I can slip my shoes in and out, but all of my tri friends convinced me clipping in is smarter and more efficient.

Fast forward to now.  I've gone out on my bike 3 times.  Not much.  But I've learned I'm scared to death of traffic and I'm really scared of the clipping in and out part.  I can get my shoes in and out of the clips, it's the timing that is hard.  It's easier to clip out when your foot is on the down pedal cycle than up.  I've learned that I like to coast with my right foot down, but when it's time to stop, I like to put my left foot down on the ground first.  All of this takes coordination that I haven't mastered just yet.

Last Wednesday I went out on the road for the first time.  I focused so hard when we came up to traffic stops, but I was still not coordinating everything just right.  As we approached my house at the end of the ride, I decided I was going to focus really hard at getting my left foot unclipped first and putting it down on the ground.  The funny thing is when you concentrate on one side, you tend to forget the other side.  Which is what I did.  I did everything right on the left side, but when I tried to put my right foot down it was still clipped in.  And you know what happens when you have just the slightest bit of momentum going and one of your feet gets tripped up.  You go down.  It was the proverbial slow motion - I could see it happen before it did.  There was that "noooooo" moment and then I was on the ground. The good thing is, I'm fine.  Bumps, bruises and a sore ego.  I have a ginormous purple bruise with a nice circle in the middle - figured out that's where the bottom of the handlebar hit me!!  Some road rash on the knee, bruise on my hand, sore tricep.  It's all healing now.  But I always learn from my mistakes.  

1.  With biking - you can't just concentrate on one side.  You have two sides and they both matter.  With reading - you can't just concentrate on figuring out the words or just paying attention to what the story is about.  They work hand in hand.  You need them both to understand the story.

2.  With biking - I'll get better at this.  I need consistent practice.  I know after I do it enough times, it will be muscle memory and become something I can do without thinking about it.  With reading - a reader needs to read.  The more you read, the easier it gets and the better you become.

3.  With biking - sometimes you fall.  But get up, do it again, don't give up.  With reading - reading can be hard and it can try your spirit.  But you try again, don't give up.

I'm going back on my bike tomorrow.  I will encourage all readers, whether it's hard or easy, to do the same!