Friday, February 5, 2016

Messing Around on the Monkey Bars by Betsy Franco

New Kid at School

Where did you come from?

Far Away.

Miss your friends?

Every day.

Where do you live?

Maple Street.

What's your name?

Call me Pete.

How old are you?

Just turned eight.

You like hoops?

Yeah, great.

Got any friends?

Nope, not yet.

Wanna play?

You bet!

New Kid at School can be found in Messing Around on the Monkey Bars by Betsy Franco is a collection of school poems for two voices.  As a teacher, I always find having a new student challenging once your year is rolling and the community established.  However, I also find it a learning opportunity for everyone.  When I found this poem, it just reminded me what I always hope my students will do.  I think this might be a good poem to use with students before a new student arrives to help understand what it might feel like to be a new kid.  You can find more fun topics for students to read and connect with; bus rides, monkey bars, lunch money, jump rope, recess, and lost and found to name a few.  

The voices are cleverly indicated by voice 1 presented in a normal font width and voice 2 is presented in a bold font.   Easy cues for younger readers to use.  The author has provided the readers with helpful information.  In the beginning there is a great explanation and guidance for how to read the poems with two voices.  At the end of the book, the reader will discover adventurous ways to read some of the poems. 

This post is the first in a three part series 
for developing fluency using poems for two voices.  

I'm happy to be sharing again with the Poetry Friday community.  This week Tricia is hosting the round up at The Miss Rumpus Effect.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Kylie Jean Green Queen by Marci Peschke

Kylie Jean Green Queen by Marci Peschke is a perfect book for second grade because Kylie is a second grader!  I love books with characters the same age as my students.  There's always an automatic connection.  Kylie Jean is spunky, self motivated, and fun.  She lives in Texas.  Her favorite color is pink.  An interesting fact about Kylie Jean is she has two brothers but one of them is her dog.  She refers to her dog Ugly Brother throughout her story as an actual brother.  I think students will get the giggles each time they hear about Ugly Brother.  

What I love the most about this book is the message that younger children can make a difference and come up with good ideas.  We need more books empowering children.  Kylie Jean over hears the fifth graders talking about their project for Earth Day and decides she wants to create her own project because the fifth graders never think the second graders can do anything.  In sharing her idea with friends, they decide they could organize a playground clean up day at school.  Kylie Jean and her friends not only launch this project but get the whole town involved to make a positive difference. Kylie Jean has a knack for asking the right person to help with a specific job.  While reading how the project develops, the reader will also follow two story lines about goals.  Kylie Jean hopes to be a beauty queen and her grandmother the president of the Garden Club.  Of course the goals are met but the journey there is cute and charming.  

Along the journey the reader will learn many factual tips for conserving energy and water.  Things that can be done on a daily basis to live out the mission of Earth Day.  Making this a perfect read aloud right before Earth Day this year.  I was happy to learn this is Kylie Jean's newest book but there are more Kylie Jean books! I'm still wondering why I am just meeting this adorable character.

Monday, February 1, 2016

#nf10for10 Sneak Peak with Wonderopolis!

It's an honor to host a #WonderChat tonight with my friend Cathy Mere.  

Wonderopolis is a perfect companion for nonfiction picture books and I thought I would share a #nf10for10 post early to give you some concrete examples.  When I began pulling ten nonfiction books I like to use from various favorite nonfiction authors I was surprised how easy it was to find a Wonder related to my picture book!  #nf10for10 is all about sharing books we love and I think pairing a Wonder with a picture book is one of the best ways to compare and contrast important points between too text.  

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

#WonderChat and #nf10for10

I'm so excited to share I am co-hosting a #WonderChat this coming Monday night with my friend Cathy Mere.  We are honored they contacted us and saw value in our #nf10for10 event, coming up later this month.  Connecting with Wonderopolis feels just right in many ways.  They produce nonfiction pieces of writing for readers to read.  They encourage readers to ask questions and be inquisitive.  They provide lots of tools to engage readers with comprehension strategies and vocabulary learning.  

Cathy and I have generated some fun questions to think about combining Wonderopolis with nonfiction picture books.  We have some tidbits to share with participants during our chat.  I'm really excited about all of these tidbits but I'm bursting at the seams about one in particular that I have to give you a little hint about right now!  

I have an early #nf10for10 post coming out that night where I pair a Wonder with a nonfiction picture book.  I'm convinced there's a wonder for almost any nonfiction picture book out there.  It was so EASY to find a wonder and connect it with one of my favorite nonfiction books for this post.  

I hope you can join us this coming Monday!  
Encourage your friends to come too!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Gooseberry Park - Cynthia Rylant - My Favorite Read Aloud

Ok, claiming a Favorite Read Aloud might be a bit of a stretch because I have many favorite read alouds but Gooseberry Park by Cynthia Rylant has many things I just love about it to earn this title.  

1.  It's my favorite WINTER read aloud.  The story takes place during winter time and an ice storm presents some pretty big challenges for the characters.

2.  It's my favorite LENGTHIER read aloud.  Unfortunately, with schedule changes and time over the years I tend to shy away from lengthier read alouds.  However, the chapters in this book are short enough to finish when you have a few minutes and also allows you to read more if you have the time and the students are begging for more.  

3.  Student ENGAGEMENT is high!  As I already mentioned my students beg for more of this story because the characters are interesting, funny, and tug at our hearts.  You'll meet Kona the dog, Stumpy the squirrel, Murray the bat, and Qwendolyn the hermit crab, along with Professor Albert.  Yes, this is an interesting combination of animals to create a story with.

4.  Student's INTERACTION is positive.  You know you have a great read aloud when student's sit leaning forward at the carpet, laughing, and sighing at all the right places.  Their smiles and glistening eyes tell you they are hooked and reading this book was a great decision.  We can't forget to observe body language as a formative assessment piece.

5.  I was shocked to learn this book was published in 1995!  It's twenty years old and I hadn't read it aloud since I taught third grade and remember my students loving it back then.  This just reminds me with all the new and wonderful books being published, we can't forget some of the great ones we have used in the past.  This was the perfect book to spend more time with as we eased back into learning from winter break.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Nonfiction 10 for 10 is coming!

Today is the official start for the Nonfiction 10 for 10, blog-o-sphere sharing event countdown. It is just one month away!  This year the timing is even more perfect because there are 29 days in February so there's an extra day for reading post and gathering titles you want to explore.  Happy Leap Year!  We are hoping new and old friends will join us to share their favorite nonfiction picture books. February is the month of love and most teachers I know LOVE books.  

Cathy and I host the Picture book 10 for 10 in August which is always fun because we are fresh and excited for a new school year.  In 2013, our friend Julie suggested hosting a Nonfiction Picture Book 10 for 10 and boy were we glad she did!  We didn't mean to ignore the world of nonfiction with our picture book love.  After doing some research on the kinds of books people were sharing for #pb10for10, we noticed most posts were sharing books that didn't include nonfiction titles.   

If you are nervous about joining, please don't be.  We know the school year is busy for everyone.  Your posts can be as simple as a list of titles.  People enjoy a small nugget to peak their interest but don't feel this event requires a dissertation about each book you are sharing.  How you share is totally up to you.  I'll share my past posts to give a sense of what yours could be.

My 2013 list  - general list of favorites
My 2014 list  - was a theme list - nonfiction books for a house with three girls.    
My 2015 list - had a genre focus of biographies I love in second grade  

Here is our twitter hashtag feed - #nf10for10, to stay up to date with those joining us and reminders. 

Here are the official details to participate and it's really easy, we hope to see you there.
  • What:  10 nonfiction books you can't live without!
  • Hashtag:  #nf10for10
  • Who:  Anyone interested - educators, media specialists, librarians, parents, etc.  
  • When:  Friday, February 19th - Yahoo, it's the start of a weekend!
  • Where:  All posts will be linked on the 2016 #nf10for10 page of our Picture Book 10 for 10 Google Community Site.  

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Slice of Life - Why Taking Down Student Chairs is Important

The lights are off.  I'm moving about my classroom taking down chairs we turned over the night before to end our day and to help our custodian sweep underneath.  There's a rhythm in movement and sound as I take each chair down and I began pondering, why.  Why for over 20 years of teaching do I take down each student's chair when I arrive to the classroom?  

The quick answer is my mentors did this in my old district; but there is more as I keep asking why.  Yes, the chairs are heavy.  Yes, taking down the chairs can be a bit loud when it's more than one.  Those are just obvious reasons and if it's been a routine my whole teaching career there has to be more.   I keep probing deeper and realize, it's more inviting.  I want the students to feel the room is ready for learning and being together.  The room looks more open.  The table tops look more inviting.  I hope this brings a feeling of encouragement and a feeling of comfort.  

I then think about the end of the day when my students help put the chairs up for the night.  It's louder.  It's noisier.  It's quicker but I feel it's the responsible thing to do to help our custodian with his cleaning.  I'm wondering now if this is a signal, a routine to say our day is done.  Our tables are not inviting now.  We need to go home and rest.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for inviting teachers to write and share their writing with each other.  This community helps teachers and students grow in writing.