Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Slice of Life - I don't like...

I was able to walk away from my bigger writing project this summer while the top editors were reading and offering their suggestions.  I got my writing back last night with suggestions, questions, and editing guidance.  I appreciate all of their feedback and it's pushing my own thinking.  However, 24 hours later I'm still feeling ICK about the process.  It's not ICK over their feedback.  It's not ICK over using google documents.  It's not ICK over the feeling of them asking for more writing and me wondering if I have any more in me.  

It's ICK about not having a face to face writing conference.  I'm desperately missing a face to face conversation with our top editors.  I know his/her kind face, pausing, thinking, and questioning is soft spoken, filled with reflection.  It's also nurturing and guiding in a way different way than these little boxes.   I want a smile from these little comment boxes.  I want the little boxes to see my puzzlement or worry, but they don't.  

As I think about this process, I find things that aren't ICK.  I love using Google Documents and love the little comment boxes where others can record their thinking and I can check them off when I have resolved them.  I also love using the comment boxes for my own notes for feedback or recording suggestions from a face to face writing conference.  I enjoy co-collaborating using Google Documents.  

This experience is going to impact my writing workshop this year.  I'm going to have to provide feedback to my students in person.  I may use a comment box or a sheet of paper or post it note but when that writer is receiving a chunk of feedback at one time, especially the first time I want it to be in person.  I want to help the writer embrace a range of emotions and be available to them, if they have questions.  I don't want my students to feel ICK about writing.

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Monday, July 27, 2015

What if? by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

It was a treat to find, What if? by Laura Vaccaro Seeger on sale a couple of weeks ago.  I originally picked it up because the simple text intrigued me for engaging student's with questioning.  There is a repeating question cycle that happens three times.

What if...?
And what if...?
Then what if...?
But then...
Or...

I thought wouldn't it be wonderful to have my students think about the same idea and notice switch the wording, to open further thinking and inquiry.  However, I realized on my second read these questions do not stand alone and this book is filled with lots of thinking.  The pictures tell the story and while the text stays the same, the images tell three different possible scenarios.  I found this completely clever as a reader and had to go back and look at the first cycle of questions to figure out the second one.  I imagine a lot of classroom discussions and multiple reads to to understand and read the different possible scenarios.  Then on my third read, I discovered this is a book about friendship and including everyone.  That message sounds like one we all need to share with students as we think about a new school year.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Poetry Friday - My New Favorite Resource


At The Farmers' Market
by Buffy Silverman

A peach,
a pear, 
a bag of beans,

Onions,
carrots,
lettuce greens.

Crispy,
crunchy,
juicy, sweet...

Pick your 
favorite 
veggie treat!


One of my goals for the upcoming school year is to use poetry more within our community for literacy work and enjoyment.  Over the years I have been better with finding poems to match our unit of study in content areas and finding poems to help us study word study features.  I've used poetry for reading mini lessons and taught units of poetry writing.  However, last year when I switched grade levels poetry was a sprinkle here or there.  Yikes!  The first step in using poetry more is to rebuild a poetry collection to use in second grade.  My students will keep their own poetry notebook and receive copies of the poems we read together and discuss.  I decided last spring I wanted my collection of poetry to focus on celebrations, content area learning, and word study features.  Poems selected in any of these three areas can be used for literacy mini lessons.  

The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong is one of my new favorite resources to help me with my goal of using poetry more.  There are 156 poems by 115 different authors, all written for children.  Each poem has a Take 5! mini-lesson that suggestions for using a particular poem with students.  These suggestions are wonderful.  They begin with a suggestion for introducing/connecting the poem to the students.  Then suggestions for engaging the students are offered along with a discussion idea for following the shared reading.  Each poem is paired with a picture book, which opens doors for all kinds of thinking and comparisons.  The last suggestion involves connecting this poem with another poem or poetry book.  We are blessed to have so much thought and guidance for using these poems with students.

The introduction/guide that begins this text is filled so much valuable information for educators.  You won't want to miss out on their ten easy tips for reading poetry aloud, thinking about using picture books with poetry, or the thinking behind lexiles and leveling poetry.  I just love this quote.

"Poetry for children begs to be heard, to be shared out loud, to be talked about.  
It is a social connection as well as a language experience."

Thank you Margaret at Reflections on the Teche for hosting this week.

-

Thursday, July 23, 2015

#CyberPD - Digital Reading Part 3

I didn't want the book to end.  I just have to be honest but if good books have to end then this ended the way I wanted it to.  "But in this digital age, we both believe that we must keep our eye on the literacy assessment practices we have trusted for years."  

Franki along with other mentors have had me conducting reading interviews with students for twenty years.  However, I was nudge here and wrote revamp next to Franki's new list of questions.  I completely agree if we want to foster digital readers we need to find out where they are to see changes during the school year.  

I enjoyed the very encouraging pep talk on the bottom of p92.  Digital tools are not meant to throw out things we've done previously.  They are meant to be an addition for creating and fostering successful communicators.  I feel comfortable with the suggested list of tools for assessing reading.  I just need to now think with intention when and why we will use them in our classroom community.  I am pondering if second graders can annotate on digital devices, has anyone tried this with primary children?  I'd love some tips.  

I want to quote Franki and Bill at my curriculum night, "I realize it was the conversations around these projects - not the projects themselves that truly mattered most."  I think it's important to not only share the projects when they are completed but share the journey, which in turn may foster more conversations or an extended conversation.  I do understand sometimes it's hard for students to share all they have done during their day when they are tired after school but we are doing some meaningful work hopefully out side of recess and lunch.  

I have been using a website for quite some time for communicating with families and have always received positive feedback but I never considered this as an act for engaging parents themselves as digital readers.  I think this could be another talking point at curriculum night.  Who is a digital reader?  Who has checked out our class website?  Then if you have, you are a digital reader.  This scenario might be a good lead in to guiding parents through the various tools we will use this year at our curriculum night and help them log in if necessary or have some intentional guidance for following through at home.  I'm familiar with some of the other digital communication tools and will be spending some time over the next few weeks in deciding exactly what I will use this next year.  

Thank you to Cathy, Laura, and Michelle for co-hosting and generating some summer #CyberPD love!




Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Slice of Life - book flaps





Me - "How's your new book series?  The one we got over the weekend."
B - "It's great!"
Me - "What makes it great?"
B - "It's fantasy."

Silence. (I'm not getting anything more easily, I think.)

Me - "What makes it fantasy, is there magic, what are the characters doing?"
B - "You know how the book is hardback?"
Me - "Yes, just the first one."
B - "I love when books have the paper cover because then you can use the front flap for a bookmark and then when you get further in the book, you can use the back flap as a bookmark.  It's GREAT for when you can't find a bookmark to use, like me right now."

Interesting.  (I'm thinking, at least she has no plans to dog-ear the pages.)


All day I've been pondering this conversation. I didn't get much of a book conversation going.  I learned she likes the book.  She likes it because it's fantasy.  I saw her reading it yesterday, so she's sticking with it.  We don't buy a lot of hardback books but the book flap as a bookmark is an interesting feature.  It's also interesting because for many years prior to this the book jackets always came/come off of books because she didn't like them.  They got in the way.  Now that she sees a purpose beside the given purpose, book jackets are GREAT!  

Kids are so interesting.  Sometimes we have to set aside our own agendas and let them lead a conversation to discover something unique or special or enjoyable to them.  I can't wait to make the time this fall to find interesting nuggets with my new readers.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for hosting and fostering this writing community.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

#CyberPD - Digital Reading Part 2

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Chapters 3-5 in Digital Reading by Bill Bass and Franki Sibberson this week.  When you read several books by the same author its like visiting with a friend.  I find their writing together friendly, inviting, and encouraging.  I really hope other participants are feeling the same way as you continue to read about using technology in your literacy work.  Personally, I'm finding this book nudging and pushing me to do more with my students and digital reading.  I've been skimming the surface with technology and I'm feeling some nudges and pushes by reading Bill and Franki's book to find ways to use technology with more authenticity, with intentional decisions in hopes of becoming more connected.  

In making the work in my classroom authentic, I clearly need to share and think carefully about my own digital reading life.  I loved the questions on p30 and thought they might make good mini lesson topics for my second graders.  I also think these might be worth talking to parents.  I wonder if they are digital readers?  I wonder if they share their digital reading with their child?  I usually invite parents to come in and share their reading lives with us and over the years my students have loved to ask if they read on an e-reader.  Maybe my informational letter about reading to families needs to include a digital reading piece.  

I want to model digital reading more in our workshop and have digital reading an option for my students.  I think a Symbaloo board called, Places We Read might be a great project in the near future.  This way students could also access it from home.  In the past, a few students have owned an e-reader but they haven't brought them to school.  I wonder why and might offer that as an option, my district does have a BYOD policy.

Several times throughout these three chapters I read Voices from the Classroom scenarios that connected written digital or video pieces to content areas of learning.  I think this might be a great first step with our primary learners.  I want to spend some time exploring and finding digital text to compliment our science and social studies content, especially. I'm wondering how Franki or others organize the clips they use?  Our school days are being reorganized and we are being asked to do more without any additional time.  Integrating the content areas into our literacy work might be very helpful and vice a versa.  

The connected piece has been missing in my classroom community.  I have not had parents or encouraged parents to leave us comments on our classroom blog.  I have not shared it very publicly for others to learn along with us.  I've created a twitter account and just last spring figured out how to work around district filters to be engaged with it.  We were able to connect with Amy LV at Poetry Farm and what a great experience this was for my students.  I think our twitter focus will be to connect with other classrooms and authors or professionals in our field/area of learning, not a reminder of things for parents.  I hope to Skype with an author this year, participate in Global Read Aloud and World Read Aloud Day, all things I have known about but never participated in.  

As you can tell, I have lots of things swirling through my head.  Thank goodness for summer to regroup and connect with all of you to help me grow.  Thank you to Cathy, Laura, and Michelle for co-hosting and generating some summer #CyberPD love!



Saturday, July 11, 2015

10 for 10 Picture Book is Coming!

Dear Cathy,

I have to be honest with you.   I don't have a clue what my #pb10for10 will be about this year.  If you recall last year I was SO ahead of the game and even changed my plan up to focus on a theme.  I don't know if you realized how big this was for me.  I like routine and by just tweaking my list each year a smidge, I've been comfortable with our project together.  However, since I had the list already by this time last year and it had a theme I am sweating just sitting here in my kitchen.  

What will I do?  This year life is a bit calmer because I'm going to be teaching second grade again.  Yahoo!  Maybe I can ponder what kinds of picture books I want to use right away because August 10th is my first teacher work day with students coming on the 12th!  Maybe I can think of a content area I need to collect books for.  Maybe I can make a collection for a writing or reading unit.  But wait, maybe I can collect some poetry books to share with my students.  Oh my, this idea of a theme has endless possibilities and while I'm thinking about all of the content theme areas why not a list of books to enjoy on any day of the school year, just because.  If I don't want to stress out about something new, I could always go back to an old list and think about tweaking that.  

I certainly hope our #pb10for10 friends will join us and stay tuned to my dilemma this year and that my thinking above helps them generate some ideas.  


Participating
We are hoping you will join us.  
  1. Contact Us:  Contact us on our blogs, on Twitter (@mandyrobek or @cathymere), or by e-mail to let us know you are joining this event.  This way we can try to be sure we don't miss anyone on the day of the event.  
  1. Grab a Badge:  Add the Picture Book 10 for 10 Badge to your blog.  
  1. Choose your favorites:  All you need to do is choose ten picture books you cannot live without for whatever reason.  Believe me, that's not as easy as it sounds.  Here are some tips that might help (Choosing Picture Books and More About Choosing Picture Books). 
  1. Write Your August 10th Post:  Write a post telling us about the 10 books you cannot live without.  Share your post on August 10th and link it to our Google Plus community, which Cathy will provide more information on and I will update that here.
  1. No Blog?  No Problem:  If you don't have a blog this might be the perfect time to start one --- or you can find alternate ways to participate here.  Cathy and I are not huge rule followers so feel free to adjust as needed.  
  1. Enjoy August 10th:  It's such a fun day to be in the blogging/twitter world!  We feel fortunate to have so many friends new and old join us and share some book love.  This is our 6th year and each year we aren't the only ones reserving lots of library books and/or increasing our personal book budgets!
Pass the news along to all your crazy picture book friends.  Educators, media specialists, parents, book enthusiasts are all welcome!  The more the merrier!