Thursday, July 20, 2017

Princess Cora and the Crocodile

Author Laura Amy Schlitz
Illustrator Brian Floca
Candlewick Press, 2017
review copy provided by the publisher


I shut Princess Cora and the Crocodile and realized I want every student in my room to read this and every parent.  The student part is easy, it could be a read aloud.  However, the parent part could be tricky.  In the past during the winter months I held a family book group event in the evening, this book might just be a great book to use for that event.

Princess Cora works hard every day learning and training to be a princess.  She spends long hours with her nanny, mother and father working on different aspects of being a princess.  She must be clean all the time so she takes baths three times a day.  She must be physically fit so she jump roped five hundred times.  She had to read books that were not interesting and old.  One day she can't take it any more and sends a request to her fairy godmother for help because no one listens to her.  

The next morning she wakes up to a cardboard box in her room with a crocodile inside it!  The crocodile is here to help her.  He dresses up as Cora and tries to do her normal day while Cora goes out exploring the outside; getting dirty, built a fort, waded in the stream.  Let's just say the plan doesn't work out easily for the crocodile or Cora's caregivers.  When Cora returns she's quite worried when the crocodile shares how his day went.  

She rushes to her nanny, mother, and father to tend to them and help them. Over dinner Cora shares her true feelings about her training and makes requests to change her days.  She wants more book choice, time to explore, and time to rest.  Don't we all need these three things.

As I'm writing and thinking about a family book group night, I'm thinking we'll have to serve cream puffs.




Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Dot.

written by Randi Zuckerberg
illustrated by Joe Berger
Harper, 2013
review copy from public library


I was looking at the new book shelf in our quaint little public library and across the room on a shelf Dot. started calling my name.  You see, I like polka dots and this is a perfect example of how a book cover can entice a reader.  I asked Mr. George my favorite public librarian about the book and he couldn't stop gushing about it.  I kept wondering, How did I miss this title?

Dot loves technology.  With two to five word sentences she shows the reader all the things she can do; surf, swipe, tweet, tap, and touch are a few examples.  After much technology doing,  Dot gets all talked out and is tired.  Her Mom sends her out the door, "Time to REBOOT!  RECHARGE!  RESTART!"  I fell in love with Mom right there.  Dot perks up with a smile when she gets outside with sunshine and remembers.  Here's the interesting twist.  All the things she shows the reader she can do with technology she does outside.  For example; she swipes when she finger paints!  The ending is the best because Joe Berger the illustrator shows the reader what balance looks like.  I think you'll like what he did.

Monday, July 17, 2017

But Why Does It Work?

written by Russell, Shifter, Kasman, Bastable, Higgins
Heinemann, 2017


But Why Does It Work? Mathematical Argument in the Elementary Classroom has a great title but I found it a little misleading.  I think the word, intermediate needs to be inserted before elementary.  There is much goodness in this book for third, fourth, and fifth teachers.  I love reading about teaching mathematics but found this book a bit challenging.  It's written with a bit more technical wording and research sitings.  If you are familiar with Number Talks, I think this is a nice extension  to that body of work.  I've never heard the phrase "productive lingering" and boy did I fall in love with it.  

These are nudges I found to try within my own work.
- encourage and allow productive lingering
- engage in mathematical argument by noticing patterns 
- encourage describing what they notice
- model and guide making conjectures
- work on representing patterns observed with math tools and resources


Here are some quotes that are sticking with me and might interest you in looking at this book mor

"Lingering" on students' ideas about important mathematics content had, they asserted, enabled their students to engage with mathematical ideas fundamental to their study of numbers and operations."

"Teachers found that after developing the habits of noticing patterns and regularities, students extended those habits to regular math instruction as they articulated conjectures about the mathematics they were studying."

"Through these explorations, students develop a stronger sense of how the number system works with different operations."

"By seeing the same idea represented in different forms, students develop a deeper understanding of the mathematical abstractions embodied in their conjecture."

"In sharing mathematical authority, a teacher must be open to the prospect of following students' thoughts as they unfold, knowing that sometimes these ideas could lead to a faulty conjecture or a winding route to the expected destination."

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Go sleep in your own bed!

written by Candace Fleming 
illustrated by Lori Nichols
Schwartz and Wade Books, 2017
review copy from public library

Go sleep in your own bed! is another fun book by Candace Fleming.  It's night time on the farm and the animals are all a jumble at bed time.  Pig just wants to go to bed but can't because Cow is there sleeping.  So Pig is firm and sends Cow to his own bed which is occupied by Hen.  The story continues in a similar pattern for horse, sheep, dog, and cat.  This would make a great choral reading with the repetitive phrase, "Go sleep in your own bed!"  There's some rich vocabulary to describe how each animal travels through the farm yard; tromped, straggled, and stumbled are a few examples.  Make sure you don't ignore the facial expressions for the each animal.  Lori Nicholas helps the characters show emotions and reactions with little details.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

the Friend Ship

written by Kat Yeh
illustrated by Chuck Groenink
Disney - Hyperion, 2016
review copy from public library


the Friend Ship is a charming story about a hedgehog who is feeling lonely.  She over hears someone is the forest talking about her and says she just needs to look for friendship.  I hope you've picked up on the play of words and incase you didn't, hedgehog jumps right up and imagines a ship labeled with masts, stern, topsail, and friends.  Hedgehog must own this ship because she sets off sailing and takes a journey where friends join her at various places.    Each friend has a reason to join the Friend Ship.  A few days later, surrounded by many animals hedgehog begins to feel lonely again.  Her friends offer words of encouragement and elephant helps her see what has been in front of her all the time.  The illustrations are done in natural/neutral tones creating a warm soft feeling for these characters.

I think this would make a great #classroombookaday - I'd like to hear my students discuss the author's message.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Picture Book 10 for 10 is just One Month AWAY!

Dear Cathy,

I'm so excited today!  It's July 10th which means August is coming up next and on August 10th we are lucky to host Picture Book 10 for 10.  I really should go back and reread your book, More than Guided Reading.  I remember writing my initial thoughts as a blogpost and discovering you left me a comment.  Talk about being starstruck!  Then you wanted to know some of my must have picture books to use in my classroom and I think that brought me anxiety, uncertainty, butterflies in my stomach.  We started chatting via Twitter and all of a sudden a little flake of an idea turned into a snowball rolling down a mountain and we were co-hosting a social media event together.

Now Cathy, I am a bit worried this year.  I've been spying on you a little bit and have noticed you are out and about.  You are on the coast and then you are getting coffee and then you are shopping for books without me.  It looks like you are zipping and zooming around stopping here and there.  I am not doing those things right now.  I'm back home here in Ohio holding down the fort.  I have a focus for my picture book sharing this year.  I purchased two new books.  I'm looking through resources for some titles to add to my list, I need 8 more.  I might even duck into my classroom to glance over the books I already own.  I really can't wait for you to see my list because it's matching up to another small project I'm collaborating on, thanks to Tony Keefer.  I like how I wrote small project, I'm pretty sure that's what Tony said in his direct tweet.  

So, Cathy I just want to remind you of the details for our #pb10for10 event.
  1. Grab a Badge (I like to select the image and save image as...)
  2. Join the #pb10for10 Google Community
  3. Choose Your Favorites:  All you need to do is choose ten picture books you cannot live without for whatever reason.  In the first days of this event, everyone shared their ten very favorite titles.  This still works.  You will notice, however, that many past participants choose some type of theme to determine their selections.  We'll leave this up to you.
  4. Narrow Your List to Ten:  It isn't easy, is it?  We've seen some crafty ways to get around that number, but really ten is plenty. 
  5. Write Your August 10th Post:  Write a post about the ten books you cannot live without.  Share your post on August 10th and link it to the Picture Book 10 for 10 Community.  
  6. No Blog?  No Problem:  If you don't have a blog, this might be the perfect time to start one --- or now with the Google Community it is quite easy to just post your favorites directly into the community without a blog.  We will also be tweeting from the #pb10for10 hashtag.
  7. Comment:  On August 10th (and maybe for a week --- there are a lot of posts) take some time to read posts from other participants.  Please comment on at least three.
Hurry Home Cathy!  You've got some work ahead of you!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Mae and June and the Wonder Wheel

written by Charise Mericle Harper
illustrated by Ashley Spires
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017
review copy from public library

I was excited to see Charise Mericle Harper of the Just Grace series has a new book written for transitional readers.  June and her dog Sammy are trying to stay away from June's older sister Isabella, she's a teenager now and doesn't like to play anymore.  Together they decide their next mission will be to find a new friend to play with and luckily new neighbors are moving in next door.  In the meantime Grandma Penny sends a gift, a wonder wheel to put together.  Chapter 8 is all about building the wonder wheel and the different categories they will inquire about each week.  June and Sammy watch the new neighbors a lot and hope she, Mae will be fun to play with.  Unfortunately, at school Mae is spending time getting to know other new friends.  The story is about fitting in, making new friends, and being a good friend.  It's not always easy making new friends and I love how June could share her Wonder Wheel with Mae; giving them something in common to start a friendship with.  I hope there will be more  Mae and June stories coming.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Pest, Duck, Jan Thomas - Perfect Combinations!



written and illustrated by Jan Thomas
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Co, 2017
review copies from public library

I knew when I saw these two new titles by Jan Thomas at our public library, I would immediately fall in love.  I found myself not reading her books in second grade as much because they are simpler. I missed the love and enjoyment my kindergarteners had with her titles.  I was surprised when I dabbled in #classroombookoftheday at the end of the year that my students had missed listening to Jan Thomas books in kindergarten and in first grade.  We read my collection and joy just radiated with belly laughter.  I can't wait to add these titles to my collection and include them in a daily read aloud at the end of our day.

There's a PEST in the Garden! is filled with voice, character energy, and humor.  There's a pest in the garden eating the crops that have started growing.  Dog, donkey, and sheep try to predict what Pest will eat next while Duck is warning them it could be the turnips!  Pest eats the item not predicted and Duck comes up with a plan to save his turnips.  I can't give it away but let's just say the new garden has a fence to avoid the Pests.  Did you notice Pest went to Pests?  The illustrations are filled with information to help tell this story.

Leave it up to Duck to be worried something is chasing him and require help from his friends.  Each friend listens to the clues and imagines an unfriendly creature.  Thankfully, Dog recognizes the creature and the friends come to find out the creature is trying to return a turnip to Duck!  The creature drops an acorn and gets scared when the friends try to chase him to return it.  This book as with all of Jan Thomas books are filled with voice, character energy, and humor.  

In both books, carefully notice the end pages before and after reading the text.  Cute connections once you've read the story.


Monday, July 3, 2017

Every Child a Super Reader

I'm so excited to study and work with the text, Every Child a Super Reader this upcoming school year through The Literacy Connection. (stayed tuned for updated information this year at www.literacyconnection.org.)  I've heard both authors Pam Allyn and Ernest Morrell speak at different conference and I always walk away feeling inspired in my work and inspired to be a better person.  

It makes me sad to admit, I've had students leave my classroom not loving or very engaged with reading and I can honestly say I've given it my best shot with each one.  I've found books of interest and even written simple books about something they like.  I've been flexible in the different types of reading and genres they can read.  I've modeled being a reader and when we do find a reading hook, I get more books by the author or in the series.  With all this effort, I still feel sad I just couldn't hook that child.  But what if...they understood more about being a reader?  What if they experienced and saw modeled strengths of a super reader?  Pam and Ernest have outlined and shared  those strengths with readers; belonging, curiosity, friendship, kindness, confidence, courage, and hope.  

Each strength has it's own chapter and begins with examples and defining the strength as a reader.  Ideas are shared for promoting this strength in your classroom.  There's a focus lesson with an action students can take for the specific strength being discussed.  Then there's a close reading lesson and directions to think through the specific strength using a mentor text.  There are suggestions for using technology with each strength and ideas to help families promote the super reader strengths at home.  

For teachers who love some details for instruction or ways to apply what they have read the last third of the book is just for you.  Concrete examples for different reading structures are discussed.   There are language stems to help discussions and each strength is described in the different reading structures and examples for what each strength looks like.  For example; in reading about reading partners courage looks like this; I work with different people in my class - even if they're not my best friends.  I could go on and on about the valuable ideas but will be sharing more about this text as we work through it this year.  

I would like to share with you another invaluable component of this text, picture book lists for each strength gathered in collections of K - 2, 3 - 5, and 6 - 8.  


These are nudges I found to try within my own work.

- throughout the year show students how 7 strengths are apparent in our/their work as readers
- focus more on building a social community around reading within our classroom
- make heart maps earlier in the year to get to know children and not just in a poetry unit
- celebrate small reading steps and more often with my readers
- explore http://www.scholastic.com/super-reader/


Here are some quotes that are sticking with me and might interest you in looking at this book more.


"Super reading impacts every aspect of a child's life: the personal, social, academic, and civic."

"The child who reads gains comfort, community and connection to the wider world."

"The lack of questions in classrooms is a direct consequence of children's disengagement from reading, writing, and a love of learning."

"Choice is crucial.  It is important to give children the agency to discover their interests, likes, and dislikes as readers in order to build their identities as readers."

"Stamina is the most underrated yet crucial element of how super readers build their muscles."

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Double or Nothing with the Two and Only Kelly Twins

written by Johanna Hurwitz
illustrated by Tuesday Mourning
Candlewick Press, 2017
review copy from public library

I was so excited to see Johanna Hurwitz has a new book out.  She's been an author I've enjoyed since I started teaching for books that are realistic and connect to readers.  Double of Nothing with the Two and only Kelly Twins is adorable and explores issues of sameness, being different, and lice.  Arlene and Ilene are identical twins.  They look alike, dress alike, and discover they like different things.  However, they do everything together until a sleepover with another set of twins or do not do everything together.  To Arlene and Ilene's surprise this sleepover is planned to be at two different houses.  The girls are splitting up and readers wonder and push through his chapter to see if they survive.  If you've experienced lice in your home or your classroom you know it's not an easy thing take care of mentally deal with.  I enjoyed reading the chapter about how the girls and their friends with the help of their school dealt with lice.  I think it could help someone after reading this.  While this is a transitional reader there aren't pictures or plenty of white space to help the reader.  Instead, this book has chapters that could stand alone which makes comprehension easier to understand.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

King and Kayla and the Case of the Secret Code


written by Dori Hillestad Butler
Illustrated by Nancy Meyers
Peachier Publishers 2017
review copy from public library

I discovered King and Kayla and the Case of the Secret Code at our lovely Main library last week in the children's section and just had to find out more about these two adorable characters.  King is a dog and Kayla is a little girl and together they are detectives.  You might be wondering how a dog is a detective.  King is a detective by retrieving things, smelling things, and thinking to himself.  It's very interesting because the humans don't understand King but his actions and the thinking the reader follows allows the reader to understand his helpful role more.  

Mason and Kayla receive letters that are in a jumbled code.  They work with King to figure out who sent them and learn how to decipher them.  I can't share the who or how the mystery is solved but readers will love how it's solved and probably want to try their own code writing.  I've been reading a lot lately about diverse books and children needing to see themselves in them, this would make a nice addition to any library for this reason.   This is a great book for transitional readers with lots of white space, picture support and text spread out.  It also looks like there are a couple more titles with King and Kayla.  I hope more books are coming.



Monday, June 26, 2017

joy write by Ralph Fletcher

I love when I find books that nurture my soul and not make me worry or panic there's more to learn or do.  Ralph Fletchers words in joy write are gentle, kind, encouraging, and offer nudges to make students and writing the focus of our work.  As I read this book I kept reflecting on the work I ready by Donald Graves when I began my teaching journey.  Ralph has created the phrase greenbelt writing to help us understand writing and writing time should be protected in it's natural environment.  This writing from us and our students should be real, authentic, informal, comfortable, personal and filled with joy/passion.  If you are feeling you need support to balance units on narrative, opinion, and informational writing then this book is for you.


These are nudges I found to try within my own work.

-give my writers moments of freedom, finding a balance genre standards

-use greenbelt writing as a way to get to know my students, as people

-remember writing workshop was not intended to be formulaic or extremely structured

-encourage, embrace, celebrate low stakes writing

-find the humor and try to enjoy feral writing students may produce




Here are some quotes that are sticking with me and might interest you in looking at this book more.

"I believe Piaget was right: we learn by doing, from our own experience.  We learn to write by writing on a daily basis."

"Blanket compliance to any program is dangerous.  Compliance doesn't allow for our intelligence, thoughtfulness, or professionalism."  (find this on page 18 for more)

"I believe it's important for kids to begin developing their own internal standards for what makes good writing."

"When you work with a reluctant writer, it's helpful to expand your definition of writing to include drawing, sketching, and doodling."

"But for many students, this low-stakes writing will have higher impact than any of the "school writing" they produce."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Rain by Sam Usher

author and illustrator Sam Usher
Candlewick Press, 2017
review copy provided by the publisher

When I began reading Rain I was touched by the relationship between the two characters; a little boy and a grandfather.  The little boy is wanting to have creative adventures out in the rain but the grandfather is putting him off a bit and wanting to wait for the rain to stop.  The boy's ideas are creative and action packed.  The grandfather listens patiently but isn't willing to join in.  The rain stops and the grandfather has a letter to mail.  The two of them get dressed to head outside and have a grand adventure.  The grandfather wasn't hesitant this time to join in and play.  The grandfather shares, "You see the very best things are always worth waiting for."  I think with the author's message directly stated this would be a great text to help students discuss things that happened in the story to help get this message across.

I love illustrations that are soft; warm tones, thin black lines to offer details and simple ways to show action.



Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd

I discovered the book Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd when @jenjmcdonough shared it during a Wonderopolis twitter chat.  The book begins with the question, "What is wild?  And where can you find it?"  As I read this book, I discovered it's more than just defining wild.  It's a book showing readers how to wonder and notice.  It even shows the reader that you might not notice right away but if you spend more time looking you will notice new things.  Wild can be captured with different senses.  The reader follows a young boy and girl as they explore wild in the great outdoors to a city setting.  The author lives in Washington DC; loving the woods and the beach while the illustrator Abigail Halpin lives in Maine.  I think both of their settings and experiences are clearly shared throughout the text.  This will definitely be a read aloud within the first month of school.

Here's a page of text to help nudge you to explore this book.

"Wild is full of smells - fresh mint, ancient cave, sun-baked desert, sharp pine, salt sea.  Every scent begging you to drink it in."

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros

The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros was my first summer professional read and lifted my soul.  It gave me hope and reminders why I became an educator.  I read it on my Kindle and have over two hundred notes.  I can't think of another book I've read recently that had so many thoughts I wanted to refer back to help my overall thinking.  The premise of the book - "I'm defining innovation as a way of thinking that creates something new and better...innovation is a way of thinking.  It is a way of considering concepts, processes and potential outcomes; it is not a thing, task, or even technology."  This is a book for classroom teachers and administration.  Often there are things mentioned for the whole of a district but as I reflected on those thoughts they apply to a classroom setting.  

If it's in your stack this summer, move it up.  If it isn't in your stack stop what you are doing and buy it or borrow it as soon as possible!  If you've already read it, you might want to revisit it.


These are nudges I found to try within my own work.
-start things slower, establish relationships with students and between students
-make growth mandatory for myself as an educator and my students
-create things with the knowledge we are acquiring, taking a growth mindset a step further
-adjust to my learners, don't let them fall into a pattern of compliance
-teach about resiliency, try and fail and try again
-try some new or different things at a district level to "lead"
-blog more again, share and connect with others



Here are some quotes that are sticking with me and might interest you in looking at this book more.

"Change is an opportunity to do something amazing."


"We forget if students leave school less curious than when they started, we have failed them."

"...relationships are at the crux of everything we do"

"But to develop these traits in our people, we must empower them; we must inspire innovation, rather than demand compliance."

"Change is inevitable.  Growth is optional."

"I believe it's possible to have kids who are deep thinkers, creators, and innovators, and still do well on their exams, but I do not want to forsake those critical elements for the latter."


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Farmer Duck is 25 Years Old!

Readers everywhere are so lucky Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell and Helen Oxenbury is being celebrated by Candlewick Press.  In 1992 it made it's first appearance in the inaugural list of new books for Candlewick Press.  Together they have had an integral part in developing readers.

This book couldn't be more timely to be revisited.  We need books about friendship, justice, and fairness.  Poor Duck does all the work around the farm while the farmer lays in bed eating chocolates and being lazy.  Even though it's summer, I think I need to find a group of emergent readers to join in and chorally read this with me.  I can hear them in my head after I read, "How goes the work?"  They read with energy, "Quack".  The animals plot how to get the farmer out of bed and their plan surprised me a bit.  It leaves the animals working together to run the farm.  While the text appears perfect for emerging readers I think older students would have a lot to say around justice and fairness.  I'm also thinking it's a great visual for teamwork.

As I read this book, I thought it would pair well with Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin.  A huge shoutout to Candlewick Press for this copy to preview.

Monday, June 5, 2017

A Squiggly Story by Andrew Larsen

A Squiggly Story by Andrew Larsen is a book to revisit a few times to discuss different aspects of writing workshop.  Right away, I could empathize with main character as she describes her older sister.  Quite often younger siblings have a comparison hurdle to overcome.  The little brother is stuck, unsure how to get started writing and worried he doesn't know how to write.  The older sister is encouraging and they actually have a little writing conference to help him get started.  The older sister is positive and offers suggestions, isn't that what we try to do as teachers?  I'm reminded about my classrooms filled with kindergarten writers.  The little boy brings his story to sharing circle at school and "reads" his story which is a verbal retelling more detailed and involved than his actual writing.  I love how the little boy admits he's stuck and his peers offer helpful suggestions.  Writers grow with peer feedback.  The ending is a celebration in itself for this new writer and one I can't give away.

I'll be honest, at first I wanted the boy's writing to be more phonetic because I thought the book was about the actual writing but it's not.  It's about a process.  It's about a community that supports each other.  This will be a must read for next year in our room.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Windows by Julia Denos coming Oct 2017

Windows by Julia Denos with illustrations done by E. B. Goodale takes place at twilight in an urban setting.  The main character takes his dog for a walk and notices things within the windows as their lights turn on.  Observations are made about the activities within the neighborhood windows along with predictions.  Words are carefully chosen to create comparisons for the reader to ponder.  As I read the text, I found myself noticing and observing windows not mentioned in the text and wondering about the contents or people inside.  I think this would be a great book to encourage noticing and wondering.  

The illustrations are delightful.  E. B. Goodale used ink, watercolor, letterpress, and digital collage and I just want to know more about the digital collage.  The combination of these mediums adds texture and depth to each page.  The curtains look like gauze with the detailed thin lines.  The screen door looks realistic with depth to see the building on the other side of the street.  

The ending of the story is endearing.  One that will touch the heart of teachers who teach reading.  A story that celebrates home and the safety of your surrounding which provides comfort.


A huge shoutout to Candlewick Press for sending along this Advanced Reader Copy.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Even Steven and Odd Todd {Math Monday}

I just discovered Even Steven and Odd Todd by Kathryn Cristaldi to use during math workshop.  Even Steven and Odd Todd are cousins and complete opposites.  Even Steven is very organized and likes to have equal groups of objects.   Odd Todd enjoys odd things and groups of things that can't be shared equally.  My students really enjoyed figuring out how the character names connected to the actions each character did within the story.  The story begins with Even Steven making 12 pancakes for breakfast so he's have 6 for lunch.  His plan had potential until Odd Todd eats 3 pancakes and Even Steven gets mad.  Their interactions continue to have some frustrations and funny moments while leading the reader to think about odd and even numbers.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Tips for Creating a Board in Discovery Education

I've had access for Discovery Education for years through my district and on and off I go through phases where I will find a video and share it with the entire class.  I've loved using it has a visual for our content learning or a way to front load some work we are doing together.  Earlier this year I was talking with my college roommate on the phone and she started rattling off all these things I could do using Discovery Education.  My head started spinning because I knew none of this.  As with new learning, I felt a bit overwhelmed and wanted to spend some - one on one time with her to see and learn more. 

I recently had this opportunity while traveling south for spring break and stopped in NC to visit her.  She is currently in a position helping teachers embed technology into their days and encouraging them to try new things.  She's a natural teacher.  I loved hearing her share how she guided kindergarteners through using a Discovery Education board for research.  You can read about Wanda in a Discovery Education Community Member highlight post.  She showed me the feature Board Builder and her example for front loading a new classroom read aloud titled, Stone Fox.  You can search it in Discovery Education, if you have an account and see her work.

                                         


Think of board builder as virtual bulletin board.  You can gather and post images, videos, files, and documents in one place for students to access, view, and work with.  We are starting my new favorite book - Book Uncle and Me and I thought my students could benefit from some background knowledge about the setting and the concept of a lending library.  As I created this board on Monday, Wanda was able to answer some of my help text messages.  I learned a few things on my own and became very determined to create something for my students to use.  I had to do some trial and error attempts and search within the internet for some help. I thought I would share some initial tips with anyone who wants to explore Discovery Education and the board builder feature.  Creating a board  and personalizing it is so easy and fun.  A bit of artistic expression for creators.  

In general under the Professional Learning tab, you can find how to video clips under the Lead section.  These were super helpful and easy to follow.  These are some things I learned during my first attempt at creating a board for students to use.

1.  You can find lots of images and videos within Discovery Education.  

2.  You can use an image or video or image from an outside sources as long as they are saved on your device. It got a bit tricky for me here, make sure you visit the original site to save the photo and not from a search page of images.

3. You can click the edit button once to get a menu of activities you can use to change and create a box of information you want to insert.  

4.  On my Macbook Air I used an app, ClipGrab to save videos from Youtube and place within my board.

5.  A text box is the perfect spot to place any type of direction, an action you want your students to do after interacting with the board.  I had my students post a comment within a Schoology discussion.  

I thought I would share just five tips so here's a plus one bonus tip -

You can set the settings for sharing your board.  I suggest you save it to the DE Community so others can use it as a mentor for creating their own.  Once you select the DE Community you can select the permission level.  You can let other members view your board and possibly save a copy and edit for their own use.  How fun is it to have help from other users to enhance your own work with students.

Look for Book Uncle and Me in Discovery Education to see my final project.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Must Have for Readers and Teachers of Reading!

I couldn't stop reading Book Uncle and Me by Uma Krishnaswami!  I started it last night and came home to set a timer twice so I could balance reading and getting some things done.  Then I did a "chore" and my reward was finishing this book.  After you start this book, you'll have to decide if you are going to tune out everything around you or organize your time and have it help you get things done.

Yasmin has been reading a book every day for just over 400 days.  She gets a book every day from Book Uncle.  A retired teacher who has a loaning library on the street in India.  There are no fees or fines for borrowing his books.  He doesn't get upset if books don't get returned every so often.  His motto is - "Books.  Free.  Give one.  Take one.  Read-Read-Read."  

Unfortunately, Book Uncle receives a letter from the city stating he has to stop his lending library because he doesn't have a permit.  Yasmin rallies her school mates and community to help Book Uncle.  It involves empowering a community and becoming involved in a mayor election.  



Here are three lines I love from this story and hope you find, if you pick this book up.

"Right book for the right person for the right day.  As you know well, that is my motto."

"Sometimes you have to let the perfect book sit in your mind for a while before it begins to mean something."

"The book smell in the air turns me dizzy with joy."


This book was just published in 2016 and it appears Uma Krishnaswami has 20 books for readers from picture books to a couple of novels.  You can find out more about her at umakrishnaswami.org

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Tree - An Environmental Fable



I recently received The Tree - An Environmental Fable by Neal Layton as a review copy from Candlewick Press and thought this was a perfect book for young readers.  The illustrations convey this story easily with just enough details.  The text is simple and large to read.  The book begins showing different animals that use the tree as a home.  The reader is then introduced to new characters; humans with plans for the space where the tree is.  Their plan includes cutting the tree down but those plans are halted when they make a discovery that brings tears to the wives eyes.  They adjust their plans so all the characters in this book are able to enjoy and benefit from this tree.  A perfect reminder that humans can and should co-exist with nature.  


Thank you Candlewick Press and for promoting #readkindbekind

Thursday, March 2, 2017

a bus called heaven


I recently received a bus called heaven by Bob Graham as a review copy from Candlewick Press and thought the timing was just perfect.  An abandoned bus just appears one day in a city neighborhood.  The neighborhood gathers to look at this new strange addition to their street and small conversations begin.  Stella, a young girl begins to have a vision for the bus - a community space for all ages.  The bus transformation and how the community transforms gives it's readers hope.  Hope for a better tomorrow for communities near and far.  The bus is violating some ordinance in the city and gets towed away.  You'll have to pick up this little gem to see how Stella rescues the bus to keep the community together.

Thank you Candlewick Press and for promoting #readkindbekind

Monday, February 27, 2017

Snail and Worm - A Student Recommendation


I love when student's discover a book and tell me I have to read it.  Snail and Worm Three Stories About Two Friends by Tina Kugler is a delightful book about two friends.  There are three stories within this book that will give early readers a "chapter book" feel.  The first story is a sweet story about two friends playing tag.  The second story is about encouragement and doing something you think you might not be able to.  The third and final story is filled with simple humor but will delight primary students.   The combination of illustrations, small bits of text on a page, and the frequency of sight words will make this a great book for students.  

Friday, February 10, 2017

Nonfiction Books for Independent Reading in Second Grade - #nf10for10

Dear Betsy,

You sent me a message a few weeks ago asking me about reading levels in second grade and thinking about the reading your own special boy is doing.   Learning to read is a journey and you've mentioned it's a struggle over the years.  This night we chatted you said he had brought home a nonfiction book and nonfiction is hard.  You made me stop and think.  Nonfiction can be hard but does it have to be?  I wondered how can we simplify it a bit for those early readers so they can have some independence.  

My wondering turned into collecting books I thought your special boy might be able to read.  You'll notice the nonfiction features are simple and not hectic busy.  The text is larger, sometimes with a pattern and definitely pages with white space.  I love white space!  You will notice many of these are books have a series/collection from the same publisher giving you way more than ten ideas, maybe 100.  Some of these books are old and dear to my book loving heart.  I picked books that might spark some interest in fun animals, animals you might see while camping, and a few that could connect to your gardening.  

These are all books I have on my shelves right now and I can send them over to you via school mail. Just let me know.

Your friend,
Mandy


BAT LOVES THE NIGHT by Nicole Davies

narrative format sharing bats nightly activity
tidbits of facts here and there
soft illustrations

CHAMELEON, CHAMELEON by Joy Cowley

I love Joy Cowley books!
photographs are quite fascinating
carefully chosen words for accessibility
 RED-EYED TREE FROG by Joy Cowley

Joy Cowley again!
more fascinating photographs
text a bit easier

HOW A SEED GROWS by Helen J Jordan

illustrations tell a story, maybe an early narrative
reader follows the journey of a few different seeds
might help readers enjoy nonfiction




RACCOONS by William John Ripple
lots of interesting facts
a sentence of two on a page
pure nonfiction for early readers





Seed to Sunflower by Camilla de al Bedovere
lots of nonfiction text
beautiful photographs
you'll want to grow sunflowers

Fabulous Frogs by Martin Jenkins
beautiful playful language
narrative format
subtle facts


Opossums by Mary R. Dunn
an animal I wouldn't dream to think about
filled with interesting facts
easily accessible for early readers
Busy Squirrels by Melvin and Gilda Berger
probably an easy read - confidence builder
up close photos
one sentence per page









My tenth book for second grade readers might require a treasure hunt - Where Do Birds Live? by Ron Hirschi.  It appears to be out of print.  Lovely photographs, one line of text, with more at the end of the book.  I hope you can find it at the library or you can borrow mine.





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