Sunday, June 30, 2013

July Currently

Linking up!

...and even thought it's not even July yet, I'm still 257th on the list!  (While I've been typing this up, six more people linked up!)  This is the craziest, coolest linky on the block!! 

This week is going to be another great one.  I am looking forward to a day with my friends from school - bring on The Heat and dinner, followed by baseball with my P.E.O. friends. 

And it gets better: Friday my beloved niece turns 7!  Holey moley - how did that happen!?   I can't wait till her party on Saturday.  My sister is queen of overboard - this year, we are having two distinct parties on the same day - one for my niece and one for my brother in law (whose b-day is Saturday).  I'm in charge of changing out the decorations while everyone is busy in the backyard. 

Happy 4th, everyone!

btw - do you like my new signature?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Summer Readin'

Summer's here and I've been a reading fool!  I miss reading so much during the school year.

And since most of what I've read has been kids', I'm linking up with Teach Mentor Texts for the weekly linky:

Coincidentally, the books I read last week are all about immigration.  I didn't plan it; it just happened.  Weird.

The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan is written in verse.  In it,  Kasienka and her mother immigrate to London from Poland.  Her mother is convinced that she will be able to find Kasienka's father and reunite their family.  With her mother completely focused on her own problems, Kasienka is left to try to fit in with her new classmates with no one to talk with.  Her escape is the school pool.  When she's in the water, her problems seem to float away - at least for the moment.

The Weight of Water is a coming-of-age story that deftly handles issues of immigration, alienation, and first love.  I love novels-in-verse like this one (and so do my kids) because they are quick and easy to get lost in.  Sarah Crossan writes Kasienka's story concisely but with compassion for a young girl's determination to figure out where she belongs. 

Here I Am by Patty Kim is a picture book about a little boy and his family who moves from his home to a busy American city.  This wordless picture book follows the boy through his first months in his new home - full of new sounds, sights, and a language he doesn't understand.  His isolation is apparent in the pencil and watercolor sketches.  As is his journey into acceptance and love in his new home!  Lovely - and anyone who knows me, knows I love the challenge of a wordless book for my students.  I can't wait to get a copy of Here I Am when it is release later this summer!

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai many people have already read.  I am late to the bandwagon on this one, but it was just as good as I expected!  This 2012 Newbury Honor book follows Ha as she and her family must leave the only home they've ever known - Saigon.  Beautifully written - like The Weight of Water - in verse, I know that I will reread this one time and again.  I can't wait to recommend this to my class next year!  (How's that for positive thinking!)

Ivan's Great Fall: Poetry for Summer and Autumn from Great Poets and Writers of the Past by Vanita Oelschlager I reviewed yesterday here.  Great poetry picture book.

Here's a peek at what I'm reading next:

I'm also reading The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown.  I have no idea how I missed it when it came out?!?!  Loving it so far!  I can't wait to get my hands on the new one!

What are you reading?  Have you read any of these great books?

Looking Forward

Whew!  It's h-o-t, hot here!

And it's going to stay hot and humid for most of the week.

Welcome, summer.

I am the first to admit I am not a fan of being hot.  Give me a nice sunny, 75 degree day with a cool breeze and I am content.  So I guess this week, I'll stay inside and read!  Nothing better!

Funny enough, I just found a book that I love - and it's all about fall!

Ivan's Great Fall is a cute little picture book that I can't wait to share with my {future} class on the first day of school.  Ivan is a little boy who loves summer!  He loves the long days full of adventure, baseball, and fun - and he's not looking forward to fall.

This story is a great read aloud for the first days of school.  I think kids and teachers alike all relate with Ivan's love of the freedom that comes with summer.

But the best aspect of this book is the format.  With the exception of the beginning and the end of the story, the rest is quotes from famous poets.  Super creative!  Everyone from William Blake to Emily Bronte to Ernest Lawrence Thayer is quoted.  Not in entirety, but enough to move the story along.  Each page tells of an adventure Ivan enjoys.

Every year, my kids write poetry books.  This would be a great book to revisit at the beginning of the unit.  I can totally see my kids writing a similar book on a topic they love and using the more contemporary poems by poets they love - Sara Holbrook, Shel Silverstein, Judith Viorst to name a few.
from A Giraffe and a Half by Shel Silverstein
If you haven't read these authors, do so.  They are great!

What a great way for kids to explore poetry with a purpose!

What are your favorite kids' poets?  More importantly, is there room for poetry in the CCSS?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Bye, Bye GR!

As many of you know, come July 1, Google Reader is closing up shop.

I, for one, am totally, completely bummed by this news.

I don't like change.

I don't want to learn a new reader.

I don't like that {at least, so far} I can only see part of each post and have to click to read the entire post.  That's a lot of clicking and going back and forth when you follow well over 250 blogs!

That being said, here's the link to follow me on Bloglovin'; the reader most bloggers seem to be moving towards. 

Change is hard.  But it can be good.  We can get through it!


Chalk Talk

I found a new linky to join!

So, of course, I did.

This linky is a once a month kind of linky.  My fav.  When they are once a week, I'm behind by about week 2.  But give me 30 or so days, and I can totally keep on top of it!

Anyway, Julie over at The Teaching Bug hosts this great linky; each month the prompt changes.  Here's this month's question:

IMHO, the last week of school is the MOST DIFFICULT of the year!   Kids are done.  It's too hot.  I just want the year to end and get out of there for the summer.  And it's too stinkin' hot!  Add in a principal who wants grades done and honors awarded before the year actually ends, and the stress can make a girl nutty!

My solution:


As a kid - heck even as an adult - my favorite genre has always been mysteries.  Kids don't always appreciate the complexities and many even say they can't stand to read mysteries.  *Gasp*  "It's the not knowing.  I hate that I don't know who did it and have to wait to find out," one of my darling readers told me this year.

This is the book I used.
I inundate my kids with mystery week.  It's starts at the door with a password.  These vary from year to year, but this year I wrote word puzzles called Plexers on scraps of paper.  Students had to draw from a box and solve the riddle before they could enter.  I let the kids go ask other older kids in our hallway if they needed help.  The kids moaned and groaned - and loved every minute of it!

We spend the week talking about how detectives solve crimes.  We experiment with fingerprints, chromatography, and forensics.  AT the end of the week, I invite the DARE officer back for a visit to talk about these things.  It's very, very cool!

You know those books of mini mysteries that have picture clues?  Years ago I made copies of  the pictures and made little booklets for the kids to use during mystery week.  I read the mysteries, they have to solve it using the picture.  You would not believe how hard it is for kids to use the pictures.  They just make stuff up!  Great learning going on!

I have secret codes the kids have to solve when I need a minute of quiet and hands off time.  Some of them are math codes, some are reading or grammar codes.  The codes are used to 'unlock' the next activity.  By wording it that way, my students go crazy for them.

My favorite activity are One-Hour Mysteries:

These books by Mary Ann Carr are so much fun!  Some of them are fairly easy, but this year's class was definitely up for the challenge:  They solved one that was super challenging!  Some of the detectives left the room when I was giving the answers because they hadn't finished yet! They were so proud of themselves when they finally cracked it!

I love this question because I LOVE my end of the year plans!  One of the hardest things I go through is resisting the urge to pull out this stuff in February when it's dark and cold and everyone's crabby - even me!

Thanks to Julie at The Teaching Bug for a great linky!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Changes. Currently.

It's been a month for me.  Not a good month. 

In May, I found out I was not going to be offered a contract for the next school year.  Working in a Catholic school, I've always known that this could happen.  I was sooo not expecting it this year.  Our principal had said for months that everyone was coming back next year.  I was completely blindsided and truly devastated.

I don't know if I'll be able to get another job teaching; maybe God has different plans for me.  I didn't know if I wanted to continue blogging, but after some distance I realize that blogging is a great outlet for me.  Even if I don't teach anymore, I still enjoy reading and sharing new children's lit.  I still have some great ideas to share from this past year.  And I still want to learn new things from all of you!

 I love the ideas I learn and hope that my ideas help others.  Therefore I will continue my blog this summer.

And who knows, I may just get another teaching job in the fall...

And, so...

It's finally summer.  I'm back.  I have tons of ideas for blogging, have read a bunch of great books I want to share, and can't wait to link up with all the great linky parties!

Starting with my favorite:  June's Currently.  Y'all know I love a linky!

Stay tuned!  I'm back and better than ever.  I'm not going to quit growing, learning and sharing just because I don't have a job right now!  I will get another job.  I don't know what it will be, but in the meantime, I will be here!

Thanks for the support you give me every day - even if you don't know you're doing it!