IMWAYR: The Youngest Marcher by Cynthia Levinson

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I love learning about people and their real-life stories. I especially love the lesser-known stories of historical time periods. Today we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. and we also remember other great names in Civil Rights history. Did you know that some famous Civil Rights activists were children? Today’s IMWAYR title should be shared widely. I share here to remind myself and others that children CAN and DO make a difference in our lives and in our communities.

The Youngest Marcher: The story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, by Cynthia Levinson will stay with me for a long time. I know the stories of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s marches and speeches, and they have inspired me in the past. Last year when I read The MARCH Trilogy, I learned so much more from Representative John Lewis’ firsthand accounts and experiences. Now I am reminded (through a picture book — see, picture books teach all ages) that there were children arrested in May of 1963, one being Audrey Faye Hendricks, who was nine years old at the time. I thought, “NINE? They arrested 9-year-olds?” Yes, yes, they did, and by doing so, they filled the jails in Birmingham, Alabama. Amazing. Frightful. Inspiring.

I missed this book when it released in 2017, but I am so glad I have remedied that. I recommend that you buy this book and keep it — read it when you need a good story about children being brave and changing the world.

Picture Books are for Everyone! January 12, 2018 Reviews

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If you ever hear someone say picture books are just for kids, don’t listen! Read these picture books. You’ll be glad you opened your heart.

Wolf in the Snow, by Matthew Cordell. (Feiwel and Friends, 2017)

Matthew Cordell doesn’t need words to convey the message of empathy, love, and kindness in this Caldecott nominee for 2018. I felt so much — for the humans and the wolves — in this story about being lost in the snow. A small child waves goodbye to her school friends, and begins her walk home. A pack of wolves also sets out around the same time, with a little one struggling to keep up in the blowing snow. Both the small girl and the small wolf become lost as the pages turn white. What happened next pulled at my “mom” heartstrings.This is a MUST READ book for all ages.

 

Love, by Matt de la Peña. Illustrated by Loren Long. (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2018)

I LOVE this book! Love is NOT just red roses and pink hearts, and Matt de la Peña and Loren Long focus on the daily definitions of love in this beautiful new book. There is love when you play in the sprinklers, when you hide from parents who fight, when you fish with grandpa. There is love in flowers, laughter, and rain puddles. There is love, even when you cannot find love and you try, try, try. Enjoy the sounds, smells, and colors of LOVE and share the book, and your love, with everyone.

 

 

Slice of Life Tuesday: Purposeful PD is Powerful

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Purposeful PD is Powerful. I’m all about getting together — whether it’s eating lunch, traveling to an interesting new place, or meeting with fellow staff at a team meeting, I like socializing with others. But when that meeting happens because everyone wants to learn something new and improve their teaching…Wow!

Our professional development this month is based on helping our students improve writing skills. Many teachers are looking for ways to improve test scores, but we really want our students to think of themselves as writers and write well because they are sending a message to an audience. Thank goodness we have many mentor authors (and illustrators!) to guide us, and we have Jeff Anderson and Whitney LaRocca’s new book, Patterns of Power, to push us towards our goal. Jeff and Whitney are excellent teachers; I was the PD facilitator today at each grade-level team meeting. We had engaging conversations around this “powerful” professional title and learned a great deal about how to teach writing conventions using “invitations” (created by Jeff Anderson).

What do we notice about our students’ writing (in general), and how can we help them to write better sentences/paragraphs/texts? We followed Jeff’s “invitation to notice” a mentor sentence. We noticed that pauses came with commas, names had capital letters, and that “when” and “if” are “comma-causer” words, indicating that the sentence was not complete. Then came the “invitation to imitate.” This time was used to thoughtfully create sentences like the mentors. We discussed how students might do this in classrooms. We finished today by talking about “focus phrases,” a term coined first by Terry Thompson in The Construction Zone (another fabulous professional book).

Staff members are looking forward to next week, when we continue discussing the Invitational Process, and trying Patterns of Power lessons with students.

Thank you Jeff and Whitney! We appreciate your guidance!

(Patterns of Power book image from Stenhouse.com)

 

#MustReadIn2018 My List So Far…

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One Little Word 2018: Venture

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My “One Little Word” for 2018 is VENTURE. I found my OLW easily this year; the past 3 words, Progress (2017), Dream (2016), and Lean (2015) led me to this one. The start of 2018 has already been a bumpy one, and there’s nothing I can do but move forward. I embrace the challenges, and I’m ready to make 2018 the best it can be.

My past words served me well, and now that I have a jump-start, I’m ready to tackle new adventures. VENTURE: defined as a noun on Google as 1) “a risky or daring journey or undertaking,” 2) “a business enterprise involving considerable risk.” As a verb, VENTURE means 1) “daring to do something or go somewhere that may be dangerous or unpleasant,” 2) “dare, be/make so bold as, presume.” VENTURE is the perfect word for me this year because that’s my plan: VENTURING out there, taking risks and presuming new roles.

I’ll write more specifically about these VENTURES as I move through the year. I look forward to the challenges ahead. Happy New Year!

 

 

Slice of Life Tuesday: Reflecting on My OLW for 2017

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Progress. My One Little Word for 2017 served me well. My goals to get the house in order, to present more professional development at school, and to travel to my favorite places all got the “Check” off the list.  As I said in January, “That’s me this year — ‘in progress.'”

Highlights included clearing clutter and completing maintenance in the house. Each month gave me a different task and celebration.We had 3 successful garage/yard sales and kept up with the yard using our new sprinkler system. Because the driveway took away part the hill from our side yard, mowing the grass was easier. I even organized the storage closet in November while looking for Christmas decorations.

I gained confidence as a presenter at my school with some interesting literacy professional development, and I even booked my first “gig” out-of-town as a presenter for reading workshop. I love sharing my learning with others. I hope to present much more in the coming year and beyond. My sixth grade students engaged in a Mock Caldecott unit of study, and we read a lot of books and wrote for many purposes. I wrote much more (well, not recently) and I was proud of my book reviews and guest blog posts (I’ll have another guest post tomorrow, in fact. Check out www.teachmentortexts.com). And…I landed my dream job as a librarian! That was the best part of 2017.

I ran around nearby cities to promote Kwame Alexander’s book, SOLO (he wrote with Mary Rand Hess).  I was selected to be on his Solo Launch Team, which was Absolutely Amazing! Although I missed the big party in New York City, I had a great time, and the book is awesome. Read it! (By the way, REBOUND — a companion to THE CROSSOVER —  will be out next year. Put that book on your list, too.)

My husband and I enjoyed a relaxing spring break in Florida, and I also traveled to Warsaw for All Write Institute, Chicago for the Scholastic Reading Summit, Michigan for NerdCampMI, and St. Louis for NCTE’s Annual Convention (where I reunited with my #G2great friends). Wow! What a year. I will keep up that same travel schedule in 2018, and hopefully add some more states to my “visited” list.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What a year of progress! I wonder…what should my One Little Word be for 2018?

 

 

IMWAYR: Getting Ready for Awards Season! Caldecott Medal

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