IMWAYR: It’s Monday, and It’s a Perfect Day to SWING Into Action!

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This day couldn’t be better! I’ve been waiting for this, and I found out today that I’m officially on the SWING Launch Team!

SWING by Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess

October 2, 2018

Pre-order your copy now!

I’m excited to get started reading tonight! Here we go!

#PB10for10: Picture Books I Will Share With My New Staff

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I’m moving to a new school, and I couldn’t be happier with my fine arts academy and middle school staff. I am lucky to be a part of the arts integration movement, and the school library will be the best place to support our curriculum. Here are ten picture books I will share with my new staff and students.

To Start the Year/Build Community (We are the Bears, and we are Brave):

Mother Bruce, by Ryan T. Higgins (2015)

Jabari Jumps, by Gaia Cornwall (2017)

For The Visual Artists:

Drawn Together, by Minh Lê (2018)

Vincent Can’t Sleep, by Barb Rosenstock (2017)

I Cannot Forget My Math and Science Friends:

7 Ate 9, by Tara Lazar (2017)

The Most Magnificent Thing, by Ashley Spires (2014)

For My Choir and Band Buddies:

When Marian Sang, by Pam Munoz Ryan (2002)

Incorporate Beauty, Research, and a Little Love:

Red & Lulu, by Matt Tavares (2017)

It’s All About Perspective/The Joy of Learning:

They All Saw a Cat, by Brendan Wenzel (2016)

It’s NOT Jack and the Beanstalk, by Josh Funk (2017)

 

About the #PB10for10 Community:

“Picture Book 10 for 10” has been around since 2010. Love picture books? Then you’re in the right place. This community is dedicated to sharing picture book love. Please visit the hashtag, #PB10for10 to learn about picture books you’ll want to read next. Each August is the Picture Book 10 for 10 event, and in February the community hosts Nonfiction Picture Book 10 for 10. Have fun reading and enjoy all the resources shared.

IMWAYR: Starting New Books/Finishing Others…

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It’s been a wild week here! The end of summer always brings a whirlwind of activities and reading is sometimes left in the dust. Slow and steady wins the race. Right?

Finished: Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast: Mission Defrostable by Josh Funk

The newest refrigerator adventure leaves Lady Pancake, Sir French Toast, and their friends dealing with a deep freeze. Whatever will they do? Who can they call to help with the thaw? Honestly, I think this is my favorite of the 3 titles — now that we know the characters, we want to help them solve the latest cold case. Preorder this one now! Available September 25th.

Still Reading: Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson

Harbor Me comes to your favorite bookstore soon, so preorder now or get to the front of the line for this one on August 28th! Six middle schoolers have a chance each week to talk, without adult supervison, in the “ARTT” Room (A Room To Talk). At first, they wonder what to do and find it difficult to open up the talk to deep conversation. Later, the classmates/friends find that they are brave and can express their feelings freely when they are together, and they have a chance to make life better for everyone. This book addresses timely social issues that affect youth and their families and is a MUST READ for classrooms across the country.

Up Next: The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden by Karina Yan Glaser

In the sequel to The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street (coming September 25th), the family has to (again) make a plan “when catastrophe strikes their beloved upstairs neighbor.” They need to turn the vacant lot down the street into a beautiful community garden with no experience, no money, and only 19 days. Otherwise the real-estate developer has another plan! I can’t wait to really sit down and see what the Vanderbeekers do next.

Up Next: There are so many books to choose from!

More picture books, for sure. I’m finding some read alouds for the library, a few banned books for September, and also planning for my newest adventure in reading, Project LIT Community Book Club (#ProjectLITComm)! More information to come on that…soon.

What are you reading this week?

“It’s Monday! What are you Reading?” is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan your reading for the upcoming week. Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Jennifer Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts have given IMWAYR a kidlit focus. Join in the fun! Choose a great book, read it, and share your thoughts with us!

 

 

IMWAYR: Losers Bracket by Chris Crutcher

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It’s Monday; What are You Reading?

Last week: Losers Bracket by Chris Crutcher

Chris Crutcher is a master of dialogue in this tug-of-war story of two families and the girl who stands in between them. Smart and sneaky, 17-year-old Annie manipulates her basketball team to play in the losers bracket during basketball tournaments in order to get a chance to run into her biological relatives. Her “bios” are losers, and her foster family, especially Pop, would rather see Annie earn a college scholarship than see her follow the dark path chosen by her mother and her sister. But her foster family isn’t perfect, either, and this book title reflects on not only basketball, but Annie’s life. She always seem to get involved with trouble somehow.

Annie’s therapist, book club friends, teammates, foster brother, and one unlikely ally keep her going — learning to stand up for herself while also supporting her in her efforts to be a part of the family, whichever family that is at the time. You cannot choose who you love. But Annie has to make some tough decisions, and maybe even cause a little trouble, to find the life she wants…and to write her own story.

Highly recommended for high school and up.

This week: The Third Mushroom by Jennifer L. Holm and Astronaut/Aquanaut by Jen Swanson 

I already read the Author’s Note, Recommended Resources, and “Mellie’s Gallery of Scientists” in the back of the book, The Third Mushroom. I’ve always been interested in scientists and their stories, so I want to find out how Jennifer L. Holm weaves fiction and fact together. I read The Fourteenth Goldfish a while back and liked that one, so I’m looking forward to this new title.

Highly recommended for grades 3-6.

Jennifer Swanson was kind enough to send me Astronaut/Aquanaut, which is another book I cannot wait to open (probably tonight after I write). The back cover reads, “Space and the Ocean: If you don’t think they go together, think again!” I am intrigued by the cover, and the photographs and diagrams in this colorful book will bring students and their teachers together to learn more about space and the oceans. Look for a review in the near future!

Highly recommended for upper elementary and up.

How is your reading life going? Grab a book this week and dig in!

“It’s Monday! What are you Reading?” is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan your reading for the upcoming week. Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Jennifer Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts have given IMWAYR a kidlit focus. Join in the fun! Choose a great book, read it, and share your thoughts with us!

IMWAYR: Solution Squad

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I am NOT a “math person.” Never have been, never will be. But sometimes we “reading people” must learn something new, and share that learning with others. Here is a wonderful example of a math learning opportunity: Solution Squad by Jim McClain. Mr. McClain is a teacher (which makes this book even more important to me) who strives to give his students the most engaging learning possible AND uses his strengths (he’s a comic book maker and connoisseur) to make that happen in his classroom.

When you open the colorful Solution Squad for the first time, you find an introduction written by McClain that explains how he got started with writing books. After the Table of Contents, there are a few pages of “How to Read Comics,” by Tracy Edmunds. This is helpful for people like me, who don’t read comics or graphic novels on a regular basis. Solution Squad continues with “Primer,” the first story, that introduces characters, math vocabulary, and (here’s where it gets interesting) the first problem for the Squad. “Looks like a code,” the character, Ordinate, states. The story continues and the characters use a primitive device (I learned about in my math classes) to solve the problem (You want me to give away the solution? I won’t do it!).

There are a few stories in Solution Squad, all based on math standards and McClain’s artistic way of drawing students into the learning using comics. Nathan Hale, author of the Hazardous Tales series, praised the work in the testimonials: “I wish I’d had Solution Squad when I was trying to learn math…” My personal favorite story was “The Trouble With Trains.” Remember the “train” problems from word problems in math class? Yep, I do. Now I understand not only the problem and solution ideas, but the humor that leads adults to groan at “train problem” jokes.

Jim McClain adds background information for his characters through the newest member of the squad, Radical, reading the book. What a cool way to spread the book love — from characters to real-life students. Reading is important. Reading is crucial for learning. Reading brings math to life!

One last thing — a bonus for teachers — Solution Squad has lesson plan ideas and a guide for the solutions from the stories in the book. Written for teachers, by a teacher. That’s a winning solution for math class!

Jim McClain brings STEM learning to life for students, adults, and comic book fans. Learn more about Solution Squad from the website, http://www.solutionsquad.net.

Review: THE WRITE THING by Kwame Alexander

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Have you ever wanted to start a writing workshop in your classroom? Do you run a writing workshop that needs some…tweaking? THIS is your answer! Kwame Alexander’s The Write Thing: Kwame Alexander Engages Students in Writing Workshop and You Can Too is THE how-to guide to get started (or to change your boring routine). Kwame leads you personally through the steps to write, publish, and present student writing in a new way – with poetry. Why poetry? Kwame explains that question in chapter one of this fabulous new professional development book.

In The Write Thing, Kwame is right there with you all the way. As I read, I could hear his voice talking to me. Kwame’s Book-in-a-Day approach (2006) inspires new and veteran teachers alike to start and continue a student-led writing workshop and publishing “house” in the classroom. The book is organized into three essential parts, with features called “Kwame QuickTips”, “Solo Acts” (voices from other writers and teachers), “Lessons in Action” (plans), “KwameTime” videos, “You Can Too!” (reflection questions), and “Questions for Kwame.” You are never left alone in this writing PD. It’s like your own teacher preparation class, with Kwame as your teacher.

When I watched the “KwameTime” videos, he was in the room, guiding and encouraging me to use poetry to teach writing. In each chapter of The Write Thing, we read poetry, looked at possible mentor texts lists (organized by grade level), and used the writing workshop approach to help students learn to tell their own stories through writing, publishing, and presenting their work.

Kylene Beers wrote the foreword for The Write Thing, where she nudges the reader consider poetry as “the neglected genre” and to adopt a new vision for teaching – she asks teachers to use poetry at all times of the school year, not just during the designated month in the spring. I found myself reading this book straight through, but I will also take Kylene’s advice to slow down and “linger, muse, reread, mark…” I look forward to seeing students succeed as writers because of this book.

As a bonus, The Write Thing includes Appendices (A-D) that will make your teaching life easier. (What teacher doesn’t want that?) It’s ALL “write” there. Kwame Alexander is the “life force” (say Greg David and Priya Sitaraman) – “a captivating authentic leader who connected easily and deeply with (our) students during our writing workshops…”

If you’re a writing teacher, buy The Write Thing by Kwame Alexander. Start your school year with a fresh, new, exciting approach to writing class. Encourage your students to write and present their stories. And don’t forget, have fun!

 

Slice of Life Tuesday: Summertime!

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Summertime!

Reading and writing, replaced with writing and reading.

Planning time at school, replaced with planning time at home.

“30 Minute” lunch, replaced by never-ending fun.

Ah, it’s summertime!

 

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