Slice of Life Tuesday: Book Birthday Bash!

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I’ve been waiting for this day for a while now. It’s a “Book Birthday” bash today — lots of new releases for October 3rd! (I wish my wallet could keep up.) Here’s what I’ll be reading in the next few weeks:

After the Fall (Picture Book) by Dan Santat — Oh, how I love Humpty! I hope he’s okay and gets back up again!  

Snappsy the Alligator and His Best Friend Forever (Probably) by Julie Falatko — THE BFF story of the year  

The Perfect Score by Rob Buyea — If you know me, you know I cannot stand standardized testing. Let’s see…

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay — for beauty!

Ahimsa by Supriya Kelkar — highly recommended, and a lovely, colorful cover. I can’t wait!  

La La La by Kate DiCamillo — because it’s KATE!  

The Ship of the Dead (Magnus Chase series continues) by Rick Riordan — it’s a series, people!

Before the Devil Breaks You (YA/adult) by Libba Bray — I’m not sure about this one, but I’ll try.

Talking As Fast As I Can (From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls and Everything in Between) (adult) by Lauren Graham — because I’ll need my relaxing, TV fix

Manhattan Beach (adult) by Jennifer Egan — I may never get to this one!

There are so many book releases today. These are the titles I want to tackle. October is the month of great reading this year; I can see that clearly.

What will you read next?

 

 

#PB10For10: August 10th is Picture Book 10 For 10 Day

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Picture Book 10 for 10: Ten Picture Books to Read the First 10 Days of Middle School

Middle schoolers love picture books. Picture books are filled with lessons, promise, and fun. Start your school year with these ten picture books for your middle school classroom:

School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex — The first day of school, told from the school’s point of view. First Day read. Open the year with some thinking, conversation, and fun.

One Day, The End by Rebecca Kai Dotlich — Short, Very Short, Shorter-Than-Ever Stories. What happens in the middle? Students love the book that teaches how to offer a good story.

Nothing Ever Happens On 90th Street by Roni Schotter. A young writer tries to find inspiration from her neighborhood stoop, but nothing ever happens on her street. Or is she missing something? Each neighbor teaches the girl to “look closely” and “use her imagination” as a writer.

The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak — I dare you to read this to middle schoolers. Just do it! LOL!

Big Plans by Bob Shea and Lane Smith — “A Little Boy sits in the corner of a classroom, plotting his future. He’s got plans…Big Plans!” Make sure you take the time to look at all the pictures closely in this one.

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires — Mistakes can lead to genius inventions. Watch this girl and her dog try and try again to invent the “most magnificent thing.”

Ish by Peter H. Reynolds — A beautiful look at what makes a person happy instead of “getting it right.”

Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis — A hilarious story about animals creating and building, in their own language. Read this aloud several times during the year for a good stress reliever and some laughs.

What Do You Do With An Idea? by Kobi Yamada — “A single idea can change everything.” This story inspires learners to welcome their ideas and give them space to grow.

More Than Anything Else by Marie Bradby — More than anything else, Booker wants to learn to read. Many students are like Booker T. Washington. An inspirational story to begin the school year.

Have a great start to your school year! Read a lot, think carefully, and have fun along the way!

 

 

 

Thinking About “The 5 Truths of Reading” by Pernille Ripp

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I’m stealing today — stealing great words, great thinking, great learning. Pernille Ripp first wrote “The 5 Truths of Reading” on her blog in 2015, and as she says, the post is “old, but still relevant.” I agree. I’m thinking about how I can be more of an advocate for authentic reading and teaching practices as I start my new position as school librarian this fall. Here are my thoughts about the 5 truths: (See Pernille’s original post here.)

  1. Give students choice in what they read. Assigned reading is not the way to get kids to read. Usually the word “assignment” is followed by a collective “Ugh./Aww, Man!/That’s stupid!” from students in the classroom. I’ve heard it; I know. The love of reading for reading’s sake is gone immediately, and that’s not what we want. Our intentions are good — we want students to read good books, to be exposed to meaningful literature, to become more intelligent human beings. But when we assign reading that we choose, we are pushing our lives, our values, our choices into the faces of our children. Instead of assigned readings, give students choice. Talk about books that they might love, build a classroom library where students can find themselves, and create a classroom based on sharing those wonderful titles and the lessons they bring.
  2. Don’t judge the books – or the students. Pernille stated, “Our glances, our purchases, our book conversations all shape the identities that our readers are creating.” I’m guilty here, for sure. Not so much in glances or conversations, as I love to hear what my students are reading (and why they chose a particular book). My purchases have been my decision, though, and mostly reflected what I would like to have in my classroom library. No more! I have followed #WNDB (We Need Diverse Books) for over a year now, and I have consciously built a better library. Instead of deciding what you want, ask your students what should be in the library, and heed the call from recommendations given to you. Once I had a student tell me, “Mrs. S! I know this isn’t your genre, but you HAVE to read this!” One of the best things I ever did. I loved Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs! Listen to your kids. They know. Give them a chance. (Image courtesy of books.google.com)
  3. Be a reader. This is a big one! I cannot imagine being a reading teacher or a librarian without being a reader first. Shouldn’t reading be a pre-requisite for becoming a reading teacher? I think so, and recently I’ve said that out loud more often. Each time I finish a book, I’m more intelligent than I was before, and that is what I want for my students, as well.
  4. Read because it’s reading time. My motto in my reading class was “Read During Reading Time.” I still find it disheartening to hear that people who observe teachers find that there’s “just reading” going on in the classroom. Excuse me, it’s READING class! We have to get rid of rewards, points, and prizes for reading. We have to find that JOY of reading is its own reward, and we have to do that at school.
  5. Label books, not readers. This is so important. Pernille mentioned that Fountas & Pinnell (speaking at the ILA annual conference) stressed that levels are for books. Pernille also said that labeling books meant placing a sticker or stamp on them to show what bin they belong in. Kylene Beers and Bob Probst have done extensive reading research, and I remembered that Kylene said, “This is a child, not an H.” I remembered that when a student asked me once after a formative assessment, “Am I a red?” (as in, “Did I fail the test?”) I have the shivers now, just thinking about it again.

These 5 truths have been on my mind. Hopefully sharing my stolen thinking (thank you, Pernille!) will deeper our conversations about reading and teaching reading in the classroom.

 

TOP TEN Ways NerdCampMI Saved Our Professional Careers by Jennifer Sniadecki, Melanie Roy, and Kelly Vorhis

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Nerdy Book Club

NerdCampMI is an “ed camp” annual event where teachers from all over the country (and the world!) meet in Parma, Michigan to learn together with authors, illustrators, and other fabulous educators. We feel that the event is hands-down the best summer professional development out there. Nerd Camp Michigan started 5 years ago and has grown – hosting 1600 teachers, librarians, authors, illustrators, and creators of books this summer! Melanie Roy, a library teacher in Rhode Island, Kelly Vorhis, a high school English teacher in Indiana, and Jennifer Sniadecki, a middle school teacher/librarian in Indiana talked about how NerdCampMI saved their professional careers over a hotel breakfast, anxiously and excitedly preparing for the two-day event.

Jennifer’s Learning:

  1. NerdCampMI made me a better reader.

I registered for this year’s Nerd Camp in February. I knew it was going to be THE way to meet authors and illustrators of my favorite books. I…

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Poetry Friday: (Golden Shovel) “Dreams”

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I continue to pour over the poems in Nikki Grimes’ book, One Last Word. Ms. Grimes is an amazing poet and the “Golden Shovel” poetry is exquisite. This form of poetry is most difficult to create! A Golden Shovel poem takes a line from an existing poem and transfers each word from that line (called the “striking line”) to your own poem, as the last words in each line of your new creation.

I used “I Leave the Glory Days” by Nikki Grimes as my mentor text. The line I pulled was “The past is a ladder that can help you keep climbing.” Here’s my poem:

Dreams

When I’m stuck, I reach for the

lessons from my past.

I want to live my dreams, but it is

so difficult! Longing for a

new adventure, I climb the ladder

of hope that

someday I can

find the right people to help

me succeed. I’d take you with me, but you

don’t have the same dreams as me. Keep

on your own path. I must keep climbing.

Slice of Life Tuesday: Images From Florida

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Slice of Life Tuesday: Analyzing Books for Awards Season

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Slice of Life Small LogoI love awards season! The Golden Globes hooked me on Sunday and reeled me into the bedroom so I could watch and not bother the other family members. I love the gowns, the tuxes, the speeches — all of it. I have a passion for awards. I now want to see all the movies and TV shows, and hear all the music that won those awards. It’s only natural, I think, to want to continue participating in the “buzz” that surrounds awards.

This is the same feeling I have when I read books that are considered for awards. I read list after list, recommendation after recommendation, to find the books that I consider noteworthy. I share books with my classes. I read books aloud, I talk about books, I show my students how books affect my life. That “buzz” is the passion that led me to take some time in class to teach a Mock Caldecott unit this year.  Wow! What an experience!

My students are actively engaged, in learning! Yes, we are meeting the standards. I can prove it: 6.RL.2.1 (Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what a text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text); 6.RN.2.3 (Analyze in detail how a key individual, event, or idea is introduced, illustrated, and elaborated in a text); 6.RL.2.2 (Determine how a theme or central idea is conveyed through particular details…) Wow! Our experiences matter! caldecott_2017_classtop6

We narrowed the list to six books and we are voting this week. We took the criteria from the ALA/ALSC Caldecott Medal Terms and Criteria. We made lists. We ranked each point: 4 means “absolutely meets criteria”, 3 means “yes, meets criteria”, 2 means “maybe meets criteria”, and 1 means “nope.” (It’s interesting to see the similarities and differences in the two sections/classes, too.)

We will decide a winner on Thursday. Then we will watch on January 23rd as we find out if the real voters for the Caldecott Medal and Honors books will issue the same awards that we did. It’s going to be great! Just like learning should be.

 

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