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.

 

Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year!

The year 2016 was a whopper! Each day I read the news and comments on social media, and each day I think to myself, “It couldn’t have been that bad.” No, it wasn’t that bad at all.

  1. My close family relatives are alive. This is a big deal to me. Hardships with disease and sickness have become standard in our family, but this year we are all still kicking!
  2. My work situation improved and I still have exciting options for the year ahead. My classes of students are the best, my work team is awesome, and I love being a teacher AND PD teacher leader/facilitator. I added School Librarian to my teaching credentials, which I hope to use in the next year, as well.
  3. My writing life and professional PLN is fantastic! I attended NeRdCampMI this summer and met so many more authors and illustrators, and now I’m “real” friends (instead of virtual friends) with amazing people. I wrote for the Nerdy Book Club and this blog, which makes me feel like I’m finally a writer. I followed my favorite authors, researchers, and educational speakers around the country again, ending up at NCTE’s Annual Conference with so many friends I didn’t even get to spend time with them all! (Seriously, I need longer than 3 days at NCTE — most amazing conference ever!) And last but certainly not least, I had an amazing journey with my wonderful friends/colleagues at #G2Great (Twitter) — My Good-to-Great team is my teaching hope for the future, focusing on KIDS and LITERACY and LEARNING! All my favorite things!

So as I wrap up 2016, I wish you and yours HAPPY HOLIDAYS and HAPPY NEW YEAR! I will see you in 2017, strong as ever!

 

Slice of Life Tuesday: The Loss Within

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SliceofLifeSwagMarch2016I found out that one of my mentor teachers has passed away. At the age of 53, it’s not fair that such an intelligent mind and driven spirit is no longer with us. Even though I only knew her a short time and only in the context of education workshops, I feel sort of empty inside this week because of all the learning others will miss in the future with her not around. I met her at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project summer institute in 2008. Here’s what Kathleen Tolan taught me: kathleentolan

  • Testing is a genre. Teaching to the test is not acceptable, but helping students to realize that sometimes school reading is a different kind of reading, for a different purpose, and that students can pass a test if they know some key pieces of information.
  • You must have a passion for what you do. Lucy Calkins once told a group, “Passion is powerful.” Kathleen had a passion for teaching and learning. She wanted everyone to do their best always. She was stubborn about it! She put forth great effort in her work, and expected the same from others. When I applied to become a staff developer at TCRWP, she wrote me a long letter about the aspects of the job I was not qualified for. I appreciated her honesty, and my reading workshop teaching is now better because of her advice.
  • Children are the future. She held students on a pedestal. Children can learn to become intelligent thinkers and take part in the world. Allow children to be their best, and even you can learn from them.

Thank you for your time, Kathleen. We will miss your determined drive and work in the world of education.

picture credit: www.heinemann.com

 

Small Business Saturday — Used Book Sale/Spread the Book Love

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In the spirit of Small Business Saturday and the season of giving, I’m hosting a used book sale. My doubles/triples titles need new homes so they can be re-loved by new people! Books are 3 for $5, 5 for $8, or 10 for $15 plus shipping. “Grab bag” fun! Titles not guaranteed; please let me know which age group you prefer: Toddler/Child, School Age/Student, Young Adult, or Adult. Sale ends when quantities run out. Give books for the holidays! (Disclaimer: All books are used, but in good shape! Most books have my name labeled on them, as they were in my classroom at one time or another. Pictures are samples.) All proceeds go to buying new books for my school students. Payment through PayPal. Shipping via US Postal Service (flat rate shipping $3.99). If you’re interested, send me a note at jdsniadecki@gmail.com. pb-pack-sbs2016histfictionpacksbs2016

Happy holidays!

 

Thankful for NCTE16 — There Are No Words!

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Just…amazing! #NCTE16 was everything I hoped it would be, and more! Happy Thanksgiving to all my family, friends, and colleagues! May peace be with you.

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When a Teacher Leaves Her Students…

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ncte-tag-2016 When a teacher leaves students to attend a professional conference, there are many anxious moments when the teacher wonders if the time away from them will be worth it…for them. Remember, teaching is about the kids — how we can help them learn and grow — and time outside the classroom is not always ideal. Teachers attend these professional learning conferences to bring back excitement of learning (for teachers and students alike!), materials and books students will use, and better ideas for an engaging and differentiated classroom atmosphere. My hope is that attending NCTE this year will be beneficial and worthwhile for my students and me.

Here’s what I plan to do in the name of students while I’m away at the NCTE Annual Conference:

*Visit the CNN Center and meet Carl Azuz, anchor of CNN Student News. We have tried to connect with no luck so far. (My students LOVE Carl’s puns!) Even though Carl is not affiliated with NCTE, he is in Atlanta, so I would love to take a picture with him!  cnn-sign

*Attend sessions like “Why Middle Matters: Powerful Teaching for our Quirky, Amazing Middle Schoolers” to learn more about helping these adolescents, especially in reading and the content areas.

*Reconnect with author friends to make sure that students realize that there are people out there who support their reading and writing efforts and even help them by giving expert advice!

*Get new books! (Including books we already discussed and new ARCs) This is the best part — taking home the goodies!

Teachers leave the classroom in order to learn and grow…in order to help kids. Some people may argue that attending professional conferences aren’t worth the time, aren’t worth the cost, or aren’t worth the hassle. I disagree. I can’t wait to get back to school and share my experiences with my students!

 

New Books This Weekend: Perspective Improves

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Perspective Improves

No more political talk for this weekend!

These new books…Ah!…making me feel better!

We are studying perspective in class and these will be class favorites come Monday — I’m sure!

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Slice of Life Tuesdays: Peanut Butter and the Middle School Mess

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Slice of Life Small LogoDISCLAIMER: The following story is my on-demand writing done with my 6th grade class after the mini lesson, “Add Some Spice” to the Narrative Arc with tension/conflict. Students were able to choose a type of conflict and use tension to move the plot along so that readers will want to turn the pages. This is my draft based on the true story, with a little added spice!

 

The worst argument I ever had with my sister was a summer day after my mom went back to work. We were both old enough to know better. Middle school students are supposed to be able to handle Mom going to work, and we knew what we were supposed to do in case of an emergency. This was NOT an emergency.

My sister and I were doing chores and she did not finish the dishes. She said she was going out for a bike ride, but I reminded her that we were not supposed to leave the house without job being done. She said she would do them when she got back. I blocked the door to the garage so she could not leave. First mistake.

Judy pushed me into the desk, and I fell backwards. She’s taller than me, so I had to think fast. I reached into the cupboard and pulled out the jar of Jif Peanut Butter. Second mistake.

I opened the jar and scooped up handful of peanut butter. I lunged towards Judy and smeared the goop into her long black hair. She screamed bloody murder! She grabbed the jar and dug into the middle, then covered my face with brown sticky peanut butter. I screamed, heading to the phone that was on the desk. I dialed my mom’s work number. Third mistake.

My mom heard both sides of the drama through her earpiece at her cubicle, and so did all her co-workers! She was so embarrassed that she excused herself, saying that one of us had fallen down and needed help. Thankfully, her boss allowed her to leave work so she could “deal with us.”

She dealt all right! She dealt out smacks on our rear-ends, more cleaning duties, and a week’s grounding to both of us. I vowed never again to worry about what my sister was doing while my mom was at work. I did my own chores and kept out of trouble the rest of my middle school days.

Responsibility is a hard lesson, but learning to stay out of other people’s business is even harder. Especially when it’s your little sister.

 

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