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I am linking up today to It’s Monday, What are you Reading on Jen Vincent’s site, Teach Mentor Texts. Click on the image to find more blog Kidlit reviews.

With new grandsons to read aloud to, I have taken an interest in books that have rhythmic, poetic language. The words have to go quickly as Leo’s favorite part is turning the page. Buffy Silverman’s new release is just this kind of book. With quick rhyming verse, she takes us through a snow-melting day.

In my part of the world, South Louisiana, we do not get much snow. Yet, we have chickadees at the feeder all winter long. With lively and sharp photographs and bouncing, rhythmic language, we can learn about places that have a distinct seasonal change. Grand sons can point to the cardinal swooping, the rabbits bouncing, and the foxes pouncing.

On a Snow-Melting Day releases on February 4th, 2020. Hop into a delightful book on a marsh mucking, duck dapping day.

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Poetry Friday posts are all gathered by Bridget at wee words for wee ones.

Last weekend at NCTE I had a conversation with Laura Shovan and Chris Barton about novels-in-verse. We discussed briefly how novels-in-verse should be poetry rather than prose written to look like poetry. 

On my long travel day to NCTE, I read Margarita Engle’s novel-in-verse Soaring Earth. Margarita is a poet. Her novel reads like poems with the backdrop of her life experiences from late teen years to adulthood. In each verse, she was processing who she was and who she wanted to be. She rejects then embraces the culture of her life. She has to leave herself to find herself, and it’s all written in beautiful language of poetry. 

Margarita Engle, Soaring Earth


Currently I am reading White Rose by Kip Wilson. Once again, I put on the lens of a poet finding the elements of poetry as well as compelling story. Kip Wilson has successfully drawn me into the story of Sophie, a young adult resistor to Hitler’s Germany. The story takes me to the horrors of the early 40’s. I place myself into the shoes of a girl who knows it’s wrong to kill for any reason. She is keenly aware of what is happening in her country. She finds small joys, so we are not bombarded with terror. I am more than halfway through. I know what eventually happens, yet I keep reading. The lyrical rhythm of verse makes this incredible story a beautiful one.

February 20, 1943
A Golden Bridge

I have nothing
more to say,
Herr Mohr has nothing
more to ask,
and yet the next
time he summons
me, he throws
me a lifeline.

You can still save
yourself, Fraulein
Scholl.

Boom-boom,
boom-boom
.
A sliver of light enters
the room, and I’m certain
the entire world can hear
the pounding in my chest.

Tell me you were only
following your older
brother,

and I’ll recommend
setting you free.

My heart, beating
so confidently moments ago,
whimpers, withers, dies
but my voice gathers
courage:
Nein.

Kip Wilson, White Rose

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Published by Abingdon Press

 

When I first met Jake Owensby, he was being consecrated as the fourth Bishop of the Western Louisiana Diocese of the Episcopal Church in 2012. My first impression of him was presence.  It was a brief exchange, but I felt he was fully present and aware of me.

In his new book A Resurrection Shaped Life, Bishop Jake is fully present.  He reveals himself in true reality while showing us how to live with the realities through a relationship with Jesus.

When we repent, we admit that the sorrows, the losses, the wounds, the betrayals, and the regrets of our past have made us into someone we don’t want to be anymore. We die to that self and entrust ourselves to Jesus. From those shattered places in our lives, Christ brings new life; repentance is the beginning of our resurrection.

Reading Bishop Jake’s book was like being present with him, not in the way listening to a sermon would, but like sitting next to him listening and learning how to be a Christian in today’s world.  He accentuates Jesus’s plan for the world, a world of resurrection, in which love displaces fear, “where generosity eliminates deprivation and respect guards the dignity of all.”

Bishop Jake reminds us of who Jesus really is: committed to healing in the world.  Jesus suffered.  We suffer. God does not take away the pain or the suffering; however, through Jesus, we know that suffering is endured out of love and eventually leads to healing.  When we lead a resurrection-shaped life, we live in compassion with imagination and hope.

Jesus changes our mind about God. In Jesus, we see who we truly are as humans.  We are the beloved, not the blameworthy…we slowly begin to exchange our habit of blaming others for the habit of compassion.

Barbara Brown Taylor reminds un that new life starts in the dark. We must go through Good Friday to get to Easter. A Resurrection Shaped Life guides you through the darkness, by wading next to you and showing you the star.

I suggest following Bishop Jake’s blog: Looking for God in the Messy Places.

 

 

 

 

 

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference

 

What a thrill to be a part of this amazing collection of poems from all over our great country!  This honor was made possible by the connections I’ve made in Poetry Friday.  Because Amy Ludwig VanDerwater knows me, when J. Patrick Lewis was looking for a Louisiana children’s poet, she connected us.  The poem I wrote, “Louisiana Bayou Song” became the title poem of my first poetry book published by UL Press this summer.

I also know many of the poets included in the collection, and if you read more Poetry Friday posts, you will find them, too.  Today, Buffy Silverman’s post includes 4 poems from the book.  Last week, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater posted her poem “A Note from the Trail.”

Here’s Linda Kulp Trout’s poem about Helen Keller.  And Mary Lee has two poems included. Robyn Hood Black shared her poem, “Mural Compass.” If I find more, I will add the links into this post.

My poem sits on a two page spread that includes an amazing heron photograph and a heart-wrenching Katrina poem by the anthologist J. Patrick Lewis.  I feel I am sitting among my poet-heroes.

 

Louisiana Bayou Song

Sometimes on the bayou in Louisiana
a storm rolls in quickly–
Cypress trees
sway to the sound.

Sometimes on a quiet day
when the sun is high and hot
a heron happens by–
The bayou slows to the beat of his wading.

The song of the bayou
can be as fast and frenetic as a Zydeco two-step
or as soft and slow as a Cajun waltz–
The bayou sings a song to me.

Margaret Simon (c)

 

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

 

I’ve been a fan of using heart maps in my classroom for a while.  At the beginning of the year, we made name heart maps.  Later in the year, we may use a heart map to identify an interest area for a research project.  This week, for the first time, I tried out readers’ heart maps.  Georgia Heard’s book about heart maps offers many different styles.  I tend to use the simple design.  Plain white paper. Taco fold. Draw half a heart. Cut it out. Then glue in your journal.

Chloe decided to cut out three hearts.  She made one with white paper.  Then she asked if she could use colored paper.  Then she made a blue one and a pink one.  I suggested that she could layer them one on top of the other.  She loved that idea.  One heart became about her favorite book at home about Ariel.  She’s a Dr. Seuss fan and made her blue heart about Dr. Seuss.  On the big white heart, she chose herself and wrote one of her poems.  Why not choose yourself as your favorite author?

Chloe’s layer of Reader’s Heart Maps.

Madison decided to fill her reader’s heart map with quotes from her favorite books.  Her all time favorite quote comes from Percy Jackson, “I have become one with the plumbing.”  She laughs out loud.

 

Madison’s reading heart map

 

I’ve been reading aloud Kate Dicamillo’s “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane,” so my reader’s heart map became about this book.  Edward breaks my heart over and over again.

 

My reader’s heart is broken and healed by Edward Tulane.

I think making heart maps is a great way to honor your students’ individual choices in reading.  They can express what they love to read in a reader’s heart map. We will come back to the heart maps to write about ourselves as readers.  What would you make your reader’s heart map about?

 

 

 

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

 

CyberPD got well underway this week.  All over the globe teachers are reading and discussing Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading by Vicki Vinton.  I began reading this book back in June and wrote about my first impressions here. 

I understand Vicki’s frustration with the way reading is being taught.  In order to meet the Common Core Content Standards, we have whittled down the process of reading to extracted strategies.  These strategies help teachers deal with gaps that tend to follow children through their learning career; however, they deny the full process of reading, the experience as a whole.

I am also reading Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst.  I find the theories in both of these books parallel.  The two books profess that we have taken out not only the whole meaning making process from reading instruction, we have also removed the joy.

Joy of reading is the only thing that will create lifelong readers.  By moving students through the act of reading without addressing how the text makes them feel, we rob them of the experience of seeing themselves in a book or becoming empathetic with someone who is different.

Vicki Vinton professes that we should shift the focus of reading instruction away from text dependent questions to the actual thinking that the reader does.

If our ultimate goal is truly independence, we need students to do much more thinking that highly scaffolded approaches ask of them…students build their identity and sense of agency as readers when they’re the ones doing the work. (p. 23)

At the end of chapter 2, I have highlighted an entire bulleted list of things to remember when planning for more complex reading and thinking.  I paraphrase the list here.

  • Reading is an education of the heart.
  • Meaning is the purpose of reading.
  • Consider how much the author hasn’t said explicitly, problem solve.
  • Help students build their identities as readers.
  • Every student is more than a level. Consider social-emotional needs as well when recommending books.
  • Nothing replaces your own personal judgement about what students need.

As a teacher of gifted students, I find the strict strategy based curriculum does not meet the needs of my students.  My students need more from their reading experiences.  They do not need to be confined by levels or forced to read material that doesn’t interest them.  They rebel against these strict practices.  Vicki’s ideas reflect my own philosophy of teaching.  I know as I continue to read, I will find more connections and ways to enrich the experiences of reading for my students.

If you have a digital literacy post, please leave a link below.

 

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

 

Since I first read Donalyn Miller’s book The Book Whisperer, I have implemented the 40 book challenge.  I teach 1st-6th grade gifted kids.  These kids are usually readers when they walk into my classroom.  My bulletin board houses sticker charts all year long.  Students add a sticker for every book they read.  Every nine weeks grading period I remind them to update their charts, but other than this, I leave them alone.

I do not believe in gimmicks to get kids to read.  What I do believe in is finding space to read every day and knowing a student well enough to place a just-right book into their hands.  My students have not all met the challenge, but this year a majority of them did.  This week we colored bubble numbers celebrating their achievements.

This Animoto video is a showy one. I didn’t get a posed picture will all of my kids, but here are a few proud readers. Enjoy!

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