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Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

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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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

At the SCBWI conference in New Orleans, I met Whitney Stewart.  She is a nonfiction writer.  I bought her book, Meditation is an Open Sky: Mindfulness for Kids.  Whitney has practiced meditation throughout her life, but only recently turned this love into a picture book and mindfulness teaching. 

 

Earlier this week I used her book as our read aloud.  I found meditation music online, turned out the lights, gathered pillows, and asked my students to settle down for meditation.  This was easier for some more than others.  One student opted to sit in his desk and put his head down.  Another opted to continue writing a slice. But a few sat cross-legged on pillows, closed their eyes, and listened to the meditation prompt from the book.

 

There was movement.  There were giggles.  Meditation was a new idea, an awkward idea.  This may take a while to get the hang of.

 

I read two of the meditation exercises.  The second one, Protection Circle, asked the students to imagine a glowing ball of white light between their eyebrows.  “Breathe out and send the light out of your forehead to surround your body.” Then we moved on to a red light in your throat and a blue light inside your heart.  Each ball of light was breathed out to encircle you with light.

 

Following the meditation, Kaiden said to me, “I imagined the three balls of color were fear, anger, and sadness.  But when they left my body, they looked like balls of fire.”

This morning, two of my students came into my room before school asking if they could meditate.  Again they sat on pillows on the floor with lights out.  I read another meditation from Whitney’s book.  They said they felt calmer and more prepared to start their day.  

Whitney’s meditation book is illustrated with child-like images of an elephant and a monkey. While reading aloud, the illustrations don’t matter.  What matters is the space to clear the mind.

I don’t know if I’ll keep this up, but I wanted to try it.  My students are especially stressed because they just completed 10 days of practice testing, and the actual state testing starts in two weeks.  Meditation works for me.  I’m glad to have a resource for passing it on to my students.

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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.


 

Raising three daughters is a challenge. Now that they are adults, I try to forget the tough times. I like to forget that Maggie hated the dresses that I smocked. And that Katherine wanted to wear Sunday shoes to school. Martha wore the smocked dresses, but did not like matching her sisters. Each girl had her own personality, and in truth, I had a hard time keeping up. “Mom, don’t you know I Hate baked fruit?”

This weekend at the first SCBWI LA/MS regional conference, I met picture book author and illustrator Sarah Frances Hardy. Who knew when she sat at my table that we would connect in so many ways? She now lives in Oxford, MS, but she grew up in Jackson, like me. Later in the evening we sat next to each other at dinner and found out more things we have in common; we both have three daughters.

Sarah hilariously depicts the individual likes and dislikes of girls in her latest picture book, Puzzled by Pink.

Izzy’s sister Rose loves pink, but Izzy wears black, has a black cat, and carries a monster doll. It’s Rose’s birthday and Izzy refuses to wear a pink tutu. Izzy makes a party of her own in the attic complete with an invisible friend. This book speaks not only about being unique and accepting every one as they are, it also speaks to creativity and imagination. I am especially attracted to the details in Sarah’s artwork. All the way to the creepy spiders.

Sample page from Puzzled by Pink. Can you find the spiders?

On Sarah’s blog site, there is a post about making a birthday party celebration based on the book. There are links to fun crafts, too. Consider having a Puzzled by Pink party in your classroom. What costumes would each student wear? Let’s celebrate differences!

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if-you-were-the-moon

Before you begin to read If You Were the Moon by Laura Purdie Salas, turn this music on in the background.

Illustrated in dreamlike images by Jaime Kim, Laura takes us on a journey of discovery about the moon. In the beginning, the young girl muses on how easy the moon’s job is, but the moon explains. “If you were the moon, you would…” Along with delightful metaphor are embedded facts from how the moon was formed to Neil Armstrong’s iconic walk. Artists are inspired by the moon. Hence the musical piece, “Clair de Lune.” I remember listening to my mother play this on the grande in our living room.
A glossary and further reading section make this book teacher-friendly.

I often use picture books to lead my students to their own writing. I can imagine prompting my students with the words “If you were _________.” Students could research their favorite planet or natural disasters (my students love them!). Then they could write and illustrate their own books including interesting facts along the way. Finding a way to tie a book to writing enriches the classroom experience.

Laura sent me this amazing teacher’s guide written by Randi Miller Sonnenshine. This guide includes activities across the curriculum.

If You Were the Moon releases March 1st, 2017. Get your copy today!

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