Friday, May 22, 2015

Poetry Friday

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Sarah Browning


Just when the story's getting good,
I must close the book and return it
to the rightful owner.

I have marked up the text a bit:
underlined key phrases,
jotted notes in the margins.

I've dogeared some pages,
left smears of optimism,
streaked whole paragraphs with my tears,

slept with the book under my pillow,
taken it with me everywhere,
thrown it at the wall in frustration (on more than one occasion).

You'd think by now I would have learned to live
with never knowing the ends of these stories.
I have not.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2015

There are just a few more days of school left, and I am getting ready to say goodbye, in most cases forever, to the people who have been my life for the past 9 months -- this crazy, quirky bunch of students who bloomed late, but bloomed GLORIOUSLY.

Matt has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Dragons Beware!

Dragons Beware!
by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado
First Second, May 12, 2015
review copy purchased for my classroom library

Claudette is relentless. She has not given up on becoming a warrior. Her little brother, Gaston, is equally single-minded. He HAS given up his dream of becoming a chef until he can become as good a blacksmith as his father and/or do something that will make his father proud.

When the flying gargoyles attempt to attack their village, Claudette and Gaston's father, Augustine, and his sidekick Zubair set off to get Augustine's sword Breaker from the belly of the dragon Azra so they can defeat the evil Grombach, who is sending the gargoyle army.

Knowing that Claudette and Gaston will try to come along, Augustine leaves them locked in the tower with Marie. Guess how long that lasts?

Here's how our heroes are armed to defeat a dragon and an evil...grandfather (you'll have to read the book to get the back story on that plot twist): Claudette's stumpy little sword seems to have some magic, and she is not at all lacking in bravery. Gaston is encouraged by Hag (a character I'm pretty sure we'll meet again in book 3),
"Don't turn your back on a talent, Boy. Lots of folks spend their whole lives looking for something their good at."
as she presses a book of spells into his hands. "Casting spells is like learning a recipe. Like cooking."And Marie has been learning about diplomacy.

I loved the first book, Giant's Beware!, but I love this book even more. I can't wait to hear Rafael Rosado (artist) and John Novak (colorist) speak at Cover to Cover on Saturday, May 23 from 2-3:30. See you there!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Math Monday -- Pans of Brownies

It's Math Monday! 
for the Math Monday link up!

Dividing whole numbers by unit fractions and unit fractions by whole numbers are 5th grade standards.  (CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.NF.B.7)

I've never taught division of fractions, but when you are struggling to understand something yourself, you often do a better job explaining it to someone else.

In my classroom, dividing fractions is all about pans of brownies. 

If you have four pans of brownies and you want to divide them each into fourths, how many fourths will you have?

4 ÷ 1/4 = 16

You will have sixteen one-fourth-sized pieces to share with your friends.

But what if you you share 15 of those one-fourth-sized pieces and realize you forgot to share with 4 other friends? 

If you chop a one-fourth-sized piece into four pieces, what size of piece will each of those friends get?

1/4 ÷ 4 = 1/16

They will get a tiny little piece, but at least you didn't completely forget them!

Creative Commons photo from Wikimedia Commons

Friday, May 15, 2015

Poetry Friday -- Gold

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

by Robert Frost
(in the public domain)

Diane has the Poetry Friday roundup at Random Noodling.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

RUMP by Liesl Shurtliff

I chose RUMP by Liesl Shurtliff as our last read aloud of third grade.  We may fit one more in but it is doubtful. RUMP has been one of my favorite read alouds of all time. I was worried that it would be too complex for 3rd grade but they LOVE it and it is bringing together so much they understand about story.

Before we started RUMP, we read several picture book versions of Rumplestiltskin. (This fabulous advice from Colby Sharp:-)  Some of the versions were fun. Others were a bit scary. Some of the movie versions we watched were a bit creepy. The kids loved the conversations around the similarities and differences in this stories.  But Rumplestiltskin as a character was pretty much the same--a not so nice, magical creature who is out for himself.

So much of 3rd grade is learning to read complex books, learning to look beyond the surface and to infer a bit more than what is on the page.  So much is learning to know characters beyond a few descriptors. What do they do and why do they do what they do? How do they change over time?  What do they learn from their problems?

The year has also been about connecting stories in a way that helps you understand better.  Noticing the ways that stories connect and characters remind you of other characters. It has been about thinking about what you can expect from a story because of its genre, author or topic. And it's been about the fun in changing your thinking in the midst of reading once you learn more about a character.

So, this book has been perfect t to tie all of our conversations together and to think more deeply about a character we thought we knew well enough. We are learning that perspective matters and the conversations around this book have been such fun!

Before we started the book, we previewed together and listed those things that we expected as readers as well as questions we had:

We also created a chart of Rumplestiltskin's character traits-what do we know about this character and how might our thinking about him change as we read this story?  Our original thinking is on the left and we are filling in the right side when we realize something different.

I'm noticing that perspective is misspelled on this chart at the beginning. We fixed it up and added new things we learn about Rump as we hear his story. The 2 columns of things we know are becoming very different!

Because Liesl Shurtliff is so brilliant and clever as a writer, the class is having great fun noticing little details in the book that may refer to another fairy tale they know or something from the original tale that they may have forgotten.  So much fun discovering not only Rump's perspective of all that happened but also in discovering the brilliance of this author, who is new to them.

As we get ready to think about our summer reading, I am sure many of my kids will want to read Liesl's newest book, Jack.  I know I am anxious to read it.  (And I am very excited that Liesl will be at NERDCAMP this summer!)

If you want to learn a bit more about Jack and the 3rd book that is coming next year, you can read an Interview with Liesl Shurtliff on The Nerdy Book Club site.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Studying Slide Design: Learning from #EdcampKids

We started with our own version of #EdCampKids in later March.  So far, we've had 4 EdcampKids sessions where kids attend 4 workshops each time. Every single child in my class has presented something--it is always a choice but everyone loves to share things they know.  We are in an animal slideshow stage right now--probably because so much nonfiction they are reading is about animals.  They seem a bit obsessed with animals and slideshows but we also have workshops on Origami, science experiments, and building and we have children who choose to create posters or use non-tech visuals. The conversations around audience and purpose have been amazing.

The teaching that comes out of #EdcampKids is incredible. Every time, there are so many things that happen that fall into our learning the following week.  We started this late in the year to see how it went but I can imagine that next year, the possibilities for teaching from what happens each session will have a huge impact on our writing workshops.  One of my favorite conversations happened a few weeks ago when a student very kindly shared how distracting it was as an audience member when a word was misspelled on a slide.  Such a natural way to bring up the importance of editing when you are publishing in this way.

Last week, during writing conferences, I met with several students about slide design. I am noticing from afar that the sophistication of slide designs--the choices that writers make when deciding how to design slides--is really changing.  There is a great deal of intentionality in the slide design and I wanted to capture a few that we could study. I met with several students who had recently completed a Google Slideshow to share during Edcamp and they chose a slide that they were especially proud of.

It is easy to start to worry about the traditional things we think are important---because students are not citing sources or the wording often sounds too fact based instead of synthesizing what they know. But in this process, I feel like I've gotten back to the true feel of the writing workshop.   I remember these are eight year olds who are learning to share their new learning with others. They are thinking hard about audience and purpose and how to share their new passions with peers. They are learning to combine images and text in unique ways.  They are learning to navigate sophisticated tools and collaborate with others in the process. I am reminded of all I learned from Troy Hicks The Digital Writing Workshop and Crafting Digital Writing every day as I listen into kids' thinking during writing. I am looking forward to revising both of those amazing books this summer as I plan for another year of digital writing workshop.

So in the coming weeks, some of our mini lesson work will focus on slide design (which transfers to pretty much any nonfiction writing design). We will use these slides to begin our conversation and to look closely at decisions third grade writers have made.  Since all of the kids have participated in EdcampKids as both presenter and audience member, I expect these conversations to be powerful.

You can find the padlet here.

Monday, May 11, 2015

"Rich" Math Problems

I got the best compliment ever last week: "That math problem was really fun! That was the best day in math so far this year!"

It was this problem from Robert Kaplinsky: "How Much Money IS That?!"

I put the pertinent information (photos, link to the video, questions to ask) into Google Slides, and printed the above picture for individuals and small groups to mark up. (We did the Coinstar problem the day before.)

I wish you could have been there when I started the slide show with the above picture! Excited conversation ERUPTED all around the classroom! Questions, predictions, estimates, scenarios...leave it to money to get kids excited to solve a problem!

We worked on this problem over the course of two days, and our final answer was in the ballpark of the actual amount, but not at all spot-on. That's okay. We had already determined that we were not going to be able to aim for precision with this problem.

This week, I'm going to try some of the problems from Inside Mathematics. I like how they come tiered with different levels on the same theme.

Happy Problem Solving, and Happy Math Monday!

It's Math Monday! 
for the Math Monday link up!

Friday, May 08, 2015

Poetry Friday -- A Kind of Poetry

A Kind of Poetry
by Chi Lingyun

To discover a tree's memories is impossible.

To seek a pebble's experience 
is also impossible.
We spy on water's motion

but in the end we still can't touch its core.

The cloud has always been there, we exhaust our energy
to understand its will, yet there's no hope
it will reveal the sky's mysteries.

Poetry also has the will of clouds

with words like rain, to avoid madness

it creates more madness. Just as when love

is written down, it loses half of its sincerity.
When explained, there is only a layer of sticky
mist left. No one is quick or deft enough

to capture poetry for long. Everything perfect
contains a dark cave.

(the rest of the poem is here -- scroll down to the third poem)

My brother found this poem and shared it with me. I loved it in March, but I love it even more after poetry month. The line, "Just as when love/is written down, it loses half of its sincerity" seems to have been written just for me and my PO-EMotion collaborators! And I found so many dark caves last month...

For more Poetry Friday "spelunking," visit Michelle's roundup at Today's Little Ditty.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

2 Books to Start Conversations about Words

I found two new books at Cover to Cover last week.  Both will be great for writing workshop and discussions and words.

There's No Such Thing as Little by LeUyen Pham is one that I picked up because I LOVE this author/illustrator.  I thought it would be too youngish for my classroom but when I picked it up, it looked perfect for writing workshop. The book begins with two children who don't like being called "little" They want us to know there is so much more to them than being little!  The book goes on to look at lots of little things. A little light, a little snowflake, a little hand. But with the turn of the page, we see that those little things are so much more than little.  For example, a little tree becomes a generous tree when we look more closely.  The pages have little cut-outs which make the book even more fun. We see the "little" through a hole peeking into the next page --a feature I think kids will love and one that helps us connect the words in the book.  I think this will be a perfect book for writing workshop when we talk about word choice and the ways we can use words that truly give meaning to what we are saying.

The other book is Outstanding in the Rain: A Whole Story With Holes by Frank Viva. This one is
another book that has holes as part of the illustrations. In this book though, each hole reveals a word on the page.  For example on the first page, the text reads "Ice Cream," I say. My birthday surprise.  The word Cream is shown through the cut-out.  On turning the page, we see that "cream" becomes part of a new word scream in a new sentence that continues the story. This word play happens several times throughout the book as we see words change into different words.  Another book that will be fun as part of our word play conversations. The illustrations in this one are unique and I think kids will like the color choices and the humor.