Thursday, August 21, 2014

Poetry Friday: So. Much. Joy.

by Hugh MacLeod at GapingVoid.com


’T IS so much joy! ’T is so much joy!
If I should fail, what poverty!
And yet, as poor as I
Have ventured all upon a throw;
Have gained! Yes! Hesitated so
This side the victory!

Life is but life, and death but death!
Bliss is but bliss, and breath but breath!
And if, indeed, I fail,
At least to know the worst is sweet.
Defeat means nothing but defeat,
No drearier can prevail!

And if I gain,—oh, gun at sea,
Oh, bells that in the steeples be,
At first repeat it slow!
For heaven is a different thing
Conjectured, and waked sudden in,
And might o’erwhelm me so!

by Emily Dickinson

From Bartleby.com (bibliographic record for the poem here)
You can see the poem in Emily's own handwriting here.


Lots of great conversations these first couple of days of school about the importance of struggle, of perseverance, patience, and practice. Growth mindset. We watched Kid President talk about inventing, and we read The Most Magnificent Thing. I think we're ready to dive into the hard work of fifth grade.

I splurged yesterday and bought a little purple Moleskine journal to keep track of my "trout of the day." We're two days in and I'm having a hard time picking one "trout." I'm thinking that bodes well for the year.


We've had a change in the Poetry Friday roundup this week. Irene is taking over for Robyn. Head over to Live Your Poem to leave your link.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Teaching With Heart



Teaching with Heart: Poetry that Speaks to the Courage to Teach
edited by Sam M. Intrator and Megan Scribner
Jossey-Bass, 2014
review copy is my own, and will live on my shelf at school, ready to offer words of wisdom when I am in need

I have loved the first volume this duo edited, Teaching with Fire: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Teachfor 10 years. The poems and accompanying essays have buoyed me up and carried me forward.

This new volume already has five poems sticky-noted for sharing, and dozens of others that made me nod and smile. In times when we have to keep stuff like this in mind, it is good to have a place to go where our profession is valued, understood, and truly celebrated. This is a book I will turn to and thumb through many times throughout the school year, in good times and when I'm worn down and worn out.

Plus, how much fun is it to find my Poetry Month pal, Kevin Hodgson (Kevin's Meandering Mind, @dogtrax), right there on pages 18-20 in the section "Relentless Optimism" sharing "What Teachers Make" by Taylor Mali (who wrote the introduction to the book)?!?!

In his introduction, Mali writes about still getting a feeling of "imminence" every fall, even though it's been since 2000 that teaching was his day job. He continues,
"For years I couldn't figure out why as a poet I still felt this way. But it makes perfect sense. Because on a very basic level, being a poet and being a teacher are inextricably linked. Whether teaching or writing, what I really am doing is shepherding revelation. I am the midwife to epiphany."
Today is our first day day with students. Nothing could be better than approaching this day as "the midwife to epiphany."



Monday, August 18, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


Head over to Teach Mentor Texts for the It's Monday! What Are You Reading? round up.


Scholastic has a boatload of great new picture books coming out later this month and in September! (ARCs provided by the publisher)


by Lucille Colondro
illustrated by Jared Lee
Scholastic, August 2014

I have a whole collection of "Lady Who Swallowed a..." books, beginning with my very first one from a Scholastic book fair when I was in elementary school. Lucille Colandro has written almost a dozen different versions. This one is okay, but if we're going to go with swallowing a fly, I like the traditional ending!




by Caryn Yacowitz
illustrated by David Slonim
Scholastic, August 2014

This version is hysterical! Not only does the old lady swallow everything you need to celebrate Chanukah, each item gets larger and impossibly larger, dreidel rhymes with fatal, AND...AND the illustrations are parodies of famous/sculptures in art history (details in the back matter)! So. Much. Fun.




by Diane and Christyan Fox
Scholastic, August 2014

Shelve this book with INTERRUPTING CHICKEN. Cat can't get very far with her reading of Little Red Riding Hood before Dog interrupts with some assumptions and questions. First of all, he hears "cape" and goes immediately to super powers. Then, he wonders (reasonably) why the wolf doesn't just eat Little Red right there in the woods. And so on.

Fun stuff from the beginning endpapers to the end endpapers.





Hope for Winter: The True Story of A Remarkable Dolphin Friendship
told by David Yates, Craig Hatkoff, Juliana Hatkoff, and Isabella Hatkoff
Scholastic, August 2014

Another great addition to this series (Owen & Mzee, Knut, Looking for Miza, Leo the Snow Leopard, Winter's Tail) about a rescued orphan dolphin who becomes a friend for Winter, the dolphin with a prosthetic tail.




And due out in late September, one I REALLY can't wait to add to my class library:


by Molly Bang & Penny Chisholm
illustrated by Molly Bang,
Scholastic, September 2014

Next up in the Sunlight Series, we learn how fossil fuels were made and exactly how the burning of fossil fuels is releasing carbon chains that have been stored for millions of year into our atmosphere and changing the climate of our planet. Narrated by the sun, this book (the whole series, actually) is a must-read for any student (or adult) who needs to understand energy and the role of our Sun in...well, everything!


Friday, August 15, 2014

Poetry Friday: To My Students




To My Students

I am the riverbank
and you are the water.
You flow past me
year after year
fresh 
eager
a little wild.

I do my best 
to ensure you
a safe passage
and teach you 
endurance
stability
and the ways of the world.

But you rush on.

Time passes.
You return
to the familiar banks,
the remembered curves and shallows.

I will not know you,
and yet I will have
a deep memory of your passing.
Your passing
wore me down
changed my direction
made me new.

©Mary Lee Hahn, date unknown



Yes, I used that photo for my SOL post on Tuesday. Then later on Tuesday, I filled a giant recycling can with most of the contents of a filing cabinet that then left my classroom, providing a space for a shelf (emptied of professional books which migrated to the back cabinet, which was emptied of...) yadda yadda blah blah classroom setup. That's not the point of this story (but maybe I'll share some before and after pictures next week).

The point being, as I browsed through folders before flipping them into the recycling can, I found a folder of my writing from years back, including this poem. It builds nicely on the fishing theme from my SOL post.

Heidi has the roundup this week at My Juicy Little Universe.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Whatever You Are, Be a Good One




Whatever You Are, Be a Good One: 100 Inspirational Quotations Hand-Lettered by Lisa Congdon
Chronicle Books, 2014


Why am I just learning about this artist? Why have I not been following a blog entitled, "Today is going to be awesome"?

I love this little book because I love quotes and I love calligraphy and I love giving myself crazy challenges (like writing a poem a day, or taking 30 pictures every month and then making a mosaic).

That's pretty much how this book was born (minus the poetry and photos). Lisa Congdon noticed that she gravitated toward art that included lettering, decided she wanted to get better at calligraphy, and then started a project where she published something hand lettered on her blog every day for a year in 2012: 365 Days of Hand Lettering. I could get lost in her archives. It's pretty amazing that she started by just doing single letters that look clunky and forced, but within a month, her own unique style began to emerge. And then she started doing quotes. They are beautiful...unique...a perfect marriage of text and art.

Last year, instead of posting any class rules, I challenged each student to choose their very own "Words to Live By." Instead of one set of generic rules for 20+ individual students, we had 20+ individual rules to represent the fact that each person is the boss of his/her own self.

This year I want to help my students think about the graphic design of their Words to Live By posters that will hang around the classroom all year long. This will be our mentor text.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Slice of Life: What We Don't Know





If I had known when we set out for our fly fishing trip to Vermont that I wouldn't catch a single fish, I probably wouldn't even have bothered to try.

Don't get me wrong, the trip was not a failure. There was the otter, the kingfisher, the B&Bs, the Orvis Outlet Store, Niagara Falls. There are a myriad of moment-uous memories. Just none that involve trout at the end of my line.

That got me thinking about high stakes testing. I "fish" my heart out for the entire school year, and invariably, I don't "catch" much. And then I beat myself up.

Well, this year's going to be different. I'm not going to worry about the year as a whole. Instead of taking one big trip that depends on a single outcome, I'm going to slice this year up into 180 daily jaunts. Whatever good comes with each day (whether I aim for it, or it happens in spite of my intentions) will be the "trout" of the day.

I know this isn't a new way of thinking, but it finally makes sense to me. And I'm going to go with it.

Let's check back in a couple of months and see how it's working out for me.

Until then, I'll wish you tight lines, and be sure you watch your back cast.




Monday, August 11, 2014

Math Monday: Resources for Opening Routines


So excited that Mandy began a weekly time for us, as bloggers, to share our thinking about math teaching and learning.  Today is the first Math Monday!  You can find the round up on Mandy's Blog, Enjoy and Embrace Learning.

Last year, our Math Workshop went pretty well.  But not as well as I had hoped. One area I knew I had to work on was Opening Routines.  I had read Number Talks the year before and used the Number Talk routine daily. But I found that it became very rote when it was the only routine I relied on. So I have really focused on new routines and have found some great resources to kick off quick routines and also to build on those routines through the year.

I started in the spring exploring the Howard County website. There is a whole section on routines for 3rd grade so I read about some new routines that would support math learning.

Then I revisited Number Sense Routines: Building Numerical Literacy Every Day in Grades K-3 . This is a book from Stenhouse that I was familiar with but revisited this summer with 3rd graders in mind.  As more of an intermediate teacher, it was helpful to remember all of the math tools that support kids when making sense of number.  3rd is on the upper end of primary but I find so many kids need more support than I think they do at this age. Lots of great ways to support number sense.

Finally, I discovered my favorite new resource for math routines.  It is Minilessons for Math Practice, Grades 3-5 (there is a K-2 version, also) . I bought this book because Mandy had recommended it and I thought it would be filled with mini lesson ideas. But as I browsed through, they seemed more like opening routines to me.  I noticed that the blurb on the back of the book said, "Designed to use during transition times, mini lessons require little or no preparation and take only 5-15 minutes to teach. These activities can be repeated throughout the school year...".  These were the routines I was looking for.

The book focuses on Grades 3-5 and shares 27 routines. Each short chapter focuses on one routine.  Ways to introduce the activity, student examples and ideas for extending the activity are part of each chapter.  This is a great resource! So excited I discovered it!



Sunday, August 10, 2014

Picture Books 10 for 10: Genius Hour

I can't believe it is already time for #pb10for10!  Thanks to Cathy (@cathymere) at Reflect and Refine and Mandy (@mandyrobek) at Enjoy and Embrace Learning for creating this great day of learning and books.  It always turns out to be expensive for me as I always discover so many great books that  didn't know about.  It's one of my favorite blog holidays:-)

I decided this year that I'd share 10 books I'll use to kick off Genius Hour.  I want my kids to understand what Genius Hour can be and each of these books give a message I want them to carry into Genius Hour.  I doubt I'll really get through all of these books early in the year but these ten will start conversations that will help us have a vision for what Genius Hour can be. Whether you do Genius Hour or not, they all have a great message about learning.



The Most Magnificent Thing- I reviewed this one here in May.   It's a fabulous story of a girl with perseverance and grit. She works through her obstacles to create something magnificent.


Going Places by Peter Reynolds is a great story about thinking outside of the box and how thinking together is often better than thinking alone! I like the collaboration theme in this one.


Someday by Eileen Spinelli is a great book that invites conversation around working toward goals, trying new things, etc.


The OK Book is a simple book that reminds us that it is okay to not be great at everything--to try things and to just have fun with giving things a try, learning, and having fun.


Rosie Revere, Engineer is a fun book about mistakes, not quitting and finding joy in the journey of discovery.


Bella & Bean is one of my favorites. I love that it is the story of two friends and that one has a passion for poetry. Letting friends explore their passions and celebrating those with them is something I hope this book invites conversation around.


Beautiful Oops! is a fun colorful picture book that reminds us that some of our best ideas come from mistakes!


Imagine a Day (Byron Preiss Book) will invite conversations about imagining a perfect day at school. What would that mean for you?  I want them to know they have ownership of their learning time.


In Rupert Can Dance, Rupert keeps his love of dancing a secret for a while.  We'll use this to talk about those things you always wanted to learn about or try.


Mr. Tiger Goes Wild (Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards (Awards)) will remind us that it's okay to step out of your comfort zone and try something new.




Picture Books 10-for-10: Fairness


Thank you to Cathy (@cathymere) at Reflect and Refine and Mandy (@mandyrobek) at Enjoy and Embrace Learning for inventing and now hosting the FIFTH annual Picture Book 10 for 10 event. It's always fun to see what books everyone chooses and how much we all spend!!

I've shared my beginning of the year favorite read-alouds for community building with so many teachers that it's time to find a new group of books to use! Thank you #pb10for10 for helping me find 10 titles that will get my students and me thinking about issues of fairness. I'm excited to have a mixture of contemporary fiction, historical fiction, folktales, music, and nonfiction. I'll supplement these books with poetry on the same theme.

I found this image without attribution on another blog. This will be our first "text" to "read" and discuss as we think about fairness and justice.








 by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

This book will continue our discussions about fairness and equality.







by Rukhsana Khan
illustrated by Sophie Blackall


Sometimes we don't want to share, or take more responsibility 
because we are older.
But it's important to remember that what comes around, goes around.







Each Kindness (Jane Addams Award Book (Awards))
 by Jacqueline Woodson
illustrated by E.B. Lewis

This book will help us to connect fairness and empathy.
Hopefully we will never miss the chance to be kind
to someone in our world.






The Little Hummingbird
 by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas

Is it fair that the hummingbird is doing all the work?








Is it okay to make a situation more fair by using trickery? 







The Red Hen
 by Rebecca Emberley
illustrated by Ed Emberley

If you've done all the work, is it fair to keep all the rewards for yourself?







illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue

With this book, we'll begin to connect fairness and Civil Rights. I'm hoping to read aloud the Kindle edition of Wiles' Revolution (The Sixties Trilogy)








Through My Eyes
 by Ruby Bridges

Is it fair for children of all race, color, ethnicity and religion to go to American public schools?








I'm a new fan of Duncan Tonatiuh after hearing him speak at the CLA Monday Workshop last year.
This book will broaden students' understanding of desegregation
to include the struggles of Hispanic families.







We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song
 by Debbie Levy
illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

The story of this classic Civil Rights song will give us the "So What Now?" in this picture book unit. What will we do to work towards more fairness in our classroom, our building, our community, and our world?