Sunday, July 26, 2015

Artistic Self Expression and the Blank Canvas

You know what is an interesting phenomena?  Kids drawing on themselves.  My daughter was secretly doing so.  On herself and random surfaces throughout her home.  That stage seems to have waned, but if it's a topic you find yourself needing to discuss, there are two pretty awesome picture books for doing so.


Friday, July 17, 2015

The Great Depression and Rail Riding Children

I'm working on reading some Newbery Winners I never got around to and just started Richard Peck's A Year Down Yonder.  It instantly tickled my brain as similar to another book and then another.  I'm sure they are all three very different books, but there is a thread that connects them.  The phenomena of children being sent away to live with relatives, specifically during or following The Great Depression.  So, I present to you more books to check out if you liked any of these three.

You may have noticed a few shiny medals on these covers.  I'm excited to read more of "A Year Down Yonder" and see what lies in store for Mary Alice.  Do you have any other great Depression Era historical fiction to add to this list?  Comment below with more book alike titles to check out.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Questioning and Learning Speed

While getting to know my collection further, I stumbled across Henry Possum by Harold Berson.  This title can be matched with two other familiar reads.  

Like Leo, Henry doesn't catch on right away like his siblings as mom teaches them to play dead.  He also has a tendency to hum that any early childhood educator will recognize in at least one student per year (probably more).

And like P. D. Eastman's character, Henry get separated from his mother and finds himself searching and asking "Are you my mother?"  The repetitive pattern helps reinforce questions and question marks for students.  It is also another good book for finding repetition with the sight words are, you, or my.

So, if you've used either Leo The Late Bloomer or Are You My Mother in lessons in the past, consider trying Henry Possum, either to compare and contrast or to try something new.  And by new, I mean old.  But good.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Metacognition and Fluency

Learning to read is easy peasy for some kids.  For others, it is a more arduous task.  

In Becky Bloom's Wolf, the title character strives to become more "educated" like the farm animals he originally sets out to ingest.  His first attempts are very Dick and Jane.  Run Wolf, run.  Then he comes back with this gem of an example of a fluency intervention: 

This book and the journey of the wolf are a great conversation starter for metacogntion with some of our youngest readers, discussing how we think about our thinking, learning, and processes associated with fluent reading.

We have three copies of this book.  I am really enjoying getting to know the collection!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Fictional Battles of Epic Porportions

I've begun actively getting to know my collection.  You may be asking yourself what I've been doing for the past five years.  Well, loads of things.  Let me explain.  The picture book section, in particular has always been a bit daunting to me.  I never felt sure that I wouldn't remove a book that a teacher has used in a lesson for years unknowingly.  I feel I have a handle on that sort of thing now.  You also can't very well systematically weed books based just on age because some great books are quite old.  But then there are gems like this one.  
Old.  And after a close read, it has gotta go.  This summer, I have embarked on a project and it probably won't get finished this summer, but at least I'm starting.  I am going through one shelf at a time and reading every book.  Not only does it help
Me make decisions if a book is still suitable for an elementary library, it helps me book talk the collection and present books to readers, both teachers and students in a knowledgeable manner.  Previously, I book talked.  And did so in a knowledgeable manner, BUT I probably plugged the books I knew in high rotation.  Now I am getting to know ALL of the collection.  It's a big job, but I think I am up to it.  And my daughter is getting to read a wide variety of books along with me.  Tonight, we read The Marshmallow Incident.  I was familiar with this one.  But I love it and didn't want to miss the opportunity to share with you all out there in the world.  I'm hoping to create lists of books l, like a wordless picture book list, as well as pairings.  So, tonight, I present a pairing of terrible misunderstandings.  In other words, the way most/all World Wars and Civil Wars begin.  

Now, do battle with some books.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


I am about to embark on my final day of #ISTE2015 and I'm having that feeling where concurrently my brain is full AND I want to do allofthethings.  Right now.  Some things that have been bouncing around my brain since before ISTE and continue to bounce like crazy molecules are:

  • Maker Spaces/Genius Hour/ Breaker Spaces
  • Genius Hour
  • Green Screening (DoInk)
  • Book Trailers/Book Talks Using Green Screen
  • QR Codes Everywhere
  • Signage in the Library
  • PD for Teachers
    • Ted Talks For Teachers
    • Bytes, Books, and Bites
  • Book Clubs for Students
  • Book Clubs for Teachers
  • Google Chrome Extensions and Add Ons
  • Library Like a Pirate
I have attended some awesome sessions, gleaned great ideas at poster sessions and connected with some amazing educators, leaders and teacher-librarians.  Yesterday, at a Birds of a Feather session, I connected with a TL in MD and we are planning to do sessions at our respective state library conferences on sneaking in some teacher PD.  I am so excited for this collaboration across state lines.  Any other TL's want to join us?  Should be fun, plus many hands make light the work.  We can model super-sharing!

Are you at #ISTE2015 or even #NotAtIste?  What is bouncing around your brain?  Ain't summer grand?