Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

New Books to blast me out of the blahs February 16, 2009

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Ron’s Big Mission by Rosa Blue and Corinne J. Naden

Illustrated by Dan Tate 

 

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The Great Paper Caper by Oliver Jeffers

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Bye-Bye Crib by Alison McGhee, Illlustrated by Ross MacDonald

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January’s Books-On the Way to the Year’s Goal February 4, 2009

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Books I read in January 

Picture Books: 

Put It on the List! by  Kristen Darbyshire My review 

I Want to Be Free by Joseph Slate My review

March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World by Christine King Farris My review

Posy by Linda Newbery and Catherine Rayner My review

Snow Show by Carolyn Fisher My Review 

The Snow Globe Family by Jane O’Connor

Fourteen Bears Summer and Winter by Evelyn Scott

Princess Peepers by Pam Calvert

A is for Art : An Abstract Alphabet by Stephen T. Johnson

The Big Elephant in the Room by Lane Smith My Review 

 

Middle Grade and YA Fiction:

42 Miles by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer 

Along Came Spider by James Preller My review

The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron My review

Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman My review

The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester My review

Shoot the Moon by Francis O’Roark Dowell 

Ida B. and  Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disasters, and (Possibly) Save the World by Katherine Hannigan 

 

Professional Books: 

Inside the Writer’s-Reader’s Notebook by Linda Reif

Assessing Writers by Carl Anderson

 

Adult Fiction: 

Nada-it WAS Newbery month! Ooh wait-I think I finished Mr. Pip by Lloyd James in January-very good book!

 

Posy-the most beautiful picture book I’ve seen this year! January 3, 2009

posyI found Posy by Linda Newbery and Catherine Rayner when I was CTC yesterday and instantly fell in love with this beautiful picture book!  

Posy!
She’s a…
whiskers wiper,
crayone swiper,
playful wrangler,
knitting tangler…
Not only did I need a copy, but I gifted one to my friend Carol. I was pleased as punch to be able to find a  gem for her for a change. (Very hard to do! The first book I had selected for Carol for Christmas had to go back and be replaced since it turned out she already had read it!) 
I absolutely love the illustrations by Catherine Rayner. It’s so easy to imagine how soft she would be to pet, her curly whiskers give a little peek to her personality, and she reminds me of all the reasons I convinced my soon-to-be-husband (1996) that I needed not one, but two kittens.
I love the big accessible font that will pull kids into the story. Even the jacket flap is written in a font meant to read by kids. 
Follow 
delightful 
kitten Posy
as she
bounces 
and bounces 
through her 
adventure-
filled day. 

It’s easy to imagine what you could do with older elementary or intermediate students just using the text.  Each page has an engaging illustration and a two words…

 

Take a Look! at Lookybook November 14, 2008

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Lookybook has a free e-newsletter called Take a Look! that comes weekly.  This week’s had some great autumn picture books, as well as some newer books.
One great use for this website if you have a projector in your classroom would be to be able to project the pictures from the book to a larger group as you read a book aloud. You could even set up the projector with the book as a station/center for small group use. I think kids would think it was fabulous. I still get a kick out of clicking the book pages back and forth. I can’t think of any reason why the school filter would not allow the website, but I will have to play around with it at school this week. Another great use would be to use the computer(s) in your classroom for students to either use as a station, or to enhance your classroom library.

Here is one of the books featured in this week’s newsletter.

 

Interesting website Lookybook October 6, 2008

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Yesterday I found an interesting website called Lookybook. Their tagline is “Picture books you can discover, share, and talk about”. The site allows you to collect and share your books. The site is also where you can  also “read” picture books through the website’s interface. Worth checking out!

 

Mentor Texts: Author Loreen Leedy October 5, 2008

Crazy Like a Fox: A Simile Story by Loreen Leedy is the newest book by this very fun author. I first became familiar with Leedy while using her book Postcards from Pluto as a mentor text (way back before I even knew what they were) for writing our own postcards and books about the planets when that was part of my science curriculum.  Since then I have had the opportunity to meet her at the now defunct The Ohio State University Children’s Literature Conference (boy I miss that opportunity to see so many great authors) and she has now written around thirty books.

While I have been unable to continue using Postcards from Pluto in science, it is still a great mentor for that type of short, fictional/nonfictional writing.

 I also am a big fan of Leedy’s Penny books, Mapping Penny’s World and Measuring Penny.Both texts fit into the current fourth grade curriculum-measurement, map skills, and are also great read alouds. 

The newest Leedy book, Crazy Like a Fox, starts with a great, child friendly explanation of what a simile is. In Ohio this is always a tested topic, and also one that can be difficult for teachers to help students have a working understanding of, especially as they need to also know idiom, metaphor, etc.

The story progresses as the main characters Rufus and Babette chase after each other until they run into a surprise party for Babette. Each page includes not just the similes that described what Rufus and Babette are doing, but also has little asides as other minor characters comment on Rufus and Babette, all spoken in similes. The book also includes a nice section at the end about creating your own simile story that teachers will find helpful and students will have fun participating. 

If you are trying to teach similes, idioms and metaphors, check out Punished by David Lubar. This short little chapter book is a great read-aloud and chronicles a boy’s attempt to earn back his ability to speak without it all coming out as puns.

 

Comprehension Strategies launching lesson August 28, 2008

Today I taught my first model lesson for three other teachers in fourth grade. I thought it went pretty well. I was nervous the day before when meeting with the teachers to talk about the lesson, but once I was in the classroom with the students, it felt very natural. I did have several things going in my favor: It is a lesson that I had done successfully in my classroom last year; I know many of the students since my daughter is the same age; it was in the classroom of the woman who used to be my co-teacher until this year. I don’t think I could have gotten a more comfortable setting for a first time!

The lesson is one I had read about in book entitled Comprehension Connections: Bridges to Strategic Reading by Tanny McGregor. The lesson is called Reading Salad. I really like the set-up she describes of telling students that you bet they are really good at pretending. You then go onto to explain that they are going to pretend to the be teachers and you are going to pretend to be a student. Remind them teachers are very serious about reading, so they should be very serious because they are going to be grading me as a reader (while pretending to be a student). I selected the book Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen for my role as “student”. The book it is one that I know many of the teachers read last year as we had had several ongoing conversations about it at lunch. I read aloud (with a couple choice words removed) parts of the first two pages of the prologue. I did (accidentally) stumble over a word or two and also have to go back and reread one sentence when my “editing” made the sentence unclear.

When done I asked them to give me honest feedback about me as a reader. They were very complementary, as was last year’s group, despite my couple stumbles. When asked why they thought I was a good reader, they offered things such as “you knew all the words”, “you used expression”, “it seemed like a hard book” and other similar offerings. I then revealed to them that the first time I had read that part of the book, I had been very confused about what was going on, and also shared that I went back to the prologue and reread it many more times as I was reading the book as I figured out new things that I didn’t know when I read it the first time. They were very impressed that I would reread part of a book more than once because I wanted to.

On the fly I remembered a story that my teaching partner had shared with me about her son, who is now a senior in high school. She was very excited that he had learned to read and when she went to parent teacher conferences for the first time, she told the teacher how proud she was of his reading. The teacher (as it so happens, was my mother-which makes the story even funnier to the kids) informed my teaching partner that her son wasn’t reading, but had memorized certain books. She asked her to write some of the words out of context to see if her son could read them. He could not.

This story was a perfect tie-in to the rest of McGregor’s Reading Salad lesson as you ask the students, “Since you are so good at pretending, I bet you’ve been able to pretend you are reading or that you understand something you read, when really you didn’t.” We did a turn and talk with a partner and then shared some instances of when they have “pretended” to read or understand when they really didn’t. It is AMAZING how honest they are about times they knew the words, but didn’t understand, or only looked at the pictures, or flipped pages without reading, etc. The most promising sharing was of a student who shared that sometimes she stops and daydreams about what is happening in the books when she is reading, instead of continuing reading (perfect springboard to come back to for visualizing). 

I went on to explain the Reading Salad part of the lesson. You have a bowl with green pieces of paper marked “text” and another bowl with red pieces of paper marked “thinking” (this is opposite of what is described in her book, but a modification that I found worked better for me after last year’s students).  There is a third bowl marked “salad”. I put two students up on stools/chairs on either side of me and held the salad bowl in my lap. I read aloud Splat Cat (see earlier review) as a think aloud. Each time I read text, green text “lettuce” was added to the salad and when I stopped to do the think-aloud, red thinking “tomatoes” were added until the book was over and there was a salad. 

This year I also added orange carrots to represent unknown/unfamiliar words. The lesson ends with a specialized Venn Diagram of a book (text) intersecting with a head (thinking) for Real Reading (not pretend reading!). I will post a photo of our chart later this week so you can visualize. 

As I stated at first, this is a modified lesson from the McGregor comprehension book. She has many other great, hands-on, visual, or concrete lesson for launching your strategies lessons. 

Later this week I will then like to follow up with a lesson that Franki Sibberson describes in her book Still Learning to Read: Teaching Students in Grades 3-6.

 

Beginning of year picture books for intermediate readers August 18, 2008

I love to start the first day with First Day Jittersby Julie Danneberg. It’s a great way to introduce the idea to kids that everyone (kid or grown-up) get nervous sometimes. As the story unfolds, many of the stereotypical reasons a kids wouldn’t want to go to school are used. Eventually the principal leads the nervous person to her new class (most students still think it is a new student) only to reveal on the last spread that it is the teacher that has been the nervous wreck. I’ve used it different ways, but last year we had a class discussion about things that they were nervous about at their new school (fourth graders are new to the intermediate school after being at the elementary for kgn through third for our district).  We then can go back to that list at the end of the first week to see if the things they worried about have been resolved.

I also like to use The Relatives Cameby Cynthia Rylant the first day to introduce the ideas that things are different when you go to a relatives house compared to your own house, just like rules at school/classroom are different than the rules they might have had at home or at the elementary. Nice springboard into setting class guidelines. This book also makes a great starting point to inspire an introductory writing sample for students to write about a special time with a relative.

 

 
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