Best Book I Have Not Read

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

Once Upon a School January 1, 2010

Filed under: authors,reading-writing connection,school,writing — bestbookihavenotread @ 10:05 am
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My husband came home talking about the Pirate Supply Store and their tutoring center sometime in the past year. He is a big fan of TED “Ideas Worth Spreading” tv and had seen the video of author Dave Eggers’ 2008 TED award acceptance speech. In addition, one of the guys who works for him has a friend who is affiliated with the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company. I’m surprised I haven’t posted about it already.

“Founded in 2002 by author Dave Eggers and educator Nínive Calegari, 826 Valencia is dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their writing skills, and to helping teachers get their students excited about the writing. Our work is based on the understanding that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success and that great leaps in learning can be made when skilled tutors work one-on-one with students.”

I love his dream!


I love kid writing November 13, 2009

Filed under: writing — bestbookihavenotread @ 9:20 am
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I am in love with student writing. I never cease to be amazed at what kids can do with a little bit of instruction and a little bit of time.

My son is a classic hard case second grade boy. He never has anything to write about; it’s like pulling teeth for his poor teacher. She’s generated lists with him. She’s had us work on an expert list at home. Every generating trick known to teacher-kind, she’s tried it.

It seems that we  have turned the corner.

This past week while we were in his parent teacher conference, he sat and wrote a “book”. It’s “4 chapters”.

Of course before he could write, he had to construct a fort in the corner of my office made of a pad of chart paper and a computer printer box roof. He then found “special” paper to be his writer’s notebook.

He said he wanted to write a fiction book. I, of course being me, suggested he take a real-life problem and turn it into a story (classic UOS Calkins’ generating technique). Take for instance, his desire to have a lizard. I suggested he write a story about a boy who wants a lizard and the things he does to get his parents to get him a lizard.

“Mom, that can’t be a fiction story because that’s really going to happen. I’m going to get a lizard.” (Poor delusional boy-No truly means no).

Instead he decides to write about “his” lizard. He calls the “paragraphs” chapters and makes a cover page, staples it together, and is ready to read it to all who will listen. My favorite part is the about the author at the end.

“Simon wishes to be a cartoonist. He has a lot of hopes and dreams.” Squiggly lines to represent more writing

Right before we had left for parent-teacher conferences, I’d been reading parts of the NCTE annual convention program aloud and exclaiming in excitement for different parts of it. At the end there are Both kids had been peering over my shoulder to see what authors were going to be there and if they recognized any of the book titles. Jeff Kinney of Wimpy Kid fame will be there and his “About the Author” was the inspiration for my son’s about the author.

Mentor texts in a whole new light! I had not thought to have kids use the “About the Author” for inspiration for writing theirs. We’ll have to give it a try!


Ralph Fletcher Rocks! January 24, 2009

Filed under: writing — bestbookihavenotread @ 2:06 am
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Here’s a great link from the Stenhouse newsletter and blog.  What a great opportunity to submit your boy writers and get feedback from a master! 

1) Submit your boys’ writing to Ralph Fletcher
Ralph FletcherHere’s a chance for your students to get feedback on their writing from Ralph Fletcher, author of Boy Writers and the DVD “Dude, Listen to This!”. We are calling for samples of quintessential boy writing; Ralph will select and comment on a handful of submissions. And we’ve set up a group on Ning for teachers to view and discuss the writing samples, Ralph’s comments, and other boy writing topics. 

Ralph will start reviewing entries beginning February 20 and will post his comments soon after. We’ll select the ten most interesting samples and send a free copy ofBoy Writers to the teachers who submitted them. Get details on how to enter your boys’ writing samples here: 


Intermediate Age Students- Read Aloud Books January 2, 2009

I had a very productive and fun day with my friend and literacy guru, Carol.  We started at our favorite Cover to Cover to peruse new books and ended up having a working lunch to talk about writing workshop in the primary grades.  

ctc_exterior_3_2005While at Cover to Cover, Carol and I were able to fulfill one of my school year goals of having a short list of common read-alouds for each grade level at the intermediate school. We have both read a lot over the years and also had the expert staff at Cover to Cover to help us. We aimed to have two “classic/Newbery*” for each grade level and two “newer” read alouds. We also tried to take into account gender, ethnicity, etc.  

Here is what we came up with:

4th Grade:ctc_interior132

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli   *

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Patterson *

Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little by Peggy Gifford (review)

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look (review) (I think Moxy Maxwell  and Alvin Ho really complement each other)

Hate That Cat/Love That Dog by Sharon Creech (review) (You can’t have one without the other!)


A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck *

Missing May by Cynthia Rylant *

Along Came a Spider by James Preller

Science Fair by Dave Barry 


One-Eyed Cat by Norma Fox *

The Watsons Go To Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis *

The Underneath by Kathi Appelt (review)

The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester


I’m going to try to tackle Along Came a Spider by the middle of next week when I give them to the different grade levels.  That way I will have read each grade level’s “classics/Newbery” and at least one of the newer titles. Science Fair and The Girl Who Could Fly will be put at the top of the To Be Read pile.

Yeah! Happy Reading for all our students and teachers.

Thank you Carol! I hope to post a link to your new blog before the end of the month! 


Units of Study: personal narrative unit 1 October 18, 2008

The fourth and fifth grade teachers have finished, or are just finishing Unit 1 of Units of Study-the personal narrative. We will be refining our shared rubric and talking about common expectations that need to be verified for next year or modified. More on this early next week. They are all hoping to have their publication celebration by Nov. 1. I got some great photos of one class that I will also post a few of. The kids were SO excited. All that hard work by teachers and students pay off!


Another Beautiful School October 14, 2008

Filed under: books,picture books,read alouds,school,writing — bestbookihavenotread @ 11:14 pm
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Glacier Ridge Elementary is a beautiful school. I’ve had the opportunity to attend a professional workshop last spring and this fall in the building and both times I’ve been very impressed by the displays of literacy throughout the school. The dedication to reading and writing is evident everywhere.

Click to play Glacier Ridge Elementary
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Kelly Gallagher

This is not Kelly Gallagher’s finest photo but I had to include it. Once again the Literacy Connection of Columbus has offered a wonderful opportunity to teachers in Central Ohio. For $50 I was able to attend a presentation by Kelly Gallagher on Saturday from 8:30-2:30. He really touched on all of us books, but started with a keynote on Teaching Adolescent Writers. I took copious notes and was once again impressed with him-as a teacher, a presenter, and someone who is passionate and dedicated to literacy. He is a practicing teacher in Anaheim, California. I am planning on adding to this post with highlights from the notes I took as time allows this week.


Fall Kindergarten samples October 12, 2008

Filed under: Calkins,kindergarten,school,units of study,writing — bestbookihavenotread @ 12:09 pm
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Click to play In the Fall I Like to...
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Writing with Kindergarteners

Filed under: school,writing — bestbookihavenotread @ 12:07 pm
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I think this bulletin board shows a great example of writing with kindergartners. They have each drawn a picture and then dictated (I am assuming the dictation part) a sentence about their picture. They have glued the words in the sentence separately which is a great way to teach spacing between words. A friend of mine told me that is a Reading Recovery strategy (which is a program that I am unfortunately pretty ignorant). Look at the student samples below. 


Holy Cow-What a nice surprise! September 28, 2008

Filed under: blogs,books,kidlitosphere — bestbookihavenotread @ 5:19 pm
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Thanks Mary Lee and Franki from A Year of Reading!
I’ve been tagged from their blog after they receiving a nod from Charlotte’s Library blog.

Here are the rules for I heart your blog:

1) Add the logo of the award to your blog.
2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4) Add links to those blogs on your blog.
5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs!  


Seven Other Blogs that I think have not been mentioned so far are:

Jen Robinson’s Book Page-She sends out a great free newsletter. Her reviews are very detailed and she also provides information about other “going-ons” in the  world.

Two Writing Teachers-great lessons, great photos and documents, great advice-very inspiring! While very different, I enjoy posts by both members of the team-Stacey and Ruth

The Reading Zone-I like reading what is going on in her classroom, and like that you can be passionate about literacy and science!

A Patchwork of Books-a wonderful blog-read her reviews and click on the links to purchase them through Amazon.

My Breakfast Platter-a sixth grade teacher’s perspective

A Wrung Sponge– I like her combination of poetry, haiku, and children book reviews. I think it’s a great example of how a mentor text (in this case the Haiku form) can be used to craft your language.

The Miss Rumphius Effect– literature, teaching, poetry-it’s got it all


Now this one isn’t a blog, but if you haven’t checked it out, you are missing out on some great teaching resources! Beth Newingham’s website