Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The One With Shared Nerdy Writing #sol15


Every Tuesday, I participate in the Slice of Life challenge at Two Writing Teachers. If you want to participate, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post on Tuesdays or you can just head on over there to check out other people's stories. For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here

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I'm seriously pooped! I've been at Nerdcamp since Sunday and it's been as amazing as ever. That means seeing friends, sharing ideas, packing as much into my little brain as possible and it's the best but also tiring. I'll keep this short and share more later but yesterday I led a session on descriptive writing in non-fiction writing. I shared examples of great non-fiction mentor texts and talked about how to look at great writing students can model their writing after. I loved seeing familiar faces from last year coming to learn with me again. 

One of my all-time favorite pieces from NPR is "Don't Overlook The Unsung Umpire; Referees Can Be Pretty, Too" by Frank Deford. The audio is amazing and the text that matches is available. There is amazing imagery in this piece and so much to soak in but at the same time, he outlines details about referees in various different sports. I also shared a more recent NPR article highlighting the US Women's Soccer Team win entitled 

"U.S. Women Win World Cup Final 5-2, After Spectacular Start" by Camila Domonoske. We stopped to soak up this line that I loved:

"Japan's players, after fighting hard all game, 
stoically applauded the victors 
as Team USA was showered with gold glitter."

We did a free write on our experience at Nerdcamp and took bits of writing from a few different people and pieces together something new. I adore shared writing and love the power of combining sentences. If you haven't read Jeff Anderson's newest book, Revision Decisions, it is definitely a must-read.

Here is what we wrote together:

"After fielding the question, 'Parma? Where's Parma?' I realized it didn’t matter where it was, I knew I had to go to Nerdcamp. An untraditional conference where I can be with passionate people who challenge my thinking and leave me in awe.

I arrived - alone - and knew absolutely no one except for the people I may have Twitter stalked! Weaving through the labyrinth, collecting Nerdcamp swag, highlighting my name, scanning the crowd for faces from my feed."

This is only a snippet of the excitement many of us felt as we made our way to Nerdcamp. Many of us in the group were here for our first Nerdcamp. I'm happy to have been at all three and hope we continue for a long time. Maybe you'll think about joining us next time? Maybe YOU've never heard of Parma...but that didn't stop hundreds of us. Please think about joining us next year!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/6/15

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
I'm at Nerdcamp MI this week and Teachers Write starts today! It's an exciting time of the summer for me. On the way to Michigan, I finished listening to Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle. I started listening to Revolution! by Deborah Wiles. I'm still reading Lost In The Sun and loving the characters - I can't wait to talk to Lisa Graff at Nerdcamp!

Reviewed Last Week:
 

Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm planning on finishing Lost In The Sun and listening to Revolution! on my way back from Michigan. The kids are still doing the park challenge while I'm going, but I'm hoping to share more about all the fun we've had so far and the discussions we've had about parks.

This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Teachers Write - Sunday Check-In 4.0

Hi ho, campers! 
Welcome to the fourth summer of Teachers Write.
 Raise your hand if you're excited!
I've come a long way as a writer since our first summer in 2012 but I've also come a long way as a person because of writing regularly and the connections I've made with my amazing Teachers Write family. I'm excited to see what I accomplish this time around and to hear how Teachers Write goes for you this year. Sharing and reflecting together is powerful. I'm glad you are here!

The Teachers Write community is truly top notch. I love that we are all in this together. All writing counts. Starting or jumping in or getting back into the swing of things is perfect. Everyone is welcome around the campfire. 

Here are a few things about me: I'm a 35-year-old mom to two active, energetic, nonstop, rambunctious little creatures who are eight and five and married to a sports-loving, ESPN-watching, PE teacher. I recently accepted a position as Technology Integration Specialist in the district where my kids go to school...which meant leaving the district I have worked in my entire career. I spent thirteen years as a hearing itinerant teacher working with kids who are deaf and hard of hearing, a teacher leader for our mentor program, and then a coordinator of instructional technology.
When I started this blog, I knew I wanted there to be an emphasis on how reading influences writing. I believe in the workshop model and the writing process but most importantly in using authentic texts - mentor texts - to learn from the best and improve writing through reading and studying mentor texts.

In terms of my writing,  I've been working on my young adult contemporary novel, HIS KISS since November of 2011 when I tried NaNoWriMo for the first time. I've never "won" at NaNoWriMo but I still consider myself a winner as writer because I haven't given up yet. I trust in the process and know my writing keeps getting better because I keep going (although it doesn't always feel this sparkly and fun). I've also worked on two picture book manuscripts and am doing research for another.

But enough about me! I'll share some important, must-know Teachers Write information here and then I want to hear about you! 

When in doubt, visit Kate's blog for all the most critical details. To go directly to the sign up form, click here. Check out the wonderful guest authors Kate lined up for us, visit their websites, and purchase at least one book from one of them. Don't forget to purchase books from Kate, Jo, and Gae, too!
Kate is also doing an in-depth series on writing history and historical fiction. Be sure to have both books in her Ranger in Time series if you want to participate. You can read more about it here

A reminder of my rules for Teachers Write Sunday Check-Ins:
1. We respect each other and the type of writing we do.
2. We only offer constructive criticism.
3. We are positive and encourage each other at all times.
4. We recognize and maintain this as a safe environment.

Today, in the comments section:
Introduce yourself! 
Tell a little bit about yourself and your writing. 
Tell us your writing goals for this week and for the summer.
Share one thing that scares you and one thing that excites you about writing.
Share something about what you notice with your students and writing.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Circus Mirandus

Title: Circus Mirandus 
Author: Cassie Beasley 
Publisher: June 2nd, 2015 
Publication Date: Dial Books 
Genre/Format: Fantasy/Novel 
GoodReads Summary: Fans of Big Fish, Peter Pan, and Roald Dahl will fall in love with Circus Mirandus, which celebrates the power of seeing magic in world.

Do you believe in magic?
Micah Tuttle does.

Even though his awful Great-Aunt Gertrudis doesn’t approve, Micah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other—the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real. And the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle. With his friend Jenny Mendoza in tow, Micah sets out to find the Circus and the man he believes will save his grandfather.
The only problem is, the Lightbender doesn't want to keep his promise. And now it's up to Micah to get the miracle he came for. 
What I Think: I just love the idea of magic in the world in some way or another - even, or maybe especially, the magic we make ourselves. As I read Circus Mirandus, I thought about one of my favorite adult novels, Night Circus b Erin Morgenstern. The writing and imagery in Night Circus is amazing and now Cassie Beasley gives middle grade readers their own magical story and I'm so glad for it. 
     As a mentor text, this book gives an opportunity for writers to think about how one character's story impacts another. So often we read how the story is about the protagonist and his or her story arc but usually at the same time, there is at least one other character who has his or her own character arc. I love how Micah's story intertwines with his grandfather's and even with the Lightbender and Jenny. Sometimes the other story arcs aren't as noticeable but I believe Circus Mirandus gives readers a great opportunity to see how strong a story can be when other characters are so closely and intensely woven in. I know I didn't really realize until I started writing more how important all the other characters are in a story. I've thought so much more about how complex all characters should be and how tricky it is to really take characters from flat to round while writing. 
     After looking at Circus Mirandus and its characters, students can talk about characters in other books and have a discussion about flat versus round characters. What makes a character round versus flat? And what are some craft moves that the author does to make a character more round versus flat? are questions I would ask student readers to discuss. 
Read Together: Grades 4 - 6 
Read Alone: Grades 4 - 7 
Read With: Unwanteds by Lisa McMann, A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd, Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (adult) 
Snatch of Text: 
"It's important, when you first see magic, to recognize it. You don't often get a second chance." (p. 34)

"Even when your whole world was off balance, you still woke up in the morning to find there were a hundred perfectly ordinary things to do." (p. 37)

"Circus Mirandus was the sort of place that filled you up to the top of your head. Ephraim spent the whole first day dashing from one tent to the next, seeing bits and pieces of the shows and people and creatures inside each one." (p. 69)

"'Just because a magic is small doesn't mean it is unimportant," the Lightbender said. 'Even the smallest magics can grow.'" (p. 120)
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you believed in something but others didn't and how it felt that they didn't believe you. 
Topics Covered: Family, Loyalty, Belief, Hopes, Dreams, Friendship, Magic 
I *heart* It:

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The One With The 2015 Park Challenge #sol15


Every Tuesday, I participate in the Slice of Life challenge at Two Writing Teachers. If you want to participate, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post on Tuesdays or you can just head on over there to check out other people's stories. For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here

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Two years ago, my husband suggested a park challenge where we try and visit a different park every day all summer. This year we decided it was time to bring back the park challenge. We've decided to start July 1st and see if we can get to September 1st. One park everyday, no repeats.
When I told a colleague about the park challenge, he asked if there would be enough parks to last two months without duplicating. Lucky for us, living outside of Chicago, there are! Our main goal is to get our kids moving and make it fun for all of us. But then I had an idea.

What if we could get other families excited about movement and play by sharing the park challenge? So we've started charting out parks, remembering our favorites, and inviting friends to join us throughout the month. We'll share all the fun we have and rate the parks so others can see just how awesome play can be. We're hoping to take lots of pictures, make a few movies, and get our kids talking about what they love about the different parks we visit. I'll share posts here on Tuesdays with updates on our adventure but will also be using the #parkchallenge hashtag on Twitter and Instagram if you want to follow along or join in. Even if you don't do the daily challenge, we would love to see where you play and hear what you love about it. 

I'm really looking forward to this! I love seeing my kids explore and have fun and this is such a great way to get us out and moving and trying new things. I can't wait!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/29/15

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
When we recovered from our drive back from Florida, I snuggled up with Katie Wood Ray's In Pictures and In Words. I started it before but reread and then kept going and I love it. So excited to share snippets during Teachers Write. Peanut and I are still reading Oggie Cooder and we finally got to the exciting part...just before he fell asleep!

Last Week's Post: 
Click on any picture above to read my post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm looking forward to finally finishing up Oggie Cooder with Peanut. I have two days of work this week. Two more days and then I say good-bye. It also means two last days of an hour-long commute and I'm hoping to listen to Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle. (The only thing I'll miss about my crazy commute are my audiobooks!) I have a bag of picture books I'm excited to read this week, too. I know Little Red Henry by Linda Urban is in there!

This Week's Posts:
 
Check back throughout the week to read these posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Let's Celebrate LOVE FOR ALL!

It's time to CELEBRATE This Week with Ruth Ayres from Discover. Play. Build.  Every week Ruth invites us to share our celebrations from the week and link up at her blog. What a fun way to reflect on everything there is to be thankful for. 

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This week I'm celebrating LOVE FOR ALL!

*throws confetti*


It seems like the Internet is awash in celebrating the Supreme Court ruling to support same sex marriage across the United States...and it should be! Hooray!

I'm sure you've seen the words Justice Anthony Kennedy in the ruling at the end which are perfect in my opinion. In case you haven't, here they are. And in case you have, I want to plaster this all over everywhere, so hopefully you're happy to reread it and let your heart swell with happiness again.

As I write this, I realize not everyone shares my supportive stance on this decision but I hope all the positive energy will encourage more people to see how this is a good thing. How letting people be free to live their lives and make their own decisions empowers people to better be themselves. And doesn't that make the world better, too? In the end, love wins.

What are you celebrating this week?