Sunday, September 21, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/22/14

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:
Jen Says: Boo for me. I had a few late nights last week at work and spent a lot of time fixing up my novel so I didn't read as much as I had hoped. I'm still loving Manhunt by Kate Messner and enjoying Perfect Pairs: Using Fiction & Nonfiction Picture Books to Teach Life Science, K-2 by Melissa Stewart and Nancy Chesley. 

Reviewed Last Week:
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
Jen Says: Yup, another week of reading Manhunt by Kate Messner and also Perfect Pairs: Using Fiction & Nonfiction Picture Books to Teach Life Science, K-2 by Melissa Stewart and Nancy Chesley.

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!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

If I Built a House

Title: If I Built a House
Author: Chris Van Dusen
Illustrator: Chris Van Dusen
Publisher: Dial
Publication Date: October 25, 2012
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book
GoodReads Summary: The much-anticipated follow-up to the E. B. White Award-winning picture book If I Built a Car.

In If I Built a Car, imaginative Jack dreamed up a whimsical fantasy ride that could do just about anything. Now he's back and ready to build the house of his dreams, complete with a racetrack, flying room, and gigantic slide. Jack's limitless creativity and infectious enthusiasm will inspire budding young inventors to imagine their own fantastical designs.

Chris Van Dusen's vibrant illustrations marry retro appeal with futuristic style as he, once again, gives readers a delightfully rhyming text that absolutely begs to be read aloud.
What I Think: Some books are excellent mentor texts for helping students to start to imagine their own stories. A teacher recently e-mailed me to ask for ideas that might help students identify topics to write about. I love brainstorming writing territories because there are often many topics students are experts in but when the time comes to sit down and write those topics are elusive. If I Built a House is a book that students can easily listen to with their writer's notebooks open, ready to jot down ideas. They might hear something fun from the book that they can elaborate upon later in their writing or they might come up with something amazing they would create if they were to build a house. This is a great opportunity to practice descriptive writing, helping the reader imagine what their room or house might look like. I would also encourage students to draw their room or their house to help them brainstorm what to write about or to illustrate what they have written.
     My kids loved this book and asked for it over and over after we first read it. The illustrations are fun and the story definitely encourages creativity and helps students to think, "What if?" This book is a great opportunity to open up kids brains to possibilities and to encourage them to be open to ideas.
Read Together: Grades K - 3
Read Alone: Grades K - 4
Read With: If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen, Journey by Aaron Becker, If I Had a Dragon by Tom and Amanda Ellery, For Just One Day by Laura Leuck
Snatch of Text:
"Jack, in the backyard, said to his mother,
This house is OK, but it's like any other.
It's boxy and boring and basically bland.
It's nothing at all like the house I have planned."
Writing Prompts: Describe a room or a house you would love to have so that your reader can imagine it.
Topics Covered: Creativity, Enthusiasm
I *heart* It:

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Go: A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design














Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Aly at Kid Lit Frenzy. 
Every Wednesday, bloggers link up their non-fiction picture book reviews. Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what great non-fiction books are shared this week!


Title: Go: A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design
Author: Chip Kidd
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
Publication Date: October 8th 2013
Genre/Format: Non-Fiction/Picture Book
GoodReads Summary: “An excellent introduction to graphic design through [the author’s] own excellent work. Anyone interested in the subject, including most practitioners, will find it delightful.”—Milton Glaser

Kids love to express themselves, and are designers by nature whether making posters for school, deciding what to hang in their rooms, or creating personalized notebook covers. Go, by the award-winning graphic designer Chip Kidd, is a stunning introduction to the ways in which a designer communicates his or her ideas to the world. It s written and designed just for those curious kids, not to mention their savvy parents, who want to learn the secret of how to make things dynamic and interesting.

Chip Kidd is the closest thing to a rock star in the design world (USA Today), and in Go he explains not just the elements of design, including form, line, color, scale, typography, and more, but most important, how to use those elements in creative ways. Like putting the word go on a stop sign, Go is all about shaking things up and kids will love its playful spirit and belief that the world looks better when you look at it differently. He writes about scale: When a picture looks good small, don t stop there see how it looks when it s really small. Or really big. He explains the difference between vertical lines and horizontal lines. The effect of cropping a picture to make it beautiful or, cropping it even more to make it mysterious and compelling. How different colors signify different moods. The art of typography, including serifs and sans serifs, kerning and leading.

The book ends with ten projects, including an invitation to share your designs at GoTheBook.com

What I Think: I absolutely love this book. I found it fascinating from beginning to end. Design thinking has been on my mind since I participated in Understanding by Design training in July. As I've been talking to more and more people this year about blogging, I find myself telling them that they can set up a simple blog and that I've been working on mine, tweaking the design, moving things around, changing the layout and the theme for a long time now. My blog has evolved over time and I've had fun tinkering with it. I've been working on a website for a couple months now and I haven't made it live yet because I'm not happy with what it looks like and how it represents me just yet. 
     This book helped me see and name some of the thoughts that go through my head as I've worked on my blog and website but I also notice this extends into my writing as well. I saw a great example of varying sentences the other day on Twitter. It showed a version of a paragraph with the sentences basically saying the same thing with sentences of similar structure and then a paragraph with sentences of similar content but with varying sentence structure to show how much more lyrical it is. As writers we design with words and I think that's what makes it an art.
     I honestly could go on and on about this book, what I learned and how it made me think. There were definitely some new design ideas that I'm looking forward to trying. I love that there are ideas here that gave me a concrete way to be creative. So often creativity seems abstract and innate but this book made it feel like it's possible to learn to be creative and I think that might be a relief to some students.
     As a mentor text, I grabbed a snatch of text from the very beginning when the author is talking to the reader. Looking closely at attention grabbers or hooks in non-fiction writing is so much fun. Kidd doesn't disappoint. I really enjoy how he uses 2nd person. It's not very often that 2nd person is used but I think it's a great example of how to hook a reader. I listed a few other books that use 2nd person and/or have great hooks as books that would match well with this.
     One more thing...at the end of this book, there is a great extension for students. After reading about all of the design ideas outlined in the book, Kidd offers some projects that students can try. Bonus!
Read Together: Grades 3 - 12
Read Alone: Grades 4 - 12
Read With: Extreme Earth by Seymour Simon, Locomotive by Brian Floca, Choose Your Own Adventure books
Snatch of Text:
"CONGRAT-
ULATIONS,
you have decided to open 
this book, even though you 
have no idea what it's about 
because the cover doesn't 
tell you much. In fact, the 
cover is weird and seem-
ingly at cross-purposes 
with the message and pos-
sibly even a bit pretentious. 
But you opened it anyway."
Writing Prompts: Complete one of the projects at the end of the book and then write about what you thought about as you completed the project and how you felt about being a designer.
Topics Covered: Integration - Art, Creativity, Intentionality, Purposefulness, Motivation, Belief
I *heart* It:
 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The One With a Slice of Gratitude #slice2014



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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You won't read this until Tuesday but I'm writing this at 10:03 p.m. on Monday night. I'm home...finally. At 7:30 this morning, I was at a preschool to help students get off the busses and into their classrooms. One of the staff members passed away last week - unexpectedly and tragically - and today was the funeral. It was sad to be there but I was glad to support and do what I could to make sure the students were well taken care of when so many staff were out of the building to attend the funeral. 

I talked with one of the students while her class ate breakfast. She had cereal, a banana and veggie straws in front of her but wouldn't eat. The students were all deaf or heard of hearing so I was signing with them. This one student was amazed that I knew sign language. She was completely adorable, smiling at me and signing back to me. It was heart-breaking to think that the woman who normally worked with her will never help her off the bus again, will never sit at breakfast and talk with her again, will never walk down the hall and into class with her again.

Just as I was leaving home to go to this school, Peanut and Little Bean woke up. I gave them each a hug and then I had to be off. I didn't get home until after nine with after-school meetings and the Board of Education meeting. My babies are already in bed. The house is quiet except for the hum of the refrigerator and music playing up in the kids' bedroom. I'm ready to shut my laptop, turn off the light, stop the song that is on repeat, and climb under the covers myself. 

I'm so thankful that my babies are safe and sound and snuggled in bed. I barely got to see them today but I'm so grateful to know that I have family I can count on to take care of them when I have to be at work early and/or late. Most of all, I'm grateful for every second I get to spend with them and watch them grow up. My post this week is a little slice of gratitude. There's so much to be thankful for but this little slice seems like enough right now.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/15/14

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:
Jen Says: Wow, last week surprised me. I had after school meetings and worked on revisions of my novel which means I didn't get my reviews up. I'm trying again this week. I so appreciate your understanding! I'm reading and loving Manhunt by Kate Messner and also Perfect Pairs: Using Fiction & Nonfiction Picture Books to Teach Life Science, K-2 by Melissa Stewart and Nancy Chesley. I finished Go by Chip Kidd and am so excited to review it this week.

Reviewed Last Week:
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
Jen Says: I'm going to continue reading Manhunt by Kate Messner and also Perfect Pairs: Using Fiction & Nonfiction Picture Books to Teach Life Science, K-2 by Melissa Stewart and Nancy Chesley. Happy reading!

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!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Let's Celebrate Piles of Picture Books!


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 piles of picture books!

*throws confetti*

Over the summer, I downloaded Feedly and Pocket so I could better keep up with my favorite blogs and make a better attempt at commenting on blog posts. It's clear that there are times when I barely keep up with writing here and so making the time to comment on blogs is difficult. But I do so love reading friends' blogs and keeping up with their thoughts and ideas.

The good thing about Feedly and Pocket is that the help keep me organized and any blog posts I send to Pocket are there waiting for me when I'm ready. This post isn't about celebrating piles of blog posts though, it's about piles of picture books. One of the posts I happened to add to my Pocket was a blog post titled Teaching a Love of Picture Books by Katherine Sokolowski shared at Nerdy Book Club on August 8th. I'm so glad I saved it to my Pocket because it was definitely worth revisiting.

Katherine talks about some of my favorite books like I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen and Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown. And while her mention of these books reminds me of the stories within the pages of those books, it also brings to mind so many memories of conversations with friends about these books. She talks about falling in love with picture books and how they have a special place in her heart. I wholeheartedly agree. Books are so much more special when they are shared. And when we share books, we create memories that fill our hearts.

Last week, Peanut and I emptied a bookshelf that was in my room and moved it into his room. We slid the bunk beds over to make room for it and then carefully re-organized the books as we transferred from my room to their new home. We weeded out books to donate and determined that the top shelf would be reserved for our favorites. As I handed him books, he decided where they belonged, declaring the top-shelf favorites as "Hall of Fame" books. Standing back to admire our work, it was neat to see how our collection of books has evolved. The middle shelf, where we used to keep all the board books, now holds chapter books and graphic novels. I scanned the Hall of Fame books and smiled to see favorites and remembered all the times we shared them as a family. Yup, the best way to teach a love of picture books is to share them and build memories around them. 

Katherine shared a pile of picture books in her Nerdy Book Club post, unsure which book she would share first with her class. Isn't that a great problem to have? A pile of picture books just waiting to be read, memories waiting to be shared. Definitely something to celebrate!

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The One With No Right Way #slice2014


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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This morning I met with a group of fourth graders to share some information about using Google Drive. Their teacher has been working with them for a little over a week now. The know how to sign in, create Google Docs, share Google Docs and create folders. Now they were curious how the could share folders and how they might move documents into different folders. 
What I love about kiddos who are learning Google Drive for the first time is that they don't know any other way of doing things. Their brain doesn't have to compete with what they already know, unlearning and relearning how to manage Google Drive. 

Nonetheless, they are new to Google Drive and I wanted them to start to realize how user friendly Google Drive is but also that when it comes to technology, there are lots of times when there is going to be many ways to do things. There isn't necessarily a wrong or a right way but there might be some ways that are easier or quicker or more comfortable. 

First, they wanted to know how to move documents into folders. I asked them if they knew how. One student chimed in, explaining that he checks the box next to the document and then drags it into the folder. We explored what might happen if we didn't check the box and only dragged the file into the folder. It worked! And then I showed them three other ways to move a file into a folder. 

Then we talked about sharing folders. This time I showed them a few ways to do this. Google is amazing because even though you click different things to get you there, most of the time you get to the same dialogue box that ultimately lets you share a document or move a folder. No matter what path we chose, it took us to a similar destination. 

I love that technology gives us an opportunity to have these types of growth mindset conversations with kids. It was so easy to show them how different clicks still took us to the same results and for them to see how clearly there are different ways to do things but not a right or a wrong way. 

It's much easier to collaborate with others if you are able to recognize that just because they do something a different way doesn't necessarily mean it's wrong or right. And it's also an amazing experience to work with others and know that all of your ideas count and that by combining your shared ideas, you might come up with a great idea or plan.

Have you had any growth mindset conversations lately?