Thursday, January 30, 2014

Fortunately, The Milk

Title: Fortunately, The Milk 
Author: Neil Gaiman  
Illustrator: Skottie Young 
Publisher: Harper Collins 
Publication Date: September, 2013 
Genre/Format: Science Fiction/Chapter Book 
GoodReads Summary: "I bought the milk," said my father. "I walked out of the corner shop, and heard a noise like this: T h u m m t h u m m. I looked up and saw a huge silver disc hovering in the air above Marshall Road."

"Hullo," I said to myself. "That's not something you see every day. And then something odd happened."
Find out just how odd things get in this hilarious story of time travel and breakfast cereal, expertly told by Newbery Medalist and bestselling author Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Skottie Young. 
What I Think: Neil Gaiman is brilliant. That's about all I need to say but of course, I'll say more. I love the fun and lightheartedness of this book. Fortunately, The Milk is funny right from the beginning and all the way through. I read this to Peanut and it was such a blast to read together. Something surprising would happen and we would look at each other with crinkled noses, saying, "What?" And then we would laugh and examine the pictures and read it again. It just kept getting more and more unbelievable the more we read. We loved it right through to the end.
     Speaking of the end: it's great. Gaiman pulls it off with charm. It's clear that he's a dad (and probably an awesome one) because this is just the type of story a dad would write with exactly the type of ending a dad would end with. Dad's are great for joking around, making instant and ridiculous puns, and making you wonder how they pull a coin from behind your ear (grandpas are great for that, too...but don't forget, grandpas were dads before they became grandpas). I'm being purposefully vague about the ending but I think you'll enjoy it as much as I did!
     In terms of a read aloud, this book is fantastic if you have a hankering for reading in different voices. There are dinosaurs and pirates and aliens...and my favorite, wumpires. I didn't realize all the different voices I was going to have to take on. When I read this aloud again, I will definitely go through and think through how each voice is going to sound so I didn't overlap as much. Other than suggesting some preplanning, this book is a stellar read aloud. I can't wait to reread it when Little Bean is a bit older.
Read Together: Grades 1 - 4  
Read Alone: Grades 2 - 5 
Read With: Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl, Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar, Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath, Miss Daisy is Crazy (My Weird School series) and others by Dan Gutman 
Snatch of Text:  
     "'You're on a pirate ship now, my fine bucko,' said the Pirate Queen. 'And you don't get dropped off anywhere. There are only two choices - you can join my pirate crew, or refuse to join and we will slit your cowardly throat and you will go to the bottom of the sea, where you will feed the fishes.'
     'What about walking the plank?' I asked.
     'NEVER heard of it!' said the pirates.
     'Walking the plank!' I said. 'It's what proper pirates do! Look, I'll show you. Do you have a plank somewhere?'" (p. 19)
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Visualizing, Making Inferences, Fluency  
Writing Strategies to Practice: Personal Narrative, Dialogue
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when something outrageous happened to you but no one believed you when you told them the story.  
Topics Covered: Family, Adventure, Honesty, Imagination 
I *heart* It:

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The One With Knowledge Workers #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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We've gotten to a point in education where students seated in rows while a teacher delivers information is no longer best practice. Instead, teachers are charged to facilitate students' thinking as they discover and learn. One of my favorite quotes is from Will Richardson. He says, "The teacher is not the smartest person in the room anymore if you have an Internet connection." It's so true! We have to think about this huge shift in education but especially if we move towards standards-based instruction. What students can do with the information they are given is more important than memorizing information. 

On my desk, I have a sticky note with the words, "Teacher as knowledge worker" written on it. I came across the idea of a knowledge worker recently and the term struck me. Wikipedia defines a knowledge worker as someone who "thinks for a living". It defines knowledge work as, "'non-routine' problem solving that requires a combination of convergent, divergent, and creative thinking." Doesn't that describe a teacher pretty well? We are constantly teaching, assessing and making decisions about refining teaching to best support students. Actually, teachers are more than knowledge workers. We don't just think for a living, we help support students as knowledge workers.
In my current position, I definitely see myself as a knowledge worker, doing as much as possible to support teachers in classrooms and integrating technology in a thoughtful way. Much of my time is spent thinking about how to best help teachers embrace technology in instruction. I find myself prefacing interactions with teachers or other staff members by declaring that I love and attempt to live a growth mindset when it comes to technology. There is just no way any one person can know absolutely everything there is to know about technology. After that, it's about helping teachers focus on their goals or outcomes for a lesson and then thinking how technology might help them get there. The focus is on impactful instruction that gives students the opportunity to be knowledge workers thanks to technology. Here's a Business Week article from January of 2011 where they talk about knowledge workers in business. What similarities do you notice about how knowledge workers exist in business and how we might encourage knowledge workers in classrooms? 

If you haven't seen Sugata Mitra's Ted Talk, Build a School in a the Cloud yet, I hope you watch it and feel compelled to share it with others. It's amazing. I love it particularly because he articulates just why we need to see ourselves and our students as knowledge workers.
Going back to the shift from delivering instruction to students to now facilitating students' thinking as they discover information, the trick is definitely redefining the role of the student in education. In the Business Week article, they refer to a command-and-control approach as being out of date. It's the same in education as we can see from Sugata Mitra's thought-provoking Ted Talk. 

Every time I sit down at my desk, I spot that sticky note with the words, "Teacher as knowledge worker" and it makes me so proud. It's pretty awesome to do work that lets me truly think, use my creativity and collaborate with others. I know that I hope to encourage other teachers to be knowledge workers and to give students opportunities to be knowledge workers. How have you been a knowledge worker recently? How have you helped your students be knowledge workers recently? I would love to hear your perspectives on this!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/27/14

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: Hmm...I'm seriously struggling with reading right now. Thank you to everyone for sharing your It's Monday! What Are You Reading? posts and for chiming in and commenting last week. I'm so excited to see so many people linking up and I promise, I usually read and blog way more than I have lately! I did love Fangirl like so many of you did and am excited to gush over it this week! I'm still listening to I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and still reading The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner. 

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

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
Jen Says: I'm going to keep on reading The Summer of Letting Go and listening to I Am Malala. We've got some really super cold weather headed our way so maybe there's some snuggling up to read in my future! The ALA awards are announced today! Congratulations to the authors and illustrators who are given awards and to those whose books we love despite not being given awards. In the end, it's all about the books and our love for them. Thanks again for stopping by to share what you are reading this week! Mwah! 

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!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The One Where I Used My Head #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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I've been using my head a lot since the advent of #Nerdlution took Twitter by storm 50 days ago. I pledged to work on revisions and to practice my headstands every day for 50 days. There is definitely something to be said about setting a goal and working towards it. Once thing I completely believe to be true about setting goals and getting to them is that it undoubtedly helps to have at least one cheerleader if not the whole Nerdy community supporting me along the way. There's a certain pressure that comes with announcing to the twitterverse and blogosphere that I was working towards these two goals but a different kind of pressure when everyone believed in me and cheered me on. I felt this overwhelming sense of not wanting to let people down but then it became more about sticking with it and really doing it for myself. At some point, I believed in myself enough to say I would do it but with everyone else's support, it made me feel like I really could do it. 

While I didn't revise everyday and I didn't practice yoga everyday, I absolutely made huge progress towards both of my goals. Committing to do both of these everyday completely helped me keep them at the forefront of my life even if the craziness of life didn't allow me to get to them daily. Nerdlution became a commitment to not give up once I realized everyday was not going to happen. I can say that in the last 50 days, I have made more progress on my revisions than in the last 350 days. The fact that I can get into a headstand without a wall and hold it for way more than 15 seconds shows that a commitment to practicing - even if it's not everyday - still makes an impact. 

A resolution means you resolve to do something, you decide on something and are determined to see it through, you commit to something. I love the idea of a short term Nerdlution compared to a yearly resolution but next time around I won't be so caught up on having to do something every single day.

Nerdlution - The Beginning
video

Nerdlution - Halfway In

Nerdlution - Day 50 
video
I'm still pretty shaky and still have to work on really being able to control what I'm doing but it's definitely an improvement. Yoga has been so great. I love finding YouTube videos to follow along with at home but have enjoyed finding classes to go to at my local studio. Both revising and practicing yoga are things I'm so glad to have as part of my life. 

How did you do on your Nerdlution(s)?
 The next round of Nerdlution starts on January 27th! 
Will you be joining in?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/20/14

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: I absolutely loved Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell! It was fantastic. I might have loved it so much because it's so Nerdy Book Club, but it honestly is great. I'm excited to review it this week! I also did more research reading, both for my own writing and for work but it still counts, right? I also started listening to I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. 

Reviewed Last Week:

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

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
Jen Says: I'm still reading The Summer of Letting Go...it's just that I haven't had much time to devote to reading lately so it's taking me forever to get through it. I honestly love it, I just need more hours in the day! I plan to continue listening to I Am Malala and we'll see if I get to another audiobook after it. I'm hoping to make it to the library for another stack of picture books today so I'll have some fresh reading to do at some point this week!

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, January 18, 2014

Let's Celebrate High, Low, and No Tech!

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 high, low, and no tech!

*throws confetti*


By the time I get to the end of the week lately, I'm completely wiped out. There is a lot going on in my life right now. A lot of great things, a lot of challenging things, a lot of inspiring things...but overall, a lot of things. I find myself celebrating little things everyday to get through the week and I truly love that Ruth has brought so many of us together to celebrate the week. 

Yesterday, I spent the day with Peanut at the hospital...don't worry! He's fine! It was a completely simple, in and out procedure. He had a calcium deposit on his scalp right near his hairline that needed to be removed. It's all over now but it's always stressful to know your baby has to be in the hospital for anything. 

Hooray for high tech! As I sat with Peanut, talking to him before they took him into the operating room, he looked around and pointed out gadgets on the walls that he wanted to know about. I tried my best to answer all of his questions but eventually we started asking the nurses because I wasn't sure how to explain everything. 

On Thursday, I had booktalked How They Croaked by Georgia Bragg to some instructional coaches. I shared that some of the stories tell of how famous people died of simple things that modern medicine can manage but that they didn't know about or didn't know how to diagnose or cure back then. I'm celebrating all the high tech hospital stuff today because it's amazing what it can do and how it helps people every day.

Hooray for low tech! A few people knew Peanut was having surgery yesterday and had checked in with me through texts. Then my husband posted pictures on Facebook and suddenly all sorts of people were Facebook messaging and texting to make sure he was okay. It was nice to know that everyone was wishing us well and thinking about us. 

Throughout the week, I'm constantly texting and tweeting. Being able to stay connected to family and friends this way helps me manage all the challenges of the week while also celebrating the highlights. It was great to be connected yesterday when Peanut was in the hospital but I feel have to celebrate the fact that I am connected to friends and family everyday.

Hooray for no tech! While we waited for Peanut to be discharged from the hospital, a woman showed up with a sweet, black lab. She asked if they could come in and visit and we were so excited to invite them in. They laid a clean sheet on top of Peanut and his blankets and she hopped up on the bed to lay with him. Her name was Teagan and she was three years old. It was amazing how well behaved she was. She rested her head right on Peanut's legs and he pet her the whole time she was there. It was sweet how relaxed she was. 
The woman explained how Teagan is very calm when she's in the hospital but playful and energetic at home. It's common for therapy dogs to get stressed out from visiting with people who are sick or dealing with trauma. Dogs are so loyal and give their love completely. After she hopped down from the bed, I walked over to give her a good pet and a hug and to thank her as much as I could. 
I've only had to be in the hospital a few times with my kids but it's definitely not fun. I end up being the strong one - talking to doctors and nurses, checking in with my kids, talking them through what is going to happen, holding them through x-rays or IVs. Every time, after it's all done and we're home, it's inevitable that I'll suddenly be overcome with all the emotions I (somehow) held in check. As I looked into sweet Teagan's eyes, I told her she was a good girl, hoping she would know she was appreciated and it brought me to tears. It was like she was there for me as much as for Peanut.

Today I'm celebrating the marvels of high tech and low tech but also the beauty of no tech. I'm so glad that we have technology to help us stay connected but this week I'm also so thankful for real-life, no-tech time with family and friends and a sweet dog named Teagan.

What are you celebrating this week? 
Do you have any high, lo or no tech celebrations to share?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Will & Whit

Title: Will & Whit
Author: Laura Lee Gulledge     
Illustrator: Laura Lee Gulledge 
Publisher: Abrams 
Publication Date: May, 2013 
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Graphic Novel 
GoodReads Summary: Wilhelmina “Will” Huxstep is a creative soul struggling to come to terms with a family tragedy. She crafts whimsical lamps, in part to deal with her fear of the dark. As she wraps up another summer in her mountain town, she longs for unplugged adventures with her fellow creative friends, Autumn, Noel, and Reese. Little does she know that she will get her wish in the form of an arts carnival and a blackout, courtesy of a hurricane named Whitney, which forces Will to face her fear of darkness.
Laura Lee Gulledge’s signature visual metaphors will be on full display in this all-new graphic novel, a moving look at shedding light on the dark corners of life. 
What I Think: I thoroughly enjoyed Laura Lee's book Paige By Page and especially Paige's personality and how she finds herself and embraces being an agent of whimsy. The elements of self identity in this book also struck a chord with me. Will is learning more and more about herself everyday while managing a family tragedy. It's amazing what we can handle and how we handle it. Laura Lee really uses her grasp of drawing and shading to make Will's emotions evident to readers and to help us see how she is constantly dealing with the memories that haunt her.
     I really loved the stories about Will's friends that are going on along with Will's story throughout the book. Will is learning a lot about herself but engaging with her friends and being part of what they are learning about themselves. I'm constantly and continuously fascinated by the people who come into our lives and when they come into our lives. I feel like I have something to learn and/or something to contribute to everyone I come into contact with whether it is something big or small. It's a pretty amazing life and I love how Laura Lee brings this to life in Will & Whit. 
Read Together: Grades 7 - 9 
Read Alone: Grades 7 - 12 
Read With: Paige By Page by Laura Lee Gulledge, Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol, Smile and Drama by Raina Telgemeier, Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks 
Snatch of Text:  
  
Reading Strategies to Practice: Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Making Inferences
Writing Strategies to Practice: Personal Narrative, Dialogue
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you were scared to face something important.  
Topics Covered: Family, Friendship, Loss, Honesty, Trust, Determination, Courage, Love
I *heart* It:

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Let's Go Nuts!

Non-Fiction Picture Book Wednesday

I review a non-fiction picture book every Wednesday for Non-Fiction Picture Book Wednesday hosted by Alyson at Kid Lit Frenzy. Visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what great non-fiction books are shared this week!


Title: Let's Go Nuts!: Seeds We Eat 
Author: April Pulley Sayre    
Illustrator: April Pulley Sayre 
Publisher: Beach Lanes 
Publication Date: August, 2013  
Genre/Format: Non-Fiction/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: This seed-themed companion to Rah, Rah, Radishes! and Go, Go, Grapes! proves that healthy eating can be both fun and delicious!

What do nuts, beans, grains, and even some spices have in common? They’re all seeds—seeds we can eat! So get ready to greet lentils and limas, take a crack at coconuts and cashews, and say hi to rye and buckwheat. You’ll soon be seeing seeds in a whole new way!
This seedy celebration comes complete with an author’s note full of fascinating facts about seeds, including a section about nut allergies and how to help nut-sensitive friends and classmates stay safe and healthy. 
What I Think: Since I'm vegan, we talk about what's in the food we eat a lot at my house. We also have lots of conversations with our kids about eating healthy in general, too. When I was growing up, we ate all sorts of foods but I'm still learning about all the different types of seeds and nuts there are and finding new recipes for how to use them. I love that this is a simple book with photographs that share the types of nuts and seeds out there in a fun way. I can easily see how this is a book that would lead readers to looking into more about seeds and nuts and trying recipes new recipes to taste some of the things in the book!
Read Together: Grades Pre-K - 2 
Read Alone: Grades Pre-K - 4 
Read With: recipe books or online recipe resources 
Snatch of Text:  
"Bravo, black beans!
Rah, rah, rice!

Seeds are meals.
They're snacks. They spice!"
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections 
Writing Strategies to Practice: Expository, Rhyme, Alliteration
Writing Prompts: Write an expository piece where you write step-by-step how to make your favorite dish with seeds.  
Topics Covered: Integration - Science 
I *heart* It:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The One With My Little Word #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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Today I want to share my One Little Word for the year. Last year my word was "simplify" and I definitely thought about it all year but I don't know if I did that great of a job of simplifying my life. 

This year, I decided to choose the word "patience". Patience seems like it can apply to a lot of situations for different reasons. My thinking when it came to picking the word "patience" though was in focusing about how overwhelmed I can get by how much I want things to happen or how quickly I want things to get done. I often wish I was able to accomplish things more quickly or I continuously think about reaching my goals and want to get to them as soon as possible. While I think it's important to continue to strive to accomplish my goals, I recognize more and more lately how important it is to not stress myself out by focusing too much on getting things done. I keep reminding myself that every little baby step towards a bigger goal still counts as a win. 

I hope that the word "patience" helps me stop, take a deep breath, and know that everything will happen in it's own time. What I can do is simply keep on plugging away and doing my best and hoping that eventually it will all pay off...and at knowing if it doesn't, I enjoyed the experience and did my best.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/13/14

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: Man alive! Last week was an interesting week! It was a week of transitioning from being home for winter break and being back at work. Not to mention that I've been really focusing in on my revisions and that has taken a lot of my time. I am listening to the last CD of Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl which is completely brilliant and I can't wait to review. I finished reading The Productive Writer which I started forever ago. I'm also still enjoying Gae Polisner's The Summer of Letting Go.

Reviewed Last Week:


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

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
Jen Says: I'm so excited to finish listening to Fangirl. I take that back, I'm excited to see how it ends because I just love Cath and Levi but I'm definitely sad that it will be over. I'm thinking of listening to David and Goliath next but I also have Allegiant to listen to so I might listen to that instead. I'm still reading The Summer of Letting Go and completely loving every word. 

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!