Saturday, January 31, 2015

Let's Celebrate My Charmed Life

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 a charmed life!

*throws confetti*

"You live a charmed life."

Words I choose to believe are true.

These words come to me often. 

"You live a charmed life."

They remind me to truly soak in my pinch-worthy life.
I find myself shaking my head and asking, "What is this life?!" 
Yes, it's a charmed life but it still amazes me, 
surprises me, far surpasses my dreams.

Here's a perfect example. 

Before I started Teach Mentor Texts, my favorite book blog was There's a Book by Danielle Smith. I distinctly remember e-mailing Danielle for advice on starting my own blog. I had no idea what I was doing when it came to blogging and she sure seemed to have it figured out. She was super nice to me and we've been friends ever since even though we've never met in real life.

Until yesterday. I tweeted my excitement for ALA Mid-Winter and Danielle tweeted back...
And then we realized we would finally meet after all these years! Danielle was so completely supportive when I was a new blogger and it meant a lot. She's one of the most genuinely nice and giving people I know. I have to admit, I've been a bit teary over thinking back to where my blogging journey started and how many opportunities have come my way thanks to this little blog.
Jen and Danielle from There's a Book
Today, I'm announcing winners to two giveaways I've ran recently and celebrating the opportunity to offer these to readers. I remember dreaming of being sent books to review and giveaways for my readers and here I am now. Thanks for entering the giveaway and sharing it with your friends and being part of my charmed life!

Candlewick Prize Pack Winner

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thank you to Candlewick for the opportunity to offer this prize pack giveaway!

Emmanuel's Dream Winner

a Rafflecopter giveaway 
Thank you to Blue Slip Media for the opportunity to offer this giveaway!What are you celebrating this week?

Friday, January 30, 2015

Brown Girl Dreaming

Title: Brown Girl Dreaming 
Author: Jacqueline Woodson   
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books 
Publication Date: August 28th, 2014 
Genre/Format: Autobiography/Novel in Verse 
GoodReads Summary: Jacqueline Woodson, one of today's finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse. 
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.

What I Think: I've heard so many great things about Brown Girl Dreaming and it's all completely well-deserved. I loved soaking up this story. Jacqueline Woodson weaves her words into beautiful snippets of her life but at the same time each of her stories build up to a gorgeous big picture of how these stories shaped who she is today. 
     We just celebrated the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday but as we go into Black History month, reading this book and continuing the discussion of celebrating diversity, Brown Girl Dreaming would pair well with Dr. King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. After reading the speech and discussing what dreams he outlined in his famous speech and discussing events of the time, students might read Jacqueline Woodson's autobiography and compare and contrast Dr. King's dreams to Woodson's life. 
     At the very beginning of Brown Girl Dreaming, Woodson shares Langston Hughes' poem “Hold Fast to Dreams”. The theme of dreams runs throughout the entire book as Woodson talks about her life. When we ask students about their hopes and dreams, oftentimes, they articulate profound answers for themselves or people who are close to them.
     There are so many texts that could be matched up here to discuss diversity. I believe the key to talking about diversity is to help students recognize that while we all have certain qualities or characteristics that make us different or unique and it's important to celebrate those differences, there are some very core values and beliefs that we can all share - love for our family, compassion for others, wanting to be connected - and those bring us together no matter our differences.
Read Together: Grades 4 - 6 
Read Alone: Grades 5 - 8 
Read With: I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King Jr. with illustrations by Kadir Nelson, One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia, Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan
Snatch of Text:  

"What is your one dream,

my friend Maria asks me.
Your one wish come true?" 
(p. 210)

"Even though the laws have changed
my grandmother still take us
to the back of the bus when we go downtown
in the rain. It's easier, my grandmother says,
than having white folks look at me like I'm dirt.

But we aren't dirt. We are people
paying the same fare as other people.
When I say this to my grandmother,
she nods, says, Easier to stay where you belong.

I look around and see the ones 
who walk straight to the back. See
the ones who take a seat up front, daring
anyone to make them move. And know
this is who I want to be. Not scared
like that. Brave
like that."
(p. 237)

“Every dandelion blown
each Star light, star bright
The first star I see tonight.

My wish is always the same.

Every fallen eyelash
and first firefly of summer…
The dream remains.

What did you wish for?
To be a writer.

Every heads-up penny found
and daydream and night dream
and even when people say it’s a pipe dream…!

I want to be a writer.” (p.313)
Writing Prompts: Identify different characters in the book and infer their perspectives on dreams. Use evidence from the text to support your thoughts. As you think about the different characters - where they live, their lifestyles - how might you compare and contrast their dreams or what they think about dreams?

After reading Brown Girl Dreaming and imagining Jacqueline Woodson's life growing up, we know her dream was to be a writer. What is your one dream? If you would have one wish come true, what would it be and why?

Think about Jacqueline Woodson's one dream that you identified and your own one dream, do you see how you might be similar? Whether you have the same color skin as Jacqueline Woodson or not, what similarities do you see between her dream and yours? 
Topics Covered: Family, Love, Dreams, Friendship, Siblings, Determination, Adversity, Integration- SS
I *heart* It:

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Emmanuel's Dream Blog Tour!

Title: Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah
Author: Laurie Ann Thompson   
Illustrator: Sean Qualls 
Publisher: Schwartz and Wade  
Publication Date: January 6th, 2015 
Genre/Format: Non-Fiction/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah's inspiring true story—which was turned into a film, Emmanuel's Gift, narrated by Oprah Winfrey—is nothing short of remarkable. 

Born in Ghana, West Africa, with one deformed leg, he was dismissed by most people—but not by his mother, who taught him to reach for his dreams. As a boy, Emmanuel hopped to school more than two miles each way, learned to play soccer, left home at age thirteen to provide for his family, and eventually, became a cyclist. He rode an astonishing four hundred miles across Ghana in 2001, spreading his powerful message: disability is not inability. Today, Emmanuel continues to work on behalf of the disabled. 
Thompson's lyrical prose and Qualls's bold collage illustrations offer a powerful celebration of triumphing over adversity.  
What I Think: This book is an inspiration. Laurie put together beautiful words and Sean created wonderful artwork that bring this story to life so masterfully. Being able to share this story has goosebumps up and down my arms. I just finished reading Brown Girl Dreaming which I'll be sharing this week and now reading Emmanuel's Dream has me just marinating in powerful stories of people who overcome. I'm glad we continue to tell stories like this, I don't think we can ever have enough of them.
     The snatch of text I grabbed is a page that stood out to me because of the description but also because of the repetition of words at the beginning of each sentence. I'm a fan of repetition when it's used right. As I read, I could imagine the wheels spinning as Emmanuel pedaled along. I love to show how reading leads to more reading and in order to be able to visualize this part of the story, there are some words or here that students might need to look up. Thanks to technology, it's so easy to type in a few words and pull up numerous images and explanations. The author also builds a sense of how much distance he has covered by sharing how the scenery changes along the way. As a mentor text, I love how this can be used to visualize and to discuss how to use resources when we need them but also how to use repetition for a purpose in writing.
Read Together: Grades 1 - 12
Read Alone: Grades 1 -  5
Read With: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen, Wonder by RJ Palacio, Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine, Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
Snatch of Text:  
"Emmanuel pedaled through the bustling city of Accra.
He pedaled through rain forests,
over rolling hills,
and across wide, muddy rivers.
He pedaled past odum forests and plantain farms
and through the market city of Kumasi.
He pedaled as trucks roared past on the narrow highways
and wild animals stalked his thoughts.
He pedaled through vast grasslands 
and into the ancient city of Tamale.
He rode up, down, across, and around his country,
proudly wearing the colors of its flag
on a shirt printed with the words THE POZO,
or "the disabled person".   
Writing Prompts: Write about someone who inspires you for something they were able to overcome. Write about a time in your life when you didn't give up even when some people doubted you.
Topics Covered: Family, Self-Esteem, Self-Worth, Perseverance, Determination 
I *heart* It:

I'm thrilled to be the last stop on the blog tour for Emmanuel's Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson! Laurie is also the author of Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters, a how-to guide for teens who want to change the world. An advocate for social justice, Laurie is dedicated to inspiring and empowering young readers. Emmanuel's Dream is her picture-book debut. Visit her at lauriethompson.comA CCSS-aligned curriculum guide is also available, just click here.

Check back at all the stops on Laurie’s blog tour!

Mon, Jan 12
Great Kid Books
Tues, Jan 13
5 Minutes for Books
Wed, Jan 14
Unleashing Readers
Thurs, Jan 15
Fri, Jan 16
Cracking the Cover  
Sat, Jan 17
Booking Mama
Mon, Jan 19 (MLK Jr bday)
Once Upon a Story
Tues, Jan 20
Wed, Jan 21
Geo Librarian
Thurs, Jan 22
Nonfiction Detectives
Fri, Jan 23
The Fourth Musketeer AND  Kirby’s Lane
Mon, Jan 26
NC Teacher Stuff
Tues, Jan 27
Teach Mentor Texts

Sunday, January 25, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/26/15

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 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: Last week, I listened to Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff and then started Rump by Liesl Shurtliff. I'm so glad to be listening to books again after getting through Serial! Peanut and I finished reading Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing - we especially loved the chapter when they lost Fudge at the movie theater and the end when Fudge eats Dribble. I loved Revisions Decisions by Jeff Anderson and loaned it out right away at work. I'm savoring 50 Reasons to Write now! I also read Brown Girl Dreaming and have been working on Circus Mirandus. I'm feeling pretty productive as a reader actually!

**The Candlewick giveaway is still up and running and I'll announce a winner this week!**

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

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
Jen Says: I'm excited to listen to more of Rump and to continue reading 59 Reasons to Write and Circus Mirandus. I also have a bag of picture books the kids and I haven't delved into yet from the library. Next weekend, I'll be at ALA Midwinter - so excited to see Nerdy friends! 

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!

Ranger In Time: Rescue on the Oregon Trail

Title: Ranger in Time: Rescue on the Oregon Trail 
Author: Kate Messner  
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: January 6th, 2015 
Genre/Format: Mild Science Fiction/Novel 
GoodReads Summary: Meet Ranger! He's a time-traveling golden retriever who has a nose for trouble . . . and always saves the day!

Ranger has been trained as a search-and-rescue dog, but can't officially pass the test because he's always getting distracted by squirrels during exercises. One day, he finds a mysterious first aid kit in the garden and is transported to the year 1850, where he meets a young boy named Sam Abbott. Sam's family is migrating west on the Oregon Trail, and soon after Ranger arrives he helps the boy save his little sister. Ranger thinks his job is done, but the Oregon Trail can be dangerous, and the Abbotts need Ranger's help more than they realize! 
What I Think: First of all, this brought back memories of playing the computer game Oregon Trail when I was in elementary school. I loved that game. I think it might still be fun that would be to connect this book with the game! I think part of what made the game so interesting was that anything could happen on the Oregon Trail. You had to pay attention to what you needed and how to make sure your family had enough food and water but they could still get sick and die of any number of things. I think the real life part of the game was fascinating. And the adventure mixed with the risk is also in Kate's book. Readers get to be right there with Sam on the Oregon Trail in Ranger in Time: Rescue on the Oregon Trail.
     Kate does a great job of bringing the characters and the places to life, describing them with all the five senses throughout the book. Showing instead of telling is a great way to introduce descriptive writing with students. I know showing instead of telling is still something I think about often as I'm writing. Even though I understand it, I have to remind myself to put it into practice. Oftentimes reading a mentor text, visualizing what the author is describing, and drawing what you can imagine is a great way to see what details the author gave you. In a world where students are asked to provide evidence, students can draw and then go back into the text and find what the author wrote that prompted them to draw what they did. This is also an interesting way to look at inference because sometimes students infer and use the author's clues to visualize. Students might realize that even though the author didn't explicitly say something they drew, they can explain that they inferred it based on what they know and what clues the author gave them.
     Next students can draw or use a picture as a writing tool as they try to describe with the five senses. To see if they were clear enough in their descriptions, they might ask a friend to read what they have written and see what how their drawing matches up.
Read Together: Grades 3 - 5 
Read Alone: Grades 3 - 6 
Read With: Time Warp Trio (series) by Jon Scieszka, Locomotive by Brian Floca
Snatch of Text:  
     "Sam stood up and sighed. He shoved a hand into his pocket and felt the folded-up friendship quilt squares his cousins had made. They hadn't finished in time to include them in the big quilt that Aunt Cecelia put together for their family, but they gave them to Sam anyway. He was glad. He liked having three small squares of home in his pocket. One had a picture of Scout, carefully outlined in thread. Another square showed the crooked apple tree by the fence. The third showed the Abbotts' farmhouse and barn, pieced together with colorful scraps of fabric. Sam already missed home so much.
     Pa said it was all right to be sad. 'But your heart has room to love more than one place,' he'd promised." (p. 7)
Writing Prompts: Sam is setting out on a journey along the Oregon Trail with his family. He's sad to leave home but he has a quilt square to remind him of home. If you were leaving home for a long trip or for a long time, what three things would you bring with you or would you take a picture of to remember? Describe those three things and explain why they are important to you.  
Topics Covered: Family, Friendship, Loyalty, Determination, Adventure, Integration - Social Studies
I *heart* It:

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Let's Celebrate Ashton!

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 Ashton!

*throws confetti*

Some people don't see the value in Twitter, can't figure out what to tweet about, or who to follow. There isn't really an exact science but knowing why you are there - what you want to learn - is the key. Know your why, do a search, find people, see who they follow, keep looking for interesting people who feed your why. When it comes to tweeting out, post little snippets of your life, share your knowledge, expertise, or questions about your passions. 

Initially, I followed Ashton Kutcher when he was racing Ted Turner to be the first to one million Twitter followers. Then I read The Book Whisperer and discovered Donalyn Miller on Twitter. From connecting with her, I found a support system I can't imagine being without, passionate educators who share great ideas, ask thoughtful questions, and celebrate the ups and downs of their lives. Most of all, I'm connected to people I'm excited to learn from. 

This morning I Skyped with teachers from my school district who are taking a technology course. I shared my story and how they might think about their whys to help them ease into Twitter.

To prep, I grabbed images from Twitter, my blog, and my website to show how following Ashton Kutcher led to so much more. I pulled up my Twitter page and my mind started to reel. I joined Twitter in February of 2009 (Ashton joined in January of 2009). That's almost SIX years ago. Six years ago, I wasn't on Twitter and I wasn't blogging here yet. I had a 20-month-old Peanut...but my life is different and busy in a mind-boggling, surreal, absolutely amazing way. And that's something to celebrate.

Just for fun, I went through pictures from a few years ago when Little Bean was about one and a half and found this adorableness:

And here are a few from last weekend when we went to Dave and Buster's:
Look how they've changed! I'm watching these two kiddos grow up but by telling my story here and on Twitter, I'm reflecting upon and celebrating how I'm growing as well. 

At the very beginning, I wasn't entirely sure of my why...but now it's clear. Whether I'm on Twitter, blogging, or writing, I hope to share my story - my rollercoaster of a life - and how I strive to stay in the growth mindset no matter what I encounter. I'm passionate about connecting people and ideas and authentic learning experiences and so thankful I get to pursue this everyday and just maybe encourage others to follow their dreams, to be lifelong learners, and to be their best selves.

What are you celebrating this week?
What is your why? What is your true passion?
What Twitter tips or tricks might you share? 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Candlewick Prize Pack Giveaway!

Candlewick Press is one of my favorite publishers. I love so many books they have shared with readers and I'm not alone. TIME magazine recently published their lists of Top 100 Young Adult & Top 100 Children’s Books of All Time.  Candlewick Press has 6 titles on the Young Adult list and...guess what!?!? I'm lucky enough to give away a prize pack of 1 complete set of these books for giveaway. Be sure to click over and see TIME magazine's lists for 100 Best Young Adult Books and 100 Best Children's Books
The prize pack will include paperback copies of The Tiger Rising and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane both by Kate DiCamillo, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and illustrated by Jim Kay, The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, Feed by M.T. Anderson and Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci. (Please note, this giveaway is for US and Canada only.)

I'm a huge fan of Kate DiCamillo and A Monster Calls is one of my all-time favorite books. Kellee and I reviewed A Monster Calls if you are interested in reading our thoughts. Also, Colby and I read and talked about this book together. You can read our discussions here: IntroductionPart 1Part 2, Part 3Part 4, Part 5.

Be sure to keep up to date with Candlewick 
at all these social media spots!
Twitter - @Candlewick
E-Volt Twitter - @evoltbooks
E-Volt Tumblr -

Thank you to Candlewick for the opportunity to offer this prize pack giveaway!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tommy Can't Stop

Title: Tommy Can't Stop! 
Author: Tim Federle 
Illustrator: Mark Fearing 
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion 
Publication Date: April 14th, 2015
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: Tommy bounces, and he leaps. Tommy clomps, and he bulldozes. Nothing tires Tommy out, and his family can't keep up! But then his sister has an idea: could tap class be just right for Tommy?

This exuberant picture book, written by Broadway dancer Tim Federle, with illustrations by Mark Fearing, stars one very energetic kid who finally finds his place in the spotlight. 
What I Think: I'm sure any reader will be able to think of someone they know who is just like Tommy! Tommy has a great family who try to help him with his non-stop-ness. I know movement is so important to kids so I think it's great that they do support him...even though it tires them out! I hope some adults read this and remember how much kids need to move.
     My favorite part of this book is that Tim Federle uses great words to make Tommy and his story come to life. He chooses great verbs that add rhythm throughout the story. He also uses metaphors to help readers imagine just how active Tommy is. Reading this book aloud is a great opportunity for visualizing how Tommy might be like all the things in the book and then acting out how Tommy is moving in the story but also coming up with their own metaphors for how students like to move and get some of their wiggles out. It might even be a great opportunity to discuss ways to move so kids can quiet their bodies for learning. *hint hint*
Read Together: Grades Pre-K - 3 
Read Alone: Grades Pre-K - 3 
Read With: Tessa's Tip-tapping Toes by Carolyn Crimi, Cat's Night Out by Caroline Stutson, Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett, My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.) by Peter Brown
Snatch of Text:  

"'I'm a pogo stick!'
he boasts when he bounces.

'I'm a bulldozer! he clamors when he kicks."
Writing Prompts: Write about a time when you had to wait for something and you had to work so hard to keep still. What did you do to help manage your wiggles? What are some ideas for things you might do that others might not notice?
Topics Covered: Energy, Enthusiasm, Passion, Perseverance 
I *heart* It:

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The One With Our Cardboard Creations #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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Back in December, I wrote a post called The One With Cardboard Creativity where I shared the Caine's Arcade video about a boy who uses old cardboard boxes to design his own arcade. A couple weeks ago, when my brother and his family were in town to celebrate Christmas, we brought out all the cardboard we saved from Christmas and showed the video. It was hardly over and the kids were already diving into the cardboard. I thought about dividing us into teams but it worked out that those who had an idea when for it and others who needed some help teamed up with someone else. I started working with one of my nephews and a huge smile crossed my face when I looked up to see my brother and sister-in-law talking quietly in the corner as they planned. My husband and sister both grabbed giant pieces of cardboard and were brainstorming together, too.

After we passed the scissors, the marker, and the tape back and forth countless times and tried out our cardboard games, we finally were ready to let others play what we came up with. We took turns introducing our games and letting others play and then we did a huge competition where everyone played each game and we added up the points at the end. It was the perfect way to spend the afternoon. Everyone was busy, we were all spending time together, and we put our brains to work. 
I use technology a lot, my kids love the apps and games but I love that they could still use their imaginations to come up with their own cardboard arcade creations. It was so fun to watch as we talked through ideas and planned. Being able to look at a piece of cardboard and see how it could be made into an arcade game might be silly to some but it was perfect for us.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 08/28/2023

  It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!   It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a weekly blog hop hosted by Kelle...