Sunday, January 31, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/1/2016

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. 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 had another pretty good week of reading! I finished Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo. Oh, how Kate always seems to surprise and seep into my heart. I also finished The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna; I love the blend of ideas and great artwork. I'm still reading Amplify by Katie Mutharis and and Kristin Ziemke and I started Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Peanut and I are also reading Milo Speck, Accidental Agent and having so much fun.

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

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
This week I'm excited to keep reading Amplify, Big Magic, and Milo Speck! Happy reading, y'all!

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 26, 2016

The One With Trusting Students #sol16


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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Over the weekend I finished reading The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. If you haven't seen her amazing Ted Talk, I definitely recommend it. The book is an extension of the Ted Talk really. She goes into more depth with her story and how she came to be where and who she is today. 
What Amanda points out is that she doesn't work at making people pay for her art. She works at trusting people and loving them and connecting with them. And in that way, inviting them to want to support her art.

It got me thinking about how this applies to education. How often do teachers make students listen and sit still and be quiet and follow all the rules instead of trusting them to be able to handle challenging learning experiences and inviting them to want to learn along with them and teaching them how. 

I've been in enough classrooms now that I can see the difference between a teacher who controls what the students do versus a teacher who facilitates learning by trusting students to take charge of their own learning and guiding them along the way. 

If we're going to make an impact on education, we need to think about how we reflect and grow as teachers, the level and complexity of the content we give to students, and the role of the students. I believe in trusting students to live up to the learning tasks we give them.
But first, we have to recognize that everyone thrives on being connected and feeling part of something...isn't that maybe the most important part of our jobs as educators? To see kids - not just look at them - but to truly see them and create a safe space where they are included? I think that's the heart of it all. Maybe we have to stop making kids do things and instead invite them to learn things and to figure things out on their own. If we trust them enough to give them challenging experiences and support them to live up to the task, maybe they could surprise us.

I know they would surprise us.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/25/2016

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. 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. 

Announcements:
This week I'm joining Workman and Algonquin as they celebrate middle grade novels! They love middle grade and so do I. Every day you can hop onto Twitter and follow along with the #ilovemg hashtag and all the MG fun. Click here to see how you can join in and tweet out your love of MG this week!


Last Week's Book Adventures:
Ohmigosh, I had such a great reading week. Part of it was having Monday off, part of it was having to take care of the puppy since she was spayed and had her back dew claws removed this week, and part of it was having great books I couldn't put down!

I finished The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer and Peanut and I finished up The Terrible Two Get Worse. I also picked up Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson and loved it! What a great story. I read more of Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo and I got started with Amplify by Katie Muhtaris and Kristin Ziemke and also The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna.

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

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
This week I'm excited to finish up The Crossroads of Should and Must and hopefully finish Raymie Nightingale. I should have time to read Amplify and I have Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert to pick up from the library. I can't wait!
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!

Worm Loves Worm

Title: Worm Loves Worm 
Author: J. J. Austrian 
Illustrator: Mike Curato 
Publisher: Balzer + Bray 
Publication Date: January 5th, 2016 
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: Perfect for fans of And Tango Makes Three and The Sissy Duckling, this irresistible picture book is a celebration of love in all its splendid forms from debut author J. J. Austrian and the acclaimed author-illustrator of Little Elliot, Big City, Mike Curato.

You are cordially invited to celebrate the wedding of a worm . . . and a worm.

When a worm meets a special worm and they fall in love, you know what happens next: They get married! But their friends want to know—who will wear the dress? And who will wear the tux?


The answer is: It doesn't matter. Because Worm loves Worm. 
What I Think: This book is super cute! Worms are fascinating little creatures and the perfect main characters for this book. I'll not soon forget the wonderful feeling I felt when so many people celebrated the Supreme Court's ruling for same sex marriage across the United States. It felt like it was long overdue. Now this book celebrates what's truly important when it comes to getting married - that love is what it's all about. 
     Worm Loves Worm is an absolutely perfect way to start a conversation with students about the danger of doing something simply because it's always been done that way. I like to think that the world grows and evolves with every generation as we start to think critically about what we do and why we do it...and more and more people stand up for what makes sense versus the way it has always been. Of course, this can apply to so much more than same sex marriage and that's why I absolutely love this book. It's a sweet story and one that even young children will understand and talk about (at their level of course). And if we don't start talking to kids about really thinking about their world and the decisions they make in it, we are doing them a disservice as much as ourselves.
     As a mentor text, more than the discussion this book can foster, I would look at all the dialogue going on. Each character plays his or her own role in the story and his or her dialogue matches his or her personality. What each character says is very intentional and it's a good lesson in thinking about character development and their dialogue - what they would say, how they would say it, why they would say it. Additionally, this book would make a great reader's theater because of all the different parts and all the dialogue. I love reader's theater for practicing fluency.
Read Together: Grades K - 5  
Read Alone: Grades K - 5 
Read With: Be a Friend by Salina Yoon, Zombie In Love by Kelly DePucchio, Little Elliot, Big City by Mike Curato
Snatch of Text:    
"'Wait!' says Cricket.
'That isn't how it's
always been done.'

'Then we'll just change
how it's done,' says Worm.

'Yes,' says Worm."
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you had to rethink or relearn something you already thought you understood.  
Topics Covered: Love, Humanity, Acceptance, Respect, Equality
I *heart* It:

Friday, January 22, 2016

Feeding the Flying Fanellis: And Other Poems From a Circus Chef

Title: Feeding the Flying Fanellis: And Other Poems From a Circus Chef 
Author: Kate Hosford  
Illustrator: Cosei Kawa 
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Publication Date: October 1st, 2015 
Genre/Format: Fiction/Poetry 
GoodReads Summary: What do you feed a trapeze family to keep them up in the air? A fire eater with a penchant for hot sauce? Or a lion with a gourmet palate? How do you satisfy a sweet-toothed human cannonball who's outgrowing his cannon?

Find out what keeps these performers juggling, balancing, and entertaining―meals prepared by their tireless chef! Poems from this jolly cook give a glimpse of his unusual perspective, from delightful to downright funny. Enjoy a front-row seat for this whimsical look at circus life that just might make you hungry!
Kate Hosfords clever rhymes and unique characters shine in this collection of poems, giving a fresh, funny perspective on circus life: the chef's perspective. Through a variety of poetry forms, Hosford introduces a memorable lineup of circus performers and their dietary quirks--flaming hot sauce for the fire eater, a strict diet for the tightrope walker, ostrich a la mode for the gourmet lion, and more. Cosei Kawa's rich, offbeat illustrations bring each performer to life.   
What I Think: This book is full of fun poems all about food. There are some pretty awesome words to read and learn about and admire when using this book as a mentor text. Readers can learn about different parts of a circus but also think about all the great words that might go along with it. One activity I used to do with students was to give them a topic and ask them to brainstorm as many word as possible to go with that word. They could write down absolutely anything that came to mind. It was a great way to see what they knew about a topic but also to get their brains making connections with any ideas they associated with a word or topic. Then we could write or read and make connections with what they already knew. This would be a great activity to go along with this book.
     The illustrations in this book are super unique and there is so much to look at and pay attention to. Students could spend a lot of time thinking about the illustrations and how they support the poems and the general mood of the story since it's a collection of books about all the different performers.
     Here's a little more about the author: Kate Hosford grew up in Vermont and is a lifelong fan of Circus Smirkus, a youth circus based there. In 2010, she read an article about Ringling Brothers chef Michael Vaughn and began to wonder about the quirky food requests a circus chef might get from the various performers. The poems flowed from there. She is the author of several picture books, including Infinity and Me which won the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book award and was named an ALA Notable Children’s Book. She lives in Brooklyn with her family. For more information, and to download a free curriculum guide, visit her website. 
Read Together: Grades 3 - 6 
Read Alone: Grades 3 - 6 
Read With: Sometimes I Wonder If Poodles Like Noodles by Laura Numeroff, Where The Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Snatch of Text: 
The Juggler
"Feeding this one is a struggle.
Why? Because he loves to juggle.

Anything that's slightly round
Will soon be far above the ground.

Buns at breakfast? Must avoid,
Grapes at dinner? I'm annoyed.

He's growing thin: his plate is bare.
All his food is in the air!

He doesn't even seem to care.
I think I'll feed him something square."

Writing Prompts: Write about what food you think a circus person might want or need! 
Topics Covered: Food 
I *heart* It:

Thursday, January 21, 2016

I Am Princess X

Title: I Am Princess X 
Author: Cherie Priest 
Illustrator: Kali Ciesemier
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books

Publication Date: May 26th, 2015 
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel 
GoodReads Summary: Best friends, big fans, a mysterious webcomic, and a long-lost girl collide in this riveting novel, perfect for fans of both Cory Doctorow and Sarah Dessen; illustrated throughout with comics.

Once upon a time, two best friends created a princess together. Libby drew the pictures, May wrote the tales, and their heroine, Princess X, slayed all the dragons and scaled all the mountains their imaginations could conjure.

Once upon a few years later, Libby was in the car with her mom, driving across the Ballard Bridge on a rainy night. When the car went over the side, Libby passed away, and Princess X died with her.

Once upon a now: May is sixteen and lonely, wandering the streets of Seattle, when she sees a sticker slapped in a corner window.

Princess X?
When May looks around, she sees the Princess everywhere: Stickers. Patches. Graffiti. There's an entire underground culture, focused around a webcomic at IAmPrincessX.com. The more May explores the webcomic, the more she sees disturbing similarities between Libby's story and Princess X online. And that means that only one person could have started this phenomenon---her best friend, Libby, who lives.  
What I Think: Gosh, I love this book. I've been collecting titles of books that would be great to read and discuss with students when it comes to digital citizenship. Princess X is a book I would match with In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang and Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead. I love that the girls in this book write and draw together and come up with stories and then that their comic ends up as a zine. I love that technology is incorporated and embrace and acknowledged as part of their lives. One of the main characters of this book isn't very smart about how he uses his knowledge of technology - it gets in him in trouble and impacts is ability to go to college. I think that's such an important lesson to help kids understand.
     This book is probably the easiest book to booktalk. I was able to share it with 6th, 7th, and 8th graders and they were all excited and curious about the story. I loved the characters and their friendships and how May's tenacity for uncovering what really happened to her friend. It reminded me of Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Once Was a Time by Leila Sales, and  I Was Here by Gayle Forman. Friendship stories always capture my heart and this book definitely did. 
     As a mentor text, I would look at how Cherie Priest develops the characters in this book and how she uses description and dialogue to bring them to life. Her writing is tight and specific. When writing, it's not easy to focus on what's really and truly important but Cherie does a good job. Invite students to look at her writing and pay attention to how she shows instead of telling and how every scene moves the story forward.
Read Together: Grades 8 - 9  
Read Alone: Grades 6 - 12 
Read With: In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang, Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, I Was Here by Gayle Forman, Once Was a Time by Leila Sales
Snatch of Text:  
     "Neither May nor Libby ever quite made any other good friends, because they didn't need any other good friends. They played a lot of video games, read a lot of comics, watched a lot of TV, and ate a lot of junk food. They climbed on the troll statue out in Fremont, taking selfies under the neon artwork of ballroom dancers, rocket ships, and diving ladies in old-fashioned swimming caps. They did each others homework and sat up late with flashlights under the covers, downloading dirty books onto Libby's e-reader and giggling madly until they got caught. They spent their allowances on arm warmers, magazines, and hot chocolate at their favorite local joint, Black Tazza - pretending it was coffee so they could feel like grown-ups." (p. 8-9)
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when something seemed more than a coincidence. Write about a person who has made an impact on your life.
Topics Covered: Family, Friendship, Loyalty, Courage, Determination 
I *heart* It:

Sunday, January 17, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/18/2016

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. 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 squeezed lots of reading minutes out of my weekend and finished up I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest and The Mechanical Mind of John Coggin. I loved booktalking Princess X to middle schoolers this week. And as I was furiously trying to finish and see how it all ended, a friend noticed me at Starbucks and tapped me on the shoulder and I jumped out of my skin. Honestly, it was that good - look for my review later this week! I have lots to say about The Mechanical Mind of John Coggin and can't wait to review it closer to it release date. Such a fun book, a blend of Series of Unfortunate Events and every Roald Dahl book.

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

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
On Friday, I received a fancy schmancy box from Candlewick with Kate Dicamillo's new book Raymie Nightingale nestled inside that I'm so excited to dive into. Kristin Ziemke and Katie Muhtaris' book Amplify also came this week and I'm super excited to see what it holds inside. I'm still reading The Terrible Two Get Worse with Peanut and I have The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer I would love to crack open too. So many books!

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 16, 2016

Let's Celebrate 2016 Already!

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 school-wide collaboration!

*throws confetti*


After rereading Ruth's book Celebrating Writers and discussing with colleagues, I'm reminding myself that celebrating doesn't have to be boisterous and grand. At the moment, I'm out with my friend Amy at a local coffee shop. We're sitting in a made-over auto garage at a wobbly table that looks like it's from the 50's with Elton John's Tiny Dancer playing overhead. It's late but there are people here. From time to time a train passes by outside. It's been a nice night.

So what am I celebrating...I'm celebrating 2016 already. I chose revel as my one little word for the year and I love it already. Everything about my life is perfect - the ups and downs - the goods and the bads. It's all okay. I've felt calmer and more grounded this year than ever. 

I get to wake up every morning and take my puppy out. Most times I don't like crawling out of my warm, snuggly bed to wrap myself up and go out into the cold at 5:30 in the morning. But every time I look at her sweet face, I think, "I am a girl with a dog." I've wanted a puppy since I graduated from college. I used to teach persuasive writing and ask my students to help me convince my husband to get a dog. It's still surreal to me that we have a puppy and she's sweet and we're doing fine. (Here's a pic of my sweet pup! She's four months old now!)
I'm making my lists! So far, I've written a list everyday and I'm still following the topics from The Reset Girl and her Listers Gotta List challenge. Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's hard...but overall it doesn't take very long, it helps me reflect, it's a nice habit to be in so far.

Everyday I do something for myself. Whether it's stopping to look around when Perdi sits at the edge of the yard and scans the neighborhood, making my list, unrolling my yoga mat and spending some time there, or anything else. I'm looking at everything I get to do to take care of myself - even if it's just something small everyday and recognizing how it makes e feel. 

This is way longer than I expected it to be! I wasn't sure what to celebrate this week...but just writing down a few things that are going on, taking time to grab a snapshot of my life right now feels great. And it feels like enough. It's perfect.

What are you celebrating this week?

Friday, January 15, 2016

Nerdy Birdy

Title: Nerdy Birdy 
Author: Aaron Reynolds 
Illustrator: Matt Davies 
Publisher: Roaring Book Press 
Publication Date: September 22nd, 2015
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book  
GoodReads Summary: Nerdy Birdy likes reading, video games, and reading about video games, which immediately disqualifies him for membership in the cool crowd.

One thing is clear: being a nerdy birdy is a lonely lifestyle.

When he's at his lowest point, Nerdy Birdy meets a flock just like him. He has friends and discovers that there are far more nerdy birdies than cool birdies in the sky.
What I Think: As a long-time Nerdy Book Club member...I so want to be a Nerdy Birdy! This is a super sweet book about an all-around nice little book-reading, video-game-loving bird. I especially love the unique characters in this book. Aaron did a great job of bringing each of the different birds to life while Matt did an awesome job of depicting so much on the page. The characters with their big personalities and dialogue to match make this a fun book to read aloud.
     As a mentor text, I can see reading this with a class at the beginning of the school year and talking to them about fitting in. Nerdy Birdy would be great as a read aloud in middle school even. Reading the book and then asking kids to think about how they treat others and maybe inviting them to write about a time when they made a friend or when someone wasn't included in the group. I recently saw an article about teaching young girls to be "includers" instead of mean girls. Everyone wants to feel included so I love this sentiment and I especially love that this picture book is a great way to start a conversation or a great way to add to the conversation.
     There are so many great plays on language in this book as Aaron Reynolds brings the characters to life. It's just so fun! It also makes this a wonderful mentor text for thinking about characters in a story or how to describe and bring characters to life. Knowing our characters is so important and this is a perfect text to study when thinking about characters and how writers need to know all about their character when they write their story.
Read Together: Grades Pre-K - 12
Read Alone: Grades 1 - 5 
Read With: Be A Friend by Salina Yoon, Bluebird by Bob Staake, One by Kathryn Otoshi, Red: A Crayon's Story by Michael Hall
Snatch of Text:    
"Three things Nerdy Birdy is good at:
1. Reading
2. Playing video games
3. Reading about video games"
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you made a new friend. 
Topics Covered: Friendship, Loyalty, Fitting In, Courage, Adversity 
I *heart* It:

Sunday, January 10, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/11/2016

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. 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:
Last week was a super long week! I read more of The Terrible Two Get Worse with Peanut. I also found some time to read I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest and The Mechanical Mind of John Coggin by Elinor Teele. I'm loving both of them. 

Reviewed Last Week:

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

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm planning to keep reading all the books I'm reading last week! I also have a few waiting for me at the library that I can't wait to pick up.

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!