Sunday, July 31, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 08/01/2016

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 worked a lot on my writing last week plus I led a couple of workshops so I didn't find a lot of time to read. Peanut and I are back to reading Charlotte's Web (we got a little sidetracked there for a bit!) and I started reading Matilda with both boys too. I tried reading Here Comes the Sun but my brain has been exhausted this week and I was struggling to stick with it even though it's really interesting. I also started reading The Anatomical Shape of a Heart based on my friend Amy's recommendation of it as a mentor text for me and it's great so far.

Reviewed Last Week:

This week, I celebrated Elena, Disney's first Latina princess over at Story Exploratory!
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm excited to continue reading Charlotte's Web and Matilda with my boys. They are two of my favorites from when I was little. And I'm hoping to keep reading The Anatomical Shape of a Heart too!

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!

For The Love of Mentor Texts - Linda Baie


Welcome to our first post in the For The Love of Mentor Texts series I'll be hosting here at Teach Mentor Texts. I love to talk about the power of mentor texts to impact our writing but I've invited a few friends to share how they use mentor texts for a fresh perspective. Today I'm thrilled to share thoughts from Linda Baie who blogs at Teacher Dance. I hope you are as inspired by her ideas as I am!

Would you like to write a guest post for For The Love of Mentor Texts? Just let me know by filling out this simple form

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         I’m honored that Jen asked me to write about mentor texts, and grateful to share some ideas from my teaching past. First, I want to mention that there are many wonderful PD books that help teachers find good examples, and to share a few that meant much to me through the years in addition to using my own students’ words and mine, too.

         Mentor Author, Mentor Texts - Ralph Fletcher
         Write Like This - Kelly Gallagher
         Poetry Mentor Texts - Lynne R. Dorfman & Rose Cappelli
         All The Poetry Friday Anthologies - Sylvia Vardell & Janet Wong

Older, but so valuable in poetry:
          Knock At A Star - X.J. Kennedy and Dorothy M. Kennedy (K-6)
          Important Words - Bill Brown and Malcolm Glass (middle & high school)

        If I were still teaching, I imagine Stacey Shubitz's book, Craft Moves, would become one I would use often, too. It’s about picture books as mentor texts, which I used through all my teaching days.
       This time, I’ll focus on one idea, and it was borrowed from a colleague long ago. At my school where I taught, each student chose a specific topic to study, called a unit, and with their beginning research input and mine, a curriculum was built around that topic. I taught a mixed grade of 6th, 7th and 8th grade students, but others in the school who taught younger children also used this idea sometimes. I used alphabet picture books that showed different approaches to writing some basic information about a non-fiction topic. Because artistic capturing of details and ideas was also an important component in all classrooms, this beginning assignment for students worked beautifully as a start in both art and writing for each research topic. Students were to research and create an alphabet book that showed the beginning of their learning.
        As the students worked, they also began to form questions to further knowledge. This will be something that can be applied to a whole-class study of a topic, with each student taking one or more letters according to the needs of twenty-six pages! Basic pages can be written and illustrated, but later support deeper research.

       Here are a few books I’ve used, and why:

RIsForRhyme.jpg
R Is For Rhyme - Judy Young and illustrated by Victor Juhasz

       This book not only entertains with beautiful pictures, but introduces poem forms and example poems. It helps writers choose what could be a good approach to including their research in poem form.

butterflybook.jpg


The Butterfly Alphabet Book - Brian Cassie and Jerry Pallotta, illustrated by Mark Astrella

        Each page shows straightforward informational paragraphs, good practice in keeping on topic.

A-Muskox.jpg
A Is For Muskox - Erin Cabatingan and illustrated by Matthew Myers
        What a clever book, that actually tells all about one topic, the muskox, but using a funny approach, allowing dialogue between the “writer” and an interrupting muskox. The pages show real things that are traditional alphabet words, like “A Is For Apple”, but adds that interruption with information about the topic (the muskox). For those students who want to know that writers take risks when delivering informatin, this is the book to show.

antler bear.jpg

Antler, Bear, Canoe - A Northwoods Alphabet Year - Betsy Bowen

          This book adds another layer that might fit certain topics, it takes the alphabet through a year.  Each page ensures that real information is included, like the fact that the Hare changes back to brown from white when spring arrives. It also shows how so much information can be included by only highlighting certain words.

ocean.jpg
The OCEAN Alphabet Book - Jerry Pallotta and illustrated by Frank Mazzola, Jr.

         Jerry Pallotta has written other alphabet books, too, but I find this one shows that he has tackled a large topic, but narrowed it down to only creatures that live in an ocean, except for the first page. If a topic is quite broad, first a student, or class, needs to narrow to a sub-topic in choosing something for each letter. In this book, the sentences are brief, a way to craft a book for younger readers. It would be good to compare this one to the butterfly book in studying the way  information is given.

8-animalalphabet.jpg



8 An Animal Alphabet - Elisha Cooper
           This has been published since I was in the classroom, and it is wonderful. With many pictures of animals who start with each letter, Elisha Cooper challenges the reader to find the animal that’s presented “eight” times. It’s an opportunity for alphabet pages that have only vocabulary, perhaps for early readers?  Elisha places a bit more information about each animal at the back.

           I’d like to take this opportunity to share another very recent book that makes me wish I was back in the classroom, in a writers’ workshop. Here is the post about Ideas Are All Around by Phillip C. Stead  This book can be used in a variety of ways across ages, especially when searching for ideas to write about. Please find it, read and enjoy.

             I hope that you will take some of these ideas, use these books or find your own favorite alphabet books to use in the classroom. Thanks again for inviting me, Jen.

Thanks for being here, Linda! xoxo

Do you have any thoughts to share with Linda?
Please add them in the comments!

Week #5 - Teachers Write Sunday Check-In 2016

What's up, writers!? How was week five? I got in lots of writing in some fun writing places so that was cool! But I'm in revision mode which is fun in a challenging way but also challenging in a tiring way. I'll talk more about my week in the recap!

This week, I'm thinking about writing what begs to be written. Here's my video and then I'll share a mentor text that inspires me in terms of writing what begs to be written.


Two years ago, I went to a powerful session at nErDcamp Michigan led by Cindy Minnich and Sarah Anderson  that was all about sharing diverse books. We all need diverse books...but sitting in that session helped me see how much I need diverse books. To better understand my own story, I spent all last March doing the Slice of Life challenge with Two Writing Teachers and I realized just how much I have to share my stories

The books in Jenny Han's series To All The Boys I've Loved Before are totally mentor texts for me. Just look at those gorgeous book covers with a clearly Asian main character! I have so much LOVE for these Jenny Han and these stories. These are the kind of books I hope to write (and eventually publish!). In looking closely at my own life experiences and thinking about what books are begging me to be written, I know my heart is in writing books with diverse characters. 

You can read my review of To All The Boys I've Loved Before here.

Some quotes that inspire me 
from Jenny Han's To All The Boys I've Loved Before:

“Life doesn't have to be so planned. Just roll with it and let it happen.”

“When someone's been gone a long time, 
at first you save up all the things you want to tell them. 
You try to keep track of everything in your head. 
But it's like trying to hold on to a fistful of sand: 
all the little bits slip out of your hands, 
and then you're just clutching air and grit. 
That's why you can't save it all up like that."

Because by the time you finally see each other, 
you're catching up only on the big things, 
because it's too much bother to tell about the little things. 
But the little things are what make up life.” 

“How was I supposed to know what’s real and what’s not? 
It feels like I’m the only one who doesn’t know the difference.”

And the third book in the series, 
Always and Forever, Lara Jean, is due out in 2017!

My Teachers Write Recap:
I spent a lot of time with my words this week...although the majority of my time was spent thinking through revisions and working on my query. I actually wrote the query for this ms before I drafted but now I'm reworking it after knowing what I know from writing the book. It can be complicated, this writing thing, huh?

Anyway, I think my query is in much better shape and now my goal this week is to really zone in on revisions so I can polish this baby up and submit to a contest organized by the amazing Brenda Drake called Pitch Wars. I participated in 2014 and was mentored by Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie. It was an absolutely amazing experience. Submissions open this week so if you have a polished up manuscript, I would definitely recommend joining in! And let me know if you have any questions or if I can help in any way!

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

Today, in the comments:
How did you do this week? Did you meet your weekly goal(s)?
Has anything begged you to be written this summer?
What was the pit of your week? (The hardest part, the not-so-fun part?)
What was the peak of your week? (The best part, the most-totally-fun part?)
What are you looking forward to and planning for the week ahead?
P. S. Thank you for replying to each other's comments! 
While I read them all and do my best to reply and 
reply as soon as possible it doesn't always happen.
I so appreciate you cheering each other on through Teachers Write! You r-o-c-k!

Psst! Yes, you! One more thing...
Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter here!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Pirasaurs Are Taking Over!


I may have stolen borrowed Pirasaurs from Josh Funk at nErDcamp...

 And now they're taking over the blog today 
because they have something very important to say!


We’re Pirasaurs! We’re Pirasaurs!
We grunt and roar and sneer!
We’ll steal your books with tails and hooks
And own the blogosphere!
We’re Pirasaurs! We’re Pirasaurs!
We post a giant threat!
We’ll slash and duel and soon we’ll rule
The world-wide internet!
We’re Pirasaurs! We’re Pirasaurs!
Our story is fantastic!
This grand hardback by Funk & Slack
Is published by Scholastic!

… and available August 30th wherever books are sold!

Take it from me, you'll want pre-order this one.
And they didn't make me say that!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 07/25/2016

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. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
I found myself doing more writing than reading last week...but I did read more of A Curious Mind and I started reading Here Comes The Sun by Nicole Y. Dennis-Benn. The voice is unique and captivating right from the start. 

Last Week's Posts:
I celebrated over at Story Exploratory this week: nErDcamp Michigan 2016!
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm hoping to continue reading both A Curious Mind and Here Comes The Sun.

This Week's Posts:
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!

Week #4 - Teachers Write Sunday Check-In 2016

Well, hello there, campers!!! How is your writing going!? I can't wait to hear all about it but first I have a quick mentor text for you to think about this week in terms of writing what you devour. I believe that writing is an extension of reading, that when we read voraciously then we can apply what we've learned about how to weave stories and then we can write our own. It's also why I believe mentor texts are powerful, our favorite books are models we can learn from. 

When we write, it's helpful to think about what you love to read and have read tons of as a place to start. Not that you can't read in one genre and write in another, but people talk about writing what you know (and not everyone agrees with that...) but writing what you know in terms of the genre you read most can be a good place to start. The same goes for our students, asking them to write in a genre they love can help them embrace, or maybe just ease into, writing.

My short and sweet video today comes to you from my kitchen...which isn't usually where I devour books but it is where we've been making Jell-o since my kids devoured it in Guatemala and now can't get enough of it. 
(Um...please ignore that I said Raymie Nightingale is coming out soon! 
It's already out! You can go get it right now! And you should. Now. Really!)

I've devoured every one of Kate DiCamillo's books so she's my choice for a mentor text this week when thinking about writing what I devour. Kate's descriptions are wonderful. It's like she makes time stand still and zeroes in on the most specific detail. I shared my review of Raymie Nightingale in April with some other snatches of text and here's a link to my review of Flora and Ulysses with some of my favorite snatches of text.

Some quotes I devoured 
from Kate DiCamillo's Raymie Nightingale:

     "The station wagon shot forward. The back doors swung open, then shut with a loud bang and stayed closed. The car accelerated at an alarming rate, the engine roaring and groaning, and then the station wagon disappeared entirely, and Raymie and Beverly were left standing together in a cloud that was composed of dust and gravel and exhaust." (p. 27)

     "The woman had green eye shadow on her eyelids and big, fake eyelashes and also a lot of rouge on her cheeks. But underneath the rouge and the eye shadow and the fake eyelashes, she looked very familiar. She looked like Beverly Tapinski, except older. And angrier. If that was possible.
     'Why do I have to do everything?' said the woman.
     This was the kind of question that had no answer, the kind of question that adults seemed to be overly fond of asking. 
     Before Raymie could even attempt some sort of response, the woman was out of the car and had hold of Beverly's baton and was pulling on it and Beverly was pulling back.
     More dust rose up in the air.
     'Let go,' said Beverly.
     'You let go,' said the woman, who was surely Beverly's mother, even though she wasn't really acting like a mother." (p. 35)

     "The sun glinted off the abandoned grocery carts and made them magical, beautiful. Everything shimmered. The seagulls called out. Raymie thought that something wonderful was going to happen." (p. 43)

I had the pleasure of meeting Kate at BEA this spring and at nErDcamp this summer. If you want to read more about my fun at nErDcamp, head on over to Story Exploratory.

My Teachers Write Recap:
I made some great progress this week so I'm feeling pretty good! I finished up revisions and sent them off to a writer friend...and I also sent a few queries too. (!!!) Querying is not easy but I keep telling myself that every query I send is one more step in my journey as a writer. Now I'm working on revisions of the YA contemporary I drafted last summer. I even snuck in some time to dig a little deeper into research for a non-fiction narrative picture book. 

This week I'm hoping to really revise like crazy. I've found that I need a lot more brainpower to tackle revisions but zoning in on something specific to work on makes it easier. I've also realized that as much as I love to work out a beat sheet and know where the story is going to go, writing the first draft (and every draft after it) and looking back on it is the only way to really know what story needs to be told. 

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

Today, in the comments:
What books, author, or genre do you devour and are they mentor texts for your own writing?
How did you do this week? Did you meet your weekly goal(s)?
What was the pit of your week? (The hardest part, the not-so-fun part?)
What was the peak of your week? (The best part, the most-totally-fun part?)
What are you looking forward to and planning for the week ahead?
P. S. Thank you for replying to each other's comments! 
While I read them all and do my best to reply and 
reply as soon as possible it doesn't always happen.
I so appreciate you cheering each other on through Teachers Write! You r-o-c-k!

Psst! Yes, you! One more thing...
Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter here!