Friday, March 31, 2017

Love Is

Title: Love Is 
Author: Diane Adams  
Illustrator: Claire Keane 
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: January 24th, 2017 
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: Perfect for Valentine's Day—or any tender moment—this story of a girl and a duckling who share a touching year together will melt hearts old and young. In this tenderly funny book, girl and duckling grow in their understanding of what it is to care for each other, discovering that love is as much about letting go as it is about holding tight. Children and parents together will adore this fond exploration of growing up while learning about the joys of love offered and love returned. 
What I Think: I'm in love with Love Is! This is such a super sweet book. It's a book that captures the tender love between a child and her pet. This book is a perfect mentor text for looking at how words and illustrations work together.  But it's also a great mentor text for practicing visualizing and looking at how an author shows instead of tells. I love making the connection between reading and writing for students. When we write, we use good reading strategies like visualizing to help us understand what we are reading but at the same time, we can examine what craft moves the author made in order to help us visualize. Adding this level of thinking helps students more deeply understand how the act of writing impacts our readers. Even young writers can start to realize the author makes specific choices when he or she writes and this text is a great way to bring about this discussion.
     The specific snatch of text I chose would be one page I might even read before showing students. I would ask them to visualize and imagine and I might even think aloud my connection to the main character. As a mom, I remember having to wake up to feed my babies in the middle of the night and more recently, I had to wake up to feed our puppy in the middle of the night. The illustration captures the feeling perfectly so building up the suspense would get kids thinking and visualizing and then they could compare what they were thinking to what the illustrator drew.
Snatch of Text:  
"Love is noisy midnight feedings,
shoe box right beside the bed."
Writing Prompt: What impact do the illustrations have on the story? How do the illustrations and the text work together? Can you write about a time in your life when you loved something and had to let it go?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

WATCH: Thoughts on How Education Can Change the World By Jen Vincent


I am and always will be an educator at heart. 

Sometimes being an educator keeps me up at night.

And that leads to me creating a middle-of-the-night video that shares my thoughts on education because I'm so fired up I can't sleep. 


Teachers have the power 
to change the world
because we are charged 
with changing the lives of children.

I believe every teacher has to show kids they see them and they have to inspire them. And the easiest way to do that is to get them fired up to be consumers and creators. That's why I blog at Teach Mentor Texts and Story Exploratory to share ideas for how we can all be consumer and creators. With everything I share, I hope someone is inspired in some way.


I'm over doing things how they have always been done when we know better. 

I'm sharing this education-focused video here because I'd love to generate more discussion about how education can change the world. Whether you are an educator yourself or not, I appreciate your thoughts on education! 

Here are some things you can do to join in or share:
  • Visit and share my post at Teach Mentor Texts. You can comment here but I'd really love to keep the conversation there if possible.
  • Watch this amazingly powerful speech from Chris Emdin. It helped me solidify some of my own thoughts. (Thanks to Kathy Burnette for sharing it with me.)
  • Create your response to the question: How can education change the world? Link or share it in the comments here.
  • Share the post and my video. We need more people in this conversation! Please invite others to think about this and join in. 
Thanks for listening! I see you. You inspire me. 

My Thoughts on How Education Can Change the World

Sometimes being an educator keeps me up at night.

And that leads to me creating a middle-of-the-night video that shares my thoughts on education because I'm so fired up I can't sleep. 


Teachers have the power 
to change the world
because we are charged 
with changing the lives of children.

I believe every teacher has to show kids they see them and they have to inspire them. And the easiest way to do that is to get them fired up to be consumers and creators. That's why I blog at Teach Mentor Texts and Story Exploratory to share ideas for how we can all be consumer and creators. With everything I share, I hope someone is inspired in some way.


I'm over doing things how they have always been done when we know better. 

I'd love to generate more discussion about how education can change the world. 

Here are some things you can do to join in:

  • Watch this amazingly powerful speech from Chris Emdin. It helped me solidify some of my own thoughts. (Thanks to Kathy Burnette for sharing it with me.)
  • Create your response to the question: How can education change the world? Link or share it in the comments below.
  • Share this post and my video. We need more people in this conversation! Please invite others to think about this and join in. 
Thanks for listening! I see you. You inspire me. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

READ: Rising Strong by Brené Brown


I find power in others telling their stories and 
I hope you do too!
Check out It's Monday! What Are You Reading? at Book Date
For the kidlit version, visit Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.

A couple of weeks ago, it was a super windy day. I mean gusts of winds stormed through our culdesac and I braced myself as my hair blew all around my face as I walked Perdi. It was a Wednesday. I know because it was also garbage day. 

It was garbage day and the garbage cans and recycling bins lined the end of all the driveways. Perdi and I made it to the end of the street, we did our usual loop and then headed back towards home. Up ahead, across the street from my house, our neighbor's garbage can had blown over. Contents of their garbage can now were strewn all around their part of the circle. A Pringles can was slowly clattering it's way towards us.

Ugh. I was annoyed. A voice in my head complained about people and how they can't keep things nice and can you believe they would let their garbage just take over the street and were they going to clean it up and ohmigosh, the nerve. I walked the whole way down the street so cranky and mad at them. 

And then I realized, they probably took their garbage out, went to work and had absolutely no idea the wind had taken their garbage and spread it all over the street for everyone to see and be annoyed with. And here I was judging them for something they had no control over. In Rising Strong, Brené talks about seeing people through a lens of "they're doing the best they can".
So what did I do? I pulled out a poop bag from Perdi's stash and put my hand in it like a glove and I walked on over there, took a deep breathe, and picked up the garbage. 

Yup. I did. 

And I'm damn proud that I did. 

Did I want to?

Nope. Not at all. Not one bit. I don't even want to repeat some of the things I picked up that day. 

But I did it anyway. 

Because for all I know, they were doing the best they could that morning. 

It wasn't their fault the wind was being a jerk that day.

I have so many other great takeaways from this book but this one stood out the most. It's the most useful in life. Try it for a day. Try approaching people and situations with the perspective that everyone is doing the best they can and see how it changes your mentality. It lifted a burden off of my shoulders. It's easy to tell a story, whether I'm telling a story about myself, how others see me, or how I see others. My brain likes to fill in the gaps when it doesn't know the whole story. I bet yours does too. That's kind of how brains work. That's why I love this new way of looking at things. It's much easier to be compassionate if you start with the fact that everyone is doing the best they can offer at that very moment. 

I owe a huge big thanks to Patience Bertana for sharing her love of books and knowing I would like this one enough to buy me my very own copy. She was right. It's a gem of a book. I love Brené Brown's work. I've blogged about her Ted Talk on Listening to Shame before and if you aren't familiar with her, I definitely suggest checking out her Ted Talks or her books or her website or her Instagram. Really, she's amazing anywhere you can find her!

Have you read one of Brené Brown's books?
Is there a book that has shaped the way you look at life?
I'd love to hear about it!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 03/27/2017

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: 
Winner of A Boy Called Bat 
by Elana K. Arnold
courtesy of Walden Pond Press:
Leanne - @SiCoMom!

Last Week's Book Adventures:
Last week I read a lot more of Yaqui Delgado but I'm not quite done yet. I'll keep working on that this week. I did get to book talk it to 7th and 8th graders and they liked the title alone...of course. We were hit with some sickness in our house last week plus it was the week before break so that's about all of the reading I got in last week!

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
This week it's finally spring break! I'm planning on finishing Yaqui Delgado and Here We Are. I also have Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson to read and I'd love to read it over break. I also have some reading to do for class and I really hope I make time to get that done this week otherwise I'll be mad at myself!

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!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 03/20/2017

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 don't know what was up with last week but I felt like I slogged through it and was barely keeping up with everything I had to do. I discovered the book Present Over Perfect and it's waiting for me at the library so maybe it was a good thing I felt like I was doing too much because the title of the book really jumped out at me and I felt like I really needed it. I can tell you for sure that ever since yoga came into my life I'm much more present and aware of all the wonderful things I get to experience in my life and I try and revel in them as much as I can. But I'm still not so great at saying no, especially when I want to do and be part of everything.

This week I spent time reading Here We Are and thinking about what it means to be a feminist and I also have been reading Meg Medina's Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass. With the kids, I read Charlie and Mouse and Barkus. Can I just say that my kids enjoyed both of them. Peanut especially giggled and giggled giggled with Charlie and Mouse and then really wanted and so needed a bedtime banana! Love it! Laurel Snyder is brilliant.

Reviewed Last Week:
**Don't miss the giveaway!**
I shared our Family Reading Night celebration here at Teach Mentor Texts.
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm sure we'll be rereading Charlie and Mouse this week and eating more bananas and I'm also planning to keep reading Yaqui Delgado and Here We Are. 

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!

JOIN: Celebrating Wilson Phillips and Mold-A-Rama



Every Saturday, join me as I CELEBRATE This Week 
with Ruth Ayres from Discover. Play. Build.

A few weeks ago we took a trip to the Field Museum in Chicago. We had never taken the boys before so we decided it was a good time to go now that our youngest is six. We explored the pyramid in the Egypt exhibit, we looked at the dinosaur fossils, and all the animals they had. Of course, I think what my kids will remember are the Mold-A-Rama machines. I'm not sure if you ever had these when you were a kid but I remember them mostly from every zoo visit and I loved them. I'm so glad we still have them and I didn't realize they are actually pretty rare these days. My parents were surprised that it costs $2.00 to make a wax animal now because it used to be a quarter or fifty cents. (It was funny because $2.00 seemed normal to me so I don't really remember how much they were.)
Hopefully they'll remember something besides the Mold-A-Rama machine and how it smelled of warm crayons and how they had to reach their hand in and pull it out and how it was warm and they had to hold it upside down as it dried but if they have this memory, that works for me too. 

And then this morning, my husband showed me a video of Wilson Phillips performing at the Bulls game and it took me back too. Part of me felt annoyed that they are trying to be the Backstreet Boys and make a mini-comeback but then I remembered listening to their album over and over again. Gosh I loved Hold On. I know every single word. Still. And I don't even care if it's basically the same lyrics over and over, I loved this song. It's still pretty awesome and relevant today. 

So I hope they do make a comeback. How about Wilson Phillips, Tiffany and Debbie Gibson...that's a show I would go see. Can you tell I grew up in the 80's?
Mold-A-Rama and Wilson Phillips were blasts from my past that I got to wax nostalgic for this recently. Has this happened to you recently? Something from your childhood came up and took you back to your childhood? I'd love to hear about it!

Also, anyone up for karaoke? 
I could belt out Hold On like you wouldn't believe...

Let's Celebrate Family Reading Night 2017!

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. 

*                  *                   *

This week I'm celebrating family reading night!

*throws confetti*


Last week, our K-2 grade level center hosted the annual family reading night. I still have to pinch myself because I looooooove that I get to be part of it now that I work in the district.

Last year, we acted out the book How To Read a Story by Kate Messner and then students went off to read with guest readers in classrooms. This year, we started with book talks in the gym. Each child had a handout with the book covers of all the books and a crayon. As I book talked the books in English and Spanish, they circled or checked off the books they were excited about reading. The hope was to celebrate lots of books and that kids would then have a list of books to take to the library and check out. After the book talks, families went to read in classrooms with guest readers. 

I'm still pinching myself. It was such a great night. I know my kids had fun and it seemed like everyone else was having fun too. Readers were animated, students were captivated, families were spending time together and the school was buzzing with bookish energy. What more could you ask for? 

What are you celebrating this week?

Friday, March 17, 2017

WRITE: Energy In Our Words

In The Right to Write, Julia Cameron explains, “So much of what we need, so much of what we want, is to be savored, cherished, cared for, and cared about. So much of what is missing is tenderness. When we commit our thoughts to paper, we send a strong and clear message that what we are writing about and whom we are writing to matters. As Sonia Choquette, spiritual teacher, advises us, ‘The power of the word is real whether or not you are conscious of it. Your own words are the bricks and mortar of the dreams you want to realize. Behind every word flows energy.” (p. 97)

For me, I find that I understand my message - in a way it becomes clear - when I write it down. But I agree that it also becomes real and important and worthy when I write it down. I've been talking with a friend a lot about how our childhood shaped who we are and how we and we have experiences that give us the opportunity to advocate and talk about issues of diversity but at the same time, we feel a sense of privilege that also makes us hesitate to tell our stories and to advocate. It's a weird spot to be stuck in and we've talked about how we can best raise our voices.

But this year my word is zealous and my whole reason for choosing that word was to propel myself to speak more loudly and more clearly and more passionately. So I'm taking these ideas from Julia and Sonia to heart. I'll be writing about what's in my heart and hoping it will shed the light on what my heart knows I need to do.

Let's Write! Set a timer for 5 minutes and let yourself write and write and write. Just get the thoughts that are rumbling around in your heart out. Then take markers and highlight or write over the words that stand out to you. Boil your words down to your current manifesto. Here are some sample manifestos from Lifehack you can use as mentor texts. And here's a blog post from Alexandra Franzen where she outlines important elements of a manifesto. 

I'd love to read what you come up with! 
Feel free to share in the comments or email me at jen [@] teachmentortexts [dot] com.
I'm going to work on mine and I'll share it here soon!

Mighty, Mighty, Construction Site

Title: Mighty, Mighty, Construction Site
Author: Sherri Duskey Rinker   
Illustrator: Tom Lichtenheld 
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: February 14th, 2017
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book  
GoodReads Summary: At last—here from the team behind the beloved international bestseller comes a companion to Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site. All of our favorite trucks are back on the construction site—this time with a focus on team-building, friendship, and working together to make a big task seem small! Down in the big construction site, the crew faces their biggest job yet, and will need the help of new construction friends to get it done. Working as a team, there's nothing they can't do! The millions of fans of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site are in for a mighty good time! 
What I Think: Reading Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site reminded me of when my boys were little and we would always be on the lookout for trucks or buses or trains. Peanut had a board book that had pictures of all sorts of different types of trucks. We'd be driving to the mall and I'd call out, "Cherry picker!" or "Front loader!" It got to the point that I would do it even when he wasn't in the car. Those were fun days. Now, I have a close friend who's son is four and loves trucks so I get to share fun truck books like Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site with him. 
     I absolutely adore this book. I love that it rhymes. I love that it has bright, bold colors but is still sweet. I love that it's got such a positive, collaborative tone to it. As a mentor text, I could see using this at the beginning of the school year in a kindergarten or 1st grade class to build community. It's also an opportunity to talk about rhyme. 
Snatch of Text:  
"They wipe their faces,
greet the sun, 
load up, fuel up,
rev up...run!"

"Down in the big constrution site,
five trucks wake to morning light.
It's time to S-T-R-E-T-C-H, roll out of bed,
and gear up for the day ahead!"
Writing Prompt: Write your own narration to any vehicle you see from day to day. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Boy Called Bat Blog Tour and Giveaway


I'm thrilled to be a stop on the blog tour for A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold! You can read my review of A Boy Called Bat where I share a snatch of text and my thoughts on how you might use A Boy Called Bat as a mentor text. You can also find an Educator's Resource here that gives more information and shares ideas for you can use with students.
Today, as part of the blog tour, I'd like to reiterate that Bat completely stole my heart. As I think about him now, I smile because he's such a complete character to me and I can imagine him even after having read the book over a month ago. I connected with Bat and how he feels about his skunk kit Thor in the story. Reading Bat's story helped me reflect on how special it is to have a pet in my life. 
At the beginning of last school year, a friend shared a picture of a sweet little adorable puppy who was adoptable from one of our local rescue shelters. I fell in love immediately. Luckily, I had been trying to convince my husband we needed a dog for the last ten years or so. I mean, I would show him pictures of puppies and every time I wrote a persuasive essay with students, I would write mine all about why we really needed a dog. Finally, our youngest son was five and in kindergarten and this sweet little pup was in my Facebook feed and my husband didn't really have much of a choice, he had to say it was okay for me to go and meet her. 
So I did. One Thursday night in November, I went and met our sweet little pup. She was so little and so cute. I fell in love right away and then the rest of the family came to meet her. After that it all went really fast! We told them we wanted to take her home, we signed lots of papers, and then we went to pick her up that weekend. Suddenly, we were a family with a little puppy in the backseat and we were taking her home. 
 
It's not easy taking care of a puppy! We had a lot to learn and she had a lot to learn. It wasn't easy but we got her into puppy classes right away and we took her to puppy play time so she could socialize and then we started taking her to the dog park too. 

Now Perdi is about 1 1/2 and she still needs a lot of attention but we have fun playing with her, practicing her tricks, and going on long walks. 
You know those bumper stickers that ask, "Who saved who?" We adopted Perdi but she has brought so much love into our lives and I can't imagine her not being part of our family. I'm especially happy that my kids get to grow up with a dog. 
I kind of think Bat and his love of his little skunk kit Thor helped him out as much as he helped to take care of Thor. 

I hope readers either get to live through Bat's story and know what it's like to take care of a pet and/or that they get to have a pet of their own connect with Bat's experience. Either way, readers will enjoy reading about Bat and his love for Thor. 

Do you have a special pet in your life?
I'd love to hear about him or her!

Also, be sure to enter the giveaway courtesy of Walden Pond Press!


Also, be sure to visit all the other blogs on the tour!
March 2 A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust - Beth Shaum

Sunday, March 12, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 03/13/2017

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. 

Announcement:
Winner of Mapping My Day
courtesy of Blue Slip Media:
Linda Baie!

Last Week's Book Adventures:
I'm so excited to share that I finally finished Brené Brown's book Rising Strong. Her work is brilliant. I also started Here We Are: Feminism For The Real World and Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
This week I'll be reading Here We Are: Feminism For The Real World and Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass. 

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!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/11/2019

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!   It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme ho...