Tuesday, August 27, 2019

They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid's Poems

Title: They Call Me Güero 
Author: David Bowles 
Publisher: October 22nd, 2018 
Publication Date: Cinco Puntos Press 
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel in Verse 
GoodReads Summary: Twelve-year-old Güero is Mexican American, at home with Spanish or English and on both sides of the river. He’s starting 7th grade with a woke English teacher who knows how to make poetry cool. 

In Spanish, “Güero” is a nickname for guys with pale skin, Latino or Anglo. But make no mistake: our red-headed, freckled hero is puro mexicano, like Canelo Álvarez, the Mexican boxer. Güero is also a nerd—reader, gamer, musician—who runs with a squad of misfits like him, Los Bobbys. Sure, they get in trouble like anybody else, and like other middle-school boys, they discover girls. Watch out for Joanna! She’s tough as nails. 
But trusting in his family’s traditions, his trusty accordion and his bookworm squad, he faces seventh grade with book smarts and a big heart. Life is tough for a border kid, but Güero has figured out how to cope.    
What I Think: David Bowles is one of my Latinx heroes. I appreciate everything he shares on Twitter and his overall essence. Maybe it seems weird to say but I've seen him on panels at NCTE and was at a roundtable session with him and he has a great energy. He knows a lot about Latinx history and the current state of Latinx affairs and he's passionate about sharing his ideas but he does it with such grace that he feels like an awesome big brother who is looking out for all Latinx people. If you don't already follow him on Twitter, I definitely recommend doing that. 
     As I was reading this book, I could hear David's voice on every page. I could also see my students and my family and myself. That's pretty amazing. Güero gets into lots of different predicaments and learns a few things along the way but I loved getting to know him, his friends, and his family. 
     In the snatch of text below, I enjoyed his description here and that he includes a simile even but I particularly love the idea of how words we hear transform into the way we live going forward. What an awesome image. As a mentor text, you could share this with students and ask them to think of their own similes to describe stories or advice they've received in their lives. In my Story Exploratory workshops, I talk a lot about how people, places, and experiences shape us and this is a great example of how people impact our lives whether we realize it right away or not. 
Snatch of Text: 
"Just think ---
I owe it all to those stories
my abuelita used to tell us
sitting in her rocking chair
as we shivered and thrilled.
Even then, words were burrowing
into my brain and waiting,
like larvae in a chrysalis,
to unfold their paper wings
and take me flying into the future." (p. 20)

Monday, August 26, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 08/26/2019

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 read more of The Bridge Home but I'm not finished yet! We have Curriculum Night this week and the Story Exploratory online workshop is tomorrow night so it's going to be a busy week but it's my goal to seriously finish it this week!

Last Week's Posts:
the day you begin, picture book, jacqueline woodson, jen vincent

The Day You Begin

#classroombookaday and Vocabulary


Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I promise to finish The Bridge Home and start The Other Half of Happy by Rebecca Balcarcel. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and check out other blogs to see what they're 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!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

#classroombookaday and Vocabulary

Classroom bookaday, donalyn miller, jilian heise, bookaday, picture book

This year I'm joining in on Classroom Book A Day fun with my 7th and 8th graders. You can read my first week with Classroom Book A Day post to see what books we read the first three days, what books we're reading this week, and how we've been using picture books to discuss theme.

I mentioned in my first week post that I'm a connector and I love weaving ideas together. Reading a picture book every day offers so many opportunities! I shared that I asked students to turn and talk and discuss theme but I also have been doing some vocabulary and word work.

Vocabulary is so important but especially important to me after working with students who are deaf and hard of hearing and students who are English learners because developing vocabulary is sooooooo important for them. With reading a picture book everyday, I saw an opportunity to focus on vocabulary. I'm also a big believer in learning and working with vocabulary in context so it's perfect! 

I definitely want to say that I'm conscious of not turning Classroom Book A Day into a chore. My ultimate goal is to read aloud to my students so I'm being very careful to not turn it into too much work that it takes away from that. Taking that into account, here's how I'm layering in vocabulary work while still keeping it simple. 

When students come in, they pick up a vocabulary sheet, put it in their binders, and bring their binders to the board. I have vocabulary sheets in English and in English and Spanish because I have English learners in my classroom.
Students then do a quick self assessment, deciding how well they know the words based on Marzano's Levels of Understanding. I co-created this with my students. We brainstormed what emojis would match and then I added them into the chart I had already created.
We're working on getting more and more automatic with this so they come in and do this independently. Then I read through the words so they can hear what the words sound like and I ask students to share any words they labeled as a 1. Students help each other out and we discuss the words a bit before we read. 

For my 8th graders, if I feel like the words seem fairly simple, I've come up with other things for them to do. For example, with Imagine, I asked students to circle adjectives and we noticed that many adjectives end in -y but not all of them. We've also noticed some words have multiple meanings and that's been fun too to see what discussions come up.

Overall, layering in this quick vocabulary discussion has been a simple way to get in some word work while also activating their brains before we read. I already have ideas for how to move forward and for ways this might evolve so I'll be sure to share them as I go!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The Day You Begin

picture book, jacqueline woodson, day you begin, classroom bookaday, bookaday
Title: The Day You Begin 
Author: Jacqueline Woodson 
Illustrator: Rafael López  
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books 
Publication Date: August 28th, 2018  
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson and two-time Pura Belpre Illustrator Award winner Rafael Lopez have teamed up to create a poignant, yet heartening book about finding courage to connect, even when you feel scared and alone.

There will be times when you walk into a room
and no one there is quite like you.

There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it's how you look or talk, or where you're from; maybe it's what you eat, or something just as random. It's not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.

Jacqueline Woodson's lyrical text and Rafael Lopez's dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.

What I Think: I adore this book. It's such a simple idea but also so universal which makes it a wonderful book to share with all ages of readers. This book was the first book I read to my students this school year and it was a great way to start. At the end of class, I asked students to write me comments and one student said that he had fun even though we talked about a serious topic and I think it was partly because of this book. The story brings things like insecurity and being an outsider and similarities and differences right into the open. Sharing this book was the perfect way to start the year. 
     As a mentor text, we're going to look at the first page when she walks into the classroom when as we brainstorm and write about doors in our lives. I especially love this book to remind us of small moments connected to the feelings we related to the in book. 
     I also really love the first line (shared below). You could lift it and write your own story from there. We've all walked into a room and had to navigate lots of feelings that would be interesting to write about.

Snatch of Text: "There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you."

Monday, August 19, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 08/19/2019

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 I read more of The Bridge Home and I read some great picture books with my students! 
Last Week's Posts:
jen vincent, classroom, teaching, education, school

Getting Ready for Students!

donalyn miller, jilian heise, classroom bookaday. bookaday


Upcoming Book Adventures: 
This week my goal is to finish The Bridge Home and start The Other Half of Happy by Rebecca Balcarcel. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and check out other blogs to see what they're 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, August 18, 2019

My First Week With #classroombookaday!

donalyn miller, jilian heise, classroom bookaday. bookaday

This year I'm joining in on classroom bookaday fun with my 7th and 8th graders. We started this on day one and after three days are already into a nice routine. It's been so fun to share stories with my students. I missed reading picture books with kids everyday!

If you're new to Classroom Book A Day, you can find all sorts of information that Jilian has curated here. The idea is to read a picture book every day of the school year. To get started, I created a bulletin board with 180 blank squares to represent all of the books we're going to read and I picked out a few picture books. After we read a book, I add the cover of the book to our chart so we can keep track of our progress and we'll be able to look back at the books we've read throughout the year. 

Here are the three books we started the year with:
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The Day You Begin
written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Rafael López
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My Teacher Is A Monster! (No, I Am Not.)
written and illustrated by Peter Brown
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Imagine
written by Juan Felipe Herrera and illustrated by Lauren Castillo

As a connector, I'm a person who likes to find ways to intertwine learning and to make the most of what we've got. My goal is to keep our Classroom Book A Day simple and fun but I couldn't help but add on a few opportunities that I spotted. One opportunity is to discuss some vocabulary which I'll share in another post later this week. And another is to discuss theme. 

To start, after reading the book we chat a bit and then I ask students to turn and talk to a partner and to discuss what they think the theme or message of the book is. To start, I've been keeping it simple. Students turn and talk and then write what they think the theme is on the board. After students return to their seats, I read out the themes and we see if there are commonalities or differences. I've then been capturing these into a doc so we have them to refer back to.

Here are examples students came up with as the theme of The Day You Begin:

And are some examples after reading Imagine:


To me, asking students to think about theme is simple but also important. Eventually, we'll talk about how a writer incorporates theme throughout the text and discuss it more deeply. 

But even after the first day, just asking students to think about theme, we were able to discuss a lot. For example, one group wrote, "No matter how light or dark you are, or how many languages you speak, you are still a human being." And another group wrote, "Even if you are of a different race, gender or interest you should still be included." In looking at both of these, I pointed out how the ideas were similar but the word choice was different.

I can't wait to keep going with Classroom Book A Day! Here are the books we'll be reading this week:
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Nerdy Birdy
written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Matt Davies
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My Name is Sangoel
written by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed and illustrated by Catherine Stock
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Louise Loves Art 
written and illustrated by Kelly Light
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Boy + Bot
written by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino
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The Teacher's Pet
written by Anika Mrose Rissi and illustrated by Zachariah Ohora

Classroom Book A Day is new to me but it's been great and already worthwhile so far. Already, I'm thinking about my thought process as I choose books. I'm being intentional about which books I read when and how I might be able to use them to introduce a topic we might expand upon. It's really fun and I'm sure I'll have a blog post to share about it too. Have you tried Classroom Book A Day? I'd love to hear about it if you have! Or if you are curious and have questions, please ask!


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Getting Ready for Students!

Tomorrow is the first day of school! 

I'm so excited to meet my students.

They are the most important part of our classroom. 

They'll make the biggest difference when it comes to our space but I still wanted to do a few things to get ready for them. I'm new to my position and I haven't taught in seven years so I was basically starting from scratch except for my classroom library (which I'll share in another post!).

My goal was to keep it simple (and not spend much money) but I did want to do some work to turn it into a more welcoming space. 

Here's what the room looked like at the beginning of the summer:

jen vincent, teaching, classroom

jen vincent, teaching, classroom

jen vincent, teaching, classroom

jen vincent, teaching, classroom

Here's what I did to make it more welcoming. 

1. At the beginning of the summer, my friend Carly posted on her Instagram that she was moving. She was selling some of her furniture and the two tall teal bookshelves came from her. My older son and I took the seats out of the van and drove down to Chicago one Saturday morning to carry them down from her 3rd floor apartment and get them home. These were free besides the gas we spent to get down there (and the breakfast I bought son for helping me!).

jen vincent, teaching, classroom
***Since these were the first addition to my classroom, 
I chose my color scheme based off of these bookshelves.

2. My younger son helped me cut and staple up the special fade-less paper on the bulletin boards. One roll from Michael's $10 minus my 20% teacher discount and we had a little paper left over but not much. I liked how simple it looks and decided not to do any borders. 

jen vincent, teaching, classroom

3. I had been thinking about not having a teacher desk so I wanted to buy a cart for my supplies. As of right now, I still have my teacher desk but I also have my red cart which I bought for $40 with a 40% off coupon at Michael's. I really really really love my red cart.

jen vincent, teaching, classroom
***Because of this red cart, I decided to use red as my accent color. 
My little helper put together for me and helped me carry it in!

4. I was thrilled to have bookshelves but they weren't in the best shape. I bought a can of paint for $30 and painted the three white and pink bookshelves. My aunt bought me a mini roller, a tray, and a paint brush and I had some sand paper in the garage that I used. It took me a few hours to sand and get a few coats of paint onto all three bookshelves but otherwise, I only spent money on the paint. 

jen vincent, teaching, classroom

jen vincent, teaching, classroom

jen vincent, teaching, classroom
***With my teal bookshelves and my red cart, I knew I needed a fairly neutral color that would also be complimentary so that's how I ended up with navy blue for these bookshelves.

5. I'm not very good with plants but I love them and definitely want plants in my room. I have a gorgeous south-facing window with a ledge which is a perfect spot for plants. The cans were free and my aunt had paint for me to use. I started with a coat of primer and then used acrylic paints to add some color. I found indoor plants at Home Depot for $4 each. For $12 total, I bought 4 small pots and then divided them into the six cans.

jen vincent, teaching, classroom

jen vincent, teaching, classroom

jen vincent, teaching, classroom

jen vincent, teaching, classroom

jen vincent, teaching, classroom
***The colors don't exactly match my bookshelves but they're close. 
I also added in one yellow can because yellow is my favorite color.

6. My friend Jenni shared that Menard's had rugs for sale so I dragged my family there when we were in Bourbonnais for Bears training camp. I was able to find two 4 x 6 rugs that match each other and my color scheme. They were each $15 so I spent $30 total but waaaaay cheaper than most rugs I've seen. 

jen vincent, teaching, classroom

7. Finally, we stopped in at Goodwill on my search for word games and stumbled upon two wooden benches. I might paint them at some point but for now I just wiped them down and found a spot for them. They might be my favorite addition. I paid $15 for each of them so another $30 total.

jen vincent, teaching, classroom

jen vincent, teaching, classroom

And here's what it looks like now:


Students come tomorrow! 


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/14/2019

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