Monday, August 31, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 08/31/2020

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a weekly blog hop I co-host with Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing ReadersThe original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It's a great way to share what you're reading and get recommendations. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up below, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs.

Last Week's Book Adventures:
I read more of Santiago's Road Home and also read a book of essays by bell hooks called Teaching Community.

Last Week's Posts:

One Heartprint Book


This Week's Book Adventures:

This week I'll read more of Us, In Progress and keep listening to Santiago's Road Home. I also am hoping to start Incendiary by Zoraida Cordova and Jacqueline Woodson's book Before The Ever After. And I'll be reading My Papi Has a Motorcycle/Mi Papi Tiene Una Moto by Isabel Quintero with my students. 

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 27, 2020

One Heartprint Book

The beginning of the school year is all about learning about my students and I especially want to learn about them as readers and writers. One thing I have learned over the years is that as much as I love books, it doesn't mean my students love books as much as I do.  I've learned to be okay with that. I accept them and celebrate them as they are. I even share that my own two sons like to read but it's not the first thing they would pick to do in their free time. 

This year, I wanted to start with a really simple activity to get to know them as readers. It's so so simple but what they shared gives me a lot of insight!

I asked them to think of one heartprint book. I explained a heartprint is like a footprint left on your heart. A heartprint book is a book that has left an imprint on your heart. Good or bad, this is a book that has stuck with you for some reason. 

Here are my two examples! The first is a book that I loathed when I was in high school and the other is a book I loved that shaped my life in many ways. 

What I love most about asking to hear about just one heartprint book is that it's a quick and easy success activity but allows me to share a little about myself as a reader and hear about them as readers. I have a whole year for me to get to know soooooo much about them that it's okay to start by asking them to share just one book. 



Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Whatcha Wanna Do? - Friends and Small Moments

Britt Hawthorne is one of my most favorite people to learn from. I follow her on Instagram and am a Patron on Patreon because I appreciate everything she shares. This week she shared a spoken word poem from Phil Kaye called "Before the Internet" that is pure gold to a literacy teacher. 

In his poem, Phil shares a small moment. A small moment with his friend during summer back in the 90's before the Internet. It's a perfect nine-year-old memory that I think a lot of students might relate to, even if they are kids living during a pandemic in 2020 with the Internet. 

I'm definitely going to share Phil's poem with my students but I'm going to preface it by showing the following clip from Disney's The Jungle Book where the vultures are sitting around trying to think of something to do. 

  

Both the Disney artists and Phil Kaye found something so universal, sitting around with friends trying to think of something to do, and made it interesting by adding super specific details. The vultures joke about waiting for something to die and how they'd be happy about that and Phil talks about watching Indiana Jones and wanting to pretend they could be as cool as he is. Two similar moments with two different stories that make them unique. 

It made me think of this poem "Instructions on Listening to the Trees" from Woke: A Young Poet's Call to Justice by Mahogany L. Browne with Elizabeth Acevedo and Olivia Gatwood. This poem is about going outside and taking a moment to breathe and listen. It's about noticing how we are part of something bigger than us. I think Phil's poem is sort of about this too. It's about recognizing a small moment and writing about it in such a way that it's obvious that he paid attention.  


I'm excited to start off the school year with these texts and to invite students to think about their lives and to pay attention to the small moments and to notice the world around them. This year I'm being super intentional about choosing texts that match and pair together to help students think more deeply about the concepts we're discussing and about themselves as learners and humans. 

If you have any texts that you think would pair well with the ones I shared here, please share!

Monday, August 24, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 08/24/2020

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a weekly blog hop I co-host with Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing ReadersThe original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It's a great way to share what you're reading and get recommendations. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up below, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs.

Last Week's Book Adventures:
This week I read more of Us, In Progress and started listening to Santiago's Road Home by Alexandra Diaz

Last Week's Posts:


This Week's Book Adventures:

This week I'll read more of Us, In Progress and keep listening to Santiago's Road Home. I also am hoping to start Incendiary by Zoraida Cordova and Jacqueline Woodson's book Before The Ever After

School starts on Thursday! I'm soooooooo excited! Can't wait! 

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!


Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Short and Sweet Blog Tour!

Title: Short and Sweet 
Author: Josh Funk 
Illustrator: Brendan Kearney 
Publisher: Sterling Children's Books 
Publication Date: September 1st, 2020 
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast are back with a twist: they’ve been transformed into small children. Now it’s a race against the clock to turn our favorite duo into grown-ups again!

Lady Pancake is aching; Sir French Toast’s looking pale. Could they be going . . . STALE? Maybe a visit to Professor Biscotti’s lab for her despoiling procedure will help. But instead of beautifying them, Biscotti accidentally transforms the two treats into toddlers! Frightened of the now gargantuan (to them) Baron von Waffle, the mini breakfast foods scamper off on an adventure in the fridge, visiting everywhere from the Bran Canyon to Limes Square. Will Baron von Waffle and Professor Biscotti figure out a way to turn them back into a grown Lady and Sir? Or will they stay short & sweet forever?

In this fourth LADY PANCAKE & SIR FRENCH TOAST adventure, Pancake and Toast fear they are going stale and visit Professor Biscotti, whose faulty gadget transforms them into toddlers, sending them on an adventure in the refrigerator. 
What I Think: It's amazing to me what Josh is able to do with words and rhyme AND still be able to tell a great story. One thing I've been thinking a lot about lately is format and ways to have some fun with what we are creating while also moving the story along. One way this stood out to me in Short and Sweet is when Baron von Waffle suggests Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast check out Professor Biscotti's Brochure. As a writer, this is a brilliant move! Instead of taking time to explain it, Josh and Brendan can show us. 

There are opportunities in narrative, information, and opinion writing to think about how to get creative with ideas like this. Younger students can draw their own brochure - either to try it out with in a longer piece of text like in Short and Sweet or on its own. Older students can use this as a tool as well. Last year, I had a lot of students who loved to draw and I loved encouraging them to use their drawings in their writing so this is another example to share with them. 
Snatch of Text:
"Professor Biscotti's Laboratory
Starting to MILDEW or CURDLE or CRUMBLE?
Don't sit around and complain, 
pout, and grumble!

Try out my patented DE-spoiling ray!
Feel fresh and you again.
VISIT TODAY!"

Don't miss the other stops on the 
Long and Savory 5-week Short and Sweet Virtual Tour!

Sign up for the Virtual Launch Party on 9/1 
with An Unlikely Story bookstore HERE.

Pre-order from Indiebound HERE.

Listen to the music book trailer HERE.

Top 10 Indie Kids Next List (#9): "Josh Funk pours on the adorable once again ... well worth the carbs for all readers."

"A series that just keeps improving, with an adorable couple taking center stage. A must purchase." - *Starred Review* from School Library Journal

"The quality remains consistently high for this series, linking edibles and emotions with excitement and ease." - Kirkus Reviews


Monday, August 17, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 08/17/2020

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a weekly blog hop I co-host with Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing ReadersThe original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It's a great way to share what you're reading and get recommendations. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up below, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs.

Last Week's Book Adventures:
This week I actually read books! I read The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse by Charlie Mackesy and loved it. I also read Black History in its Own Words by Ron Wimberly and Say Her Name by Zetta Elliott and am so excited to share both with my students. I also started reading Us, In Progress: Short Stories About Young Latinos.  

Last Week's Posts:


This Week's Book Adventures:

This week I'll read more of Us, In Progress and Fight Like a Girl. I'm also rereading some of my favorite essays as I work on my own writing. 

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!


Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Celebrating Self Love - #pb10for10

Hooray for Picture Book 10 for 10 Day!

Mandy Robek from Enjoy and Embrace Learning and Cathy Mere from Reflect and Refine: Build a Learning Community host this lovely celebration of picture books every year. 

Last year, I went back to teaching after spending seven years in district level positions. Picture books were a huge part of our classroom community even though I teach 7th and 8th graders. They allow me to share short texts while also providing visuals. They have rich language and provide opportunities to do deep thinking about theme and character. They also made it easy for me to show, celebrate, and discuss different identities.

This year, I've been thinking a lot about self love. Disrupting deep-seated systems of racism has to start with identity work. It has to start at a personal level. It has to start with self love. 

"To disrupt educational racism, 
the most radical decolonizing concept 
that we can teach...is self love."
-Mictlani Gonzalez

When I saw this quote from Mictlani Gonzalez, it all clicked. If colonization is about power and control and domination over a person or a group of people, then it makes sense that the way to reclaim our own power is to practice self love so we can shine bright and speak up boldly amidst systems that need to be disrupted.

My list this year for #pb10for10 is all about books that celebrate and hopefully inspire self love. 

44280832. sx318
Woke: A Young Poet's Call to Justice 
by Mahogany L. Browne, Elizabeth Acevedo, and Olivia Gatwood
and illustrated by Theodore Taylor III
is an absolute must-have. The poems within these pages are perfect to read individually and to pair with other texts. If you don't own this book, it's time to get it. You're going to love it. 

The other books in my list pair well with Woke and at least one of the poems within its pages. I'm so inspired by these books and can't wait to read and discuss them with students and use them as mentor texts for our own writing.

51393. sx318
Skin Again
by bell hooks and illustrated by Chris Raschka

51964779. sx318 sy475
I Am Brown
by Ashok Banker and illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat

45421826. sx318
Speak Up 
by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Ebony Glenn

45990138. sx318
All the Way to the Top
by Annette Bay Pimental and illustrated by Nabi H. Ali

44581496. sx318
We Are Water Protectors
by Carole Lindstrom and illusrated by Michaela Goade

39938161
Planting Stories
by Anika Aldamuy Denise and illustrated by Paola Escobar

52368048. sx318 sy475
Hike
by Pete Oswald

41183557. sx318
A Green Place to Be 
by Ashley Benham Yazdani

35959676. sx318
What If...
by Samantha Berger and illustrated by Mike Curato

Self love is so important right now. We need to be telling stories. We need to be learning about ourselves and celebrating the complex and unique people that we are. We need to recognize our connection to the past and the future and do our best right now to honor the past and make way for a better future. All of these books invite us to be more self aware, to think about the multiple identities that make us who we are, to learn about and appreciate the lived experiences of others, to be able to see inequities, to speak up, and to take action. If you look at the Social Justice Standards from Teaching Tolerance, you'll see how reading these books and doing this type of identity work aligns. 

It all starts with self love. 

Monday, August 10, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 08/10/2020

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a weekly blog hop I co-host with Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing ReadersThe original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It's a great way to share what your reading and get recommendations. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up below, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs.


Last Week's Book Adventures:
This week I finished reading The Art of Memoir. I was accepted into a yearlong essay collection writing course through Story Studio with Megan Stielstra so the timing work out great. I am ready to write!

I read a great stack of picture books that I'll be share in my PB 10 for 10 post later today. By far, my favorite was Woke: A Young Poet's Call to Justice by Mahogany Brown, Elizabeth Acevedo, and Olivia Gatwood. I'm already envisioning how I want to share the poems with students. 

Last Week's Posts:
This week I'm planning to read The boy, the mole, the fox, and the horse by Charlie Mackesy and What If a Fish by Anika Fajardo which comes out on Tuesday. I mentored her through Pitch Wars a couple of years ago and am so excited to celebrate with her!


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 9, 2020

Students Still Come First: My Remote Learning Mindset

Last summer I was prepping for my first year back to teaching after seven years in district level roles. I was so excited and had no idea what the year would bring. I think a few people predicted a global pandemic hitting but I wasn't one of them. 
I was thinking about my classroom and getting it set up to welcome my 7th and 8th grade students. I drove down to Chicago to pick up two tall bookshelves that my friend gave me because she was moving. I painted the bookshelves already in my class room with a fresh coat of paint so they coordinated. I painted cans for plants to sit by our window. Otherwise I didn't spend too much time on decorating my classroom because I wanted the kids to co-create our space with me. 

I couldn't wait for the kids to come 
because that's when a classroom comes to life.  
This year my school district decided to start the year remotely. I was relieved to hear this was our decision. As much as I'd love to be in my classroom with kids in front of me, I'd prefer that none of us risk our lives. Now I'm thinking about what remote learning will look like.

In the spring, I only met once a week with my classes. I posted videos and work, I sent emails and messages, made phone calls, shared feedback, kept communicating with them when we weren't meeting virtually as a whole group. My focus was on taking care of them emotionally and inviting them to stay engaged in the work. 

This time around, I'll be able to meet with students virtually more often and teach synchronously in a way I couldn't in the spring. Except this time around, I'll be getting to know my students, developing relationships with them, and growing our class culture all through a virtual platform. Whoa! 

I've been thinking about last year and all the excitement and intention I put into creating a welcoming space that still left room for the kids to contribute to our learning environment. Now the question is: How can I translate that to a virtual learning environment? 

Maybe you've seen people creating Bitmoji classrooms or designing websites with resources. I for sure think they are cute and a way for teachers to personalize a digital space for students but I, personally, am not going to spend time on something like this. I'll set up my Google Classroom and I might make my syllabus a little more interactive by adding videos and images, something that helps the students and parents get to know me more, but I know my focus has to be on how we're going to get to know each other the first few weeks.

Sure, the space matters, it definitely factors in, and we'll talk about where they are set up so that they can be successful, but ultimately, the people in a space bring it to life. I need to zone in on how how I can get to know students, develop relationships, grow as a learning community, and at the same time dive into readers' and writers' workshop and explore social studies topics. That's what matters most. Again, people make a space come to life - real or virtual. 

I'll share my thought process and ideas in case they might be helpful but for now I've got 5 things I'm keeping in mind as I'm thinking about how to start the school year remotely:

1. People first. Relationships are key. I'll need to think through the tech side of things but I have to start with how to get to know my students and introduce myself to them and then think about what tech tools can help me do this after I have a plan. I'm going to think through everything I did last year and decide what to keep, what to revise, and what to add. We did a lot of teambuilding games last year and I'm not sure how those will translate to a virtual environment but it's worth thinking through what was the rationale and whether I can replicate it virtually. 

2. Being an anti-racist and anti-bias educator is (still) a priority. Last year I was determined to plan with the Teacher Tolerance Social Justice Standards alongside the Common Core State Standards and the C3 Standards. When I last taught in 2012, I did not have this resource to refer to and guide me but I'm thankful for it now. I learned a lot last year from discussions with today's middle schoolers and am eager to continue to make ABAR work a priority in and out of school. The pandemic is definitely making things more challenging but there is no excuse for not prioritizing being ABAR.

3. Engagement is important. As always, I want my students to feel welcomed into a space where they can participate fully. That means I'm going to take time to talk about what it means to show up ready to learn in a virtual space. I'll share what I do to be able to participate fully and ask students to think through what might help them be able to participate fully. One thing that helps me is being able to see my students so I'm going to share that it would help me as a teacher if they can turn on their cameras but ultimately, I want them to show up and participate any way that they can. Some engagement is better than nothing. Me showing up authentically and honestly and honoring them in our virtual space, me putting them first (see above!), me talking about current events and how they relate to us and history (see above!), me having conversations so we can still co-create our space even though it's virtual, hopefully will lead to engagement. I'm not worried about if they turn on their camera, look directly at the screen, or are still in their pajamas. I'm focused on them being able to access the learning and contribute to our learning environment - whatever that looks like. 

4. Re-entry is tricky without remote learning, let alone now. Keep it simple. I usually fall into the category of an idealist because I have high expectations and I work towards them. I see how awesome something can be and then plan for it to happen. This year though, I'm reminding myself to be a bit more pragmatic. I have high hopes for how I'll be able to navigate this year's elearning and that I'll be able to figure out how to develop relationships with students from afar but I'm reminding myself that the transition from summer to school, which I refer to as re-entry, is still a huge shift - for me and for the kids. This year re-entry is going to be a totally different experience. Different isn't bad but I'm going to be realistic and remind myself to take my time, to think about how to get creative and make things fun, to keep things short and manageable, to make sure to explain things well. Keep it simple is going to be something I repeat to myself. Smarter not harder...because it's a global pandemic and we don't need anything to be harder than it needs to be.

5. Breathe. This is still a very new experience for me and my students and administrators and parents and for many others. It's not going to be easy, there will be things to learn, there will be things that don't go as I hope, there will be last minute changes, there will be tech issues, there will be things I don't anticipate...but I wholeheartedly believe that if I take a deep breath and always go back to putting students and people first, we'll get through it. We just have to take it easy on ourselves and on our students. We're all in this together and we just have to keep breathing.

This is where I am right now. School starts on August 27th and teachers go back on the 21st. That's not a lot of time but I'm confident I'll figure it out just like i'm confident teachers around the world will figure it out. Obviously, people who are starting in person or in a hybrid model might have very different needs to keep in mind. Please know that my heart is with you no matter what your beginning of the year looks like and I'm happy to help if I can. Just let me know. 

I'd love to hear what things you are keeping at the core of all your planning for the beginning of the year or if any of mine resonate with you. Please share!

Monday, August 3, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 08/03/2020

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a weekly blog hop I co-host with Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing ReadersThe original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It's a great way to share what your reading and get recommendations. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up below, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs.


Last Week's Book Adventures:
Well...I can say I finished a book! I actually finished reading My Fate According to the Butterfly with my students and I finished rereading George with another group. My Fate According to the Butterfly was more intense than I expected! It was really great and it led to some good discussions. I think George was eye-opening for my students and we had some good discussions with George as well.   

This Week's Book Adventures:
I read more of The Art of Memoir and am really close to finishing. I'll keep reading more of that this week so I can finish. I also went to the library for the first time since February! I had three reusable grocery bags of books that I was able to return...and I checked out three reusable grocery bags again! It was glorious. I have a huge stack of picture books that I already started reading. I'll be sharing my list for the #pb10for10 next weekend! I'm trying to decide on a theme...I think something is starting to formulate but I still have lots to read. 

Announcements:


Teachers Write Sunday Check-In #4! The last one of the summer! :(

I talked about identity work on the Think Differently podcast with Marc Hans. I share my story and the work I've done to understand and love myself and how I'm sharing that with others through Story Exploratory. I'd love to hear what you think!

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 2, 2020

Teachers Write 2020 - Sunday Check-In #4 AKA The End

This is our fourth and final Sunday Check-In for Teachers Write 2020! The month flew by but I'm glad you stopped in to talk about writing and to share your writing life with me. I love connecting with other writers, especially other teacher writers.

To be honest, I didn't to much writing this week. Instead, I focused a lot on reading this week. I had a bunch of books from the library since the end of February...three bags full of books. I went through them all and read with a writer's eye. I was looking for short excerpts to share with students as mentor texts for writing this year. I've found that right now, I do better with short texts that I can read and finish in a short amount of time. This seemed to be something that most of my students needed when it came to reading as well last year. While I don't know my students yet for this upcoming school year, I do anticipate having shorter texts for us to look at together will be a great way to start the school year. Then I can figure out where to go from there. 

My district announced last week that we will start with all remote learning so I also think using short texts will make it easier to share with students discuss. So I looked through lots of books and took pictures of excerpts that stood out to me. I love what Kate shared with us this week about writing a scene with action. Jason Reynolds has a story called "Eraser Tattoo" in Fresh Ink which is a collection of short stories from different author edited by Lamar Giles. I really enjoyed these stories and recommend this anthology! (I'd say it's for 8th grade and up.)
I found a small part of "Eraser Tattoo" where the main character describes helping his girlfriend's family move. It was interesting to me how the act of moving requires so much moving! I love how he described it but at the same time, moving usually brings up some feelings of nostalgia and he showed that too. 

So while I didn't do much of my own writing this week, I did soak up some great writing and I invite you to remember the power of mentor texts for your own writing and to share with students. 

Thanks for stopping by to chat and share your writing life with me! If you don't get my newsletter yet, please click here to sign up for it because I send stories and updates. I'm going to offer free writing workshops just for teachers soon because we have A LOT going on and getting together with other teachers and having some time to write is something I can offer the world right now. 

I'd love to hear how your week went and how you are thinking of continuing your writing life after our summer with Teachers Write. Thanks again! xoxo


Teachers Write Sunday Check-In Agreements:
1. We respect each other and the type of writing we each do do.
2. We are positive and encourage each other at all times.
3. We recognize and maintain this as a safe, 
inclusive environment for all.
4. We have fun!
**I reserve every right to put the smackdown
on anyone who messes with our positive energy.**

Ideas for today in the comments section:
How did you do this week? Did you meet your weekly goal(s)?
What was the pit of your week? (The hardest part, the non-fun part?)
What was the peak of your week? (The best part, the most-fun part?)
What are some ways you'll continue writing during the school year?



It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 09/28/2020

  It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!   It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a weekly blog hop I co-host with ...