Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Our 2018 Nonfiction Picture Book March Madness Tournament

The third annual March Madness Nonfiction Picture Book tournament is in full swing at Williams Elementary School!  On February 14th, we decided to celebrate our LOVE of BOOKS with an assembly announcing the sixteen outstanding picture books that would be featured in this year's reading tournament. Students from each classroom held copies of the sixteen books in our tournament as we separated them into brackets in the corners of our gymnasium.  New to our event this year was a schoolwide knockout tournament.  A few of our third graders generated this idea, which added even more excitement and energy to this event! More than seventy students and staff competed at four different basketball hoops in the gymnasium.  At the end of the game, we had 4 knockout champions!  After our assembly, students were ready to READ!

During the last three weeks, our thirteen classroom teachers have been reading aloud a nonfiction picture book each day.  After reading each pair of books, students vote to move their favorite book to the next round. The votes in some of our matchups have been very close this year!

Announcing Our Elite 8

This week our students voted to select our 2018 March Madness Final Four Nonfiction Picture Books!  Drum roll please.....



Our final two picture books will be selected tomorrow and our 2018 March Madness Nonfiction Picture Book Champion will be announced at our annual assembly on Wednesday, March 21!  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


I love looking at #MustRead lists, so I thought I would join in the fun this year for a little accountability!  Thank you to Carrie Gelson for hosting this challenge! I always make a list in a notebook of the books I want to read, but as I purchase new titles, some books never make it out of the pile.  My goal is to read the books on my #MustReadin2018 list, as well as any new books that come across my path!  My list contains middle grade novels that are still in my pile from 2017, books I'm looking forward to reading in 2018 and the professional books that I currently have in my "MustRead" stack!

Happy Reading!

Books Still In My Pile from 2017
The War I Finally Won Finished 1/20/18

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

Sticks and Stones

The Honest Truth

One Amazing Elephant

The List

Books I'm Looking Forward to in 2018

Just Like Jackie Currently reading

Fenway and Hattie: Up to New Tricks Currently reading with Grace


Smart Cookie


The Train of Lost Things

Good Dog

You Go First


The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle


Professional Books in my TBR Pile

Student Centered Coaching  Currently reading

When Writers Drive the Workshop

Readers Front and Center
What Readers Really Do

Monday, January 1, 2018

My Favorite Books from 2017

It feels like 2017 was over in the blink of an eye!  One of the best parts of my job as an instructional coach is recommending books to my colleagues and reading aloud picture books in classrooms.  I think the best way to kick off 201 is to share my favorite books from 2017!

Picture Books

I'm on a mission to have this book shared in every K-5 classroom.  The message is so powerful for both teachers and students!

Little Fox in the Forest is one of my all-time favorite wordless picture books!

I shared Jabari Jumps and The Thing That Lou Couldn't Do with all of our K-2 teachers as part of our growth mindset book collection. 

Red & Lulu is simply stunning! I think it makes the perfect annual read aloud at the holidays.  We are looking forward to including it in our fourth grade Mock Caldecott collection this month!

I am a huge fan of books by Cynthia Rylant and Brendan Wenzel.  Their collaboration in this book is amazing!  Life is another contender in our Mock Caldecott unit.

Come With Me shares an important reminder of the difference we each make in creating safe havens in our schools and communities, especially during this time in history when so many of us feel unsettled. The message of hope in this book will leave an imprint on readers.  We've added it to our Notice and Note collection for the Again and Again signpost. 

In June, there wasn't a dry eye in the room when I read aloud A Letter to My Teacher to the teachers in both of our elementary schools. It's the perfect reminder of the lasting impact of a teacher's relationship on even the most challenging students.

Claymates is such a fun and inspiring book for students to examine!  I think it will be a favorite text in our Mock Caldecott collection!

As the mom of a "happy dreamer", Peter Reynolds book is close to my heart.  Every teacher should read Peter's Nerdy Bookclub post, too.

I'm a huge fan of books that encourage conversations about growth mindset.  The illustrations and text in The Book of Mistakes will inspire great conversations about the beauty of our mistakes.  I'm looking forward to sharing this book with students as part of our Mock Caldecott collection!

Middle Grade

Wishtree is one of my favorite middle grade novels.  I've shared this book with all of my colleagues and highly recommended it as a read aloud for all of our upper elementary classrooms!  It has such a powerful message!

I adored Walking with Miss Millie.  The characters and lessons from this book have stayed with me long after the last page.

Grace and I are HUGE fans of Fenway and Hattie! We can't wait to start reading Fenway's next adventure in 2018!

Bat is one of my favorite book characters!  I recommended and shared this title with our second and third grade teachers as a wonderful read aloud selection.

Shelley Johannes, thank you for creating a book character who reminds me so much of my daughter! The world needs to celebrate upside down thinkers like Beatrice! It's another book that I highly recommended to teachers in second and third grade to share with their students!


I'm planning to share poems from this collection with students during National Poetry Month in April!

I'm always on the lookout for new novels in verse.  Forget Me Not is one of my new all-time favorites!

Graphic Novels

Real Friends was my first graphic novel and I LOVED it! My nine year old daughter recommended it to me this summer. She read the copy from our public library so many times in two weeks that the spine broke! It's the first time we've ever had to replace a library book, but thankfully, it's because the book was loved so much!


These are just a few of the top contenders in our annual March Madness Nonfiction Picture Book event! Stay tuned!

Next week I am planning to share books that I am looking forward to reading in 2018!  What were your favorite titles in 2017? Are there any books that I need to add to my collection? I'm confident that 2018 will be another fantastic year in children's literature!