Monday, November 9, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Every Monday bloggers all over the web sharing their reading lives. Thanks to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for hosting this meme!

Picture Book month is the perfect time to get my blogging life back on track!

My daughter, Grace is a book-lover and has an eye for special books that may be overlooked by other readers.  She could not wait to bring Buddy and Earl home as her library book last week!  Buddy doesn't know what's in the box that Meredith brings home one day.  After questioning the small, prickly creature, Earl tells Buddy he is a pirate!  Together these two unlikely friends begin a funny and imaginative adventure.  Grace and I savored the humor in Buddy and Earl's questions and the discovery of a new friend in an unexpected encounter.  I highly recommend this book as a wonderful read aloud.  We can't wait to get our hands on the Buddy and Earl books in 2016!

If I Built a Car is a family favorite so I was quick to purchase If I Built a House a few weeks ago at a conference with Chris Van Dusen.  In this sequel, Jack is building the house of his dreams, complete with a racetrack, flying room, and gigantic slide.  Chris Van Dusen's books beg to be read aloud with their fun rhyming text.  I would love to share this book in classrooms to spark imagination and creativity!

I have always been a huge fan of Kevin Henkes.  I was excited to get a copy of his newest title after seeing it frequently recommended on Twitter!  Each of the characters in the book are waiting for something to happen.  I love that this book encourages characters to find the joy in waiting.  The illustrations are beautiful and should be read closely.  Our favorite reading moment was the unexpected arrival of cat and the last line that reminds us to always be waiting to see what will happen next.
Wolf is one of my all-time favorite picture books and my most recommended book this month with teachers.  It's the perfect mentor text for a strategy lesson on fluency, as Wolf learns to read smoothly with expression.  Wolf is on a quest to learn to read in order to impress a group of farm educated farm animals.  After a great deal of practice, he becomes "a master" with the help of a beautiful storybook. My absolute favorite line in the book is when Wolf "read with confidence and passion", which is the heart of fluency.  I love using this book as part of a CAE lesson with readers of all ages!

Professional Reading

I just started Reading Nonfiction: Notice and Note Stances, Signposts and Strategies this weekend.  I am finding myself reading it in digestible bites. Kylene Beers and Bob Probst are definitely stretching my thinking! This book has so much to offer to our upper elementary teachers!  I can't wait to share it in our staff Children's Literature book study, through professional development and during my classroom coaching sessions.

I loved reading this text this summer as I prepared for my new role as a literacy coach in our K-2 building.  This week I am enjoying my return to this text as I prepare to lead professional development next week on connecting vocabulary and close reading in the primary grades.  I know this book has a lot to offer to our primary teachers!

Other Books in my Stack
I started Milo Speck a few weeks ago and was absolutely loving the book, until my ten year old son stole it from my nightstand!  Jacob devoured this book in a week and has highly recommended that I finish reading it.  I am looking forward to rejoining Milo on his adventures in Ogregon!

Monday, September 7, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Every Monday bloggers all over the web share their reading lives. Thanks to Teach Mentor Texts and  Unleashing Readers for hosting this meme!

What I Read This Week

Thank you to Melissa Guerette for sharing Crenshaw with me! I started reading this book a few weeks ago, but the start of school impacted my time to sit back, relax and soak in this story.  Crenshaw pulled at my heart strings and left me thinking about the life challenges that some of our students face.  This story offers such strong messages on friendship and resilience. I can't wait to get my own copy on September 22nd!  I am going to highly recommend this book for read aloud in our upper elementary classrooms, as I think students will love it as much as The One and Only Ivan, which is an all-time favorite.  
My daughter and I enjoyed reading Dory Fantasmagory at bedtime this week.  Thank you to our primary school librarian for the recommendation!  We laughed out loud many times at Dory's wild imagination, endless questions and crazy antics!  Grace can't wait to get her hands on Dory and the Real True Friend this week.  I plan to highly recommend this book as a potential for read aloud in our primary classrooms.  Students, like Grace, will love the humor in the text and the author also introduces new vocabulary words in a familiar context for readers.  Dory will be a popular series for readers in grades 1-3!

Books I Read In Classrooms This Week
As I started my coaching schedule this week, I decided to visit the 26 classrooms between the two buildings (K-2 and 3-5) to read aloud to each class. Before I start modeling or co-teaching lessons, I thought it was important for students to meet me as a guest reader.  I had such a great week and plan to start every year by visiting classrooms to sit with students in their meeting areas and share a story.

A number of teachers at our primary school are working with their students on mindfulness.  One teacher recommended Moody Cow Meditates to me as a potential read aloud for the second grade classrooms.  (Many students quickly found the humor in Mrs. Moody reading them a book about a moody cow who meditates to handle his anger and frustration.)  We had great discussions about the meaning of the word "moody" and positive strategies for handling our emotions.  The second graders loved this book and connected with moody cow's bad day. They were also excited to make Mind Jars in their classrooms or to take the recipe home to make with their parents!

Grace and I fell in love with these books last year, so I was excited to share them in kindergarten and first grade classrooms this week during my read aloud visits.  We talked about how excited they were to learn to read, just like Rocket!  Students who listened to the book Rocket Writes a Story wanted to make their own word trees to gather words for their next story.  I highly recommend these books as read alouds for launching your reading and writing workshop in a primary classroom.

It's easy to tell that A Fine, Fine School has been one of my favorite beginning of the year read aloud books for many years since the pages are starting to fall out!  I shared this book in most upper elementary classrooms this week.  The students were quickly drawn into the book when the principal announced that there would be school on Saturday, Sunday, holidays and summer vacation! I was glad I chose this book since most of the teachers had never seen it.  I'm sure that it will become a treasured beginning of the year read aloud for all of many teachers now.

What I Am Reading This Week: Professional Books

I am currently reading Inside Information: Developing Powerful Readers and Writers of Informational Text Through Project-Based Instruction by Nell Duke.  I was asked this summer to work on a webinar development team through the Maine Department of Education to develop a webinar for the Cross Discipline Literacy Network.  Our webinar goal is to show classroom examples of how project-based units of study can enhance motivation and engagement when students read and write for authentic purposes.  I love that this book walks the reader through the five phases of a unit: The Project Launch, The Reading and Research Phase, The Writing and Research Phase, The Revision and Editing Phase and The Presentation and Celebration Phase.  One of the most important take-aways of this book is the importance of having students write for an authentic purpose and audience.  I love Nell Duke's suggestions for instruction and implementing the phases of unit development.  She includes an outstanding table in the middle of the book connecting each Common Core Standard for Reading Informational Text to possible instructional techniques.  I am looking forward to sharing this books with my colleagues and developing some project-based units with teachers in our primary school to share in the webinar!  If you are looking for ways to create integrated units that are rich in purposeful opportunities for reading and writing, then this is the professional book for you!

I had seen In Defense of Read Aloud recommended on Twitter a number of times this spring.  I actually participated in my first Twitter chat with Steven Layne connected to this book, so I was excited to dig into this text.  Dr. Layne's voice and use of humor make this book a quick and enjoyable read! Even teachers who understand the value of read aloud will reflect on their practices as a result of reading this book. I have always believed in the importance of preserving a read aloud time for my students where we talk about books as a community of readers.  I enjoyed the chapters on the importance of the launch of a read aloud, which I agree may be one of the most neglected practices. Chapter 5 includes read aloud recommendations from classroom teachers, librarians and literary gurus.  Even for someone like me who is a passionate believer in the power of read aloud, this book stretched my thinking.  I am excited to use this text as part of our monthly book study groups this year!

What's Next in My Reading Stack

After I finish up Inside Information and In Defense of Read Aloud, I plan to read:

Grace and I hope to get this book from the library this week! 

I am starting RTI in the Classroom this week as part of a book talk that I will be facilitating later this month.

I am excited to read this book by Jennifer Jacobson in the next two weeks before she comes to our district for a workshop day.  Our early elementary teachers rave about this book and its impact on their writing workshop!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Moving Forward Into A New School Year

It's the time of year when teachers begin to plan lessons, organize classroom libraries and prepare to go "back to school".  A few years ago, I had the pleasure of hearing Sarah Brown Wessling speak at a Next Steps Conference in New Jersey.  She challenged the educators in the audience to change the paradigm of preparing to go "back to school" to thinking about how we can "move forward" into a new school year.  

I've pondered this shift in language since the fall of 2011.  Each year is a fresh start and a chance to begin anew!  Rather than thinking about going back to the same building or the same position, I'm thinking about how I'm going to move forward professionally and personally.  One way that I plan to grow this year is by sharing my reflections and recommendations through this blog.  Years ago, I created a classroom blog to share events  with my students and families.  In my new position as an instructional coach, I think the time is right to "move forward" as a blogger.  My hope is to use this platform to share my work in K-5 classrooms, as well as book recommendations and general reflections on teaching.  I've spent the last year on Twitter learning from my virtual PLC and the blog posts from educators across the country.  I'm ready to add my voice to the conversation!

As you prepare to "move forward" into a new school year, what are your goals?