Monday, February 22, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I was grateful for the chance to spend a lot of time reading during our school vacation this week. I finished 22 books, including 15 nonfiction titles!  Although I loved all of the titles, I'm going to share just a few of my favorites from the week!

Thanks to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for hosting this meme!

Pax is sure to be one of the best books of 2016!  I'm always on the look out for read aloud recommendations for our upper elementary teachers.  For me, a sign of a great read aloud is that it can lead to deep conversations that continue long after the last page.  I know that students would be completely invested in the characters in this beautiful story.  One of my favorite features of this book is the way Sara Pennypacker alternated perspectives between Pax's journey and Peter's quest to reunite with his beloved fox.  I highly recommend that you move this book to the top of your reading pile, if you have not read it yet!

Snappsy The Alligator Did Not Ask to Be in This Book! will be a fun read aloud in both primary and upper elementary classrooms!  This book begs to be read aloud multiple times as students process the relationship between Snappsy and the nosy narrator.  I hope that Julie Falatko is planning create more adventures for Snappsy!

I loved reading books from the Piper Green and  The Princess in Black series with Grace this week!  Both of these series would be great read aloud recommendations for primary grade teachers.

I  can't wait to share Finding Winnie with students and teachers!  The illustrations are completely deserving of the Caldecott Medal.  The true story behind Winnie's adventures with Harry, as well as his time with Christopher Robin at the zoo, will capture the attention of readers of all ages!  I love the way Lindsay Mattick weaves the conversations with her son, Cole, into the text.  The inclusion of Harry's artifacts and photographs in the album at the end of the book brings this true story to life.  My favorite line is when Lindsey explains to Cole, "Sometimes you have to let one story end so the next one can begin."  What a beautiful message to share with our children.

Handle With Care was one of my favorite informational texts that I read this week.  The photographs are incredible and truly enrich the text.  Teachers are always on the look out for nonfiction books with strong examples of text features.  I'm looking forward to sharing this book with our children's literature book study group next week!

I am adding Mesmerized  to my list of all-time favorite informational books!  There are so many ways that this book can be shared with readers.  My favorite features are Mara Rockliff's use of voice and the way that Iacopo Bruno arranged the text with brilliant illustrations!  Although I am going to first share this text with our fifth grade teachers who are studying the Revolutionary War, I think that students of all ages will enjoy this engaging story.

Currently Reading

I am almost done The War That Saved My Life.  I'm anxious to see if Ada and Jaime stay with Miss Smith or return to their Mam in London! This beautiful book will pull at your heart strings.

I'm grateful to my friend, Jennifer Allen, for this book recommendation. I'm looking forward to sharing it with our primary teachers in a few weeks as we spend time talking about small group instruction and ways to support our striving readers.

Friday, February 19, 2016

#nf10for10 - Read Alouds for Nonfiction Notice and Note

After vacation, my colleague and I are planning to launch the three key questions from Reading Nonfiction Notice and Note with her fourth grade students.  

For this Nonfiction Picture Book event, I decided to collect ten picture books that would inspire students to ask:

What surprised me?
What did the author think I already knew?
What changed, challenged, or confirmed what I already knew?

Our hope is to use picture books to introduce each of these questions.  It was very difficult to narrow my collection of nonfiction picture books to only ten titles!  Below are ten of my favorite picture books that encourage students to read with a questioning stance.  

Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade 
by Melissa Sweet

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla 
by Katherine Applegate

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family's Fight for Desegregation 
by Duncan Tonatiuh

Growing Up Pedro 
by Matt Tavares

I Am Rosa Parks
by Brad Meltzer

Handle With Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey
by Loree Griffins Burns

No Monkeys, No Chocolate
by Melissa Stewart

Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery That Baffled All of France
by Mara Rockliff

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear
by Lindsay Mattick

Can We Save the Tiger?
by Martin Jenkins

Monday, February 15, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Thanks to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for hosting this meme!

Some of My Favorites Books From the Week
I absolutely love the Ordinary People Change the World series from Brad Meltzer.  I am excited to share I Am Helen Keller in classrooms as part of our work with the Notice and Note signposts after vacation!

I borrowed this book from the public library and fell in love with the possibilities for sharing it with students of all ages.  I must get my own copy!  I think it will be a wonderful read aloud in writer's workshop or for the Words of the Wiser signpost.

Wild About Bears is a wonderful nonfiction mentor text!  I would love to use it in classrooms for mini lessons related to writing an effective introduction and conclusion.  Jeannie's Brett use of text features and her persuasive voice would be great touch points for lessons, too!

I was fortunate to win a copy of Imaginary Fred from Harper Collins!  Students of all ages will enjoy this fun story!  

I recently read aloud Little Tree to a group of second graders. In the story, Little Tree is not able to grow until he is willing to let go of his leaves. We had a great discussion of the important moments in the story and the author's message.  I was so impressed with the students' insight! I highly recommend this title, if you have not checked it out. It is one of my favorites of the year!

My Vacation Reading
I am hoping to work my way through this stack this week!  
I am halfway through Pax and loving it!  I already know that I will highly recommend it as a read aloud for our upper elementary teachers.  The story line is so powerful and I love the alternating perspectives.  I am anxious to finish it!

Our book lover got two new titles for Valentine's Day! I'm sure these books will be part of our read alouds this week!

I am working with a colleague to launch the Nonfiction Notice and Note questions after vacation, so I am working through this stack of nonfiction titles for my #nf10for10 post later this week!  For more information on February's Nonfiction Picture book event, check out Cathy Mere's blog post!

Professional Reading
I am continuing to work my way through Reading Nonfiction: Notice and Note Signposts and Questions.  My focus this week is on Part 2: The Importance of Stance.

I am in the process of planning professional development related to small group instruction for the teachers at our primary school in March. I am rereading Debbie Diller's book on intentional planning for differentiated small group instruction.  I moved Catching Readers Before They Fall to the top of my reading stack as I hope to share it with our teachers! 

Monday, February 8, 2016

It's Monday! What are you reading?

My one little word for 2016 is TIME.

For years, I lamented that I didn't have time to exercise. I have three kids. I'm a working mom. I'm exhausted at the end of the day. The list of excuses went on and on. During a conversation with a colleague about how I wished I had more time to exercise, she said “I think people can make time for what matters to them.” Powerful advice.  

I started this school year with the goal of making time to exercise each morning.  I'm a creature of habit, so my new routine involves getting up 30 minutes earlier to start my day with a workout.  I now feel lost if I choose to sleep in!  Five months later, I'm now lamenting that don't have enough time to read or write as much as I would like.  Instead of complaining, I'm creating a new routine which will lead to a habit!  My goal is to read 20 minutes a day and take time each Sunday morning to write a reflection of the week.  I tend to devour books in bursts, but I don't make time to read on a consistent basis. I'm hoping that just like exercise, my reading and writing goal will become a habit that I can't imagine not being part of my daily routine!

Thanks to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for hosting this meme!

Recent Reads: Professional Books

One of our school goals is to raise student achievement in math. During our last two staff meetings, we've connected our primary school (K-2) and our upper elementary school (grades 3-5) to discuss the mathematical shifts in this text. Our teachers have enjoyed this book because they can quickly return to their classrooms and make slight adjustments which can lead to big gains!  In our first meeting, we spent a lot of time talking about the importance of explicitly teaching math vocabulary and valuing time spent on mathematical discussions.  At the end of the meeting, teachers wrote goals of creating math word walls, taking more time for Number Talks, and using more probing questions (What do you notice?  Can you explain how you saw it? Can you show us?).  I'm looking forward to returning to this text on Tuesday with my colleagues!

I'm working my way through Reading Nonfiction in digestible bites.  Last night I finished Part 1, which focuses on ten issues to consider.  I'm continuing to ponder how to better define nonfiction for students, the connection between relevance and rigor, and the importance of our classroom conversations.  I'm looking forward to delving into Part 2, which focuses on the three key questions our students must ask when reading nonfiction closely.  I am planning to launch these Notice and Note stances with a colleague after vacation!  My plan is to participate in the Nonfiction Picture Book Event this month #nf10for10 with a collection of texts I can't live without as I launch Nonfiction Notice and Note questions!

At our upper elementary school, we have a study group that meets monthly to discuss children's literature and the importance of read aloud.  This month, we shared ideas for Circus Mirandus and Rain Reign, which were two of my favorite books of 2015. We also talked about Chapter 3 from Steven Layne's book In Defense of Read Aloud. I absolutely love his humorous, and often snarky, approach to defending read aloud! This week our teachers discussed how we must be aware of our read aloud choices so we can avoid being genre haters who tend to avoid sharing certain types of books with our students. Because we don't include enough nonfiction in our read alouds, we are planning to each read and share a different nonfiction picture book next month that can be incorporated into our read aloud block. Even if you believe in the importance of read aloud, you will love this book!

Recent Reads: Children's Literature

I'm so glad my colleague shared this amazing book with me! Peter Reynolds always has an incredible message to share with his readers.  Valerie's class discussion with her fourth graders about the Notice and Note signposts in this text, particularly Words of the Wiser, was amazing!

I finally got my hands on this Newbery Award winning title!  I absolutely love the description and word choice in this text.  In classrooms using the Notice and Note signposts, I know that students would love Nana's Words of the Wiser, "'Sometimes when you're surrounded by dirt, CJ, you're a better witness for what's beautiful.'" I can't wait to share this book with teachers and in classrooms!

For Christmas, I gave my basketball-loving son a copy of the Newbery Award winning book The Crossover.  Because it was his first time navigating a novel in verse, we read it together at night. This book and our time reading it together will stay with me forever. The poetry and the author's message are simply beautiful. We are looking forward to Kwame Alexander's next title!  

Next in My Stack

Pax has been getting rave reviews on Twitter, so I'm looking forward to joining in the book love for this title!

We loved meeting Julie Falatko at the Author Night in January.  This book will finally be delivered to us on Wednesday!

My daughter, Grace, and I can't wait to read the third book in our favorite series during vacation!

Jacob is halfway through Masterminds and is already recommending that I read it as soon as he's done.  Hopefully, he finishes it in time to add it to my vacation read stack!