Friday, February 16, 2018

Poetry Friday -- Robert Frost

Unsplash photo by Andy Mai

On a Tree Fallen Across the Road
(To hear us talk)

The tree the tempest with a crash of wood
Throws down in front of us is not bar
Our passage to our journey's end for good,
But just to ask us who we think we are

Insisting always on our own way so.
She likes to halt us in our runner tracks,
And make us get down in a foot of snow
Debating what to do without an ax.

And yet she knows obstruction is in vain:
We will not be put off the final goal
We have it hidden in us to attain,
Not though we have to seize earth by the pole

And, tired of aimless circling in one place,
Steer straight off after something into space.

by Robert Frost

This is a poem for those times when you can not write an epitaph to save your life. (Ditty Challenge will have to wait.) When the three drafts you wrote for Laura Shovan's February challenge this week  aren't fit for public view. And when all of the good poems you've bookmarked over the years are from the Writer's Almanac, which is gone, and which you miss. Dearly. An accessible poem every morning. A bit of history. Garrison Keillor's voice, if you had time to listen. (Is it wrong to mourn the good done by a person who has been found to have been bad?)

Jone has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at Check it Out.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Poetry Friday: Earth Verse

Earth Verse: Haiku from the Ground Up
by Sally M. Walker
illustrated by William Grill
Candlewick Press, 2018

In the author's blurb on the back jacket flap, we learn that Sally M. Walker majored in geology in college. How fun is it to show students that academic knowledge can be translated into poetry! This will be a go-to mentor text in my classroom for students who are having fun with nonfiction by writing in different formats.

The book features poems about Earth, minerals, rocks, fossils, earthquakes, volcanoes, atmospheric and surface water, glaciers, and groundwater. I didn't notice them at first, but there is a tiny icon at the bottom of the pages with poems that signals the topic and helps the reader see the connections between several pages of poems.

Here are a few favorites:

hotheaded mountain
loses its cool, spews ash cloud --
igneous tantrum

(volcano section)

a flat stone, skipping,
casts circles across the lake,
lassoing the fish

(atmospheric and surface water section)

hold fast, stalactite,
everlasting icicle,
stone bed for a bat

(groundwater section)

In keeping with the SALLY theme, this week's Poetry Friday roundup is hosted by Sally Murphy!

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Strong Girls Rock the World

Franki recently shared her love for Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World by Susan Hood. (Olivia of @Livbits loves it, too. If you haven't watched her video, take a couple of minutes to do so. I'd add her to the list as the 15th young woman who's changing the world!)

I have two more Strong Girl books to add to your TBR stack and to your library.

Marley Dias Gets It DONE: And So Can You!
Scholastic Press, 2018

Marley Dias, founder of the #1000BlackGirlsBooks movement has written a book that is part memoir and autobiography and a whole lot Girl Power. This full-color book is jam packed with advice, inspiration, and action steps for young social activists. My favorite chapter is "Be The Change You Want to See in the World: Get Woke." She identifies three levels of Wokeness: Awareness, Consciousness, and Wokeness, then illustrates the levels using Disney Princesses. Cinderella is aware, Jasmine is conscious, but Mulan and Belle are full-on woke. It wouldn't be Marley Dias if she didn't have several sections on books and reading (her section on How To Read is fabulous!), plus an extensive booklist of books that feature black girls as the protagonist.

What Would She Do?: 25 True Stories of Trailblazing Rebel Women
by Kay Woodward
Scholastic Press, February 27, 2018

This book features the stories of 25 women from all times in history and from all over the globe. For each woman, there is a short blurb, full-color illustrations, a single-page highly readable biography,  a quote...and a question that a modern girl might ask with an answer based on that woman's life and legacy. Because of all of these features, this book will be accessible to a wide range of readers, and will likely be one they go back to over and over again to dig more deeply into the lives of  these inspirational women.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Guest Post: The Impact of Read Aloud by Jaclyn Friedlander

Jaclyn Friedlander of Friends with Fins was a 4th grade student in my class several years ago. Recently, Jaclyn messaged me reminding me about a few of the books she remembers from 4th grade. It's always great to hear from a past student-even greater to hear about a book they remember. As a teacher, I see read aloud as one of the happiest and most important times of every day in the classroom. So happy to see that Jaclyn agrees! Enjoy!

The current cover along with the cover of the book that  we read aloud in class.
One of my favorite memories from elementary school was read-aloud time when we would sit on the floor and listen to our teacher read books to the whole class. Independent reading time was great but there was something magical about sitting as a group and imagining the story for ourselves while we listened to the teacher’s voice.

I can vividly remember some of the stories that have inspired adventures in my life. One teacher read Loch by Paul Zindel. The book we were reading together often sat on the ledge of the chalkboard and the cover of that particular book terrified me, but the story was so fascinating that I did research and reports on the Loch Ness Monster throughout the rest of my formal education. Then when I had the opportunity to go to England as an adult, I added a few days to my itinerary and made a special trip to Scotland on a hunt to see Nessie. I went on a tour boat and heard about the legend, its origin and how it has evolved, as well as scientific theory behind what the Loch Ness Monster is.

Another book that had a particular impact on me was The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, by Avi. I remember as a 4th grader in Franki Sibberson’s class, LOVING that book and coming to school every day excited to hear the next chapter. My favorite part was when Charlotte chopped off all of her hair because she wants to fit in with the sailors, or so that’s how my mind remembered that moment. I recently re-read the book and she does chop her hair but for slightly different reasons. In the back of my mind I always thought it would be amazing to be like Charlotte Doyle and have an incredible adventure at sea.

Between hearing that book read to us and being passionate about the ocean, learning to sail has been in the back of mind as something I would like to do.  I have explored the sea as a scuba diver and I now have the opportunity to learn how to sail. I will be learning to sail tall ships with 85 lines and 13 sails, just like the one Charlotte Doyle was on! I’m excited to learn a new skill and see where this adventure takes me!
One of the ships that Jaclyn is learning to sail.

There is something inspiring about sharing stories aloud and you never know what great adventures, life experiences, undertakings, or professions the stories will lead to in the future!

Jaclyn Friedlander is the author of the Friends with Fins Children’s Picture book series and the host of educational marine science videos that can be found here:

Saturday, February 03, 2018

My January Reading

My reading goal this year (although a number on Goodreads because that is helpful too) is a bit more of a balance in my reading life.  So I looked at January to see how I did. I read 21 books in January (this picture includes one book from February).  I read:
  • 5 middle grade fiction novels
  • 7 fiction picture books
  • 1 YA fiction novel
  • 7 nonfiction picture books
  • 1 nonfiction poetry
I am missing adult fiction but I read a YA book so feel good about that.  I think looking at this list in this visual form that Goodreads allows each month will be helpful as I think about balance overall.  For February I'd like to fit in at least one Adult or YA novel.  I know I had more time to read in January than I will in February but I am hoping to continue meeting the goals for the year.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

A Basket of Picture Books to Invite Exploration of Refugee and Immigrant Experiences

We are reading aloud Refugee by Alan Gratz in our classroom right now. There is so much about this book that makes it an incredible read aloud for 5th graders.  For some students this is the first historical fiction book they've read. And many are unfamiliar with some of the time historical periods and issues in the book. There has been lots of great conversation with lots of questions as the stories in the book unfold. This week I put together a basket of books for students who wanted to read more or think more about refugee and immigrant experiences. I believe that it takes both fiction and nonfiction when trying to understand an issue so this basket is a combination of both. I also think that there are some books that are about many things but that help us think about these real-world issues. The basket will grow-and we'll include video and digital resources as well-- as the year goes on but these are the first books we've included.

Stormy Seas by Mary Beth Leatherdale

Two White Rabbits by Jairo Buitrago

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers

Where Will I Live by Rosemary McCarney

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco

My Two Blankets by Irene Kobald

I'm New Here by Anne Sibley O'Brien

Shelter by Celine Claire

A Refugee's Journey from Syria (and a few others from this series)

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Poetry Friday -- Charlotte Zolotow

Last week, I wrote about the closing of Acorn Bookshop, and one of the treasures I purchased. (Sorry I didn't make it around the roundup. Life happened last week. Big time.)

In close second place to the first edition Joyce Kilmer is this AUTOGRAPHED book by the one, the only, THE Charlotte Zolotow!

Besides being a poet and prolific picture book author, Charlotte Zolotow was a children's book editor for 38 years. The award bearing her name is given to the best picture book (writing, rather than the Caldecott's illustrating) of the year.

Here's a favorite from the book:

So Will I

My grandfather remembers long ago
the white Queen Anne's lace that grew wild.
He remembers the buttercups and goldenrod
from when he was a child.

He remembers long ago
the white snow falling falling.
He remembers the bluebird and thrush
at twilight
calling calling.

He remembers long ago
the new moon in the summer sky.
He remembers the wind in the trees
and its long, rising sigh.
And so will I
                    so will I.

Love the illustrations, too!

Carol has this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Beyond LiteracyLink.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Just Ten Challenge

Unsplash photo by Krissia Cruz

This morning, Franki texted me a link to Aliza Werner's post on the Classroom Communities blog, "Halfway Here: The Just Ten Challenge" with the message, "We should do this on the blog."

Aliza got this time of year SO right. So. Very. Right.

I'm down, I'm swamped, I'm behind, I'm frustrated. But all it took was Aliza's reminder that the good in a day isn't so hard to find if you just look for it. Here is my Ten:

1.  It started with one, but by the time we got finished, Sam* had been nominated six times for student of the month. Six friends honored him for his sense of humor, for being a partner, for improving from the beginning of the year. Beaming bright enough to light the room, he accepted our nomination.

Sam is not the kind of student I would ever nominate to be student of the month. Through the teacher lens, he doesn't look like student of the month material -- off task, negative, talking when he's supposed to be quiet, rarely giving strong effort. That's the student. What I'd failed to look at, what my students taught me, was to see the person.

2.  Fred, my student who is a complicated puzzle I haven't yet begun to try to figure out, had a better day today. If only I could figure out how to replicate and amplify that...

3.  A dozen students who wanted to improve their math test scores (some from good to great, others from the dumper into the passing zone) stayed in from only the second outdoor recess we've had in recent memory.  A few of those who most needed to improve made stunning gains.

4.  We are studying the motions of the earth in science -- rotation for night/day and orbit for year/seasons. Learning about the way the observable world around them works has awakened their curiosity. So fun.

5.  Today's job in writing workshop was BIC, no talking, write an introduction to your informational piece that signals the reader what structure you've chosen. And they ALL knocked it out of the ballpark!

6.  Indoor recess creations with wooden blocks and MarbleWorks.

Two story school house.

7.  One of our middle schools created 700 (!!!) cute take-out-box snowmen with positive messages, bookmarks and mints inside. One for EVERY student in our building. Wow.

8.  Seeing my students begin to really stretch themselves as readers.

9.  The cheery "Good Morning!" EVERY morning from Donte.

10. The picture of "Ms. Hahn Super Teacher" on the back of Michelle's word study quiz.

What's your ten? Post on your blog or in the comments. Drop your link in our comments AND over on Aliza's post.

*All names have been changed.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World by Susan Hood

I love Susan Hood and am a huge fan of her book Ada's Violin.  When I heard about the book Shaking Things Up and noticed that Susan Hood was the author, I could not wait to get a copy.  Well I finally got a copy and LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this book! Every detail is perfect. One of my new favorite books for sure.

There is so much about this book to love that I need to make a list!

The Cover- is amazing. I can't stop looking at it.  Illustrator Oge Mora created a purely brilliant and beautiful cover.

The Women--The 14 women profiled in this book are definitely extraordinary.  What I loved about the selection of women included was the variety. There were some women I knew and some whose impact I did not know. There were women who made an impact at different ages (as children and as adults) and they made a difference in a variety of ways.

The Illustrations--The fact that 13 women illustrators created this book together with Susan Hood made me happy. Some of my already favorite illustrators (Melissa Sweet, Sophie Blackall, LeUyen Pham) along with some new-to-me illustrators whose art captivated me (Oge Mora, Julie Morstad)

The Table of Contents--The introduction to this book starting with,  "Women and girls have been shaking thins up for a Lon time, resisting those would would box them in..." was perfection. This fabulous introductory paragraph is followed by a beautiful Table of Contents. You don't often find a TOC that is this beautifully designed.

The Timeline--Following the Table of Contents, the author gives us a timeline (another beautiful piece of this book) that gives us information about the women in the book.  A timeline that shows women have been chasing the world since the early 1780s!

The Poetry--Susan Hood has written an original poem about each on of the women. She uses a variety of forms and I am amazed at how much we learn about each woman from these poems. The poems are followed by a short blurb with some incredible info about the woman.

Quotes--Each illustration includes a quote by or about the woman illustrated. These are fabulous extras details.

Author's Note-- I loved this peek into the Susan Hood's thinking.

Sources--At the end of the book, Susan Hood gives us a list of resources for readers.  She gives us some fabulous books and websites for each of the women she wrote about.  It is a fabulous list (and it is also beautiful).

The Cover Under the Jacket--You'll have to get your own copy to look at this!

This book is truly incredible. It is a must-read, must-have, must-revisit kind of book.  It is perfection!

(Shaking Things Up was one of the books that Olivia of @Livbits recommended for our blog booklist in December. You can hear more about why she loves this book in her new video!)

Shaking Things Up by Susan Hood Will Give You Heartbeeps ❤️ from TheLivBits on Vimeo.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Poetry Friday -- Sorrow and Joy

After 25 years of business, our favorite local independent (secondhand and antiquarian) bookstore, Acorn Bookshop, is succumbing to the pressures of bookstore chains and Amazon. To give you a sense of the loss that many in the community are feeling, here's a poem (not by me) that George shared on the Acorn Facebook page:

The following poem was written by one of the Acorn family of friends/customers.


Not an acorn falleth, but our God doth know,
Even when e-commerce lays a bookstore low;
Seeds are scattered ‘round the earth, bookstore-ies are set free.
What once was just a mortal nut is now immortal tree.
Far more precious surely than the books that fly
Off the shelves are people who all came in to buy,
Or chat with George or Christine or other Acorn kind
‘Bout every sort of history or author on their mind.
Then off they’d go to browse around; such treasures to behold.
A myst’ry why there’s any left; so many you have sold!
Remember all your book fans as you turn the page;
for memories grow more precious as they come of age.
Though pages now are numbered; dust each off and see,
How many hearts you’ve gladdened; The acorn’s now a tree.

An Acornista

(with apologies to Louisa May Alcott)

Last summer when I did a fairly massive clean-and-purge, I sold a bunch of books to Acorn and so we had a sizable amount of store credit. I was looking forward to working with George and Jack to build my collection of signed editions by U.S. Poets Laureate. When they announced the closing, they didn't have any such editions on their shelves, but I bought four gems I'll be sharing in the next couple of weeks.

 First up, a 1914 first edition of Joyce Kilmer, containing his (yes, HIS!) most famous poem, "Trees."

There aren't many other poems in the book that I particularly care for, except this one:

Lots of folks in this snow-covered coldcoldcold land are looking forward to spring!

The page after this Easter poem contained the biggest surprise in the book: evidence of the previous reader/owner, who marked up a poem with directions for reading it aloud! AND...tucked in at that spot was a magazine clipping with poems by Aline Kilmer, who, come to find out, was Joyce Kilmer's wife!

As I was poking around learning about the Kilmers, I discovered that the University of Delaware has a collection of 50+ letters that Sara Teasdale wrote to the two of them. Fascinating. I'd love to poke through that collection some day!

My students are astonished by my lack of knowledge about current popular culture -- movies, video games, sports, YouTubers, etc. Who has time for all that when you can get lost in literary rabbit holes?!?

Kay has today's Poetry Friday Roundup at A Journey Through the Pages.