Saturday, June 29, 2013

Unleashing Readers: Books for Primary Classrooms

Today I am joining the blog hop at Unleashing Readers a new blog hosted by Kellee and Ricki.  I'm looking forward to watching this blog evolve as it looks like it will be a go-to resource across many grade levels.
Here's what Kellee & Ricki say, "The goal of Unleashing Readers is to be a go-to resource for all levels of teachers to find resources for utilizing the best pieces of literature and nonfiction in their classroom. 

 As a primary teacher, I just can't get enough books for our classroom shelves.  As the school year ended I had the crazy idea to inventory my bookshelves and was surprised (well, not really) to realize how many books I had collected over the years.  I probably shouldn't purchase another book, but spending time following blogs and learning on Twitter will make that impossible.  

Here are some of my favorites for our classroom:
My favorite read aloud:  Really, just one?  That's impossible.  If I have to choose one, today my favorite read aloud is !.  Yes, Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld.  Mem Fox, in her Ten Read-Aloud Commandments, reminds us: 

"Read with joy and enjoyment: real enjoyment for yourself and great joy for the listeners." 

Amy's book, Exclamation Mark (my earlier review) is one of those books which makes that easy.  The story is so enjoyable.  In the story, ! (Exclamation Mark) just doesn't feel like he fits in anywhere.  He's sad and a little lonely.  Then along comes ? (Question Mark).  ? helps ! discover who he really is.  Young readers love the characters and problem in the story, but it is the language that makes this such a perfect book for reading aloud.  The words fall musically off the tongue.  The play with font size allows the reader's voice to rise and fall magically.  My students were spellbound with this book from beginning to end --- over and over.  

My favorite close read:  One again?  This category is tough.  My favorite close read really depends on the strategy I'm trying to teach.  Different concepts require different types of books and reading.  Honestly, with young readers I want to be very selective about the amount of time we spend looking closely at a text.  I want it to be short --- and powerful.  Most of our time is spent listening to language, enjoying reading, and talking together about the author's message.  While students reread many of their books, these examples are books I like to discuss with students and use to model this deep thinking.  
My favorite fiction text (today):  I Love You the Purplest by Barabara Joose and illustrated by Mary Whyte.  This book works for a million different conversations, but one of my favorite discussions is about the language used in the book.  In this story, Max and Julian try hard to get their mom to say she loves one of them more than the other, but their mom is clever and skillfully dances around the question.  Mom shares her reasons for loving each one differently in beautifully chosen words.  

My favorite nonfiction text (this second):  Smart Kids Reptiles by Roger Priddy.  Deb Frazier at Primary Perspective first brought this series of books across the hall to me after discovering them at our school bookfair.  It's still hard to find readable nonfiction for beginning readers.  Even harder to find it with some of the elements that are characteristic of this genre.  This book is perfect for projecting a page to discuss the author's message - to read and reread (the others in the series are worth a look too).  

Book club book:  This is a tricky one for me as I can't say I usually have "planned book clubs" in our first grade classroom, but often small group studies pop up in the workshop usually around authors or topics.  The best small group discussion of a single title usually happens around this book The Nest on the Beach by Annette Smith.  This story is about a grandmother and granddaughter who are out walking on the beach when they discover a turtles nest in the sand.  Living in the midwest many students do not have experience with this so it always brings great conversation --- and much further reading.  

Favorite Classroom Library Book:  Now this is getting impossible.  The best books in a classroom library are the ones students pick up over and over again; the books that go home day after day with students.  What's a primary library without Mo Willems?  I'm going to have to give this one to Elephants Cannot Dance by Mo Willems.  Elephant and Piggie books go home night after night in my classroom, but this one seems to be a particular favorite.  Piggie tries to teach Elephant to dance, but it just doesn't go very well.  My students laugh, chant, and actually get up to dance in this fun book about friendship.  

My Personal Favorite:  I'm going to stick to children's books for young readers here since that's the focus of my post.  I'm grateful to Kellee and Ricki for this category because I've learned that MY favorites and STUDENT favorites are not always the same.  We vote for a favorite book each week in our classroom from the books we've read together, and rarely --- and I mean rarely --- do students choose the book I'm hoping they will.  In the previous categories I've picked books that I think my young readers would have picked.  So which book is my favorite?  Only one?  I keep lists of books I love to read to young readers.  In August of each year I work hard to get my list down to ten titles for Picture Book 10 for 10 (#pb10for10).  Just one, huh.   

I'm going to have to say my personal favorite is The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis.  I just think this a beautiful story of friendship, hope, and tearing down fences (speaking metaphorically).  Most of all, its message speaks to what I believe:  the power of change is in the hands of children.  In this story, Clover and Annie are neighbors but live with a fence that keeps them separated.  They're not supposed to go over the fence so for a long time they live side by side watching one another.  Together these young girls realize life isn't black and white, but perhaps lines are a little gray --- and maybe fences are made for crossing.  

Well, that was hard --- and fun.  If you see me out and about, don't ask me these same questions because I will likely give you different answers.  :o) 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Planning for Independence: Stenhouse Blogstitute Reflection

When Donalyn Miller wrote "Let My People Read" for the Nerdy Book Club, I shouted a big amen.  It also made me think, "Let My People Learn."

I love summer!  Summer gives me the time to read and learn about topics I've been wanting to dig deeper into across the busy school year.  This summer is full of personal learning opportunities.  I want students to have these same opportunities in the classroom.  Young readers need time and opportunities to choose the books they want to read, to find ways to authentically use new strategies, to dig deep into a topic of study, to own their learning.

My Summer Professional Learning Board

Miller:  Letting Kids Dig In
Again this summer, Stenhouse is hosting their annual Blogstitute at the Stenhouse Blog.  On June 20th the event, which will continue for 9 weeks, kicked off with a thought provoking post by Debbie Miller:  Letting Kids Dig In (a post about planning in our workshops).

In her post Debbie Miller writes, "Now, once I identify our learning target, I no longer dive into planning the mini-lesson.  Instead, I plan what students will do during work time to grow as readers and get smarter." 

What really caught my attention was a visual representation she drew of her thinking about the planning process.  In this representation she talks about her thinking through learning targets, planning of the focus lesson, independent learning opportunities,  and sharing.  She has an arrow to illustrate where she places her planning for, what she calls, "plan catches."  Who will she confer with during the workshop?  Will she have small groups?  Who may need support for learning?  As she plans what students will do during the learning, she has questions she asks herself.

Planning for independent learning is hard because we want to support students as they make learning decisions.  Reader will choose their books, lead their conversations, write about their thinking, and try new strategies during our workshops.  So often it seems we feel pressured by a structure instead of the learning.  A voice whispers in our ear, "I need to meet with three guided reading groups each day. My students rotate through centers while I meet with students.  I need to make sure everyone is working toward the learning target."  We put a variety of structures in place to keep students working while we meet with learners, but Debbie gets at what really matters here; it isn't the time we are with children, it is the time they are engaged in learning.  Her support matches the goals she has for learners and is adjusted according to need.  I'm guessing that early in a learning cycle support may be higher than as students begin to gain control of new concepts.  

Planning for Independence
Debbie Miller changed my thinking about independent learning time years ago when she wrote Reading with Meaning (now available in a newer edition).  Debbie made me rethink the block of time students were using for learning.  After reading her book, I knew I wanted students to be spending their time reading and thinking.  Using assessments I began to plan my focus lessons, crafting lessons that would lead students into purposeful work, allow students time to work authentically on all we were learning, and turn the learning over to the children.

When I look at the large block of learning time in Debbie's visual, I know this is the time I want students to own.  I want students to choose their goals, plan their time, read, write, talk, and think.

Independent Learning 
Here are some choices readers make during Reader's Workshop:

Goal Setting:  During Reader's Workshop I like students to have time to read books of their choice.  Readers write their own goals for independent learning.  In most cases, these goals align with the bigger questions we are exploring in our classroom.

Book Conversations:  Readers need time to read together and talk about books.  Focus lessons lead students toward the work they will do as readers.  Readers take these community conversations into their independent and partner reading.  They talk about books the way we have talked about books.   Across the year students build their stamina or as Patrick Allen called it in a recent post, Stick-to-it-ness.  Reading is often thoughtful quiet business, but I think sometimes we have to remember that primary learners like to play and sometimes reading looks a little like play in a primary classroom.  There are occasions where students get up to move as they as they read Is Everyone Ready for Fun?  or Elephants Cannot Dance.

Writing About Reading:  Often in Reader's Workshop students choose to go our class blogs to write about a book they want to share with their friends.  They sometimes choose to read posts and comment as well.  
Reflecting:  In our classroom we use Shelfari to keep track of the books we read.  Students sometimes return to the shelf to find books they'd like to read or recall favorite characters.  In this picture, students are working on end of year recommendations for the next year's class of first graders.  
Thinking About Learning:  Students use Reader's Workshop time to read and think.  Often students choose to blog about books, write about characters, tell about stories, talk with friends about books, or share new learning.  In this picture, a student is learning about dogs and sharing new discoveries. 
Seeking Answers:  There's something amazing about getting to the point in Reader's Workshop where students know enough books, they've explored different tools, and are reading with purpose.  There's something about that point where students choose a goal or a question and begin to read to find out more.  This is one of my ambitious study groups.  These friends loved to learn together, and here they are each reading to learn more about pets.

Digging In:  This is the challenge of independent practice.  We can create strong focus lessons that lead students toward new understandings.  We make sure our libraries are filled with the kind of books our readers will want to spend time with during our workshops.  We can choose books that will help students move toward new thinking.  We teach students a variety of ways to share their thinking with our learning communities.  Ultimately, students will make independent learning decisions.  Students will be the ones "digging in."  Thanks, Debbie, for helping me think about this time once again.  

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Writer's Notebook: Going Digital

For the first time I'm participating in Teacher's Write hosted by Kate Messner.  This event runs from June-August, and I'm looking forward to learning from this large writing community.  I will be participating in this event from Merely Day by Day.  This week we are talking about writer's notebooks.  As a teacher of writing, I know the time spent writing makes a difference in my day to day conversations with young writers.  Keeping a notebook gives me a place to play a bit.  

Writer's Notebooks
One of the biggest obstacles for me lately has been a struggle between bound notebooks and digital notebooks, a struggle in finding a place for ideas (read more about it here).  In the past I used a writer's notebook, but I am slowly finding tech to be "at my fingertips."  My goal for the event is to find a way to collect ideas --- a way that works.  

In my writer's notebook I like to:
  • collect ideas
  • write about my family 
  • write poetry
  • record memories
  • create lists
  • play with words (synonyms mostly)
  • collect interesting words (usually from reading)
  • collect lines from poems and books that make me stop 
  • record phrases
  • make webs
  • store articles
  • really....anything goes

Digital Notebooks
In order to determine whether it is best to collect ideas in a paper notebook or using a digital tool --- or some combination of the two --- I will be searching for a digital application that works much like a paper notebook, but I think there might be some things a digital application can do that a notebook cannot.  I'm hoping to find an app that:
  • is "journal-like"
  • has typing features like font color changes, size changes, bolding, ability to add bullets, etc. 
  • allows tagging (color coding would be a nice plus)
  • can link with Evernote (preferably sync with EN, most could be emailed too)
  • allows images to be inserted
  • allows linking
  • audio recording would be a plus
  • has drawing/handwriting capabilities
  • is available on both the iPad and iPhone
  • has cloud storage 

Apps to Try
Over the weeks to come I will be trying to find the app that works for capturing ideas.  I may find that the notebook is still the best place for keeping ideas or that some type of balance between the notebook and a digital app can work.  We'll see.  Here are a few apps I'm going to explore first:

GhostWriter:  I use GhostWriter in my classroom for form recording because it allows you to create your own paper, take a picture, and then write on it.  It has been perfect for data collection with students in the process of RtI.  I suppose it also has potential as a writer's notebook.  I work with it a lot and find it to be a bit glitchy.  It's typing feature is sometimes difficult to manage and moving between text styles can be challenging.  It's worth a closer look as a writer's notebook.  

NoteShelf:  Noteshelf reminds me of Ghostwriter.  I like it's journal-like look, the way you can choose paper styles, and the ability to add different topics of notebooks.  It would be easy to have a notebook of quotes, booklists, poetry, memories, and other topics most recorded.  While I haven't yet discovered recording abilities within it, I do so ways to write, type, draw, and insert images.  

Penultimate:  Penultimate is in the Evernote Trunk as notes from this app can be stored in Evernote.  This app looks perfect for writing and drawing, but I'm still not sure how you can type in it.  It does allow images to be inserted on pages.  

Moleskine:  Yesterday during a conversation on Twitter, Dawn Little reminded me of MoleSkine.  I put it on my iPhone and find it works much like a real MoleSkine.  It is perfect for lists, quick notes, short jots.  I haven't tried to share it with Evernote yet, but I'll be interested to see how that works.    

iDo Notepad:  I already use iDo Notepad when I'm on the go. I especially like it for working on writing a poem before putting it on my blog.  It is mostly a typing app, but it is easy to work with and allows some variation in fonts.  

Right now these are the five contenders for the job.  I'm sure there's an app out there I haven't even heard about yet that might work.  Please recommend away.  I'll let you know what I discover.  While Evernote will not really work for me as a writer's notebook (the place I write), it will be THE PERFECT place to store it all.  I've started a Writer's Notebook board on Pinterest to help me organize my search.  I look forward to continuing conversations like this one in the weeks to come.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I Want to Follow You on Twitter

New Followers 
I've read many conversations about choosing who to follow on Twitter over the years.  I'm always excited to see new followers and think about the new conversations I might have with them.  I'm always interested in figuring out the strengths/expertise of new followers so I can learn from them and go to them when I am trying to figure something out.  I look forward to following new people.

Not everyone chooses followers using the same philosophy.  Sometimes I stumble upon a user with 2,000 followers who is following 200.  When I see these discrepancies in number I can't help but wonder how many conversations they are missing.  Though I will admit there are challenges with following a large number of people.  I find, however, the benefits of a large PLN far outweigh the challenges.

Following Back
I always look forward to following new people, but there are a few things I consider when following back.
  1. Is your account unlocked?  If an account is locked, I have no idea what the person is tweeting about and thus cannot choose to follow.  When I started on Twitter I had a locked account so I understand why some people feel more comfortable locking their accounts.  However, it wasn't long until I realized that wasn't going to be an effective way to use Twitter for professional conversation.  One of the things I like about Twitter is even with an open account my feed is spam free.  I have to "follow back" in order to see tweets.  With Twitter I can also easily block or report unwanted followers.  
  2. Have you completed your profile?  There are a lot of spammers on Twitter so I look for a photo and a profile statement that tells me a little bit about who you are and what you are hoping to do on Twitter.  
  3. Have you tweeted?  This is another way I try to protect myself from spammers. I like to be sure accounts are authentic so I read through tweets.  If you haven't tweeted yet, I'm unsure of your focus as a participant and will wait to follow until I can "hear your voice."  
  4. What do you tweet about?  I have three different Twitter accounts (professional, public ed advocate, and classroom).  I'm interested in following others who tweet about educational issues.  I always check through tweets to see if the majority are about education.  
  5. What is your follower to following ratio?  I know this one is a little crazy, but when I see someone who is following 1500 and is followed by 273, I'm guessing s/he is trying to build followers and not have a conversation.  I look for more stable ratios that tell me you are building a learning network instead of a number.    

I Want to Follow You on Twitter
If you have a profile, have tweeted, tweet about education, and seem to be about collaborative conversations I will be following. Sometimes, however, I have a new person follow me, and when I go to find out about them there isn't much information yet.  Many of the questions I ask above are still unanswered.  In these instances, I may not follow back (for now).  I always worry about these accounts as I'm sure they will grow quickly, but I worry I will miss that.

If I didn't follow back it is because I am unsure of your voice on Twitter.  What will you be tweeting about?  What is important to you?  What do you hope to gain on Twitter?  What conversations will you be having?  Once you get comfortable on Twitter join the conversation and be sure to mention me directly (translation:  send me a tweet starting with @cathymere.  That will send it directly to my mentions).  I always take a second look when a new name pops up in my mentions to see if I am following that user.

I look forward to learning with you.  Welcome to Twitter.  I hope you'll join the conversation.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

New Dads in Picture Books

Today is Father's Day so I have been thinking about the fathers in children's literature I admire.  There are many #bookdad favorites including:  Auggie's dad (Wonder), Trixie's dad (Knuffle Bunny Free), the dads in Every Friday and When Daddy Calls Me Man.

Here are two newer books about dads:

Red Kite, Blue Kite by Ji-li Jiang and illustrated by Greg Ruth.
I also admire the strength of the father in Red Kite, Blue Kite, a story released in January.  In this story, Baba and Tai Shan enjoy flying kites together from the top of their roof.  One day, Baba is sent to a labor camp and Tai Shan is sent to live with his grandma in a small village.

Each evening Baba flies his blue kite from the camp and Tai Shan flies his from the small village.  Evening after evening they say hello to one another with their kites.  Then one night, Tai Shan doesn't see Baba's blue kite.  Nights pass and still Tai Shan doesn't see Baba's kite.

Soon Baba appears to tell Tai Shan he will not be able to fly his kite for a long time.  Baba tells Tai Shan, "When you fly our kites, know that I am looking at the same sky and thinking of you."  Then Baba is taken away.  Will Baba and Tai Shan ever be together again?

This is a beautiful story of hope and a reminder of the freedom's we often take for granted.

Just Like Papa by Toni Buzzeo and illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka.
Many kids want to be just like their dads, and Kito is no exception.  When Papa roars Kito roars.  When Papa hunts Kito hunts.  No matter how hard Kito tries he just doesn't have the power of his father.  Some day he will.

I enjoyed the language in this story.  Phrases like "echoes across the plain," "yellow moon slides into sleep," and "sun slips toward blue twilight" fill the pages.  The characters are sweet and endearing.

The illustrations by Mike Wohnoutka are colorful and interesting as the reader is moved from morning to night, from rest to hunting, and from serious to fun.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

#CyberPD Stack Awards

I tried to resist writing this post, but I just couldn't.  The #cyberPD book stacks were amazing, but I think a few deserve special recognition.  Here are my first ever #cyberPD stack awards:

Most Ambitious
This year's MOST AMBITIOUS award goes to Shannon Clark:  3rd Annual #cyberPD.  Look at this stack!  Wowza!!

Best Presentation
A little spine poetry, anyone?  I had to laugh as Annie Orsini rearranged her professional reading stack to create this spine poem.  The award for BEST PRESENTATION goes to, Annie:  

Brainiest Stack
This stack by Kristin Ahlerich had the most books about brain research, I believe.  Good luck, Kristin.   The BRAINIEST STACK award is given to Kristin:

First Professional Stack
Who was the fastest?  Lesa Haney.  The award for first posted goes to Lesa:

Other Stacks:  
Take a look at all of the professional reading stacks of participants, if you dare!  WARNING:  disable your one click purchase buttons.  

Take a look at the stacks.  Please let me know if I have forgotten you as I tried really hard not to miss anyone.  Also, a big thank you to everyone who shared titles and joined the conversation at #cyberPD. I enjoy learning with all of you.

Join us in July for #CyberPD as we discuss Alan November's book:  Who Owns the Learning.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Here It Is! July's #cyberPD Title!

I know you're wondering about this year's #CyberPD title.  Honestly, for close to 48 hours Jill, Laura and I wondered too.  This was definitely the hardest year to choose a title, but we had so much fun discussing the possibilities.  (I think all three of us have much longer professional reading lists for the summer thanks to all of you!  Amazon loves us!  Oh my!)  We truly hope you are as excited about it as we are.

This year as we looked at the #CyberPD stack posts and tweets we were puzzled.  Most years the title has just jumped out at us, but this year there were so many possibilities.  The initial list had 16 titles that had appeared several times in a variety of stacks.  As Laura Komos (Our Camp Read-a-Lot), Jill Fisch (My Primary Passion), and I talked through the stacks we were impressed with the quality of the choices.  We knew for our 3rd Annual #CyberPD event we wanted a book that would be interesting across grade levels, hadn't already been talked about heavily on Twitter or across blogs, and one that we think would be the basis for a deep discussion that would help us all in the coming year.

After much debate, we chose....

Wait for it....

I know you want to know.....

Sorry, since school has been out I've had a lot of sleep.  It makes me think I might be funny.  (My children think quite differently.)

Here it is...

Our Selection
OK, seriously, we chose Who Owns the Learning by Alan November (@globalearner).  The book first crossed our radar thanks to Lesa Haney of Footprints on the Moon.  The book reappeared here and there as we went through stacks.  The more we considered it, the more we thought it would be the perfect follow-up to last year's discussion about Opening Minds.  I'm excited because the book is available in eReader format!!  Of course, it is available in paperback too.  

July's 3rd Annual #CyberPD
Now for the fun.  In July we will discuss November's book across blogs and on Twitter.  We will read sections and then share our thinking.

#CyberPD Dates and Host Site:

You can participate in July's #cyberPD event by: 
  • Blog Reflection:  If you have a blog you may join us each posting date with your reflection of the chapters read.  Then link your blog to the host blog by leaving a comment and your link.  If you don't have a blog, but have been considering getting started this is the perfect opportunity.
  • Blog Commenting:  If you do not have a blog, you are welcome to comment on the host blog to join the conversation.
  • Twitter:  You can also participate by commenting any time on Twitter using the hashtag #cyberPD.  
  • Other:  Last year we had people participate using other sites as well.  If you can link, they will come.  :o)  We love a little creativity.  

Past #CyberPD Events
Join Us
We hope to see all of you there participating in the discussion.  Past participants will agree the books have always been fabulous, but the conversation always takes it to another level.  As Mindi Rench said on Twitter last night:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Professional Conversations: 3rd Annual #cyberPD

It started a few years ago when Jill Fisch, Laura Komos, and I were comparing all the similar books in our book stacks.  We decided it would be interesting to talk about the books together so we chose a common title, found some willing colleagues, and changed the way we learn --- #cyberPD was born.  Since then we've enjoyed not only the conversations during #cyberPD, but the supportive community it creates that helps us along the way to implement changes.

This year we're excited about our 3rd Annual #cyberPD event that will take place in July.  We're hoping you'll join us, and start today by posting your list of professional books in your "to be read" pile.  We'll look across the lists and choose a title we see often and know will work for a collaborative discussion.

Share Your Stack
Today you can share your summer professional reading stack by:

  • taking a picture and tweeting it with the hashtag #cyberPD
  • leaving professional titles you plan to read in the comments section on one of our blogs
  • writing a post for your blog  
  • actually, any way you can get your list to us will help it be considered in our decision making for July's event.  
Follow the hashtag #cyberPD for the book we'll focus our conversation around in July.  

My Stack
I'm afraid to see the stacks of others as I don't need to add one other book to my list.  Looking at the books I hope to read I know it will be nearly impossible to read them all during the summer --- especially if I hope to pause to consider the changes I need to make as a result of new thinking.  I think I'd have to read nearly one a week to get done by the end of summer (and I have a little pleasure reading planned too).  Wish me luck! 

I prefer to read books on my Kindle so I have many e-copies and had to figure out a way to show them.  I decided to build my stack on Shelfari and snap a photo.  

Here's my list:
My Plan to Read Stack

I guess that's my top 10!  This doesn't include the books I hope to revisit like Assessment in Perspective, Math Exchanges, A Place of Wonder, and Opening Minds.  It doesn't include the books I hope to spend time with as I plan such as Teaching Student Center Mathematics, The Common Core Writing Book & Lesson Book, and many nonfiction professional texts.  

Yep, I think I need to prioritize.  That's where all of you come in as I know you'll help guide me to the one I most need to study --- really study.  I know together we'll find the title that I will learn more by chatting with everyone across blogs in July.

July's #cyberPD Event will take place on Wednesdays in July (3, 10, 17).  Stay tuned!  We can't wait!  Hope you're joining us!  

Monday, June 10, 2013

Super Hair-o and the Barber of Doom

Every Monday I am posting on our class Kidblog account about a book I think students would like to read.  Today I had to share Super Hair-o and the Barber of Doom just released in May.  I got my first peek at it during the NCTE convention when I was given an advanced paper copy.

I guess, in a sense, you could say I have another "vs." story here.  Super Hair-o and the Barber of Doom is by John Rocco.  In this story Super Hair-o has special powers.  He gets them from his really curly, really long, really cool, hair.  The longer his hair got the more superpowers he had.  His friends had them too.

One day he is captured and taken away.  He soon finds himself with the Barber of Doom!  You know what happens; his hair is cut.  What will he do without his superpowers?  Will he get them back?  Can his friends help?

My students will love this story.  They absolutely love superhero stories and this one helps them envision their own "superpowers."  The illustrations done in comic-like color with POWS and WHOOSHES and speech bubbles are large and interesting.  The characters are full of personality.  I know students will enjoy all the action in each picture across the book.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

48 Hour Challenge: Finish Line

At 9:47 I finished the 48 hour challenge.  This year I read for 844 minutes, or about 14 hours, beating last year's time by about an hour and a half.  In that time I read nearly 4 books.  Unfortunately, I finished right in the middle of my fourth book.

Since my check in, I have read the Kindle samples for And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini and Crescent by Diana Abu-Jaber.  I decided to download Crescent for my next read, but I'm quite sure And the Mountains Echoed is going straight into my summer "to be read" pile and will be pulled out quickly.

Crescent was recommended to me by Julie Johnson of Raising Readers and Writers.  It is a delightful book so far about a woman, Sirine, who has an amazing way in the kitchen.  Sirine cooks in a Lebanese restaurant and lives with her uncle who is a professor at a university.

Sirine meets Han at a poetry reading one evening and is quite taken by him.  As Han, a poet and professor, shares about his life in Iraq before coming to America and Sirine shares about her life in America being raised by her Iraqi immigrant uncle since the death of her parents, the two begin to build a bridge between worlds.

I'm headed back to my book.  This challenge has helped me to kick off a little summer pleasure reading.     Thanks, Ms. Yingling, for hosting.

48 Hour Book Challenge: Checking In

This weekend I'm participating in the 48 hour book challenge (#48hbc) hosted this year at Ms. Yingling Reads.  Last year was my first year to participate in this event started by Mother Reader.  I found it to be the perfect kick-off to summer pleasure reading.

I started at about 10 o'clock Friday evening.  So far I have logged 541 minutes - about 9 hours - read 3 books, went through one box of tissues, and eaten quite a bit of buffalo chicken dip!  I've even managed to do 5 loads of laundry within this time.  My goal is to beat my time last year of 754 minutes (which looks pretty easy to do right now).

Here's what I've read so far:

One for the Murphys by Lynda Hunt:  Karen TerleckyLiterate Lives, first put this book on my radar.  In this story, Carley is placed in a foster home after some difficulties with her mom and her mom's new husband.  Life with the Murphys is very different from the life she is used to with her own mom.  Carley sees what life can be like living with Murphys, and begins to see that she has the power to make it better.  It wasn't the ending I hoped for, but it was probably the ending it needed to be.  Yep, shed a few tears here.

One Summer by David Baldacci:  Yep, I needed tissues for this one too.  This isn't Baldacci's typical work.  I loved his book Wish You Well, and was excited to see this one on the shelf.  This story begins with Jack, father of three - husband to his high school sweetheart, Lizzie - about to die of a rare cancer when the story takes a tragic turn.  The tragedy is followed by a miracle and Jack works to get his family back, but being a dad isn't as easy as he had hoped especially not with teenage daughter, Mikki.  Lizzie's mother believes she is a better person to raise these three children.  Jack fights to fix relationships and keep his family together.  A beautiful story about family, true love, friendship, and faith.

One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate:  There was quite a buzz on Twitter about this book before it became the 2013 Newbery winner.  I think I knew it had to be added to my list as I listened to Katherine Sokolowski talk about how much she enjoyed it.  Finally, a year later I am getting to this book and wish I wouldn't have waited so long.

Ivan is a gorilla living in a shopping mall.  Mack owns the mall and visitors come to see him and a few other animals.  Ivan has gotten used to life in "the domain" thanks to friends Stella the elephant, Bob the dog, and Julia.  Julia is the daughter of George the custodian who takes care of the mall.  She comes every evening and sits by Ivan's home doing homework and drawing.  Ivan and Julia share a love of art and Julia gives Ivan supplies for his work.  One day, a new baby elephant, Ruby, arrives.  Ivan promises Stella he will do what he can to help Ruby have a better life.  Can Ivan come save Ruby?