Monday, August 10, 2020

Ten Picture Books You'd Want if You're Ordered Home #pb10for10

Please note:  today's Picture Book 10 for 10 event is hosted by Mandy Robek at Enjoy and Embrace Learning.  You will find directions to post with the community at the bottom of today's post.  Make sure you stop by Mandy's blog to see all of the collections being shared by the #pb10for10 community.  Also, follow the Twitter hashtag #pb10for10 across the day for a big dose of picture book love.  If you're joining us for the first time, please grab your library card as this event can get expensive.  Consider yourself warned.  

Today's the day!  It's our annual August picture book celebration.  

When the event began in 2010, Mandy and I started with the question:  "What are the must-have books for your classroom library?."  

Here we are in 2020.  In March, we were quickly sent home to teach from our screens during our state's stay-at-home orders to help stop the spread of COVID-19.  I don't think any of us thought we'd be out for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year.  This was a tough time, but I celebrated the fact that the first thing we all seemed to try to figure out was how to read aloud to our students in remote learning.  Authors and publishers came quickly to our rescue as we tried to keep books at the center of our learning communities.  

Of course, as schools closed, libraries were shuttered too.  It wasn't long until we realized we were home without our classroom books - and home without an open community library.  Talk about your book emergency!!!  Thankfully I had a large collection of picture books at home - and a pretty good stack from the library that was staying at home with me until libraries began accepting books again.  

As we get ready to begin 2020-2021 school year.  Not one of us is sure what is coming, but I think we all know it's going to have its hard parts.  It seems appropriate for this year's #pb10for10 celebration to share books I'd want if I was stuck at home again.  

Ten Picture Books to Have in Your Bag if You're Ordered Home

Dot by Randi Zuckerberg and illustrated by Joe Berger (2013)

I was reminded of this book recently by Deb Frazier.  It does seem the perfect book for a year that is likely to move back and forth from being together face-to-face and being together virtually.  In this book, Dot likes her time connecting and working virtually, but sometimes she gets tired.  Her mom reminds her that time to recharge outside can be equally important.  This book is available in digital and print format.  (Harper Collins COVID permissions.)

Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival (2019)

There certainly is plenty to worry about these days.  Whether our learners are with us at school or we are teaching from a remote location, they may have a lot on their minds.  In this story, Ruby has a worry that just won't go away.  She spends so much time thinking about it that it just keeps growing.  Will Ruby ever find a way through this worry?  Readers will enjoy listening to this story that helps readers find their way through their worry.  A must-have book for life in 2020.  This book is available in digital and print editions.  (Bloomsbury COVID read aloud policy.)

Write! Write! Write! by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater (2020)

If you end up teaching from home, you have to have poetry!  What better poetry book to have by your side than one that inspires some writing?  When we're in the classroom, we work to connect home to school.  Let's be honest, if our young writers are home, they're surrounded by those stories.  This book is full of poems to inspire writers to put their pencils and markers to paper (or their fingers to their keyboard...whatever their preference).  Whether you're live or remote, you'll want this book close by.  Available in digital or print format. Additionally, Amy has a collection of notebook mini-lessons and an ever-growing collection of digital poetry sure to inspire your writers.  Also don't miss With My Hands:  Poems About Making Things.  Imagine what our learners can make - and teach us to make - from home.  

I Remember:  Poems and Pictures of Heritage compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins (2019)

One poetry book probably isn't enough so let's add another to the essential bookstack.  I don't think you can go wrong with I Remember:  Poems and Pictures of Heritage.  I happened to have this one checked out from the library when it closed for COVID.  It was the perfect book to read again and again.  Readers will enjoy the collection of poems and illustrations by artists and writers who share stories of their heritage, family and childhood.  One of the gifts of our spring emergency learning was that we got to know and connect with our families in a much deeper way.  This poetry collection is not only perfect for beginning any year, but also can help build our understanding of the different identities we all bring to our learning community.  There are so many great poems in this collection to open rich conversation and create possibilities for writing.  This book is only available in hardcover.   (Lee and Low temporary read aloud guidelines during COVID.) 

Woke:  A Young Poet's Call to Justice by Mahogany L. Browne with Elizabeth Acevedo and Olivia Gatwood (2020)

Okay, maybe I'm on a poetry roll right now, but really you just can't go wrong with poetry.  We are going back to school in turbulent times.  (Check out ILA's webinar:  Teaching in Turbulent Times.)  While COVID has knocked us off our feet, the voices of Black Lives Matter are calling for change long overdue.  While these are tough times, we have the opportunity to come out of them better than we were.  Books like Woke, alongside books like Dictionary for a Better World and Can I Touch Your Hair? (yep, I snuck in a few bonus titles there - it's a well known trick in the #pb10for10 world) can help start those conversations.  You'll want this one in your collection, for sure.  (Roaring Brook Press appears to be part of Macmillon see permissions here.)

Cool Cuts by Mechal Renee Roe (2020)

Whether you're starting with students in a face-to-face or remote learning situation, this book will be perfect for getting started.  At every page turn, the reader is greeted by positive affirmation and the words, "I am born to be awesome."  Of course, the bonus is all of those great hair styles labeled for readers.  When working to build identity and community, this book is sure to be a smart addition to your collection.  This book is available in hard cover or digital format.  I have the digital format which actually shows a copyright of 2016.  (Doubleday Publishers an imprint of Random House COVID read aloud policy)

Layla's Happiness by Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie and illustrated by Ashleigh Corrin (2020)

I can't imagine not having this book with me whether teaching from my classroom or at home.  This just seems the perfect book for getting to know one another at the beginning of the year.  In this book, readers discover all that makes Layla happy.  This book would make a strong mentor text for some beginning writing as we build our learning communities and get to know one another.  

The Hike by Alison Farrell (2019)

If you want to find a way to get kids away from their screens, this book might be the perfect read aloud.  If you want learners to learn to observe or find new ways to write, this book might be just what you need.  Mandy Robek first shared this book with me and every time I share this picture book with someone else it is a win.  In this book a group of friends heads out for a hike.  As they hike, they take notes and make new discoveries.  Whether at school or at home, this book has a myriad of possibilities.  (See Kate Messner's copyright update for information about Chronicle Books and COVID read aloud permissions.) 

The Serious Goose by Jimmy Kimmel (2019)

I'm not one to pick up picture books written by already famous people, but I'm glad I decided to open this one.  In the heaviness of the times, a picture book to make kids laugh can be just what is needed.  In this book, the narrator assures us nothing will make Serious Goose smile, but can a serious goose hold tough when kids are making faces?  Whether reading this live from a distance or in a Zoom room, kids are going to love making faces to get a smile out of Serious Goose.  This book is available in hard cover or digital edition.  I have the digital edition of this one.  If you need a laugh, this book is a must-have.  (Penguin Random House COVID read aloud policy)

Misunderstood Shark by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Scott Magoon (2018)

Seriously, what #pb10for10 list would be complete without a book by Ame Dyckman?  Her books always make for a fun read aloud.  I haven't had one of them fail me in front of kids.  As I think about beginning a year that may be started remotely, it's likely easy to be misunderstood.  Even in our day to day life in the classroom, friends often do things that get misunderstood.  This books surely sets up a story that makes this a fun discussion.  Let's be honest, just the fact that this book has a shark in it makes it sure to be a winner.  

Want to Join?  
  1. Choose Your 10 Favorites:  All you need to do is choose ten picture books you cannot live without for whatever reason.  In the first days of this event, everyone shared their ten very favorite titles.  This still works.  You will notice, however, that many past participants choose some type of theme or thread to connect their selections.  We'll leave this up to you.
  2. Write Your August 10th Post:  Write a post about the ten books you cannot live without.  
  3. No Blog?  No Problem:  If you don't have a blog, this might be the perfect time to start one --- or there are a million digital ways to join.  You could post from a Google page, create a S'more, make a Padlet, share in Twitter (and copy the Tweet link to the host blog), or any other creative idea you may be considering.  We will also be tweeting from the #pb10for10 hashtag.    
  4. Link Your Selections:  Please share your posts at Enjoy and Embrace Learning in the comments of today's celebration post.  (Share them on Twitter too at #pb10for10.) 
  5. Find Other Participants:  You will find the links to other 2020 collections in the comments of today's host blog.
  6. Connect & Comment:  Take some time to read posts from other participants.  Please comment on at least three. 
Warning:  Picture Book 10 for 10 can be hard on your wallet.  I'd pull out your library cards before you start to visit these wonderful posts below.  

Monday, August 3, 2020

The Countdown Has Begun: #pb10for10

Well, it's been a decade.  Since 2010 our community has been sharing picture books in August.  Picture Book 10 for 10 began from a conversation about must-have picture books for our classroom libraries.  Mandy Robek, Enjoy and Embrace Learning, and I were going back and forth about our favorite books for our classroom communities when we decided it would be interesting to be able to meander through the libraries of other educators to see what books were on their shelves.  #pb10for10 for short.  Since then, educators, librarians, parents, and book lovers in our PLN have been taking the time to create a list of their 10 favorite picture books to share with one another each year on August 10th. 

Mandy recently posted this reminder about the event at Enjoy and Embrace Learning:  Picture Book 10 for 10 is coming!

If you're like me, this year has been a tough one.  Educators are working through so much in their personal and professional lives right now that Mandy and I have wrestled with whether this is a good year to host this event.  Our attention needs to be on caring for ourselves, our family and preparing for the months ahead.  We need time to read and learn new things to support our learners in a variety of different modes of instruction.  We also are spending much time reflecting on the systemic racism that has to be a part of our conversations moving forward.  

In the end, we both decided that books are the only way forward.  It's books that help us to see the world from a different point of view.  It's books that help us to find answers to hard questions.  It is books that make us laugh when laughter can be hard to find.  We are going through a lot right now - and the children we spend our days with are going through a lot too.  As we open our doors (or computers) in the coming weeks, the books we select can help us to find our way forward.  

The answer is always books.  

So here we go.  The countdown has begun.  Next week #pb10for10 will step into a new decade.  

Next week we will share our collections of 10 must-have picture books because picture books can help us all to heal.  

What to join the conversation? 

The Basics
Want to join the conversation? 
  • What:  10 picture books you can't live without.
  • Hashtag:  #pb10for10
  • Hosts:  @mandyrobek (Enjoy and Embrace Learning), @cathymere (you're here)
  • Who:  Anyone interested --- educators, media specialists, librarians, parents, and book lovers.  
  • When:  Monday, August 10th
  • Where:  All posts for 2020 will be linked to Mandy's blog:  Enjoy and Embrace Learning (we had to old school so we could maintain the collections from this community)

Here's how you can participate:
  1. Grab a Badge (just copy the URL address of the one above or take a screenshot)
  2. Choose Your Favorites:  All you need to do is choose ten picture books you cannot live without for whatever reason.  In the first days of this event, everyone shared their ten very favorite titles.  This still works.  You will notice, however, that many past participants choose some type of theme or thread to connect their selections.  We'll leave this up to you.
  3. Narrow Your List to Ten:  It isn't easy, is it?  We've seen some crafty ways to get around that number.  
  4. Write Your August 10th Post:  Write a post about the ten books you cannot live without.  Share the link to your collection at Enjoy and Embrace Learning on August 10th.  
  5. No Blog?  No Problem:  If you don't have a blog, this might be the perfect time to start one --- or there are a million digital ways to join.  You could post from a Google page, create a S'more, share in Twitter (and copy the Tweet link), or any other creative idea you may be considering.  We will also be tweeting from the #pb10for10 hashtag.    
  6. Comment:  On August 10th (and maybe for a week --- there are a lot of posts) take some time to read posts from other participants.  Please comment on at least three. 
Let the countdown begin!!!!

Hope you can join us!

Monday, June 22, 2020

A #cyberPD Announcement: Maybe Year 10 Needs to Be Different

For a decade, #cyberPD has been an anticipated summer event to connect educators near and far in collaborative professional conversation. Through blogs, Twitter, and various digital media, participants share thinking around a common professional title featured for discussion. Though the main event is in July of each year, the conversations and connections carry across the year. Since #cyberPD's first event, we've grown from a group of less than 15 to a community of over 150 educators.

We have found this community to be powerful and the conversations have helped us grow in our journey as educators. These conversations have pushed us, made us uncomfortable, and allowed us the chance to see things from different perspectives. It’s amazing to think that #cyberPD was a pioneer for online book clubs and this community made it possible!

Yet, here we are today. When we got ready to “share our bookstacks,” COVID was in full swing and teachers were juggling remote teaching, staying healthy, and their family. Then, when we began to get back to the 2020 #cyberPD planning, we were shook by the death of George Floyd and heard the call across the country for an end to systemic racism. Educators are once again in the forefront of these discussions wanting to be part of the change. It seems this is a time to dig in to listen and learn, a time to lift the voices of BIPOC educators, and a time for each of us to pursue the learning we need to take action.

Therefore, after much reflection and conversation, we have decided to not select a book to read together as a community in what would have been our tenth year. We want to leave space for the important issues at hand. We want to be here for each other, to support and learn together -- no matter what your focus and goals are for this summer!

We want to thank each of you for your role in making #cyberPD the event that it has been since 2011. It is the community that has made it strong. We know that each member of our community is already busy pursuing opportunities to continue to grow into all that our students need from us.
We hope that you will continue to use the #cyberPD hashtag to:
  • stay connected as a community
  • seek support
  • share professional books you are reading (maybe even make some connections with others doing the same reading)
  • post resources (articles, book titles, webinars, videos, etc.) around questions you are pursuing that may be of interest to the #cyberPD community
  • amplify nuggets of insights, surprises, and quotes from what you are reading and learning
  • pose questions, confusions, and challenges to our community
We know that books, conversations, and this #cyberPD community can help us on that journey.  We look forward to continuing to learn alongside each of you.

We need to stay strong together. To help each other move forward. To change. To BE the change. 

Thank you for your kind understanding,
Michelle & Cathy

Thursday, April 30, 2020

(More Than) Three for Your Library: Lighten Up with Picture Books

When the #stayathome began, I asked my son who teaches third grade, "What do you think might make some great read alouds for our students right now?"

"Maybe they just need books that will make them laugh," he replied without missing a beat.

I was ready to solve the world's problems with picture books.  Isn't that what you do?  However, he had an excellent point.  Our students are away from their friends, there is much uncertainty, and all the joys of being five, seven, or nine have been placed on hold in many ways.

Since then, our #stayathome orders have been lengthened.  We are all trying to learn to teach in this new abnormal.  (Sorry, I just can't call it our new normal as there is nothing normal about it.)

Thankfully, my picture books are here with me.  If I had been in the classroom, instead of my current role, my picture books likely would have been left on the shelves of my school.  I probably would have filled a bag or two for good measure, but I would be without a lot of them.  With libraries being closed right now too, the challenge of getting books is amplified.  We've been grateful to have these books at home over the last month+, but it always makes me think about teachers who may be home without their books.

Yesterday, I hosted a Zoom opportunity to talk about picture books.  It seemed a good idea to lighten things up a bit - okay, maybe I needed to lighten up a bit.  Picture books not only solve any world problem, they also lighten things up.  They're good therapy.  I tried to consider that we are all stuck at home without access to books.  Some of the titles you see in the S'more are only available for delivery, but many are available digitally.  I found several of these titles available digitally in our local library - some weren't even currently checked out.  That's a win.

Here's what you'll find in the S'more:
Five New Picture Books:  There are many great picture books coming out right now.  While not as easy to obtain in this crisis, it is possible to order them for delivery and a few can be found digitally.  Yep, I might still be ordering books on occasion.  You've gotta support small businesses - and authors right now, right?! These are five titles I currently love. 

Five Books to Lighten Up:  My son made such a good point that I went to my shelves looking for lighter titles.  I was pleased to come up with a nice stack of funny books.  It was hard to reduce this list to five, but you'll find a few suggestions here. 

Five Digital Resources for Remote Learning:  When this situation began I started collecting resources on a Padlet.  It seemed the first thing we tried to figure out as teachers was how to maintain the read aloud.  Before authors and publishers started granting limited permission for use, I went on a quest to find some ways to get stories to kids.  This search included some of the spaces we all know and love such as:  Storyline OnlineTumblebooks, and BookFlix.  You'll find a few others, I have since discovered in the S'more.

Five Digital Spaces to Remember:  Many of us have subscriptions to digital spaces that provide books, articles, and other reading material.  These spaces are important to remember right now.  (Of course, you'll want to check into copyright:  COVID-19 Reference from SLJ:   Multiple Publishers Fair Use Policy.)  Here are a few I have found helpful in this situation.

I hope you find this resource helpful.  If you have something new, something light, or something digital you love right now, please share some of your favorite's in the comments below. 

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Three Read Alouds for Your Library: Let's Make Them Digital

In the first days of teaching our students from our homes, the scramble began for read aloud.  I have always found the read aloud to be the glue of my classroom community, but this has sealed the deal on that.  In our remote learning environment read aloud is till holding our community together, making us laugh, leading our instruction, and mentoring our writers.

With the temporary adjustments made by many publishers, teachers are finding ways to still read aloud with their classes.  Whether it be on temporary video or in a live session, many teachers have discovered their learners love seeing them.  Read aloud can certainly help maintain connection while we are away from our classrooms.  With libraries closed and books at home limited, bringing books into the living rooms of our children's homes is as essential as reading aloud in our classrooms.

Of course, as teachers, the number of books we have at home is limited too and reading aloud every day, when it requires video recording or gathering a large group, has its challenges.  There are a variety of created materials and websites that can help fill the need for read aloud at this time.

Here are three I love for your digital library:

Saturday by Oge Mora  I was excited to find one of my favorite books of this year available in read aloud....and by the author!  That's a win.  This story talks about a Saturday that doesn't go quite as planned.  As all of us are stuck at home, I think we'd love a Saturday as disastrous as this one.  Kids will love the repetitive structure of this day that has gone wrong - but then turns right.  I found this read aloud on a post by Romper:  Famous People Read Aloud.

Of course, this post led me #operationstorytime in YouTube.  Oh my goodness!!!  So many read alouds tucked in here!!!

Big Bad Baby!  by Bruce Hale and illustrated by Steve Breen.  This one made me laugh.  I hadn't seen it before, but loved all the trouble caused by Big Bad Baby.  Sometimes a little lighter picture book can certainly help us all right now and this book might be just what everyone needs.  Who knows?  Maybe one of your students is home with Big Bad Baby right now.  Ha!

I found this one in a collection of others in this post by We Are Teachers:  The Big List of Children's Authors Doing Online Read Alouds and Activities.  Check it out!

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach.  I stumbled on another book that I love available in read aloud.  I found this one on Brightly Storytime.  This book is about a bear, tempted by a truckload of berries, who begins on an adventure that takes him right to your sandwich.  Or was it bear that ate your sandwich?  Hmmm....

Of course, I love finding a favorite picture book available for kids in read aloud, but I also appreciated the way Brightly is able to show picture and text together on the screen.  The words are bolded as the reader reads aloud.  What a great way to give our youngest readers the opportunity to see print.  You'll find other read alouds available at Brightly Storytime.

If you have favorite stops for digital read alouds, please share them in the comments below.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Collaborating with Colleagues in a Pandemic: Don't Forget Voxer

My kids have always made fun of me for my love of Voxer. "Mom, it's just a walkie-talkie," they'd giggle as if I had stepped back too far in time.  They'd laugh as I chit-chatted with friends over the app.

Voxer has remained one of my favorite apps across time.  If you asked me to pick five apps and delete the rest from my phone it would likely make the cut.  You see, Voxer lets you have conversations with people that maintain the back and forth, but allow for people to respond as they are able.

I first fell in love with Voxer when working with my team years ago.  So many times we'd get a good conversation going in the hallway or during a meeting and, you know teaching life, we wouldn't be able to finish it. Voxer let us finish it - and it let us finish it together.  It wasn't that one team member talked to another and wrapped up our next steps, it was that the group kept the conversation going until we found the next step together.  Since then, I've maintained my love for Voxer for keeping up with friends near and far.  I've solved some tough challenges with friends on Voxer.

Now, in this remote learning situation, I'm once again reminded of the power of Voxer. In school buildings there are rhythms to schedules. You know the better times to try to reach out and talk with others. In this situation, there is no way to predict someone's schedule. In Voxer I'm able to reach out and have friends respond as their day allows. We can still continue the back and forth of conversation, but slowed down a bit in time.

Voxer also makes it easier to explain your thinking or get different perspectives. Texting can be limiting as it can be hard to explain things in detail or hear the tone of words. Additionally, all of the time on screens makes Voxer a welcome relief.

If you're looking for ways to stay connected, solve problems, or have conversations in groups, don't forget Voxer. It may be just a "walkie-talkie," but it's my favorite walkie-talkie.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Technology Will Not Save Us

This morning as I made a cup of coffee my iWatch sent me an alert:  "Make it happen today."  While I appreciate my watch's optimism, it sounded a little disconnected from the times.  Don't you know I'm under stay at home orders?  Don't you know we are working from home?  Don't you know we are in the middle of a pandemic that is so tragic I am just happy to have gotten myself up most morning?  That's technology.  It attempts to know us, but it doesn't really know us.  

So here we are teaching from home and wrestling with all kinds of new questions.  At the same time, resources to make it all easier are being sent our way.  Companies are opening their platforms so that we can utilize their sites.  It's a little hard to not feel like a kid caught in a candy store.  There are are so many sites that usually have fees for use that have opened.  As I review these sites, I just can't help but be reminded that technology doesn't really know our learners.

You see, I've been fortunate to walk alongside teachers during this unusual time.  I have been so awed by the way they work to find resources that meet the needs of their learners.  As teachers, we understand that putting kids on a program might give them something to do, but it doesn't necessary give them something to learn.  Computer programs can't know a child's preferences the way we can.  Computer programs can't connect learners to their peers the way we can.  Computer programs can't build that love for reading that so delicately must walk alongside the development of skills.

I was recently reviewing a site that touted being "scientifically researched."  Oh, that can mean so much.  I couldn't help but think about the difference in learning for a child jumping on this program and one who has the opportunity to continue to read, write, and connect with their friends and learning community.  I couldn't help but think about the teachers I've been working with who are finding ways to maintain those next steps in building concepts of print, develop knowledge of letters and words, grow the thinking of their readers, support next steps in writing and help young learners continue to progress during this crisis.  In these first weeks, we've been discovering ways to maintain what we know to be essential for our literacy learners while adjusting to their situations.  We are supporting learning in the midst of crisis.

So while sites open their doors, we continue to look for ways to connect our students with their community. We continue to think of ways to support the literacy development of our young learners. We continue to find ways to get students away from their screens as not all learning has to happen there - and right now we could all use a screen break. We continue to value choice and learner agency as we empower students to have opportunities to create instead of consume in this new learning environment.  Most of all, we continue to walk softly and nudge learners forward knowing that now, more than ever, we have to meet them where they are.

You see, technology will never know what we know about our learners. Though it is helping us in this crisis, technology will not save us.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Good Problems: So Many Resources, So Much Time

I'm still taking in our current situation.  We have tried to stay in this weekend.  Actually, our family began over a week ago trying to limit the places we were going and to stay at home more.  It hasn't been easy.  I've been cooking way more than I like.  (Waaaayyyyy more.)  We're a house full of introverts and readers, but we're already getting stir crazy.  The weather here hasn't helped.  It's still too cold to walk or sit out on the patio.

So....I may have found myself on social media more than I should be.  Of course, if you're a teacher you know the resources getting posted are something.  There are websites and apps opening their content for these weeks of shutdowns.  There are authors finding ways to share about writing moves and read their books.  There are teachers and educational leaders creating and sharing lessons and other possibilities for remote learning.  There are lists of collections.  Honestly, I'm guessing it will continue as we all have more time to create content since we are stuck inside.

I've been truly so impressed by the way everyone has come together.

And yet....

It's all a little overwhelming.

And here's the thing: it's not all going to be good for our kids or their learning.

I'm truly grateful for all that is being shared - truly - but yesterday I couldn't quit thinking about it might feel to teachers.  As an instructional coach, my hope in this time is to support teachers as they need it; to help them puzzle out the tricky parts of this situation and provide resources when requested.  Teachers know their kids best - and that's the most exciting thing about this situation.  They're still going to be able to tailor instruction for their learners.

All of the resources available remind me of years ago when we first started dabbling in the digital world.  When I first started using digital tools with my students, I could hardly contain my excitement.  Every single time a new app came out, I had to give it a try.  Not all of them made it to my classroom, but many did.  My kids were pretty tech savvy (for the time) and able to adjust to the new tools.  Of course, updates happen.  Companies quit creating apps.  I got wiser.  I then began to look for apps that could do a lot - and that would stay.  I started to work from a solid core of apps.  I found myself more focused on tools that would let us work flexibly in ways that enhanced our learning.  I found myself in a less is more way of thinking.

The plethora of resources available right now reminds me of that time long ago.  As an educator, I just had to press pause yesterday.  There are so many resources being shared.  I decided the best thing to do was to create a Padlet with the resources I am seeing that might be useful - many of them will not.  I do not plan to share this collection (there are a million lists out there).  My hope is to just have it ready when people reach out with specific needs they are trying to fill.  It's to help me find the resources I think will be useful in continuing to support learners.  It will give me a place of reference when colleagues reach out with a particular need.

We're all working to find our way in this unprecedented situation.  If we let what learners need be our guide, the next step will be easier to find.  Know if you need something, I'm here trying to figure it out beside you.  I'd love to hear how you are managing all the resources.  Which ones are you finding the most useful?  What's working?  What are the challenges you face?

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Keeping Learning Going When We Aren't Gathered at the Carpet

Who knew we'd be talking about "social-distancing" in 2020 and closing schools to slow a virus?  It has made for an interesting week that I didn't expect in my career.  That being said, I've been amazed at the way everyone has stepped up to make the best decisions we can for kids and families.  In the last few days, we have done a lot of work to prepare our students to move from face-to-face learning to an eLearning environment.

As a 1:1 school, we are fortunate to have many things in place that will support our students during this time.  Additionally, teachers will still be able to tailor instruction to their students in ways that wouldn't have been possible years ago.  I've been so fascinated by the way companies have stepped up and opened websites, the way authors and illustrators are sharing their talents, and the way teachers and educational consultants are sharing content.  That being said, I have been thinking a lot about how we create an environment for learning vs. a checklist of to-dos for our students.

How do we leverage learning over tasks?  It's true that there are so many ways this situation will be made better by all that is available, but there are also many cautions.  Do we introduce new learning or reinforce old?  Is it possible to introduce new content?  How might we differentiate for our students?  How do we balance student workload?  How do we keep our communities connected?  How do we support parents who will already be juggling a lot with their own work situations and kids at home?  Oh, the questions that can take us down the rabbit hole quickly.

I've been telling myself that all we can do is make the best decisions we can in the space we find ourselves. As we plan for our learning communities, here are a few things I am keeping in mind:

Consider Technology Kids Know:  There are many new environments opening for students, but our learners will be most successful in the spaces they have already worked.  If your district has an LMS, learners will be able to use the platform.  If kids are used to blogging on Kidblog, they'll be ready to stay connected during this time.  If they're used to saving work to Google folders, this will be a great way for them to share work with you.  If learners have used Flip Grid, leverage it for lessons.  (etc.)

Remember Routines & Structures:  As classroom teachers, our workshops have a flow that learners know and understand.  We start with mini lesson, students have opportunities for independent practice, and then we share.  Our days follow predictable routines and, as teachers, we work to balance the heaviness of our content across the day.  The closer we are able to align to those structures and routines we've set up, the easier it will be for students and families.  Additionally, I've been seeing a lot of parents and teachers talking about creating schedules for the day.  This is such a smart way to think about managing our time --- especially as we all hunker into our homes for a few weeks.

Think About Learning vs. Doing:  It would be easy to put together lists of to-dos for kids, but I'm fascinated to think about all of the ways we can support actual learning.  We can create videos to explain new ideas, make charts that support key understandings for reference, and in some learning systems find ways to build discussions that connect our learners.

Be Selective:  Thankfully there are so many great resources being shared right now and so many companies are opening platforms for this timeframe.  I have been collecting these resources in a Padlet so I know where they are, but I will only be using those that make sense for where we are in learning.  There are some very well-known experts sharing content, but only we know our kids.

Maintain Connection:  We've had a lot of conversation around feedback and connection.  It's a little different to not be gathered for a mini-lesson.  It's a little different to not be side by side with learners.  It's a little different to not be sitting in a circle to share our work.  The more feedback and connection we can maintain the more likely our learners are to feel supported and stay engaged.  Parents will also need a bit more connection in this current situation as well.  This will look different for each of us, but play a big part in the success of this time.

This isn't a situation any of us planned for in our careers.  Additionally, it comes with some heavy weight beyond just the learning time.  We each need to give ourselves, and our students, the grace to know we may have to work a bit to find our way.  All we can do is stand where we are and gently step.

I'd love to hear the ways you are working through next steps for your learning communities.  

Monday, February 10, 2020

Today's the Day: Share Your Nonfiction Picture Book Selections Here #nf10for10

It's February 10th!!!

You know what that means....

It's time for our annual #nf10for10.

If you're looking for the place to share your nonfiction picture book selections for our #nf10for10 event, you're in the right spot.  I'm excited to be hosting this year's nonfiction picture book celebration!  Just scroll to the bottom of the post for more information, but basically you just need to leave your link in the comments below.

This is our 8th year for this nonfiction event.  I am looking forward to reading everyone's selections.

And My 2020 Selections Are...
So what does participation in #100daysofnotebooking with Michelle Hasteltine, coupled with the conversations I have been having with colleagues about supporting young writers with informational writing, and the latest blog post from Melissa Stewart about expository nonfiction text structures have me wondering?  All this has me thinking about the importance of a notebook in collecting ideas and information for nonfiction writing.  So...what are the books that might make a young writer want to grab a notebook for some informational writing?

Maybe these ten will get us started....

10 Books to Inspire Young Writers to Grab Their Notebook

Look Up!  Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate

This book might inspire some quiet observation outside or a bit of research to learn more.  The book's illustrations, speech bubbles, and simple collections of information are sure to inspire the information collector.  The "Bird Watching Do's and Don't's!" could easily apply to other lists of "do's and don't's."  There are several other informational organization ideas presented in the pages that are sure to bring pen to paper.

Animals by the Numbers:  A Book of Animal Infographics by Steve Jenkins

Oh, infographics.  I love them and this book does not disappoint.  Full of interesting collections of animal facts, this book is sure to inspire notebook collections.  Want to web information?  You'll find examples here.  Want to graph findings?  Yep, you'll find that too.  Want to get creative with collections?  Here's the place to start.

Mapping Sam by Joyce Hesselberth

Writers can do so much with mapping.  Want to understand a location?  Want to share your house, a park you've visited, a city, or the stars?  Well, mapping is the perfect way to do that.  Mapping Sam has maps to inspire your thinking.

The Presidents:  Portraits of History by Leah Tinari

From the author of Limitless:  24 Remarkable American Women of Vision, Grit, and Guts comes this beautifully illustrated book.  This book will inspire budding artists, fact collectors, and information enthusiasts to open their notebooks.  Grab some paints, markers, or colored pencils and get started!

Lovely Beasts:  The Surprising Truth by Kate Gardner and illustrated by Heidi Smith

For all the word collectors, Lovely Beasts is sure to get them jotting words and interesting ways to express meaning.  The author weaves words with interesting facts about these lovely beasts.

Give Bees a Chance by Bethany Barton

The end papers alone should bring out the notebooks.  The author has drawn a variety of bees with a quick fact about each.  These simple drawings and collections of information are sure to inspire young writers to start researching.  Additionally, the book is full of other interesting ways to collect information including drawings with labels, sequence of steps (in this case for how honey is made), and so much more.  Packed with possibility this book is sure to get readers to think twice about bees AND to grab their notebook.

Flying Frogs and Walking Fish by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Hmmm.  I wonder if I have ever had a nonfiction list that didn't include a Steve Jenkins book.  This list has two.  He's the master.  One of the things I love about his work is the interesting way he sorts and categorizes information.  This book is a great read full of the many ways animals move, but its the last pages that I'm sure will bring out the notebooks.  Jenkins and Page have quickly collected facts on different animals and the many ways they move.

Who Am I? by Tim Flach

This book is sure to inspire some quick writes in a writing notebook.  In this book, Flach shares a dozen animals that are endangered.  The book allows a quick peek at part of the animal, tells a bit about it, and then readers find out which animal was being highlighted as they turn the page.  Writers are sure to be inspired to start to collect clues for their own "Who Am I" writing.  The back of the book includes more information about why each animal is special and the reasons they have become endangered.  This one is sure to get pencils flying.

Notable Notebooks:  Scientists and Their Writing by Jessica Fries-Gaither

This book highlights different scientists and the way they used their notebooks to collect information.  So many possibilities....

The Hike by Alison Farrell

I'm taking a little liberty here.  Isn't that what these picture book events are all about?  We've all found little ways to finesse the system.  This book isn't an informational text...well unless the author has taken some autobiographical liberties.  Though it isn't informational, I think it could inspire some observational collecting in a writer's notebook.  Mandy shared this book with me as we wandered the rows at NCTE and I fell in love with it immediately.  Not only is it a great story about the delight of a hike with friends, but it also has some peeks into Wren's sketchbook at the end that are sure to inspire.

10 Nonfiction Picture Books 
In previous nonfiction events, I've shared:

Join Us
Want to join the conversation?  You're in the right place.  Just add your link in the comments below.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

It's Almost Time for our Annual Nonfiction Picture Book Celebration

Our February Nonfiction Event
Yikes!  Time flies when you're having fun!  How did we leap into February so quickly?  (I think we will leap out of February this year too.  Sorry, I love bad puns.) Mandy, our event co-conspirator shared a little sneak peek to her stack for upcoming nonfiction celebration.

Yep, the countdown is well underway.  Next week is February's Nonfiction Picture Book 10 for 10 event (#nf10for10).  I'm always amazed that this event rolls up so quickly.  It seems we flip the calendar - and boom - it's time to prepare for February's nonfiction picture book party:  #nf10for10. This year will be our 8th annual nonfiction event.  Nonfiction Picture Book 10 for 10 is the sister event for August's #pb10for10.

What is #nf10for10
In 2010 Mandy Robek and I hosted our first picture book event.  In 2013, Julie Balen suggested we add a nonfiction picture book event that worked the same.  Participants choose 10 - well, usually 10 (they're a crafty bunch) - nonfiction picture books to share.

On the day of the event, Monday, February 10th, we'll ask that you visit this blog, Reflect & Refine, to add your nonfiction link to the conversation.  

Join us!

Start sorting through your collections to find your favorite titles and join us on February 10th as we each share 10 nonfiction picture books we just can't live without.  Feel free to grab the #nf10for10 button and spread the word.

I guess I better get busy.  I only have a few days to pull together my titles.  Whew!  I guess I better get busy.  

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Week One: 100 Days of Notebooking #100daysofnotebooking

"Writers collect.  They collect random inspiration - things they notice and conversations they overhear.  They collect around a single idea when beginning a project.  They also collect possibilities for revision.  They collect ideas for future projects.  And they collect bits and pieces of life that may (or may not) have significance."  
                                                        -Ruth Ayres, Enticing Hard to Reach Writers, p. 89.

It all started with a tweet....

In the age of digital, my writer's notebook has certainly been something I've neglected.  When an idea strikes, it's easy to open the blog or document where I want to write.  Going directly to drafting instead of my notebook likely leads to writing that doesn't have the depth it could have.  I suppose many ideas don't percolate long enough.  Digitally, I often use Google Keep, Voice Recorder, or my notes app to do some planning, but it still isn't the same so I've been thinking about my notebook for awhile.

Then I saw Michell's tweet.  Her tweet to took me to her post.  Her post led me to a plan.  The plan led me to a community.

So for the next 100 days I'll be opening my notebook.  I've kept my goal for this time pretty simple:  one word.  Basically all I have to do is open the book, put my pen to the paper, and get down one word.  I've even already told myself it could be adding one artifact.  It's just one.  One attempt.  Of course, I know myself well enough to know most days it will be more than that, but I know I'll need to permission to step back when I need to without giving up.  It's a notebook, it's supposed to be simple.

If you would have loved to join, but are worried you're too late, the way I see it all you have to do is write about six words to catch up.  That's just a really sentence.  Ha!  So go ahead, pull out your notebook (or go buy one), and jump in with us.