Last Night & this morning

24 Apr

Stressed & exhausted, I took personal day yesterday, so I could go back last night for Literacy Night. The attendance wasn’t great, so each of the families that arrived got to choose a book for each child, rather than one book per family.

The evening was on a jungle animal theme and I had the joy of ordering the books. I chose these for the younger readers

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and these for older readers

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This morning, I am part of the team presenting to the staff about intentional read aloud and close reading. We are giving books to the staff too. They are getting

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After that I can relax. I got a big box of books this week full of Morris Award submissions and another box of yarn for a sweater I am knitting for me. It’ll be a rip-roaring weekend at my house.

Today’s Pre-Invention Convention Read Aloud

23 Apr


Reading about Chester Greenwood yesterday got the kids thinking about things they use that can be improved. Today, our read aloud looks at Ben Franklin inventions that are still around because the basic design was good. His ideas have just been improved.

Now & Ben : The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin, written and illustrated by Gene Barretta, features two page spreads that show a modern invention on the left and the Ben Franklin original on the right.


The text explanations are simple but point out how Ben Franklin is still relevant today.The end pages playfully depict various inventions of Franklin and the year that they were invented.

This book is an excellent tool to add to an inventor’s toolbox.

Flouting Convention

22 Apr


Today’s read aloud is Earmuffs for Everyone: How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs by Meghan McCarthy.  I’ll tell you more about the book below, but first, let me tell you why I’ve chosen it.

Our Science Expo is on June 2nd and, contrary to the intention, I have decided that my class will have an Invention Convention, rather than a traditional science fair.  For the last few years, the 4th grade has done an engineering and design project involving pet carriers. Teacher who lead that project has moved on and none of us left behind have taken it on. I like the idea of the kids ding an engineering and design project and I think they will learn more from that than by doing a science project or demonstration. It’s real life application of scientific principles. We have Inventors Notebooks and have through about problems and frustrations we face. Today we will read Earmuffs and really dig into an idea.

Earmuffs for Everyone: How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs  is the perfect read aloud because it doesn’t just talk about Chester Greenwood. It begins by talking about the other inventors responsible for inventing earmuffs. Then we get to Chester, who improved on a pre-existing idea. It also walks kids through the patent process and the movement to create a Chester Greenwood Day.

The backmatter is equally important. McCarthy’s Author’s Note shows us the meticulous research process she used to write her story so convincingly.

All in all this is an excellent book for any classroom. I highly recommend it.

Please share why you are interested in this position

21 Apr


For the last two years, I have been on of two PD facilitators at my school, an additional responsibility that comes with a stipend. I knew it was a three year gig when I signed on last year, replacing someone who moved to another school.

Last week, my principal invited me to make an appointment to talk about that position. She was very sweet when she started and I could tell that she was kindly trying to tell me that the position had been eliminated. I let her know I was neither shocked nor hurt and knew it was coming. She looked relieved. She also told me about a new position for next year: intervention specialist with the PD facilitator position rolled into that. She explained the school district  would fund one position, she would use building funds for an additional position.

For a few days I thought about it and asked some follow-up question. She announced the position at a staff meeting last week and handed out the application. I looked over the questions. There were five questions in all. I could come up with ideas on how to answer the last four questions, but the first one had me stymied. I didn’t complete  the form. When you can’t articulate why you are interested in the position, it seems unwise to apply for it.

And I am happy with that.

2015 Hub Reading Challenge Check-In #10

19 Apr


Although there are still several weeks left in the Challenge, I think my participation might be nearing the end. I have hit the goal of 25 books, having read 28. The Morris Committee work has ramped up considerably, which s good and I just read something fantastic I can’t tell you about.

I have made a decision that, for the last few weeks of the 2015 HUB Reading Challenge, I will only enjoy audiobooks. There are a few I haven’t managed to track down yet, in CD form or as a download, so that will be my mission.

I just started  The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry,


which is reminiscent of Gail Carriger’s Finishing School  series that I have rather enjoyed. Here is a trailer for The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place.

Publisher’s Summary:There’s a murderer on the loose—but that doesn’t stop the girls of St. Etheldreda’s from attempting to hide the death of their headmistress in this rollicking farce.

The students of St. Etheldreda’s School for Girls face a bothersome dilemma. Their irascible headmistress, Mrs. Plackett, and her surly brother, Mr. Godding, have been most inconveniently poisoned at Sunday dinner. Now the school will almost certainly be closed and the girls sent home—unless these seven very proper young ladies can hide the murders and convince their neighbors that nothing is wrong.

Last stop on Market Street

17 Apr

When I hear the name Matt de la Peña, I think young adult literature. But, he has also become a picture book author with  Last Stop On Market Street which is marvelously illustrated by Christian Robinson.


On his way home from church with his nana, CJ is impatient and wants things he a cannot have. As they travel on the bus, Nana ignites CJ’s imagination where trees drink raindrops from straws; the bus breathes fire; and each person has a story to tell. The text is an excellent example of “show don’t tell” writing that will inspire kids to see and imagine what is around them. This is a gentle book, but full of wonder.



Kids from urban neighborhoods will connect with CJ’s environment, and kids in less urban environments will have an opportunity to experience city life. I was thinking of our kinder team and the units they teach, but any primary classroom will enjoy this book.

I’m a winner!

16 Apr

The March Slice of Life Challenge, sponsored by Two Writing Teachers, has prizes. Everyone who blogs everyday for 30 days and comments on at least 3 other bloggers’ posts each day is entered into a random drawing for fabulous prizes. I won this book


Any Questions by Mary-Louise Gay. I don’t have it yet, but here is the publisher’s description.

Many children want to know where stories come from and how a book is made. Marie-Louise Gay’s new picture book provides them with some delightfully inspiring answers in a fictional encounter between an author and some very curious children, who collaborate on writing and illustrating a story.

Marie-Louise has scribbled, sketched, scrawled, doodled, penciled, collaged and painted the words and pictures of a story-within-a-story that show how brilliant ideas creep up on you when you least expect it and how words sometimes float out of nowhere asking to be written.

Any Questions? presents a world inhabited by lost polar bears, soaring pterodactyls, talking trees and spotted snails, with cameo appearances by some of Marie-Louise’s favorite characters — a world where kids can become part of the story and let their imaginations run wild… and just maybe they will be inspired to create stories of their own.

At the end of the book, Marie-Louise provides answers to many of the questions children have asked her over the years, such as “Are you Stella?” “How did you learn to draw?” “Can your cat fly?” “How many books do you make in one day?”

Here’s the video:

I can hardly wait for it to arrive!

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