Monthly Archives: April 2014

Celebration Saturday – Spring Celebrations

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I’m happy to be joining Ruth Ayres @ ruth ayres writes and others to celebrate and appreciate the goodness of the past week.

Here are the things I’m celebrating this week:

1) Workshop Celebrations -It’s the last busy surge of Pro. D. workshops in the school year and I have been enjoying my visits in many districts.  I spent this past Thursday in Kamloops, where I have presented many workshops over the years.  I believe that it was one of the first districts to hear me talk about Reading Power!  I was excited to present a session on ‘Revisiting Reading Power” – to share how Reading Power has evolved for me and how my thinking has changed and developed over the past years.  Many of the teachers there are very familiar with the strategies but were excited to get some new ideas and book titles to support their practice. So I celebrate teachers from Kamloops and from all the districts I visit – for their commitment to teaching and learning.

2) Friend Celebrations – A bonus whenever I visit Kamloops is that I get to spend time with my dear friend Katie.  She and I went through Education at university together (UBC) MANY years ago and have remained friends ever since.  Although we don’t talk or see each other often,  whenever we get together it is like no time has passed.  We talk and talk and laugh and laugh and have amazing conversations.  While I am passionate about Literacy, Katie’s passion is Math.  Katie is a MASTER Math teacher.  She teaches Math at a middle school in Kamloops and after she picked me up at the airport,  I went to visit her classroom and showed me some of her amazing lessons.  I have never felt confident in Math – but I know that if she had been my Math teacher, I would have had a totally different outlook.  I am always trying to encourage her to share her brilliant ideas with other teachers – and this time I think I just might have twisted her arm!  So I celebrate my dear friend – she is a gift to education and a gift to me.

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My friend Katie – Master Math teacher!

3) Upcoming Workshop Celebrations – I have been invited to present a workshop at the Maple Leaf School in Dalian, China!  Amazing!  I have a very dear friend who is working at the school with her husband.  She brought my book with her and is training all the teachers to use Reading Power strategies.  This is quite a new concept for many of the teachers as promoting “thinking” is not as common practice in their education system as it is here.  She has worked hard to get the “powers that be” at her school to invite me next November to do a Pro.D. workshop for their VERY large staff and two more Maple Leaf campus staffs will join.   How exciting!  She says that teachers receive very little professional development so this will be very new for many of them!  Coincidentally, but not connected to my visit, my book is being translated into Chinese!  The stars have aligned and the translation will be ready by the time I go in November!

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Reading Power Poster in Chinese

4) Garden Celebrations – Spring is here and blooming in my yard.  I love this time of year when I get to say hello to all my perennial friends as they begin to push their way up from their winter sleep to color our yard.  My husband and I spent last weekend pulling up weeds and edging the flower beds.  Next job is to plant a few more friends to fill the spaces and add some top soil.  I love my garden!

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5) City Celebration – I love Vancouver – the city where I was born and where I have lived all my life.  I love the mountains, the beaches, the parks – I truly believe it is one of most beautiful cities in the world.  Last weekend, we took the dog for a walk along Spanish Banks and this was our view.  I celebrate the beauty of the city I call home.

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Vancouver city scape

5) Family Celebrations – Spring means spring hockey tournaments and baseball double headers.  I celebrate that both my boys are playing sports that they love and that we have met so many wonderful families through their teams.  This weekend, my younger son is in a big hockey tournament and won MVP at his first game.  I am not a very good goalie mom – I usually last until the second period sitting, then I have to walk around and then usually spend the last few minutes hiding in a bathroom stall texting another parent to find out the score!

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Olie, the goalie!

6) Classroom Celebrations – In this last term of the school year, I’m working with several primary classes on writing.  I find such delight in watching the younger students get excited about writing.  Young writers tend to write in a list “I like dogs. I like chocolate.  I like soccer.”  (see sample below)  Last week I taught them about adding interesting details to their sentences.  I introduced them to my favorite words for adding details:  once, sometimes, if, when.  I modeled “I like red licorice.”  but they agreed this was a little boring.  I then wrote “I like red licorice because it’s good” – a little better but still boring!  So then I wrote: “I like red licorice.  Once I ate a whole bag in the movie theater.”  The students agreed that this was the most interesting sentence because they could make connections and visualize.  “Good writers activate their readers’ thinking”   Next week, we will continue to practice adding interesting details using “once, sometimes, if, when”.

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Grade one “list” writing.

I’m celebrating many things this week.  What about you?

 

 

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Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday – New nonfiction titles for spring!

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I’m excited to be joining Alyson Beecher from Kid Lit Frenzy in this year’s Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2014  I’m hoping to discover many new nonfiction books that I can share with my students at school and with other teachers at workshops.  Link up here to join in!

This week I’m featuring some new nonfiction releases – several of which were sent to me to preview from one of my favorite Canadian-owned children’s publisher –  Kids Can Press.  

Animal ABC

Animal ABC – Marcus Pfister

Any of you who love alphabet books – this is a must for your collection!  I love the work of Marcus Pfister (Questions, Questions is one of my favorites!)  and in this book, he uses playful rhymes to highlight the distinct features of each animal.  K – “I carry my baby in a pouch.  I might look slow, but I’m no slouch.” (Kangaroo)  Of course the best part is that each rhyme is written as a riddle – so the book could be used for a guessing game for younger students as well.  The illustrations are amazing – so textured and colorful!  (Just a note – the book I have has a slightly different cover with different animals than the one shown here)

Secrets of the Seasons – Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld

I’m a huge fan of any book related to seasons  so was happy to discover this new one to add to my large collection of season books!  This is a simple narrative text that includes Alice explaining to her friend Zack the reasons for the changing seasons.  I really liked how the scientific concepts were weaved through the narrative.  The illustrations are lovely and there are lots of great text features including charts and diagrams, and sidebars.  There are even two helpful and rather funny chickens who help Alice by providing more of the scientific details.  This would be a great book to read aloud to a primary class as an introduction to seasons and the earth’s yearly cycle.

 One World Together – Catherine and Laurence Anhalt

I love this husband and wife team from the UK and read many of their books to my boys when they were younger.  There is something very sweet and charming about the illustrations and the faces of the young children in their books.  In this delightful new book, we take a trip around the world to meet children from lots of different places and peek into their lives.  Every page is a new country and we see how children in different places in the world live, what they eat, where they live, etc.  It’s perfect for comparing our lives to the lives of children all over the world.  The countries featured are Brazil, China, Russia, Kenya, the Netherlands, Sweden, Japan, Morocco, and the United States. A great book to share to introduce a theme of cultural diversity to the younger children.

At the Same Moment, Around the World

At the Same Moment Around the World – Clotilde Perrin

This beautifully illustrated book teaches readers about time zones in a very unique way.  (Even the tall shape of the book is unique!)  The illustrations are lovely – they seem to flow into each other as you turn the pages.  In a 24 hour period, we travel around the world, hour by hour, visiting different time zones in different countries.  I loved how the book ends as it began – a circle of time – and that there is a map at the back.  (I love books with maps!)

Zoobots

Zoobots – Helaine Becker  (Kids Can Press)

A “ZOOBOT” is type of animal inspired robot designed using mechatronics – mechanical and electrical engineering combined with computer science. This sci-fi type book is set up like a animal book. On each page, we are introduced to a facts and stats about a different “zoobot” – and learn what animal it evolved from, its zoobot name, its super skill, its applications and its special operation. “Dash”, for example, is the robot that evolved from the cockroach)  I’m not a particular fan of robot design but I can see how this book would be VERY appealing to many kids I know!   Even though the zoobots are not actually real – the book is informative and intriguing!

Underworld: Exploring the Secret World Beneath Your Feet

Underworld – Exploring the Secret World Beneath Your Feet – Jane Price   (Kids Can Press)

WOW!  This book is fascinating!  I still have not read through every page because there is just so much to read and look at!  Who knew there were whole worlds hidden below the grass and streets?  From caves to subways to mines to tombs, dungeons, trenches and buried treasures!  WOW again!  This is a book that you can spend hours looking through (I already have!) Every 2-page spread features a different underground world.  The text is very accessible with many text features to help you navigate through the information.  The captions and fact boxes are entertaining.  I also loved the illustrations combined with many photographs. My favorite pages were the side view cross-sections.  AMAZING!

Plesiosaur Peril

Plesiousaur Peril – Daniel Loxton  (Kids Can Press)

Well, I am a little ashamed to admit that I did not know that plesiosaurs were ocean-dwelling cousins of the dinosaurs! But now I do – thanks to this book!  The story reads like a narrative, with many scientific facts woven throughout.  A pod of plesiosaurs keep safe by swimming in a family pod until one baby plesiosaur swims too far from its mother and encounters danger and the struggle for survival is on.  This story is quite dramatic at times and I found the digitalized computer generated created life-like images.  I am not a huge dinosaur fan but I know it will be a big hit for the dinosaur lovers at my school!

Shapes in Math, Science and Nature: Squares, Triangles and Circles

 Shapes in Math, Science and Nature – Katherine Sheldrick Ross  (Kids Can Press)

An awesome resource book for teaching concepts about shape – focusing on the Square, Triangle and Circle.  This book is overflowing with interesting information  – from the history of shapes to odd and interesting facts, as well as  instructions on how to make different shape-based projects.  There are even some magic tricks included!  (Super Circle on page 137 was a great trick!)  I’m not sure who will love this book more – kids or teachers!  The illustrations are charming and there is a great section at the back that lists math formulas.  Not a book to read cover to cover in one sitting but certainly one to pick and chose activities and facts to share.

Every Day Is Malala Day

Every Day is Malala Day – Rosemary McCarney

Malala Yousafzai is the 16 yr. old Pakistani student who was shot by the Taliban because she spoke out for the right to be able to attend school.  Recognized world wide for her courage and conviction, she is now a symbol of the struggle for girls’ rights all over the world.     Her story is one that every child should know and this book is a wonderful tribute to her continued fight for girls to be educated.  The book is beautiful.    It is written as a letter from girls around the world to Malala, as they express their sympathy and admiration for her.  It is powerful and emotional and a wonderful book for introducing students social justice and children’s rights.  This is a MUST book for every classroom!  A portion of proceeds of the sale of the book will go to  Because I am a Girl campaign.   You can watch an interview with Malala here

Well – it’s been a very exciting week of new nonfiction books!  Thanks for stopping by and please let me know what book has caught your eye!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Alphabet book, Mapping, Math, New Books, NFPB Challenge 2014, Nonfiction, Seasons, social justice, Social Studies

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – New picture books and novels

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It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week.  Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers

This week, I’m featuring a collection of recently released picture books and novels!  Hope you find a few titles that you will be able to use in your classroom!

Monday, Wednesday, and Every Other Weekend

Monday, Wednesday and Every Other Weekend – Karen Stanton

So many students I teach come from divorced families and share their time between parents.  While some may view this as challenging, the positive and realistic viewpoint portrayed in this book allow the reader to understand the many different emotions that are a part of living in two places.  I loved the detailed acrylic artwork and the gentle tone of the text.  A great Connect book for children experiencing a similar situation and a great book for discussing families and feelings.

Sophie Sleeps Over

Sophie Sleeps Over – Marisabina Russo

Sophie is excited to be going to her first sleep-over at her “best friend’s” house.  But after carefully deciding what to bring and packing many treasures and goodies, she arrives at her friends’ house only to discover she is not the only “best friend” who was invited to sleep over.  This book is charming and deals with the ever so sensitive  best friend dilemma in a light-hearted and realistic way.

 

A Gift for Mama

A Gift For Mama – Linda Raven Lodding

Oskar is looking for the perfect gift for his mother’s birthday.  He takes to the bustling steeets of Vienna to search for possible gifts and begins to trade one gift for another and another.  This is a wonderful story and I enjoyed the circular structure of ending where it began.  The illustrations by Alison Jay (The Cloud Spinner) are wonderful.  (How does she make that crackle texture?)  A simple, heartwarming story about kindness and what really is the most precious gift.

 

Following Papa's Song

Following Papa’s Song – Gianna Marino

I LOVED this book!  The vibrant illustrations are amazing and I loved how the fictional story weaves in many scientific facts about whales and migration.  Little Blue has many questions for Papa as their pod of whales prepares for migration – How will they know the way? Will he be able to keep up? What will they see along the way?   Papa answers all the questions, but Little Blue’s curiosity leads him away from the group on his own exploration and eventually loses Papa.  Whale calling reunites the two.  A wonderful book filled with interesting whale facts and stunning illustrations.

 

Big Bug

Big Bug – Henry Cole

This concept book introduces younger readers to the idea of scale and comparison.   The book begins with a beautiful close up of a ladybug and then zooms out from bug, to flower, to a cow and eventually ends at the expansive sky,  then zooms back in from the sky to a tree, a house to a window and finally ends with a dog.   Each page compares the previous size to the next.  Very few words but vibrant and colorful illustrations.

 

The Green Line

The Green Line – Patty Farquharson

This book is so clever and original!   In it, you follow a child’s path on a walk through the park by putting your finger on the line and tracing the path – across a street, down hills, splashing through puddles, and rolling down a hill.  The photographs are amazing and combine with the doodle line that the child is making.  I LOVED this book and am excited to have my students make their own “line” walk.  I also like that there is an underlying theme about noticing wonders around you. 

Nine Words Max

Nine Words Max – Dan Bar – al

This book is quirky, funny and a tribute to words!  I loved it!  Max is a Prince who loves to talk – and talk and talk!  His brothers, on the other hand, are of the “less is more” mindset when it comes to words.  When the King and Queen go away on a trip,  they leave the brothers in charge of Max.  They cast a spell on him, which permits him to speak using only nine words at a time.  But when a dignitary arrives, the brothers come to realize the importance of Max’s words.  This book is a clever satire on the impending loss of language that occurs when social media limits communication to characters 140 characters or less!

Millhouse – Natale Ghent

A wonderful book for reading aloud to a grade 3-5 class!  Millhouse is a charming hairless guinea pig who loves everything to do with the theater, especially Shakespeare.  When his actor owner dies, he is left in a pet store, surrounded by a cast of animal characters – some nice and some not so nice.  (Think Charlotte’s Web’s barn animals only in a pet store!)  Millhouse is ridiculed by the other pets and is made an outcast in the pet store (actually it was VERY sad!) but through a series of events (fortunate and unfortunate) he eventually finds happiness.  I found this book to be quite emotional in parts as the pets were very cruel to Milly and I think would lead to some great class discussions.  Great illustrations!

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny—Detectives Extraordinaire!

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny – Detectives Extraordinaire – Polly Horvath

LOL!  This chapter book was hilarious!  Wacky and weird and so much fun to read!  Madeline’s hippy, self-absorbed parents have been kidnapped by the foxes.  Madeleine, on a search to find the, hires Mr. and Mrs. Bunny to help her.  Mr. and Mrs. Bunny drive a Smart Car and wear Fedoras and the cast of other characters are equally as quirky!  Filled with adventure, mystery and humor – I know that my students will love this as a read-aloud

The ACB with Honora Lee

The ACB with Honora Lee – Kate De Goldi

SOOO many things to LOVE about this book!  A young girl, Perry, whose parents seem too busy to really spend any time with her, develops a beautiful relationship with her gran, Honora Lee. during her weekly visits to the Senior’s home where she lives.  Honora suffers from some form of dementia and has an unusually keen interest in the alphabet.  During her weekly visits, Perry decides to make an alphabet book.   She and her grandmother begin to make it together, but soon, everyone in the home becomes interested and wants to contribute.   The writing is beautiful – simple and easy to read yet leaves spaces for our thinking. This story touched my heart in many ways – I made connections to my own grandmother.  I loved the relationship between Perry and her gran and how, despite her gran’s memory loss, they formed such a strong connection through the stories they shared while making the alphabet book.  A truly touching book.

Thanks for stopping by this week!  Please leave a comment and let me know which books caught your eye!

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Connect, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Novels, Picture Book, Read-Aloud

It’s Monday – What Are You Reading? Ocean, Baseball and some Lullabies!

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It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week.  Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers

This week, I’m happy to be sharing some recent releases from KidsCan Press.

There Was an Old Sailor

There Was an Old Sailor – Claire Saxby

There was an old sailor who swallowed a krill

I don’t know why he swallowed a krill –

It’ll make him ill!

Ahoy mates!  This lively nautical version of the classic and familiar song “There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” would be a perfect book to read during a unit of study about the ocean.  It is filled with many sea creatures – some familiar and others not so much  and the delightful illustrations by Cassandra Allen are the perfect touch!  I was also thinking it would be a fun book to use for visualizing!

The Mermaid and the Shoe

The Mermaid and the Shoe – K. G. Campbell

Oh my – there are so many things I loved about this book!  The story, the character, the illustrations… a definite must read!  This book was inspired by classic fairy tales but takes on its own style.  Minnow is the 50th daughter of King Neptune.  While the other 49 daughters are remarkable, dearest Minnow is not. The only thing that makes her remarkable is the fact that she asks so many questions.  (LOVE her!)  Where do bubbles go?  Why don’t crabs have fins?   One day she discovers a mysterious object and her curiosity about it leads her on a journey of discovery.   I won’t give it away – you must read it!  This would make a wonderful book to promote the power of questioning. 

A Fish Named Glub

 A Fish Named Glub – Dan Bar-el

Here is another book that celebrates the power of questions!  Glub is a fish who lives in a fishbowl and asks deep questions:  Who am I? Where did I come from? Where do I belong?   We meet many different patrons from the diner  where he lives and they interact with Glub and try to help answer his questions.  Each person we meet is either lonely or missing something in their lives and with the help of Glub (and a little magic)  find  answers to their own questions.  This book is more suited for older students but would be a great one for questioning and inferring.  I loved the illustrations and the voice of Glub. 

The Most Magnificent Thing

The Most Magnificent Thing – Ashley Spires

A great connect book for all you inventors and perfectionists!  This is the story of a little girl who wants to make the most magnificent thing. She knows exactly what its supposed to do and what it should look like. The only problem is, try as she might, she just can’t get it right.  Eventually, she is overwhelmed with frustration – “I quit!”  She goes for a walk, cools off, then goes back with a fresh outlook and new determination.  I love how this book promotes many important issues – creativity, patience and determination – not to mention a positive model for how to deal with frustration!  Great illustrations and a very cute doggie assistant!

Baseball Is… Louise Borden

Spring means many things to many people – but to my 15 yr. old son it is not about the chirping birds, bursting blossoms or budding tulips.   To him, spring only means one thing – BASEBALL!  So when I saw this book on display at the book store – I knew it was a must have for our house.  But the good news is that you don’t have to be a baseball fan to appreciate or enjoy this fantastic book!   This book is a sensory delight – filled with details of baseball facts, stats, rituals and players. The excitement and joy of the game spill out onto every page.  The writing is amazing and I’m definitely going to add it to my collection of anchor books that model word choice.  Take me out to the ball game – or just read this book!

The Wild Book – Margarita Engle

This book is based on the life of Margarita Engle’s grandmother, who suffered from dyslexia, or word blindness” as it was referred to in Cuba in the early 1900’s.  Her mother gives her a notebook – or “wild book”  and tells her to “think of this book as a garden – scatter your seeds all over the page”.  The girl (Elfa) begins to write.  The book is told in verse and I really enjoyed learning about life and war in Cuba during this time period.  This book celebrates words, reading and writing and an inspiration to any child or adult who may experience literacy challenges.

Goodnight Songs

Goodnight Songs – Margaret Wise Brown

Goodnight Moon was one of my favorite books to read to my children when they were younger so I was thrilled to learn of this new collection of unpublished lullabies by the late Margaret Wise Brown.   They are illustrated by many a range of award winning illustrators and accompanied with music and a CD.  Quiet songs and poems to play in your primary classroom or a lovely gift for a new baby.

Thanks for stopping by!  I’d love to know which book has caught your eye this week!

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Filed under Connect, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Picture Book, Question, Writing Anchors