Category Archives: Writing Strategies

Adrienne’s OLLI – Online Learning Lesson Idea #20 – Thank You, Earth!

I originally created OLLIs when schools in my province of British Columbia shut down last spring due to Covid19.  While we are now back in class, I know there are many districts still juggling virtual and in-class support.  These OLLIs can be used both in class and virtually person.  Either way, I hope you find some ideas that you can use with your students to lighten your load just a little this year!  

Here is a list of the previous OLLI lessons and anchor books in case you missed any of them:

OLLI#1 (The Hike)

OLLI#2. (If I Could Build A School)

OLLIE#3  (Mother’s Day)

OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)

OLLI #5 – (WANTED:  Criminals of the Animal Kingdom) 

OLLI #6 – (Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt)

OLLI #7 (All About Feelings – “Keep it! – Calm it! – Courage it!)  

OLLI #8 (I’m Talking DAD! – lesson for Father’s Day) 

OLLI #9 (Be Happy Right Now!) 

OLLI #10 – (Dusk Explorers)

OLLI#11 (If You Come to Earth)

OLLI #12 (Map of Good Memories)

OLLI #13 (Harvey Slumfenburger)

OLLI #14 (New Year’s Resolutions)

OLLI #15 ( 100 Things That Make Me Happy)

OLLIE #16 (Leaving Our Heartprints) 

OLLIE #17  (The Sounds of Snow)  (This post is temporarily unavailable)

OLLIE #18 – Celebrating Women Trail Blazers

OLLIE #19The Six Senses of Spring

THE INSPRIATION:

Earth Day is coming up this Thursday, so I thought it would be a great time to focus on extending our gratitude to Earth and all that it provides for us! It’s also a perfect topic to inspire some great writing!

THE ANCHOR:

Thank You, Earth: A Love Letter to Our Planet – April Pulley Sayre

YouTube Read Aloud HERE

While not a brand new book, this has been my “go to” book for Earth Day for many years. I love that the book is all about gratitude for all that the Earth gives us written in the form of a letter. Filled with stunning photography and lyrical rhythmic text makes it a perfect read-aloud.  The end notes provide suggestions for ways we can help the environment.  I also appreciated the detailed notes about the photographs – which are truly breath-taking.  Great anchor to inspire “Thank you, Earth” writing and poetry and great mentor text for teaching alliteration.

THE LESSON:

  • Ask students what special day is coming up on April 22nd. (Earth Day) Ask students “What is Earth Day”? “Why is Earth Day important?”
  • Explain that the Earth is an amazing planet, but it needs our help to protect it! Earth Day is a day when people all over the world celebrate the Earth and take part in activities to help make our world a happier, healthier place to live.
  • You may wish to brainstorm things that students could do this week to help the earth: turn off lights, turn off the water when brushing your teeth, recycle bottles and cans, pick up garbage, have a shorter shower, put your computer on “sleep” rather than on screen saver, bring re-usable containers for lunch, walk or ride a bike to school.
  • Remind the students that the Earth gives us so much, we all need to work together to try to protect it. Every day is Earth Day!
  • Ask: What are some of the things the Earth gives us? (water, air, trees, soil, animals, rocks, mountains, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, sunshine, clouds, plants, fruit, vegetables, etc.)
  • Tell the students that if a person gave them so many amazing things every day, you would probably be thanking them! Ask them when was the last time they said “Thank you” to the Earth? Explain that it might feel strange to say “Thank you” to earth because Earth can’t really hear us and it’s not really alive. But what if we could say thank you to Earth? What would you thank Earth for?
  • Show them the book “Thank You, Earth“. Tell them this book is someone saying thank you to the Earth for all that it gives us. Read or share the story on YouTube
  • Invite the students to share their favorite photograph or page.
  • Tell the students that you noticed even thought the book didn’t rhyme, there was a lovely sound and mood to some of the words when you read it out loud. Tell them you noticed several were several words that started with the same letter in the book. Explain that this is a technique writers sometimes use called “alliteration“. “Craggy caves” and “majestic mountains” are examples of alliteration because they are two words, close together, that start with the same sound.
  • Read the book again, and invite students to listen for the alliteration. (ie – slippery seaweed and stone; mountains and minerals; bills and bones) They can give a “thumbs up” whenever they hear similar sounds.
  • Tell the students that they are going to be writing “Thank you letters” to Earth, thanking it for all the amazing things. Tell them that you are going to think about using alliteration in your letter.
  • Model this during a “write aloud” Invite the students to help you with your alliteration.

Dear Earth,

Thank you for the tall trees and the green grass.

Thank you for tiny turtles and giant giraffes.

Thank you for red raspberries and green grapes.

Thank you for lakes to swim in and rivers to follow.

Thank you for whooshing waterfalls and cool caves.

  • Point out that you were trying to choose two things on each line that were connected in some way and also that you were trying to use alliteration. The alliteration makes the writing sound a bit like a poem, even though it doesn’t rhyme.
  • Talk about an ending that let’s your reader know you are at the end. Tell the students you want to try to include something about protecting the Earth at the end of your letter. Invite students to make suggestions for the ending. And don’t forget to sign your name!

Earth, you give us so much and never ask us for anything

But if you could talk, you might say, “Please take care of me!”

I will, Earth. I will!

Love, Ms. Gear

  • Students can do a Dear Earth draft in their Writer’s Notebook if you prefer.
  • When they are ready, they can write their letter on fancy paper, or use one of the POSTCARD templates below. Students can use one side of the Postcard to write their message and the other side to draw and color a picture of their favorite thing that Earth gives us (forest, mountains, ocean, gardens, etc.)

Postcard Template 1

Postcard Template 2 (no lines)

Postcard Template 3

Postcard Template 4

More Earth Day Anchor Books (some with YouTube links)

The week leading up to Earth Day is a great opportunity to share a range of wonderful picture books to help start conversations about the importance of doing our part to care for the earth.   While there are dozens to choose from, I have tried to highlight some old classics, new releases, and inspiring true stories.

Hello, Earth! – Poems to Our Planet – Joyce Sidman

Interview with Joyce Sidman as she talks about her book and reads some of her poems from this beautiful new book

HERE

My Friend Earth – Patricia MacLachlan

(YouTube read aloud HERE Note – start at 1.36 seconds)

A celebration of the natural world and an invitation for positive action for Planet Earth. Great opportunities to share life science concepts and amazing facts about the environment with children. Interactive text and lift the flap pictures. Patricia MacLachlan is one of my favorite authors!

If We Were Gone: Imagining the World Without People – John Co

YouTube Read aloud HERE

Is the Earth better off without us?  What has human impact done to our Earth? What a great question and one that will certainly stimulate some great discussion from your students.

Does Earth Feel? 14 Questions for Humans – Marc Majewski

Does Earth feel calm?
Does Earth feel curious?
Does Earth feel hurt?
Does Earth feel heard?

A stunning picture book that asks 14 critical questions to encourage deep thinking and discussion about our one and only planet.

Earth Day Every Day (Cloverleaf Books ™ — Planet Protectors) by [Lisa Bullard, Xin Zheng]

Earth Day Every Day – Lisa Bullard

(YouTube Read aloud HERE)

Not For Me, Please! I Choose to Act Green – Maria Godsey

YouTube Read Aloud HERE

One Earth – Eileen Spinelli

YouTube Read Aloud HERE

Lovely rhyming and counting book for younger readers. Readers can count reasons to love the planet and ways to protect it. Beautiful illustrations in this conservation-themed book.

The Earth Gives More – Sue Fliess

YouTube Read aloud – HERE

A lovely, rhyming story follows the change in seasons and illustrates how we can all be stewards of the Earth.

Our Big Home: An Earth Poem – Linda Glaser

Beautiful and inspiring.  Not only could you use this book for Earth Day but also for acceptance and inclusion – no matter who you are, what race or culture you come from – we all share this world and are responsible for its care.  This book is filled with joy and a sense of wonder at this “home” all humans share.

What A Waste – Trash, Recyling, and Protecting Our Planet – Jess French

10 Things I Can Do to Help My World – Melanie Walsh

I think that one challenge of teaching about Earth Day is helping kids know practical ways they can take care of the earth, besides doing garbage duty at school.  This book gives young readers clear examples of how they can help.  From turning off the water while brushing their teeth, to using both sides of the paper while drawing, kids will enjoy learning simple ways they can care for the environment.   I love the large size of this book, making it great for sharing.  It’s visually appealing and cleverly designed with flaps and includes clear, simple language.

My Green Day – Melanie Walsh

A companion to 10 Things I Can Do To Help My World, this book outlines through picture, simple sentences and colourful illustrations how we can all try to be more environmentally friendly in our every day activities.   Hidden pictures, flaps to lift and holes makes this a fun book for sharing and reading.

The Earth Book – Todd Parr

With simple language and his colorful signature illustrations, Todd Parr describes to young readers how they can do their part to help the environment.  Great concrete examples showing how we can all do our part to make a difference.  Use to inspire younger students create their own “Todd Parr” style Earth Day poster!

8139312

What Does It Mean to Be Green?  – Rana DiOrio

A young boy and girl explore all the different ways they can be Green over the course of a day. They discover lots of amazing facts (like our food travels an average of 1,500 miles to be on our plate!)  I like how DiOrio takes the buzzword “green” and explains it clearly to children, giving them lots of ideas for being “green” themselves.

What Matters – Alison Hughes

Great new book for Earth Day!  This is a wonderful look at the ripple effect of how one small act – picking up garbage that isn’t yours – has repercussions to make the world cleaner and better. (Think Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed but for the earth!) I also think this book would be great for introducing the concept of the inter-connectedness of ecosystems.

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

Liam is a curious boy living in a drab, gray city. One day, he finds a few dying plants growing through an old railroad track.  Liam waters and prunes the plants until they grow into a lush garden that overtakes the entire city.  By the end of the book, greenery covers the rooftops and pops up in the most unexpected places.  I LOVE this magical story and notice something new every time I read it.  If you haven’t shared this with your class yet – it’s a MUST read!

The Lorax – Dr. Seuss

“UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
It’s not!”

Way back in the 1960’s, long before “going green” was a mainstream concept, Dr. Seuss introduced young readers to the impacts of clear-cutting on the environment.  Written and illustrated in classic Dr. Seuss style, but this book focuses on more serious themes of consumerism, economics, deforestation, and the environment.  A great choice for older students that will stimulate some great discussions about environmental conservation.

The Wartville Wizard – Don Madden

This book was published in 1986 but its message will never be outdated.  A cranky old man who spends his days cleaning up the litter left by his fellow townspeople. One day he receives “the power over trash,” which gives him the ability to send the garbage right back where it came from! When the townspeople find their garbage stuck to them, they learn a valuable lesson. Great pictures, great story!  This book is lengthy so would make a great read-aloud for older students.  (Warning – references to cigar butts and beer cans.)

The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales – Dawn Casey

This is a gorgeous anthology of seven traditional tales from around the world, each one promoting a sustainable lifestyle and living green.  Readers learn about the ways that different cultures around the world try living in harmony with the rhythms and patterns of nature.  Included are suggested activities to go along with each story including creating a a song-line painting, cooking “anything-goes soup”, making a cornhusk doll, and growing your own tomatoes.   Love the link of Earth day and cultural diversity.

Thanks for stopping by! Please share this blog post with your teacher friends!

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

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Filed under Earth Day, environment, New Books, OLLI, Read-Aloud, Reading Power, Writing Strategies

A New Book, Covid19, and Advice from a Friend

Powerful Writing Structures: Brain Pocket Strategies for ...

My new book, Powerful Writing Structures, published by Pembroke Publishing, was released this past February.  This book, like my previous ones, was a labour of love.  It is a culmination of everything I love about teaching writing:  writing joy, writing goals, mini lessons, brain pockets, writing structures, anchor books, responsive teaching, formative assessment.. it’s all there!  It is a book I wrote for my first-year teacher self; a book I wish I had had in my early teaching days when the only writing I remember doing with my students was “I’m Thankful For…” stuck onto a paper turkey in October and “Peace is…” stuck onto a paper poppy in November.

I presented my book officially at the Reading for the Love Of It conference in Toronto on February 20th, 2020.  My dear friend Cheryl (who is also a teacher) was there, as she always is, cheering me on from the front row.  The response from participants was overwhelming and I felt a surge of pride and excitement.  (“Winner, winner, chicken dinner! Teachers are going to LOVE this book!”)  The book sold out at the conference and, needless to say, my publisher was thrilled.  (Isn’t that right, Mary?)

This spring, I was scheduled to present workshops on my new book at many schools and districts across BC and at several larger conferences including ones in Banff, Whistler, Whitehorse, and Melbourne, Australia.  Among other events, I was invited to do a book talk at United Library Services in Burnaby in April for their spring book sale and my good friend Sue, a principal in Kelowna, was planning a district book launch for me in May.

Enter Covid19.  And just like that, everything stopped.  Literally stopped.  At a time of  year when my inbox is usually flooded with workshop requests for the following school year, it is overflowing with cancellations.  The boxes of my new book I had ordered to sell at these upcoming workshops sit unopened in my garage.  All workshops for the foreseeable future have, in fact, been cancelled and none are being booked.  Let’s face it – Pro. D. will certainly not be held again for months, if not years, and will most likely never look the same.  And so I am slowly coming to the realization that the profession I love as a literacy consultant, educational public speaker, and workshop presenter is no longer.  This is my new reality.  And, if I’m being honest with you, it kind of sucks.  Yes, there are ways to present virtually, I have been told.  Yes, I can learn to do webinars and Zoom workshops and online in-services. But nothing compares to the joy I feel standing in front of a group of educators (second only to students), sharing my passion, my lessons, and my stories.  And with just a few weeks into the online teaching experience, you know first hand that the reciprocal energy, laughter, and emotional connections that are ever present in person can never be replicated through a screen.

Now, the thing I’ve learned about a global pandemic is that it sucks the wind out of an ocean full of sails – artists, athletes, actors, public speakers, performers, chefs, shop keepers, servers, priests and pastors, beauticians and stylists, therapists and counselors – any sailboat where groups of people gather, large or small, has been forced to dock.  And many of the boats that have involuntarily and abruptly stopped sailing are far more important than mine and, in many cases, completely life altering.  It’s also hard to wallow in self pity when so many are suffering.  So for some time, I have been keeping to myself about my disappointment that I am out of a job (hey, you’re not the only one), that I’m going to have to reinvent myself somehow (what the heck am I going to do now?) and nobody is buying my new book (seriously, Adrienne? no one cares about your book right now).   

Like you, I have done my best to adjust to the new normal:  I am amused by and participate in the constant stream of self-isolation and online teaching memes and posts (I am obsessed with pluto.living); I am enjoying this gift of time with my family; I’ve experienced my first Google Hangout Book Club meeting and taken part in several virtual happy hours; I have purchased a supply of not so effective root cover up; I listen to Dr. Bonnie Henry’s updates religiously every day and admire her shoes and her grace; I join my neighbours every night at 7 pm to honor the front line workers, ringing my dad’s old school bell from our front porch;  I cry at the thought of people not being able to hold the hand of a loved one and say their last goodbyes.  And so the excitement and pride I usually feel when a book is finally out of my head and out into the world has become so terribly insignificant in comparison to the disruption and devastation going on, it feels completely inappropriate to be even mentioning it.

But yesterday during my daily 6-feet-apart-run in the woods with Cheryl and our dogs (aka- my morning fix of friendship and forest), she gave me some advice.  She told me that I should NOT stay silent about my new book any longer.  It’s time, she said. Teachers will want to know about your new book and will want to read it.  And so, after some reflecting,  I have taken her advice because she is my oldest (not in age but in friendship years) and dearest, and that’s what friends do.  And also because I love my new book and I want you to love it, too.

This was her advice…

BLOG POST:  She said I should write a blog post about my new book so that at least people know that the book is out and that it’s available. (You are reading that post now)

BRAG:  She said I should not be shy to brag about the book.  Here is my brag:

My new book, Powerful Writing Structures:  Brain Pocket Strategies for Supporting a Year Long Reading Program, is a practical, user-friendly book that includes everything you need to know about teaching writing in elementary school.  It is an excellent professional resource.  I highly recommend it.  

BOOK TRAILER:  She said I should make a little video book trailer telling people about it.  But don’t make the video too long because people will lose interest.

I tried to make a short trailer – but this one is 16 min.

https://www.loom.com/share/e646db2799ff4fc4bc08d88e29d84124

And then I tried to make a shorter one but this one’s even longer one… 23 minutes.

https://www.loom.com/share/961372129667413088988a7219df5ad4

BUY THE BOOK:   She said I should add a link to the blog post so people could buy the book if they want.  But make sure to give a discount because everyone is giving discounts right now. 

Here is my link to buy my book.  Yes, there is a discount.

https://www.readingpowergear.com/store

TESTIMONIAL:  She said I need some testimonials.  She offered to write one.  She may be a little bias, but here it is.

Powerful Writing Structures is an excellent combination of Adrienne Gear’s previous two books on writing; Writing Power and Writing Power Non- Fiction. Powerful Writing Structures is a teacher friendly total writing program. It is well organized, practical and easy to use. It is all you need to help your students develop their writing skills. I wish I had this resource when I began my teaching career. I will definitely be using this book in my classroom.​                                    – Cheryl Burian   (Gr. 1-2 teacher, SD 38-Richmond, B.C.)

MORE BLOGS: Finally, she said after this blog post about my new book,  I should really think about posting lesson ideas for online teaching because that is what teachers need most right now.  Stay tuned.

I know that the health and safety of all those you love and cherish is and should be at the forefront of your heart and mind during this time.  Many of you may also be struggling with the new reality of online teaching and the many challenges that brings, particularly if you have young children at home.  But if you have read to the end of this blog post, whether or not you are interested in my new book or not, I thank you for reading it.  I also thank you for all you are doing to support your children at home, your students, your family, your neighbours, and your pets during this strange and challenging time.  We are in this together and together I believe we will come through it a little wiser, more compassionate, and without a doubt, more grateful.  Be well, everyone.

And thank you, Cheryl.

 

 

 

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Filed under 2020 Releases, New Books, Powerful Writing Structures, Teacher Books, Writing Strategies

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? First New Books for 2019

Image result for IMWAYR

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: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

It’s hard to believe that it’s already February!  Where did January go?  But with the start of a new year, there are always new books to read and share!  Here are just a few of the gorgeous new picture books (and one novel!) I’ve been reading over the past few weeks…

When Sadness is at Your Door by Eva Eland

When Sadness is At Your Door – Eva Eland

Children sometimes struggle to understand and cope with their emotions, especially the “big” ones like anger and sadness. Talking about our feelings helps us process them, and this book gives readers a tender and comforting way to work through sadness.  Excellent anchor book for lessons about feelings.

How To Give Your Cat A Bath: In Five Easy Steps – Nicola Winstanley

This book is laugh out loud hilarious! Take a little girl, her cat (who does not want a bath), and an empty bathtub. Add a multitude of silly shenanigans and very funny pictures and you have a MUST read aloud book for your class.  Perfect anchor book for instructional “How To” writing.  LOVE!

all you need is love

All You Need is Love – John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Kind of hard to resist this one.  Beautifully illustrated book which brings John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s world-renowned classic song “All You Need Is Love” to life.  Would be a great way to introduce a younger generation to this classic song and these talented artists.  (I always think about the wedding scene in “Love Actually” when I hear this song!)

My Heart

My Heart – Corinna Luyken

“My heart is a window. My heart is a slide. My heart can be closed…or opened up wide.” Listening to, following, and caring for our hearts is the theme in this gorgeous book.  Meta-cognition of our hearts (if there is such a thing!), this book helps readers to see that our hearts (and our emotions) are always changing – can be open, closed, full, empty. Gorgeous metaphors for the heart written with lovely rhyming text and beautiful grey and yellow illustrations (look for all the hearts hidden in the pictures) A lovely book for the both younger and older students (great for inferring!) and would be a wonderful book to share around Valentine’s Day.  Empowering and hopeful.

No bears

There Are No Bears in This Bakery – Julia Sarcone-Roach

Spoiler Alert – There ARE bears in this  bakery!  Despite Muffin the Cat’s watchful eye, one small hungry bear does get into the bakery.  But Muffin has donuts. Which, as we all know, bears like an awful lot.  So much to like about this book – bright, colorful illustrations and great word choice.  This book would also make a great anchor for teaching similes, point of view, and the five senses.

good egg

The Good Egg – Jory John

I am SO excited about this follow up to hilarious and heartfelt The Bad Seed.   With the same hilarious voice and delightful illustrations, this is the charming tale of a VERY good egg who learns that it’s not always necessary to be perfect, and sometimes okay not to always be the good egg all the time. Great message about self care and not having to please everyone all the time.  (Released Feb. 12th)

say something

Say Something! – Peter H. Reynolds

LOVE LOVE LOVE this new book by the beloved Peter H. Reynolds which encourages young readers to find their voice and use it to make the world a better place.  A perfect anchor book for some of the lessons in my Powerful Understanding book (“The World”)  A powerful, empowering, inspiring call to action told in a none preachy way.  An absolute MUST READ!  (Released Feb. 27th but you can pre-order!)

rough patch

The Rough Patch – Brian Lies

Oh, this book.  This book.  Kleenex required. (extra if you are a dog lover)  Evan the fox is an avid gardener and he and his dog have created an extraordinary garden and take great joy in nurturing it. However, when Evan loses his best friend, the grief is almost unbearable.  Evan transforms his beautiful garden into “The saddest and most desolate spot he could make it.”  Such a beautiful story of love and friendship and loss and grief and hope.  Gorgeous art.  A roller coaster of emotions.  And did I mention Kleenex?

Birthday wish

Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish – Beth Perry

Birthdays are important days to celebrate. But before you do, you should make sure you’re following the ten important rules of your big day. Rule #1? Make sure it actually is your birthday.  A joyful celebration of every child’s favorite day!  Adorable illustrations.

perfect

Perfect – Max Amato

Great anchor for growth mindset, creativity and getting along, despite your differences.  A fussy eraser tries to keep the pages clean, while a mischievous pencil keeps trying to scribble up the pages.  The two opposing forces finally come together and learn that they can have fun together, despite their differences.  Great illustrations – I kept trying to sweep away the pencil shavings!

dress like a girl

Dress Like a Girl Patricia Toht

What does it mean to “Dress Like a Girl”?  In this lovely new book by Patricia Toht (illustrated by Lorian Tu-Dean), a group of girls at a slumber party decide dressing up means following your passion, your creativity, and your heart.  An inspiring and empowering story for younger readers.  “Make your own rules in this big wide world, Set your sights high…and dress like a girl!”  

Noodlephant – Jacob Kramer

This book totally surprised me in many ways!  First of all, it’s longer than an average picture book – 80 pages.  Second, I thought it was about an elephant who loves pasta – WRONG!  It’s actually a story about injustice, civil rights, and peaceful protests.  But it’s also wacky, fun, and filled with great word play and delightful illustrations!  Noodlephant lives in an animal community where the Kangaroos in charge save special privileges for themselves and make unfair rules that impact the other animals.  Noodlephant and friends come together to protest these unfair rules, and work together to help make the community a place where every animal is treated kindly.  SUCH a great book to introduce younger readers to standing up for your rights and working together for change.  Lots to like about this one.

coyote sunrise

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise – Dan Gemeinhart

Sometimes making friends is tough, and sometimes it’s as simple as finding someone who loves books and kittens as much as you do.”

It seems silly to say that this is my favorite Middle Grade novel of 2019 – since it’s the only one I have read!   But my, oh my.  This book.  Wow.  I loved it so, so much.  Could not put it down.  Cried and cried.  It’s a compelling, heart-breaking story of Coyote, a 12 year old girl, and her dad, Rodeo, who set off in a re-furbished school bus after a tragic traffic accident kills her mother and her two sisters.  Along their journey, they gather an incredible cast of characters, all of whom, like Coyote and her dad,  are lost in some way or another.  Amazing characters, gorgeous writing – this is a remarkable story of loss and love and grief and so much more.  PLEASE read and share with your middle grade students.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope one or two books caught your eye!

Happy reading week, everyone!

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Filed under 2019 releases, Feelings, Grief, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Writing Strategies

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? New Books for Back to School 2017

download (23)

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: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

Back to school means lots of new books for new lessons!  Here are a few of the great new titles I’ve been reading!

Imagine – John Lennon, Yoko Ono Lennon, Amnesty International illustrated by Jean Jullien

John Lennon’s iconic song has been transformed into a beautiful picture book and has been published in partnership with Amnesty International for the International Day of Peace on September 21st.   Like the song that inspired it, Imagine invites people to imagine a world at peace, a world of kindness.   As Yoko Ono says in her foreword, “Every small, good thing that we do can help change the world for the better.”   An Imagine website has been launched in nine countries and five languages. Visitors, including young children, can submit their own messages of peace, read those from around the world, and share messages of peace and hope on their social media programs.  Please consider inviting your students to participate.

Carson Crosses Canada

Carson Crosses Canada – Linda Bailey

Carson Crosses Canada by Linda Bailey is a delightful book celebrating Canada! Annie and her dog Carson are on a road trip across Canada from BC to Newfoundland to visit Annie’s sister. Along the way, they stop and visit many amazing sites and see the unique landscape of each province. This book is lively and fun with simple text and bright, whimsical illustrations. I loved the map of her journey and the end papers! This would make a great anchor book to introduce a unit on Canada in your primary class or celebrate Canada 150!

Image result for picture the sky barbara reid

Picture the Sky – Barbara Reid

So excited to see this companion book to Picture a Tree.  In her classic colorful Plasticine style, Barbara Reid explores the stories of the sky – from the weather, to the stars,to the seasons, and to our imagination – in all its moods and colors.  The sky is all around us, but it is always changing.   This book is perfect for visualizing!

Kevin Henkes new

In the Middle of Fall – Kevin Henkes

This wonderful new book by Kevin Henkes will have your senses tingling!  The colors are vibrant and simplistic, it features adorable woodland creatures, and is everything you could want in a book about the changing seasons.  I also liked the fact that it focuses on mid-late fall, when all the changes have already happened.   Great anchor for writing as well – lots of triple scoop words and similes – “the apples are like ornaments”.   I love fall and I love this book!

Tweet bird

Nerdy Birdy Tweets – Aaron Reynolds

Nerdy Birdy Tweets by Aaron Reynolds Is an important book to read to students. Nerdy Birdy learns a valuable lesson about the impact of social media on friendship and the dangers of and posting things about someone else without their permission, Great anchor book to start the conversation about digital citizenship and being responsible and respectful when using social media.

Lovely

Lovely Jess Hong

A celebration of diversity – in all its shapes and sizes!  Big, small, curly, straight, loud, quiet, smooth, wrinkly – we are all LOVELY!  Colorful, bold illustrations and simple text.  This is a great book to build classroom community!

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Hello, Harvest Moon – Ralph Fletcher

If you are looking for an anchor book for descriptive, sensory language – look no further!  Ralph Fletcher’s new book (companion to Twilight Comes Twice) follows the moon as it rises and describes all the things it shines on.  Gorgeous illustrations and filled with rich, descriptive language and literary devices.  I would definitely use select pages from this book to do a “Found Poetry” lesson.  (Children highlight favorite words from the text, then use the words to write their own poem.  Additional words can be added.)

“With silent slippers
it climbs the night stairs,
lifting free of the treetops
to start working its magic,
staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow.”

There's nothing to do

There’s Nothing To Do!  – Dav Petty

Loved this third book in the Frog series!  (I Don’t Want to Be a Frog! and I Don’t Want to Be Big! are the first two).  This Frog cracks me up, and all three books will have kids laughing out loud.  This book features Frog dealing with boredom and, while his friends make lots of suggestions, turns out that sometimes nothing is the best thing to do! Sweet message and great voice.

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Why Am I Me? – Paige Britt

Wow!  LOVE this book.  The story follows two young children who are curious about why they look the way they do wand why other people look how they do.  It is a celebration of diversity and humanity, about love and compassion for one another, despite color of skin or our appearance.  I’m using it tomorrow with my grade 2’s and 3’s as we explore self identity.  Love the deep-thinking questions and the powerful message.

THinking Cap

Sarabella’s Thinking Cap – Judy Schachner

Loved this book for so many reasons.  One – the illustrations are GORGEOUS (I predict a Caldecott nomination!) Second – the story about a girl who has trouble focusing because she spends so much time in her “Imagination Pocket” – is one that many children will be able to connect to.  Third – the supportive teacher who helps her design her own “thinking cap” which helps transform her creative imagination into something visible.  A wonderful story celebrating daydreaming, imagination, and one great teacher!

Thanks for stopping by!

Lots of great books out there for you to share!  Hope you found one that you can share in your classroom!  Happy reading, everyone!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 2017 releases, Canada, Connect, Diversity, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Picture Book, Read-Aloud, Writing Strategies

Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Books about Lines! (Who knew there were so many?)

top 10What is a line?  Think about it for a moment.  It starts and it stops… or does it?   A line, on one hand, is a simple mark or stroke on a surface.  But when you start thinking about it, you realize how many different lines there are and how many ways we use the word in both expressions and to describe things….

“A fine line”, “crossed the line”, “line in the sand”, “over the line”, “end of the line”, “you’re out of line”, “draw the line”, “read between the lines“, clothes line, number line, time line, line-up, line change (in hockey), line dancing, the bottom line, border line, line of longitude, line of latitude, fault line, deadline, enemy line, battle line, line of fire, tan line, fishing line, telephone line, blood line, zip line, party line, front line, line from a poem or story, dotted line, underline, inter-lined, straight line, crooked line, squiggly line, long line, stand in line, line-by-line….Phew!  That’s a lot of lines!

I thought about how this concept of “line” would make an interesting inquiry project – “What is a line?”  With a little imagination, a line can be…just about anything you want!   What a great way to connect art, story and imagination.  Fascinated by the concept, I started my search for picture books about lines… and it didn’t take long to fill up my top ten list!  Any of these books could be used as anchors for art, writing – or both!

1, Harold and the Purple Crayon – Crocket Johnson

First published in 1955, this gentle book really started it off: the idea that a child with an imagination and thirst for adventure could use purple crayon lines to create his own imaginary world.  Add a few obstacles, some humour, a moose and some pie – and you have yourself a classic!

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2. The Line – Paula Bossio

This wordless picture book takes the reader on an adventure of a little girl discovering a line. As the girl follows the line, the reader discovers what adventure awaits her.  A perfect story starter for early-elementary as they begin to explore narrative, either by using one of the girl’s creations in the story or by coming up with their own way of turning the line into something.

3. The Squiggle – Carole Lexa Schaefer

A little girl, a piece of string and a big imagination – from a Dragon Dance to the Great Wall of China, food, and other items she experiences – I love the diversity in this book as well as the beautiful brush stroked illustrations.  A great anchor for drawing and writing!  What will your squiggle be?

4. Follow the Line –  Laura Ljungkvist

This is the first in a series of books by Scandanavian artist Laura Ljungkvist in which she explores one continuous line throughout an entire book.  In this book, a single line begins on the front cover and winds its way across each page as we flow from city to the country, from the sky to the ocean, from morning till night.  Each page is packed with color, objects, buildings, animals and amazingness!

5. Follow the Line to School – Laura Ljungkvist

In this book, we follow a single line on a playful romp through the school.  From the library to the science corner – this is an interactive, creative and fun way to engage the reader.  I like that the text also prompts the reader with questions…. “Here is the class pet.  I wonder what kind of animal it is?”… “Now we’re in the lunch room. What will you eat for lunch today?”    Other books in this series include:  Follow the Line Around the World and Follow the Line Through the House. 

6. Lines That Wiggle – Candace Whitman

“Lines are everywhere you look!”  All sort of lines and their uses are explained in this book through cartoon characters, e.g. curvy, wiggly, wavy, etc. This book would be a great anchor book for introducing line vocabulary and also to inspire some great line drawings.   I also like that it inspires kids to look closer at things and notice lines in everyday things.  Here is the link youtube version:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SqFA…

7. Lines, Squiggles, Letters, Words – Ruth Rocha

Translated from Portuguese by Brazil’s most famous children’s authors, this charming picture book tells the story of a boy who sees squiggles and lines that don’t exactly make pictures and he can’t quite decipher. But when he starts school, he realizes that those confusing squiggles and lines were actually letters!   Sweet look at the beginning to read for early primary.

8. A Squiggly Story – Andrew Larsen

A great introduction to the writing process!  While the last book focused on the beginning reader, this one playfully and imaginatively explores a young child’s process of learning to express himself through writing.  I love the message of finding your own voice and that everyone has a story inside us – tell it, draw it, squiggle it!

9. The Lines on Nana’s Face – Simona Ciraolo

In this heartfelt book,  we see lines as memories and stories of a well-lived life.  As a little girl points to a line on her nana’s face, Nana tells her a story.  A celebration of family, grandparents, memories and life stories – this beautiful book makes me teary every time I read it.

Lines – Suzy Lee

WOW!  This brand new release is a truly stunning wordless picture book.  With gorgeous, simple pencil drawing, the reader follows a skater who is tracing lines on the ice.  As the lines on the ice get more complicated, the skater leads readers to unexpected places!  Magical…. astounding… charming….as soon as I finished, I started reading it again.   I LOVE this book!  (Thank you, Groundwood Press, for sending me this pre-release copy)

And here are two to more LINE books to watch for this fall….

Draw the Line – Kathryn Otoshi

The amazing Katheryn Otoshi (author of One, Two, and Zero) has, once again, given us a book filled with rich discussion points.  Draw the Line is so much more than a book about lines.  It is a beautiful wordless picture book about friendship, creativity, community, conflict, resolution – and a “line” connecting us all.  A must have book for inferring, connecting, transform…. Brilliant!

Free the Lines – Clayton Junior

Another thought-provoking wordless picture book that will inspire rich discussions in an upper elementary classroom.  This one focuses on an environmental theme, specifically ethics in the fishing industry.  Told through extraordinary lined drawings, Clayton tells a story of a small cat fishing in a small boat on a large ocean who runs into a huge, smoke-belching trawler, who sets out enormous nets and catches all the fish.  How the cat solves the problem is one that could be up for debate. It truly is amazing how much you can say in a picture book without a single word of text – a perfect book for inferring (ie. what are you inferring the tile means?) and questioning both the story and the message.  Watch for this one!

And there you have it – books about lines that I hope will inspire you and your students draw, squiggle, swirl and write with and about lines!  Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!

 

Image result for the line paula bossio
Image result for the line paula bossio

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Filed under 2017 releases, Art, Infer, New Books, Top 10 Tuesday, wordless, Writing Strategies

Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Professional Reads for Summer 2017

top 10

Well, summer is here!  Time for family, relaxing, travelling, holidaying, sorting cupboards, cleaning garages, and best of all – TIME TO READ!!!  And while the school doors might be closed, I find summer a perfect time to catch up on my professional reading!  From Inquiry-Based learning, Growth Mindset and Maker Spaces to reading, writing, and thinking strategies – there are some GREAT new resources to help motivate, inspire, and refine our practice, including some resources to support the new BC Curriculum.   (Please note that I have not read all of these books, but I am including them because I have heard good things about them and/or they have caught my eye and look very inspiring!)

Here are my top 10 recommended professional books for summer reading….

1 Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters

Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst

Three years ago, I presented a workshop at a Reading Conference in Moosejaw, Saskatchewan.  The conference was held in a hockey rink – in my memory, the zamboni came to clean the ice between each speaker (actually that didn’t happen – but it felt like it could have!). Presenting at the same conference on their then new book Notice and Note were Kylene Beers and Bob Probst.  I attended one of their sessions, and they mine.  We drove back to the airport and the hotel together.  I was star struck, if I’m being honest, and although I tried very hard to be “cool” in the car ride across the flat prairies, it was difficult for me not to start patting their arms or squeezing their legs. I’m THRILLED to have their new book on the top of my summer TBR pile!

2. The Writing Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Writers Jennifer Serravello

I LOVED Jennifer Serravello’s first book The Reading Strategies Book, so am very excited to read her new book on writing. Her books are VERY practical and have lessons you can use right away. I can’t wait to read this one!

3. Joy Write: Cultivating High-Impact, Low Stakes Writing – Ralph Fletcher

I am a huge fan of Ralph Fletcher and have many of his previous books on teaching writing.  As a writing teacher, it is hard to find the balance between teaching structure and giving kids a chance to “just write”.   In this book, Ralph Fletcher proposes a new concept:  greenbelt writing. Writing that is “raw, unmanicured, uncurated…I am talking about informal writing…I am talking about low-stakes writing, the kind of comfortable composing kids do when they know there’s no one looking over their shoulders.”   I am very excited to read this and learn some new strategies for less structure and more “joyful, whimsical, playful” writing time.

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4. The Power of Inquiry – Teaching and Learning with Curiosity , Creativity, and Purpose in the Classroom Kath Murdoch

Kath Murdoch, from Australia, is the “guru” of inquiry based learning and I am a new fan girl of hers.  I have heard nothing but rave reviews about her and this book so am eager to dive in.  Here is a quick preview of her talking about this book.

5. The Nerdy Teacher Presents: Your Starter Guide to Maker Space – Nicholas Provenzano

I have to admit the concept of “Maker Spaces” is a new one for me… and with so many ideas floating around, I was on the lookout for a simple guide with practical suggestions and real-classroom ideas to help a newbie like me get started.  I believe this might be just the book I am looking for!

6. SPACE: A Guide for Educators – Rebecca Louise Hare

“It is not about decorating learning spaces.  It is about designing them to amplify learning.”  Okay – I did judge this book by its cover – and the simplicity of the cover with the sophistication of this quote captured my attention.  LOVE the phrase “amplify learning“.   I also liked this description:  “In addition to nudging thinking forward, SPACE provides practical design tips and uses images and testimonials for hacking learning spaces on a realistic budget. This book is designed to motivate, grow capacity, and energize educators to begin shifting their learning spaces to support modern learning for all students.”

Shift This!: How to Implement Gradual Changes for MASSIVE Impact in Your Classroom

7. Shift This!: How to Implement Gradual Changes for Massive Impact in Your Classroom – Joy Kirr

I often refer to a “shift in thinking” in my workshops – small movements of thought that give you a new perspective.  This book caught my eye simply because it had the word “shift” in the title, but after glancing through the contents and a quick “flip read”-  I already have some take-aways:  having a sign out sheet by the door for the students to be in charge of their own bathroom breaks; changing “homework” to “independent practice”.  A perfect summer Pro. D. read!

8. The Growth Mindset Coach:  A Teacher’s Month-by-Month Handbook for Empowering Students to Achieve – Annie Brock and Heather Hundley

Yes, I am a teacher of routine and planning and I also love practical.  So I am ALL OVER a book for teachers written by teachers that has well-laid out lessons broken down into a month-to-month plan!  YES!  Practical and applicable and includes:
– A Month-by-Month Program
– Research-Based Activities
– Hands-On Lesson Plans
– Real-Life Educator Stories
– Constructive Feedback
– Sample Parent Letters

Major pre-read book love!

9. ThinQ Kindergarten:  Inquiry-Based Learning in the Kindergarten Classroom – Joan Reimer, Deb Watters, Jill Colyer, and Jennifer Watt

Kindergarten Teachers!  I haven’t forgotten about you!!!  Here is a book focusing on inquiry-based learning especially for the kindergarten classroom.  Easy to follow with lots of helpful tips.  A version of this book for middle grades is also available:  ThinQ 4-6: Inquiry-based learning in the junior classroom.  

Embracing a Culture of Joy: How Educators Can Bring Joy to Their Classrooms Each Day

10. Embracing a Culture of Joy: How Educators Can Bring Joy to Their Classrooms Each Day  – Dean Shareski

Through all the changes and challenges we face each day as teachers, we sometimes forget to have fun!  In this quick read, I was reminded how much we have to be joyful about in education.  A great reminder to find and embrace that joy because our students deserve it.  Full of practical ideas to bring joy back into your classroom – this is a great summer read!

What professional book will you be reading this summer?  Thanks for stopping by!

 

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Filed under Growth Mindset, Inquiry Based Learning, Maker Spaces, Professional Books, Top 10 Tuesday, Writing Strategies