Tag Archives: Ralph Fletcher

Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Professional Reads for Summer 2017

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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

Christmas Metaphors

Christmas Metaphors

Have you ever taught metaphors to 10 and 11 year olds?  How did it go?  Honestly.  Did they get it or did they just fake it well enough to make you think they got it?  Did you just give up halfway through because even though you had explained that a metaphor is not the same thing as a simile – they kept writing “like” or “as” anyway?

To teach or not to teach metaphors?  That is the question I have been asking myself.  With only two weeks to go before the Christmas break, I was hesitant to introduce this rather challenging poetic devise to the wonderful grade five class I have been teaching poetry to this term.  This clever group had successfully demonstrated their understanding of the other techniques I had introduced them to over the last 3 months (similes personification, onomatopoeia  and alliteration) and had been using them frequently in their weekly poems.  But I admit that in the past, teaching metaphors had proved to be challenging, frustrating and overall disappointing.  Yesterday, however,  I collected their poems in which they were to use metaphors.  WOW!  I was amazed at how well they did!  Needless to say, these talented young writers have answered my question:  YES – you should teach metaphors!

Here’s the lesson and some amazing poems written by grade 5’s:

I explained the concept of metaphor and showed them a few examples.   Ralph Fletcher has written some great poems that use metaphors:  “Pinball” – a pinball machine as a metaphor for high school; Poetry – as a metaphor for a sugar-crazed teenager; “Earthhead” – a globe as a metaphor for a baby’s head.   I read these poems from his book A Writing Kind of Day and we discussed the metaphors.

After a quick Google search the night before the lesson, I had found some other examples of metaphors.  These were written by students who had used metaphors in their poems about their families. One had used the metaphor of a medicine chest, the other of the 4th of July.   https://www.teachervision.com/poetry/literary-techniques/5453.html  This gave me the idea of having the students writing poems about their families, using metaphors about Christmas.

Here’s how the lesson went:

  • We read samples of poems and I asked the students what they noticed.  We discussed how the writer connected each family member with an object with whom they shared common qualities.
  • We then brainstormed symbols of Christmas:  tree, decorations, candy cane, star, presents, wrapping paper, tape, candle, stocking, angel, etc.
  • We talked about the “characteristics” of each object:  ie:  Tree – strong, steady, straight; candy cane – sweet, sticky, minty; star – bright, shiny.
  • Each student then listed the members of their family down one side of a paper, including themselves.   (I modeled using my family)  Then I asked them to try match up each person with a Christmas object that best fits their personality or character.  Beside each family member, they listed the object.
  • Finally, they had to explain WHY or what the person and object had in common.

Some example we did together (these came from the kids – not me!)

                   Sister – ornament  – beautiful, delicate but breaks easily

                   Dad – tree – strong and steady and smells good

                  baby brother – gingerbread man – sweet but runs away a lot  (this one made me laugh!)

The students thought of some amazing “metaphor matches”!  I was SO impressed with their final poems – and I would definitely use this lesson again as a way to introduce metaphors.    If any of your students do not celebrate Christmas, you could use the same lesson, but use symbols of New Year’s or any other cultural celebration.

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                                 My favorite line from Rudra’s poem:  My sister is the star which finishes the job. 

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                   My favorite line from Reuben’s poem:  And my grandma is the tape never letting go of the family.

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My Family is Christmas by Rhea

My Dad is Santa

He is strong and does all he can to make me smile.

My mom is a present

Sometimes not what you want but you have to be thankful for a while.

My sister is a reindeer

Annoying but guides the way for others.

And I am the Christmas Star – I know I am small

But I keep our family together.  

What are your experiences and ideas for teaching metaphor to younger students?

 

 

 

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