Day 29: Spine Poetry

Yesterday, Ramona shared a few writing quotes. My favorite one is, “Catch emerging words and begin to guide them into form, or not.” Susan Branch.

Here are some emerging words guided into the form of a spine poem. Thanks, Ramona!

The secret project

in the best interest of students,

59 reasons to write

a river of words,

wondrous words.

Write like this.

Write beside them,

writing toward home.

I received several new professional books last week. As I contemplated which one I would read first, I had an inkling of a spine poem tickling my brain. I added a few titles that were already on my shelf to create the above poem.

Getting teachers inspired to teach writing is a secret project that love to tackle. Often times many are resistant, but eventually they come around and end up say, “This is my favorite thing to teach.” or “Writing is my class’s favorite subject.” Then I smile because I knew it would happen.

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Day 9: Kevin Henkes

I have to thank Facebook for my slice today. I was a Facebook hold out for many, many years. The birth of my granddaughter propelled me to making the move and adding Facebook to my life. So it was just happenstance that I saw a post announcing Kevin Henkes would be speaking at our local library last night. My Wednesday evening plans were set. I would attend. Who can resist the author and illustrator of Chrysanthemum or Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse?

As I drove over to the library, I figured the library parking lot would be filled and I would have to return home. What’s that? There are lots of spaces, looks like I’m staying.

Inside the library, a line has started to form at the door. A sign indicates the doors open at 6:30, looks like I’ll be standing here for twenty minutes. While standing in line, the library staff member tells us that people will be dismissed for the book signing by rows, beginning with the front row. Guess where I sat. Smack, dab, front and center. I’m pretty pleased with myself, for now.

The room begins to fill up. The body heat kicks the AC into full blast. Chatter volume slowly rises as seats are taken. Still pretty happy with my position. Looks like we are out of seats. What? You are bringing people to sit on the floor in front of me? Not so pleased with that development.

Finally, Kevin Henkes is introduced! He begins by telling about his childhood. He’s been drawing since he was two. He writes all his books in a notebook, then types them out on a typewriter. He does not have a computer. (Now that’s hard to believe!) He is a two-finger typer and he only has two ribbons left for his typewriter. He’s a bit nervous about that. He’s superstitious and has some quirky routines. He told some of the back story of where he got his ideas. Just as we tell kids, stories are every where, he told us you just have to notice. Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse is the result of watching a six year old girl in an airport with a purse that played music when you opened it. Her dad was not happy about the purse, but she kept sneaking it open to play the music.

Last of all, he did some quick sketches of characters. Here’s Lily –

Now come the moment of truth, will the front rows be dismissed to the book signing first? No, the interloper floor sitters are sent first. Then the staff begins on the rows. As I make my way out, I see the back people making a dash for the signing. Sigh! What’s this long line? Oh, you had the people who didn’t get into the talk get in line for book signing. Sigh!

Another twenty minutes in line, my book is signed and I am on my way out. I try not to make eye contact with the l-o-n-g line of people waiting. Wearily, I make my way to the car. Tired, but happy for the experience.

 

 

Did You Know . . .?

nf10for10The world is filled with wondrous facts and we are so lucky that authors are bringing those wonders right to us through marvelous nonfiction books. Who knew? is a phrase I think every time I read nonfiction. These books landed on my bookshelf during this last year. I’ve also included a photo from one (or two) of the pages from each book, so you can get a sneak peek into the text.

First up, You and Me Together, Moms, Dad, and Kids Around the World by Barbara Kerley. This book shows how families do the very same things all over the world. In the back there is a world map and a thumbnail of the photo in the book with more explanation.

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Spectacular Spots and Stripes of All Types are both by  Susan Stockdale. The text is sparse but that does not mean these are easy texts. The vocabulary is rich. Additional information is included in the last pages.

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Planting the Wild Garden by Kathryn O. Galbraith shares the many ways seeds travel and take root to create a wild garden. The illustrations are soft colors and in a collage of many little boxes to study.

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 Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner would be a great book to contrast with the wild garden.

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We discover that mama is not the only one who builds a nest in Mama Built a Little Nest. Jennifer Ward entertains as she teaches the reader all about birds’ nests. Did you know that the cowbird, whydah, and cuckoo lay eggs in nests and let the nesting bird raise their young?

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Steve Jenkins and Robin Page continue to develop books with a unique perspective. Within the pages of this book you can learn not only How to Swallow a Pig, but also how to woo a ewe or decorate like a bowerbird.

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Hippos Are Huge, but they are also one of the most deadly animals in Africa. Jonathan London has filled this book with fascinating facts about hippos.

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“Nature excels in the least things.” A quote from Henry David Thoreau was the inspiration for Least Things, Poems About Small Natures by Jane Yolen and photos by her son, Jason Stemple. Each “least thing” has a haiku plus an additional snippet of information.

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Are you intrigued by whales? If the answer is yes, find The Blue Whale by Jenni Desmond. Every page delivers. This has become one of my favorite books.

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Wonder what new titles I will find next?

 

2015 #pb10for10

10 for 10

Are you ready for the blogosphere to be raining picture book titles? Blogs everywhere will be listing the books they must share with students every year. These are books that will send you to Amazon or your favorite bookstore or a library as you search to find these gems you. just. gotta. have!

The books this year were new to me within the last two months. Some are from the library, some are my very own. In alphabetical order by author, I reveal my list of ten. Enjoy . . .

sophia1. One Word from Sophia by Jim Averbeck and Yasmeen Ismail: Sophia sets about trying to convince her family she should get a giraffe for her birthday. She tries to persuade each member of the family with compelling information, but they inform her she is too verbose, effusive, and loquacious. What is the one word  that will get her her heart’s desire?

2. The Little “Read” Hen by Dianne de Las Casas: Little “Read” Hen wants to write a story. henWho will help her? Not the Dog. Not the Cat. Not the Pig. This book is filled with “fowl” language and the pictures must be studied carefully. Have you read Don’t Let the Chicken Drive the Tractor or Where the Wild Hens Are? The final page has the Write Recipe for a Story.

billy3. Billy’s Booger, a Memoir (sorta) by William Joyce: “Once upon a time, when TV was in black and white, and there were only three channels, and when kids didn’t have playdates – they just roamed free in the “out of doors” – there live a kid named Billy.” So the story begins and you learn that Billy (William Joyce) began his writing career in fourth grade. This is actually a double book because you also get another book inside titled Billy’s Booger, the memoir of a little green nose buddy.

4. Hippos Are Huge! by Jonathon London: Did you know that hippos are the most dangerous hipposanimal in Africa? This book is packed with facts about hippos and delivered with craft of a talented writer. The illustrations just beg you to study them for the details you can discover.

look5. Look! by Jeff Mack: Jeff Mack is a master at delivering a tale will limited words. This book uses look and out to tell the tale of a playful gorilla and an annoyed boy. You might want to check out Jeff Mack’s other books Ah Ha! and Good News, Bad News.

6. If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson: At first you think this is just plant seedanother circular tale and it’s about vegetables, so you might pass on this book. If you did that, you would be missing the opportunity to teach kindness vs. selfishness. Gorgeous pictures in this extra large book.

pitter patter7. Pitter and Patter by Martha Sullivan: Follow two raindrops, Pitter and Patter, that fall and take different journeys until they meet again in the cloud.

8. My Dog Is the Best by Laurie Ann Thompson: “My dog is the best. He best dogis fun. He plays ball. He plays tug. He plays chase.” What a great example of stating an opinion and giving supporting details. Simple drawings enhance the text. Perfect for sharing will the youngest of students.

help need title9. Help! We Need a Title! by Herve Tullet: The characters are concerned that you have opened their book and they don’t quite know what to do with a reader. They don’t have a story, so they enlist help in creating a story. A very funny book with loads of voice.

10. You Nest Here with Me by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple: Such a you nest hereperfect companion book to A Nest Is Noisy by Dianna Hutts Aston & Sylvia Long and Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward. The human mama tells her young one how mama and papa birds nest with their babies, but you nest here with me is a reoccurring line.

Hopefully you discovered a new title to put on your wish list. Now head over to Google Plus Community page to read more and link your own choices.

 

 

Thoughts on ILA

My brain simmered with new learning. My body exhausted from the pace of the previous four days. I needed down time, therefore, no slice last week. Now that time as passed, I’ve gathered some thoughts to share a few experiences from the ILA conference.

The pre-conference I attended was all about vocabulary. A day spent thinking about words and how do we get students to acquire these words. Should students look words up in a dictionary, write a definition, and a sentence? A resounding NO! from all speakers. Context is key to developing an understanding of new words.

Sara Holbrook and Michael Salinger shared a format for writing a vocabulary word poem. I have attempted to define the ILA experience using their format. See if you can determine the structure.

An ILA conference gives you the opportunity to expand your learning.

The pace of your day will not be relaxed.

You get up close and personal with authors you adore.

Meals during the day are nonexistent. Pack a snack!

As your brain grows stronger, your muscles do too. Totes become loaded with books, strong shoulders and arm required. Miles are walked between sessions and throughout the exhibit area.

Book budgets explode. The plethora of books at your fingertips make it difficult to resist.

Should you ever have the opportunity to attend, grab it. You won’t regret it. 

Did you discover that the lines alternated from what it is to what it is not, with a concluding line? When students are able to give an example of what it is not, they process the word at a deeper level.

Here’s a glimpse of the books that came home with me. Some are signed by the author 🙂 and many will find their way into classroom libraries this year.

Nonfiction titles

Nonfiction titles

Chapter books, many are ARCs

Chapter books, many are ARCs

Fiction titles I was not sure where to put President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath. It may have happened, but the events are pretty far fetched, so I placed it in my fiction stack.

Fiction titles
I was not sure where to put President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath. It may have happened, but the events are pretty far fetched, so I placed it in my fiction stack.

Sigh, what can I say? I love books!

Little Free Libraries

Have you heard of the Passport to Healthy Living? I first read about this in the AARP magazine, then the library announced they were a sponsor too. It intrigued me, it sounded like fun, plus there were prizes too! I stopped by the library and picked up a couple of the passports.

The descriptor inside said, “The Springfield community has a wealth of free resources that can be your passport to healthy living. Using this passport as your guide, you can learn what’s available in the community.”

There are 26 questions/activities and I must complete 13 to be eligible for prizes. The one activity that intrigued me the most was to visit any Little Free Library in town. It gave a website where five libraries were listed. Here was a perfect activity for Kim and me one afternoon.

In the morning we walked the Nature Center (last week’s slice), and after lunch we set out to find all the Little Free Libraries to deliver books. Using the navigation system on Kim’s phone, we were able to find every one. A picture book was left at each library and we both found a book to read we wanted to read.

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Besides finding the Little Free Libraries we completed four more activities in the Passport to Healthy Living book. Only eight more questions to answer before I turn in my book on August 8.

If you want to know about little free libraries, click here. There are instructions for building your own and a map where you can locate any that might be near you.

Christmas in March

My desk orientation in my office allows me to have a window on the world of our street. Truly, I am no Mrs. Kravitz. [Side note for you young writers who are scratching your head and muttering “Who’s Mrs. Kravitz?” She was a nosy neighbor character on the TV show Bewitched (show was on 1964-1972). Here is the Wikipedia link to read all about her. Now let me get back to my story.] Since we are on a cul-de-sac, there is not a lot of traffic, so movement on the street usually catches my eye, but not on this day.

I heard the truck stop. I looked up from my desk when I heard the truck stop. I looked up from my desk when I heard the truck stop in front of my house. The UPS man stepped out of his truck with a box. My heart raced a little faster as I hurried to the door to greet the bearer of the box.

A quick glance at the return address confirmed my suspicions. Eagerly I reached out to relieve him of my prize. I uttered a most heartfelt “Thank you!” He had no idea of joy he’d just delivered. Nestled in the box among filler paper were my eleven titles from Peachtree Publishers that I’d won. A treasure for sure!

Immediately, I began pulling them out, one at a time. Once they were all stacked on the counter, I wanted to sit down and savor the text of each, but I needed to begin my spaghetti sauce. Books were set aside, as my hands chopped onion and garlic, but my mind lingered on the covers I’d just unearthed. Quickly the chopped ingredients were dropped into the skillet of Italian sausage.

As the sausage browned, I read several books. The first book I picked up might not have been the best choice, Random Body Parts, Gross Anatomy Riddles in Verse by Leslie Bulion. Let me give you a little flavor of the poem “Lunchtime”

Flesh of fowl ground into hash,
Blood of berries bled from mash,
Wheat paste wet with human spit,
Plant parts mangled bit by bit.

See what I mean? (This poem is describing the stomach.) However, kids will LOVE these poems. Talk about a great opportunity for close reading!

I loved If You See a Kitten by John Butler.

If you see a cuddly kitten . . . say, “Ahhh!” If you see a pudgy pig . . . say, “Peee-ew!”

Love the alliteration! I can hear the kids guessing what word you should say. The details in the illustrations are fantastic.

Each book has such potential for reading and writing workshop. Thank you Peachtree Publishers for donating such an incredible prize! It was Christmas in March.

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