Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Picture Books I Just Can't Get Enough Of!

I am excited this year to start a new position as an instructional coach.  It is hard to not have your own classroom. However, I am looking forward to meeting all the students at Darby Creek Elementary and thinking about how books can help us bond and grow as individuals.  When I was unpacking my boxes of books I was getting excited about all the different ways I can use the books, but most importantly I started thinking about the books I just love and hold near and dear to my heart.  So here is my list of books that I just can't get enough of!

I just love this book! Bear wants his hat back and sets out to find it. Each animal Bear comes across he asks if they have seen his hat.  Unfortunately,  all the animals haven't seen his hat. A deer comes along and asks a question that triggers Bear's memory of the whereabouts of his hat.  I love reading and watching the students reactions when they infer that the bear ate the rabbit.  The conversations start flying and students start calling out..  wait, go back to this page and that page.  I usually have to also read Jon Klassen's book This Is Not My Hat.   Good news in October he has a new book coming out titled We Found A Hat!

This book is about a nerdy bird who just can't fit in with the cool birds.  He enjoys reading books and playing video games which excludes from hanging out with Eagle, Cardinal, and Robin.  Being a nerdy bird is a lonely lifestyle until he meets a flock that he fits in with perfectly.  I love so many books by Aaron Reynolds and this one is also a must to share with students. It sparks conversations of what does it mean to be "cool" or to be "nerdy".  Can someone be both? This book hits home that friendships can be developed around different interests and appearances. 

Dot's parents who are rabbits find a baby wolf outside their door.  Mom and Dad instantly are smitten by the baby wolf but Dot constantly worries if she and her family will become a tasty meal for Wolfie.  However, Wolfie loves Dot and is constantly following her around.  Dot's apprehension and annoyance grows about Wolfie until they go to the store to buy some food for the family because Wolfie ate all the food.  At the store she is sure that Wolfie is going to eat her when suddenly Wolfie finds himself in danger. Dot needs to decide if she will save her brother or not.  I love that all families have a different dynamic and so does Dot's.  Even though Wolfie is different there is unconditional love and some sibling rivalry. 

This book is hilarious and I love the sarcasm. Bruce is a grumpy bear who likes to be alone.  He loves to eat eggs but when his hard boiled eggs are actually live goslings he suddenly loses his appetite.  Things continue to get worse for Bruce because the goslings think that he is their mother.  Bruce tries to get rid of the goslings but nothings seems to work.  Bruce needs to think about how to face the fact that he needs to think about how to handle the hard job of being a parent.  This book has become on of my favorite books because it is just so much fun to read aloud. 

I guarantee this book will make you laugh out loud each time you read it.  Leon needs to go to the bathroom and discovers that he has no toilet paper.  So he grabs something nearby (briefs) that will work and get him out of his predicament.  However, he starts to think about his choice and that the briefs might actually belong to someone.  Leon realizes that he has made a big mistake and needs to try and correct it.  This book teaches about being considerate as well as ensures lots of laughs along the way.

This is such a cute story about Max who is a brave and fearless kitten who likes to chase mice. However,  Max is not quite sure what a mouse is. You will need to read to find out if he does indeed figure out what a mouse is and if you have to be brave and fearless all the time.  

This is a new book I found out about on Twitter and just had to get it.  A young boy wants to enjoy a good book and heads into the woods.  Each time the boy settles into a good book there is an animal there to ruin it for him.  I wanted this book because I think it is important to teach children to respect each other as readers and not spoil the ending for another reader.  This happens a lot in our reading communities and it is important to address this issue and how it impacts us as readers. 


I do enjoy Bob Shea as an author and this books is a great book about friendship.  Buddy the monster is hungry and wants to eat bunnies.  He finds some bunnies to hop into his mouth but before he munches on them the bunnies have made delicious cupcakes.  Buddy eats the cupcakes and he's too full to eat bunnies so he will have to eat the bunnies tomorrow.  The clever bunnies think of different ways to distract Buddy from eating them.  Finally, Buddy realizes the bunnies have tricked him but he also comes to realization that the bunnies aren't food they are his friends. 

Life is full of unexpected surprises that can cause things to go topsy turvy.  Boot and Shoe are dogs from the same liter that live in the same house.  They do the following things together, eat from the same bowl, pee on the same tree, and sleep together in the same bed.  The dogs do spend their days apart because Boot is on the back porch because he is a back porch kind of dog and Shoe is on the front porch because he's a front porch kind of dog.  One day a squirrel shows up messing up their routines. 

It would pretty hard to mention books you just can't get enough of and not mention a book by Peter Brown.  Lucy finds a boy in the woods and wants him to be her pet.  Lucy's mom warns her that children make terrible pets but eventually lets Lucy keep her new pet named Squeaker.  After spending the day together Lucy realizes that Squeaker is hard on furniture and just refuses to be potty trained.  Lucy might just have to admit that her mother was right.  

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Amplify - Getting Started: Developing a Mindset For Technology



     When I first started this digital literacy journey a couple of years ago I remember always hearing Deb Frazier and Cathy Mere sharing all the great ways they were incorporating technology with students.  I wanted that sooo badly but didn't know how to get started.  I realize now the two essentials that are necessary to start this journey are the following: knowing what are my core beliefs and establishing a reading and writing workshop.  I love this quote on pg. 4 - "We focus on the overall goal to teach kids how to think and then layer in purposeful tools along the way."   The teacher and students need to understand how the tool propels student learning.  They also mention that "tools" does not always mean a device or technology.  Tools are anything that support students as they are learning.  I think that it is important to always have a balance and a purpose so that learning can be intentional and scaffold towards independence.  As my literacy journey with students continues I need to remember my core beliefs and keep that as a solid foundation.  On page 5 it states - "We keep these leaders and established best practices, which are research based, teacher tested, and kid approved, at the core of all we do.  When introducing technological tools, we apply the same practices and strategies we use in reading and writing workshop." 

     The workshop's predictable model allows teachers to stick to their core beliefs about best practices and gives students opportunities to be supported at various levels.  Kristin and Katie make a great point on page 5, "Technology in the classroom fits easily into this hands on approach to learning: our students should be the ones using it."  As a teacher I started to think about how technology could be integrated into our reading and writing workshop but I didn't do it on a consistent basis.  I knew spaces like Google Docs and Kidblog gave my students a place to share their learning.  Many students would use Google Docs to organize their thinking for book talks or around their reading life.  Some would use Google slides and others would create tables. However, some readers preferred to have a small steno pad for each book. I let the readers decide on which tool helped them get prepared for their book club. Kids shared books via Kidblog and later on in the year we learned how to make book trailers as another tool to share books within our learning community. 

Here are a few examples:

     I need to think about how technology can be used as a tool to help students reflect on their learning too. I think that when students blog they were reflecting about their reading life but I didn't purposefully think about different ways to have my students reflect.  I used rubrics and they created goals but after chapter one I see I should have been more open and flexible. I focused mainly on how to use technology purposefully to guide instruction and as a tool to help students communicate what they felt was important to share as readers and writers. I also wanted technology to be a tool to use as a vehicle to celebrate and share quality work that needed to have a wider audience. 

     On page 18 in chapter one the authors discuss the use of digital bulletin boards and how this space is another way for students to make their thinking visible.  Digital bulletin boards also make it possible for the learners to also view, respond and interact (pg.18).  I used Padlet over the last couple of years in different ways.  The students love it and are always engaged in sharing their thinking with this tool. I really wish I would have incorporated it more into my chapter book read aloud time but it was at the end of the day so we often ran short on time.  This was a tool I used in the beginning of my journey because it is quick and easy to incorporate in a variety of purposeful ways within reading and writing workshop.  When you use Padlet as a quick check the best part is not carrying a stack of papers home all you need is your device to analyze and take notes. 

Third Grade Reading Goals 

Assessing Theme in 5th Grade

Flint Water Crisis - 5th grade

    Kristin and Katie state the following on page 19, "It doesn't matter where we are on the continuum, only that we've placed ourselves in the exciting world of digital learning."  This is so true and if we embrace this journey with colleagues and students we will continue to push ourselves as learners which will impact the ways we use digital tools within our daily lives.