Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Slice of Life Post-Writing Retreat

Each Tuesday the amazing bloggers at Two Writing Teachers host Slice of Life Stories (SOLS). This is where bloggers link up to share anything they would like to share about what is happening in their lives. 

This past weekend I had the great fortune to attend my first writing retreat at a beautiful resort on the ocean here in Maine. This retreat was held for some New England contributors to Choice Literacy. The enormously generous Brenda Power was our gracious hostess during this incredible three days. 
This is the view from the patio of my room. Nice view for writing!

I had never been on a retreat so I did not really know what to expect.  It turned out to be a weekend filled with gobs of indulgent writing time, sharing our writing and getting feedback from others, talking with dedicated educators, eating (too much) wonderful food and more, and more writing time. I was heavenly! Having the dedicated, uninterrupted writing time was just what I needed. I felt spoiled and more than a little guilty.
These are some of the books we received during our retreat. I know right? *Pinches self*

I was excited to make some new friends and to meet my online friends Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan (from Teachers for Teachers) "in real life". They were presenting at a Choice Literacy workshop for literacy coaches. 
At breakfast with Clare, Tammy, Kathy Provost, (me) 
and my nerdy Maine friend Justin Stygles.

I am so glad that I had this opportunity and hope to attend another retreat in the future. It left me feeling revitalized and excited to write more. I never talk about myself as being a writer, but after writing and connecting with other writers this weekend, I am beginning to start to see myself in this light and it is very exciting.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday-October 15, 2014

My Friend Alyson Beecher at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts weekly link up to share Nonfiction Picture Books. Please visit her amazing website. 
by Barb Rosenstock
Illustrated by S.D. Schindler
Published 2014 by Calkins Creek Books
32 Pages
Review copy provided by the publisher

As a teacher of The American Revolution, I love learning about our founding fathers. I knew Ben Franklin was a talented inventor, of course, but I did not know much about him as a child. This book shows Frankin as an eleven-year-old who loved to swim even though swimming for sport was not popular at the time.  Young Ben asked himself lots of questions. One question was "What can't I swim like a fish?" This led him to study how fish swim and to his first invention, "swim fins"! 
I think this book would be a valuable model of the scientific process. He took a question, studied his subjects, designed a prototype and modified that design based on his trials. Ben was just a regular, curious kid and I think children will be able to relate to him and find his story to be inspirational. 
There is a nice timeline of Franklin's life and an author's note at the end of the book. 

Use this book....
*as a model of the scientific process.
*as part of a study of American history.
*as part of a biography unit. 
*before a unit on inventions. 


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My Must-Read-In-2014 October Update

Back in January I decided to join fellow blogger friends Carrie Gelson from There's a Book for That, Linda Baie from Teacher Dance and Maria Selke from Maria's Melange for the Must Read in 2014 Challenge. Our Must Read lists consist of books we want to make sure we read` this year. In my case the list was a combination of books I have been meaning to read and books I don't want to miss.

I can not believe that we made our lists ten months ago! Time sure does fly. 
Here is my October update.
Well, I have read ONE more book from my list. 
I have read ten books out of my 14 Must Reads so far.

I am very much hoping to get to the last 4 books in the next couple of months. 

Click here to see my original list. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading-October 13, 2014

Please visit the amazing blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers who host this terrific meme each week.

Here are my books from last week. Click on the pictures to learn more about each book.
Picture Books
Cute book for the very young. Great illustrations. 

Another book for preschool-Kindergarten. Shows how children are alike all around the world. 

Loved this wordless picture book.

Hilarious, simple book. K-2.

Nonfiction Picture Books
Even as a child, Ben Franklin was an inventor. Great read aloud for upper grades. 

This is a favorite nonfiction picture book from this year for sure. 

Still Reading
Sadly I have not read any more this week.

Still Listening

What Are YOU Reading?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Stack-It-Up Sunday, October 12, 2014

On Sundays I like to share some of the random piles of books around my house. I originally posted about my piles on this celebration post.  Along with showing everyone how messy my house is, I like to share because each pile has its own story.

Here are this week's stacks.
This is the pile on my kitchen counter. It contains three books from the library including Bug Safari, Hank Finds an Egg and a Cork and Fuzz book. The book, Be a Changemaker is a book I won from a giveaway from my friend Alyson Beecher! 

 This is TJ's current fave. 

My daughter got this MSBA contender from the library. 

I could not resist purchasing these two Heineman titles at the Maine Literacy Council's Book Bonanza last week. Linda Reif's Read, Write Teach and Thomas Newkirk's Minds Made From Stories. 

What books are in your stacks? 
Happy Sunday!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Review of Bramble and Maggie: Spooky Season by Jessie Haas

Bramble and Maggie: Spooky Season
by Jessie Haas
Illustrated by Alison Friend
Published 2014 by Candlewick Press
Early Chapter Book
56 Pages
Review copy obtained from publisher. 

Goodreads Summary
In their third adventure, Bramble and Maggie explore a new season together — fall! Leaves crunch underfoot. Acorns ping off rooftops. It all makes Bramble feel wonderfully spooky. But Bramble’s frisky-pretend-scary gait makes Maggie jumpy, and soon Bramble really is nervous. There are alarming new sights and sounds everywhere, like Mr. Dingle’s scarecrow. When Maggie takes a fall, will she want to get back in the saddle? And when Halloween comes, can Maggie trust Bramble to brave the tricks and lead them both safely to the treats?

My Thoughts
If you know a child, ages 5-8, who loves horses, this is a must-have series. With the perfect ratio of text to pictures, this series is perfect for children who are ready ease into the world of chapter books. Younger children who are not ready to read it on their own, will enjoy hearing the story read to them while looking at the big, colorful illustrations. 

In this third book of the series, the horse Bramble gets a bit spooked by all of the Halloween decorations and costumes. After Maggie falls off him, she must decide is she has the courage to get back on. Maggie demonstrates resiliency, courage and trust making this book a wonderful springboard into some deeper conversations in class and at home.  

I would definitely recommend this series for young readers. The first two books (Bramble and Maggie: Horse Meets Girl and Bramble and Maggie: Give and Take) are also available now. 

Want more books about horses? Jessie Haas uses her tremendous knowledge of horses in many books. Visit her website here.

Visit Alison Friend's website here.  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday-October 8, 2014

My Friend Alyson Beecher at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts weekly link up to share Nonfiction Picture Books. Please visit her amazing website. 

Agate: What Good is a Moose? 
by Joy Morgan Dey
Illustrated by 
Nikki Johnson
Published 2007 by Lake Superior Post Cities Inc. 
Picture Book
32 Pages
Obtained from public library

Summary from Goodreads 
Agate is a moose with low self-esteem. He feels inadequate and plain, like an ugly brown rock, especially when he compares himself to his beautiful friends who are named after birthstones. These friend help Agate to see that just like his namesake, true beauty lies within. Stunning original watercolors, a witty, positive message about self image plus bonus pages with birthstone and agate facts. Perfect for reading aloud.

My Thoughts
Although this book is categorized as fiction, I am sharing it here on Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday because it is filled with facts about the animals. 

I like how each animal is named after a birthstone and beautifully painted using the respective watercolors. The message is not new, but one that bears repeating with children: everyone is unique and should be valued for their own talents and gifts. The author weaves in facts that work very naturally with the story. She does not shy away from using more complicated vocabulary, within the rhyming, poetic text, such as disjointed, scarcely, malcontented and self-conscious making this book a perfect read aloud for ages 5-10. Along with enjoying the story, there are many curricular connections that can be made.

Use this book...
*as part of a poetry unit. 
*as a read aloud during a unit about animals.
*early in the year to build community-everyone is unique. 
*as a mentor text for context clues. 
*as a mentor text for facts vs. opinions. 
*as a mentor text for summarizing-somebody, wanted, but, so, then.