Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Slice of Life-Preparing for NCTE14

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 week I feel very fortunate to be able to attend my second NCTE annual convention. I attended last year and it was the best professional development I have ever had. I reflected on the experience here and here

This year I am beyond thrilled to be presenting my very first session on a panel with my dear friend Susan Dee and three of my favorite authors, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Jennifer Nielsen and Leslie Connor. Yes, I know, I can't believe it either *pinches self*. 

The experience of putting this presentation together has been wonderful and humbling. With the exception of Susan and I, we all live in different states. There have been countless emails, Google docs and a Google Hangout where we were able to talk together for the first time as a team. 
These ladies are talented, dedicated and know their stuff! I feel blessed to be part of this amazing line up. 

I am very excited to get to DC to see old friends, meet some friends "in person" and make new connections. It is sure to be another experience to remember. 

If you are attending NCTE this year I hope you will consider attending our session (G.46) Grow Through It: Fostering Resilience and Empathy through Story on Saturday morning from 9:30-10:45 in Maryland B. See the Smore below for more info. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? November 17, 2014

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

This week I finished a couple of books I started a while back. Please click on the titles to learn more about the books. 

by Jonathan Auxier
I really enjoyed this beautifully written, creepy, story.  I think students in grades 5+ will enjoy it the most. 

I finished listening to....
by Kimberly Newton Fusco
I had been meaning to read this one for a while and I am glad I found it on audio. I would recommend it to grades 5+. 

Currently Reading

What are YOU reading friends?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday-Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla

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

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla
by Katherine Applegate
Illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Published 2014 by Clarion Books
Nonfiction Picture Book
40 Pages
Copy obtained from public library.

Goodreads Summary
In a spare, powerful text and evocative illustrations, the Newbery medalist Katherine Applegate and the artist G. Brian Karas present the extraordinary real story of a special gorilla.
Captured as a baby, Ivan was brought to a Tacoma, Washington, mall to attract shoppers. Gradually, public pressure built until a better way of life for Ivan was found at Zoo Atlanta. From the Congo to America, and from a local business attraction to a national symbol of animal welfare, Ivan the Shopping Mall Gorilla traveled an astonishing distance in miles and in impact.
This is his true story and includes photographs of Ivan in the back matter.

My Thoughts
As a HUGE fan of Applegate's novel The One and Only Ivan, I was beyond excited to find that she had published a picture book of Ivan's life. Although I have read the novel a couple of times, I learned several details that I did not know about Ivan from the picture book text and from the author's notes in the back. Reading this book, I fell in love with Ivan all over again. I enjoyed the touching description provided by Ivan's main zoo handler, Jodi Carrigan, of Ivan's love of painting and his gentle nature. 

With sparse text and fabulous illustrations, this book is perfect for all elementary-aged students. They do not need to have read The One and Only Ivan in order to appreciate this story. However, If you plan to read the novel, I would recommend reading the picture book to your students after you finish as it does give away the ending. 

Use this book...
*as part of a unit on animals or endangered animals.
*as a mentor text to discuss treatment of animals.
*to jumpstart a community service project to help animals. 
*as a nonfiction companion to The One and Only Ivan

The author has a discussion guide on her website.
Animal Planet has nice 2-3 minute video about mountain gorillas here.
Watch to book trailer.

Katherine Applegate discusses the book in this video.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Slice of Life-Emotional Roller Coaster

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. 

Parents are only as happy as their least happy child. I have heard this statement several times but recently, I am finding this notion to be completely true. 

Living with an "almost" teenager is not easy. You always love them to pieces, but boy can they be moody and emotional. Everything is a crisis and keeping up with the ups, downs, twists and turns of their emotional roller coaster can leave everyone dizzy. 

My 12 year-old is a deeply compassionate, thoughtful, friendly and loving girl to everyone (outside of her family). She has many interests and is in several clubs at school. She participates in her school play and in a play at a local children's theater each year. She absolutely loves to perform, sing and dance and spend time with her theater friends. 

Mostly she plays small roles or in the "ensemble" which is theater speak for "extras". She does a wonderful job in these small, but important roles, however as she gets a bit older she longs for bigger, more visible roles. This week she auditioned for two plays. She rehearsed her songs, memorized her monologues and gave her best in the auditions. Then we all hopped on the emotional roller coaster. After each audition she waited for the coveted "call back". As much as the audition panel insists that call backs do not necessarily mean you are up for a bigger role, that is exactly what they mean. They do not call you back if you are being considered for the ensemble. The call backs come in an email that she waited for at the computer. When one did not come, her cheerful, "I did so well Mom" squeal turns to a heartbroken "I thought I did so well Mom" wail in my arms after she didn't get the first call back. She did, however, get two small roles with a couple of lines and not the ensemble which made her happy. 

Then on Saturday she auditioned for the play at the children's theater. This organization produces phenomenal productions with children from second grade to 8th grade. If you are lucky enough to get an audition (which fills up online in just minutes after opening) then you are guaranteed a part. There are usually so many children that they break up into two casts. It is a resource we feel lucky to have right here in our town. 

She auditioned, but didn't feel that she did very well and sort of down played the whole experience in an attempt to not get her hopes up. Then she waited again for a call back, not really expecting one. When the email arrived there was no containing her excitement. Screaming, jumping hugging, laughing she was the picture of preteen glee. The roller coaster chugs skyward! "I don't even care now which role I get as long as I got a call back!" she cried. 

She spent the next three hours back at the theater as my husband and I waited at home on pins and needles. Finally she called us to come get her. She was crying. Down plunges the roller coaster. I arrive (after breaking many speeding laws) to find my daughter in a puddle of tears as she comes to me for comfort. This call back was not what she hoped. "They made me memorize all these lines then never asked me to read them, but they asked two other girls to read them" she chokes out through her sobs. Other mothers are try to console her pointing out all of the other children who are leaving the auditions disappointed. 

As a mother it is so difficult to see your child hurting. The evening was filled with a range of emotions as she waited for the final email with the assigned roles which did not come before bed time. 

She found out her role the next morning. She is in a group of her friends with similar roles and she is thrilled. It was not the role she was hoping for, but she is happy. Her roller coaster is heading up again. The morning was spent calling her grandparents, highlighting her script and practicing her songs. All is right, for the moment, in her world and we can all enjoy this upward rise while it lasts. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?-November 3, 2014

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

Picture Books
by Mike Curato
I had been anxiously awaiting this picture book. It is as good as I had hoped. Great book about friendship and finding ones place in the world. Grades K-3. 

by Marla Frazee
This wordless picture book is a new favorite! Frazee's signature illustrations and a unique story line make this appropriate for all elementary grades. 

If you visit regularly you know I have been working on the next one for a while, but I am really enjoying it nonetheless. 
by Jonathan Auxier

Currently Reading 
by Debbie Miller and Barbara Moss

Still Listening
by Kimberly Newton Fusco

What Are YOU Reading Friends? 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Stack-It-Up Sunday-November 2, 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.
I got these books from my public library on my Friday visit. Sophie's Squash is for my partner teacher as she begins a long demo of decomposition by observing a pumpkin. Great mentor text for that! 

This is the stack of books I brought in to me supervision meeting this week. Hoping to read or reread all of them this school year. 

TJ's current stack. He has moved some of his faves to the car.

Beside my chair in my reading nook are a mixture of books to read and/or review. 
Molly is in two plays this fall/winter. Her scripts sit on the kitchen counter, where else? 

What do you have in your stacks? 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday-October 29, 2014

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

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus
by Jen Bryant
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet 
Published by Erdman's 2014
Nonfiction Picture Book
42 Pages
Review copy obtained from public library

Ever wonder how Roget's Thesaurus was created? Well, it all started with a boy who loved to make lists. In the absolutely beautiful picture book, Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet team up again to create this engaging and informative book (they originally published A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams). 
In this book, the reader learns how Roget kept notebooks filled with lists of words in his attempt to find just the right words he wanted to use. 
Over decades the lists became the first Roget's Thesaurus. I love everything about this book. It is wonderful for children throughout elementary school, but students in grades 2-5 will get the most from it in my opinion. This is my current favorite nonfiction picture book published this year. 

Enjoy this book trailer of The Right Word.