Celebration: Calef Brown Land

This week I am thrilled to celebrate a very special visit from author/artist/poet/word-wizard/snail-inventor, the amazing Calef Brown! To say that we adore Calef Brown’s art and poems is an extreme understatement. We are ultimate fans! So much so that we have been working on creating what we have come to call Calef Brown Land: a world on our outside bulletin board that features creatures, flying machines, flora and fauna inspired by Calef’s work. Calef’s book Dragon, Robot, Gatorbunny was the inspiration for many of these pieces  Dragon, Robot, Gator Bunny Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That We started drawing . . . Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That And then we painted Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Creatures and such were cut out and collected. Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That And then the building of Calef Brown Land began. Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That It was admired :-) Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Because it is AMAZING! Full of whimsy, vibrant colours and all kinds of joyous charm. Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That And then, today . . . Calef Brown, himself, was coming to visit! Books were ready (check out the top row) Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That The schedule was set. Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Welcome signs were made. Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That And then, we heard the shouts, “Calef Brown is here! He’s here!”

Staying in the room and calm went quickly out the window. Because today was the day! We got to visit with Calef Brown!

Sharing the mural was pretty special. Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That But having Calef Brown share with us . . . Well, now, that was just full of wow! We talked about syllables and favourite words. Rhymes and near rhymes. List making. Word savouring. Rice paper. Tones. Inspiration. Silly. Colours. End papers and treasures under the book jackets. We got to ask lots of questions and found out many things like  which came first – the poem? the word? the illustration? (Never the chicken or the egg in case you were wondering)

We watched Calef read poems (perfectly) upside down. And . . . recite multiple poems from memory. Most of his poems are stored in his head and he shared them with us, when the time was right, on multiple occasions. Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That When the students had their recess break, Calef made each one a special note. (Yes, he really did this! I witnessed it!)

He also gifted a signed copy of his newest book Hypnotize a Tiger to our school. Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Calef got a little peek at my students doing what they do best: losing themselves in books! His books, of course, flew into hands and were shared together or devoured individually. Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That In the afternoon, students got a peek at their individual notes. Lots of smiles all around :-) Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That This week I celebrate Calef Brown’s generosity, creativity and time. His visit was very special for us, confirming our knowledge that book makers – readers, writers, artists extraordinaire are magical. They make the world extra everything! Thank you Calef Brown! This was a morning for the very important memory files. Filed under . . .

wordy wanderings

art meanderings

kindly offerings

Trying for all the same syllables :-)

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community! Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks. celebrate-link-up

Monday April 20th, 2015

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

I have been sharing a reading photo of the week each week. This one captures a particularly sweet moment. One of my students and Miriam (who works with me) got to witness one of our little K buddies showcase her beginning reading skills. Wow, did she work hard to read this book aloud. It was precious to watch!

 Monday April 20th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. It’s the best way to discover what to read next.

imwayr

Lots of interesting titles this week. My favourites included:

Wandering Whale Sharks by Susumu Shingu

Absolutely stunning illustrations. Lyrical text describing details of the largest fish in the ocean.

Wandering Whale Sharks  Monday April 20th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Wild Ideas: Let Nature Inspire Your Thinking written by Elin Kelsey and illustrated by Soyeon Kim

This book is magical. The illustrations have inspired an art project that my students are in the middle of . . . And the text suggests all kinds of connections between ours and the animal world. Prompted discussion about perseverance, creativity and inspiration.

Wild Ideas  Monday April 20th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Goodnight Already! written by Jory John and illustrated by Benji Davies

Lots of silly and full out charm. Both of these characters – bear and duck will amuse any little (or big) reader. The Kindergarten class brought this up to me with big recommendations! Their teacher had had to read it aloud multiple times.

Goodnight Already  Monday April 20th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak

I took this out from the library and am thinking I need to bring it into my classroom to actually try it. I’ve heard great things about its read aloud effect.

The Book with No Pictures  Monday April 20th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I Know Here written by Laurel Croza and illustrated by Matt James

A beautiful book about place and home.

i know here  Monday April 20th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Little Humans by Brandon Stanton

Each of these children has personality leaping off the page.

Little Humans  Monday April 20th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Smelly Louie by Catherine Rayner

I have a real soft spot for Rayner’s loose lines and smudgy images. Louie loses his “smell” in a bath and goes in search of some deliciously stinky places to find it again.

Smelly Louie Monday April 20th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Listen, Slowly by Thanhhà Lai

I can already say with quite a bit of confidence that this will make my favourites of 2015 list. I adored the relationships in this story – between Mai and her grandmother, Mai and her family in Vietnam, many of the characters and their grief and cultural connections. A powerful story about the pull of home, the strength of family, the importance of culture and the complexities of personal and family histories. Highly recommended.

Listen, Slowly  Monday April 20th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

As a family, we also finished Doll Bones by Holly Black on audio. This was a second “read” for me and so enjoyable to listen to! Cheriee, if you are reading this, you can do it! We have faith.

Updates on my 2015 Reading Goals:

2015 Chapter Book Challenge: 19/80 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 157/415 books read

#MustReadin2015: 8/24 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 33/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2015: 17/50 books read

Up next? I am about to begin  Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Celebration: Fuel

Some weeks are hard. They are made up of many chunks of challenge, of upset, of stress. Not all day, every day. But, moments.

Moments of frustration. Moments where we worry. Moments where we wonder. Moments where we feel drained.

When too many of those moments happen in one week, the balance is tipped. It isn’t a week where amazing outweighs the challenges. It is a week where deep breaths are well utilized. Where some soul searching happens. Where teetering on the edge of here and there helplessness is the way it is.

I don’t usually say it, because it’s not where I focus, but I work in a school with high needs, high vulnerability, high poverty and sometimes, it is really hard. This is not the most important thing about what I do. I teach children. Amazing, creative and generous children. We do amazing, creative, inspiring things together. Not in spite of the stressors. Not because of them. But along side of them. And the amazing things? They shine so brightly that they guide me home and pull me back to do it all over again. Full of energy and excitement.

Every so often though, I need to gather fuel. Fuel to recharge when there are lots of hard moments. This week, I celebrate that thanks to some sunshine, some impressive and supportive colleagues and the laughter and smiles of the children I work with, I found the energy to go looking for that fuel. And of course, I found it. Right there. Where it always is. All around me. Waiting to be noticed. Ready to shine the light.

Each little moment is full of the promise of many more. So breathing deeply, I celebrate each of these pieces of my week. The fuel I needed.

Next week?

I am ready for you.

Celebration: Fuel There's a Book for That

Hurrah! Off we went on a walk through the neighbourhood on a geocaching adventure.

Celebration: Fuel There's a Book for That

A group brainstorming ideas and key words for their writing. Asking passionate questions.

Celebration: Fuel There's a Book for That

Miriam and one of my students experiencing the beginning to read stage with one of our Kindergarten buddies.

Celebration: Fuel There's a Book for That

Some love notes for my birthday.

One child also told me. “I like old people.” :-) Well, phew. I guess I can keep this job!

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community! Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.

celebrate-link-up

Monday April 13th, 2015

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

I have been sharing a reading photo of the week each week. This picture makes me completely smile. This is one of our readers from the BLG law firm that visits with a new book each week. He is reading us Strongheart: The World’s First Movie Star Dog. I love that one listener couldn’t remain seated and stood next to him through the entire read aloud.

Monday April 13th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

This week it has to be two photos as it just gets cuter! My class so loves to be read to!

Monday April 13th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

This week I also shared details of some very special buddy reading we did when we had a K class visit us from another school.

Monday April 13th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. It’s the best way to discover what to read next.

imwayr

I read a wide variety of picture books this week:

Gaston written by Kelly Dipucchio and illustrated by Christian Robinson

What makes family? Having your Dad’s blue eyes or feeling like you belong? This book lets us ask those important questions. There will also be some giggles and smirks along the way.

Gaston Monday April 13th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Way to the Zoo by John Burningham

I love all that John Burningham does! He captures vivid childhood imagination so very well.

The Way to the Zoo Monday April 13th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Strongheart The World’s First Movie Star Dog by Emily Arnold McCully

What an interesting story about a retired police dog that started acting in silent movies. We learned about Strongheart’s training, how he needed to be taught how to play and about his deep connections to his owners. My students were captivated.

Strongheart Monday April 13th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Coyote Run by Gaëtan Dorémus

Wild wordless about the wild west. Won’t be for everyone but should be experienced.

Coyote Run Monday April 13th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Sam’s Pet Temper written by Sangeeta Bhadra and illustrated by Marion Arbona

This book explores many aspects of anger and self control – some really quite well. Others, still not sure as I haven’t had a chance to “kid test” this book. Love how strategies of calming down are explored.

Sams Pet Temper Monday April 13th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Camp Rex by Molly Idle

This book made me nostalgic for story time with my own children – I can see this being a read it again and again title when they were small. Charming. Sweet. Silly.

Camp Rex Monday April 13th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Enemy by Davide Cali and Serge Bloch

I can see this book being used in a high school class and keeping conversation going for days. Not a book I would pick up and read without previewing with a primary class. Could intermediate classes manage this? Absolutely. There is much to talk about. It poses such large and important questions about war. Just who is the enemy?  What and whose purposes does war serve? How do we remember the humanity behind each soldier? Powerful.

Enemy Davide Cali Serge Bloch Monday April 13th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

In other reading:

Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon

I literally laughed out loud multiple times reading this book. It is absolutely silly and full of fantasy, imagination and “made-up-ish-ness” attached to many things. It is over the top at the same time as absolutely accurately portraying sibling dynamics, parent frustration and little child antics. Full of wonderful illustrations, this has ADORED written all over it.

Dory Monday April 13th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

 The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern

Whoa Maggie. What a girl you are. Voice bellows from the pages. What a family. So much that is challenging. Not much that is perfect. So very endearing.

The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern Monday April 13th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

If you just read the poems in this book, I suspect it would garner its fair share of 5/5 ratings. But then there is Gabi and her story. Her story is everything. She is surrounded by issues via her family, her friends, her own experiences. Drug addiction. Teenage Pregnancy. Coming out. Family rejection. Teenage hormones. Teenage dreams. Grief. Angst. Passion. Gabi is . . . such an out there character -not out there as in extreme or strange but out there in terms of honest and real and relatable. Loved this novel for so many reasons. Highly recommended.

Gabi A girl in pieces Monday April 13th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Updates on my 2015 Reading Goals:

2015 Chapter Book Challenge: 18/80 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 145/415 books read

#MustReadin2015: 8/24 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 30/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2015: 14/50 books read

Up next? I am about to begin Listen, Slowly by Thanhhà Lai

Celebration: New Experiences

Some days life can achieve the perfect balance of trying the things out there we haven’t yet done mixed in with a comforting dose of all that we know and treasure. Friday of this week was that day for our classroom.

Celebration: New Experiences There's a Book for That

We hosted a K class from another Vancouver school for most of the morning, through lunch and into the afternoon. For the little ones, everything was new! The bus ride, our classroom, the activities we shared and of course, all of us. They handled it all in the best 5 and 6 year old style. Frequent comments and questions were about the most important of things:

“Are we really going to get to play outside?”

“You have the best playground ever.”

“Do you have Elephant and Piggie books?”

For my students, there was joy in sharing what we know – our school and classroom, our beloved books, our playground, our lunchroom and our yoga skills. But, it was the different that made the day amazing. We had responsibility. We had to look after a little one whose entire day was new. We had to be in full out host mode. We had to care and be careful. We had to check in. We had to notice things. We were given a huge gift – the opportunity to do the giving – of ourselves and of our time. This is what I celebrate. Because watching it made me smile. Smile with pride. And joy. And awe. A beautiful day.

The wonderful Ms. Hales who brought her class to be with us shared their experience on her class blog and has invited us to come back to visit at their school!

A few glimpses into our day:

Buddy reading began within moments of their arrival!

ICelebration: New Experiences There's a Book for That Celebration: New Experiences There's a Book for That Celebration: New Experiences There's a Book for That

Miriam led us through some incredible Earth yoga. Everyone was an instant expert!

Celebration: New Experiences There's a Book for That Celebration: New Experiences There's a Book for That Celebration: New Experiences There's a Book for That

Celebration: New Experiences There's a Book for That

In the afternoon we transformed our hands into birds and then our little buddies went back home. We can’t wait to meet up again!

Celebration: New Experiences There's a Book for That Celebration: New Experiences There's a Book for That Celebration: New Experiences There's a Book for That

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community! Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.

celebrate-link-up

Monday April 6th, 2015

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

I have been sharing a reading photo of the week each week. This is buddy reading at its best. Kids everywhere. Engaged. Reading. Talking. Laughing. Did I say engaged? Because, really, that’s what it’s all about.

 Monday April 6th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I also shared an emotional Celebration post this week. All about how very much I have loved having my current class for (for many of them) a third year. There is much to be said for teaching children over multiple years.

 Celebration post

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. It’s the best way to discover what to read next.

imwayr

The picture books I loved this week:

Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith

Wordless perfection. I love everything about this book. And I own it. I pick it up everyday and swoon.

sidewalk flowers  Monday April 6th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah written by Ann Thompson and illustrated by Sean Qualls

A fantastic nonfiction picture book biography. True inspiration.

Emmanuel's Dream- The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah  Monday April 6th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Big Red Kangaroo written by Claire Saxby and illustrated by Graham Byrne

I shared this book in my nonfiction post this week.

big red kangaroo  Monday April 6th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

My Pen by Christopher Myers 

I left this at the bookstore but haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I always say there is power in the pencil (or pen, or marker, etc) – this book celebrates the creativity on the page. But on the page is so much more. I know this book will soon become part of my collection. I want to share it with each group of children I teach for forever . . .

My Pen  Monday April 6th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I Wish You More written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld 

I want any of these wishes to be true. Lovely, lovely, lovely.

I Wish You More  Monday April 6th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

See You Next Year written by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Todd Stewart

The illustrations are beautiful – such magic in the way light is shown. Nostalgia, memory inducing book. Power in the “same every year” summer vacation.

See You Next Year  Monday April 6th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Cardinal and the Crow by Michael Moniz

The message? Pride and foolishness go hand in hand. Inspired by Aesop’s fables. For bird lovers, the illustrations are divine.

The Cardinal and the Crow  Monday April 6th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Chicken Big by Keith Graves

Kids LOVE silly. This book is bursting with it.

Chicken Big  Monday April 6th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

NonRandom Acts of Kindness (Life of Ty #2) by Lauren Myracle

I am so excited that this young chapter book exists. I started with #2 but will be finding number one and adding both to my classroom collection. Ty is believable, the story line is relevant and I liked the friendship/family dynamics explored.

NonRandom Acts of Kindness (Life of Ty #2)  Monday April 6th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

We Were Here by Matt de la Peña (YA)

Where to begin? These characters, sigh. I feel like I could go for a walk and I might find them standing on a corner, watching people go by. I would want to run up and talk about courage and honesty and deep morals and true loyalty. I would want to buy them a sandwich. I would want to know that their worlds are all going to be okay. I’m hopeful. Which doesn’t really tell you anything about this book. I will say this, I am fast becoming a de la Peña fan. If you haven’t read any of his books, start here. Soon.

We Wre Here  Monday April 6th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Updates on my 2015 Reading Goals:

2015 Chapter Book Challenge: 16/80 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 134/415 books read

#MustReadin2015: 7/24 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 29/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2015: 13/50 books read

Up next? I am almost finished The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern And then it is to Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero 

Celebration: Three years

Celebration: Three years There's a Book for That

We have just begun the third term of our 2014/2015 year. Everyone is remarking that time has flown. It always does. Talk is beginning of next year. Who will teach what? What classes might we have? What changes do we want to make?

In my classroom community, a bittersweet feeling is beginning to settle. This term marks the beginning of the end. Many of us have been together for three years. More than half of my current students began as Grade 2 children in a Grade 2/3 class. They then moved into a Grade 2/3/4 as Grade 3s and now they are in Grade 4 in a Grade 3/4 class. Others are in their second year in the room. We are close. Really close.

Celebration: Three years There's a Book for That

We have experienced many things together. Memory making things that connect us. But it is more than mere moments. It is the transformations. The changes that we have all witnessed and can name. Little learners have grown into older learners and have found amazing things along the way. Some of us have realized we are writers. That words, our words, can be powerful. Others have become readers and need pages to read like others need air to breathe. Some of us have become leaders. Artists. The rational voice. Singers. Athletes. Some have learned to speak up and share ideas. Others are beautifully compassionate and caring. Some offer incredible perspective. Some are quietly wise. Some are trying to inspire change, to stir up community. Many of us are outspoken and passionate. Even quietly, most of us have realized we have opinions and that others want to hear them.

Yes, all of us are a little of all of these things but identities are being developed. It has been amazing to observe, to nurture and to celebrate this.

Celebration: Three years There's a Book for That

I should only be celebrating but I know that I will have many moments of sad too. I would love to keep these children in my room forever. Even though I know that the new students next year will bring their own love and their own amazing.

It has been a very special gift to teach so many children for so long. I may never have this opportunity again and I know it. All children teach me so much. These children have been particularly influential. This is my 20th year at this school and I don’t think I have ever been so full of change and possibility. Wanting the room to be full of learning and security for these children has pushed me to risk take and shift and reassess constantly. My learning has been perhaps the most rich.

So that I am not a crumpled mess in June when I have to say goodbye to my students, I need to begin now to find perspective. The perspective that we will carry each of us in how we move forward, knowing, that we are so very blessed to have been influenced so deeply by each other.

This is what I celebrate this week. Each child in my room and the journey we have all experienced together. I will hold these last months very close.

Celebration: Three years There's a Book for That

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community! Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.

celebrate-link-up