Monday May 30th, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week or two (or three . . . )

Book sharing circles were a big hit this week.

Monday May 30th, 2016 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

We perused numerous picture books from our collection.

Monday May 30th, 2016 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

And as always, buddy reading with the kindergarten class was a joy!

Monday May 30th, 2016 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Monday May 30th, 2016 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

For our #classroombookaday, I pulled out some older favourites and the beloved Boy + Bot which got a lot of love!

Monday May 30th, 2016 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

It inspired some robot drawings.

Monday May 30th, 2016 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

We went on to paint our robots and cut them out. This week we will be designing robot landscapes.Monday May 30th, 2016 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 2015

On the blog:

It was a pleasure to share the progress my readers have made: Celebration: Readers Happened Here

For Nonfiction Picture book Wednesday: Tooth by Tooth

Slice of Life: What I Shouldn’t Say

Books I enjoyed:

Swatch: The Girl who Loved Color by Julie Denos 

This book is all kinds of bright and beautiful. It begs to inspire – numerous rereads, art projects, poems. I want to walk outside and give every colour its own special name – like bravest green (which shoots up in March). Wouldn’t you like to be a colour collector?

Swatch Monday May 30th, 2016 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Finding Wild written by Megan Wagner Lloyd and illustrated by Abigail Halpin

Again, a book to inspire. Where can you find wild? What is wild to you? Why do we need wild? How is wild beautiful and dangerous all at the same time. Just so full of wow.

Finding Wild Monday May 30th, 2016 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Whose Story is this, Anyway? written by Mike Flaherty and illustrated by Oriol Vidal

Its hard to tell your own story when other characters keep happening by . . .

Whose Story is this, anyway? Monday May 30th, 2016 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

One student is convinced this book is made just for him and, well, could the author make some more like this soon please? You know with pirates and dinosaurs and aliens and all? Major kid appeal here!

Monday May 30th, 2016 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Solomon and Mortimer by Catherine Rayner

Oh these cheeky, sneaky crocodiles. I read this book and was convinced that these characters are actually my students masquerading as crocodiles. This book is funny and charming and will be the first book I read aloud this week.

Solomon-Mortimer Monday May 30th, 2016 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Flora and the Peacocks by Molly Idle

Oh Flora, you sure can move. And this time with not one, but two, dancing partners. Stunning all around!

Flora and the Peacocks Monday May 30th, 2016 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Charlotte and the Quiet Place written by Deborah Sosin and illustrated by Sara Woolley

A book about needing and finding a quiet place and then recreating it despite the noise. Perfect for our mindfulness practice.

Charlotte and the Quiet Place Monday May 30th, 2016 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Happy Birthday Madame Chapeau written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts

Rhyming text and pages and pages of creative, incredible hats!

Happy Birthday Madame Chapeau Monday May 30th, 2016 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Otters Love to Play written by Jonathan London and illustrated by Meilo So

I adored this title and learned a lot about otters. Baby river otters spend the year doing all things otters do, especially the thing they do best – play! Loved the pages about otters in the snow.

Otters Love to Play Monday May 30th, 2016 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar

This book transports the reader to a time and a place and a family and a story that you want to walk around in and sense every tiny sensation – the smells of the Mexican cooking, the sound of a lone bee buzzing in your ear, the vastness of a desert ranch, the tingling feeling of a story that is wrapped up in history and magic. I don’t always love magical realism but in this story, it worked. I wanted to believe all of it. And maybe I should . . .

hour of the Bees Monday May 30th, 2016 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 20/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 158/400 books read

#MustReadin2016: 17/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 23/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 19/50 books read

Up next? I am reading House Arrest by K.A. Holt

Celebration: Readers happened here

Little things and big things happen every day in our classrooms. The huge things, of course, we can’t help but notice. An amazing interactive lesson where everyone was engaged. A performance where we showcase the songs we have been singing. An incredible art project hung up and celebrated. The little things are just sized down huge. They don’t shout and march about to gather attention. They just quietly happen. Finding them in the every day busy is like finding the first leaves unfurl on a favourite tree. Not there one day and beautifully present the next.

I love finding the little things. The little things with big meaning. Big meaning and big potential.

Little moments like listening to a child read and realizing that she is suddenly fully a reader. It didn’t happen suddenly of course. Little things happen everyday and seemingly out of nowhere, you are at a place you weren’t sure you would land. Like a dripping faucet fills up a bowl when an hour ago it was empty. Steady drops over time. Repeated actions + space + time = definitely something. Daily reading practice in a classroom community over months and months and yes, definitely something. A reader gets made. A reader happens. A reader arrives.

Slowly, certainly, with determination a little one who told me in September, “I can’t really read any of these books.” sits at a table reading in May. When I ask her this question, “Do you know how far you have come?” she answers with conviction, “I wasn’t really reading much and now I am reading so much. I am a rockstar!”

I watch her over our Reading Workshop session. After reading aloud to me, she sits and continues with her book bag, practicing the stories we selected for her to read at the beginning of the week. Occasionally, she gets to the end of the page and looks around for a minute. I imagine she is thinking, “Whoa, I just read that whole page.” When students have “free choice” reading time after independent practice, they can continue reading on their own, read with a buddy or draw and write about their stories. She leaps up when the timer goes and grabs a pile of recently read aloud picture books and lies on the carpet with a classmate and they read aloud together. When I peek at her as I sit with another child, I see her reading carefully and with animation or talking about the illustrations with her classmate. Just before recess, she bustles about replacing books where she found them on various display shelves around the room.

Repeated actions + space + time = definitely something.

I could tell you about which level she is reading at – how she went from reading ___ books and is now reading ____ books. I do have that data. But that’s not really the point here. She was not reading even close to where she should be and now she is in the realm of grade level proficiency. This matters not for those levels that I can record next to her name. This matters because she can now be in this classroom full of books that all felt out of reach for her in the fall and know that she is a reader here.

This is what I celebrate today. That readers happened here this year. I have been worried. So very worried. A few months ago, I celebrated growth. Now I celebrate that I have been a part of making readers. I will always be part of these children – the year many of them learned to be a reader. Not just learned to read but became readers. They have skills to grow, books to read, thoughts to think about stories and the world. There is a big reading future ahead. And they are on their way. I watched this happen. One word, one page, one smile, one book at a time.

I celebrate all of it.

Celebration: Readers happened here

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

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Tooth by Tooth

Recently, we went to dinner at my husband’s parents. My son had just been to the orthodontist. My father in law had just had dental surgery. I had just visited the bookstore that afternoon on route to dinner and I was thrilled to see that the latest Sara Levine book I had ordered had arrived. Of course, while waiting for dinner to finish cooking, I had to read this book aloud to my family. Of course! It was a meant to be moment – a must read book about teeth while we all had teeth on the brain. Achy teeth and bruised mouths, some of us. This book was the perfect distraction.

Because don’t you just want to know answers to some questions like these:

  • What would you be if your top canine teeth grew almost all the way down to your feet?
  • What kind of animal would you be if your teeth were long enough to stick out of your mouth, even when it was closed?
  • What kind of mammal would you be if you had really tall molars?

I am not going to tell you any of these answers! Go! Get the book! Some of these questions are challenging to figure out. This title is a fantastic resource in the elementary classroom: a fun and interactive read aloud with interesting guess and find out questions/answers. My entire family from the teenagers to the over eighty crowd was completely engaged!

Tooth by Tooth: Comparing Fangs, Tusks, and Chompers written by Sara Levine and illustrated by T.S. Spookytooth (Millbrook Press (Lerner) 2016)

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Tooth by Tooth

Learn about the different kinds of teeth you have in your mouth: incisors, canines and molars. Quick, think fast – how many molars do you have? Now count them. Were you right? (Your answer should fall in the 8-20 range depending on your age) Find out how other mammals use their teeth and why they are different sizes and shapes. How are human teeth similar and different compared to other mammals? How do the teeth of herbivores, omnivores and carnivores differ?

Information in the final pages includes further reading, a detailed glossary and more about mammal teeth.

Ideal for K-7 students as a read aloud (for K-3) or read alone (Grades 4-7) .

I also highly recommend bringing it along to share at dinner parties. . . even if nobody has recently been to the dentist!:-)

Levine and Spookytooth also collaborated on Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2016. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!

nfpb2016logo

What I shouldn’t say: Slice of Life

What I shouldn't say: Slice of Life #sol16 There's a Book for That

I have had a really hard year. Truth.

I can hint at why and wrap up the truth in nuanced imagery that only I understand. Truth.

I really just want to lay it all out on the page. Truth.

Because what I am not talking about, not writing about, not sharing is a bunch of not okay stuff that really should be talked about. Truth.

I work in a system and live in a world where it seems keeping all things quiet and all things confidential is more important than being vocal about things that are wrong. Truth.

I am so tired of this. Truth.

Words are powerful.

The truth does not like to be quietly ignored.

My bravest moments have been when I have written about things I was afraid to share.

True.

True.

True.

I know what I can’t say. But I can push right up to the edges. Because my voice is my own. And there is power in words.

The moment we stop believing that our truth matters is when we lose our power.

When we don’t expect a better truth going forward, we feel smaller.

Keeping ugly things quiet is like nurturing something rotten. It just plain stinks.

I am sick of the smell.

Inhaling it gets easier as time passes.

Lie.

Bad Irony: Slice of Life

Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.

 

Monday May 23rd, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

I have been absent from #IMWAYR for a few weeks and oh, how, I have missed it! I am back and thrilled to be here. How I adore this community.

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. As you might have anticipated, I have a few to share this week.

Here is my Reading Warrior surrounded by her morning reading:-)

Monday May 23rd, 2016 There's a Book for That

An engaged buddy reading moment.

Monday May 23rd, 2016 There's a Book for That

More buddy reading joy.

Monday May 23rd, 2016 There's a Book for That

For our #classroombookaday, I have three weeks of titles to share.

Monday May 23rd, 2016 There's a Book for That Monday May 23rd, 2016 There's a Book for That Monday May 23rd, 2016 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 2015

On the blog:

I have been processing leaving my school and this seems to be the only blogging I have done.

I am leaving – – > Changes Ahead: Slice of Life

It’s confusing – – > Not Enough Feet: Slice of Life

Trying to find peace – – > Celebration: Standing in the Middle

Books I enjoyed:

In three weeks, there have been many books! So I worked hard to narrow it down to my ten favourite recently read picture books. In no particular order:

Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat

So very clever. Literal twists and turns! Quite the reading experience exploring the feeling of time’s passage on a road trip.

Are we there Yet? Monday May 23rd, 2016 There's a Book for That

Rules of the House written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Matt Myers

Never open the red door! This is the firm rule of the house. So, what would you do? I can see kids actually finding this kind of scary . . .

Rules of the House Monday May 23rd, 2016 There's a Book for That

The Thank You Book by Mo Willems

Willems is more than brilliant and doesn’t disappoint in any way in this last Elephant and Piggie title.

TheThankYouBook Monday May 23rd, 2016 There's a Book for That

Horrible Bear written by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Zachariah OHora

I love this title more and more as I think more about how truly smart it is. Exploring immediate reactions, mistakes and forgiveness. Another wonderful collaboration from Dyckman and OHora.

Horrible Bear Monday May 23rd, 2016 There's a Book for That

Nerdy Birdy written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Matt Davies

Reynolds and Davies? I couldn’t wait to lay eyes on this one. I love all that it explores – these birdies navigate social norms and emotions rather than the skies. Lots to talk about.

Nerdy Birdy Monday May 23rd, 2016 There's a Book for That

Thunder Boy Jr. written by Sherman Alexie and illustrated by Yuyi Morales

I have been waiting for this book since I heard Morales discuss it at Western Washington’s Children’s Literature Conference more than a year ago. Now, I am thrilled to have just purchased tickets for my husband and I to go hear Alexie speak here in Vancouver! (June 21st – tickets via Vancouver Kidsbooks if you are local) This book is all kinds of special. All about identity, family, who we are and what our name represents.

Loved listening to this interview.

 Thunder Boy Jr. Monday May 23rd, 2016 There's a Book for That

Puddle by Hyewon Yum

Is there anything better than puddle jumping? Likely not! This book is full of rain and creativity.

Puddle Monday May 23rd, 2016 There's a Book for That

This is Not a Picture Book by Sergio Ruzzier

100% charming. A book that celebrates the beautiful process of reading.

This is Not a Picture Book Monday May 23rd, 2016 There's a Book for That

The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art written by Barb Rosenstock and illustrated by Mary Grandpré

So fascinating! Made me go and look at multiple images of Kandinsky’s work.

The Noisy Paint Box Monday May 23rd, 2016 There's a Book for That

Stay! A Top Dog Story by Alex Latimer

I can see some children becoming absolutely lost in the detailed notes and letters in this book. Lots of fun!

Stay! Monday May 23rd, 2016 There's a Book for That

Novels:

Booked! by Kwame Alexander

This is the second Alexander title that made its rounds in my family – both children, my husband and I read it. I think we all took different things from it to love. There is lots to love!

Booked Monday May 23rd, 2016 There's a Book for That

Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina

This is some book. Dramatic family relationships, young love, coming of age, and New York in 1977 and all that that means . . . the Son of Sam murders and the fear surrounding this time, fires, black outs, financial hardships. I highly recommend this YA title.

Burn Baby Burn Monday May 23rd, 2016 There's a Book for That

The Girl in the Well is Me by Karen Rivers

This is one of those titles that you can pick up and not put down until done. On the one hand, this is the story of a girl trapped in a well and all of the scary and terrible about this. But this little book also contains lots about the ugliness of middle school relationships, the vulnerability of children, our inner voices and introspection . . . .

The Girl in the Well is Me Monday May 23rd, 2016 There's a Book for That

Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 19/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 147/400 books read

#MustReadin2016: 16/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 22/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 19/50 books read

Up next? I am reading Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar

Celebration: Standing in the middle

It has been too long – a few months I think – since I have written a celebration post. I know why. The act of celebrating is about being in the moment and I am having a difficult time remaining firmly planted in the moment. I am looking behind. I am wandering ahead. When I stand in the middle, I don’t know how to be.

I have shared a little on the blog about leaving my school after 21 years and the strange in limbo feeling that gives me as I don’t yet know where I will be in September. Our district has a process for changing schools that isn’t very “friendly” to the teachers involved. To be competitive in the spring transfer round, we must vacate our position in the middle of March. This allows us to be a B candidate instead of a C candidate (someone with a continuing contract who didn’t vacate). Even though seniority is very important, your category (B or C) is more important and C candidates are not even supposed to be considered until B candidates have positions. Job postings don’t come out until May 31st and interviews begin a week after this. The soonest I will know about where I will be in the fall is mid June.

So . . . I have known since mid March that I am leaving my job. In fact, I have known since January when I made the decision. Why I am leaving is difficult to answer as I can’t be publicly candid. I was given some very good advice by a long time friend early on: “Despite the reasons that prompted your decision, find other reasons to go. Focus on those so that you can flip all of this into a positive move.” I repeat this advice often and I try to live by it.

The leaving is hard. It is emotional. It’s confusing. The knowing and not telling has been really challenging. My students are young and concepts of time are different for them. I didn’t want them to know too soon as I didn’t want them to think I was leaving them. Finally, on Friday, I told them that even though I am their teacher until the end of the year, I will be teaching somewhere else in the fall.

There are lots of questions and I can’t provide all of the answers. What I do repeat is the big and important truth – I am not leaving because of the children. Teachers never want to leave their students. My students mean everything to me.

And this, finally brings me to my celebration. One of my students ran outside and shared news of my leaving with a friend. This friend was a girl who I taught both last year and the year before. She came up and hugged me. “I don’t want you to go Ms. Gelson. I love you. The whole school loves you.”

I celebrate that I am loved. I celebrate that I love this whole school right back and then some. I celebrate that even though I stand in the middle of my long history here and somewhere new and unknown, I can now get on with saying goodbye. I can be, in the moment, sad and sentimental or happy and full of hope. I can enjoy these next five to six weeks with my students with all of us being a little extra gentle with each other because this is it for us and it means something.

It is time for big hugs. Bright smiles. Lots of gratitude and lots of care. It is time to celebrate what we have and how much we treasure it. Teaching is about relationships. These relationships have deep roots, strong branches and glowing leaves. Our metaphorical tree is especially beautiful.

Celebration: Standing in the middle

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

Not enough feet : Slice of Life

Not enough feet : Slice of Life

I am packing.

Kind of.

More like getting ready to pack. I am packing to go somewhere. Where?  I don’t yet know. A year from now I will be settled into some other classroom in some other school somewhere in this city. At least that’s the plan. Job postings aren’t out yet. So I have no idea on most of this.

I have two feet firmly planted in the day to day intensity of what I do. But I also have a few feet walking in circles in the land of unknown possibility. Pacing. Circling. Wondering. I have a toe reaching out to imagine other places. A younger grade? An older class? I have restless feet that don’t know how to be still.

Clearly, I don’t have enough feet.

My head is full of a soundtrack that I need subtitles to understand. Or a “how to think about it all” manual. Like swirling clouds on a fast wind, all of this speeds by while I stand in a frozen sort of limbo. I am no longer tethered to this place that has been such a part of my life. But as I don’t belong anywhere else yet, I am still so very, very home in this classroom, in this school, where I have worked for more than two decades. This is who I am. But soon, very soon, it won’t be. I still belong but I almost don’t.

I am walking quickly on an unclear path.

I am standing sideways where I have always been.

I am twirling slowly looking for a new center.

I am all kinds of lost.

I go through the motions of beginning to pack. It is more about pretending to be productive. Attempting to find a movement train and jumping aboard.

Packing right now is not yet about boxes. It is about sorting. About shifting – piles and energy. I stop often and just stand in the middle of my classroom and take it all in. Maybe somehow if I look at everything just the right way, I will find clarity.

I need to know which way I am turning.

It needs to be more than just away.

Those unreal goodbyes need to begin.

I will hold them tight and then let them go.

We can’t really capture where we’ve been until we are pointed in a new direction.

Just being in it is too murky. Too much of not yet.

I feel dizzy standing still.

Stepping into tomorrow is becoming more about the unknown than the known. One foot in front of the other. Moving away while still here. Looking at nothing through cloudy glass.

Bad Irony: Slice of Life

Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.