Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers

I worry a lot about teaching writing because I want learning to happen without erasing any joy. I want ideas to flow. I want enthusiasm to reign. I want doubts to stay far away. I want little writers to build their skills in a space that is safe. I want the idea of writing to become (or remain) a purely positive experience. Even if it’s hard. Even if it’s work. Even if we don’t have it all figured out.

I certainly don’t have it all figured out. Heck, I think I admit so frequently that I haven’t got a lot figured out that it might be time to really wonder about my credibility! BUT, I like to write about what I notice and sometimes it seems that there is enough great stuff happening right in front of me, that maybe I might have a thing or two to share. Lately, here’s what I have observed. We are growing writers. So far, it has been pretty organic. We aren’t bogged down in details and the “how to of it all” at this point.

We have jumped right in. We are immersing ourselves. We are beginning.

Here’s a peek into how:

There is daily time to read. Writers are readers. We need to give our reading writers time to fall into a story. There is so much learning happening when we let our students have time to read.

Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers

I read aloud often! Young writers need to be exposed to many, many read alouds. All different kinds of books shared with their classroom community. Picture books. Nonfiction picture books. Novels. Poetry. Writers definitely blossom in a room that celebrates stories.

Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers

read books that are specifically about writing. Writers need to talk and learn about the process. Picture books invite them to learn from characters who are also figuring it out.

Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers

I provide time to reflect and to write about what writing means. My students  acknowledge that the process takes some work.

Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers

Writing is honoured.

I often am reminded about how deeply children think about the writing process. I love how bravely my students write. It’s about ideas on a page. We don’t get obsessed about correct spelling or mistakes. We embrace our right to imagine and tell our stories.

Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers

I introduce students to authors – if in real life, all the better! Local author Bree Galbraith came and read her latest picture book to our classroom. Milo and Georgie got lots of love! And Bree fielded numerous questions in an engaging discussion about writing books, being a Mom, cat allergies, idea generating and favourite words.Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers

After getting some input from the students about some future and in-process stories, Bree got some spontaneous hugs!

Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers

I loved listening in on the stories being shared. Bree gave beautiful space to each child who shared with her.

Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers

Our book is now signed!

Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers

I encourage students to write to everyone for all kinds of reasons

A Guest Teacher might be coming? How about some welcome letters?

Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers

Our engineer helped us out with a new Food Waste bin. We all wrote him thank you notes.

Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers

That visiting author? We miss her already and couldn’t wait to write her letters.

Sunday Reflections: Growing WritersSunday Reflections: Growing Writers

Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers

A writing centre and materials for writing are must haves. Ours is a shelf full of paper, notepapers, pens and coloured pencils. We also bring out felt tipped pens to write with so that we can love our mistakes instead of erasing them. We write during Writing Workshop but students also write when they have free time, during choices time and even during the lunch hour. Many are collaborative stories with multiple authors and illustrators.

I was just gifted a The Kind Book co-written by three girls. Each page has one word and an illustration. Check out the rainbow end pages! These kids know books and no detail is missed.

Sunday Reflections: Growing WritersWe are about to make books to share what we have learned about insects. Once we’ve done a little more research, there will be art, poetry, facts and book love. Everyone is excited.

We can do this!

We are writers!

Monday October 9th, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share at least one reading photo of the week.

Loved reading aloud this title on Friday as I had a little walking skeleton dressed for the occasion!

Monday October 9th, 2017

Our #classroombookaday titles focussed on story telling and becoming writers. So glad I chose to share these titles so early in the year. Some highlights from our learning included:

  • The middle is where all of the good stuff happens.
  • Tell more!
  • Write the stories around you.
  • Illustrations also tell stories. Pictures have important details.
  • Everyone loves to share stories!

After reading Ralph Tells a Story we were inspired to make a list of story ideas in our writer’s notebooks. I can’t wait to read about overflowing bathtubs, funny families and big and little adventures!

Monday October 9th, 2017Classroom Highlights 

In this recent post Dear Blog Readers,  I explained how I will be sharing more of what is happening in our classroom each week. Some highlights:

On Wednesday and Thursday evening we hosted Goal Setting Conferences with parents and students. It was really lovely to meet families (including older and little siblings) and participate in meaningful conversations about learning, happiness and engagement. I loved this drawing left behind by one little brother. It reminded me to listen with big ears!

Monday October 9th, 2017

Kindergarten students have so much to share. I love to pop in to the K classrooms on my prep to see what is happening. One little author/illustrator read me her animal book. 🙂

Monday October 9th, 2017

One of my students wants to be a poet. She shared her notebook with me this week. During Choices time one afternoon, she was working on her writing. She turned to a new page and exclaimed, “I love when a blank page turns into a story.” Her supportive Mom had taken her to the public library this week and helped her to sign out some poetry titles!

Monday October 9th, 2017

We have been writing to the people in our school community. I love this letter to our school engineer:

“Parm Thank you for everything. Our light is broken Parm. Can you fix it please and pretty?”

Here are our wipe off math mats patiently waiting for us to return from music and recess so we can continue practicing decomposing numbers to add.

Monday October 9th, 2017Little mathematicians at work! Overheard: “Let’s try that one again. I think we’ve almost got it.” Math is social! When we work together our learning multiplies.Monday October 9th, 2017Students are now taking the lead solving math riddles. This student is crossing out numbers on the 100s chart that have been eliminated by specific clues. Her classmates are so attentive!

Monday October 9th, 2017

After choral counting, we notice so many patterns! My job? To record all of the thinking that is shared.

Monday October 9th, 2017

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.

Books I enjoyed:

After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back up Again by Dan Santat

Kind of impossible to talk about this book without giving anything away. I will just say this. I read a LOT of picture books. I often find books that touch an emotional nerve or inspire a sense of awe or make me laugh out loud. I am amazed at the calibre of titles that continue to be published. But I don’t often find myself completely surprised. This book surprised me. The ending caught me off guard and I loved it!

La La La: A Story of Hope written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Jaime Kim

Well, wow. This book – with only these three little repeated utterances: La, La, La and some more than expected and then some illustrations – pulls off an experience that is pretty incredible. I read a bit of criticism in the reviews about this being a challenging title to share as a read aloud. I think in a room with an adult who knows his/her readers and where there is space for wondering and talk, this book would be amazing. I need to get my own copy and prove it very soon.

La La La- A Story of Hope 2

The Wish Tree written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Chris Turnham

In search of a wish tree . . . There is much here about unwavering belief, hope and kindness. A magical experience.

Hooray for Books! by Brian Won

I am not quite sure what could be better than a book about book love. Such a celebration!

Hooray for Books!

Imagine by John Lennon with illustrations by Jean Jullien

A gorgeous picture book of the famous song by John Lennon. I will be sharing this as November 11th approaches. An important book to inspire conversations about peace.

Animal Camouflage: Search and Find by Sarah Dennis and Sam Hutchinson

Can’t wait to put this title out for some of our Soft Start mornings. I know students will pour over it as they learn about continents and various animals. Just beautiful.

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King by Ben Hatke

I was so excited to finally have the chance to read this book and I couldn’t put it down. It was full of surprises and the ending just about knocked me over. I now feel like my students who read Mighty Jack last year and then whined all year about the second in the series not yet being published. Consider this my first whine: WHEN is Book 3 coming?

Zinnia and the Bees by Danielle Davis

Wonderfully quirky, gentle and true. The unbelievable becomes believable in this middle grade novel about a girl who literally has a bee hive in her hair. Not a bee hive hair style. A hive of bees who take up residence. Really. She also has a missing brother. A there, but not really, mother. A boy named Birch waiting to be her friend. And . . . those bees. Loved this book!

Reading Progress updates:

2017 Chapter Book Challenge: 52/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 231/365 books read

Progress on challenge: 49 books behind schedule.  Under 50 this week!

#MustReadin2017: 24/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 29/50 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 33/50 books read

Up next? I have a lot of transitional chapter books on the go as I get ready to book talk more titles for my classroom!

Monday October 2nd, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a  reading photo of the week. Well, honestly each week I share some photos from the week. It’s hard to pick just one!

Princess in Black titles are VERY popular in our room!

While the “people” are resting, we should probably read them The Story of Diva and Flea. I love that books are pulled out even during play opportunities.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.

Our #classroombookaday titles have continued to explore relationships.

These titles are all about friendships and choices and allowed us to talk about the way we treat each other.

We don’t always write about our #classroombookaday titles but I am already excited by the thoughtful responses students are sharing.

Then we explored a variety of ways kindness can manifest. Hank Finds and Egg is the first “tell aloud” (wordless book) I have shared with this group. They fell in love!

I wrote a post about some minor changes coming on my blog: Dear Blog Readers – sharing more of what is happening in my classroom. So each week I will share a few photos of classroom highlights here.

Classroom Highlights

We began working with Maggie, our Artist in Residence in the Art and Discovery Studio. Up first? Self portraits!

I was supposed to be away for a day but then in the end, didn’t have to be absent. Part of the preparation was to have the students write Dear Guest Teacher letters. They are pretty wonderful I think! I encourage writers to be fearless – to write in pen and cross out and give mistakes a hug for helping us to learn!

Books I enjoyed:

It Takes a Village by Hilary Rodham Clinton and illustrated by Marla Frazee

Frazee brings so much to this title. A simple and powerful book.

If I Had a Little Dream written by Nina Laden and illustrated by Melissa Castrillo

A celebration of possibilities from a child’s perspective. Beautiful.

Love the dreaming this little bunny did on her bed fashioned out of Keva Planks! My class loves to play with these!

That’s Me Loving You written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Teagan White

Such a lovely little book to support children with many things: connection, loss, attachment.

Away written by Emil Sher and illustrated by Qin Leng

I really like this title. A story shared through notes between a busy Mom and daughter. Illustrations by Leng are superb.

One of my students wrote a great note to her Mom this week. After hearing some students tell me that my all black outfit made me look like I was going to a funeral, she thought about her Mom’s wardrobe choices and made this note! 🙂

Secrets I Know by Kallie George and Paola Zakimi

A poetic, lyrical title about the wonders of the world: big and small.

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors written by Drew Daywalt with pictures by Adam Rex

Absolutely hilarious and entertaining! I am going to need to get a copy of this book for my classroom. Students will love this imagined backstory that inspired the game Rock Paper Scissors.

Dough Knights and Dragons written by Dee Leone and illustrated by George Ermos

Lots of rhymes, lots of cute and a wonderful example for young readers about coming up with creative solutions to a problem.

The Antlered Ship written by Dashka Slater and illustrated by The Fan Brothers

Mock Caldecott? Yes! Gorgeous. I particularly enjoyed the sense of wonder and questioning in this book.

Isadora Moon Goes to School by Harriet Muncaster

The first book in a cute little series about a girl who is half-vampire and half-fairy and trying to find the perfect place for her school setting.

The Infamous Ratsos by Kara Lareau and illustrated by Matt Myers

Such a fun little title about two brothers who work very hard to be bad but just aren’t!

Pie Girl (Piper Green, #5) written by Ellen Potter and illustrated by Qin Leng

I love Piper Green. I read every new title and enjoy each of them. This one did not disappoint. Piper wants to be Pie Girl but things just don’t seem to go her way.

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

Oh my goodness me. This book is fantastic. Creepy. Gruesome. Lots of blood and gore but lots of suspense and great story telling (and retelling) Despite the creepy and violent parts, this is definite middle grade material! Fairy tale sharing at its finest.

Reading Progress updates:

2017 Chapter Book Challenge: 50/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 223/365 books read

Progress on challenge: 50 books behind schedule.  Nice even number that is too large for my liking! Yikes.

#MustReadin2017: 23/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 28/50 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 33/50 books read

Up Next? I am starting Zinnia and the Bees by Danielle Davis

Sunday Reflections: Dear Blog Readers

Dear Blog Readers:

In the next while you might notice a few changes in some of my posts. While this is still a place I will continue to share a LOT of book love (including reviews, author/illustrator interviews, best of lists, weekly sharing of what I’m reading), you will now be getting a larger peek into my classroom.

Sunday Reflections: Dear Blog Readers

What’s ahead? More student book reviews, more classroom photos interspersed into my #IMWAYR posts, sharing of student writing especially in response to what we are reading and various other classroom celebrations of learning. This fall I considered beginning a second blog for classroom related things which felt a little bit overwhelming in terms of time. I then realized that much of our learning is connected to stories and literature and thus, this blog is the ideal location to share both our adventures in learning and our love of reading. I remembered this again reading my own words in this post: Honest truths, metaphorical whales and the “in between” place

” . . . through books we find most of the answers and all of the questions and that these beloved book makers, when they share, help to illuminate both. ”

“The honest truth? I am a reading teacher. And I have important work to do.”

For those of you new to this blog, I am sharing some posts below (follow the links) that give a flavour of my teaching philosophy, my thoughts about reading and what I celebrate in the realm of teaching and learning.

Our words, after all, tell our stories.

Here is mine.

Classroom communities are pretty incredible places. We spend a LOT of time together.

6 hours x 5 days x 10 months

“But when we experience classrooms – as in, occupy classrooms for those 6 hours x 5 days x 10 months, it is mostly about relationships. Because none of that other stuff happens without them. At least not as deeply, meaningfully and wonderfully as it could. And should.”

I believe in the importance of “kid watching” and talk more about it here: The power of observation

 “I need time to watch and interact and notice. I need to trust that I know what I am looking for and that I can make decisions to best guide the learning based on what I see.”

Some of the best observations happen, when there is time for play.

Capturing Play

“There is more and more research to support the benefits of play on the social emotional well being and cognitive development of our learners. In our quest for the most meaningful learning opportunities for our students, we need to make room for play.”

Every child matters.  Every child belongs. Some children especially need us to be welcoming and patient. I feel blessed to have learned from some pretty incredible children over the years.

The Part that is True

“When I look at Harry learning and laughing and taking more risks every day, I know that my job is not to bask in the happiness of his growth and success. My job is to pave the way for more of the same in his future.”

The Kid on the Piano

“I stand there and watch him for a minute.

Shining in the sunshine coming through the windows.

I see the bright energy return under those stormy eyebrows.”

Be Gentle

“Sometimes with all of the busy and all of the rushing and all of the stuff we have to do in schools, we can forget to be gentle. Sometimes gentle is the most important choice we make.”

The more I do this work, the more I realize that there is so much I don’t know. But every so often, I celebrate what I have learned.

20 years, 20 things

“Value community. We are one of many people teaching the children in our classrooms. Students come from varied, interesting and diverse backgrounds. Honour their parents. The extended families. The community that surrounds the school. Make connections to the key players – community centre staff, public library staff, recreation program staff, community health nurses, etc. We are all in this together.”

All my Secrets

“Know that you are present everyday for the amazing of childhood. Don’t try to chase it away or shake it out. Childhood is sad with snotty sobs. Silly with contagious laughter. Angry with stomps and hiding. Wild with wonder and delight. Full with the magic of the world.”

I also need community. Last March, I wrote about realizing I was beginning to find it in my new school.

Finding Community

” Numerous children are nameless to me but we smile at each other each time we pass in the halls. The names will come. The connections will grow. We will make some shared stories.”

Books are my thing. I love the land of stories, words and worlds I find in them.

I believe passionately in classroom libraries and blog about this frequently.

Books, books, books – everywhere you look

“Classroom libraries are like a living, breathing, ever-changing creature. They reflect the interests, the questions and the passions of the readers in the room.”

When I packed up and moved schools after 21 years, books grounded me: These Books

“In those times when I look up and remember that it’s all new and not yet home, these books will help me find my balance. Let me place two solid feet in the middle of it all.”

In the month of March, I write every day. Be warned now.

This Writing Thing

“Writing steals time. While you try to capture the world, some of it passes you by. You aren’t where you started. You don’t remember arriving here.”

Happy reading! Happy writing! Happy Sunday!

Monday September 18th, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a  reading photo of the week.

Here are a few from this past week. Little readers. Lots of books.

Monday September 18th, 2017

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.

It has been weeks since I published a #IMWAYR post. I have been busy falling in love with my new Grade 3 class and settling back into fall routines. So I am sharing weeks of reading and just highlighting my absolute favourites.

Of course, in this past week I read The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds and we completed some incredible dot art displayed as a community art piece.

Monday September 18th, 2017

This display still needs the themes we are taking on from The Dot – these are the take aways the students came up with. Take aways that launch our year together.

Our #classroombookaday titles were all about friendships and relationships.

Monday September 18th, 2017

Be a Friend inspired a discussion about qualities we would like in a friend.

Monday September 18th, 2017

On the blog:

I completed the fifth and final post in this blog series: Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 5: Sourcing 

I also shared a #MustReadin2017 update post.

Books I enjoyed:

Cricket in the Thicket: Poems about Bugs written by Carol Murray and illustrated by Melissa Sweet 

I will be sharing this title in the next few weeks to inspire some of our own poetry, fact finding and art. The perfect mentor text!

The Bad Seed written by Jory John and illustrated by Pete Oswald

I know I shouldn’t have smiled through reading this. This is really one (cute) Bad Seed. Unless, he isn’t . . .

Why Am I Me? written by Paige Britt and illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko

I loved this lyrical, beautiful book full of questions and musings about self, identity and the wider world. I bought a copy for our classroom collection.

You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith and illustrated by Danielle Daniel 

This title is pretty special. Sparse words, gorgeous illustrations and a message of strength.

Now by Antoinette Portis

Being in the moment has never been celebrated with such lovely wonder and beauty.

Another Way to Climb a Tree written by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Hadley Hooper

Oh this book. Sweet. Inspiring. Creative. A perfect mix of text and illustrations.

Sam Sorts by Marthe Jocelyn

Teaching early primary? Want a book for your math collection about sorting and categorizing? This is your book.

Lulu and the Rabbit Next Door by Hilary McKay

I absolutely adored this title and ordered a number of titles from this series for my class!

Walking with Miss Millie by Tamara Bundy

Oh Miss Millie. I wish that I could come along for these walks. I loved the pace of this book. How it is quiet. Personal. Emotional.

Wish by Barbara O’Connor

Another title from O’Connor that I can’t wait to read aloud. Thinking this might be a read aloud in my class later this year. So much here – this books explores the amazing and the challenging about family and friendships and allows us to question what matters when it comes to home and security. What is important enough to wish for?

Book Uncle and Me by Uma Krishnaswami

Truly an ode to sharing the love of books and reading. A young middle grade novel about persistence and learning how to fight for what you believe is right.

Reading Progress updates:

2017 Chapter Book Challenge: 49/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 211/365 books read

Progress on challenge: 48 books behind schedule. Oh my!

#MustReadin2017: 22/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 28/50 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 33/50 books read

Up Next? I am starting A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

Must Read in 2017: Fall update

It’s time for the fall #MustReadin2017 update!

How are you doing with your list? Which titles have been favourites? What other books might have distracted you? It’s time to share!

I have 30 titles on my list this year and my goal is to read most of them. When I made the list, I hoped to read at least 20. I can almost guarantee that I might not get to at least 5 titles just because that’s how things often happen. Other books became priorities. I wasn’t in the mood to read a specific book when my library hold was due. I ran out of time. Reading things. Life things. At the Spring update in April, I had read 10 titles.

I am thrilled to report that I have now read  21 titles. Since April, I have completed these titles and am again sharing my thoughts and impressions:

Terror at Bottle Creek by Watt Key

An incredible adventure story that will have you on the edge of your seat. A Gulf Coast Hurricane creates conditions absolutely terrifying for 13 year old Cort and his two neighbours he is trying to keep safe. This story was very much in my thoughts watching the footage of all of the flooding and devastation in Texas.

Matylda, Bright and Tender by Holly M. McGhee

This little book is all kinds of tender indeed. It holds you up through the heartbreaking and consoles you through all the hard. A beautiful middle grade read about friendship and grief and all the many ways to hope.

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

This YA novel is hard to put down. Fabiola Toussaint joins her aunt and female cousins in Detroit. Newly arrived from Haiti without her mother who has been detained by immigration, Fabiola has much to navigate in this new world full of dangers and threats and uncertain security.

Piecing me Together by Renée Watson 

Jade is a black student on scholarship at a mostly white private school. She questions the supports and opportunities offered to her as she struggles to figure out what she wants in her future. This title explores so many relationships: family, friendships, mentor/mentee, student/teacher. Jade’s voice is one that will weave questions into your head that will remain there for some time. Loved all of the things this book made me think about.

Hello, Universe by Erin Estrada Kelly

This might be my favourite title so far by Kelly. Four main characters and some delightful supporting roles (love Virgil’s Lola). Unique characters here. Individual. Lonely. Determined. A highly, highly recommended middle grade read.

Lucky Broken Girl  by Ruth Behar

Based on the author’s childhood. One of the best MG titles I have read this year! Ruthie Mizrahi and her family have come to New York from Cuba and slowly Ruthie is adjusting. Then a car accident lands her in a body cast and isolates her from her new world. Full of poetry, art and beautiful relationships. I can see some kids getting lost in this story and connecting to the deeply personal reflections.

The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming by J. Anderson Coats

Fantastic historical fiction set in the Pacific Northwest. The Mercer expedition brings war widows and young women west and Jane comes along with her father’s young widow and her younger brother. Washington is vastly different than what was expected. Adventure, a strong female character and lots of interesting history!

the-many-reflections-of-miss-jane-deming

Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel by Kimberly Willis Holt 

This novel has so many elements I love – a connection between the generations, interesting family dynamics, introspective musings. Well written, emotional realistic fiction for MG readers.

The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla

I absolutely adored Charlie. His journey is a must read experience.It has been weeks since I have completed this story and I keep thinking about Charlie and his family. There is some beautiful hope in this book.

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder

This is a book that you can’t really write about except in vague ways if you don’t want to give away plot points. Writing any specific details won’t work. I can say this. This book is a celebration of childhood. It is real and honest while being magical and mysterious. Full of wonder. Full of questions. Amazing.

 

Walking with Miss Millie by Tamara Bundy

Oh Miss Millie. I wish that I could come along for these walks. I loved the pace of this book. That it is quiet. Personal. Emotional.

 

If you have been participating in #MustReadin2017 and written an update post, please share using the #MustReadin2017 hashtag!

Leave your link in the comments if you have written a post. Please try to visit a few of the other #MustReadin2017 bloggers/readers and get inspired!

Want to know more about #MustReadin2017? Read here This post also includes links to all of the bloggers who wrote Must Read lists. This is a community of inspiring readers!

Our final update will be on December 28th 2017.

HAPPY READING EVERYONE!

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 5: Sourcing

On the last day of summer before school begins tomorrow, this post is a reminder that those “done” libraries might not be completely done.

In my room, books now reside on shelves like this:

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 5: Sourcing

Instead of all over the room like this:

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 5: Sourcing

But still, things aren’t done. Now, I am sourcing. Ideas. Book lists. Wisdom. Experience. Preferences. So that as the year rolls out, I can add titles to our classroom library that my students will love.

How do I do this? A few ways . . .

Any kids who come into my vicinity get asked What are some of your favourite books? (if they are Grade 3 age-ish) Do you remember the books you loved a few years ago? (when they are a little older) If I am lucky enough to have children visit my library (usually the children of other teachers in the school) I drag them into my classroom and prompt: Look carefully at this library, it’s for a Grade 3 class. What do you think is missing? Are there books you think shouldn’t be here? What books would you be excited to read?  I spy on children at the bookstore and the library that look about Grade 3 age. What do they gravitate towards. What makes it into a pile? What is pulled off the shelf? Child opinion? It’s golden!

I also ask colleagues – teachers, literacy coaches, teacher librarians – those I know in person and those I know on line – about books their students love. I give lists of series and ask if these were read in Grade 3 classrooms. This helped me move some titles out of my library that my Grade 4s and 5s read. Some things I moved out and then moved back. Asking questions helps me learn from the experiences of others. What’s popular? What is constantly read? What books do kids ask for again and again?

I wander through bookstores and get the opinion of my favourite booksellers. What’s selling? What are kids this age often looking for? I love visiting bookstores with a friend who is a teacher librarian – we trade recommendations and I snap pictures as we talk. Later I look up titles and series we talked about and read reviews.

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 5: Sourcing Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 5: SourcingSummer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 5: Sourcing

I also zoom in when other teachers tweet photos of their classroom libraries or share photos on their blogs. Are they teaching a Grade 2-4 age range? What books are in the bins, on the shelves and best yet, in students’ hands?

Another great source? The lovely organized book shelves of my friend’s Goodreads accounts. Many of us organize our books on book shelves so I check out those shelves titled Great for Grade 3, Transitional chapter books, Classroom Favourites, etc. I have scrolled through all of the posts about transitional chapter books that Alyson Beecher and Michele Knot post. These #Road2Reading challenge posts are a fantastic source for those teachers teaching primary classrooms! My reading community is my primary source for new titles. I read lots of blogs and pay attention on twitter to relevant books being discussed. Certain hashtags are really worth following: #IMWAYR, #nfpb2017, #titletalk, #WeNeedDiverseBooks.

Sometimes, I am looking for very specific books. Right now, I am paying attention to what is getting Caldecott buzz so I can begin to put together my Mock Caldecott list. Often, I come across books I love while at the bookstore but I also pay attention to what is tagged on Caldecott lists on Goodreads and love checking out the list that Margie Culver keeps adding to: Mock Caldecott 2018. Margie’s blog Librarian’s Quest  is an incredible source for book titles.

The most important source? My students. The students I haven’t yet met and so these recommendations have yet to happen. I am leaving physical and mental room for what our library will need. Once these children begin to read in my room, I will start to pay attention.

What will this particular group of students need? Love? Grow into?

More early series to build fluency? Chapter books with more complex themes? Nonfiction titles about . . . ? Titles with children who . . . ? Stories about places like . . . .?

This is what I will learn in the next months.

For our library to grow, all of these sources will be considered carefully and considered often.

Wishing everyone a happy reading journey!

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 5: Sourcing

Note: This is the fifth and final post in a series. Missed the previous ones?

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 1: Relocate

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library Step 2: Weed

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 3: Additions

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 4: The details