Celebration: Little Sparks

How I love looking back over a week to find reasons to celebrate. They are always there.

Each day, my classroom is becoming more of a community. Little sparks start it out.

We honour play, creativity and childhood vision. Getting outside everyday matters.

Celebration: Little Sparks There is a Book for That

Time with our Kindergarten buddies – afternoon walks and playground play are paving the way for buddy reading that will begin soon.

Celebration: Little Sparks There is a Book for That

The book love has caught on. The children are asking for “book time” right after lunch. What do I notice?  Some sit individually with books and get immediately lost. Buddy reading happens naturally. Some children love to get into our bins of board books

Celebration: Little Sparks There is a Book for That

Readers are supporting growing readers who chime in when they can. Certain books are read over and over.

Celebration: Little Sparks There is a Book for That

One child said to me this week, “You have the best books!” I replied, “We have the best books.” We shared some delighted smiles.

Our #classroombookaday is a huge hit! The Friday voting is a favourite thing. This week’s winner? Josh Funk‘s Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast Such fun!

Celebration: Little Sparks There is a Book for That

This week I celebrate the little sparks, the moments when the learning took over and the routines that are beginning to settle. I also celebrate that while there are lots of needs and times where we are just hanging in, we still are experiencing it as a community.

“I think we need about 100 adults,” one little boy spoke wisely in one such moment and we all burst out laughing. Slowly, but surely . . . One step at a time. With each other. We are fanning these little sparks and the learning momentum is heating up.

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!

Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.

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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.

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Celebration: New views

This week a bit of a theme seemed to emerge – seeing things in a new way or seeing things for the first time. I had a shortened teaching week due to a Pro D day in my district and travelling to participate in Pro D to the island so my learning “adventures” were a little more varied.

This is what I celebrate this week: new views.

#1 It was the third annual Nonfiction 10 for 10 this week. Follow the link to check out all of the lists shared. My theme this year was Change your perspective. This list featured my favourite nonfiction titles that allow us to think about something from a completely new or different perspective.

Change your perspective Celebration: New views There's a Book for That

#2 Watching my students in buddy reading this week was lovely as always. But, as I walked around and listened in to the reading and the conversations, what really stood out was their leadership. My students have really become reading mentors. They are responsive to their listeners, they are monitoring for understanding, they are aware of attention span and they are asking amazing questions. I couldn’t be prouder.

Celebration: New views There's a Book for That

#3 My students adore Calef Brown. We love his art. We love his wonderful poems. This week in art we made some images inspired by his.

I loved how some images were Brown inspired with such a lovely “child” twist. Like this sweet little moment between these characters below.

Celebration: New views There's a Book for That

#4 These views were truly new views of the most beautiful and majestic kind! They are taken out my window flying back from Port Hardy Friday evening. I loved the tiny plane ride and the incredible views of mountains and coast line that we could see out the window. The flight back to Vancouver had no empty seats and many people were snapping pictures of these gorgeous scenes.

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

#5 The reason I was in Port Hardy was to participate in Vancouver Island North Teachers’ Association’s District Professional Day on The Whole Child. It was an honour to present the Key Note address and to be able to share my love for nonfiction picture books in the two nonfiction workshops I shared. The photo below is part of my book stack  – upside down with sticky notes everywhere which made sense for me as I presented.

The North Island community was wonderful. While I had only a limited time there, I was touched by the stories that people shared with me and by the warmth in which I was welcomed. The beautiful landscape, the dancing and the drumming, the care and commitment of these educators . . . it was a wonderful 24 hours for me.

Celebration: New views 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. Read all of the celebrations by following the links shared here.

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Celebration: The Ups

It’s December weeks before the holiday break. Lots of people are sick. Stress levels, excitement levels, anxiety levels all peaking. Not everything is smooth sailing. There are ups and there are downs and not a lot of in the middle sailing along.

So “the ups” feel a little more precious.

This is what I celebrate this week. Those moments that I wanted to tangibly capture in my arms and whirl about. The quick instances and the longer, in it, “grooves” that we managed.

All that was good and kept me smiling at the end of every day.

Because, really, I so love what I do.

I celebrate the moments of buddy reading with the K class. This happens Wednesday afternoon but those little Ks light up every time they see my class in the hall. This week I just stood in awe and watched the singing, the story telling, the chanting, the guessing and all of the literacy connections happening.

Celebration: The Ups There's a Book for That

I celebrate that during our Turn and Talk discussions (all about predictions and wonders) for our new nonfiction title: Eye to Eye: How Animals See The World by Steve Jenkins one child whispered to me:

“Ms. Gelson we’ve only read half a page and already we know so much!”

I was impressed that my students could come up with so many details on how different animals rely on vision to go about their daily lives.

eye to eye Celebration: The Ups There's a Book for That

I celebrate that math looks like this: engaged, confident, excited.

Celebration: The Ups There's a Book for That

I celebrate that one little reader who used to be up and wandering last year in Reading Workshop is now firmly planted in his favourite spot at the carpet and reading his way through the Henry and Mudge series. Hurrah when a reader finds the fit!

Celebration: The Ups There's a Book for That

I celebrate Monster Art. Students took their monster characters and “shrunk” them and then “built them a house.” I especially celebrate the fact that my students pick up a felt (or crayon or pastel) and just draw. The risk taking of no pencils first is a wonderful thing!

Celebration: The Ups There's a Book for That

This one worked right side up or upside down. I celebrate unique perspective!

Celebration: The Ups There's a Book for That

I celebrate munching on cheese strings and mandarin oranges while writing “commitment notes” to join a Junior Book Club we are forming.

Celebration: The Ups There's a Book for That

And always, I celebrate all of the moments of book love that infuses everything we do:

The engagement while reading favourite authors

Celebration: The Ups There's a Book for That

The little one who “sneaked” our poetry title to read on her own “I didn’t read ahead. I just read the favourite parts so far.” Joyce Sidman has us entranced on a regular basis!

Celebration: The Ups There's a Book for That

The growing confidence we share in Reading Workshop book talking favourite picture books to each other. It’s a process. We’re getting there. But it all begins with the exciting flash of the favourite illustration.

Celebration: The Ups There's a Book for That

The devotion to favourite authors embedded in this book review. (Look midway down the page)

Celebration: The Ups There's a Book for That

I celebrate all of these moments. I especially celebrate that if I now tried to make a list of the “downs” of the week, it just really doesn’t matter. Mostly, I’ve already forgotten. Because, really, wow, look at what we’ve got going on!

Thank you so many times to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community! Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks. Read all of the celebrations by following the links shared here.

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Celebration: “I have 5 things to share.”

When we do our weekly gratitude circle I have a few girls who often announce, “I’ve got 3 (or 4 or 5) things to share.” And then they happily rattle off all of the things they are thankful for. It is quite delightful. I admire their focus. And their big hearts. So . . . today I celebrate that I have 5 things to share 🙂

I am grateful that one Mom takes numerous photos at my son’s soccer games (great photos always!) and sends them out to all of the parents. As I am taking my daughter to her musical theatre classes, I don’t often get to the soccer games. These photos give me a peek! My son has the hot pink cleats.

Celebration: "I have 5 things to share."

I am grateful for strong coffee on Saturday mornings and a good book that I can fall into before most of the house wakes up. Currently, this is the novel I can’t put down. Celebration: "I have 5 things to share." There's a Book for ThatI am grateful for connections with authors. This week we got a letter back from Elise Gravel, author of The Disgusting Critters series. I read it aloud in gratitude circle. Can you say happy listeners? Celebration: "I have 5 things to share." There's a Book for ThatI am grateful for buddy reading with the kindergarten class. My class steps up and makes the entire experience magical. The Ks will see me in the hall and say things like, “Oh, it isn’t Wednesday. We don’t get to come to buddy reading today.” Or – “We’re coming to your class today! Your kids are going to read to us!” This is guaranteed happy time! Celebration: "I have 5 things to share." There's a Book for ThatI am grateful for the wisdom my students share during Reading Workshop. It is my pleasure to record and post them! Reading Workshop this week has been full of focussed reading, great conferences and student chatter about books they are enjoying. Celebration: "I have 5 things to share." There's a Book for ThatThank you also to Ruth Ayres, for the inspiration and her Celebration Link up that she hosts each week. I love how being a part of this #celebratelu community reminds us weekly to look for the positive and take some time for gratitude. celebrate-link-up

Celebration: All is better with a little gold dust

celebrate link up

Celebration honoured. This is the loveliest of reasons to share. Join Ruth Ayres who shares a Celebration Link up on her blog each week.

I had a fantastic week back with my students. I think all of us were thrilled to be together again after a two week break, learning and sharing. I have many things to celebrate this week!

1. I loved all of the #MustReadin2014 spring updates shared by a wonderfully keen reading community. The Must Read phenomenon was born out of an attempt to gain some control over unruly TBR lists that grow and grow! Check out my update and links to update posts here. Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo is one of my favourite books read so far from this list. Maybe even more special because I read it aloud to my children and we all loved it.

 Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

2. I was thrilled to have a Nerdy Book Club post published this week. I saw a request from Colby Sharp for some retro review posts to be shared on twitter a few weeks ago. I have written some other Nerdy posts but never one in this category. I asked Colby if I could share something a little different instead of a review of one specific title. I wanted to go “retro” and look back at titles treasured with my children (now 11!) when they were preschool age. It was a nostalgic look back at books we adored. Read the post here.

Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge  Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

3. I read the powerful picture book Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson illustrated by E.B.Lewis to my class this week.The reactions and comments were quite incredible. I think I might share some of their thinking and writing on our classroom blog. But the most interesting moment came with the ending. If you have read this book, you know that it ends with Chloe standing at the shore of the pond feeling a mix of regret, sadness and guilt. Her opportunity to offer kindness to Maya is gone. The story ends with these words:

“I watched the water ripple as the sun set through the maples and the chance of a kindness with Maya was becoming more and more forever gone.”

At first there was silence in the room and then one girl erupted, “What?! That’s terrible! It’s a terrible ending!” It’s not terrible. It’s just not happy so it’s confusing a bit,” someone else added. Another child piped up,”It makes you think about drama and saying sorry. It makes us think. It’s good.” As we were getting ready to move on to Reading Workshop, another child said, “I liked it. I have been waiting for a bad ending in a book. Not bad like not good but every ending shouldn’t be happy – that’s not how life is.” This little girl asked me to help her find a new novel and we kept talking about the story. I asked her if she wanted to put her thoughts into a reader’s statement (we have a huge wall of these posted on a bulletin board). She came up with something that I think is quite brilliant:

Readers can’t always expect a happy ending.

That books inspire discussions and thinking like this – this, I celebrate!

 Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

4. Ah . . . book love! My students were happy to be back to our classroom full of books. I sensed it on Monday morning when an instant hush fell upon the room when we started Reader’s Workshop. I did “book commercials” for new books all week and this generated lots of excitement.

I felt the book love when I saw “who reads it next” lists being created and stuck to new books.

 Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

I felt it as I observed the wonderful engagement of one to one time with various adults who listen to children read and talk about stories and thinking with the students.

 Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

I sensed it when listening to the the buzz around the book bins during buddy reading time with the K/1 class.

 Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

Ah .  . . book love!

5. If you have hung in reading this very long Celebration post (it was a wonderful week!), here is the pot of gold 🙂 One of our students makes a lot of paper objects and sculptures all throughout the day. It helps him to focus and listen. We started thinking . . . Wouldn’t it be great to showcase some of his work? Wouldn’t it be better if it was spray painted gold? Absolutely! Here is the young artist at work, gold paint in action!

 Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

And here is the installation. Thank you to the amazing Miriam (the Support Worker who I get to work with every day!) for her huge role in displaying and advertising the “piece.” There are flyers pasted up all over the school! When this boy’s Mom came in to see this art and got hugely proud and teary, we all got teary. It was a moment.

 Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

I celebrate all the many ways this is golden . . .

What are you celebrating this week?

Celebrating readers and writers

celebrate link up

Celebration honoured. This is the loveliest of reasons to share. Join Ruth Ayres who shares a Celebration Link up on her blog each week.

This week I am celebrating my young readers and writers. They are learning to express opinions, celebrating writing they love and savouring reading experiences. Sharing a few moments here:

1. I am currently reading Rump by Liesl Shurtliff to my students. Students adore this book wholly and completely.

Proof #1: I have to reread parts aloud to students at recess, after school, during playtime, etc. if someone happened to be out of the room when we read aloud that day.

“I missed the last part of the chapter when my Mom picked me up early, can you read it to me this morning?”

Proof #2: I finished our chapter seconds before the 3:00 bell the other day and one child grabbed the book to her chest. “Please can I hug it now?!” she swooned.

Proof #3: Very little can cause silence in my classroom. When I start reading this book aloud, magical silence descends.

 Rump Celebrating Readers and Writers There's a Book for That

2. We often talk about what happens when we put the the right book in the hands of a reader. I realized this week that sometimes this magic also happens when we match the right readers together to share some great books. Every week, we have buddy reading with the K/1 class. While we assign buddies for the day, they might be different each week. This little moment captured in the photo below made me realize that sometimes, we can also find the right buddy match. I think I will be making this match again.

Celebrating Readers and Writers There's a Book for That

3. I often ask students for perspective statements when I know that anxiety might rise around regular things that happen throughout the day. Often when I booktalk new books, many children decide that their day will be ruined if they do not get to be the first one to read a particular book. When you are seven, eight and nine, big drama happens over many things. While I appreciate the book love, the upset does nothing for classroom climate or individual well being. So now I ask for perspective statements. It goes something like this.

Me: “Not everyone can be first to read these new books. Can anyone share a perspective statement?”

Student responses:

“Maybe you can be the one to read it next?”

“I can ask to read it after.”
“We have a room full of books.”

“We’ve got a whole year left to read everything we want.”

I smile with each little share. Students also do this to facilitate solving things:

Celebrating Readers and Writers There's a Book for That

4. I have a some major Shel Silverstein fans in my classroom. They have bookmarked favourite poems and read aloud to each other in Reading Workshop. I haven’t been sharing much poetry lately and certainly haven’t read Silverstein aloud more than twice all year. This is all about independently discovering great writing, being inspired and sharing the #booklove.

Celebrating Readers and Writers There's a Book for That

5. I read The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig to my class this week. I am working on a blog post to try and capture the insightful comments and the writing shared. It was a pretty powerful read aloud session. This picture below says a lot.

“Can I read it to myself now?”

Celebrating Readers and Writers There's a Book for That6. Every week we write book reviews for new books that weekly guest readers bring in to share with us. We rate the books out of 5 and share our thinking. One of my little writers gave a book a 2/5 and told me she didn’t have much to say. I asked her to explain her lower than average rating and she gave me a little look like I had just given her permission for something she thought she wasn’t allowed to do. Here is what she then added to her review:

It was nice but not that exciting. The problem is too easily solved. I would like to read a story with not a really happy ending sometimes.

I feel lucky every week to be in a room of readers and writers that are growing in amazing ways.

Wishing everyone a wonderful week!