Celebration: From Here

If you read this blog, you know I am a reader who shares. I am a teacher who believes in the transformative power of stories. I spend thousands of dollars and endless time filling, organizing and thinking about my classroom library. Recently, I have shared details about it here and here and here.

This year, I moved from a grade 3/4 class (mostly 4s) to a grade 2/3 class (mostly 2s). This summer, I spent time switching out books that would likely not be at the reading or interest level of my new students. I thought a lot about how to ensure I “switched on” the reading love with this new group. I even wrote a post about it: Literary Nest Building 101. Two weeks in, some of my instincts were bang on. We are reading a lot of humour filled silly stories. Read aloud time is joyous! It often ends with “Read it again!” We read multiple times a day. Every afternoon we begin with a #classroombookaday and on Friday we vote for our favourite. The children love this. One of them has even figured out that I will share the news with the author if I can.

“Ms. Gelson you have to tweet Cece Bell! I Yam a Donkey is the winner of the vote this week! Tweet her so she knows.”

Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

We have connected books with celebration. We read the amazing story The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds and made a dot of dots. This dot is now hanging in our room and we broke out a fancy felt pen to have each of us sign our names around the outside.

Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

Our first chapter book read aloud was the perfect pick for many children who have never listened to a chapter book read aloud. It is illustrated, it is full of kid humour and fun and it works a little bit like magic. As soon as I start reading it, these little bundles of energy and distractibility start to calm as they inch closer and closer to me to listen at the carpet. I think some of them even hold their breath as they listen. I feel little hands on my arm, on my shoe, on my leg as if touching me can bring them further into the book. When Dory explained about ketchup monster noises, there was a whisper, “So that’s what that noise is.” When Dory shot Mrs. Gobble Gracker in the butt with a sleeping dart, there was pure joy that their teacher said “in the butt” out loud! They laughed and giggled but they also shared knowing smiles that said, “How cool are we?” I hear them heading home at the end of the day debating whether Mary, the Monster is really a monster, really even real or some strange talking dog. ūüôā I will be forever in your debt Abby Hanlon for Dory Fantasmagory!

Dory Fantasmagory Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

We started our first nonfiction read aloud: Guess What is Growing Inside this Egg¬†by Mia Posada and the children love listening for “specific” words to add to our vocabulary list. Words like swamp, water-proof and instinct.¬†Many of them were delighted when I explained to them that they could take their new knowledge home to share with their families. I am sure a lot of Moms and Dads and Grandmas heard about how alligators, despite all of their teeth actually don’t chew their food but swallow it whole. “I guess their teeth are just there to look scary,” suggested one child.

guess what is growing inside this egg Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

These children love books. They love stories. They love to be read to. They love to sit with a book that we have read together and in twos or threes retell or reread the story. I think I have heard Chris Haughton‘s Shh! We have a Plan about thirty times. I might have it memorized! Such an engaging fun book to read and feel successful.

“Ready one . . . ready two . . . Ready three . . . GO! “

Shh! We have a plan Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

And . . . (I am not going to write but) many children (more than half) in my new classroom are not reading even close to grade level “expectations.” This, I was not fully prepared for. Not to this extent, not so many children. Expectations, levels, proficiency are all descriptors that can officially¬†name what is happening for these students. I am going to name it this way: they aren’t independent. (“Can you read this to me?” “I wish I could read this book.”)¬†They desperately want to be. (“I really need to learn to read more words.”) They don’t identify as readers. (“I can’t read.” “I don’t know how.”) They can’t self select titles that correspond to their levels. (filling book boxes with chapter books because this is what they want to read when they can’t read 90% of the text on the page.) They need to be reading and they aren’t and this is not okay.

I feel a lot of things as I have discovered this. I feel angry and I am not going to elaborate on what I know has gone wrong. I feel worried. I feel little moments of desperate. This isn’t grade 1 where my task is to grow readers from non readers. This is grade 2 and 3 where I must now grow readers and play all kinds of catch up. I feel responsible. But most importantly, I feel urgent. And this is what I celebrate – the urgency of my task. The advocacy that needs to happen. My determination. It is fierce. My fear. It is motivating. My breath. It keeps me grounded. Somehow, someway, we are going to change things for these children.

I began sharing wordless titles in “tell aloud” experiences to make the point that we can read with or without words. That the pictures tell a story. That our own experiences and inferences fill in the missing pieces. That we have a sense of stories that is in us and we bring it to the books we read.

hank finds an egg Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

Friday afternoon, I packed up books from the classroom library into three rubbermaid bins. This wasn’t about taking books away. It was about removing titles that are currently not relevant and are actually, distracting. I left about 7/8 of the books still out. There are a lot of books. But now, we can focus on surrounding ourselves with books that we can read or might grow into in the near future. Some people thought this made me sad. Only very briefly. Until I thought about it: I love books because I love that they are read by readers. I adore the readers (and the readers to be) and these readers are my priority. These books will be back. When we’re ready.

Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

I filled display shelves with titles we have read and loved together. We need to look around and see our reading experiences in our environment.

Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

I went to the library and brought up bins of levelled readers and have them available not to start labelling a child with a number but to have titles to place into book boxes that match reading ability and a “ladder” to climb. I filled some other display shelves full of books that many of us can read with success. Displaying titles honours them. It screams, “Hey you! Read me!” It says these books are for us.

Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

I celebrate that I must get my students reading. I acknowledge the fear and the worry. I accept the challenge. I celebrate the necessity, the urgency and the will.

From here . . . here we go.

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community! Happy 100 celebrations! I haven’t shared 100 times yet. But, in the future, I will get there. Every celebration gives me more.

Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks. This week, knowing that I must celebrate allowed me to frame this challenge in the most positive way possible. Healthy for me, necessary for my students.

celebrate-link-up

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some beginning read alouds

I have a brand new class: a busy group of seven and eight year olds. Many of them are not used to the nonfiction read aloud. But, they love to be read to and they are fascinated when I share facts with them about the world. Nonfiction books are stories of their world and I know they will be hooked. I wandered through my collection yesterday and pulled some titles to start reading aloud.

I needed titles that are not too long. They have to have engaging photos or illustrations. Ideally, there will be some humour or an interactive element (guessing and checking). The language needs to fit and if it can be lyrical and lovely, all the better. Or punchy and action packed!

Here are the ten titles I selected as beginning nonfiction read alouds:

Nest by Jorey Hurley

A series of words and beautiful images to explore birds and their nests.

nest Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some beginning read alouds

A Bird Is a Bird by Lizzy Rockwell

What makes a bird a bird exactly? A title to explore all the qualities of a bird.

A Bird Is a Bird Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some beginning read alouds

Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons written by Sara Levine with illustrations by T.S. Spookytooth 

A fun interactive style. What kind of animal would you be if . . . ?

bone by bone Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some beginning read alouds

Guess What is Growing Inside this Egg by Mia Posada

Clues and images lead us to the next page where we find the answer. Perfect to read a few pages at a time.

guess what is growing inside this egg Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some beginning read alouds

I’m Trying to Love Spiders by Bethany Barton

Humour, spiders and some splatting. Learning as you laugh! Perfect.

Trying to Love Spiders Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some beginning read alouds

Eat Like a Bear written by April Pulley Sayre and illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Follow a bear over seasons – how and what does a bear eat?

Eat Like A Bear Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some beginning read alouds

Weeds Find a Way written by Cindy Jenson-Elliott and illustrated by Carolyn Fisher

Lyrical and visually stunning. Appreciate weeds for their beauty and persistence.

weeds-find-a-way Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some beginning read alouds

A Leaf Can Be . . . by Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Violeta Dabija

Beautiful nonfiction describing and hinting at all of the roles leaves can play ‚Äď from ‚Äúrain stopper‚ÄĚ to ‚Äúshade spiller‚ÄĚ and many more.

leaf can be Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some beginning read alouds

Best Foot Forward: Exploring Feet, Flippers, and Claws by Ingo Arndt

Marvel at the various interesting animal feet that different animals use to walk, climb, dig, paddle, etc. There is a guessing from a photograph aspect to this book.

 Best Foot Forward Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some beginning read alouds

Creature Features: 25 Animals Explain Why They Look the Way They Do by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

The format is engaging ‚Äď each animal is introduced with a mini letter/question and answer.

creature-features-Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some beginning read alouds

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2015. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!

#nfpb2015

Monday September 1st, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?imwayr

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. You are guaranteed to find something new to add to your list.

Lots of picture books in my reading week. The ones I loved:

The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett

I always think that when I read a really fantastic wordless title that I should have many words. But my review is just about raving. This book has everything I love, love, love about picture book magic. Sigh. Soar. Divine.

 The Girl and the Bicycle #IMWAYR September 1st 2014 There's a Book for That

Mr. Frank by Irene Luxbacher

I always love books about connections between grandparents and grandchildren. This book is nostalgic and tender. Just lovely.

Mr. Frank  #IMWAYR September 1st 2014 There's a Book for That

Give and Take by Chris Raschka

Well, well, well . . . This book holds some great potential for some fascinating philosophical discussion inside of its 32 pages. How far can greed go? What is selfish? Is there a line? What about giving? Can we give too much? Such an interesting little book.

Give and Take  #IMWAYR September 1st 2014 There's a Book for That

My Pet Book by Bob Staake

Bright, book adoration. What can be better?

My Pet Book  #IMWAYR September 1st 2014 There's a Book for That

Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke

This book went on a wish list of mine after reading some great reviews. Now I have read the book and am sure I need to get it into my classroom! Delightful is the best way to describe this title. I adore the unique creatures. I am impressed by Julia’s problem solving finesse. And who doesn’t love a journey into someone else’s imagination? Such fun.

 Julia's House for Lost Creatures  #IMWAYR September 1st 2014 There's a Book for That

I’m My Own Dog by David Ezra Stein

I did a lot of book store therapy this week. Not book shopping because that is not currently in the cards but bookstore “being” – perusing titles, recommending to friends, making lists. I actually laughed often while reading this book. And I need some laughs. A book that throws the usual “human = owner animal = pet dynamic” on its head. Giggles are underrated.

I'm My Own Dog  #IMWAYR September 1st 2014 There's a Book for That

Mr. Brown’s Fantastic Hat by Ayano Imai

I loved the illustrations in this book. An incredible hat that grows to accomodate a number of birds come to nest. Themes of loneliness, making friends, growing community.

Mr. Brown's Fantastic Hat  #IMWAYR September 1st 2014 There's a Book for That

I also read some fantastic nonfiction titles:

A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Everything about this title is inspiration. What a story, first of al,l of a poet that had to share his perspective with the world. This book is full of art and words and images. It nudges the reader – go . . . write . . . share . . . create. A beautiful, beautiful book.

 A River of Words  #IMWAYR September 1st 2014 There's a Book for That

Who Was Here? Discovering Wild Animal Tracks by Mia Posada

Loved the guess and read to find out aspect of this story. Would be perfect to share a few pages at a time.

Who Was Here?  #IMWAYR September 1st 2014 There's a Book for That

Bizarre Dinosaurs: Some Very Strange Creatures and Why We Think They Got that Way by John Updike and Christopher Sloan

Whoa dinosaurs are wild creatures! This title shares photos of fossils and digitally modeled images along with scientific explanations of why dinosaurs were structured the way they were. Fascinating.

Bizarre Dinosaurs  #IMWAYR September 1st 2014 There's a Book for That

I am sick of typing it so you must be sick of reading it but the mess of BC Education is still happening. We still have no contract. The mediator declared an impasse. Tomorrow is NOT the first day of school as it should be. So my reading time has continued to be interrupted by things like remembering to breathe. I am almost finished and thoroughly enjoying Revolution by Deborah Wiles. Hoping to be able to escape into more books this week after picket line shifts and beginning to home school (temporarily I hope) my own children who should be beginning Grade 7 tomorrow.

Happy Reading to all of you. Thank goodness for the land of books!

Reading Goal Updates: 

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 60/100 novels complete

Goodreads Challenge: 406/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 20/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 104/65 complete

Monday August 25th, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

imwayr

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. You are guaranteed to find something new to add to your list.

I thought I would have finished many more books this week. Problem is I can’t sit still. If I am still, I think. I think about how we are still on strike. How September is going to begin with us in limbo here in B.C. No teaching, no learning. Just sad. So I spent time I would usually be reading, doing other things. Sorting. Organizing. Puttering about to keep moving. And less reading was the result. Ridiculous really because reading is one of my favourite things but it’s been a hard week knowing that there is no resolution in sight. Taking a deep breath and trying to dive back into books.

Still, I read some great titles!

The picture books I loved:

 A Boy and A Jaguar written by Alan Rabinowitz and illustrated by Cátia Chien 

Oh wow. This book. It’s gorgeous. It’s special. It’s a must own and must share. A story of a boy who finds his voice and shares it in the best of ways.

 A Boy and a Jaguar #IMWAYR There's a Book for That August 25th, 2014

Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won

This book was sent to me by the wonderful Alyson Beecher and it marched into my hands and begged to be read. Delightful. Charming. It whispers, “Hey, there is an art project just begging to happen here don’t you think?” Yep!

Hooray for Hat  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That August 25th, 2014

The Long, ¬†Long Journey The Godwit’s Amazing Migration written by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Mia Posada

I am always fascinated by migration stories. This title highlights the journey of the godwit’s migration. Almost unbelievable. Beautifully illustrated.

 The Long, Long Journey  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That August 25th, 2014

Chamelia and the New Kid in Class by Ethan Long

Perfect read aloud for little ones – addresses feelings of jealousy, wanting attention, accepting the new kid. Always relevant.

  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That August 25th, 2014

In New York by Marc Brown

A great introduction to an incredible city.

In New York  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That August 25th, 2014

I also finished

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

Reading this book was kind of like stumbling into an eclectic antique store and picking up interesting items to examine. Stacks of sentimental. Little bowls of charm. Artifacts full of whimsy. Sorrow. Longing. Joy. Magic. What a book.

a snicker of magic  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That August 25th, 2014

Up next? I am now reading Okay for Now by Gary D. Shmidt with my children and plan to start Revolution by Deborah Wiles later today.

Reading Goal Updates: 

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 60/100 novels complete

Goodreads Challenge: 394/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 20/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 100/65 complete

Swoon Worthy Nonfiction Picture Books

I am a huge fan of nonfiction picture books in our Elementary classrooms. They are the jumping off point into deep, deep learning. But it is not just the learning that infuses these pages, it is also the beauty of the images that helps lure readers in.

Reasons for nonfiction read alouds? There are many: opportunity for rich discussion, shared learning experiences, new information conveyed, etc. But there is also the visual treat that so many titles provide. The inspiration to wonder, to marvel and to be in awe of our world.

For some students, just the lure of new knowledge is the gateway to reading fantastic nonfiction titles, others need a little nudge. Something beautiful . . .

I have a few students who resist picking up nonfiction titles without some persuasion. I try to entice them with the amazing facts that they might learn. Thinking of a few students in particular, I realize I have been approaching it all wrong. With these children, I should be starting with the images and let them work their magic. Many of our visual learners begin with the illustrations. They become lost in the pictures and then begin reading to answer the questions that start to form.

Do I have enough nonfiction picture books in my collection (or on my wish lists) for these readers?

I started a list. And then I thought I should share . . . .

Each of these titles has made me stop and stare. ¬†Here are 25 of the most gorgeous nonfiction titles out there – absolutely swoon worthy, in my opinion ūüôā

Learn more about the Natural World:

Swoon Worthy Nonfiction Picture Books: 25 beautiful titles to entice young readers with stunning illustrations From There's a Book for That

An Egg is Quiet written by Dianna Aston and illustrated by Sylvia Long

Over and Under the Snow written by the Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal. (Note: This title is actually fiction but offers a beautiful invitation to begin learning more about the world under the snow)

Feathers Not Just for Flying written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen

Bird, Butterfly, Eel with story and paintings by James Prosek

The Long, Long Journey: The Godwit’s Amazing Migration written by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Mia Posada

Nest by Jorey Hurley

Weeds Find a Way written by Cindy Jenson-Elliott and illustrated by Carolyn Fisher 

Books about Creatures: Small to Gigantic, and all sizes in between:

Swoon Worthy Nonfiction Picture Books: 25 beautiful titles to entice young readers with stunning illustrations From There's a Book for That

Eye to Eye: How Animals See The World by Steve Jenkins 

Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Cindy Trumbore and Susan L. Roth

Mama Built a Little Nest written by Jennifer Ward and illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Big Blue Whale written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Nick Maland

Jumping Penguins illustrated by Marije Tolman with text by Jesse Goossens

See What a Seal Can Do written by Chris Butterworth and illustrated by Kate Nelms

Information/Concept titles:

Swoon Worthy Nonfiction Picture Books: 25 beautiful titles to entice young readers with stunning illustrations From There's a Book for That

Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animals’ Lives  written by Lola Schaefer and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

Swirl by Swirl (Spirals in Nature) written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beth Krommes

Gravity by Jason Chin

Locomotive by Brian Floca 

Biographies/Memoir:

 Biographies/Memoir Swoon Worthy Nonfiction Picture Books: 25 beautiful titles to entice young readers with stunning illustrations From There's a Book for That

The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins and illustrated by Jill McElmurry

Orani My Father’s Village by Claire A. Nivola

Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill 

Dare the Wind written by Tracey Fern and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully 

Grandfather Gandhi written by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus and illustrated by Evan Turk

The Boy who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos written by Deborah Heiligman and illustrated by LeUyen Pham 

Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet

Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson

(I featured a few of these titles in this post last year: Wonder Inducing Nonfiction Read Alouds Some are clearly my favourites!)

What beautiful nonfiction picture books make you swoon? Please share them in the comments.

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2014! Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction titles.

NFPB 2014

Beautiful birds

Division 5 continues to study birds. This week we enjoyed Robins: Songbirds of the Spring by Mia Posada.

Robins-Posada-Mia-

 

 

We enjoyed learning how these birds make their nests, care for their young and about how the fledglings learn to fly. Posada’s robins are lovely – and it sparked an interest in bird body parts. We spread out bird books on all of the tables and students made lists of all the important parts of the bird: beak, breast, feathers, wings, talons or feet, etc. Students then drew and coloured their own birds. Our bulletin boards are now covered in gorgeous birds designed by the students and inspired by a variety of real birds in nature.

First students made pencil sketches.

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We then added colour using crayons, oil pastels and pencil crayons.

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Finally we shaded around our bird’s outline and cut them out. Some finished pieces:

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