What’s Good Wednesday

Dear Miss Cutie,

A brilliant shade of orange,

I seek you out in the grocery store.

You are petite, refreshing, and oh-so-sweet.

Sometimes I find you tucked away

in my lunch bag

with a smile on your face,

knowing the happiness you bring.

So easy to peel

for fingers big or small.

Your tiny little wedges

plop right in my mouth.

Your juices whet my whistle.

No mess,

no fuss.

Thanks for being a perfect snack,

and a healthy treat,

a delight to everyone you meet.

Love,

Amy

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Today’s poem is called an epistolary poem. Epistolary means written as friendly letter. Ode to my mentor text The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary for a plethora of ideas!

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Take-away Tuesday

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These two little books by Austin Kleon are a quick read that I enjoyed reading during the Slice of Life Story Challenge. In both books, the writing style is structured and informative while the artwork is fun and whimsical. Kleon is also the author of Newspaper Blackout where I got the inspiration for my post from Sunday.

In Kleon’s book, Steal Like an Artist, all I could think about was the connection to what we teachers and writers use, mentor texts. Basically, Kleon advocates that you get your inspiration and creativity from those around you, but then make it your own.

Here are some of my take-aways from Steal Like an ArtistShow Your Work:

  • Every new idea is just a mashup or a remix of one or more previous ideas.
  • An artist is a collector. Not a hoarder, mind you, there’s a difference: Hoarders collect indiscriminately, artist collect selectively.
  • Carry a notebook and a pen with you wherever you go. Get used to pulling it out and jotting down your thoughts and observations. Copy your favorite passages out of books. Record over heard conversations. Doodle when you’re on the phone.
  • Keep a swipe file. It’s just what it sounds like-a file to keep track of the stuff you’ve swiped from others. See something worth stealing? Put it in the swipe file. Need a little inspiration? Open up the swipe file.
  • Keep two desks. One is an “analog” desk and one is a “digital” desk. The analog desk contains markers, pens, pens, paper, etc. The digital desk houses the computer and other devices.
  • Surround your self with books and objects you love. Tape things to the wall and create your own world.
  • Your brain gets too comfortable in your everyday surroundings. You need to make it uncomfortable. You need to spend some time in another place among people that think differently than you. Travel makes the world look new, and when the world looks new, our brain works harder.
  • “The trick is not caring what everybody thinks of you and just caring about what the right people think of you.” ~Brian Michael Bendis
  • You can’t count on success; you can only leave open the possibility for it, and be ready to jump on and take the ride when it comes for you.

So there you go! If you need to add another book to your never ending stack of books to read, you should definitely grab both of these.

Happy Reading!

~~~~~

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This Is Me

Ricochet out of bed at 5:00 AM:

Blogger & Writer: I wake up early to proofread my blog post and publish it. Then I spend some time reading other blogs and leaving some comments. I’ll do some journaling if I’m not working on my blog.

Teacher: I’ll read my school emails, take a look at my teaching schedule, and put any finishing touches on my lesson plans.

Mom: I’m a “mom” to my little fur fam. I’m busy getting their breakfast, cleaning their cages, and letting them run around and wreck havoc on the house.

It’s 8:00 AM:

Teacher/Colleague: I arrive at school and step right into teacher mode. Everything else is pushed aside! I’m busy suggesting books, asking my readers what they are reading, fostering the love of independent reading, and teaching readers to be strategic about their reading. I also a support other teachers in the school by addressing pertinent reading questions and concerns.

School’s out 4:00 PM:

Runner: It’s time to put the rubber to the road and knock out a training run or cross-train. This could be anywhere between a 3 mile run to a 5 mile run, depending on where I am in my training plan. Cross-training consists of strength training, core work, or yoga.

Rushing around at 5:00 PM:

Housewife: I empty the dishwasher, put the trash out, place some laundry in the washing machine or put the laundry away, and pay some bills. I’m going to be truthful here, I rarely start dinner. That’s Matt’s area of speciality. If he doesn’t feel like cooking, I just roll with it and we eat leftovers or eggs.

Winding down from 6:00-7:30 PM:

Wife & Friend: I spend this time chit-chatting with Matt about his day and enjoying dinner, usually over a glass of wine. In between I will be texting or Snapchatting with my family and friends about whatever. I usually send a pic of the scrumptious dinner Matt has prepared. Some nights Matt and I might have a date. Our date would be at the gym attending a yoga class. I know you’re jealous!

Back to my little fur fam from 7:30-8:30 PM:

Mom: Once again I let the fur kids out to frolic around and get some exercise. I do my best to capture some of their antics and post it on their Instagram account. Usually, I’m touching base with Maddie too about her day via text or Snapchat.

Winding down for the day from 8:30-10:00 PM:

Whatever Me: You’ll find me writing in my journal or creating rough drafts for my blog. I *love* to make lists, so I’ll probably be preparing a to-do list, an exercise schedule, or a grocery list. Or perhaps you’ll observe me “reading”. (I have a tendency to read with my eyes shut. ~sigh) I catch up on social media during this time too. Best of all, I’m just chilling with Matt.

This is me. Just little ole me.

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#truestory

This school year I purchased a pre-made journal/planner. What I love about it is that at the beginning of the month there is a place to establish goals. There is also a journaling page at the start and end of each month. Not only do I use the journal for planning, but I also use it for reflecting.

And, I’ve been using my journal to capture what my readers are saying. Writing and blogging certainly makes me a better listener, for you never know if something you say is going to turn into a blog post! When I capture what they’re saying, I jot it down in my journal and just for fun I hashtag it, #truestory, although I never tweet these captured moments. Here are some of the #truestory moments from this year:

“You make me excited about books like never before!” ~a.b.

#truestory

“Your classroom just makes me want to just sit down and read.” ~o.t.

#truestory

“I read for 60 minutes last night and it left me at a cliff hanger! I wanted to keep on reading!” ~k.s.

#truestory

“My mom said that it was time to go shopping and I said, ‘Mom, I can’t! I want to read!’ So I took my book in the car with me.” ~m.w.

#truestory

Me: “I’m starting Wish today, Marlee.”

Marlee: “Hurry up and read it fast so we can talk about it!”

#truestory

“Last night I needed to keep on reading my book! I turned on my little clip light and read under the covers.” ~z.z.

#truestory

“Is today a reading day? I hope so. It’s the best part of the day!” ~b.a.

#truestory

Student #1: “This room is really, really cool! What do you need to do to be able to come here?

Student #2: “You pretty much have to suck at reading.”

#truestory…#sigh

“I love this book Wish and I love this class. This is my favorite part of the day!” ~k.s.

#truestory

I’m going to be honest here. There are days when I wonder if my readers are making enough progress. Progress is limited and sometimes stalled. On those days I revisit these #truestories and I know that #kidsarereading and that #kidslovebooks. What more could I ask for? This #truestory and that #truestory reminds me to keep chugging along.

“If it’s to be, it’s up to me.” ~a.w.

#truestory

~~~~~

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What Works Wednesday: Book Bins & Beyond

For the past several years I really have been placing an emphasis on Independent Reading. This year it has gone to an entire new level thanks to the addition of book bins. I first read about book bins in a post from Franki Sibberson on the blog A Year of Reading. I knew immediately I needed to implement them in my room.
You see, it’s not enough to discuss what my readers are currently reading. I now ask them what they plan on reading next and if they have a book or two in their book bin. Precious reading time has been lost due the readers telling me they are looking for a book, still looking for a book, or can’t find a book. Gone are the days of “I don’t have a book” or “I can’t find a book.” So let’s talk about book bins and beyond.
Get the books:
First off, I’m a “bookmonger”. While I would love to be able to purchase the newest and hottest releases, that just isn’t possible.  I case the public library and check them out on my library card. I then sprinkle them around the room for my readers. We have a magnificent library in our building too, so I also snag books from our school library.  I think about what my readers enjoy and I comb through the popular books. Then I check those books out under my name and shower them around my room. My readers have actually found it easier to chose a just right book when the selection is smaller and more focused to their liking.
Put the books in the bins:
Here’s the honest to goodness truth, the power comes from me talking about the book and suggesting it. Once I talk about the book and create a frenzy, the readers are all clambering for the books. The book then goes in their bin. I simply write the reader’s name on a post-it note and they drop it in the appropriate bin. If multiple students are interested in the book, then I add additional names on the inside of the book.
Share the book love:
I begin every reading session by quickly asking my students what they are reading now and if they have a book in their bin. If they do not, they use the last five minutes of the lesson for book browsing. They enjoy seeing what books are sprinkled around the room, as this changes almost daily. They also like to see what other readers have in their bin. Last but not least, they *adore* the LOVE THAT BOOK recommendation wall. It’s one thing if their reading teacher recommends a book, but it takes it to an entire new level when they see what their peers are reading. FullSizeRender
Book Bins & Beyond, it works, it really works.

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