Friday, August 11, 2017

#PB10for10 - Books to Share with College Students






(Ok, this might be more of a #PB10for11 post - sorry to be tardy!!) ;)

Thanks to Cathy and Mandy for hosting this event that is such an amazing resource for us all!

As I'm entering a new phase in my professional career, I thought it might be time to dust off this blog. I recently said yes to the opportunity to be an adjunct professor at a university in town teaching Children's Literature to students in the Early Childhood Education track. I have spent a great deal of time in past years using picture books with 3rd - 5th graders, but books for the lower end of the Pre-K - 3rd grade was a slightly different span for me. However, I was up for the challenge of learning about, and reading, good books for younger students!

My #PB10for10 list is a small sampling of some of those new-to-me books I've loved and want to share with my college students when I open my bookbag the very first day of classes. My goal in this class is to introduce these soon-to-be-teachers to a plethora of great books, so they will have the tools to match readers with the right books.

This can't be a comprehensive list because I've read so many picture books this summer, but out of the 50+ picture books currently in my home from the library, these are the ones that I currently plan to have in my bag on August 22.


Give Bees a Chance by Bethany Barton
I loved her first book, I'm Trying to Love Spiders, and in my opinion, this book is even better. Barton infuses humor as she teaches us many details about spiders. It's a beautiful blend of a narrative and informational text.




Nerdy Birdy Tweets by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Matt Davies
What a great lesson this book teaches about friendship and social media responsibility. A great book to share with students.





Bob, Not Bob by Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Matthew Cordell
As someone who really sounds funny when those head colds hit, I could so appreciate the voice of this story. And what young child couldn't relate to wanting "Mom" or a loved one when they are sick?!






Specs for Rex by Yasmeen Ismail
A story about wanting to fit in especially when there is something unique about you. A story about how others accept you as is. Good community builder for young students.










Shawn Loves Sharks by Curtis Manley; illustrated by Tracy Subisak
So many great topics and possibilities for this book. Friendship, passion about a topic, avidly pursuing a topic of interest, the feeling that happens when you don't get your first choice.







Froodle by Antoinette Portis
The joy of reading this aloud with students! The language and words the birds choose as their new "sounds" are just delightful, and beg to be read aloud together.






Little Penguins by Cynthia Rylant; illustrated by Christian Robinson
I've been a Cynthia Rylant fan for a very long time - the 1990s to be exact. Her words combined with Robinson's illustrations almost make me wish for the first snow. The simple text will be one young students read again and again.




Watersong by Tim McCanna; illustrated by Richard Smythe
Beautiful words; beautiful illustrations. Such a lyrical read.








I Am (Not) Scared by Anna Kang; illustrated by Christopher Weyant
Bravery. What a great discussion to have with young ones. And how having a friend or a buddy there to help you through the experience makes it so much easier.






The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt; illustrated by Adam Rex
This story is just stinking cute, as we meet 3 characters who just want one thing in life - to find someone that can beat them in a challenge. They are only happy after they have been bested.







It killed me to write this post before reading others' lists, and most certainly, begin to reserve even more books from the library to read, enjoy, and share! So now, that's exactly what I plan to do!!















Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Savoring my last spring break - #SOL 4/4/17


A huge thanks to the gang at Two Writing Teachers for hosting and organizing each week. I appreciate the community of writers you encourage the entire month of March, and all the Tuesdays the rest of the year. Thank you so very much.

**For the March Slice of Life Challenge, I had planned to connect as many posts as possible to my #OLW for the year - SAVOR.** I did 24 straight days, but missed the last seven, so I'm doing my wrap-up today.

From March 25 - April 1, I didn't write for #SOLSC because I was on vacation. And not just any vacation, but, because of my pending retirement, my last spring break ever. When I realized that piece of information, I knew it was time to savor every moment of my time in Hilton Head last week:
Frequent stops at Publix. If you've never had a
freshly-made sub from here, it's amazing!
Chicken tenders are pretty great also.


The first view I saw when we
reached our condo at Hilton Head.


Daily walks on the beach.
My FitBit loved it!

Hundreds of sand dollars
on the beach this week.
Those daily walks yielded many shells
 (not common at HHI)
If you peer very closely, you will see
some of the dolphins I saw each day.
View from the pool in the afternoon.

Watching the tides come in and out.


Picking up clothing at one of
my favorite stores.
Shopping at this store each day.
But my favorite stop is the one where
I had them steam 1# of local shrimp
for me.

Last day on the beach. 
Leaving Hilton Head as the sun makes
its presence known.








There were so many moments to savor from last week - walks on the beach, toes in the ocean and sand, seafood all week, golf, great weather, a great deal of reading, and lots of rest and relaxation. I felt very blessed and savored it all!!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Love my lunch ladies! - #SOLSC Day 24



I love March, when during the Slice of Life Challenge, I commit to writing on a daily basis. It's fun during 31 days of posts to watch the ebb and flow of my writing. Some days I'll be incredibly pleased with how a post turned out; other days I'll just be glad I posted anything at all. A huge thanks to the gang at Two Writing Teachers for hosting, organizing, and commenting on this ginormous event each year. I appreciate the community of writers you encourage the entire month of March, and all the Tuesdays the rest of the year. Thank you, thank you.

**This March, I plan to connect as many posts as possible to my #OLW for the year - SAVOR.** 


Make a couple extra hash browns today. Karen will want some for lunch today for sure.

Many people talk about the most important people in a school being the secretaries and the custodians. I totally agree, but would like to add one more category to that list - the cooks in the cafeteria. I am of the firm belief that developing a rapport and a relationship with the people cooking the food is incredibly important.

In the school I just exited, the cooks are Cheryl and Alisha. At lunchtime every day, I head down to the cafeteria kitchen to fill my cup with ice from the machine. Each day, I check out what is on the student lunch choices. And each and every day, Cheryl and Alisha greet me with incredibly warm words and smiles.

As we've chatted over the past year when I'm in that building, they have learned I love three specific things from the school lunch: hash browns, tater tots, and Goldfish Giant Graham Crackers. So when I come to get my ice, they have those things waiting for me on days they are being served. I love that I've chosen three of the most un-nutritious things possible, and they never judge me.

Make a couple extra hash browns today. Karen will want some for lunch today for sure.

A smile, a warm welcome, and some hash browns. I've come to savor that combination. I will miss it.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Love these third graders / hate to say goodbye - #SOLSC Day 23


I love March, when during the Slice of Life Challenge, I commit to writing on a daily basis. It's fun during 31 days of posts to watch the ebb and flow of my writing. Some days I'll be incredibly pleased with how a post turned out; other days I'll just be glad I posted anything at all. A huge thanks to the gang at Two Writing Teachers for hosting, organizing, and commenting on this ginormous event each year. I appreciate the community of writers you encourage the entire month of March, and all the Tuesdays the rest of the year. Thank you, thank you.

**This March, I plan to connect as many posts as possible to my #OLW for the year - SAVOR.** 

I love working and collaborating with adults as a coach, but when that work allows for interaction with students as well, those are opportunities I savor.

Today was my last day ever in another one of my schools. There have been some state assessments during my time here, but there has also been some wonderful learning. Many of those learning opportunities involved me collaborating with teachers in their classrooms with their students.

Let me share three scenarios that happened on my last day today:

Scene 1 - 3rd Grade

With piano versions of Disney songs quietly playing in the background, a purposeful hum of activity was happening in one writing workshop. The teacher and I were working on refining conferring skills, and we had the privilege to spend time with several students talking about their opinion pieces. As we conferred, we found one teaching point for each child, and they left our table beaming with the confidence of assured writers with a plan. It made my heart sing seeing their pride.

Scene 2 - 3rd Grade

In another classroom, the vibe was a bit more frenetic as students were planning, scripting, practicing, and recording themselves and partners sharing about their favorite books or book series. Though the noise level was higher, the energy and focus were spot on. I spent some time with one specific student who felt stressed to get everything done. He did it, though - he got his script done, practiced it several times, worked on his eye contact, and let me record him until he was happy with the results.
 He looked at me with big eyes after and said, "I made really good eye contact because I didn't have to read the script the whole time. I really knew it!"
His obvious pride in himself made me smile for hours.

Scene 3 - 3rd Grade

This entire year, I have spent much time thinking and collaborating with one teacher, and that work brought me into contact with her students frequently. Today, I swear, my heart just melted.
When they found out it was my last day at their school and I wouldn't be back next year, her students decided they wanted to take a picture with me and put it on their "family" wall - the wall showing pictures of them being a family and community. They also gave me my own small version of the family wall picture on construction paper, and they all signed it. As if that wasn't enough, the entire class wrote thank you notes to me and their teacher bound them into a book.
Heart melt... right?

I have savored all 36 of my years in education. When I try to explain it to non-teachers, they don't always understand. These three scenarios are just 3 of over a bajillion reasons that I love being an educator.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Looking forward to exercise - #SOLSC 3/22/17


I love March, when during the Slice of Life Challenge, I commit to writing on a daily basis. It's fun during 31 days of posts to watch the ebb and flow of my writing. Some days I'll be incredibly pleased with how a post turned out; other days I'll just be glad I posted anything at all. A huge thanks to the gang at Two Writing Teachers for hosting, organizing, and commenting on this ginormous event each year. I appreciate the community of writers you encourage the entire month of March, and all the Tuesdays the rest of the year. Thank you, thank you.

**This March, I plan to connect as many posts as possible to my #OLW for the year - SAVOR.** 

If you've talked to me, or read my blog posts, in the past six months, you know that retirement feels very bittersweet for me. Saying goodbye to educator friends in my district is going to be difficult. I know I am not done with education by a long shot, but there are so many other possibilities out there for me to discover soon.

I realized the enormity of one possibility this evening. I opened my digital calendar to the week after retirement, and started plugging in some exercise/fitness activities I wanted to start doing that very first week:

  • Monday - walking with a friend
  • Tuesday - strength training
  • Wednesday - slow flow yoga class and walking with a friend
  • Thursday - water aerobics and swimming laps
  • Friday - yoga class
  • Saturday - meet with my trainer
Whoa!! I just planned my entire first week of retirement. That seemed crazy. A conversation began in my head.

It's retirement, Karen. It's not about being on a schedule every day like when you were working full time.
But... I now have the capability of working out in the mornings. You know I tend to not exercise in the afternoon or after.
But every day?!! Doesn't that seem a bit excessive to schedule like that in retirement?
Maybe. But if I schedule it now, maybe it will just become a habit; something I do on any given day.

And then I got really excited about this possibility! I got so excited, I went back into that first week of scheduled exercise, and did some editing - I made each item a repeated weekly event. After awhile, I won't need the schedule (I don't think). But I plan on truly savoring those morning workouts each day, beginning May 29!!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Music to my ears - #SOLSC 3/21/17


I love March, when during the Slice of Life Challenge, I commit to writing on a daily basis. It's fun during 31 days of posts to watch the ebb and flow of my writing. Some days I'll be incredibly pleased with how a post turned out; other days I'll just be glad I posted anything at all. A huge thanks to the gang at Two Writing Teachers for hosting, organizing, and commenting on this ginormous event each year. I appreciate the community of writers you encourage the entire month of March, and all the Tuesdays the rest of the year. Thank you, thank you.

**This March, I plan to connect as many posts as possible to my #OLW for the year - SAVOR.** 


I never travel without a book on tape in the car. I'm amazed at how much I can listen to just driving around doing errands and doing my sales.

I love to read with my ears.

They listened to two books on tape - one going down to Florida and one coming home. He said it really made the time pass quickly.

The narrator pronounced his name "Oo-va".

The narrator made this a delightful listen as she used a slow Southern drawl for the characters. 

People all around me were talking about audio books, and how much they enjoyed them. About a year ago, I decided to give it a whirl.

The third snippet above was my husband as we were in the car bound for Hilton Head last spring. He wanted to try it since a couple we knew had tried it and enjoyed it. I loved the idea of sharing a book, so I downloaded the Audible app as we drove, read the books' descriptions to him, as well as the reviews of the narrator. We chose a book, and it was great!! Eleven hours of prime listening.

Since that occasion, I have become addicted to audio books. Like my friend above, I now always have a book on tape in the car. I have extremely short commutes, but it has still been wildly entertaining, even if just for a few minutes some days. I'm so bad, that last night when I dropped my car off for service at the dealership, and got a loaner, I kept my books on CD with me, and remembered what track I was on as I exited one vehicle and got in the next one. The first thing I did after turning on the ignition was to put the CD in and get back to the right track.

In addition to what I have going in the car, I also always have one or two books on my Audible shelf - I listen to these as I take walks or do chores. It truly makes the time pass in such an enjoyable way. I've noticed my walks are longer now that I listen to books as opposed to when I used to listen to music.

I do not do well with auditory processing; I have really had to retrain my brain. There have been many times I have had to skip back because my brain took a mental break, and I missed important plot elements. And as a reader (don't hate me here), it's been a great way to keep me from cheating and reading the ending before I truly was at the end.

I really savor this new form of reading. It is music to my ears.

Monday, March 20, 2017

A good coaching day - #SOLSC 3/21/17


I love March, when during the Slice of Life Challenge, I commit to writing on a daily basis. It's fun during 31 days of posts to watch the ebb and flow of my writing. Some days I'll be incredibly pleased with how a post turned out; other days I'll just be glad I posted anything at all. A huge thanks to the gang at Two Writing Teachers for hosting, organizing, and commenting on this ginormous event each year. I appreciate the community of writers you encourage the entire month of March, and all the Tuesdays the rest of the year. Thank you, thank you.

**This March, I plan to connect as many posts as possible to my #OLW for the year - SAVOR.** 

"Walk out of your room
beneath the morning sky;
let the sun enter your heart,

and find a way 
to keep it there."

from "Spin a Song" celebrating Rumi by Marjory Wentworth
(Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets)

Sun entered my heart today, and I plan on keeping it there. Today was a day of coaching sandwiched between state assessment dates that had me celebrating why I love this job so much. 

This was a day teachers and I had the gift of time (and lack of distraction from the state assessment) to dig in deeply to topics that will allow us to refine our practices, and by doing that, help students grow as learners. Some of the conversations I had today: 

1) Met with one teacher to chat about refining her art of conferring.  Planned our work, and then modeled conferring with several students in writing workshop - focused on the following point: "turn an 'almost' into a strength" - thanks to Ruth Ayres for that nugget!! After each conference, had a "turn and talk" with the teacher to focus on what she noticed and further questions.

2) Using ideas from Amplify (Ziemke and Muhtaris) as our resource, helped a teacher develop an outline of a rubric to use with students merging reading, speaking/listening, and technology skills. Students will help define what it means to "achieve" in the categories of the rubric.

3) Met with another teacher to think about how to create a rubric with students to help them with  self-assessment on their reading goals. Made plans to co-teach mini-lessons around this rubric creation for the next three days.

4) Planned future collaboration with yet another teacher. She decided she would like to work on fine-tuning how she assesses students' written work. Independent from each other, she and I will use our district feedback form for informational writing to assess 5 pieces of writing. Then, we will come together, and talk about the similarities and differences in how we assess. And once we calibrate how we assess, the work will spread to the rest of her grade level teammates.

Work like this is so rewarding - the kind of embedded professional development that is a win-win for all stakeholders -- students, teachers, coaches, administrators, parents.  Feeling the "sun in my heart today"and looking forward to savoring the next eight weeks with more of this type of professional development!