Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March Book Madness 2017

A coworker returned from a conference earlier this year and shared March Book Madness with me. We both loved the idea and decided to do the picture book bracket with our reading students this year. She put in a requisition for both of us to receive most of the books and I hit up the library and borrowed all of them so I had at least one copy of every book and two of most.

Since January I've been trying to read one or two books to my groups each week. Sometimes I just read for pleasure other times we worked on signposts or other comprehension strategies.

(Here a student took a picture of the signpost, added a label with the signpost name and then she recorded how she knew it was the signpost and her answer to the question.)

 I thought we'd make it through all of the books by now but we didn't quite make it. So, on Monday and Tuesday this week (I see most of my students every other day)  I had my students select books they hadn't read or heard and read them on their own for the 40 minute class period. That got most groups caught up pretty well.

After I read a book to the students they went into Seesaw and took a picture of the cover of the book. Then they added a label and went to the emojis and gave the book 1-5 stars. Next they added a caption and gave a quick explanation on why the book deserved that number of stars. The final step was to put their work in the March Book Madness folder.


During this time I also began working with my students on writing book reviews. We read a few reviews from The Spaghetti Book Club. We noticed what they had in common and then we wrote a review together after listening to the Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig. Then they selected one of the MBM books to read with a partner and write a review together. (I now realize this is something we need to finish!) 

To help generate some excitement  for March Book Madness I put up two bulletins boards in our school. One board we were in charge of for the month of March and the other was outside the library and our librarian was happy to let us take it over. So outside the library I put up the picture book bracket and down on the 5th grade wing I put up the chapter book bracket. Today I added a note about voting and placed business card sized slips of paper for other students to pick up and take home to vote if they're interested. I also let them know I'll update the board next Wednesday.



Today, we began voting! To prepare for this I had placed two items in my own folder in Seesaw. I went to the March Book Madness site and saved the bracket picture as a JPEG. Then I uploaded that to my file. Next, I uploaded a link in Seesaw that took the students right to the voting page. 

To begin the lesson I showed students the Google Map of the participating schools and did a mini lesson on geography. Next, the students got to work!

Here's what each group of students did today:

1. They went to Feed View in Seesaw, clicked on their name and then on folders and finally on their March Book Madness folder. They looked over their ratings from the books to refresh their memories. 

2. They went to my folder and copied and edited my bracket. I showed them a variety of ways they could mark up their bracket. I also had all the book arranged in piles according to the bracket on a table. If a student hadn't read a book or hadn't given it a rating she could go to the table and take a look at the book before making a choice. Here's two completed examples:
She used the star emoji and it made for a very neat looking bracket.

Most chose to circle and x their choices. 
3. This was saved and then they went back to my folder. The next step was to click on the link to the voting page. When I inserted the link it actually shows last year's bracket. Their choices were fresh in their minds and this went quickly.

4. The final step was to take a sticky note and write what they hope will be the overall winner. They had to write in a complete sentence, and then stick it on a big poster in the hall. (I'll try to remember to get a picture of the poster/chart tomorrow. :)


As the students voted it was fun to hear them talk about how difficult some choices were because they loved both books! 

Some of my fifth graders have requested to do the middle grades bracket as well so I have that set up for them too. I feel that bracket is very tough! I haven't read them all but how do I pick between El Deafo and The Fourteenth Goldfish!

If you're new to Seesaw or the MBM I hope this helps. If you have any questions, let me know. I'd love to hear how you're doing MBM in your classroom, please share!





Tuesday, February 14, 2017

10 of my Favorite Nonfiction Picture Books


It's time, ok past time, for the Nonfiction Picture Book 10 for 10 event! You can read more about it here. Thank you to Cathy and Mandy for hosting this event. 


So...I made my list last week but I am just getting around to putting it in a blog tonight. As you can see I have totally fallen out of the blog habit, as poor as it was to begin with. However, I love reading all the 10 for 10 posts so I feel it's important to add my 2 cents even if I am a few days late.



Tuesday Tucks Me In-I may have read about this book in last year's 10 for 10, I'm not sure. However, it was a very popular book with my reading students last spring. A very touching story. I will be putting it on my budget for next year.



Best in Snow- I love winter and I love photography so this book is a hit with me! I'll also admit that it's a nice feeling to look at these photos and think hey, I could have done everyone of those. :) This would be a perfect book for students that live in warm weather climates. She also has a book about raindrops. I need to check that one out as well.


Trombone Shorty-This is one of the selections for this years March Book Madness. I love it for several reasons. It's a story about following your passion as well as giving back to your community. The illustrations are wonderful and really captured my student's attention. And I'll be honest, I need more diverse books in my classroom.


Whoosh-A fun story on the history of the super soaker.


Pink is for Blobfish-Another contender for March Book Madness. Who knew there were so many pink animals? My students have loved learning about these unique creatures.


I have a Dream-I love Kadir Nelson's paintings in If You Plant a Seed so as soon as I saw this at the library I knew I had to check it out. The paintings that go with the speech are perfect. Another book I'll be purchasing for my classroom.


The Best Part of Me- I haven't used this book for a couple of years but I think I may use it again this spring. A few years ago I used it with my fourth graders and had them write their own page. I then published our book on Bookemon and several parents purchased the book. I think I'll do it with my fifth graders as a fun end of the year project. The author had children take a photo of their best part and write their thoughts about it.


Poop Detectives: Working Dogs in the Field-Yep, anything with poop and dogs is going to be popular with fourth and fifth graders. I just picked this up at the library the other day. I haven't shared it with my classes yet but I'm sure it will be a hit.




Dragonfly-by David Miller Hmmm...when I looked this up on Amazon it said no image available. When I Googled it I found this image from Target but the book is not available. When I went back to Amazon and searched Up Close and Scary the same book came up but with the authors; Louise & Richard Spilsbury. I'll have to investigate this a bit more. This is another book I just picked up at the library. The detailed photographs of the dragonfly are amazing! The size of the text and the amount of information on each page is going to be perfect for my students. There are four books in the series. I plan on ordering the set for next year. The set of books are by Louise & Richard Spilsbury.


Dorothea's Eyes-This book inspired me to learn more about this amazing photographer. It's a great book about overcoming diversity and following one's passion.

Well, that's it for this time. Now it's time to head over to the Google+ Community and start adding books to my hold list for the library! Good thing I'm on vacation next week so I'll have plenty of time to read.




Wednesday, August 10, 2016

New to Me Picture Books #pb10for10

Well, I missed the post that #pb10for10 was today but was excited when I saw all the notifications about new posts. I love finding out what other books people enjoy. Luckily I am working on the book a day challenge this summer and many of my books have been picture books. So for my #pb10for10 I'll share my favorite, new to me, picture books. Be sure to check out the Picture Book Ten for Ten community for more great book recommendations!





I'm always on the look out for books with strong female characters and this one definitely fits the bill. Fifth grade begins the year discussing human rights. I think this will fit in nicely. Beautiful pictures and a remarkable story about Wangari Maathai.


Somehow Steve Jenkins has not been on my radar as a favorite author but he is now after reading several of his books this summer. I love the pictures and the question/answer format of this book. I plan on using this book with my third graders. I think after listening to it they could ask their own question and research the answer.


Another book by Steve Jenkins. Fun illustrations accompany this story about how animals protect themselves from predators.


One more by Steve Jenkins. The pictures are wonderful. The text is an easy read and at the end of the book there is more detailed information about each animal. There are two more books in this series which I haven't read yet; Time to Eat and Time for a Bath.


Little One has the most wonderful illustrations, they add so much to this quiet gentle story of a cub's journey with its mother. This is a story I will keep in mind as a gift for new parents.


This is a delightful series and I'll be encouraging our librarian to check them out and get them for our school. Each of the books I read; this one, kangaroo and cape buffalo, begin with a child asking if you really want to meet that animal. When the answer is yes the child gives you a new fact on each page and dangers you could encounter. Other books in the series include: platypus, monkey, crocodile, tiger, polar bear, and elephant. Next February there will be new additions-camel, orca, owl, badger and wolf. I'd love to use these with my third graders as well.


I've been enjoying Lois Ehlert's books for many many years. This book will be a great addition to the theme of finding and following your passion. This book gives the reader a glimpse of her childhood and her path as an artist. Each year I have one or two students that love art. I'll be getting this book just for them.


Before We Met is filled with beautiful illustrations and describes that special time before a baby is born. I won't be using this one in the classroom but I have a friend that is expecting and I plan on giving this book to her and probably to my own children once they start their families. It's that type of special book.


This is another one I'll be purchasing for my classroom. It's a delightful story of a boy and his dog and how they learn about each other and the world around them. I like the way it brings in school subjects outside of school, it could make for some good discussions.




The Artist and Me I'll be recommending to our art teacher. It's a beautifully illustrated story about Vincent Van Gough. It touches on themes of bullying and being true to yourself.




It was really hard to stop at 10!

Update to Retirement Post

So in January I wrote about goals to reach before I retire. I thought I'd do a quick update on that post. First of all rereading that post made me think about how I really need to change the negative attitude I have towards some things going on in my district and refocus myself on the positive things that will be happening for my students.

Here is what I wrote in January and the update will follow in red.

1. Skype-it takes me forever to work up the courage to make a phone call so the thought of Skyping with someone is simply terrifying to me!! So, that is number one on the list. And it's still on the list-call me chicken. :)
2. Get at least one teacher in my building on Twitter and using chats. This one is not so scary for me but it is for my coworkers. Hmmm, I forgot about this one. Summer would be the perfect time for this. I think I'll contact a few teachers that I think would try this and try to meet some place for coffee and wifi and get them signed up, following other teachers and discuss Twitter Chats.
3. Put in a conference proposal for NYSCATE one more time. I won a grant a few years ago for iPads and never did the payback of presenting. I hate presenting but I do it from time to time to just push myself out of my comfort zone. I don't think this will happen. Last year I tried to go to a reading conference but was told I go to too many conferences. :( So even if a proposal was accepted I doubt I'd be allowed to go.)
4. Contact Kimberly Wright to set up something with students between our two districts. Need to do this.
5. Get a tech club set up. I've been approved but have been dragging my feet on getting it going mainly due to scheduling conflicts with my principal and fear-what will I do? What if the kids don't like it? and on on with the self doubt. I tried but nothing ever got off the ground. I decided not to bother for this year, the work involved doesn't seem worth it for one year. 
6. A coworker sent me a link to apply to become a PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator. I dismissed it because.... I'm retiring. But now I'm thinking why not? I'm sure I won't win but why not try? I didn't win to go to ISTE but I did win as an area rep. This gets our district a free year of PBS online resources. I have to sign an agreement so I showed it to my principal and he says it needs to be approved by our superintendent, still waiting.... :(

Ok, the next three are not scary but things I want to continue.

7. Continue to strive to help my students develop a love for reading and improve their comprehension but never by filling in worksheets. No problem!
8. Continue to find ways to tie in technology with reading and share with coworkers. Using SeeSaw more and more and plan on continuing with that because it lets me/students do so much. We did coding once a month last year, even during months of testing and I hardly saw my students, I'd made a promise to coding once a month and I kept it.
9. Continue to read new books-both kid lit and professional and share with teachers. Ok, some teachers might fill in that blank above with I'm tired of her pushing books, apps, websites to us. :) Easy and I've already sent out some suggestions to the 4th and 5th grade teams. 

My retirement isn't official yet but I'm fairly certain it will happen. Keeping positive and focusing on the students will be my main goal this year. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A Book a Day Summer Challenge

Once again I am trying to complete the book a day challenge this summer. Before the end of the school year I told my students about it and even gave them the link to my Padlet so they can check on me and see how I'm doing! I also let them know the majority of the books will be children's books so I can come back to school with new books and recommendations for them.

It's a work in progress. Feel free to check it out.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

My Word for the Year-Retirement!

       

Monday night Carra Daniels, @Ledtolead, moderated #Teachlap chat over on Twitter. Her final question was; What will YOUR word be in 2016 to push you out of your comfort zone to try something at your school that may scare you a bit? My quick and perhaps flip response was retirement! However, the more I think about it, I think it's the perfect word.

Yes, I have one more year to teach to reach my 30 years of teaching in New York State, I have three additional years in MN but they don't count towards retirement. So, at the moment my plan is to retire in June 2017. I could go in January but I don't feel that would be best for the kids or even myself.

So why do I think retirement is the perfect word?

Well, first of all, the thought of not teaching after 33 years is a little scary and will put me out of my comfort zone-for a little bit. However, the last thing I want to be is one of those teachers that rest of the staff is hoping will retire as soon as possible because _____________ (fill in the blank with a variety of reasons, none exactly complimentary.) I'm sure everyone that's been around in education for awhile knows that teacher.  I want to go out still learning and trying new things. Well, with retirement just around the corner, my time is running out so I need to begin my bucket list of things I want to do before I leave.

So here is my teaching bucket list for the last year and a half:

1. Skype-it takes me forever to work up the courage to make a phone call so the thought of Skyping with someone is simply terrifying to me!! So, that is number one on the list.
2. Get at least one teacher in my building on Twitter and using chats. This one is not so scary for me but it is for my coworkers.
3. Put in a conference proposal for NYSCATE one more time. I won a grant a few years ago for iPads and never did the payback of presenting. I hate presenting but I do it from time to time to just push myself out of my comfort zone.
4. Contact Kimberly Wright to set up something with students between our two districts.
5. Get a tech club set up. I've been approved but have been dragging my feet on getting it going mainly due to scheduling conflicts with my principal and fear-what will I do? What if the kids don't like it? and on on with the self doubt.
6. A coworker sent me a link to apply to become a PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator. I dismissed it because.... I'm retiring. But now I'm thinking why not? I'm sure I won't win but why not try?

Ok, the next three are not scary but things I want to continue.

7. Continue to strive to help my students develop a love for reading and improve their comprehension but never by filling in worksheets.
8. Continue to find ways to tie in technology with reading and share with coworkers.
9. Continue to read new books-both kid lit and professional and share with teachers. Ok, some teachers might fill in that blank above with I'm tired of her pushing books, apps, websites to us. :)

And finally-

10. While I want to go out strong I also need to have a plan for what comes next! I know for certain it won't be subbing. But maybe tutoring and for sure I'll be spending more quality time with my camera. Perhaps doing photos of kids, maybe trying the craft show scene and selling things featuring my macro prints... no plans are set yet but certainly something to be rolling around in the back of my mind. Scary-yes. Exciting-you bet!

I've already had coworkers mention they want to have the same enthusiasm and positive attitude towards teaching when they get close to retirement as I do. That's definitely a compliment and a trait I don't want to lose. So I plan on focusing on the word retirement this year and not just as a way of counting the days.