Friday, June 29, 2012

What Goes Ha-Ha-Ha Plop?

We all crave attention.  Come on it’s true.  We crave it so much we blog.  We teach.  We sometimes make fools of ourselves, but we always crave attention.  That’s why I love teaching…It’s a constant audience for me.  I love it when my owlets laugh at my jokes or tell me that I have the best ideas in the whole world, or that they love it when I sing “opera style!”  I love it when another blogger notices me and gives me an award!  Thank you Sara!  You are now over 100!
I love  Sara's owl and her blog! Go
like her...You'll be glad you did!
 I have always enjoyed being in the limelight.  At an early age I thought I’d like to be a stand-up comedian.  Seriously.  My favorite joke?  What goes ha-ha-ha plop?  Read on I’ll tell you the punch line later. If I tell you now you’ll laugh so hard that you won’t be able to read through this post… I don’t want to lose my audience.  I did lose my audience once.  When I was four years old my sister was born.  She was much cuter than I was.  I was supposed to be the baby, but that only lasted four years before number six child showed up.  There are five people out there who look a lot like me, talk a lot like me and who I love to entertain.  I can actually thank my little sister today for contributing to the person I am.  I had to work harder to be noticed when all that cuteness was around.

I always thought I’d like to be a motivational speaker.  I’m not sure what I’d motivate people to do, though.  Maybe remove wallpaper from walls.  I’ve gotten pretty good at it and actually enjoy it because I get to listen to my thoughts very well when I’m all alone in my house doing it.  My kids don’t want to be anywhere around because I can’t motivate them to help me get the job done.  I can’t even motivate them to clean their rooms. 

Maybe I could motivate people to cook delicious meals.  I have a couple “go to” recipes that my family love so much that they invite people over so I’ll be motivated to cook them.  I even have a signature dish.  It’s called “Jenny Chicken” It’s actually called Spicy Chinese Chicken Fettuccine, but it’s easier to just say Jenny Chicken!  I made it last night for company, so it’s on my mind.  I’m only sharing it with you. Shhh…Don’t tell the others.
Click the picture to get the recipe!

Perhaps I’ll motivate people to go out and look at birds.  Wait a second. I already do that!  I love taking groups of people on bird walks.  I even have a blog devoted to birds or other things natural. I started watching birds at the age of 6 months.  I would take all my toys out of the toy box, crawl into the box and look at an old bird guide of my mom’s.  Yes, birding is an inherited disorder! Everyone in my family loves a good bird!

As you can tell I love attention that’s why I felt so honored when I was awarded the Versatile Blogger Award.  Thank you, Sara for bestowing this honor on me and giving me a chance to share seven random things about myself. 

  Did you pick the seven random facts out?
1.         1. I love to sing  2.  I wanted to be a comedian when I was little.  3.  I am the fifth of six children.  4.  I love wallpaper removal 5. I like to cook for company. 6. I love birds. 7. The answer to my favorite joke…A man laughing his head off!!  Now quit laughing, you don't want your head to fall off, and check out these blogs I’m passing on the Versitle Blog Award to:
         Renonda @ Snickety ThingsLaurie @   
     Joy @Jemineye 2012

Jodi @ Fun in First         Dana @ 

Cherie @

Kimberly @   Chrissy @  
Lisa @     Teaching Little Miracles@       
   and Marsha @

    I'm stopping at eleven!  Here are the rules...Schools out so follow any of them you would like to!
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Include a link to their blog.
3. Include the award image in your post.
4. Give 7 random facts about yourself.
5. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.
6. When nominating, include a link to their blog.
7. Let other bloggers know they've been nominated.
Thanks again, Sara...I'm feeling very honored!!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ideas and Content, In Pictures and In Words

Do you see a theme going on?

I sat down on my new porch to start reading through chapter 7 last night.  "This will be a cinch," I thought.  If I hadn't been distracted by how much I LOVE my porch, it might have made it a little easier. But look at this...So relaxing.  So many windows to look out.  So many birds to see...
It's so peaceful out here!

If I could draw a picture of what I looked like sitting on that porch after I opened the book to get started I might draw this picture:
I shouldn't have waited so long...
or this...

I don't think I can do this...

I love this book.  I can't read it without crying.  It illustrates
the impact a single teacher can make in a child's life.  Patricia
Polacco writes and illustrates books that touch the heart deeply!

Do you know Mercy? Kate DiCamillo created such a likable  character. Illustrator, Chris Van Dusen
captures her emotions as well as the other characters in the book beautifully!
In Pictures and In Words is one of the idea richest books I've come across.  No reproducibles...just tools to help us be teachers of ideas in the classroom.  Tools that allow us to help children think, notice, and wonder.

Technique 9:  Showing, not telling!
Katie connected with me right off the bat when she used the book Birds  for an illustration examples.  If you don't have this book you should stop right here and go to your favorite place to order books on-line and order it.  It's that rich in text and illustration.  It's become class favorite. It will become a "go to' book for me as I put into practice all I'm leaning! I'll wait here while you order it.  While I'm waiting I'll look at my favorite page from the book.  Maybe I'll head over and visit my friend Laurie who introduced me to this book!

Welcome back...You'll be so glad you ordered it!

Once I finally got started last night it was hard to quit!  I had brought home a stack of books from school because all of my children's books are there.  As my children grow, their books find a way into my classroom!
Dogku by Andrew Clements and illustrated by Tim Bowers
is a wonderful story written in haiku.  Technique 2... Here the
central image is pictured from behind.  He looks lonely and we
know why...His boy is going off to school.

The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton is one of
my "go to" books.  Here the rising and setting of the
sun illustrates the passage of time. (Technique 6!)

I think this illustration, also from The Little House, 
shows more than one tequnice.  Crafting a "backstory", Manipulating point of view for effect and
Crafting with distance perspective to name just three!


I'm guessing you felt as I did...So many Techniques, so little time!  To help me organize my thoughts and ideas I came up with a way to help guide my classroom study.  I've made a chart that I can put in my planning binder and keep track of each technique as I use it.  I've only made this chart to cover Chapter Seven, but I'll share the others next week.  Click on the picture to get to the document!
I just realized I had another day before this was "due"!  Well , with company coming for dinner tonight I think I better post now.  My ADD(Attention to Date Disorder!) strikes again.

Thank you so much, Deedee for hosting such a wonderful study.  It's so much fun to hop around seeing what others have to say about this book.  You are a champion for educators everywhere! 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Look at Me!

Here it is...The moment I've waited for!  I had been considering a new design for some time.  Because I am moving and redecorating a new home it seemed appropriate to redecorate my blog.  I still feel like a newbie in the blogging department and have admired so many others blogs and I started to notice that they had blog designers.  After hours of stalking and looking at designs I loved I went with the best!

Head over and check out some of the other work they have done!  They were fast, listened to my ideas and had the suggestion of hiding a fairy somewhere on my banner.  Can you find the fairy?  Isn't she sweet?  Designed by Nikki at MelonHeadz for me.  It was love at first sight!  I couldn't have a blog design without owls from my favorite illustrator/designer Jaime at Digital Bake Shop.  Please visit them both and let them know how much you enjoy their work.  I have found an new source for digital clipart and paper, too.  JazzyPatterns has a gorgeous collection of both!  They have a great Etsy shop with many different designs to choose from.  I love the way The Honey Bunch pulled it altogether for one great design! 

Thank you so much, Misty, and Erika.  I have a feeling I'll be back again, but not for awhile...I love what you've done!!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

In Pictures and In Words: Book Study

I am linking up with Mrs. Wills Kindergarten to study the book In Pictures and In Words: Teaching the Qualities of Good Writing Through Illustration Study.

On the last day of school many of my children brought me gifts.  There was no need for any gifts. Having these precious owlets in my classroom all year has been a gift.  Having the love, trust, and hearts of these children is a gift that only you understand, my blogging friend.  One of the most treasured gifts that was brought in was the writing that a child had done during the year.  She had gift wrapped an informational piece that she had researched and illustrated.  It happened to be a research project we had done about birds, of course!  What really touched me was that she knew that I valued her writing. I knew she was an author.  She knew that this would be a gift to me.  I was touched.

In Pictures and In Words is more than a resource.  It is a treasure chest.  I would like to share some of the thoughts that I have had as I've studied these chapters.

Why does illustration study matter to the development of young writers?  I have always used the illustration part of writing as the carrot.  When you finish writing then you may illustrate.  I have used the right language, but probably not the right way.  This chapter opened my eyes to the idea that illustration adds to the meaning.  One thought that keeps coming back to me is that if we teach children to read by using picture cues, shouldn't we allow them to use picture cues when they are writing?  For young writers, illustrating is part of composing meaning.

How does building stamina for writing support children's work as illustrators?
Sometimes teaching writing is scary.  It is so much easier to give a worksheet.  It is not as satisfying to give worksheets.  Writing is work.  Writing is hard for me.  I've never thought of myself as a writer.  I'm trying.  I started blogging to develop my writing skills.  I have a confession. I don't like writing.  It is hard work.  As I've developed stamina I've found a bit of joy in it.  I do it because I want to know what it's like for my students.  They know about my writing.  They like my writing, so I write for them.  I like my interaction with you so I will keep writing. I use photographs to keep me going.  I see my students illustrations now in a whole new light.  It helps construct meaning and it will help them keep going...Stamina.

Are writing and illustrating a parallel composing process?
I never thought so before, but YES!  Give a child a blank piece of paper and pencil - they'll do something.  They'll take their thoughts and show them in pictures or words, so to speak!  They'll think ahead.  They'll plan.  They'll put their ideas on paper.

How can I teach my students to think like a writer?
Before you can write anything you have to know what writing is.  Writing is thought written down.  Read, read, read thoughts of authors.  I love Ted Kooser's advice, "Before you write one poem, you need to read at least one hundred"  For the first time ever, I have started looking at books as a writer.  Thank you for that gift, Katie.  

How can I support the illustration-writing connection?
One may use words.  One may use pictures.  They may both construct meaning. Notice, question, encourage both the writer and illustrator to bring ideas and meaning to paper.  

The illustrations in this book add so much
meaning to the text.  It is so much fun to get
to the end and find all the characters that
have showed up through out the story.  At the
end they are all depicted a bit differently than they
had been earlier in the story!

How can I more effectively plan and implement my Writing Workshop?
This last chapter may have been my favorite.  Through the first five chapters I felt like I would never get there.  I might never become the teacher I want to be.  Part of being a good teacher is the willingness to learn and grow too. The day I feel I've learned everything there is to be a good teacher, is the day I'll retire.  I want to keep growing and learning with my students.  Guess how old I am...Go ahead.  I'm fifty.  I've been teaching for over twenty-five years.  I still have so much to learn.  I still want to learn about how kids learn, so I can help them learn better.  I want them to learn how to learn. As I study this text I will gather, expect, immerse, study, and write.  I can hardly wait to get into section two.  

First Day Jitters
The illustrations in this book are superb!
Judy does a great job making you wonder
 about the main characters first day at school.  I
don't want to spoil anything for you!  This
is a great book.  The illustrations make
are great for studying.
A couple of years ago my sister in-law recommended an author to me. Her name is Anne Lamott.  Without reading a description of the book I ordered the one entitled, Bird by Bird.  I ordered the book for its title.  When I picked it up at my local B&N the clerk said that he had read that book when he first started writing.  I had bought a book about writing? Why would this guy buy a bird book if he wanted to be a writer?  I had no intention of writing anything. Ever. I loved the book and since I've read it have seen myself a little differently in terms of having a story to tell.  I have something to say and I can say it in pictures and in words!  Photos and blogs, anyway!
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A great read for any writer!

Thank you, Deedee for hosting such a meaningful study.

Hugs, Handshakes, and High-fives,

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Wall of Wow!


It happened again!  I was going to go to a local park where I have seen some nice birds hanging out but it looks like rain.  I had a spot all picked out where I would finish reading the first six chapters of In Pictures and In Words by  Katie Wood Ray.  I want to be ready for Deedee's book study!  I just got the book yesterday and I'm really enjoying what I've read.  I'm hoping it will clear up later, so I can sit and read in that quiet birdy spot later.  The good news is, we'll be able to turn off the AC and open up the windows again.  We're headed back into the 70s. We michiganders don't do well when it is 90!

Yesterday I decided to go into school to do a little work.  I'm going to try to dedicate Wednesday mornings to "work".  Wonderful, Worthwhile Work Days has a ring to it!  To add to my alliteration, I  worked on my Wall of Wow.  In years past my Wall of Wow has been completly teacher controlled and usually teacher forgotten about mid-year.  This year I am dedicating a whole board to it and making it more student directed.  I have always been sure to include work from each student on the Wall, but I want students to find intrinsic value in what they are doing.  Too often I'm the one holding the carrot!  

Each child will be given a section on the wall where they  will decide what they think is WOW worthy.  I'll encourage them to change it on a regular basis. If they did something at home they want to share, they can hang it there, too! I'm hoping this will encourage students to be proud of their work. I am almost done.  I just have to add their names.  

I laminated gift wrap before covering the board.
I also laminated card stock to use in my project.

Almost there...
After and ready to hang!

Thinking about my new group of owlets filled me with excitement.  I had to let them know I was thinking about them, so I took the idea from Kimberly at First in Maine and tailored it to my new students.  (I teach in a small school, so I know exactly who I'll have next year because I'm it for first grade! ) I sent this to each of my new students yesterday...

Aren't these the sweetest?
Caught in the act! I love sending mail.  That reminds me
I've got some rocks to get in the mail! ;)
It looks like I'll have to read inside today!  It keeps getting darker and darker.  Thanks for stopping by.  I'd love to know what you are doing today!(HINT:  Leave a comment!!)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bedside Table

This vacation business is hard work!  Even with one child in HAWAII this week I'm feeling pretty ragged!  My other two children have places to go, people to see and things to do.  Who let them sign up for all these activities?  I thought I was supposed to be able to spend time with them.  
My daughter on the far right does let me come babysit with her!
Have you ever been to Lake Michigan?  It is beautiful!

To top it all off, "someone" read my blog post about pretending to be busy while "someone" else did all the work!  My husband has NEVER read my blog before, but he read the last post that disclosed incriminating evidence about certain behaviors.  I've tried to show him that I can work hard, too.  I have scrubbed, boxed, cooked, and decorated so much that when I go to bed at night and close my eyes I dream all the closets I've emptied are full again. 

 I need a good book to read!  Something that will take my mind off of this moving busyness! Which leads me to this question...What's on your bedside table?  I looked at mine today and realized the last four books I've read are just sitting there in a pile!  When I finish a book I usually feel so connected with the characters that I can't put it on the shelf or pass it on to a friend until I've savored their memories for a while!  

My bedside table has all the earrings that I take off right
before I close my eyes at night!  My favses...the Barbie
shoes and the Legos!
Last night I finished Kitty Cornered by Bob Tarte.  I have met Bob at a talk that he gave at our local library.  He is from Michigan and is a birder, so how could I not like him?  His books are full of wonderful insights on pet behavior.  I love his books and I don't even have any pets! His candidness about his mental anguish is refreshing and poignant.  Sometimes I don't know whether to laugh or cry with Bob.  Quite possibly my all time favorite youtube video is one that he and his friend made together.  It makes me laugh every time I see it!  Here it is, but some of it isn't for young children!
I meant to share something very interesting and educational, but I think I'll save it for another day!  If you came here today looking for something teachie, I'm afraid you're going to have to come back tomorrow!  
Please leave a comment to let me know what is on your bedside table.  I thought about making it a linky, but I don't know if I'm ready for that yet!!
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