Monarchs, Day 2

Tagging demonstration at MTN workshop

Today was another awesome day at the workshop. Busy, busy, busy as always! But we got through everything and did an great release. There were a few preschoolers and toddlers in the building who came to the event, which made it extra special. Holding one little boy’s hand, I watched his face light up with each monarch that alighted on a participant. And when one landed on his shirt? Absolutely priceless.

The Courier-Post sent a photographer who photographed a good deal of the morning activities, including the above photo where I am explaining tagging to the participants (with Sue, my amazing cooperating teacher from student teaching). There should be an article tomorrow and another story in the local section next week.

One more day left! But if you want to experience a bit of the workshop for yourself, check out this video from NJ.com and the Star-Ledger. This workshop ended today at Raritan Valley Community College. The video is great!

Monarch Workshop

Tuesday was my last day at my summer job.  Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are devoted to my passion- the Monarch Teacher Network.   As a former participant, I am now a volunteer staff member and the workshops are my favorite part of every summer.  It never fails to completely inspire me and motivate me for the new school year.

This year is no exception.  There are about 60 participants, including 3 from New Zealand and 2 from Peru.  At what other professional development workshop do you work with international teachers?  AMAZING.  The other participants are from NJ, Delaware, and Pennsylvania.  It’s a whirlwind three days, and today was a flurry of activity.  But it’s unbelievable just being able to share this amazing eperience with so many other extraordinary teachers!

I left today feeling completely revitalized and energized, despite the 8 hour day and 2 hours of driving.  Unbelievable.  And I can not wait to continue the workshop tomorrow and Friday.

Poetry in Middle School?

Does anyone use Naming the World: A Year of Poems and Lessons
by Nancie Atwell? I want to start introducing poetry and I think what I have seen of this book would help me make great Do-Nows (instead of DOL). However, I can not find a copy anywhere! I can’t afford to spend full-price on the Heinemann site, there are no copies at Amazon or Barnes and Noble, and even Half.com is too expensive. But how do I know if it will work for me if I can’t page through it first?! This is what frustrates me about professional books.

So, does anyone have any experience with Naming the World: A Year of Poems and Lessons by Nancie Atwell? How is it? Do you like it? Do you want to get rid of a cheap copy? ;) Thanks!

Princeton Children’s Book Festival/Blogger Meet-up

Save the Date! The Princeton (NJ) library will be holding its annual Children’s Book Festival on September 13.  Check out the list of confirmed list of authors that will be in attendance!  Some of my favorites are Dan Gutman, Wendy Mass, Rebecca Stead, and Sarah Beth Durst.  I will definitely be in attendance- will you?

Still curious?  Here’s a bit more information from the website:

The Princeton Children’s Book Festival is an annual event each September at the Princeton Public Library and the Albert E. Hinds Memorial Plaza.

Our community is one that loves their library and loves books. The Princeton Children’s Book Festival is a celebration of this pairing. This well attended event continues to grow yearly and promises something for everyone. Here you may meet your favorite author or illustrator, listen to them discuss their work, have a book autographed or just have the opportunity to talk to them about their inspiration.

From picture book authors and illustrators to children’s fiction writers, live entertainment for children and their families and many activities throughout the afternoon, The Princeton Children’s Book Festival is an event that should not be missed.

The Princeton Children’s Book Festival is Saturday, September 13, 2008 from 12-5:00 PM.
The Festival will be held at the Princeton Public Library and the Albert E. Hinds Memorial Plaza located at 65 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, NJ 08542.
For additional information about the Festival please contact Allison Santos.

Liz B. over at A Chair, A Fireplace, & a Tea Cozy suggested a NJ/PA bloggers meet up.  I’m in- are you??  Stay tuned for more details!

Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller

I just finished a fantastic professional book and it’s really inspired me to get moving on my plans for this year. (Well, that and the fact that school starts in 2 weeks!). Debbie Miller’s Teaching with Intention: Defining Beliefs, Aligning Practice, Taking Action, K-5 is a must-read for ALL teachers.

This easy read will motivate you to reflect deeply on your teaching practices. More than once I found myself nodding and saying, “Yes!” while reading this book. The workshops that Debbie observes and writes about are the workshops we all want for our classrooms. Instead of basals and scripted programs, Debbie walks us through figuring out our own core beliefs and how to make sure they guide our teaching and interaction with students. The first chapter is called “Picture Perfect: How Does Your Ideal Classroom Look, Sound, and Feel”. Debbie shares with us that by determining our vision of what we want for our kids/classroom at the en of the school year we can set up a classroom that allows that to happen from the beginning. She stresses that the right environment is critical to student learning and achievement.

She continues on with ideas for aligning (best) practices, assessment, and setting up lessons that are in line with our beliefs. And all of this is done in a small, easy to read book! Also, a color insert of classroom pictures is included, and I am still drooling over those rooms! Needless to say, my ideas for classroom decor this year have changed since finishing this book. Definitely get your hands on this before school starts (or even if it already has!) You will not regret it. In fact, I can imagine rereading this every summer just to get recharged and energized for the coming school year

Swap

We have a bunch of people already signed up-some teachers, some not.  But we would love to have you, too!  Comment here, here, or email me!

Teacher Swap?

Just tossing an idea out there, trying to gauge some interest-

In my frequent blog reading, I have noticed a lot of swaps being mentioned. After a little bit of digging, I found out that a swap is when a group of bloggers/readers are paired up and send each other packages according to a theme. For example, there are New Mom swaps, Paper swaps, Pet swaps, and so much more. They are similar to random acts of kindness, or RAOKs, which are also popping up all over blogs and message boards. I LOVE this idea.

Would anyone be interested in a Teacher/Kidlitosphere swap? I am thinking the theme could be “Back to School”, though you wouldn’t have to be a teacher to participate! If you are interested, I will pair people up using the random number generator. You can send me your name and address and I will forward it to the person who has you. It will be a great way to promote blogs (yours or the ones you read)! Plus, who doesn’t like getting surprises in the mail?

For the actual swap, the theme word will be SCHOOL. You choose items to send to your partner based on this word. They can be teacher items, book related items, writing related items, or just plain fun ones! Here is an example:

S- Something to write with. You favorite type of pen/pencil to write with.

C- Crayons to brighten your life.

H- Happy things. I would totally send a copy of a favorite book here!

O- Organization. Something to keep you organized.

O- One thing I couldn’t live/teach without

L- Lazy days. Something that helps you relax, or calms you down during stressful times!

OK, in the act of typing this I have decided I want to host one!

Rules:
Sign up by: August 21st
Partners given by: August 23rd (I hope!)
Send out items by: September 20th

Budget: $20 (not including shipping)

To Sign up: e-mail me at thereadingzone@gmail.com with your name, mailing address and blog address. You do not have to be a blogger to join in the fun….Lurkers this is your chance to come out and play!!

I will list randomly selected partners on my blog by first name or nickname with links to their blogs…don’t worry if you don’t have a blog you can use e-mail to get to know each other.
I will send each person an e-mail with their partner’s e-mail. You guys can then exchange address info.

Theme: Back to school. Think along the lines of being a teacher, or starting a new year (us teachers always see September as the “real” New Years!). You can also think along the lines of passing along the love of reading/writing.

Details: You send your partner 6 items (somewhat school/reading/writing/teaching) in the theme which will represent the letters “S-C-H-O-O-L” (see above for example).
Your items can be store bought, handmade, secondhand, whatever…Be Creative!
Most importantly have fun!!!
Any questions please e-mail me at thereadingzone@gmail.com
Have Fun!!! Happy Fall!!

*ETA:  Once you receive your package, you can blog about it and the sender!  Hopefully, we all meet someone new in the blogosphere, plus get our names out there on new blogs!

$15 Free for Teachers

While reading the latest issue of Instructor, I happened to glance at an ad for GoldStarRegistry.com.  What is Gold Star Registry?  It is an online registry system, just for teachers!  So imagine registering for a bridal or baby shower, except this is for your school.  It’s a bit like Donors Choose, though the product catalog seems a bit smaller.  Lots of bulletin board borders, resource books, files, etc.

I promise there is a reason for this seemingly random post.  Instructor has a promo code for Gold Star Registry- register and get $15.00 to spend on your registry items.  I just made a simple registry and ordered $12.77 worth of nametags (monarchs!) and borders (more monarchs!!).  They didn’t ask for my credit card number or anything.  It seems great to me!

If you are interested, use Promo Code 240170 when you register.

Carnival of Education

Be sure to check out the latest issue of The Carnival of Education over at JoanneJacobs.  It’s the perfect way to get back into the school mode.  :)

Possible Read-alouds

I recently began thinking about what I will read aloud to my 6th graders this year. While I don’t stick to any prescribed list (including my own) I do like getting some ideas before the school year starts. My lists change as new books are published and as I get to know my class and their needs. But here are the books I am already considering:

Flying Solo by Ralph Fletcher- I love starting the year with this book. I usually only read it with my homeroom, during the week before we begin switching classes. It’s a great book about a class that has to work together when their school forgets to call a substitute for their teacher. The characters and situations are very realistic and it is a great community-building story. We talk about expectations, behavior, routines and procedures, and respect while reading it.

The Underneath by Kathi Appelt (review)- Like FLYING SOLO, this book is also a definite. I will read this aloud, though I might wait until later in the year. It’s a gorgeous story, but I think I have to get my students to love reading before I can get them to understand THE UNDERNEATH. This is a non-negotiable, though. I will be reading it aloud!

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1) by Rick Riordan- I love ending the year with this action-packed tale. My students are learning about Ancient Greece in Social Studies at the same time, so we are able to do a lot of cross-curricular activities. Plus, most of them end up running out and buying the next books in the series, so it is a great way to start off summer reading.

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (review)- I love this book. And the edge-of-your-seat events really pull kids into the story. I am not sure if this makes a better read-aloud or literature circle book. But I will definitely use it in some way. And it is a survival novel, which I love to use as our first theme.  Hmmm.

Leepike Ridge by N.D. Wilson (review) or Peak by Roland Smith (review) – I like to start the year with a survival or environmental themed book. LEEPIKE RIDGE is a great adventure/survival story. As is PEAK. I love them both, for different reasons. But I can’t decide which one to use!

The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry (review)- I am considering doing an author study of Lois Lowry this year in Reading Workshop. THE GIVER is one of our district reading requirements (and one of my favorites) and I would love to begin with THE WILLOUGHBYS, discuss NUMBER THE STARS (which is read in 4th grade) and other Lowry works, and then go into THE GIVER. Does anyone have any suggestions?

The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt (review)- Another favorite. This is a great character book, and it appeals to middle schoolers because it does such a great job describing middle school life. I really want to share this with the entire class.

Drums, Girls, And Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick (review)- Most likely a non-negotiable. We read this aloud while preparing our Hope Chests for the Center for Children with Cancer and Blood Disorders. It’s too perfect not to share as class, especially during that time.

Wow, that’s a lot of books!  Especially when I know that even more books will be added to the list when I begin reading the Fall publications.  Eep!  But I love the looks of this list so far, so it is going to be a great year!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,851 other followers