Saturday, January 26, 2013

Hello to all on this snowy morning in Ohio.  It must have snowed bunches last night, because the snow seems really deep this morning.  We were up and out in it, early.  My son had basketball practice.  Last night was late, because my older son was flying home from his Navy duty.  They kept finding things wrong with the plane that he was suppose to be on.  They finally cancelled the flight and he took a later one.  Originally, he was to arrive at 5:07.  It was after 11:00 when he landed.  Of course we needed to catch up, so it was 1:30 or so before we all went to bed.

The weekend is here and I am thankful.  I always find I have huge expectations to get multiple items checked off of my to do list.  There are the household chores, laundry, cooking, school work, errands, children needs, etc.  Well the three biggies for me this weekend are:

                                             ***finish my WIP for the 12 X 12 challenge
                                             ***finish my entry for the Highlights Fiction Contest
                                             ***finish the historical fiction book The Widow of the South

I already have a lot of the work completed on these projects and I am looking forward to working.  I don't know that working is the right word.  It doesn't feel like working, because I really enjoy reading and writing.  A snowy day is the perfect time to curl up with a good book and write some words down on paper.  All of these projects are due on January 31st.  I have a few days next week too, but I know once the work week begins, I will not have time to work on MY writing and reading.  So, it is this weekend or bust!

Enjoy your weekend!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2013

                              It is Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy!


Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down
Title:  Sit-In
           How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down
Author:  Andrea Davis Pinkney
Illustrator:  Brian Pinkney
Reading Level:  Grade 1 and up

GoodReads Description:

It was February 1, 1960.
They didn't need menus. Their order was simple.

A doughnut and coffee, with cream on the side.

This picture book is a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the momentous Woolworth's lunch counter sit-in, when four college students staged a peaceful protest that became a defining moment in the struggle for racial equality and the growing civil rights movement. 

Andrea Davis Pinkney uses poetic, powerful prose to tell the story of these four young men, who followed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s words of peaceful protest and dared to sit at the "whites only" Woolworth's lunch counter. Brian Pinkney embraces a new artistic style, creating expressive paintings filled with emotion that mirror the hope, strength, and determination that fueled the dreams of not only these four young men, but also countless others.(less)

My Thoughts - This award winning husband and wife team have written and illustrated a wonderful book informing us about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s message about peaceful protest.  This true event is written in poetic style and the illustrations are unique and beautiful.  The author includes a Civil Rights Timeline, a picture and write up about the event, and a reference page.  Teachers can use this in their classroom during the study of Martin Luther King Jr., Civil Rights Movement, and Black History Month.

                                         Child of the Civil Rights Movement
Title: Child of the Civil Rights Movement 
Author:  Paula Young Shelton
Illustrator:  Raul Colon'
Reading Level: Grade Pre-K through 4

GoodReads Description:

In this Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book of the Year, Paula Young Shelton, daughter of Civil Rights activist Andrew Young, brings a child’s unique perspective to an important chapter in America’s history. Paula grew up in the deep south, in a world where whites had and blacks did not. With an activist father and a community of leaders surrounding her, including Uncle Martin (Martin Luther King), Paula watched and listened to the struggles, eventually joining with her family—and thousands of others—in the historic march from Selma to Montgomery.

Poignant, moving, and hopeful, this is an intimate look at the birth of the Civil Rights Movement

My Thoughts - This book informs the reader about the Civil Rights Movement  through short poetic stories.  Large descriptive illustrations highlight the message of the stories.  The author includes information about the people in the book and a bibliography.  Teachers can use this in their classroom while studying Martin Luther King Jr., the Civil Rights Movement, and Black History Month.

I loved both of these nonfiction books and will use both of them in my classroom next week.



Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New Follower, Common Core and Differentiating Out the Door!

Oh my goodness, I am soooooo excited!  I have a follower.  Thank you Jennifer.  I have been checking day after day and finally, I opened up my blog and literally, caught my breath, as I saw a smiling face.  I really need to be more diligent in trying to gain followers.  Now that I have a follower, I will need to be more diligent in posting too.  Followers are motivators.

Did I catch your attention with my title?  Today, I went to a workshop to work on writing our curriculum maps with the Common Core Standards. Prior to our work time, our instructor showed us a video and gave us handouts on using Close Text for our lessons.  These texts can be articles, reading textbooks, novels, etc.    The text will be read by the students several times and a purpose is set for each read through.  The students will make notations in the margins and highlight words.These texts should be at grade level and used during whole group instruction.  All students, -  gifted, at grade level, and special education students will participate in these grade level lessons.  What?  Where is the differentiated instruction that we have had many workshops on and have been told to do?  What about the research showing that reading improves when students read texts that are not too easy or too hard?  For me, differentiated instruction will come during Daily Five and small group time.  They should still self-select books within their reading range and those students that need extended, or a variety of lessons on content, will receive that in small group.  Special education students will work on their IEP goals with the Intervention Specialist during small group time.  I will be trying this Close Text lesson next week using Martin Luther King materials.  I'll give you more details about the procedure and how it works late next week.  Grades are due tomorrow.  It's going to be a late night!

Kind Regards,

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Hello 2013!


Happy New Year!  It is hard to believe another year has passed.  I feel good about the accomplishments I have made in my reading, writing, and teaching.  I haven't made any New Year's resolutions for several years now.  They seem to always get broken or not even started.  But this year I do want to acknowledge the work that I hope to do.  So, I am making goals in reading, writing, and teaching.  I know that I will not be perfect in reaching these goals, but I will do my best.  I read Anne Lamott's book Bird by Bird a few months ago.  I love the story she tells about her brother procrastinating in completing his report on birds.  The night before it was due he was very upset with the daunting task at hand.  Their father said, "Bird by bird, buddy.  Just take it bird by bird."  I have used this line in my head many times as I try to teach, write, read, be mom and the head of the household.  Bird by Bird is a great book for writers.  If you haven't discovered Anne's books yet, run to your nearest library, bookstore, or

I tried to think of a one word goal for each area.  Here it goes.....


The school year has been very stressful so far.  As I have been reading blogs, it seems that many teachers are feeling overwhelmed.   We are trying to learn as much as possible about the Common Core Standards and re-writing our curriculum maps.  We are planning, teaching and implementing these new standards  We are testing our students and gathering data.  Here in Ohio we are preparing for the Third Grade Guarantee by writing RIMP plans for our students who are not at grade level.  We have been having many meetings and we are preparing for the new teacher evaluation.    The list goes on.  I have been weary.  So my goal is to REFRESH.  We have been on winter break and I am hoping with this break, I can give new strength and energy to my students.  I will be posting activities tied to the Common Core Standards.


I talk to my students all the time about being voracious readers.  I certainly want to set a good example and I love to read.  I have two challenges that I am participating in.  The first one is the Historical Fiction Challenge.  I will be reading as many books in that genre as possible.  This is just for me.  Most of the books will be for adults.  I plan to post a synopsis about each book I read.  I have also linked up with Kid Lit Frenzy and am participating in the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge.  My goal is to read at least one nonfiction picture book each week and post a blog about the book.  I also want to suggest some activities that can go with the text so that it can be used as a Mentor Text.


I am really excited to be writing.  I will be writing everyday in one form or another.  The following are writing activities that I will be working on.

Currently enrolled in the on-line class - Writing Wonderful Character Driven Picture Books
27 days Life Changing Journaling Challenge
Writing a kindness book project
12x12 by Julie Hedlund
Teacher's Write Camp by Kate Messner
Enter a couple of writing contests
Go on a writer's retreat and/or a writer's conference
 I also want to join my local SCBWI and find an in-person critique group.  

What are your goals for 2013?

"Bird by Bird"