Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Dinner with Gordon Korman

Hello there my long lost bloggy friends...goodness, I have missed this! I hope this post finds you all well and happy.

I am excited to share my latest author adventure with you. To say that my kiddos were stoked that I would be meeting Mr. Gordon Korman would be an understatement. I mean THE Gordon Korman...Schooled and Ungifted, Gordon Korman! Swindle, Gordon Korman!

If you cannot already tell, I was super stoked myself! 

April, my student teacher, and I attended Harding's Young Adult Author Series. You may remember me talking about this series before,  here
Mr. Korman was a great speaker, and I had not realized just how long he has been writing.


Over the years, one of the ways I have tried to impart a true love of reading is to meet and introduce as many authors as possible to my kiddos. Showing them that these incredible writers are people just like you and me, well, that just opens a lot of little eyes, usually followed by ohhs and ahhs. Students begin to realize that many of these authors began forming the reading and writing habits that would mold them to become the writers they are as early as fourth grade. In Mr. Korman's case, it was a seventh grade writing project that would later become his first published book. The kids loved hearing that story. 

One of my biggest dilemas when meeting a new author is deciding which of my favorite books to bring to have autographed. I always ask authors to sign their books, "To Mrs. Dunn's Readers and Writers."


Of course I had to get Schooled signed...I just had to decide if I would get a new copy signed or bring in my own dog-eared and well loved copy. In the end, I went with a new copy. Schooled is one of my laugh-out-loud favorites, and I could not wait to bring back a copy to do a book talk with for the kiddos.


What struck me most while listening to Gordon Korman was how much humor plays a key role in reading and writing. 

Some of my favorite quotes from the night: 
     * "humor is in the best places"
     * when asked about writing he said, "lighten up"

And my favorite...
     * "laughter is a signpost for what is good in our lives"

As we listened to Mr. Korman speak, I couldn't help but to think of a number of boys that would fall in love with some of his books, and I couldn't wait to get back to make quite a few recommendations!

Now....I have a sweet little picture to share with you.

I fell in love with this beauty after our last book fair. Oh my....cuteness overload, I tell you! Extraordinary Jane by Hannah E. Harrison is beyond precious. Little Jane is a little dog that finds that she is quite ordinary when compared to her extraordinary family....but in the end, she finds that might be just enough!

I would have bought this book for the illustrations alone, nevermind the fact that there are endless things I can teach with this.... character traits....themes in literature....believing in yourself! Love, love, love this book! I cannot wait to find more beauties from Hannah E. Harrison.

That's all I have for now....I am off to plan my agend for tomorrow's reading conference! Whoop whoop!

Happy Reading, friends!

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Nothing Ever Happens at Southside

Hello, hello my sweet friends. I have hijacked my hubbies hot spot to finally get on and get another post out there.

Our internet is still spotty at best, and posting from my phone is pretty challenging...I gave it a shot...I bravely typed away for a bit, then went back to read what my clumsy thumbs left behind. Oh my....

So here I am playing a little bit of catch up to share the some of the awesome happenings in our classroom.

As many of you know, launching writing workshop is one of my most favorite parts of the year. I love to immerse the kiddos in as many great little picture books as I can! Many of them are my go-to favorites, but every year I try to add new ones to our collection.

I started last week with Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street by Roni Schotter. This seems to be a go-to for most teachers, and no wonder as it is jam packed with amazing language and great advice to new writers. It is a bit on the wordy side, so this year I broke up the lesson over two days. After reading the first half of the book, we took a tour of Southside to see if..."Nothing Ever Happens at Southside."


As we walked around the school, kiddos wrote down everything they saw or heard.


After day two, we came in and started writing our own stories.


We then shared our stories. The kiddos got a kick out of seeing all the different ways to write about the same ideas.

Our morning meetings have been a blast! These kiddos have been in a Responsive Classroom building for quite a few years now, so every morning comes easy to them. We have greeted each other in many ways already this year, but our Snowball Fight is by far their favorite greeting. We each wrote our name on a piece of paper and wadded it up to become our snowball. When I called go, snowballs went flying amid gales of laughter. When I called stop, kiddos picked up the closest snowball and greeted the owner of the snowball. 

I know this post is short and sweet, but I want to get a bit out while I can. Hopefully more posts will follow this week!

Happy Reading, friends!

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Falling into the groove

Oh my...I have been fighting a bitter battle with my internet provider to get this post published...and as the battle continues this evening, I have retreated to my phone. Our service has not been the same since our latest tornado,  but in the rare moments that frustration sets in, I remind myself how blessed we were when others lost so much. Please bear with me here and there as some posts may take longer to publish than others.

We have had a very successful second week of school.  Routines and expectations are becoming familiar and comfortable. We have been crazy, busy...but all that productive busy~ness is falling into a comfortable groove for the kiddos.

Honestly, I am not even sure where to begin with our week...I guess I will start with how the kiddos are loving book nooks. :) The always fall in love with the novelty of sitting where you want to read what you want. It takes a bit of structured practice to get them doing it productively. Well...maybe not just a bit, more like A LOT! But we practice and practice and practice some more until finally we can sit just about anywhere and actively read and respond to our reading. It may not look pretty at first, but we get there eventually.


In writing workshop, we have remained focused on where writers get their ideas, and we have used our writer's notebook to capture all those amazing ideas. 

We created our "Writer's Eye."  I shared my own example of my "Writer's Eye" (I) as explained by Jeff Anderson in Mechanically Inclined. (I have also seen it on Julie Ballew's amazing website A Literate Life.) This will be one more resource for the kiddos to use as they begin working towards completing their narratives. Using our writer's eye to look closely at ourselves is a perfect way to gather the ideas that just may lead to the perfect story.

Those of you that follow me and know me well just  happen to know that this is the week that I celebrate turning 29 again. ;) It's only the 14th anniversary of being 29, but who's counting? 

My sweet hubbie made a surprise visit to drop off a delicious treat for the big day. That wasn't disruptive at all. ;) Hehe...ahhhh well....the kiddos all got a kick out of seeing him, and my team and I sure enjoyed the yummies for lunch.

Sweet surprise! 
And sweet card made by one of my it!

In all of our hard work, we even made some time for fun outside. It was difficult to find a moment that wasn't too terribly hot for the kiddos. It seems like we spent much of the week inside, so stretching our legs outside was a treat. I must say that I did get a bit of a kick watching some of my girls give my boys a schooling on how to play some football! So funny!


Just hanging out with friends!
I love this says so much about this sweet group!

My amazing team took me out on the town to celebrate that anniversary of some certain birthday that I might have mentioned... they totally outdid themselves and I have some wonderful (and quite hysterical) memories! Thanks for the fun times, sweet friends!

I want to close by showing off how hard the kiddos are working on making good book recommendations. I have quite a few of my own I would love to share, but since it has now taken me three days to battle my way through poor internet connections to bring you this riviting post, I shall wait for another time. ;)

Just know that your kiddos are working hard and reading much for me! But don't let them fool you...they MUST read at home as well!

Be on the look out for kiddo book recommendations on this very blog in the very near future!

Thanks again for your patience, and most of all....thank you for sharing your most prized possession with me every day! I know how much you love them!

Happy Reading, friends!

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