Tuesday, August 28, 2012

29 again ;)

A promise is a promise, and since I promised to do better this week, here I am! Excitedly so even! We have had a very productive two days considering that I am wading through the river of denial as yet another birthday has come and gone. Thankful to have them but wishing I could slow them down sometimes; the closest I have come is convincing each new batch of fourth graders that I am 29. Guess that will have to do. I wonder when they will stop falling for it? 

Still, as birthdays go, I certainly cannot complain. My daughter dropped by class surprising all my kiddos and me. Katie, or Katie Bird as she is called by family, is somewhat of a star in my class as she is center of many of my stories during writing workshop. As soon as she walked in a hush of sighs and "Katie Birds" were whispered across the room. She enjoyed every minute of it, too. :) I was treated to a wonderful steak dinner by my team and daughter, and I now have a beautiful new butterfly charm hanging in my room. 

We are chugging right along in our launch of both Reading and Writing Workshop. This group has done an amazing job building up their stamina in the Daily 5. I have pulled in my favorite pieces of Guiding Readers and Writers, Daily 5, and The Book Whisperer, along with some super fun ideas I have found on Pinterest, of course. Each year one of my biggest frustrations is watching students abandon book after book. I decided to be much more proactive about it this year and try to meet that head on before it becomes such a road block to the success of some of my kiddos. I was very impressed with Donalyn Miller's, aka The Book Whisperer, approach to establishing a community that practically feeds on the love of reading. Early in the launch of this Reading Workshop I have already given many book talks, going on and on about how funny or scary or thrilling each is! I end each talk with students lining up asking if they can read the book. Before I let students in my library, I conferred with each student getting to know their strengths, weaknesses, and preferences in reading. Kiddos walked away with stacks of books to make a selection from. During "Read to Self" students sit around comfortably in Nooks reading books of their choice and interests, but my favorite part is watching most of my students walk in first thing in the morning, pull out their book, and start reading. This morning one sweetie shared, smiling ear-to-ear, "Mrs. Dunn, I took my book home last night and finished it. It was the best book ever!" ahhh Music to my ears! Ms. Miller wrote that students in her room read every moment possible, and I am ecstatic to see just that in my room! Nothing makes me smile more. Sometimes, I stop whatever it is I am doing, just to look around the room and soak it up. 

Some of our productive week! 

As students complete a book, they fill out a small ticket and drop it in our Book Worm. Just before I send off each month's book order, I will draw three names from each class for a FREE book! Have to keep them reading!

This is our new interactive bulletin board. I first found it on Mrs. Newingham's Third Grade website. I have noticed many teachers using it and sharing on Pinterest. This is a work in progress (just hung it up today,) and I cannot wait for this group of kiddos to start making recommendations for each other. We have spent lots of time turning and talking about our reading, and I have watched a number of students excited to try their next book on the recommendation of their friends.

Today I read Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind by Judy Finchler. Makes me smile when kiddos exclaim she is just like me! Like Miss Malarkey, I try my best to find the perfect book for all kiddos. I wish I could say that it is always easy, but I give it my best. :)

Welcome readers and writers is how I often greet my kiddos each morning. It tickles me that when I chime and ask students to mark their places in their books, a collective groan sweeps the room, but it is so quickly replaced with "Yays" as I ask them to join me on the carpet for a quick writing lesson. They really are little readers and writers, and I truly hope they continue growing a love for it.


Each day as we work in our notebooks, we will continue to add a variety of entries and meaningful topics.


Still focusing on how each of us has a story to share, we are moving forward in our launch. My Very Own Room by Amada Irma Perez has a wonderful note from the author. After reading and discussing why she may have written her story, I share her note. Family is very important, and it is easy to see how many of our own stories can be pulled from family. I cannot say enough how precious Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox is! (So if I say Mem Fox is one of my faves will that make me sound like I say that about them all?)  Such a sweet little story about how small trinkets and objects can inspire memories and stories; even more important how special friends of all ages and sizes can be, and what a wonderful stories for us to share!

We started my all time favorite read aloud this week as well! It does not get any better than listening to a little wit and wisdom from Grandma Dowdel! A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck is a book that I read early each year because without a doubt, we will refer back to it all year long! Grandma is such an amazing showcase of character traits, and the story is littered with figurative language! I usually have students won over with the first chapter, and I can also promise you the minute I read the last page, students are clamoring for the next book! Who would want to miss that? 
I was very fortunate to meet Mr. Peck at the Arkansas Reading Conference. "Giddy book nerd" does not even begin to describe what I looked like in line waiting to meet him, but what fun! I would just love to sit down and pick his brain for a while; such amazing talents he shares with his stories and unique characters!

Special day for me! LOVE me some Richard Peck :)

I think I hear my bed calling already...Happy Reading!

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