Monday, August 13, 2012

Alarm clocks and first days back

Looky here, looky here...another stack of discarded books with my name written all over them! I am not sure who has decided to clean out their library by tossing out some totally awesome books, but I think I like it. ;)  Not that I have the space for any more books in my room, but you can never really have too many books, right? I mean just look at that great stack of nonfiction! SCORE!

Thinking about checking out that "junk pile" for more books was part of what got me out of bed this morning. (Yes, I know, time for an intervention, but three days in a row now!)  I can honestly say that waking up to the alarm clock for our first day back was rather difficult. Our first rain in weeks was definitely lulling me back to sleep. I know many bloggers have been back to work with students for a while, but here we have enjoyed our last few days of summer. These first days back are primarily professional development days, or as a friend told me this morning, "Practice getting up to an alarm clock days."  Our staff has been sharing a ton of Responsive Classroom ideas, and I am so excited to have our kids back next week! This will be my first year to work in all the components of Responsive Classroom, and although I am a bit nervous about fitting it all in, I know that in the long run we will have a much more productive year.

I didn't make it on yesterday to share a picture book, so that means today I get to share two favorites. :)

This first book I love just for the fun of it! A Splendid Friend, Indeed by Suzanne Bloom is light on words but full of amazing character, patience, and friendship. Reading it usually draws sweet giggles and laughter and tons of encores when I finish it. I usually have to revisit it throughout the year because my kiddos love it so much. This little book is great for reminding kids that many inferences can be pulled from the illustrations. Because much has to be inferred, the expression and fluency with which you read this story makes all the difference in the world, and trust me, I get all the mileage that I can out of that!

As a parent of three boys, this next one is pretty high up on my favorites list. It also doesn't hurt that I am a huge fan of Will Smith. In this book, Just the Two of Us, he is inspired by the 1981 hit song; however, instead of being a song or book about a couple, he has remade it to be a song about his relationship with his son. This book is beautifully illustrated by Kadir Nelson. 

When I share this story with my students, I will often play the song and flip the pages with the music, and I will share the whole story before we stop and discuss exactly why I might be sharing it with them. This is usually pretty early in my launch of writing workshop when we are sharing why writers write and where they sometimes get their ideas. I share that good writers are often inspired by other writers and that when Will Smith heard this song he must have been inspired by it and the thought of his son. We also touch on text structure and audience here a bit as well. 

One of my favorite parts of this book is that not only is this a story inspired by his son, but it is also dedicated to his parents. I love finding a book with a message or a note from the author. Every year I read his message as well as the story, and every year I find it just as touching as the year before.

Just the Two of Us by Will Smith

After sharing the book, I will often play the video so that students can see the relationship between father and son and how it may have inspired him. This lesson is usually a big hit, and I send students off to write, singing and smiling!

Happy reading!

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