Friday, September 14, 2012

Workshops and rainy nights

Thursday afternoon I rushed around my classroom, planning for a substitute. If there is anything I hate more, I cannot think of it. Trust me, I would so much rather be in my classroom! 

I will say; however, that this day and a half in workshops was well worth it. I feel lucky to be a part of the Arkansas Benchmark Review Committee. The entire process of creating, field testing, and then launching an exam of such importance seems so daunting, but to be a part of it for a year now has very eye-opening. 

I knew I wouldn't make it back up to the school this afternoon, so I stopped back by Thursday after our first round of meetings to plan for Friday's sub and took a quick snap shot of some of the books we've read in class that I knew I needed to share here. We have had a very successful week in reading and writing workshop, and every week I am more proud of my kiddos. I know that I have mentioned how much I love these few weeks in writing workshop as we begin really looking at the craft of writing. We really focused our "writer's eyes" to see what we might glean from so many amazing authors.

As I wondered around my room planning Thursday afternoon, I realized just how much this very spot is one of my favorite places to be. Sitting here with the kiddos right next to me, I know that I couldn't imagine doing anything else!


My little goody basket right next to my chair. This is where I keep the mentor texts that I will be using in the very near future. Lots of great books for looking at themes in reading throughout the year are packed in the bottom of my anchor cart.

Our morning message Friday morning 

This is what I asked kiddos to turn around and take in. We have accomplished a lot in a small amount of time! We still have even more great reading and writing ahead of us next week! After spending a week focused on how to add sensory detail to our own writing, we will be focusing on figurative language, and I just can't say enough how much I love teaching this part of writing.  
One of the advantages of being out during the school days is being able to sneak away and have lunch with my favorite guy! Josh and I managed to make it to our favorite restaurant before I headed back to get more work done! 

Now to share some of those great stories packed full of all that sensory detail our heads have been swirling in all week!

Come on, Rain! by Karen Hesse is story easily connected to just full of sensory detail and figurative language. Most of Arkansas can make strong connections with this story last July. Just not sure we would have said it as beautifully as Karen Hesse. We will definitely be looking at this one again. 
My Brother Dan's Delicious by Stephen Layne is a fun one for the senses of taste and smell. Delectable, delicious, a mouthwatering flavor factory is how Joey tries to convince his imagined monsters that his brother would make a much more satisfying meal than him. Excellent word choice and the theme jumps out at you! Can't beat that in a mentor text!


My Father's Hands by Joanne Ryder is moving little story of a girl and her father as they work in the garden. The sensory detail expressed as she shares her feelings of safety and comfort with her father are so sweet. The Perfect Bear by Gillean Shields is much like The Velveteen Rabbit. There is something very moving in the rich illustrations, and as we see the "No Touch" bear transform into just "bear," we are moved by his transformation. The figurative language and sensory detail help show us, and the theme is usually pretty easy for the children to grasp.

Here is another perfect look at theme. I love Big Al by Andrew Clements. I am all around a huge Andrew Clements fan anyway! Big Al wants so badly to have friends and be accepted! Don't we all! This is also a perfect example of how many times a book may have more than one overall theme. Could we say that acceptance would be the most fitting, or would it be that Big Al persevered until he did exactly what it took to reach his dreams? Great story for Responsive Classroom and hopes and dreams with those kiddos that have more social hopes than academic.

This next one is just for fun! Let's Do Nothing! by Tony Fucile...I was hooked as soon as I saw the precious illustrations, but the characters won me over forever! They are too cute, and somedays, I just wish I could have a "do nothing" kind of day! This is always a favorite of my kiddos. Check out the cute little book trailer on YouTube,

Now this last book, well, it just plain ol' cracks me up! I mean you have to giggle because if you can write an entire book (very successfully mind you) about dung, well then you can write about anything. I tell my kids after they hee-haw and giggle over this one - NO Excuses, you have plenty to write about. hehe All grossness and silliness aside, the word choice in this is absolutely perfect, and I do not care if it is about dung - I LOVE it! Who Flung Dung by Ben Redlich is also packed with amazing opportunities to model expression and fluency.

I am going to wrap up tonight with what seems to be the new normal for my Friday nights. I am wondering this football season if I will ever complete a busy week without trying to stay dry in the stands.


Happy Reading my friends!

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