Monday, March 25, 2013

What makes us different...

Well, looky here, looky here, folks! Southside is the proud new owner of one Cabot Spring Fling 5K Staff Team Champions trophy! Now if that's not a mouth full, I don't know what is!

So proud of our staff and kiddos! Whoo hoo!

We had a very busy day today! First days back always much to catch up on. Our morning meetings always run over on first days back. We greeted each other with "What's the News?" Whoo...did my kiddos have tons to share! We sure missed each other! Katie Byrd left our morning message for us. Looks like we had lots of reading over our was too cold to do much else. ;)

I know it is quite unusual these days for me to post two days in a row, but I have to keep it fresh, right? LOL..

Really, I just want to share a fun writing activity we did today.

If you teach upper elementary and you do not have Barry Lane's Hooked on Meaning, run out and get it now! This is one of my favorite resources for teaching writing. I could not live without it in my classroom. We watched a short video in which Mr. Lane pretty much demonstrates his true feelings regarding state mandated writing prompts and tests. Although I could not agree more, there is not much to be done about it but to do your very best!

After watching the clip, we sat down and brainstormed all of the things we can do that might make us different from so many other students taking the same test.


Sorry the first one is a bit on the fuzzy side, and they are both horrendously messy....but goodness was I writing as fast as I could to get down all of their ideas about their own writing.

We continued discussing all of the things that make them the strong writers I know they can be....then we had a little fun. We illustrated those poor test graders that had to read all of those boring papers...paper after paper after paper. We didn't know who to feel sorrier for: us for having to respond to a "prompt" or them for  having to grade everyone else's boring paper...(because ours would NEVER be boring ;)

Here are a few of their ideas...

~after...."I wish more papers were like this!"

~after....."I just adore this figurative language..."

~after...."Finally, A+"

~after..."Happiness is reading this wonderful paper!"

Some of their before graders (before reading one of our papers) and the after graders (after reading one of our masterpieces) totally cracked me up.

Tomorrow we continue putting it all together as we work on jazzing up those amazingly boring prompts! We've got this covered!!!

I have just one picture book for you tonight. This is one of my new titles from spring break, and much like my new Sarah Stewart book, I was so happy to find this one.

Searching for Oliver K. Woodman is written by Arkansas writer Darcy Pattison. I was very excited to see Darcy speak during a professional development workshop a couple of summers back, but I was so disappointed when the books she brought sold out before I could get my hands on one. Well....I finally have my copy of this great little travel many fun Social Studies lessons to be had in this one as we help Imogene search for her friend, Oliver K. Woodman. I am sure that I will be sharing this one with Mrs. Whitt. 

All right friends....with that I must say goodnight!

Happy reading!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Spring Fling and Discovery

Well, ladies and gents...I have another long post for you today, so I must beg your indulgence. It has only been three days since my last post, but goodness has it been a super busy three days! (I feel like I am in confessional.) fun begins with an afternoon outing with my fourth grade girlies to Garden Ridge. Now I've heard all the hoopla about the wonders of Garden Ridge, but no one, and I mean NO ONE, ever told me that I might find piles and piles of books ~INEXPENSIVE books ~ there! Just look at all those amazing piles of heaven! hehe Needless to say, I did not move from this spot, and I left my patient friends to their own devices. Check out all the great titles I snagged!  Keep reading to hear about some of my favorite new picture books...

Finally my girls pulled me away, and we headed out to enjoy a wonderfully filling lunch where Mrs. Whitt gave me a gift she picked up for me. I can't wait to wear my new lanyard! She said as soon as she saw it, she thought of me ~ sweet! We all had a quick giggle when I showed her my phone's screensaver...

My latest screen saver..LOL
My new lanyard :)
Such a fun day! 

I just thought that Friday was a busy didn't even compare to all that I ended up doing Saturday...

I think instead of writing it all out ~ I will share it my favorite pics!

Katie Byrd and I (she's not pictured) started our day with a 5K
The Cabot Spring Fling!

I was so glad to see some of my kiddos there! 

Ms. Shewmaker rocked it and came
in as the fastest teacher walker!

Katie and I might have made better time if we
didn't stop to snap pics....haha....
such a beautiful daughter I have :)

After the race, Katie and I had breakfast with some great friends before stopping by the school to get ready for an awesome week of learning. I dread the day that she doesn't enjoy coming to help me in my classroom. I think my kiddos love it each year as much as I do.

Later, we stopped by to see Josh at one of his off-duty gigs at the River Market, and on a whim Katie and I ended up at the Museum of Discovery. Josh ended up getting off a bit early and even joined in on the fun!


I love the look on her face! 

After all the fun at the Museum of Discovery...
we enjoyed dinner at Olive Garden.

One of our silly family traditions while we are in NLR
 is to stop by Books-a-Million after we eat dinner.
No telling what these two are giggling about, but again I
just love the look on her face! So happy and cute!

The only way this day could have been more perfect would have been if my boys could have been with us, but with three boys and one girl, Katie Byrd is about the only one I can get to hang out with her old mom. We were lucky to sneak in some quality time with Josh in between his off-duty jobs (hence the uniform.) to share some of my new treasures! I can't wait to see my kiddos tomorrow because I have missed them so, but I cannot wait to see their little faces when I show them our new books! 


I found a new (well, new for my library :) book from the team of Sarah Stewart and David Small. I think I might have let out a small YEP! when I put my hands on it. LOL....I first fell in love with this husband and wife duo when I read what is now my all time favorite picture book, The Friend. You can read more about it in this previous post. The Journey did NOT disappoint! It reminded me so much of their book, The Gardener. In The Journey Hannah tells the story through diary entries while in The Gardener sweet little Lydia Grace tells her story through her letters home. Both stories are so moving, and I love the compare/contrast of the letters and images! There is something so intuitive in the illustrations of David Small. He carries the story so much further!


The Monster Diaries by Luciano Saracino was so stinking cute; I just couldn't NOT get it! I love the format of this fun and quirky little story. The illustrations of Poly Bernatene have a way of making this wild group of monsters easy to relate to. Now as you read, be sure to pay careful to each diary entry...lots to infer here!

OK...I can tell that this post is forever-long, but just a couple more. I promise.

This next precious little picture book is also illustrated by Poly Bernatene. I fell in love with these illustrations as much as I did The Monster Diaries. The Tickle Tree by Chae Strathie is so whimsical and hopeful at the same time. In the beginning of the year, as we establish our writing workshop and our notebooking, we discuss that one of the things we can write about are those wild and unanswerable questions that we all have. This fanciful little fantasy is an amazing example of this! I cannot wait to use it in the launch of our notebooking next year and as a great reminder here in the thick and hard haul of the year. What a perfect pause to all the writing prompts and texting practice! I will for sure be keeping my eye out for this illustrator...Mr. Bernatene has grabbed my attention, and I look forward to finding more of his great work.

OK....last one for the night....

This Humpty-Dumpty~ish little story is so fun and silly. "The egg was young. It didn't listen. If only..." I can't wait to giggle with my kiddos over this one, and even more I cannot wait to see their little faces when we hit the end. "If only...." We have a great study of theme in this happy with what you have, maybe...patience maybe....

Thanks for indulging me. 

Happy Reading! last little thing to share...and only because I have listened to it about a half dozen times as I have written. I don't know how many American Idol fans read this, but this season Kree is my favorite. :)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring Break

Holy moly...time sure does fly when you're having fun!  I can't believe that we are half-way through our spring break.

I must say that I have been decisively lazy this spring break...spending days surrounded by books and the comfort of few obligations to weigh upon me.

I do miss my kiddos though. We ended our last days together in parent/teacher conferences. I could not have asked for an easier week of conferences with this precious group of kids. This is truly a sweet little class; again time sure does fly, and sadly the year will be over before we all know it.

I have to say that one of my favorite things to hear during conferences is something that I can never hear enough..."This year my child has fallen in love with reading!" I could not think of a better gift to give these kiddos than a true love of reading!

Even more fun was sharing my own love of reading with some of my parents! More than a few have begun reading one of my all time favorite series.

Not only do I get to ohh and ahh over books with my kiddos, but now I get to do it with my parents, too! So fun! We pretty much have our own little book club, growing by the day! LOVE IT!

I just have to share our latest read aloud. We were so sad to finish Dark Life by Kat Falls, and I could not think of a book that would be strong enough to take its place.

The One and Only Ivan, the 2013 Newberry Winner, has boldly stepped up to try. You must know by now that I have a weakness for an author's note, and Katherine Applegate did not fail in capturing my heart with hers. You must check out her amazing website where she shares the special and one and only Ivan with us all. 

The TRUE...One and Only Ivan

There is something so tragically beautiful in Applegate's story of Ivan. So often as I read it, I have to stop and reread a small passage or line just so that the kiddos and I can marinate in the magic of her words.  I cannot wait to see how it all unfolds! I will be sure to keep you posted, but if you Google "The One and Only Ivan" or "National Geographic Urban Gorilla" you may just join us on this journey!

As I sit at home this spring break, I cannot even think about the last picture book I have shared with my kiddos....I've slept since then...or I'm getting to old to remember....or a bit of both!

After I stop by the school for some major planning, I will be sure to update you with a plethora of wonderfully imaginative until then, happy reading!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Commitment and One Love

The sound of rain outside and the savory smell of beef stew in the crock pot has made for one happy, happy girl this morning. I am blessed to have a relaxing moment to blog and reflect on our week. We had a busy but somewhat normal week. The normalcy of calm and structure helped us accomplish much.

My kiddos are loving these stories...

We are still enjoying The Lightning Thief, more and more each day actually. This has prompted me to buy many more titles in the series as students are clamoring for more! If I have a kiddo asking for a title, I make it my goal to have one ready to put in his hands. (Hence the hoarding tendencies :) 

This time of the year tends to be a bit on the crazy side as we have all become comfortable with each other and sometimes bad habits tend to take root. Last week we took a few minutes during our morning meetings to reestablish some of our commitments to each other and discuss what we might add to this list.

Our Commitments



Above are a few of our morning messages for the week. I love our messages for a number of reasons. I love getting to connect with the kids on a personal level, all the while slipping in academics here and there. We have focused much on kinds of sentences, prepositional phrases, parts of speech, figurative language and misc. punctuation issues.

Friday's message in particular cracks me up because although I did not require students to respond, after finding that I did not feel well, most kiddos left me a little note of get well....such a precious, sweet class I have!  Their kind thoughts seemed to have work; I am happy to say that I am feeling much better at the moment and have fingers crossed that tomorrow morning will having me feeling more myself.


I have much to accomplish this afternoon once I pull myself from my blog hopping! I am still working on some final edits on more than a few research papers, along with responding to many letters in reader's notebooks. As much time as it takes, these letters are one of my favorite things. I love seeing how my kiddos think as they read! So cute some of their think!

Now of course on to some sweet picture books...

I want to start with one that I just had to read last week after the tension of not only a math and reading district wide assessment, but the following frustration of a writing assessment. Not only are my kiddos frustrated with testing, but their poor teacher is missing teaching them! For this alone, I had to share with my kiddos Hooray For Diffendoofer Day! by Dr. Seuss, with the help of Jack Prelutsky and Lane Smith. I hope to one day be as free and confident in all that I teach so that all  might call me Miss Bonkers.... LOL!

I do believe that it was just last week that I mentioned how Dr. Seuss was never one to stray from making a moral stand for what he believed in ~ and oh how I love his writing for it!    How appropriate then to share one of my other Seuss favorites... Yertle the Turtle. Everyone gets their comeuppance in the end, and Yertle is no different! A plain little turtle named Mack gave Yertle the Turtle, king of them all, a lesson he would not soon forget. Seuss pulls you so easily into the themes of his stories...Yertle learns, as we all should, to be happy with what you have.

The Recess Queen by Alexis O'Neill and Laura Huliska-Beith is a soft look at bullying, a conversation-starting look at bullying. Mean Jean herself is the recess queen and no one moves without say so from her. This rhyming frolic through the playground opens our eyes to what just might make a bully. A light-hearted look yes ~ but a definite conversation starter!

One last picture book for the night... this one is a sweet addition to our library from the last book fair. I picked this one up for a number of reasons. First, I love Marley's song One Love, but you know what a pushover I am for a good note from the author. Cedella Marley goes on to explain what influenced her to create a picture book, One Love, inspired by her father's song of the same name. We really enjoyed this cute little story, and we loved even more listening to the inspiration behind it later, such a fun little brain break for us. 

One last thought before I tackle my stacks and stacks and stacks of paper LOL....I want to shout out to Deb at Primary in Idaho for sharing our blog with her followers. She had many nice things to say about our own little corner of the blogging world, so be sure to stop by and check hers out. :)

Happy Reading!

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