Sunday, November 30, 2014

So much to be thankful for


Even though our Thanksgiving break is coming to an end...there is still time for us to take a moment to slow down and count our blessings.

In this, I do not even know where to begin as I am so truly blessed. I have a happy, healthy family...wonderful and true friends...a precious, sweet class...and amazing professional and educational opportunities.

Just before our break I had an opportunity to attend Arkansas Reading Association's Annual Literacy Conference, and I CANNOT wait to share all the fun I had with my kiddos.

Getting to attend is always such a fun learning experience, and I love getting to do it with friends. This year I was able to check out all the fun with my friend, Dawn.

We got there a tad bit early...not nerdy at all! We had a bit of time before our first session, so we hit up the vendors to see what we might find.

One of our first stops was with Miss Meg Dendler... a former school teacher turned author. 



Her books have won many awards, and they are written about her own pets. What a way to show kiddos an easy starting point in their writing... write about what you know! Such a sweet lady... got plenty of copies to share with the kids. :)

My next stop found Mr. Mark Rorie, a local author. His Polk Bayou kids always seem to find a mystery to solve. I had to pick up one of these for my horror fiction lovers...a ghost mystery!


It was time to hit our first sessions... not only do I learn tons from these experiences, it is also cool to see strategies and techniques explained and taught that I already have in place. I saw lots of Donalyn Miller, The Book Whisperer, and Jeff Anderson of Mechanically Inclined referred to in many of those very strategies that I loved so much. You can see my previous discussions of both of these amazing educators: here, here, herehere, and here. Yes...I am a tad on the obsessive side with those two, but in a good way. I promise. :)

Since Dawn teaches cute little firsties and I hang out with wild and crazy fourthies all day, we ended up in separate directions often, but we did get to see this one together. We were both smitten with this author...such a kid at heart! Mr. Jeff Crosby, author and illustrator, was just too fun, and he held us over until the last possible moment. We ended up searching him out later, like stalkers, for autographs, and we fell in love with cute little Wiener Wolf as much as we did him.

I loved that he shared his workspace with us.



The fun did not end there...more sessions and stalking followed. 

Lookie, lookie ...look who I got to meet! That is Mr. Devin Scillian. Yes...Memoirs of a Goldfish...that Devin Scillian. He gave us tons of great advice about letting kiddos find the fun and humor in writing. Hmmm...sounds a lot like something I heard Gordon Korman say just last month. Do you think they are both onto something or what? To see my love for this sweet and funny picture book check it out,  here. Now if I thought I was smitten over Mr. Crosby...well, that was all before Mr. Scillian stood up and read Memoirs of a Goldfish...can you say voice like warm honey? I specifically asked him when he would be narrating his own books; I will be snatching those up in quick order. (Oh my...the more I share, the more crazy I promise I am not THAT crazy...I think.)

Yes! That would be the one and only Mr. Andrew Clements signing books for my kiddos.  Along with Clare Vanderpool and Janet Stevens with Susan Stevens Crummel. Such an honor to meet these amazing authors and illustrators. 


All of this fun brings out the book loving nerd in me, and I am a true believer in how this directly impacts my kiddos. I am ALL ABOUT fostering a love of reading. When my students see my excitement, they can't help but to fall in love, too.

One of my most favorite moments from this year's conference was meeting two lovely educators from The Curly Classroom. I attended their session, Reading in the Deep, and I WAS NOT disappointed! Talk about a direct impact on student learning... light bulbs were going off...why hadn't I been doing this all along? Both presenters were super sweet and generous in the sharing of their successes. I have already  received an email from Suzanne with the work she has been doing with her fourthies. I cannot wait to use it in my classroom. If you get a moment, be sure to stop by their blog for some amazing ideas!

Well,  ladies and gents...with that, I must call it a night. The hubs is fussing that I need to get on over to the couch to watch our Walking Dead. Yes...our Walking Dead LOL...goodness...what's one more obsession?

Happy Reading, friends!

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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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