#classroombookaday UPDATE: Week of October 1, 2018

Remember when I shared the smart story about Jonah’s thinking and how we flip-flopped the display wall?  It’s been great to see how kids have differently interacted with it throughout this past week since the change.  I even had a kiddo put up book covers! Something else exciting happened this week, too. Can you see what it is?

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You do?  YES!!  We made it to 100 books this week!  Well, officially we’ve read 105, but it was a great feeling to watch those 5 rows get put up and know that we’re well on our way to filling it up and sharing SO MANY GREAT BOOKS with this year’s group of amazing first graders!

Here’s what we read this week:

So many good ones–about so many topics! Can you tell what we’re learning about right now?  What titles do you suggest we read this next week? 🙂

What a Great-ISH Day We Had!

We are big fans of Peter H. Reynolds. 🙂  We celebrated Dot Day a couple of weeks ago including singing the Dot Song by Emily Arrow, and we loved every minute of it!  Today we had another great-ISH day as we read Ish and were then inspired to great some ISH art of our own!

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This story is about a kid named Ramon, who LOVES to draw!  He draws anything, everything, all the time and everywhere–including the bathroom.  Until…his brother laughs at something he draws and Ramon decides he. Is. Done.  Done painting.  Done with trying and done with taking risks with his art.  But then, Ramon’s sister, Marisol, shows him her wall in her room…covered by all of his paintings!  They are wrinkly and crumbled but she thinks they are BEAUTIFUL! She convinces Ramon that he should keep trying and that making something that looks kind of like the thing you want (so fish-ish, vase-ish, house-ish, etc.) is perfect!  He tries again and decides that he will indeed try again, take some risks and paint his feelings. :).

What a great message, right?  I mean, who wants to feel pressure to be perfect, never making a mistake, ensuring that your work and your performance is always just right??  I sure don’t!  And this book works so well into conversations we are always having about how making mistakes is a GOOD thing and how it’s OK if things aren’t perfect–you can always try again, making it better next time, Or the next time. 🙂

We decided it would be a great thing to create our own ISH paintings, and so kiddos chose something (anything!) and then followed these directions:

1.) Think and plan

2.) Draw with pencil first

3.) Color with watercolors, colored pencils or crayons

4.) Write on a notecard what your creation is, adding ‘ish’ to the end

Rm. 111 created such beautiful paintings! Most decided to paint (watercolors are a much-loved medium in our class!), but a few chose crayons, and a couple even used more than one of them. :). Everyone had to follow the directions that they were not finished until the WHOLE PAPER was filled up, and they traced their pencil lines with Sharpie to make their picture crisp.

This was the first project that I’ve gotten hung out in the hall (but it’s definitely not the first–I’ve got a huge pile I need to get to–and blog about, too!), and it has definitely made our hallway look so much more beautiful-ISH!! Enjoy!

I feel like I should explain that this started as our back-to-school bulletin board and is only half changed.  It used to say Welcome to Our Family! Not sure what that word is now. 🙂

Thanks for reading!! 🙂

 

Principal Read Alouds: 2018-2019

We have a SUPER principal who LOVES reading and has a passion for getting kids into books.  Several years ago she started offering opportunities for classes to sign-up to hear her read, and we jumped at the chance.  We’re still going strong and ready to enjoy year #3!!

Our first PRA of the year was a great one, and I noticed that Mrs. Sisul must have a new focus this year.  After seeing all of her book choices and reading experiences so far, see if you can figure out what it is. 🙂

PRA #1

I’ve Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison

PRA #2

If You’re a Monster and You Know It by Rebecca Emberley and Ed Emberley

As we prepared for the next PRA, I had a sneaky request for my teammates: what if we had ALL OF FIRST GRADE in the room when Mrs. Sisul came in??  We were all game and so when she walked in, she was greeted by almost 100 smiling faces who were SUPER EXCITED to hear a fun story!  What a sweet surprise and a great way to start the day together!

PRA #3

Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Library by Julie Gassman

PRA #4

The Truth About My Unbelievable School by Davide Cali

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Somehow I have NO pictures and no video for this one.  What was I thinking?  I really think I was so involved in the story that I was too distracted to record anything. :). This one is a new author to us, and is part of a series.  We’re excited to hear more that are like this one.  The pictures played a big part in telling the story, and if you didn’t pay close attention to them you missed a lot!

Can’t wait for the next one!  Stay tuned to hear more about it! 🙂

 

#classroombookaday UPDATE: Flipped Upside-Down!

Remember in my last update when I mentioned Jonah’s perspective on our display wall? I finally had some time yesterday to flip it upside-down and it makes me wonder why I didn’t do it long ago!  What a great example of how seeing things through a kid’s eyes can make so much of a difference.  It was an unplanned and unexpected change, but was definitely for the better!  Now we can really watch it fill-up (because I guess before it trickled down the wall??)!

It’s a small change but definitely one that will make a difference! I wasn’t at school today so I didn’t see the kids’ response to it–can’t wait to see what they say tomorrow! 🙂

What do you think?  If you have a #classroombookaday display, I’d love to see it!

#classroombookaday UPDATE: Week of September 24, 2018

This week seemed to be extra busy with reading! We were able to add 17 books to our display, and we’re SO CLOSE to 100!!  Hoping to hit it this upcoming week and share the good news with you on the blog next time.

But for now, here’s what our wall looks like:

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We added lots of different titles:

I think my favorite story from the week actually comes from a first grader, not a book.  It’s a story of perspective, and taught me something about how adults see things differently than 6-7yos.  Let me explain…

On Wednesday, I was excitedly adding a big load of pics to the wall, and telling the students around me about how we were almost at 100.  Jonah, a friend from Rm. 112, commented on how he didn’t realize we had read that many books, and that he didn’t know how many pictures were actually up there.  Incredulously I asked him, “Don’t you ever look at our display?  How have you not seen all those books out there??”  He looked at me very matter-of-factly and said, “Well I do, but I look at the WALL, not the PICTURES!”  At first it seemed a little funny, but then I realized that, yes, indeed, the thing at eye-level for first graders is a big. blank. wall.  I know I should look up there at all those pretty book covers, and kiddos do too–if I tell them to, but yep, most kids who look at our display probably just see a wall.

It really made me start thinking about who that display is for, and how I can make it more kid-friendly.  While there are LOADS of ways that we interact with it on a daily and weekly basis, and I can point out how the space is filling up and how we’re close to 100, there is probably a better way to do it.  Starting with putting the pictures at the BOTTOM of the wall instead of the top.  That’s where kiddos are anyway, right?  It would probably makes more sense to them that the wall is FILLING up anyway, if they could see it reach up to the top and ACTUALLY FILLING up, rather than coming down the wall.

I know it’s a small tweak, and obviously one I hadn’t thought of, but I was SO GLAD we had had that little conversation, because it got me thinking about how many other things I do that maybe I think are kid-centered, kid-led or kid-friendly, but that are instead geared toward me.

So I’m fixing the wall. I’m flipping it all upside-down and we will indeed watch the wall FILL UP as we go through this year.  Can’t wait to share the changes with you next week!!

In the meantime, have you ever had a kiddo tell you something that flipped your thinking upside-down? I’d love to hear about it! 🙂

#classroombookaday UPDATE: Week of September 17, 2018

We’re moving and grooving with books in first grade!  While our wall is not filling up as quickly as last year, it’s still so great to watch the new books appear as our first grade classes read them and they are posted. :). I love to watch the faces and comments as kids walk by (kids from 1st grade and from the rest of the school!) and they make connections with the covers.  Reminds me of the many reasons why this is such a great project!

Here’s our wall as of Friday, September 21–we’re up to 72!!

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This week we added these books:

We had another great week of books–Dr. Seuss (because we’re working on rhyming!), Peter H. Reynolds (because he’s awesome and also because Dot Day was last week!), and many that are just plain fun!

What suggestions do you have for us to read this week? 🙂

 

Can’t Pick Just One

I have always had a hard time labeling my “favorite” of something.  For some reason I have an enormously hard time narrowing things down to 1.  I can’t choose just one amazing ice cream flavor; my favorite concrete has Oreos, Heath bars AND pecans.  How in the world do you choose ONE favorite song from your 40 years of life?  Favorite movie? No way!  There are too many good ones.  And don’t even get me started on my favorite book.  Can’t do that either.

Somehow it seems unfair to me.  Or just too hard to spend my time on it.  Also, every movie, book, song, food, etc. is so different from every other one there’s NO WAY to decide.  Apples and oranges here, people!  (Oh, wait!  There you go.  My favorite fruit is apples.  Organic fuji apples, thank you. 🙂 And they are the ONLY fruit that can be cooked or baked into another food).

So I already mentioned not having a favorite book, and it seems that as a teacher, that’s teh one that I most often get asked to identify.  “Hey, Mrs. Bearden!  Let me take a picture of you and your favorite for this library display!” Mrs. Meihaus so kindly asked me a year or so ago.  Nope. Couldn’t do it. I had to at least include two in my picture.  ‘Cause really ALL THE BOOKS are my favorites.  Because they’re books.  And there are just too many.

But while I cannot nail down ONE definite favorite book, I have always been able to identify a short list of titles, as well as a short list of admired authors.  And not surprisingly, the two lists often have similarities.  I can even remember a time when I mentioned many of them in an old blog post I wrote about reading.  And as I reread it, I did designate a book and an author, but I think I said it was “one of my favorites.”  There.  See, still hard people. 🙂

But here’s the thing.  It wasn’t until recently that I really could nail down what it is about why I am drawn to certain authors and why I read all of their books.  I think at one point I would have said that it was the characters.  For example, Fig Pudding has the most realistic characters ever (maybe because they are based on actual people!), and I love the way I feel when I read about a big, loving family and all of their crazy antics.  That is NOT the family I live in and it’s fun to see how the other side lives.  Walk Two Moons was another great story about a real character, and became even more “real” after I had babies.  The tears that streamed on the second read were much more intense.  And that’s another thing: I seem to be drawn to stories that bring forth strong emotions.   Guess I’m a sucker for a good cry (gotta give Fig Pudding another point in that category!).  For some unknown reason I also seem to LOVE to read books that involve baked goods. 🙂 . You put pie, cupcakes, cookies, a restaurant or a recipe in a story and it’s for me.  And man–the WHOLE series that Giada DeLaurentiis put out where the kids travel  around the world and experience the food and culture–genius (I really enjoyed the one about Paris).

And so it wasn’t until just these last few books I’ve read–with my first graders in our classroom–that I was able to see exactly what it was that make my favorites my favorites….

Because I’ve been eye-deep in the #classroombookaday challenge for the last few years, that has meant that I’ve read many less chapter books with my kiddos than I have in years past.  And also differently than previous years, I gave kids more control in choosing what those chapter books would be.  I did give them a list to choose from, rather than just having them go all willy-nilly, but ultimately they were in charge.

Screenshot 2018-05-09 21.21.31They chose Roscoe Riley Rules #1–Never Glue Your Friends to Chairs as their first book.  I put it in the pile (along with books like Clementine, My Father’s Dragon and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane) because it was a new series to me–one that I had bought for my son (who is a RILEY!) but that he had never read.  I was pretty sure it was good, since I knew the author (which I will say more about later).  We soon grew to love Roscoe and his antics, and especially were drawn to the way he talked right to us.  He tells the whole story from timeout! Not to give anything away…the major idea of the book series is that Roscoe tries to be helpful but then accidentally breaks a rule and goes to timeout, tells you the story and then is out of timeout in the last chapter.  He’s a kid, he goes to school, he has a funny family and he gets in trouble–perfect first grade fodder!

Screenshot 2018-05-09 21.21.58Our second choice–probably because the first one was HILARIOUS–was Roscoe Riley Rule #2–Never Swipe a Bully’s Bear.  We read this one in about two school days because we just couldn’t put it down.  It follows the same routine, which makes it predictable enough for kiddos that haven’t heard lots of chapter books before (makes it easier to hold all the info and characters in their head!), but told about a new rule that Roscoe had broken.  Kids connected with the “bully” theme in this one, as well as the “lovey” that the kid wanted to bring to school.

So fast-forward to our current read aloud, which is NOT a Roscoe Riley book, but is related to it because it’s written by the same amazing author–The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.  I fell in love with this book when it first came out (I was teaching 5th grade at that time) and I have read it to every class I’ve taught since then–in 1st grade, 2nd grade and 5th grade.  And I think I read it to my own kids at home at least 3 times.  Yep, because it’s that good.

And as we’ve been getting further into this book, I’ve been noticing more about what makes all these books I’ve mentioned (and the ones I listed earlier) similar: voice.  They are written in the character’s first-person voice.  They use funny ways to describe things.  The words they say are real, and I can imagine myself actually saying some of them.  The sentences don’t follow all the rules–which I LOVE–because it’s how I write, too.  The characters who tell the stories also have a little bit of a sarcastic streak in them. Which I also have.  And particularly with Ivan, there are strong emotions involved.  Because of the way Applegate tells the story, you want to (you HAVE to, really) care about what happens to the characters.

So…here’s a list of MANY of my favorite books (and their authors are also my favorites), most of which are written with a strong lead voice and probably make me either sob like a baby or laugh out loud hysterically.  Or maybe both. 🙂

1.) Walk Two Moons, Granny Torelli Makes Soup, Pleasing the Ghost and The Unexpected Angel by Sharon Creech

2.) Fig Pudding and Marshfield Dreams by Ralph Fletcher

3.) Crash by Jerry Spinelli

4.) Everything by Joan Bauer.  I’ve read them all. 🙂

5.) Roscoe Riley Rules Series and The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

6.) The Watsons Go to Birmingham and The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis

7.) The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and the Mercy Watson series by Kate Di Camillo

8.) The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

9.) Countless others that I cannot remember right now but that I will think of as soon as I hit PUBLISH. 😉

And of course since there are millions more picture books than chapter books that I’ve read and there are TOO MANY OF THEM TO MENTION THAT ARE MY FAVORITES, I ‘ll save that for another time.  And goodness, that list will be long, too.  Because I love all the books.  Just ask any kid in my class. 🙂

What are YOUR favorite books?  Who are YOUR favorite authors?  Do you know why you love them?  I’d love to hear your thinking, and maybe even get a recommendation for something that could become a NEW favorite book of mine! Please leave a comment!