#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!

 

#classroombookaday: Happy New Year!

Oh, you poor, neglected blog.  Been a whole month since I’ve written.  And more importantly, poor, neglected blog READERS–I’m sorry!!  For some reason, the last year it has been so hard for me to keep a regular posting routine.  I need to get back in the game!

I figured the easiest way to do that was to start with books.  I had grand plans of sharing our last pic of the year, and update you on our goal of hitting 300 before 2018.  Well…we didn’t quite make it, but we did get to 300, but we made it to 287, which is great!!  And like I say all the time, look how pretty that wall is!! 🙂

Then…we returned and I wanted to tell you all about it, but did you know that the beginning of the year is busy?  I know–all the parts of the year are busy. 🙂  So when we came back, we got to 295!

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Then….

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See that new red arrow?!  We hit 300 books!!  As of Jan 12 we were at 308!

And FINALLY the latest update, from this past Friday, January 19:

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321 🙂

I LOVE how this is still going, and how students, teachers and parents alike in our school are still commenting on it!  Hope I never leave the hallway we’re in, because it’s the PERFECT space to share our #classroombookaday story!

Speaking of story…there is lots to tell about the books we’ve added to that magnificent wall, but I’ll save those for another time and another blog post.  Thanks for hanging in there, blog friends, and I hope to be nicer to you in 2018! 🙂

#classroombookaday 2017 UPDATE: Week 16

Wow–what a great week we had in first grade!  I’m excited about both the number of books we were able to read as well as the titles that we were able to experience and learn from together. 🙂

Here’s our wall as of December 1, 2017:

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We’ve read 242 books!!

The books we shared this week were on a variety of topics, as we are studying many things and also adding in some extra topics of interest.  So this week, we added these 18 books:

Can you tell what we were learning about?  I love how when you see the covers all together, you can really tell the intentionality with which they were chosen.  The topics and stories were used to help kiddos make connections to what they are learning (and doing), as well as to get them thinking about older topics in new ways.

I haven’t measured, so this is just a guess, but I’d say we’re halfway down that big wall!  What amazing work, first grade!  Wonder how many we’ll end up with, and even bigger, I wonder how many words we’ve read together in all of those books!?

 

 

#classroombookaday 2017 UPDATE: Week 15

I think we’re on Week 15.  This time of year it seems I lose count.  Something about how school weeks with only 2 days gets me all messed up.  I’m sure you can relate. 🙂

So…whether it’s week 15 (or some other number), we’re up to 224 books! The wall is filling up so fast and perhaps the best part is that the pictures are about kid-eye-level so it’s even more interactive from here on out! Check it out. 🙂

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We’ve been busy reading lots of different kinds of things over the last few weeks, including getting into some non-fiction texts.  We’re having some great conversations about whether a book we read are fiction or not (sometimes kids are tricked when there are illustrations instead of or alongside photographs).  This happened in a book we read about St. Louis architecture (which WAS non-fiction), as well as one written by local Kirkwood author Dan Killeen (who is visiting us soon!!) that also had real places in St. Louis in it but was about talking dinosaurs, and so therefore was not a teaching book. 🙂

We read an interesting book about Betsy Ross this past week, too, that had us really digging and studying to figure out who the book was about and why they wrote a book about her.  Eventually we saw that she had made the first American flag, and there was an interesting detail about how she didn’t like Washington’s suggestion of 6-pointed stars and instead used 5-pointed stars that she could cut out of a square of fabric with just one little snip.  And since there was a how-to in the back of the book, we had to try it out!

New additions to the wall are also the context for our newest math investigation–all about a double-decker bus–as well as a book we read for Thanksgiving and some that we just read because they’re good. LOL

I just had another library visit today (and this branch had the most AMAZING automated return system!) and am excited about the new books I got for this upcoming week!  Please come back next week to see what our wall looks like then! 🙂