Fluency

Start your new year off with compassion

Posted by on Aug 18, 2019 in Early Learning, Fluency, Key Ideas and Details, People Smart, Print Awareness, Readers' Theater, Self Smart | 0 comments

Start your new year off with compassion

This is a post I’ve shared before but I think it’s more important than ever to make your classroom a place of acceptance and compassion from day one.

It’s September, the start of a new school year. I have no apples for you teachers, but I do have the perfect back-to-school picture book to teach empathy and point of view: I’m New Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien.

Maria, Jin, and Fatimah are new to their schools and to the United States. Through their stories, we get a glimpse of what it’s like to hear a new language, to see a new alphabet, and to try to pick up a new set of classroom expectations. “Back home… I knew just what to do.” All of your students can relate to the unsettled feeling of a first day in a new classroom. With I’m New Here, you can expand upon that feeling to help your students empathize with people who are new to our country. I love that Anne Sibley O’Brien not only shows what it’s like to be an immigrant, but how we all learn from each other. On one page, O’Brien writes from Jin’s point of view, “I am learning from others. And they are learning from me.” Jin asks a little boy, “How to spell cloud?” The boy responds, “C-L-O-U-D.” Jin holds up a piece of paper with Korean characters on it. “This is cloud in Korean.” “Cool.”

Michelle A., a gifted kindergarten teacher of English as a Second Language students and a remarkable friend, told me about Step Inside thinking. After you’ve read through the book, ask your students to “step inside” a character and imagine that they are Maria, Jin, or Fatimah. Students can write and draw from the perspective of the character, describing what was a challenge and what helped. You can turn this book into a readers’ theater script for students to perform, or have students take on the roles in an impromptu performance as you reread the book. As a class, you can talk and write about what you all can do to help a new student feel welcome. Whether or not you gain a new student during the year, all of your students will gain a wider, more empathetic perspective from I’m New Here.

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Celebrate all the BEAUTIFUL HANDS!

Posted by on Aug 25, 2016 in Art, Body Smart, Craft and Structure, Early Learning, Fluency, Integrating Knowledge and Ideas, People Smart, Poetry, Print Awareness, Print Concepts, Print Motivation, Range of Reading, Self Smart | 0 comments

Celebrate all the BEAUTIFUL HANDS!

Beautiful Hands by Kathryn Otoshi and Bret BaumgartenAugust is crazy-busy for teachers and parents of little learners, so grab this book for a quick-prep, interactive lesson: BEAUTIFUL HANDS by Kathryn Otoshi and Bret Baumgarten.

The book begins with a question, “What will your beautiful hands do today?” which leads to more questions with inspiration-sparking answers:
“Will they lift…/
spirits?/
Or stretch…/
imaginations?”
There are also invitations to participate (“What can you lift?” “What can you stretch?”) that will especially hook your movers and shakers.

All of the art is made of handprints, so after sharing the book, make handprint art! Paint, trace, color, cut, arrange into a mural that encourages us all to reach high. Write about what our hands can and will do, discuss how our hands are alike and still uniquely ours. Reread BEAUTIFUL HANDS  and compare it to the book THE HANDIEST THINGS IN THE WORLD by Andrew Clements and Raquel Jaramillo. The Handiest Things in the World by Andrew Clements and Raquel Jaramillo

All who work with little ones deserve a big hand, so consider this post a “high five” from me to you as you start the school year!

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The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish

Posted by on Nov 20, 2015 in Early Learning, Fluency, Holiday, Michigan Author, Readers' Theater, Self Smart | 0 comments

The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout FishI’ve been hooked on Pout-Pout Fish since the beginning (fellow Michigander Debbie Diesen is a long-time friend),  and the newest book, The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish, is as wonderful as the original.

Mr. Fish feels caught up in the “tizzy-busy” rush of the holidays. (Dan Hanna does a brilliant job of tucking jokes in his illustrations of the packed store shelves!) The repetition of these lines not only supports our early readers, it completely captures the overwhelmed feeling many of us get :
“For a gift should be big,
And a gift should be bright,
And a gift should be perfect –
Guaranteed to bring delight.
And a gift should have meaning,
Plus a big of bling-zing,
So I’ll shop till I drop
For each just-right thing!”

When Mr. Fish has shopped until he’s plopped and still worries that his friends will be disappointed, the lovely Miss Shimmer reminds him that “the best gifts of all come straight from the heart.” Together they make wonderful gifts and, most importantly, enjoy their time with their fishy friends.

Let’s scale back this season. Share The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish with your kiddos, and talk about what you can make and do instead of buy.  Consider replacing physical gifts with shared activities. I know some grown-ups who’d prefer the gift of a Readers’ Theater performance of this story to receiving another bag of potpourri. I wish you all oceans of joy and contentment this year!

Find more fishy fun at www.poutpoutfish.com.
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The Poetry of Firebird

Posted by on Apr 10, 2015 in Art, Craft and Structure, Early Learning, Fluency, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Range of Reading, Self Smart | 0 comments

Firebird: Ballerina Misty Copeland Shows a Young Girl How To Dance Like the Firebird by Misty Copeland and Christopher Myers

Because poetry doesn’t have to rhyme, because poetry can tell a story, because the best poetry lights sparks of hope inside of us –  this is my choice for April’s Month of Poetry.

Firebird is written by Misty Copeland and illustrated by Christopher Myers. A little girl sees ballet soloist Misty Copeland and thinks “the space between you and me/ is longer than forever”. Misty lets the girl know that with hard work and dedication “we’ll make the night sky our starry curtain/ the moon our silver spotlight/ as we spin across the planets/ pirouetting tightly as the curls on our heads”. Misty Copeland is the second African American soloist in the history of the American Ballet Theater, and her uplifting poem-story is perfectly enhanced by Christopher Myers’ gorgeous art.

The poem is written in two voices – the little girl and Misty Copeland. After you share this book for the sheer pleasure of it, talk about the voices of the poem. (You’ll be rockin’ Craft & Structure as well as Range of Reading.) It can be read as literally two people, or we can see it metaphorically, as if the young girl is talking to her future self or as if Misty is talking to her past, younger self. Encourage your students to write poems where they can write as their “today” selves talking to themselves in the future or the past. Because poetry is meant to be shared aloud, hold a poetry slam where students can read their poems aloud, taking on both parts or asking a friend to read a voice. Who knows what future dancers, scientists, and presidents may come to life in your classroom? 

Also, if you’re on the lookout for an Orthodox Easter book (which will be celebrated this Sunday), I recommend Catherine’s Pascha: A Celebration of Easter in the Orthodox Church written by Charlotte Riggle and illustrated by R.J. Hughes. For those who celebrate Passover, Easter, and/or the coming of Spring, I wish you all joy and a sense of hopeful renewal!

 

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