An Honest Reflection: No Ugly Crying Required

Just had to reblog this. It’s honest and exciting and I’m so thrilled that high school teachers are embracing Writing Workshop. Thank you THREE TEACHERS TALK for taking risks and for inspiring others.

Three Teachers Talk

I just finished an ugly cry. You know, the kind where you sob until your eyes close so tightly that you wonder if you might hurt yourself? The delicious, exhausting, purge of a cry that leaves you breathless and wholly satisfied at the same time? In my humble opinion, it’s the type of weep-fest that only great writing can deliver, and I am delighted to report that I just slobbered my way through another story’s end that left me wanting to pick up the book and start right over again. On the recommendation of colleague, I picked up Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls on Friday afternoon during last period and finished it by Sunday afternoon.

Though I could go on for pages about how amazing this book is, and how excited I am to 8621462book talk this story tomorrow, and how transformative I think this text could be for some…

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A Writer’s Phone Call to Santa

My friend Robin wrote this funny post and I just had to share it.

Santa-phone-call-300x169ROBIN: Hey Santa, it’s Robin Newman. How are you?

SANTA: Robin who?

ROBIN: Robin Newman. Remember me from last year? I’m the author of The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake and Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep.

SANTA: What time is it?

ROBIN: It’s 5:00 a.m. New York City time. What time is it on the North Pole?

SANTA: Much earlier.

ROBIN: Geez Santa, I’m sorry I woke you. I was just so excited to talk to you. I noticed that Starbucks started its Christmas season early and then every radio station is decking the halls, so I thought I might try to catch you a little earlier this year.

SANTA: Robin, have you been good?

ROBIN: Don’t you think “good” is one of those words that’s subjective and open to interpretation? You know it’s like an editor reading your story and hating it because she has a thing…

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A Kaleidoscope Poem by Emily Romrell

MC910227046Emily followed me on Twitter and when I went to her website I found the beautiful poem below. I asked Emily if I could post the poem on my blog because—well the name of the blog is “Kaliedoscope” and she said yes. Once you read the poem, maybe hop over to Emily’s to browse. She has lots of interesting posts about all sorts of things—she is after all, Eclectic Emily.

KALEIDOSCOPE by Emily Romrell

I am broken.
Sharp pieces cut inside;
leftovers of what I thought I was.
But the world spins fast;
Rearranging my jumbled life into new perspectives.
And the Sun will rise in a few hours.
All I have to do is wait for the Light,
And the next pattern will shine through.
Repeating what once was,
But is now made new.

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Thank you Emily for allowing me to share your poem on this blog. You can follow Emily on Twitter @emilyromrell or at her blog Eclectic Emily

ADA in the Classroom: Guest Post from Laurie Wallmark

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I am so excited to have Laurie Wallmark here today to discuss her debut picture book and WOW is all I can say. Laurie’s narrative of Ada Byron’s life is full of imagery as well as information about a truly extraordinary woman. Ada had such focus and passion, two attributes anyone would surely benefit from. Thank you Laurie for sharing Ada’s life with us. There is much we can learn from her and you have so vividly brought her story to life. Oh and did I mention the illustrations? Just spectacular. April Chu has recreated the time Ada lived with intricate details and a softness that compliments and enhances the text. So without further gushing—after a brief description of the book, Laurie will discuss possibilities for using Ada in the classroom. Be sure to check out the Teacher’s Guide for even more ideas.

Ada cover 72dpiADA BYRON LOVELACE AND THE THINKING MACHINE (Creston Books, October 2015) is a picture-book biography of the world’s first computer programmer. Ada was born two hundred years ago, long before the invention of the modern electronic computer. At a time when girls and women had few options outside the home, Ada followed her dreams and studied mathematics. This book, by Laurie Wallmark and April Chu, tells the story of a remarkable woman and her work. Kirkus Reviews describes the book as a “splendidly inspiring introduction to an unjustly overlooked woman.” [starred review]

Picture books are an ideal medium to engage children’s interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Whether fiction or nonfiction, picture books can be the inspiration for a wealth of activities and classroom discussions. Here’s just one example of how my picture book biography, Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine can be used in the classroom.

Ada loved math and wanted, more than anything else, to be a professional mathematician. She became the world’s first computer programmer when she coded a complex mathematical algorithm. Reading about Ada’s life provides the perfect excuse for a teacher to show how fun STEM can be.

A math game that was popular during Ada’s time was “buzz.” In this game, the students count aloud from one to a hundred. For younger students, instead of saying the word “seven” when it appears in a number, have them shout “buzz” instead. This is a fun way for them to practice counting, not to mention listening.

“Buzz” is easily adapted for older students. For them, in addition to “buzzing” on the number “seven,” they also have to “buzz” on multiples of seven. Once the students master their sevens times tables, the teacher can switch to a different number. This game provides an enjoyable way for children to memorize their multiplication tables.

Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine has an associated curriculum guide created by Marcie Colleen. All activities were created in conjunction with relevant content standards in English language arts (ELA), math, science, social studies, art, and drama. The guide is Common Core aligned in both ELA and math for grades one to four. You can download a free copy here.

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Laurie Wallmark writes exclusively for children. She can’t imagine having to restrict herself to only one type of book, so she writes picture books, middle-grade novels, poetry, and nonfiction. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. When not writing or studying, Laurie teaches computer science at a local community college, both on campus and in prison. The picture book biography, Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine (Creston Books, October 2015), is Laurie’s first book.

Website:             http://www.lauriewallmark.com

Facebook:             https://www.facebook.com/lauriewallmarkauthor

Twitter:            https://twitter.com/lauriewallmark

Join Laurie as she travels from blog to blog to introduce her debut picture book, Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine. All stops are listed at: http://lauriewallmark.com/blogtour.php

GOODNIGHT MANGER! Book Birthday Bash

Introducing……. drum roll…. please……

GOODNIGHT MANGER‘s BIRTHDAY BASH!!!!

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Goodnight, Manger, written by Laura Sassi and illustrated by New York Times bestselling artist Jane Chapman, tells the story of Mary and Joseph as they try to lull Jesus to sleep in the noisy stable after his birth. It’s bedtime for Baby Jesus, but who knew a manger could be so loud? Mama, Papa, and all of the animals try to lull the baby to sleep, but between itchy hay, angels’ joyful hosanas, and three kings bearing noisy gifts, it’s just too loud. Until Mama finds a way for everyone to work together to shepherd Baby into peaceful dreams under the twinkling stars. With sweet, rhyming text in the style of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction SiteGoodnight, Manger offers a unique twist on the classic manger tale, deftly weaving together the comforting and familiar routines of bedtime with the special magic and wonder of the manger story.

I was thrilled when Laura asked me to document GOODNIGHT MANGER‘s birthday bash. That’s right, Sunday, October 11th was GOODNIGHT MANGER‘s coming out party. Many people and Rooster, that’s right—a rooster, gathered at our local Barnes & Noble to celebrate.

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There was a reading,

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and crafts,

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and signings.

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I couldn’t capture all of the magic, but I was able to get a snippet of the Rooster. Watch till the end (1:21) to hear a special Cock-a-doodle-do.

 

THANK YOU LAURA FOR A WONDERFUL AFTERNOON AND FOR CONTINUING TO WRITE BEAUTIFUL PICTURE BOOKS.

 

Laura SaLaura Sassissi, author of GOODNIGHT, ARK  (Zonderkidz, 2014) and GOODNIGHT, MANGER (Zonderkidz,2015), has a passion for telling humorous stories in prose and rhyme. She writes daily from her century-old home in New Jersey where she lives with her husband, two children, and a
black Cockapoo named Sophie.  In addition to picture books, Laura writes poetry, stories, articles and crafts for kids. Her work has appeared in Highlights for ChildrenCricket, Ladybug, Spider, and Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr.

Keep the Story Going by Lynne Vanderveen Smith

Keep the Story Going by Lynne Vanderveen Smith

I just had to share this. Lynn Vanderveen Smith discusses why reading aloud is so powerful—even for High School Students. Keep sharing the stories.

Nerdy Book Club

If you are anything like me, you have fond memories of having a child curled up in your lap as you shared a story.  It might have been your own child or your grandchild.  Remember how they often had a book they loved to hear over and over. You almost got to the end of a story and heard, “Read it again!”  My father and son developed a great memory of a book that they shared.  It was truly boring with no story so Dad made up a story, and they “read” that book continuously.  So why did we quit doing reading aloud?  Those toddlers turned into a school aged children who went off and learned to read without us.  And we let them read and read without us.  But why let it go on – without us? Why not continue these treasured times together?

Looking back, I know that…

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There are years of innovation and then there are years of transformation

This is a special blog post that highlights the very core of teaching—that isn’t discussed often enough in this time of accountability and measurement.

Three Teachers Talk

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Emma was sunshine personified. She was salty hair and smiles and surfing. She was the student who sat in the front row, the one who showed up early to class just to chat. Emma died this past September in a car accident, one day after I revised her college essay, one day after she told me “one more concussion and I’ll be dead,” one day after she laughed off my nervous, “Be careful!”

When I first hear the news, I had been given the wrong students’ name, and I am ashamed to admit that for a moment I selfishly breathed a sigh of relief. But then her picture loaded, the pixelated image appeared line by line on my smartphone, her sandy blonde hair and smile, flashing section by section and I fell apart alone in my living room at 6:30am.

That was only the beginning.

Quickly students began unraveling. I…

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