Literacy Links – Volume 5

literacy links

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Y’all know how much I love the Fountas and Pinnell Literacy Continuum! If my office was on fire, this would be the first professional resource I’d rescue. So much support to make my teaching as responsive and strategic as possible. I have big plans to encourage the use of this book, so we just got SIX copies of our very own in the book room so that you don’t have to fork over $75. Come check one out today!

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

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Literacy Links – Volume 4

literacy links

My book talk vs. student book talk

There is nothing that gets students reading more than book talks! I used to have students write their book talks out on 5×8 inch index cards, but over the years, I’ve come to realize that I love the natural, off-the-cuff book talks more. They’re more authentic, personal, and casual. If the point is to introduce as many books to kids as possible, I want them to be easy and appealing to implement. So I model sharing the title, the author, my favorite elements, and the types of readers for whom I think it would be “just right”. Then, students take over and start giving their own book talks! Whoever’s giving the book talk, students simply add the titles of books they want to read to their “Books to Read” lists in their Reading Notebooks so that they have ideas about what to read next. The “Books to Read” list is something you can refer to during Reading Conferences, too!

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Literacy Links – Volume 3

literacy links

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This past Wednesday, my husband, oldest son, brother, sister-in-law, and good friend all met at the Lyric Theatre in New York City to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. It was magically extraordinary. I wept during the bows because I didn’t want it to end. If you have a Potterhead in your life, move mountains to see this play. It’s THAT amazing.

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Literacy Links – Volume 2

literacy links

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Phase 1 of Center’s new Reading Lounge is open for business! Check the Google Calendar to find an available time to bring your class. Don’t forget to bring your book, too. Happy reading!

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Literacy Links – Volume 1

literacy links

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For a literacy coach, the beginning of the school year can feel a bit off. We love our teachers and students, but we want classroom teachers to have time to get to their new kiddos, so we take a temporary hands-off approach leaving us in offices to tend to necessary administrivia. When we finally return to our beloved work with students and teachers teaching and coplanning, it’s like a chocolate-covered espresso bean right to our classroom-loving hearts. Hope your year has started smoothly. Here is the first roundup of literacy links in my new weekly series for some quick inspiration and tips:

Best Books I Read – Summer 2018

literacy, Ms. Vigna's faves, reading

I love lists, and my favorite kinds are about books. Brightly and Facebook groups for the Reading Units of Study, Writing Units of Study, and, especially, #classroombookaday, often share book recommendations. Whenever I see “best funny books for elementary students” or “top picture books for older kids”, I place holds at my library to check them out. Even though many of these were published long ago, I got around to reading them this summer. Here are my recently read favorites:

alma

Alma and How She Got Her Name is a beautiful story about identity, family, legacy, and tradition. Great mentor text for a name or identity unit, especially at the beginning of the year!

drawn together

Drawn Together tells the story of a boy and his grandfather who have trouble communicating because they don’t speak the same language until they discover a passion they have in common. The diverse illustrations and heartwarming story will grab readers of all ages.

bolivar

Bolivar is a large format picture book that follows Bolivar, the dinosaur who is able to live in New York City because people are preoccupied with their own existences. Students will love noticing all of the details in Seth Rubin’s amazing illustrations.

for everyone

The next time you’re about to gift a graduate Oh, the Places You’ll Go, buy For Everyone instead. Jason Reynolds’s use of rhythm and repetition make it a joy to read aloud, and his message stays with you long after you’re done with this quick read. Students will love his realness. It’ll be an old friend that your students turn to again and again.

pig parade

Michael Ian Black’s humorous A Pig Parade is a TERRIBLE Idea is a fun read that will engage students. Younger students will enjoy the ideas and will be inspired to create their own reasons, while older students could use this as a mentor text for opinion writing.

refugee

Refugee is a chapter book that follows three refugee story lines: Josef escaping Nazi Germany, Isabella fleeing Castro’s Cuba in the 90s, and Mahmoud deserting Aleppo in 2013. Alan Gratz masterfully crafts chapters that leave you hanging every single time. Students will love the adventure, and it will inspire rich conversations about emotions and connections with current events.  Although there are mature themes like characters dealing with trauma and death of characters, it isn’t graphic. This book gutted me, and I can’t stop thinking about it.

journey

The Journey is a picture book that makes a great text pair with Refugee. The graphic illustrations do a brilliant job of capturing the deeper meaning of the text.

school

School’s First Day of School is a great picture book for the beginning of the school year. Students may not even realize that the story is told from the school building’s perspective. Even schools get first-day-of-school jitters!

What are your recently read favorites?

On Becoming a Teacher Who Writes

professional resources, writing

IMG_8139My current writer’s notebook

I’ve always loved writing. In fact, there was a time in late middle school and early high school that I wanted to make writing my career, thanks to an impressionable year with an amazing teacher. I researched colleges and universities with strong creative writing programs and started wearing quirky clothes to increase my author mystique.

Then AP classes, college, grad school, marriage, and babies struck, and I lost my mojo. When I finally became a teacher, I used the Workshop Model and the Six Traits to implement my favorite teacher’s creative writing project. I also co-produced a literary magazine for my elementary schools. Clearly, I was a teacher who loved teaching writing and coaching writers. But beyond writing occasional blog posts, I wasn’t a writer. So when I saw Jennifer Serravallo’s announcement that she’d be hosting a Summer Writing Camp, I thought about all of the packing we’d be doing while minding a toddler for our we-love-it-here-so-let’s-buy-a-house move and how terribly I miss my older son while he spends the summer with his dad, and in typical overachieving Ms. Vigna fashion, I signed up right away!

According to the announcement, each week would focus on a different genre of writing, starting with fiction. All of the lessons were delivered via Facebook Live and were easy to find even though I never watched or did the lessons the day they were released. I eagerly filled my writer’s notebook when I had an extra twenty minutes–ten minutes for the lesson and ten minutes to write–to disappear, which was usually during naptime or around bedtime. At the end of the first week, I had a draft of a story that I could continue to develop. My first piece of fiction in nearly thirty years.

It was clear to me how I could easily repeat the process for any of my other seeds to craft another story. Additionally, it was obvious how easily I could stray from the lessons to follow my own lead. By using Ms. Serravallo’s strategies, I uncovered all sorts of hidden pathways to my own writing conclusions. It was inevitable to make the connections between my role in this process and my students’ roles. Teaching these strategies and craft moves is a way to pay it forward for our student writers. What a gift.

Before the end of the first week, I knew that I wanted to replicate this process with teachers. A weekly writing club that meets before school. Perhaps even an opportunity to earn PDPs or SACs or SIS? I will explore all of the options because this work is that important for ourselves *and* our students.

Happy reading and writing.

Summer Reading – Online Reading Resources

literacy, reading, summer, technology

This list comes directly from this awesome blog post from the Nerdy Book Club, “Digital Device + Free Texts = Reading All Summer Long”. Check out their post if you want more background, but here are all of the links to free online reading resources!

  1. Storyline Online: Artists from the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists read stories aloud.
  2. Open eBooks: Michele Obama and the Obama White House launched this app to give students and educators access to free books.
  3. Wonderopolis: If you have students who love reading informational texts, introduce them to Wonderopolis. Each day Wonderopolis posts and answers a new question. Readers can search by topic or explore the question of the day.
  4. Just Books Read Aloud: Alma College shares over eight hundred videos of stories being read aloud. You can sort by author, narrator, reading level, language, and topic.
  5. The Poem Farm: The Poem Farm is Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s website and is filled with poems for students to read. Readers can sort by topic or technique to find poems they love.
  6. Dogonews: This site is loaded with articles and videos about current events, sports, and human-interest stories.
  7. Sports Illustrated Kids: Do you have sports fans in your classroom? On this site, students can read about favorite sports and sports teams.
  8. Readworks: When the classroom sets up an account, students have access to so many texts are a variety of topics and interests.
  9. International Children’s Digital Library: Looking for texts from around the world and texts written in a variety of languages? On this site, students can search for books by author, topic, and even country.
  10. YOUR Local Public Library: Don’t miss the digital reading opportunities available at your local public library. So many children’s libraries now give students ways to borrow eBooks and digital audio books without leaving their house. Just look at the digital public libraries available in the United States.

Happy reading!

Reading Poster Unit

creating, Just for fun, literacy, quotes, reading, writing

One of my mantras as a teacher is, “If the students can do/make/think it, they should.” So when we realized our schools’ walls could use some spiffing up, we decided to turn over the decor transformation to the students! Since this is “The Year of the Reader,” what could be better than some inspirational reading quote posters?!

Together with the librarian, I’ve created a short unit plan that could be done at any time of the year.

Day 1

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Illustrator Source: unknown
Text Source: Neil Gaiman for The Guardian

The first day of the unit will be used to inspire students and give them a chance to explore and pick an inspirational quote about reading. We’ll kick off by showcasing some inspirational quotes found online and in quote books for kids.Some questions to discuss: Why do people like inspirational quotes? How can inspirational quotes be important?With this being “The Year of the Reader,” we’ll veer towards quotes focused on reading:

Students will record quote contenders on their Reading Quote Poster Planning Sheet.

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By the end of the lesson, they will circle or star the reading quote that they want to use for their poster!

Day 2

To help students realize the impact of good graphic design, we’ll share simple fundamentals of graphic design and analyze inspirational quote examples to discuss what we notice about the designs, such as fonts, layout, spacing, alignment, flourishes, and more. They’ll jot or sketch ideas on their Reading Quote Poster Planning Sheet that they may incorporate into their drafts the following day.

Day 3

This will be production day! First, they’ll sketch out their ideas on 8.5×11″ paper in pencil. Once they’re happy with their designs, they’ll go over the design in black ink. Finally, they’ll erase any of their pencil marks to end up with their final draft!

Day 4 – Optional

The final session will be a day of celebration! It’ll begin with a silent gallery walk of students’ designs. They’ll observe each design and leave a compliment on a sheet underneath for the designer to keep. All of the designs can be bound in a simple book, put on display, and catalogued in the library. If desired, students can also use this time to vote for their favorite designs. The top three designs from each class can be enlarged and posted throughout the school. During the very final portion of the lesson, students should complete a reflection about the whole process.

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Possible Extensions or Adaptations

  • Book talk and/or read aloud picture books about imagination or art.
  • Create bookmarks instead of posters.
  • Instead of having students choose a quote about reading, they can find a particularly meaningful quote from a favorite book that they read during the year. They can use some of the same graphic design elements in their designs, but they can also print it on a page FROM a book:

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Any of these quote projects would be SUCH a great keepsake to celebrate the Year of the Reader!