Monday, July 24, 2017

My Summer Discoveries that You Must Know About!

I had a summer filled with learning and thinking. I was lucky to connect with so many people and each time I left to go to a conference, etc. I had great intentions of blogging each event. However, time got away from me and those good intentions never turned into blog posts. But I discovered so many things that I want everyone else to know about that I need to share them. So here, in no particular order, are some of my favorite summer discoveries that I think are worth sharing!

An App
And do you know about Flipgrid. I was lucky enough to hear Sara Kajder speak twice this summer and both times she shared the amazing things students were doing with Flipgrid.  Definitely an app I'll be checking out this year!

A Podcast
If you do not regularly listen to the Voices from  the Middle podcasts, I would start now.  In the latest episode, middle school ELA teachers talk to amazing author, Jason Reynolds. Once you listen to this one, you'll probably want to go back and listen to all of the episodes but this one is definitely a current favorite for me!

A Voice of Wisdom
I learned about Claire Wineland from this recent CNN story. I am inspired by her message and all I have learned from her about life and living and being healthy in the few short weeks since I read this article. I've watched some of her TED Talks and her Zappos talk-lots to learn from Claire, for sure. 

I was lucky to attend this year's #Nerdcampmi and I cannot tell you how powerful the opening Nerdtalks were. I captured a few of my favorite words in a recent blog post

If you missed the Nerdtalks, Chad Everett and Donalyn Miller published the text of their speeches and I highly recommend reading and rereading both. 

Resources to help think about #weneeddiversebooks
I was lucky to hear Donalyn share her presentation, Books for a Better World. Of course I learned about so many books I didn't know about.  Donalyn was generous to share her slides from the talk on Slideshare. 

The Stenhouse Blogstitute is a favorite annual online event. This year, I especially loved Kathy Short's piece, Teaching Globally to Make a Difference in the World. Her post has several great resources that you'll want to know about if you don't already.

Elizabeth Bird's post, Where Are All the Black Boys: A 2017 Assessment and Comparison is an important read with an embedded booklist.

I discovered The Journey Project (The intersection of research, resources, and outreach to support gender expansive and transgender youth, families, and educator advocates.) recently and think it is a great resource for parents and educators. I needs to spend a bit more time on the site but I am especially interested in The Inclusive Classroom Library Project that is part of this site.

ILA Panel
I attended an amazing panel at ILA in July titled Disrupting a Destructive Cycle: How Literacy Drives Social Change. I was able to hear and learn from Nikole Hannah-Jones (If you don't know her work, you should read as much of it as you can). I learned about Salaam Reads, a new book imprint that we should all know. And Cornelius Minor's opening talk at this panel is one that I keep reflecting on. The live event is archived on ILA's Facebook page so you can watch it there. And then follow all of the panel members on Twitter, etc.

New Blogs to Follow
Classroom Communities is a new blog with an amazing list of contributors --one that focuses on classroom community and relationships. Happy to have this blog in the world!

This Teaching and Coaching Life is a new blog by the amazing Stella Villalba, Always something amazing to learn from Stella! So glad to be able to learn from her through this new blog.

And I was excited to discover the math site, Building Math Minds and to learn that they are hosting this FREE Math Virtual Summit with some amazing speakers.

Jess Keating
I have always been a fan of Jess Keating and her work. This summer she launched a new free magazine called The Curious Creative. Each issue is packed with great stuff so you'll want to subscribe for sure!

And finally, if you have not tried McDonald's ROLO McFlurry, it is a happy treat!  Not sure when this was invented because I just discovered it a few weeks ago but well worth it on a day you need a special treat!

So many great discoveries so far this summer! Enjoy!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Poetry Friday -- Timing is Everything

Lake Michigan, Indiana Dunes State Park

timing is everything

how we measure the seconds between
     toast and charcoal
     insult and injury
     impact and airbag
hands up, palms forward--stop!

how we measure the seconds between
     boom and sparkle
     joke and punchline
     notice and wonder
hands out, palms cupped--more!

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

I took the title of my poem from today's poem at The Writer's Almanac. Gerald Locklin uses the timing of one event for his poem, but I got to thinking about the range of emotions possible within brief moments. What are some moments you'd like to have stopped or to held onto?

Katie has the Poetry Friday roundup today at The Logonauts.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Amina's Voice, The Gauntlet, and Salaam Reads

I have heard so much about the new book, Amina's Voice by Hena Khan. I read it this week and am so glad I did. This book is getting lots of buzz and lots of starred reviews and it deserves all of these things.  The middle grade book is about Amina,  a Pakistani-American Muslim girl who has an amazing voice. But she is not comfortable using it in front of an audience. As she tries to make sense of challenges and changes that come with growing up, her local mosque is vandalized. This book is a must-read/must-have..

Amina's Voice is a Simon and Schuster publication. I just learned of Simon and Schuster's newish imprint--Salaam Reads--one that we should all know:
"Founded in 2016, Salaam Reads is an imprint that aims to introduce readers of all faiths and backgrounds to a wide variety of Muslim children and families and offer Muslim kids an opportunity to see themselves reflected positively in published works. The imprint, which takes its name from the Arabic word for “peace,” plans to publish books for young readers of all ages, including picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and young adult."

I didn't realize it until I spent some time on the website, but I just purchased another book from this imprint-- The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi who was on an author panel at Nerdcamp. This sounds like a great fantasy adventure for middle grade readers and I am anxious to read it as well as some of the other upcoming releases I read about on the Salaam Reads site.

I was lucky to hear Zareen Jaffery on a panel at ILA this week.  She was part of a panel called "Disrupting a Destructive Cycle: How Literacy Drives Social Change".  Her words were powerful and I would highly suggest following her (@ZareenJaffery) and her work.

If you have read Amina's Voice, The Educator Collaborative (@TheEdCollab) is hosting a Summer Book Club on Tuesday, July 18 from 8:00-9:00 p.m. about the book. The author, Hena Khan will be joining the chat so it is sure to be a worthwhile hour with great conversation and learning.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Poetry Friday -- Mac and Cheese

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Faruk AteĊŸ

Dear Mac and Cheese,

I’ve got to hand it to you,
you perfected the whole dissemblance thing.
I mean, it was flat-out brilliant
disguising yourself in that box for all these years,
allowing generations of beginning (or lazy) cooks
to transform dust and rocks
into a creamy bowl of comfort.
Box-made, your color is, though, disturbingly unnatural.
Not quite the orange of the namesake fruit
nor of a winter sky at sunset.
Neither oriole nor monarch.
Not autumn or amber.
Perhaps closest to road gang prison uniform,
a subtle hint to alert the most observant cooks that
the box is actually a trap.
Half a lifetime of cooking wasted, spent colorblind and imprisoned,
I’m free now, and so are you.
I’ve grated a big mound of cheddar and American,
mixed in noodles, poured on cream, baked until crunchy on top.
We’ve escaped, and nothing can stop us from moving on
to smoked gouda, bacon, fresh peas, and a crisp panko topping.
Your palette is now my palate.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Sincerely, Mac and Cheese

I know I cannot erase the facts:
they will grow up motherless;
he will be achingly lonely.

Stir into me the courage of a wooden spoon,
bake me with a searing love,
deliver me to be eaten one spoonful at a time,

the same way a vast grief must be consumed.
This is all you can do.
This is all I can do.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

My mentor text for these two poems was David Hernandez's book, Dear, Sincerely. His poem, "Sincerely, the Sky" was featured recently on The Writer's Almanac. I loved it so much that in a rare move, I clicked through to his book on Amazon. After a peek inside the book, I knew I wanted to own it.

There are 10 Dear or Sincerely poems in the book. I took the conversational tone of my first poem from Hernandez's "Dear Death." My sincerely poem is most like his "Sincerely, Paper Gown."

Poetry Friday Peeps are celebrating National Mac and Cheese Day, which is today, July 14! Be sure to visit the roundup at Tabatha's The Opposite of Indifference for more yummy and cheesy Poetry Friday posts!

(In breaking news -- and a total buzzkill for the national holiday -- macaroni and cheese from a box is dangerous for your health.)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Wise Words from #nerdcampmi 2017

I was blown away by the powerful Nerdtalks at this year's Nerdcamp. Below are some of the words that have lived with me since I heard these brilliant speakers share their thinking. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Stenhouse Blogstitute

Stenhouse kicked of their annual Blogstitute today!  We (Franki and co-author of Still Learning to Read, Karen Szymusiak) wrote the first post, "Sticky Note Strategies for Transitional Readers".  You can find the post here and then follow the Blogstitute for more great posts by Stenhouse authors!

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Poetry Friday -- Love Song to Reading

Hooray for a book of poems that celebrates reading...

The WONDER of reading words
"...that fly like birds
from pages
in your book
to branches
in your brain
where they sing
like soothing
summer rain."
The JOY of learning to read.
"I longed so to read.
This was my hope.
This was my need." 
All the KINDS of reading we do:
Cereal Box
Sports Page
Road Signs
Field Guides
Google Searches
Birthday Cards
Sunday Comics
The ways reading COMPLETES us:
"Every single thing you read
becomes a part of you." 
"A book gives you a double life." 
The ways reading CHANGES us:
"An open book will make you kind." 
"Charlotte taught me what to do." 
"I'm a reader.
I explore." 

Thank you, Amy, for a book that readers of all ages and stages will want to hug and share and read over and over again until it falls apart.

Read! Read! Read!
by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
illustrated by Ryan O'Rourke
Wordsong, September 2017

Carol has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at Beyond LiteracyLink.

For next week's Poetry Friday Roundup, Tabatha has invited us to write/share poems in honor of National Mac and Cheese Day, which falls on Friday, July 14 this year. Start cooking up an oozy, gooey Poetry Friday post!! (It's optional, but it was so much fun when we celebrated Billy Collins at the beginning of his birth month back in March.)

Friday, June 30, 2017

Poetry Friday -- My Little Town

Home Town
by William Stafford

Peace on my little town, a speck in the safe,
     comforting, impersonal immensity of {12 miles from} Kansas.
Benevolence like a gentle haze on its courthouse
     (the model of Greek pillars to me)
     on its quiet little bombshell of a library,
     on its continuous, hidden, efficient sewer system.

Sharp, amazed, steadfast regard on its more upright citizenry,
     my nosy, incredible, delicious neighbors.

Haunting invasion of a train whistle to my friends,
     moon-gilding, regular breaths of the old memories to them—
     the old whispers, old attempts, old beauties, ever new.

Peace on my little town, haze-blessed, sun-friended,
     dreaming sleepy days under the world-champion sky.

I'll miss going home this summer...but first-home will just have to wait there in the midst of the wheat fields and under the blue, blue sky (my photo doesn't do the sky justice) while I fully settle back into now-home and give myself these weeks devoid of commitments so I can unravel and relax into ME.

**Edited to add, read this article: The Busy Trap. Wisdom: "...the best investment of my limited time on earth was to spend it with people I love." and "Life is too short to be busy."

Diane has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at Random Noodling.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Rhino in the House


What? Doesn't everyone have a rhino in their living room?

You mean there are people out there who don't have a rhino who competes with the cat for a spot on their lap?

You're telling me that your pet rhino doesn't have a favorite read aloud?

Rhino in the House: The True Story of Saving Samia
by Danial Kirk
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2017
review copy...well, I had to have it, didn't I?

Rhinos are my spirit animal, so when Cover to Cover Children's Books started their inventory reduction sale before their move, the rhino who'd been living there for a few years came home with us.

At our other favorite local independent bookstore, Gramercy Books, I found this book and now I have an easy answer when anyone asks me who I would be if I could go back to any time in history. I would be Anna Merz so I could start a rhino sanctuary, find an abandoned baby rhino, and raise it in my own home. I would name her Samia, and I'd put her to sleep by letting her curl up on my lap while I sat in bed reading aloud to her to calm her down. I would learn what her grunts, squeaks, snorts, and toots meant. And I would help her transition to being an independent wild rhino. Oh, the adventures we would have together!

The story of Anna Merz's dedication to the conservation of endangered species, especially rhinos, is touching and funny, but most of all, inspirational. We need to raise up a new generation with her passion for doing the right thing and making the world right again.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Reading Without Walls

Revenge of the Green Banana
by Jim Murphy
Clarion Books, 2017
review copy provided by the publisher

The Reading Without Walls challenge gets you out of your reading comfort zones and introduces you to new characters, settings, genres, or formats.

A funny story set in a Catholic school in the late 1950's that features a group of 6th grade boys (and one wacko second grader) plotting a revenge of reciprocal humiliation on Sister Angelica, their teacher, is definitely not my bailiwick. I described some of the details and read aloud a couple of scenes to the resident Catholic School Lifer, and he thought it all rang very true (and was very funny). Would a reader without such a resource buy into the Catholic School setting? Are the references to the 1950s/1960s strong enough to give a clear sense of "historical" fiction? Perhaps, perhaps not, but any reader who wants to enjoy a funny story about an underdog who tries to get revenge, but who stumbles on his own foibles at every turn, will enjoy this book.

Jimmy is a troublemaker who has a reputation (and a big fat red folder of his misdeeds) preceding him. He wants to change this year, but there's no way to get a fresh start with a reputation like his. It definitely seems like Sister Angelica has it out for him, but with 62 in the class, I have just a bit of empathy for her. To survive the odds of 1:62, being a little bit proactive with the behaviors seems like a plan. In contrast to her apparent targeting of Jimmy in class, the scene where Jimmy teaches Sister Angelica to shoot a basketball lets her humanity and personality shine out, which is why I'm cutting her a bit of a break, although not enough to add her to our list of 100 Cool Teachers of Children's Literature!