Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What I've Read this Summer...

It's time for another installment of what I've read this summer. I can't believe how much I've read this summer. It's great! I've made reading part of my morning routine. Every morning, I make my coffee and read for an hour or so. Here are my first and second What I've Read This Summer posts, just in case you were interested.

The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild, by Donalyn Miller
These two books were FANTASTIC! The books are definitely must reads for teachers. Miller's first book The Book Whisperer focuses on how a teacher can truly cultivate a love of reading in the classroom. Reading in the Wild provides more inspiration for cultivating the love of reading. In both books, Miller includes  many strategies that can be implemented in the classroom. Additionally, she cites many resources  that support her ideas. She also includes forms in the back of her book for teachers to use in their classroom. She has such great advice, strategies and techniques that can be used in the classroom. I can't wait to start the 40 book challenge with my own students this school year.
I've also been participating in a book study this summer for the book Reading in the Wild hosted by The Brown Bag Teacher. It has been great reading other teacher's takes on the book and being able to see what they do in their own classrooms. I'm a little behind on my posting with the book study. The last two weeks have been hectic. If your interested here are my posts with the book study:  Week One, Week TwoWeek Three, and Week Four

Freak the Mighty, by Rodman Philbrick
This was such a wonderful book! The story is about an unlikely friendship between two boys who share nothing in common. Max is big for is age and doesn't think he is very smart. While Kevin has a birth defect that causes him to remain small. Kevin is also very intelligent for his age. The two boys deal with a little bit of bullying and they team up to become Freak the Mighty. As Freak the Mighty they share many adventures and live life to its fullest. I think my 5th graders would enjoy the story and will be introducing it to them this year.

Old Yeller, by Fred Gipson
Old Yeller was a charming story that followed the adventures and loving relationship of a boy and his dog. I must say it was a sad book, I was in tears. Maybe because I love dogs and was able to relate to the feelings that you can have with your pets. There are plenty of laughs too! Travis was left alone to care for his mother and younger brother while his dad had to leave for work. Initially Travis did not want to take in the stray dog, but his brother convinced him otherwise. Another great read for 4th grade and up.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Saturday Snapshots: Kentucky

Linking up with Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera for Saturday Snapshots! Head on over and link up your photos!
One of my best friends from elementary school (26 years of friendship!!!) lives in Kentucky and I finally got to see her!  I had so much fun while visiting her on her farm. Kentucky was so beautiful! I seem to fall in love with every place I visit. But, I wouldn't mind living out in the country with some land. I'm more of a country girl that is stuck in the city. 

Her son is adorable!! 

Love this shot!

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Saturday Snapshots: The Beauty in the Everyday


Better late than never...right?!? I'm linking up with Run Miss Nelson's Got the Camera for her Saturday Snapshots. The following photos are just shots of daily life, the ordinary, often forgotten moments.

Buster! A dog's life! So grand!

Dinner Preparation
I wish my husband would quit!

Who knew dust could be so beautiful!
Heading out for the day.

She couldn't be any cuter! Love her!

Fun times at the park!
One of my favorite breakfast cafes.


Typical Southern California

I have a necklace addiction.


One of my all time favorite shots I took during a walk around the neighborhood.
My car got a bath...finally!
Beauty and Concrete

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Saturday Snapshots: 4th of July

Linking up with Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera for another Saturday Snapshots! My 4th was SO much fun. We had a family bbq and decided that we will be doing a bbq from this point on for the 4th. I live in a nice cul-de-sac, we really lucked out when buying our home, we couldn't have asked for better neighbors. Last year we started a new tradition and we all get together at dusk and share fireworks and celebrate our Independence Day! I love seeing all the neighbors bring out the lawn chairs and get together for some fun!

Since I was in my kitchen all morning, I decided to keep the camera at bay and enjoy the food and company. Once the firework fun started the camera made an appearance. I got my tripod out so I could play with different apertures and shutter speeds.

Loving the little starbursts!


Some firework bokeh!


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Friday, July 11, 2014

Fizz Inflator Science Experiment

This was such a GREAT experiment! We did this one a few days after we launched our canister rockets. Once my kids got started with the experiment and the balloon started to inflate-I had kids thinking the balloon was going to explode.

Again, there are many variations of this all over the Internet. I chose to stick with Science Bob's directions.

What You Will Need:
  • One small empty plastic soda or water bottle
  • 1/2 cup of vinegar
  • Small balloon
  • Baking soda
  • Funnel or piece of paper 

  • What You Will Do:
    1. Carefully pour the vinegar into the bottle.

    2. This is the tricky part: Loosen up the balloon by stretching it a few times and then use the funnel to fill it a bit more than half way with baking soda. If you don't have a funnel you can make one using the paper and some tape.

    3. Now carefully put the neck of the balloon all the way over the neck of the bottle without letting any baking soda into the bottle.

    4. Ready? Lift the balloon up so that the baking soda falls from the balloon into the bottle

    The Science:
    The baking soda and the vinegar create an acid base reaction and the two chemicals work together to create a gas, (carbon dioxide). Gasses need a lot of room to spread out and the carbon dioxide starts to fill the bottle, and then moves into the balloon to inflate it.

    Questions To Make it an Experiment:
     1. Does water temperature affect how fast the balloon fills up?
    2. Does the size of the bottle affect how much the balloon fills?
    3. Can the amount the balloon fills-up be controlled by the amount of vinegar or baking soda?

    A video (they used 1/4 cup vinegar and if you don't have a funnel they show you how to make one with paper).



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    Thursday, July 10, 2014

    Curating a Classroom Library: Reading in the Wild: Book Study

    It's Thursday and you know what that means?!?! Another installment of the Reading in the Wild book study. This book study hosted by Catherine, over at The Brown Bag Teacher has been awesome! It is one thing to read the book on my own, but to be able to reflect on each chapter and read what others are doing in their classrooms has been amazing! Everyone brings such a wealth of practice and knowledge each week.

    This week is being hosted by two amazing teachers Molly from Lessons with Laughter and Carrie from Being-Ladylike. Make sure you head on over to their blogs to see what insight they have on this chapter.
    This week we focused on the last section of Chapter 2, "Curating a Classroom Library." In the eight years of teaching boy have I collected a lot of books. I'm not joking. I have seven book shelves in my classroom library full of picture books and chapter books. Much to the dismay of my husband who gets to help me pack up and move quite a bit. Two years ago I moved from 3rd to 5th thus having to pack up and move upstairs into a new classroom. Then last year I switched to a new school and we had to pack up and move. Luckily the charter school I worked at had an elevator (I was on the third floor). However, at my new school I was on the second floor and there are no elevators. But it's for the kids! I love having such a great classroom library for my students. They love it too! Most of the books have come from using my scholastic points.

    Unfortunately, I don't have access to my classroom and can't take pictures of what I have going on in regards to my classroom library. Sigh...

    Donalyn Miller poses the question, "Why do we need classroom libraries? After all, most school campuses contain a school library. Doesn't it provide students with the reading material they need? (page 80) In her research, she has found that access to books in the classroom results in increased motivation and reading achievement. Having such close access to books in the classroom provides engaging and meaningful reading experiences throughout the entire school year.
    Factors to Consider When Building a Classroom Library (80-81)
    Your classroom library is constantly evolving...depending upon your students' interests that year, reading levels, etc. Miller discusses the importance of including a range of reading levels, genres, and topics so that everyone of your students can find a book to read. I love this comment she made "Full bookshelves don't matter much if your students won't (or can't) read the books." Isn't that the truth.
    I have books that get so much use in one year, they are tattered by the end of the year! I love seeing that! Yes, it means I may need to replace the book, but it's evidence that wild reading was taking place in my classroom!
    Introducing Students to the Classroom Library (81-82)

    This year I plan on doing what Miller does the first day of school - a book frenzy! She allows her students to head to the library and pick a book they are interested in reading. She does this before they discuss how to use and care for the library and the books. Once they have selected their books they discuss the rules and procedures for the classroom library. I've always done the opposite. I love her take thought! It's not my library, it is our library!

    How to Check Out and Return Books (82-83)
    I've never had a real specific check out and return system in my classroom in order to keep track of books. It just seemed like a huge hassle and I never found the time to figure out a system.  I figured if a book accidently went home and never returned it was ok...now they have a book in their home library. I've always told my students they can check out two books at a time.

    Miller uses Booksources's Classroom Organzier to keep track of the books her students check out. It is free and initially may take some work depending upon how large of a library you have. But once your library books are input in the system (it does have auto fill) your students can check books out using a Netbook or iPod. The student can record the book's condition, assign a star rating, or write a quick review. All the info is saved from year to year. It also allows the teacher to print an overdue book reminder for students. Isn't this AMAZING! I am definitely going to do this!

    How to Take Care of Books (83)
    I also like how Miller asks her students to develop rules for taking care of the books. Such a wonderful way for the kids to take some ownership over the library. It definitely helps to build the classroom community.

    How the Library is Organized (84)

    I organize the classroom library by genre and I have a few bins that are based on a specific series. The charter school I worked at used Accelerated Reader (AR), so all my books are leveled according to the AR level. My current school doesn't use AR, but I still have a chart and explain the color system to my students.

    Miller has the best ideas! For a couple weeks she will read a different picture book, short story, poem, or article to her students and then asks them to determine the genre of the text. As a class they create class notes on each genre and determine what types of characters, plots, and settings are commonly found in each genre. Once this is done she gives them tubs of books and has them work in groups to determine the genre of their tub using their class notes. Again, another activity to promote and encourage reading in the classroom. I will be doing this next year too!

    Is Your Classroom Library MUSTIE? (pages 84-85)

    Miller uses this acronym as she goes through and "cleans" up her library.

    M- Misleading
    U- Ugly
    S- Superseded
    T- Trivial
    I- Irrelevant
    E- Elsewhere

    It is important to regularly remove books that are worn out and/or have lost reading appeal with the students.

    Misleading- Check your nonfiction books and remove any that contain factually inaccurate or outdated information. This means I need to get rid of most of my solar system books.

    Ugly- Remove any books that are torn, stained, or have split bindings

    Superseded- Replace books that are continuously updated

    Trivial- Any books that lack wide appeal shouldn't stay in your classroom library

    Irrelevant- Books that were popular a few years ago, may no longer be as popular. She mentions to not eliminate quality books in good condition from your library, just reduce the number of copies you have on had to accommodate newer, more relevant titles.

    Elsewhere- Older books or books not as popular will most likely be found in the school library or the public library. Therefore, you don't need to keep them on hand.

    It has always been difficult for me to donate or give away books that I purchased, but I do agree with Miller in the importance of maintaining and updating our classroom library. She states, "We build our classroom libraries so students will fall in love with reading and find the right book at the right time. We cannot offer our students meaningful book access with damaged, outdated, or uninteresting materials."

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