Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

Publish your own cookbook in 2014!  Click here to enter Rachael Ray's cookbook competition, and you could be a published cookbook author!

Happy New Year,

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Bookworm Charm

My editor gave me a necklace with adorable book  and worm charms.  I don't know where she got it, but it is the perfect gift for any librarian, reading teacher or book lover on your list.  Think about it if you have any last-minute shopping to do.

Happy holiday reading,

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Book Swap

To get my students excited about reading over the holiday break, I plan a book swap.  I tell students to bring in a book that they enjoyed, but no longer need, to swap with a friend.  In the days leading up to the book swap, I prepare the boys and girls by sharing my expectations for the swap.
Students will have to share the title and genre, introduce the protagonist, and give a little preview of the plot, without spoiling the ending.  (This is the most difficult part.)
My friend and mentor, literacy consultant, Carol Varsalona taught me a great way to get students to summarize plot in a one-sentence gist.  "___________ wanted _______________, but ________________, so __________."  For example, for the book, The Egypt Game, students would say, "April wanted to be with her mother, but her mother sent her away, so now she must live with a grandmother she hardly knows and make new friends."
By requiring students to speak about their book using grade-appropriate vocabulary such as genre and protagonist, and by having them craft a summary of the plot that doesn't include any spoilers, students are applying what we have learned in class since September.  They are engaging in accountable talk, with me walking around the room, listening in and making sure everyone is on-task.
I end with an exit card on which students respond to questions about the book swap, rate their experience, and even offer additional comments.  I've gotten great feedback from the students, but perhaps the greatest affirmation came from a colleague who said to me, "The kids are talking about the books and trying to convince their friends to swap with them in my homeroom."  Oops!
Anyway, if you're thinking of doing this with your students, I offer the following tips:

1.  Introduce the book swap idea early and remind students every day about bringing in a book.
2.  Offer extra credit to students who bring in extra books.  (You'll need them for the students who
     inevitably forget to bring in their own book to swap.)
3.  Model your own book talk with enthusiasm.  Remember, you are trying to convince someone to
     trade with you.

My students have enjoyed this activity, and a colleague who tried it with her special-ed students said they really loved it, too.  As a result of the book swap, every student goes home with a new (to them) book to read over the holiday break, and hopefully, some peer-inspired motivation to read.

Happy holiday reading,

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Christmas Carol Turns 170 Today

The Dickens classic was published 170 years ago today.  What is your favorite rendition of this classic?

Happy holiday reading,

Monday, December 9, 2013

Rhymes with Reason 2014

The Highlights Foundation is offering this workshop on writing rhyming picture books, on of the most difficult genres in which to get published. 

Happy reading and rhyming,

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Second Sight Saturday: A Day That Will Live in Infamy

I originally posted this two years ago.

December 7, 2011
Below is an audio clip of President Roosevelt's "Infamy" speech, made before Congress on December 8, 1941.  I hope you will find it useful in integrating history and meeting the Common Core Standards for Speaking and Listening.   Of course, you might consider reading the transcript of the speech with your students as you pursue the Common Core Standards for Reading Informational Text.

 Transcript of Joint Address to Congress Leading to a Declaration of War Against Japan (1941) Mr. Vice President, and Mr. Speaker, and Members of the Senate and House of Representatives:
Yesterday, December 7, 1941 "a date which will live in infamy" the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
The United States was at peace with that Nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American Island of Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.
It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.
Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island. And this morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our Nation.
As Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.
But always will our whole Nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory. I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.
With confidence in our armed forces—with the unbounding determination of our people—we will gain the inevitable triumph- so help us God.
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.
Transcription courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum.

Happy reading,

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Food for Thought

Today I read that a Chick-Fil-A will be opening up not far from here.  With Chick-Fil-A encroaching on the northeast, would you choose to eat there?  Their sandwiches are supposed to be delicious, but could you really give your hard-earned money to a company that donates to anti-gay groups in opposition to same sex marriage?

Happy reading and eating at places where everyone is treated with respect,

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Mingle with Members of NYPL

This weekend, members of the New York Public Library will welcome in the holidays at a festive open house.  Children can see puppet shows, make crafts and meet characters from literature, like Scrooge and Mother Goose.  Click here to learn how to become a member.  You'll not only share a cup of good cheer, you'll be supporting all of the wonderful educational programs that public libraries provide as cornerstones of our democracy.

Happy reading,