Archive for June, 2011

Math Work Stations discussion

Have you been following the book study of Math Work Stations? There is a great discussion taking place across several blogs. This week the group is talking about Chapter 6: Place Value Work Stations. Check out the full schedule here and join the discussion. You can leave your ideas in the comments section on my blog as well — what ideas and tips do you have for your fellow teachers about teaching place value?

If you purchase Math Work Stations during the book discussion, you can get free shipping when you use the code MATH during checkout on the Stenhouse site.

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Here is a cute children’s poem for this week’s Poetry Friday. A good way to practice spelling!


Benny Said, Ruby Said
J. Patrick Lewis

Benny said
To Ruby Lee,
“M-A-R-R-Y M-E!”
Ruby said,
To Benny,
“Ben, wouldn’t
That be F-U-N?”
Benny said,
“My Ruby Lee,
We will W-E-D
Only if you let me K-
I-S-S you
Every day!”

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What a joy it was to keynote at Indiana State Reading Conference! While there, I had a chance to meet Linda and Tom Warren, owner of TopCopy Books. These folks know children’s literature and helped me find several new titles to use in my teaching! To contact them, email topcopybooks@gmail.com. Can’t wait to share these new books with kids!

New Titles for Math:

  • Wild Fibonacci: Nature’s Secret Code Revealed by Joy N. Hulme
  • For Good Measure: The Ways We Say How Much, How Far, How Heavy, How Big, How Old by Ken Robbins

New Fun and Creative Titles:

  • Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys by Bob Raczka
  • My Best Friend is as Sharp as a Pencil by Hanoch Piven
  • Mirror, Mirror by Marilyn Singer

What are some of your favorite new titles you’ve been reading to your kids?


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Here is a lovely Father’s Day poem by Li-Young Lee for this Poetry Friday. Read it, enjoy, and then call your dad!

The Gift
Li-Young Lee

To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he’d removed
the iron sliver I thought I’d die from.
I can’t remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head.
Had you entered that afternoon
you would have thought you saw a man
planting something in a boy’s palm,
a silver tear, a tiny flame.
Had you followed that boy
you would have arrived here,
where I bend over my wife’s right hand.
Look how I shave her thumbnail down
so carefully she feels no pain.
Watch as I lift the splinter out.
I was seven when my father
took my hand like this,
and I did not hold that shard
between my fingers and think,
Metal that will bury me,
christen it Little Assassin,
Ore Going Deep for My Heart.
And I did not lift up my wound and cry,
Death visited here!
I did what a child does
when he’s given something to keep.
I kissed my father.

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While working at Jackson Elementary in York, PA I saw many students using work stations. One of my favorites was the “Dental Health” station. Kids practiced flossing with yarn and a large model of teeth. There were several familiar books about teeth in this station, too. I love when I see well-organized classroom libraries with labeled baskets to help students choose their “just-right” books. One classroom library had response supports to help kids write about and post responses to what they’d read there. And, last but not least, it’s always very helpful to see kid-friendly objectives displayed in a classroom to help teachers and kids stay on track and get the most they can from the day!

Dental health station

Well-organized classroom library

Classroom library I-Can List

Kid-friendly objectives for the day posted

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I wanted to share a great resource with you on this Poetry Friday. If you are not familiar with the Poetry Foundation’s children’s poetry section, you should head over and look around. They offer book recommendations, teacher resources, videos, and much more. There’s a great article in the section right now about slipping poetry into children’s lunch boxes — what a fun idea!

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We used a variety of materials with upper grade students in guided reading in Spring Grove, PA. Kids love reading short pieces of nonfiction text, such as those pictured here in this post. What materials have you found useful in working with guided reading with older kids?

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Great posters

I saw good things displayed on the walls of the instructional coach’s office at Goode Elementary in York, PA. These “tracks of their learning” showed me what was most important at this school. During my visit here, I had the opportunity to plan and model lessons with the staff as we worked together in this room. Here are a few things I saw on the walls:

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Recently, a friend gave me a poem as a gift. What a lovely gesture! To take the time to read and find just the right words to share with someone close to you. This made me think about finding poems to give others as gifts. So I began browsing the poems and words of Naomi Shihab Nye. I love these words from her:

“It is really hard to be lonely very long in a world of words. Even if you don’t have friends somewhere, you still have language, and it will find you and wrap its little syllables around you and suddenly there will be a story to live in.”

I hope that you will find and share words and poems with those you love. Read poems to your students every day!

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