Archive for July, 2011

We have all been to one of these, right? Have fun and happy Poetry Friday!


The Kindergarten Concert
Robert Pottle

The kindergarten concert was an interesting show.
Peter walked onto the stage and yelled, “I have to go!”
Katie was embarrassed, but she had nowhere to hide.
She raised her dress to hide her face. Her mother almost died.
Keith removed his tie and said, “It’s ugly, Dad. I hate it!”
David picked his nose on stage. What’s worse is that he ate it.
They sang their song, and Wyatt burped. Then he did a dance.
Michael fell while spinning ’round. Peter wet his pants.
The music teacher at the end said, “There, I’m glad that’s done.”
The kindergarten bowed and said, “Let’s sing another one!”

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Where do you like to read? I have a quiet little reading nook tucked in above the staircase in my home. Take a look at it:


It’s pretty cozy, right? So send me a picture of where you like to read – or where you happen to do most of your reading. Is it in your living room? Or in your car while you are waiting for your kids to get out of soccer practice? Is it at school? I’d love to see your pictures – if you happen to be reading one of my books in the photo, even better! I am going to pick the most creative photo and you will receive a signed copy of one of my books! So start snapping away! My e-mail address is d.diller@live.com

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What better gift to a child, than a book?

Enjoy this Poetry Friday selection by Hilaire Belloc.

On the Gift of a Book to a Child
Hilaire Belloc

Child! do not throw this book about!
   Refrain from the unholy pleasure
Of cutting all the pictures out!
   Preserve it as your chiefest treasure.
Child, have you never heard it said
   That you are heir to all the ages?
Why, then, your hands were never made
   To tear these beautiful thick pages!
Your little hands were made to take
   The better things and leave the worse ones:
They also may be used to shake
   The Massive Paws of Elder Persons.
And when your prayers complete the day,
   Darling, your little tiny hands
Were also made, I think, to pray
   For men that lose their fairylands.

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I know it’s only July, but you know that back to school time is just around the corner! Now is a great time to think about books you’d like to share with your students.

The first days of school usually provide time for a few extra read-alouds. Here is a list of books I found to help young kids ease into back to school time. I was cleaning my office yet again this weekend and came across this list I’d tucked away.
1. I Am Not Going to School Today! by Robie H. Harris (McElderry, 2003)
2. Imagine Harry by Kate Klise (Harcourt, 2007)
3. It’s Time for School with Tallulah by Nancy Wolff (Scholastic, 2007)
4. Off to Kindergarten by Tony Johnston (Scholastic, 2007)
5. Hamsters, Shells, and Spelling Bees: School Poems edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins (HarperCollins, 2008)
6. Mildred and Sam Go to School by Sharleen Collicott (HarperCollins, 2008)
7. My Kindergarten by Rosemary Wells (Hyperion, 2004)
8. Amelia Bedelia’s First Day of School by Herman Parish and Lynne Avril (Greenwillow Books, 2009)
Please post any of your favorite titles for back to school, too!

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Last December I blogged about a new friend I met at NCTE. Ranu Bhattacharyya is the author of The Castle in the Classroom and in this great video she talks about her favorite children’s authors. Who are your favorites?

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Enjoy this lovely poem by Maya Angelou on this Poetry Friday. I hope it’s one that will bring you peace, comfort, and joy. If you would like to receive weekly Peace Partners messages from me, just send your e-mail address to d.diller@live.com

Happy Poetry Friday!

Touched by an Angel
Maya Angelou

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

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Here are a few tips on how to set up a buddy reading work station from my book Practice with Purpose. What ideas do you have for this station? Have you used one in your classroom?

Two students sit beside each other on the floor. Each holds a copy of the same fiction book. They are reading a chapter silently and then using discussion cards to talk about what they read. The cards relate to a reading strategy their teacher has been modeling in whole-group instruction—inference.

They take turns reading the cards and then talking about what they think. For example, one the “I Can” list in the buddy reading basket and have chosen the option “I read a paragraph; you read a paragraph.” They are reading the assigned chapter for science in this way and stop to discuss their reading at the end of each section. When they have finished all the assigned reading, they answer the questions in the textbook together. One is the recorder and writes their answers on notebook paper.

Ideas for the Work Station
Teachers like buddy reading because it doesn’t take up much space and is easy to get started. All you need for this station is a basket (discount stores sell some that are just the right size and price!) and two copies of the same book or other short text. This is a portable station that can be taken anywhere in the classroom; you will be wise to set up predetermined places, though, so it doesn’t get overcrowded in any one area of your room. You might set up two or three buddy reading stations to accommodate more pairs of students.

You might set up different-colored buddy reading baskets for students reading at different levels or put three or four titles at different levels in one basket and code them with colored dots to help students find books at their independent reading levels.

Provide sticky notes and pencils, too, so kids can mark where they finished reading for the next time. Use a variety of texts over time, including popular chapter books, your basal reader, and social studies and science textbooks. It is wise to provide shorter text at this station so students have time to finish reading something and discuss it. Include lots of nonfiction, such as current events clipped from the newspaper, Eyewitness books, fact books such as the Guinness Book of World Records, and Cross-Section books.

To help students know exactly what is expected of them at this station, here are some possibilities for the “I Can” list:
I Can . . .
■ Read the same chapter as my buddy and discuss it when we’re finished reading.
■ Decide how we’re going to read here (together orally; you read a page aloud, I read a page aloud; silently to a certain place).
■ Read a nonfiction text together and discuss it as we read it. Then we can write a summary of what we learned as we read.
■ Use the chart on how to read nonfiction text to remind us not to skip any parts.
■ Write questions about what we read for the next kids who come here to read this text. We can put our questions on a sticky note and write the answers on the back.

How the Buddy Reading Work Station Supports Student Performance on State Tests

Having students practice reading at this station builds both comprehension and fluency. The main thing tested on standardized reading tests is comprehension. Having buddies to talk with about reading can increase student interest and engagement and encourage them to read more than they might on their own. When students pair up and practice reading orally, fluency can really improve as well. Improved fluency often aids comprehension. If the standardized test is timed, this can be a real boon to student performance on the test.

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I am bringing you another great poetry teaching resource on this Poetry Friday. This great article by Eric Selinger on the Poetry Foundation website lists the ten poems he loves to teach. What are the poems that you like to read and discuss with your students?

Read the full article here…

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E-books, anyone?

There is nothing like curling up with a good, old-fashioned print book, taking notes on the margins, and smelling that sweet smell of ink on paper. But I have to admit — when I am on the road, it can be nice to take books with me on an e-reader.

If you are traveling this summer, but would like to keep up with your professional reading, consider taking one of my books along in e-book format. Stenhouse makes all of them available in digital versions: Literacy Work Stations, Practice with Purpose, and Making the Most of Small Groups. Math Work Stations is also available in e-book format, exclusively on the Stenhouse site!

And if you still prefer the print book, but would like to keep up with the times, on the Stenhouse site you can buy the print book and get the e-book for just $5! It’s an easy way to give those e-books a try!

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I have a great, thoughtful summer poem for this Poetry Friday. Enjoy!

The Children
By Mark Jarman
The children are hiding among the raspberry canes.
They look big to one another, the garden small.
Already in their mouths this soft fruit
That lasts so briefly in the supermarket
Tastes like the past. The gritty wall,
Behind the veil of leaves, is hollow.
There are yellow wasps inside it. The children know.
They know the wall is hard, although it hums.
They know a lot and will not forget it soon.

When did we forget? But we were never
Children, never found where they were hiding
And hid with them, never followed
The wasp down into its nest
With a fingertip that still tingles.
We lie in bed at night, thinking about
The future, always the future, always forgetting
That it will be the past, hard and hollow,
Veiled and humming, soon enough.

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