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Archive for the ‘Books and videos’ Category

Recently I had the privilege of participating in the 20th Annual Plum Creek Literacy Festival at Concordia University in Seward, NE as the literacy expert featured speaker. What a joy! Not only did I get to share my ideas on literacy stations with Nebraska educators, but I got to hear Eric Litwin who wrote the amazing Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes and other stories.

I’ve been enamored with the Pete the Cat series for a while. But my infatuation deepened when I saw how my granddaughter, Chloe, connected with this character at only 20 months old. In fact, this is the first storybook character she’s identified with. We have the first four Pete books and of course, the stuffed animal book character.

When she arrives at my house, Chloe usually enquires about Pete the Cat and then goes in search of him to cart around and engage in play. As an early childhood educator, I’m fascinated by her language development and pay close attention to it. Recently, at 25 months old, I heard her use five-word sentences for the first time. (Only two weeks prior, it was four-word sentences.) And, interestingly, her longest sentences included Pete! As she went into her playroom with the little kitchen and play food, here’s what she had to say:

“Get Pete the Cat, please.”

“I hold Pete the Cat.”

“Pete hungry.”

“Here, Pete.”

Yesterday morning, when I found out that I was presenting in the auditorium that Eric would perform in after my sessions, I was thrilled! I could meet the guy behind these engaging stories. I’d been a bit confused on if he was the author, the songwriter, the illustrator, or just what. He told his story, and it all made sense.

Eric Litwin was a teacher of young children. He gets little kids and what they love! He gets early reading instruction! And he gets my vote for being an outstanding entertainer with outstanding pedagogy!

Why weren’t little kids becoming joyous readers? is a question he investigated. He found that the combo of only phonics and high frequency words wasn’t enough. It’s important, but not enough. So he added his winning pieces… repetition, rhyme, call and response, prediction (in the form of questions), and music (which helps the brain remember those high frequency words and beginning sounds). Pure genius! No wonder Chloe loves these books!

He shared with me that he wrote the first four Pete the Cat books only. Eric Litwin met James Dean at a folk art festival and loved his paintings of Pete. They combined their strengths, James Deans’ art, with Eric Litwin’s story and song, to make four wonderful books!

Eric plays the guitar, dances, and is totally silly (but fun!). I learned that he has created several new series with fun new characters… the Nut family (based upon his own family) and Groovy Dog (to be published by Scholastic). I can’t wait to introduce Chloe and the children I work with around the country to these new characters, stories, and songs.

To hear over 100 of Eric Litwin’s songs, go to www.thelearninggroove.com. You and your children will be glad you did!

Do you have a story about your children and their love for Pete the Cat? I’d love to hear it!

Eric Litwin Chloe and Pete the Cat

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I am currently on hiatus as I put finishing touches on my latest book, Growing Independent Learners (Stenhouse Publishers). But meanwhile, please have fun exploring all the information posted here. You can browse posts by using key words to the right or the search bar at the top of the page to find helpful resources from my work in classrooms all over North America. For more information, please visit my website or Facebook page.

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Look what was posted on the Stenhouse website last week! It’s not quite yet available, but click over to the website to order your copy!

moving-into-math-stations-k-2

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I am so excited to share with you the first sneak peek of my new math stations DVD. It’s been a labor of love — and it continues to be as I put the finishing touches on this great video. It should be available later this year, so if you would like to find out when it goes on sale you can sign up at the Stenhouse Publishers website and get a notification! I hope you are as excited about this as I am! Enjoy the clip — more to come soon!

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Here is a great free PD opportunity for you, courtesy of Stenhouse Publishers: Starting Monday, June 25, they will be hosting their annual Stenhouse Summer Blogstitute. The Blogstitute will feature posts on writing, classroom talk, and math by several great authors, including Jeff Anderson, Mark Overmeyer, and Peter Johnston.

During the last week of the blogstitute you will have the chance to preview my Math Work Stations video that is still in production. So stayed tuned during the Blogstitute for the exact date when the sneak preview will air!

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One of my favorite things to do at the annual IRA convention (which was in Chicago this year) is to look at all the wonderful children’s books for sale in the exhibit hall. This year I shopped with my daughter, Jessica, in mind. She is living and working in Little Cayman for 6 months. Lucky girl! It is for an internship she’s doing as a grad student at University of Florida where she is working on a Master’s in Ecology.

Part of the time Jessica works with students from ages 10-13 who come to LC on an overnight class field trip from the other islands. She introduces them to marine biology and conservation (and shows them the lionfish she’s studying). She is documenting her work here and just got a grant funded for an underwater video camera. I suggested she think about creating a science-related book with photos to use in her training with the kids here.

I could only choose a few books (because my suitcase in Chicago was already packed to the max), so I picked three:

·     The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder by Mark Cassino with Jon Nelson, Ph.D.

·     Water Sings Blue: Ocean Poems by Kate Coombs

·     Manfish, A Story of Jacques Cousteau by Jennifer Berne

Fortunately, I was flying to Little Cayman to visit my daughter the day after IRA! So when I arrived, I shared these titles with Jessica. She can’t wait to use the ocean ones with her kids. The snow book will be used as a mentor text for her. Who knows? Maybe she’ll be the next award-winning science writer for kids!

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Even with all of the great technology around us, sometimes you just have to get back to the basics. That’s what I did last week with my Stenhouse editor Toby Gordon when we locked ourselves in a hotel room in Philadelphia to figure out the final structure of my new Math Work Stations video. Post-Its did the trick! That’s me in the picture, taking notes. Stay tuned for more!

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