Thursday, April 27, 2017

Books for Teaching Empathy for Middle Years

My colleague and friend, Amanda Rheault, shared a list of books to teach empathy she makes available to her grade six students at Carman Elementary School.

The list is from TeachThought and you can find the list here with lovely covers to make them easy to identify and a brief description of the book. I know you will have read many of them! But I am excited because there are many that I have not read. I am going to get started on some of them beginning with The Boy on the Wooden Box,  a memoir by Leon Leyson, because Amanda recommended it.

Book The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible . . . on Schindler's List by Leon Leyson
This, the only memoir published by a former Schindler’s list child, perfectly captures the innocence of a small boy who goes through the unthinkable. Leon Leyson (born Leib Lezjon) was only ten years old when the Nazis invaded Poland and his family was forced to relocate to the Krakow ghetto. With incredible luck, perseverance, and grit, Leyson was able to survive the sadism of the Nazis, including that of the demonic Amon Goeth, commandant of Plaszow, the concentration camp outside Krakow.

The list would be a great link to share with your students. I can see a Math lesson as the students survey the class to determine what they have read and then preparing spreadsheets and charts to showcase the results.  I would be curious to know which of the books has been read by the most students.

Amanda used the empathy theme for a book of the month study. Students completed their weekly check-in questions (character development, conflict, predictions,etc). Then they took the place of the main character in the book. They explained what they would have done/felt/said in the place of the main character. They then re-wrote the back cover and recreated the book cover to fit themselves into the picture and write up. 

Thank you Amanda for sharing your learning with us.

Literacy in the 21st Century Book Draws

Participants are always happy to choose a book from our table to take home from the workshop. Check out the books available this year.

Book Optimists Die First by Susin NielsenBook The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Title Author
Because of Mr. Terupt Rob Buyea MG
Viola Desmond Jody Nyasha Warner PB
A Child of Books Oliver Jeffers PB
Darkest Dark Chris  PB
I Am Not a Number Jenny Kay Dupuis PB
Blackthorn Key Kevin Sands MG
Be Light Like a Bird Monika Schroder MG, YA
Short Holly Goldberg Sloan MG, YA
Last Shot David Skuy MG, YA
Holding Up the Universe Jennifer Niven YA
Optimists Die 1st Susin Nielsen YA
When I Was the Greatest Jason Reynolds YA
Carve the Mark Veronica Roth YA
Girl in Pieces Kathleen Glasgow YAYA
Maybe a Fox Kathi Appelt & Allison McGhee MG
Elijah of Buxton Cristopher Paul Curtis MG
Moose Goose Animals on the  Geraldo Valerio PB
Minrs Kevin Sylvester MG
The Night Gardener Jonathan Auxier MG, YA
Dog Man Unleashed Dav Pilkey MG
We were Liars e. lockhart YA
Dumplin Julie Murphy YA
Inquisitors Tale Adam Gidwitz MG
PAX Sarah Pennypacker MG
Word of Mouse James Paterson MG
Towers Falling Jewel Parker Rhodes MG, YA
When We Were Alone David A. Robertson PB
Little Boy from Jamaica Pearlene and Devon Clunis  PB
Missing Melanie Florence YA
Dog Man Unleashed Dav Pilkey MG
Holding Up the Universe Jennifer Niven YA
Missing Nimama Melanie Florence PB
Since You've Been Gone Morgan Matson YA
Happy Dreamer Peter Reynolds PB
Du Iz Tak Carson Ellis PB
Funny Bones Duncan Tonatiuh PB
Pancho Rabbit Duncan Tonatiuh PB
Flying Lessons & Other Stories Ellen Oh MG, YA
Weekends with Max and Dad Linda Urban EY, MG
The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary Laura Shovan MG 
The Hate You Give Angie Thomas YA
The Serpent King Jeff Zentner YA
The Girl Who Drank the Moon Kelly Barnhill MG

Book When We Were Alone by David Alexander Robertson   Book Viola Desmond Wont Be Budged by Jody Nyasha Warner

Literacy in the 21st Century

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Let's Share our Canadian Authors and Books with the Global Read Aloud

Have you participated in the Global Read Aloud? GRA was created in 2010 on the premise of one book to connect the world. Classes connect with other classrooms to read the same book at the same time and to talk about their reading, to do similar assignments, and to learn more about where they live. Some teachers prefer to connect with just one other classroom, others prefer to connect with many classrooms. I have noticed that many connections last throughout the year. You can find out more about GRA on their website here. You can also find GRA on Facebook.

You will find the book choices from 2016 on the website. GRA chooses an author study for picture books and Lauren Castillo, an illustrator, was selected. She is well-known as an illustrator, but is also author of Nana in the City.

At the middle grades you could choose between Roald Dahl's The BFG or PAX by Sarah Pennypacker (illustrated by Canadian Jon Klassen).

At the high school level the choices were All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely or Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt. There is also a French version of GRA here.

You might even consider participating in the next event in the fall of 2017.  At this time, books are being suggested for the various levels and Pernille Ripp has asked for more suggestions from non-American authors and for more diversity.

The purpose of my blog post today is to ask for your help. Let's share our Canadian voice to the Global Read Aloud. Submit your ideas for your favourite Canadian authors or books here.

Who would you suggest? Please add suggestions to the comments section. I am sure we will find more great Canadian authors and illustrators by posting our ideas.  Be sure to make your suggestions to GRA#17 as well using the link just above.

Here are some of my suggestions:

Marie Louise Gay - Stella and Sam and so much more
Melanie Watt - Chester and Scaredy Squirrel plus her recent Bug in a Vacuum

Deborah Ellis - What book would you choose?
Kenneth Oppel - The Nest
Eric Walters - Choose a book
Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch - Making Bombs for Hitler or Stolen Child

Who are your favourite Canadian authors and favourite Canadian books?

Join GRA#17 and connect your class to others. Learn about their area and discover similarities and differences.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Books with Shiny Stickers

The first hour of my day was filled with excitement this morning! The American Library Association Announced its Youth Media Awards this morning and I tuned in to the live feed. I am always curious to learn the winners of the Newbery and Caldecott awards, but the other awards are also very special.

Last year's winners Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena and illustrated by Christian Robinson  and Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick and illustrated by Sophie Blackall are two of my favourite books. I was especially happy to see a picture book win the Newbery which is usually given to a chapter book. Winnie's hometown connection to Winnipeg also makes the book special. See my post from January, 2016.

I have been following Pernille Ripp, Carrie Gelson and Colby Sharp as their grade seven and grade three classrooms made their mock Caldecott and Newbery selections. I found I had similar tastes to their lists. I have added a number of potential winners to my own collection including Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay by Susan Hood, illustrated by Sally Wern Comport; Penguin Problems by Jory John, illustrated by Lane Smith; School's First Day of School by Adam Rex and Christian Robinson ; They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel; We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen and several more.

You may notice that I didn't do very well in determining the winner! But I have enjoyed adding some really great books to my collection.
I have also added to my YA and middle years collection including The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner. I was quite thrilled to have an almost instant reply to my tweet congratulating him on his Morris Award given to a debut book by a first-time author.

Another debut author that I add to my must read list is Nicola Yoon. She was honoured for The Sun is Also a Star receiving the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe for New Talent Author award and a Michael L Printz honor for excellence in literature for young adults.

I am a Jason Reynolds fan and immediately purchase his books as soon as they are available. Reynolds won two awards today for As Brave as You--the Coretta Scott King(author) honor book and the Schneider Family Book Award for Ghost. Ghost also won the Odyssey Honor book award for the audiobook.

[Drumroll please} The winners for the Newbery and Caldecott medals are:

Newbery Medal

Author Kelly Barnhill

Caldecott Medal

Author and illustrator Javaka Steptoe

The book that won the most awards was March Book 3 by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, artist Nate Powell. March Book 3 is the last in a trilogy about American civil rights activism. Awards included the Coretta Scott King award for best children's book by an African-American and the Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in children's literature.  It also won the YALSA award for excellence in non-fiction for young adults. The Robert F. Sibert Informational book award for children was the fourth award.

Sarah Dessen and Rick Riordan also received recognition at the American Library Association Youth Media awards. Check out all the winners here.

Check out the #alayma hashtag on Twitter.

I have to give credit to Mr @olby Sharp for my article title today. He tweeted this morning:

Today is about celebrating books that win shiny stickers. Every other day is about celebrating ALL the great books written for kids.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

2017 What's Hot in Literacy?

The International Literacy Association releases the results of a annual survey of literacy leaders from 89 countries and territories. You can find more information about the survey on the ILA website.

The two key findings that stood out most for me were Early Literacy and Teacher Professional Learning and Development. According to the survey, early literacy is both hot and important. The respondents found it extremely important, but it was only a hot topic for 54% of the people surveyed. I can see similarities in our province. We know early literacy is very important, but it doesn't seem to get the attention it deserves from government.  Some of our communities have excellent programs for preschool children, but families have to take advantage of the opportunity to make use of them. As we approach Family Literacy Day on January 27th, think about how you can support early literacy in your community.

Teacher professional learning and development is extremely important according to the survey, but it was only rated as 47% hot. Our reading councils, like most educators, are very cognizant of the "one-shot" workshop woes, but dollars are scarce for longer term training sessions.  We know administrators must carefully consider what PD to support.  The move to Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) is an effort to improve our professional practice through collaborative learning. Don't miss the opportunity to connect with other literacy leaders at the 4th Adolescent Literacy Summit on April 12-13 in Winnipeg. Check out the Summit website for more information.

Parent engagement and access to books and content had the largest gap between what's hot and what's important. Are these topics you or your colleagues are talking about? How do we ensure our students have access to literacy materials? Are there Free Little Libraries (or some form of them) in your community? Does your school library provide access for families over the summer? What has your school done to make literacy connections with parents? Have you tried a whole school novel, one that all students and parents read?

The survey data provides material for some interesting conversations. Share your ideas!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Let's Grow Readers

If you wish further information, please call Lisa at Elm Creek School 204.436-2354
or email