Monthly Archives: January 2015

Our Mock Caldecott

Third graders often start the year thinking they are “too old” for picture books. One of my missions is to show them that nobody is too old for picture books. This year we started our Mock Caldecott way back in November. We looked at some former winners and perused the criteria. Then we started reading. We shared 24 outstanding picture books and further developed our reading community along the way. Then, it was decision time. Each reader got a chance to put forth their favorites and convince us of their merits and then like modern voters we used a Google form to vote secretly. The first ballot was deemed too close to call, so it was decided that the top 5 picks would go to the final. In the end Quest by Aaron Becker was the winner. Our class awarded three honors: Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, Ivan, the Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla, and The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend.

We look forward to seeing what happens when the winners are announced February 2nd. The program starts at 10PM local time, and some students have already asked parents for a later bedtime that night, but I have assured the students we will watch it together the next morning, There is talk of creating our own medals for our favorites.

Official book trailers:




Sam and Dave:

I think we will make our own trailers for these fab books! We learned so much as we worked through this unit and the students are remarkably knowledgeable about picture books now. I think it is safe to say they will never be “too old” for picture books!


We look

5 Things I Loved About Last Week -January 18, 2015

1. Back to School- Monday was the first day back at school in 2015 and it was great to see the kids again and catch up on the last three weeks. We had a new student join us and t was wonderful to see the students welcome him so easily.

2. Reading- We shared our favorite books read over break and the students were thrilled to see all of the new books I brought for them. It is fun to see awesome books being passed from reader to reader.

3. Read alouds- We have started a poetry unit, so I am reading Sharon Creech’s Love That Dog and the third graders are loving it. We have also started The One and Only Ivan and there is never enough time to read as much as we would like. Both books have such short chapters, which makes it easy to slip in a bit whenever we have a minute or two.

4. One Little Word- On Monday I introduced my students to the idea of choosing “One Little Word” to help them achieve their goals for 2015. We brainstormed together and then each went off to think about their own. When they were ready they created a sign for their word as a visual reminder. Then I took a picture of each student holding their word. After printing these out each student write about how their word will help them this year.

5. Planning ahead- I have registered my class for Global School Play Day ( coming February 4th, signed up for Quad Blogging, started looking for partners for World Read Aloud Day (,  started brainstorming for (International Book Giving Day) Lots more connected learning in the next few months!

All in all, 2015 is off to a great start! Here’s to a great second semester!

#SharkWeek- How to Outswim a Shark Without a Snorkel #SharkNotes

9781402297588-PRI am excited to share my thoughts on How to Outswim a Shark Without a Snorkel, book 2 in Jess Keating’s My Life Is a Zoo series.

Ten Things I Loved About the Book (and you will too)!

1. Ana Wright, the 12-year-old main character loves lists (and does not always stick to the number of entries she advertises- The Top Three Changes in My Life (4 listed))

2. It is written in the first person- and Ana is funny! (“From what I could tell, the miracle of life came with lots of…goo.”

3. Ana talks to us readers with lots of italics (almost as awesome as exclamation marks!)

4. Each chapter starts with some “animal wisdom” and Ana’s snarky take on it

5. Ana includes Creature Files on the people around her as she tries to figure out everybody, which includes their species name, kingdom, phylum, weight, natural habitat, feeds on, life span, and handling technique. What an insight into the ways that we all try to fit people into groups, maybe even more so as a middle schooler

6. Ana is so realistic (which is not to say that everyone lives in a literal zoo, but her thoughts, worries, adventures, could be the same as so many her age). Ana reminds me of so many people I know or did know, including myself

7. Ana is wise- she learns from her mistakes, but never in a preachy way

8. The book is about real issues that readers will identify with- growing up (kissing, shaving legs, “squat tests), fitting in, bullying, sibling rivalry, figuring out who you want to be, risk taking

9. The book definitely continues the series, but could also stand alone- not always true of series I love

10. The series will continue!

11. I got to be a part of #SharkWeek and you can too, if you buy/borrow the book NOW!


Reading Mojo

Yahoo- I have it back! I have struggled a bit as a reader since preparing to move and actually moving the last 8 months or so. I set a Goodreads goal last December of reading 214 books, and I fell short.

I kind of knew I might when I set the number, as I was pretty sure I would move and knew that this would cut into my time and energy for reading, but I am stubborn, so I refused to lower the goal.I kept reading and I kept track of my reading, which was important to me. I kept buying books, kept recommending books, also important to me. I moved to a new country, so had to find new book stores (truth- I visited the first one and made my first purchases within 24 hours of landing!). I changed schools, so I had to get used to a new community of readers (and investigate a new school library). I have established myself as a book crazy person here- quite important to me.

The last days before break I had my students create a reading plan. I made one too. I told them about Donalyn Miller’s #bookaday and told them that this is what I was aiming for over the break. We have three weeks off, so that meant a 23 book goal. Here it is two days before break ends and I have already read 26 books and I am happy to report that my reading mojo is back. I have been to a book store 4 times over break and bought many lovely new books for our classroom (thanks to Nicholas and Ashleigh for the gift certificates!). I have also ordered some through a friend who will bring them to me from the US. I am happy that I was able to pay it forward in a small way. John Schumaker is one of my kid lit reading idols and over break he celebrated his 4 year blog anniversary. I gave away a copy of one of his favorite books (The One and Only Ivan) to a teacher I have never met in his name. Over break I had more time to read about new books andI have preordered several books that are not yet published-I am a giddy reader again. I can’t wait to get to school on Monday, in part to share the great books I am bringing in, but also because I know that there are two boxes of books I ordered waiting for me… more books to read! I am so happy to feel like a reader again- I am busy making it a priority again in my life and I appreciate the joy of reading in new ways! I know that this post is somewhat stream of conscience, but know this- this reader is back and ready for more great books!


I did not do very well with my #nerdlutions last year, but this year is a new chance!

#nerdlution started last year with a bunch of Nerdy Book Club people on Twitter trying to motivate/support each other to make positive changes in the new year (there were even two rounds).

This year I am in it make my changes!

Thanks to @MrazKristine for the logo!


I am going to:

1. Read a picture book a day. My reading total was down in 2014, mostly due to a busy move across the world and settling in to a new school, but now I am here and it is time to read more. I do not have access to books at home, so this will start up once I am back to school on the 12th, but I will read some extra to make it a #bookaday. I know I have some that I ordered waiting for me at school and I have also ordered a few more via a friend. I will use our school library to fill some reading gaps too.

2. Drink more water. I live in a tropical climate and I know I need to drink more water than I do. My goal is to drink 4 liters a day (a bit more than a gallon). I know this will make me feel better and be good for me too.

3. Blog a least once a week. I have been TERRIBLE about blogging and I really need to get back to it. I enjoy it, and never worry about how few people read it, as it is a really a place for me to reflect. So, I will push myself to blog at least once a week. I would like to try out different formats (such as Slice of Life, It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?, etc, so I find a routine that will help keep me going).

4. Reflect on my new #olw daily. My word for 2014 was “brave”. I used it as a focus as I took the plunge and took on a new job at a new school far away from anyone I know. It was the perfect word for me last year. This year I am ready for “change”. I love the idea that Gandhi may have said something similar to “Be the change you want to see in the world” even though the New York Times tells me that it is a misrepresentation ( ). I think instead of waiting for things around me to change I have to be more of a change maker, even if they are tiny changes that only I may notice. I sometimes think about the changes I think should be made and wait for someone else to make the first move. This is true in my professional life as well as in my personal life, so I am going to look for opportunities to make positive changes every day. It took me a while to choose my word- others considered include: today, positive, better, and present, so I am trying to incorporate those words and more in my #olw.

Here’s hoping that my #nerdlutions will work for me. I am looking forward to reading about others.

Happy Blog Birthday to @MrSchuReads

As Mr. Schu celebrates his 4th anniversary of blogging I am reminded of how important the Nerdy Book Club community has been to me these last few years! I know that one of John’s favorite books is coming out in paperback in the next week and it includes a note he wrote, so I plan to give away a copy of The One and Only Ivan in his honor. Thanks to Niki (@daydreamreader) for the idea of giving a book in his honor. Thanks to Mr. Schu (@MrSchuReads) for being such an amazing reading mentor! I will tweet out this message and choose a random retweeter to gift the book to by the publication date on January 6th (6PM Kuala Lumpur time).