Friday, August 31, 2012

NLNW Favourite Children's Literature

Did you know that it is the last day of Literacy and Numeracy Week 2012? That’s right it is National Literacy and Numeracy Week.  It is also Friday, the day of favourites.  Therefore to merge the two I have decided share a couple of my favourite picture books and two of my favourite children’s authors.  Let’s face it, the kids’ books are usually the best anyway.  The Numeracy side of life has been a little neglected. I will have to work out how to make up for that.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Voirst

I can retell this story without the book.  I love the repetition in this book and I love the simplicity of the plot.  Poor Alexander is having one of those days.  He woke up in a funk and the whole day is just one failure after another.  For some reason I could very easily relate to Alexander and the lack of sympathy he gets from those around him.  But Alexander must have had a similarly profound impact on others of my generation, as he is quite the popular guy these days.  I have a friend of a friend who named her child Alexander after the character in this book. A simple YouTube search will lead you to several videos of read alouds, animations, readers’ theatre performances and children’s plays all based on Alexander’s rotten day.   

My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes by Eve Sutton and Lynley Dodd

This is another “repetition” book.  I remember my year 1 teacher reading this book to the class and it instantly became a favourite.  We all know how much I love rhyme and for some reason the idea of all these imaginary cats doing such silly things delighted me as well.  However, the cat who likes to hide in boxes was more enchanting than those of the imagination.  This was another book that I could quote parts of without the book itself and it has stuck in my mind for more than 20 years.  I sound so old! Anyway, I found a brand new copy at a local bookstore a few years ago and I had to buy it.  I love sharing this one with the nephews and nieces and it is just the right length too. 

Winning Authors

I have mentioned before that GraemeBase is probably one of my favourite author/ illustrators.  I can’t possibly choose one of his books to be more favourite than any of the others.  I love his alliteration, rhyme, hidden messages, illustrations and imaginary worlds.  You cannot understand the wonder of a Grame Base book until you experience it.  His books are irresistible.

Another Favourite Author, who I’m sure I have mentioned before is Jackie French.  She writes picture books, young adult fiction novels, non-fiction texts and a blog.  This lovely lady, I have never met, has a fascinating story of her own (dyslexia presented her with many challenges to overcome at school and during her writing career).  Jackie French has written something for everyone.  

Happy Reading! :D

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A time to learn

Thursday is upon us.

It is National Literacy and Numeracy Week.  Have I mentioned that already?  I have?  Oh, well, just in case you missed it.

At school the plan is for everyone to celebrate the fundamentals of learning.  The reading, writing and arithmetic that is necessary for learning all the other subjects is supposed to be explored this week.  Our school has had much planned.
I have been disappointed by the response (or lack thereof) of the staff and students at my school.  I didn't expect the students to behave much differently, but I did expect that the teachers would show just a little more enthusiasm.  While I walked briskly towards my staffroom on Tuesday (after a disappointing Literacy event) I tried to hide my overwhelming despondency and anger.  Let's face it people, I was frustrated.  I swore quite a bit in the silence of my empty classroom.  I am not ashamed to admit it.  I am human and I have feelings too.

I considered a nasty email sent out to all staff.  I thought about a sharply worded complaint to the administration of the school (who, by the way, were happy to let the event occur, but did not attend).  I even imagined how it would go if I suddenly busted into the deputy principal's office and told him what I really felt.  Then, I sat down at my desk.  The tears would not come.  I was too angry for tears.  I just sat.  Then I remembered, that there is a time for everything and everything happens in its time.  I realised that an immature outburst in my deputy's office or worse, on the internet, would only do damage to my cause.  So, there I sat to settle down before getting back to the "to do" list.

God is Good.
Despite my disappointment, Tuesday, was a learning opportunity.  I have grown in the last year (not just physically).  The event and its fizzle showed me just how much I have learned.
There is a time to be speak and a time to be silent.  I still struggle with this one.  But, on Tuesday, I got it right.  It was a time to be silent, and so I was.

Today, I am thankful that God is my heavenly Father.  I am thankful, that His Word and His Spirit guides my path.  I am also thankful that I can read and write and even do arithmetic.  There is something I have that many others don't.  I am blessed.  I will lift my voice to heaven, because my God is Good.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

1000 words

Although it would normally be Word Day, I decided to change it up a bit and make it Picture Day. True comedy is actually very clever.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

10 things I learned about Numeracy

  1. Numeracy goes hand in hand with Literacy.
  2. Whenever I represent numbers, compare or order numbers I am using numeracy skills.
  3. Reading a scale/ ruler/ map/recipe involves both literacy and numeracy skills.
  4. Numeracy has nothing to do with “being good” or “being bad” at math. 
  5. Numeracy doesn’t just happen in Mathematics classes but  in English, Science, Social Studies, Technology, Home Economics, Music, Health and Physical Education and every other school subject.
  6. Numeracy can be a whole lot of fun.
  7. Time is a difficult Numeracy concept to teach and reading an analogue clock is a dying art.
  8. Numeracy requires an understanding of “place value” and the concept of “number” and these are difficult to grasp. 
  9. Board games both, teach and provide opportunity for, students to practice numeracy skills.  
  10. Numeracy is Necessary. 
Happy Literacy and Numeracy Week 2012!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Looking for Alaska (sort of a review)

There are some books that are fun to read and so absorbing that the world seems like a dream and the book seems real.  There are some books that are worth staying up past midnight to read.  You love reading them and you want others to read them too.  You rave about these books and want more than anything to share them. 

Then, there are some books that are none of those things.  These books are okay; they will adequately waste some time while you catch the train, but they are not a good read.  They are not the kind of book you will read again. 

But, there is a third type of book.  This kind is much like the first.  This type of book entertains you with word play and great characters and a “what will happen?” atmosphere that captivates you.  Then, just about the time when you have connected with the characters and hope for a happy ending, it hits you.  The inevitable complication comes and it breaks your heart.  You want to be angry with the author and throw the book in the corner.  But you can’t.  You just can’t.  You have to see if it can be solved.  You have to know.  Suddenly, you can’t turn the pages fast enough and you are sad and angry and frustrated all at once and you can’t go to sleep before you finish this book. 

Then, it is over.  You read the last page and you see that while it didn’t happen the way you wanted, it all worked out “ok” in the end. Now you realise this book is not like the others.  You close the book and you stare while your mind swims with the characters, the last words, the metaphors, the jokes, the endings.  You wonder why that happened.  You question how and where and when.  You want to read more, but you know there is nothing left.  You are pleased that you finished it and you know the ending.  You are sad because it’s over.  You put the book on the night stand and try to go to sleep but you can’t.  You remember that you were supposed to write a review of this book on your blog.  You start to wonder how you can do that.  This book was “one of those books” and it is too soon.  It is way too soon to talk about it.  What can you possibly say to explain how this book has provoked you?  The thoughts aren’t even lined up yet.  It is all blurry.  You aren’t quite sure what you think about it yet. You don’t know if you like it.  You don’t know that it has actually changed you.  Is this book the kind you can share? Is it the kind you can talk about? You almost want to hide it under the pillow.  This book is special and you don’t want to lose it. 

Well, I thought that I would have trouble reviewing John Green’s Lookingfor Alaska.  Perhaps I didn’t review it exactly, but I did tell you about it.  Looking for Alaska is one of those extraordinary books.  The internet and the blurb on the back of the book will tell you what you need to know about plots and characters and words.  I don’t need to tell you that part. 

All I need to tell you is that Looking for Alaska, is a remarkable read!  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

National Literacy and Numeracy Week 2012

In Australia, National Literacy and Numeracy Week launched officially yesterday.  Just like Book Week, the school based activities will be launching Monday morning.  Do think of the Teacher Librarians, the Numeracy Coaches, Literacy Coaches and support co-ordinators this week. 
This is an opportunity to show kids that being literate and numerate opens doors and windows to a whole lot of fun. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Reading Hour!!! So, excited

To wrap up Book Week and get us geared up for National Literacy and Numeracy Week, tonight is The Reading Hour.  Between 6pm and 7pm tonight you grab a book or ten and read for a whole hour!!!! WOOHOO! 

I can't think of anything more wonderful to do on a Saturday night.  

If you have kids and want some title suggestions you might want to head over to Kids Book Review. If you are anything like me, you will just be raiding the book shelves at home.  I have been reading "Looking forAlaska" by John Green.  Since Christmas 2011 I have read four of John Green's novels and these have been the bulk of my "fun" reading this year.  How sad is that?! So, my plan is to finish it tonight.  I will try to start at about 6 and read until I'm done.  You have no idea how excited I am! 

On Monday I will give you an informed opinion of "Looking for Alaska" and I'm sure you are all looking forward to that. 

Later next week I will also tell you about the excitement and fun that has been happening at my school.  

So tonight is going to be fabulous.  Next week is going to be brilliant.  We all have a reason to keep going. 

By the way, I am in the middle of a great blog hop and I'm finding some great middle school blogs.  So I will share them next week too.  

Gotta go, much to do! 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Dr Seuss for Grown Ups

On Wednesday I posted about Dr Seuss and shared a few of my favourite kid quotes as well as a few that would certainly inspire kids and adults alike.  Today, I am going to introduce you (some of you) to the adult side of Dr Seuss.  Yes the man wrote for adults.  He submitted to media interviews and the Dr Seuss enterprise lives on, even if his body does not.  

As an adult you may be a bit "over it" when it comes to the children's author.  It might interest you to know that Dr Seuss didn't think much of adults either.  He had much to say about writing, reading, politics and life in general.  If you missed the message on the first time around, now you can go back to the picture books, check out the websites and hopefully see how very wise he really was. 
These are are a few of my absolute favourite quotes from Dr Seuss.  I probably share many of these with the kids though.  Happy Reading! :)

Quotes have been taken primarily from Good Reads. 

Dr Seuss for Adults

“In my world, everyone's a pony and they all eat rainbows and poop butterflies!” 
Dr. Seuss

“Adults are just obsolete children and the hell with them.” 
Dr. Seuss

“I am weird, you are weird. Everyone in this world is weird. One day two people come together in mutual weirdness and fall in love.” 
 Dr. Seuss
“You're never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.” 
Dr. Seuss

“Ninety percent of the children’s books patronize the child and say there’s a difference between you and me, so you listen to this story. I, for some reason or another, don’t do that. I treat the child as an equal.” 
 Dr. Seuss

When a guy does something stupid once it's because he's a guy, but if he does the same stupid thing twice, that's usually to impress a girl.” 

“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.” 
Dr. Seuss

“You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” 
Dr. Seuss

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.” 
Dr. Seuss

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” 
Dr. Seuss

“How did it get so late so soon? It's night before it's afternoon. December is here before it's June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” 
Dr. Seuss

“It has often been said
there’s so much to be read,
you never can cram
all those words in your head.

So the writer who breeds
more words than he needs
is making a chore
for the reader who reads.

That's why my belief is
the briefer the brief is,
the greater the sigh
of the reader's relief is.

And that's why your books
have such power and strength.
You publish with shorth!
(Shorth is better than length.)” 
 Dr. Seuss

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Books, Reading, Writing, Appreciation

Thursday Thankyou Day Returns.

Have I mentioned that it is book week? 

It was not until I started working at my current school that I realised how lucky I am to be literate.  I had always taken this skill for granted.  I have mentioned this week that learning to read was something that I don't remember doing.  I only remember knowing how to read.  Learning to reading may have been so traumatic that I wiped it from my memory. LOL. It is far more likely, that learning to read was a gradual and enjoyable process for me.  Books were always a part of my life.  I grew up surrounded by them.  I had difficulty making friends as a child (I still do) and I quickly learned that books were the kind of friends that didn't reject me or judge me, but welcomed me with open pages.  I loved to escape into my imagination and into the worlds of the books that I read.  

I always loved picture books.  I liked how easy it was to engage with them.  I liked how the pictures sometimes told a story all of their own.  The pictures brought out the hidden meaning behind the words.  I was intrigued by their magic.  I loved novels and biographies too.  I liked to read.  No, I loved to read.  

I still love to read.  

Today, I want to remind you, dear reader, that this skill we have is really a gift.  We are privileged.  We are special, we have the opportunity to share in a world of words and wisdom so vast we will never explore all of it.  It is also a privilege we must share.  We must help the young people in our lives to see the joy of reading and want it for themselves.  

I am thankful that my parents and grandparents (probably without even thinking) surrounded me with books and instilled in me the importance of learning to read.  I am thankful that I went to school and was encouraged to do my best when I was there  I am thankful that I have the opportunity to share my knowledge with children and adults alike.  I am thankful that I can read and can afford to have books on my shelf (that I don't really need) waiting for me to read them.  

On another note about privilege and sharing.... I have a best friend.  Not the BFF, not the most Beautiful Woman in the world, not my teaching partners or my students, but the Creator of the Universe.  Yes, I met Him through a book, and my parents.  Jesus and the relationship I have with Him is an amazing, unfathomable gift.  It is a gift, I have to share.  If you know God, then let people know about the joy you experience in his presence and pray they want to experience it too.  

Much Love

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Words of Dr Suess

Children's Book Week, in my mind, requires that I pay homage to a children's author.  One of my favourite children's authors is Dr Seuss.  This man has a gift when it comes to words.  He knew how to rhyme them, weave them and even create them.  The good “Word Dr” has a sophisticated knowledge of language which allows him to say it simply.  When children open a Dr Seuss book, they open the door to a world of wonder, thought provoking tales and a whole lot of fun.  When an adult opens a Dr Seuss book, it is my hope that they are transported back to a happy part of their childhood of rhymes and learning and squeals of laughter and delight.
Happy Reading! 

His words may seem silly, but they really are wise.  So sit back and remember, and don’t criticise (links for sources and more info are at the bottom of this post).

Dr Seuss for Kids

“I know it is wet and the sun is not sunny, but we can have lots of good fun that is funny.” 
 Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat

“All those Nupboards in the Cupboards they're good fun to have about. But that Nooth gush on my tooth brush.....Him I could do without.” 
Dr. Seuss, There's a Wocket in My Pocket!

Dr Seuss for Everyone

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not.” 
 Dr. Seuss, The Lorax  
“And will you succeed? Yes indeed, yes indeed! Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed!” 
Dr. Seuss

“For a host, above all, must be kind to his guests.” 
Dr. Seuss, Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose

“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.” 
 Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Quotes taken from: Good Reads click on the link to go directly to the page

For more information about Dr Seuss and his books  click here: or here or here

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

10 things I learned about Reading

Considering it is Children's Book Week.... Learning how to read is an important process for becoming a proficient and functioning participant in today's society.  Blah, Blah, Blah. 

We all know it is important to read.  We all know that learning is important.  So, let's get down to business.

10 things I have learned about Reading

(These 10 things have been learned over the past 15 years, not the past week.)

1.   We learn to read at our own pace.
2.  Reading is a skill which includes deciphering letter symbols, giving meaning to words and sentences, understanding the hidden messages of text and pictures and gaining knowledge and/or enjoyment from it.
3.  Some people don’t understand the complicated nature of the skill set that we refer to as reading.
4.  If a learner does not experience the joy of reading early, they will struggle with the process and find it difficult. 
5.  Reading does not come quite so easily to others as it did to me.
6.  Teachers have a tough job “teaching” a child how to read, but Parents impact on their child’s reading/learning from the moment of birth.
7.  Reading becomes an automatic process for many of us and we easily forget how hard it is to learn.
8.  There is nothing more intimate than sharing a book with someone.
9.  We read whenever we interact with a creation of the human mind (whether it is written text, film, photography, drawing or a website).
10.  When it comes to “reading” I have much more to learn.  

I love reading and it is the avenue through which I relax, learn, laugh and explore.  Happy Book Week! 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Book Week 2012: Champions READ

Firstly, for a list of the winners and a run down of the awards ceremony click here.

Happy Book Week!!! 

The Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA) has an annual celebration of children's literature with a week of activities in local libraries and schools across the nation.  Teacher Librarians and Reading Specialists all over the country are geared up for book fairs, displays, games, competitions and much much more.  By the time this post is published celebrations would have commenced.   

We have posted signs all over our school saying "are you a champion?" as a teaser for the upcoming events. Teachers will start sharing the message with students this week.  Next week, one of our favourite teachers will be speaking at assemblies about Champions and Reading.  Competitions in the library will include; designing book covers and trivia quizzes. 

On Tuesday we are having a "Reading" Flash Mob.  At 1:05pm a few staff will just turn up in the court yard of our school and start reading.  I am placing books in the courtyard for those kids who want to join in.  Staff will turn up as they can and we will read to our hearts’ delight... or until the bell goes. 

I am really looking forward to it!

Next week is National Literacy and Numeracy Week.  The festivities will continue with Jelly bean Jars (guess how many does it take to fill the jar), co-operative activities between English and Maths departments (a rarity in my school), scavenger hunts through the school and literacy/numeracy quotes by authors and celebrities. 

I can see that when it is all over, I'm going to be exhausted! 

I will be sure to share photos, videos, quotes and a wrap up, at the end. 

I hope you are enjoying BOOK WEEK and you are sharing the joys of reading and literacy with all the young people you know.

It's over to you.... What are you reading at the moment? What is your favourite book for sharing with the young people in your life? 

Happy Reading!

Saturday, August 18, 2012


I found my prescriptions!!! WOOHOO!!!

Clearly, it is time to get Miss Smith to come and visit my bedroom and home study to make it as functional as my workplace is.  

There has been a lot happening at school this week.  So, I want to share. 

You can see in the picture... not much.  Sorry about that.  But hopefully you can tell that these charts are student produced.  I am really proud of them, because my class has really struggled with independent group work this year.  A few times, I planned independent activities where groups of 3-5 students "worked" together to answer questions or complete a task.  The plan was for the lesson to be wrapped up with a quick class discussion involving each of the small groups sharing their "work" with the class.  Each group was given a different task so we were not going over "answers" four or more times.  But still, it didn't work so well.  

In the real world of my classroom, some groups would complete the task, others would not.  The answer sheets/ anchor charts that the students were to supposed to complete would be overfilled with silly responses or have two words written so small that it was impossible to read.  

Over the past few weeks, I have had a few "breakthroughs" with my classes.  I have really pushed the positive as well as having concrete and consistent consequences for negative behaviours.   

After some individual work on Tuesday, the class divided into pairs.  I did end up with one group of three.  I gave each pair a piece of A3 chart paper and a few coloured pens.  At the top of their chart paper I wrote the question/s that I wanted answered.  I then told them to write big and fill up the page because we were planning on putting them up in the classroom to help us with our next assessment task.  While the charts are not perfect and our wrap up conversation at the end of the lesson was ratty, I was really happy at the end of the lesson.  I think it worked better this time for a number of reasons which are listed below.  

1.         The students and I have FINALLY made “friends” and I don’t say this because I am unable to make friends with my students.  I say it because when I only see my students twice a week for 70 minutes, it takes so much longer to get through to them. 
2.      My expectations were very clear.  The students knew exactly HOW to complete the activity (write big and neatly and fill up the page so we can display this).  This seems elementary, but it wasn't until today that I realised I hadn't been quite so explicit in the past (probably because I was losing them and rushed through my instructions). 
3.     I didn’t try to give the directions to the whole class.  I spoke to each group one at a time.  I was able to read the question with them and check their understanding.  They began giving me responses and had my reassurance before beginning. 
4.     More able students were given more questions to help keep them focussed. The less able students were able to work with supportive friends and revised concepts taught in class. 
5.      Students who worked better alone were given the opportunity to do so with an appropriate task.
6.      I moved among the groups constantly without needing to stay with a specific group for too long.  I try to do this all the time, but it doesn't always work out that way.  

I am getting in the groove with my students.  They are finally getting used to me.  It is working.  They are learning together.  It is exciting stuff.  :) 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Label Maker is Back in Action!

Happy Face Happy Dance Happy Happy Happy

My office is organised.  Funny Story: I was chatting to my new Boss about text types and ensuring all teachers in the school are teaching the same test type and the same language.  I reached back to pull a folder of my shelf (the red one with the school text type guide) so I could show it to her.  It wasn't there.  My folders don't go on top of the shelves now.  The folders belong in the cupboard.  I put them there, you would think I would know where I put them.  

Although, if we follow that logic, then I would know where my prescriptions are!!! 

Welcome to Wednesday. 
For the first time in "like forever" I am going to share something about words, because it is Wednesday. 

I saw this on Pinterest and laughed out loud.  


At school lately, we have been having a few conversations about "teaching spelling" and the importance of being realistic with our expectations.  Some are focused on test results and the concern that students who can't spell are not going to do well on their standardised test (because of course that is the only thing that is tested).  Others start by saying that they are really concerned about the students' writing and say that it is so difficult to read and end with a diatribe about shocking spelling errors.  Then we start talking about teacher literacy skills and people start talking about spelling "errors" which, let's face it, are probably typos.  

My point: when a child struggles to spell and they have been learning spelling words by rote and getting 10 out of 10 every week on their spelling tests.... something is not right.  When a child at the age of thirteen can not spell basic or "easy" words, telling them to "look it up" is probably not going to help.  If a child reaches high school and doesn't have a clear understanding of letter sound relationships they will need to fix far more than their "spelling" to become a functionally literate person in society.  

Yeah, this silly picture is funny.  So enjoy the LOL and move on. I just want to say, as a teacher of literacy:

 The irony, while hilarious, is beginning to irritate me.  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

ten things I learned about...

Welcome to my new Tuesday column: 10 things I learned about... This week I am going to share a few random things.  Before I start my list I want to explain why I have decided to start a series of regular posts on this topic.  Life Long Learning is one of those "buzz" phrases that has been bandied about education circles in the last two decades or so.  Life Long Learning has been a focus of educators, or should I say, education policy/ curriculum writers, for a long time.  Educators are not just responsible for the day to day learning of their students while they are in the classroom, but they are charged with a greater goal.  The goal to make their kids passionate about education and self-directed, motivated learners.  Teachers are asked to not only teach their students to read and write, but, they are expected to teach children the skills required to learn independently well after they walk out the school gates.  

Sorry, I seem to have launched into a rant.  Rant over.  

I consider myself a Life Long Learner and while I seem skeptical, I believe it is important to continue learning.  We learn something new everyday.  We learn best when we reflect upon our experiences and actually record the new knowledge or skill we have learned that day.  So, that is the reason I have begun 10 things Tuesday.  Basically it is a learning journal.  

Every Tuesday I will list 10 things I have learned in the previous week. I will try to keep it under one topic each week, like teaching, children, Christianity, life, reading, music etc..  Sometimes it will just be random and fit into "this week" whereas other times it will spread over a long period of time but fit into one category. Okay, do we all understand where we are going?  Too bad, we are going there anyway.  Try to relax, you will enjoy the ride far more. 

Ten Things I learned about... 

(in no particular order)

1. Blogging has rules.  Rules are meant to be broken 
2. Hair grows back (click here to fully understand why this is funny)
3.Pinterest is addictive although far more educational than Facebook
4. You can hyperlink almost anything.
5.  Being aware of how you learn is powerful.
6. Understanding that everyone thinks differently and has their very own filter of experience and knowledge through which they see the world, is more powerful.
7. Patience is a virtue which cannot be simply granted like a wish.  Patience must be learned and enhanced through experience. 
8. Experience is a funny word if you use it often enough.
9. Every word is funny if you use it often enough.
10. Laughter really is the best medicine and it is free! 

What have you learned this week?