Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Winter’s Tail How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again by Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff, and Craig Hatkoff

I love dolphins. I always have. I remember the first time I touched one when I was in second grade. My dream is to swim with them, so when I was asked to be on the book tour for Winter’s Tail How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again by Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff, and Craig Hatkoff, I quickly said yes. The story is about Winter, a young dolphin that gets caught in fishing net. He is rescued and taken to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida. (Don’t you like my very brief summary?)

My summary is short because YOU MUST read the book to find out all the special events that happen in the life of this young dolphin. I just started a unit on non-fiction reading and writing with my third and fourth graders and this book will come in handy. As a non-fiction text it has the features we are talking about: introduction, photographs, maps, captions, etc. However, it is the engaging story that will suck the kids in. This book is not just “The facts, just the fact!” It has soul. Boys and girls at many different reading levels can and will enjoy Winter’s Tail.

One last exciting bit of information. There is a give away. Stop by and comment and you will have a chance to win the book, a dolphin (not a living one!) and much, much more. The contest ends October 13, 2009.

Book for review courtesy of the publisher.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Lunch Lady and the First Book Club of the Year

The first guys read of the year met on Wednesday. Wow. 22 eager, loud, hyper….boys. My fellow teacher was at an IEP meeting, so I was left to control the herd. We spent most of the time getting to know each other and talking about protocols. Large group of hyper boys, so you can imagine that discussion. (Ha!Ha!) Our first book was Lunch Lady and The League of Librarians by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Most of the boys read the first Lunch Lady book last spring. Yes, I was one of the lucky ones with an advanced reader copy. It was a fun afternoon. What made it special was that four new members, that would not come last year because of reading levels, came. Because of the format of the book they were able to comprehend most of what was happening and felt safe coming to book club. One of the new guys, A, came up to me last week and quietly asked if he could come.

A is an African refugee. His mother speaks no English, and their native language has not written component. Verbally, he didn’t say much at book club, but the joy on his face spoke volumes. A few of the advance readers are going to trade off reading aloud to our new members so they can keep coming. It is going to be a great year in book club.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Multiage, DTR and Advance Reader Copy

I cannot believe what a whirlwind the beginning of this school year has been. I am teaching a 3/4 multiage in a district where only literacy aligns. Yes, trying to teach Everyday Math to third and fourth graders is like spinning plates on the Gong Show! (I, also, have three second graders join us for math!) I haven’t been gonged yet, but I'm still spinning! I have been able to briefly keep up on what my blogger friends are doing. A Year of Reading has a great entry on the importance of supporting new teachers and future teachers.

Franki and Mary Lee write about the importance of mentoring our future peers. I am fortunate this year to be part of a new teaching program that was developed between Denver Public Schools and The University of Denver. It is called Denver Teacher Residency, and is modeled after programs in Boston and Chicago. In a nutshell 26 “students” are getting their Masters in Education and certification at the same time. We have six in our school. My DTR spends four days a week in out classroom, one day a week in seminar, and one Saturday a month in classes. There is a slow release model, so they do not become overwhelmed. It is exciting to have some in the classroom, but daunting as well.

Daily a student will do something that reminds us why we teach. It can be a smile, a well written sentence, a look of joy on their face when they finished the book of their dreams, or making a new friend. However, sometimes they say or do something that makes us laugh so hard that we wished everyone could experience the joys of teaching. I looped with 8 kids from last year, so there is some strong background knowledge which can come in handy! The other day we were making a chart of Non-Negotiable in writing. We all know the drill “I’m done with my writing”, and their “finish” piece is lacking in the basics. Capital letters are not scary. Ending punctuation is not expensive. So, anyhow, we are making the list and N, a student, I taught last year raised his hand and said “Mr. Kimmal, can’t we just write Advance Reader Copy on the top so you know there are mistakes?”

Really, you can’t make this stuff up!