What fun to be part of this event, the second annual #pb10for10 event created by Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek. It’s a powerful example of how twitter and its hashtag invention has connected and extended learning communities.
I found myself making many piles of ten, in fact one of the piles could have been a Cynthia Rylant picture book pile. There’s no particular order to my ten below, just all beautiful, fun, engaging, lyrical, smart, heart-warming, whimsical, entertaining, thoughtful stories.
1. Taking a Bath with the Dog and Other Things that Make Me Happy, written and Illustrated by Scott Menchin
I read this picture book to my staff as a principal at our opening day meeting. It was a reminder and celebration of why we were all sitting in that room and starting off a new year with our students, doing what makes us all happy. After purchasing a copy … Read More
The word “choice” in connection with student learning has come up a lot for me recently. In a planning meeting with teachers we discussed the importance of teaching independence in reading with first graders, encouraging reading interests and self-selection of books to flourish early in the school year. To do this we must create an environment where choice making is a regular and trusted expectation. Also, in a recent Tuesday #edchat Twitter discussion, a teacher raised the point of how students are often “stuck” when confronted with choosing a topic for an assignment. It is true. Many students (all ages) would rather have the adult make the choice for them and perhaps this is because it’s what they are used to. It made me think: If we don’t allow for choice in our classrooms and schools, then how will kids learn to make them?
Working with teachers these past couple of … Read More
With the temperature hitting nearly 70 degrees here in New York City today, I decided to take my work outdoors. In hand, a stack of new picture books, pack of post-it notes, and a pen ready to look for instructional possibilities in these books as I planned for upcoming writing work with teachers. I headed down to Riverside Park’s Boat Basin where I could sit on a bench and look out on the Hudson. The bench I chose to plop myself down on was directly in front of an area that has been fenced off in order to protect a family of Red-tailed hawks that have been nesting here for a couple of years. I had never seen these particular hawks, just the camera people and sightseers over the years looking up at the nest. Today it was quiet.
This situation made me nostalgic for my years teaching a much-loved and … Read More
While searching the Bank Street bookstore for some new picture books (and replacing some missing ones) this past fall I found a new treasure.
Ernest, the Moose Who Doesn’t Fit by Catherine Rayner is a favorite. Remindful of the unusual friendship in Amos & Boris by William Steig, Ernest the rather large adorable moose, and his loyal (and rather small) chipmunk friend are steadfast in their struggle to find a way to, quite literally, help Ernest fit into the book. In the end, there is a fun fold-out surprise and Ernest finally fits! But the book so much more than that. It is a picture book that speaks to many important themes. For one, how taking a problem-solving approach, while collaborating and staying determined can help you in the end. I used this picture book as an introduction to a teacher staff meeting in the fall.
For me, it was a … Read More
I had the privilege of attending a recent showcase of the New York Songwriters’ Circle at the Bitter End. Created by artistic director of the Circle and award-winning singer/songwriter, Tina Shafer, Songwriters’ Circle Monday nights have been home to such artists as Norah Jones, Gavin DeGraw and John Oates. For over twenty years, these nights have created a space for singer/songwriters to share their music and the stories behind them. This particular Monday night was extra special. It was Young Songwriters Night, and these talented singer/songwriters were 14-16 year-olds!
As over 200 guests and fans crowded into the legendary Greenwich Village venue, everyone was giddy with excitement. The six young artists featured that night were ready to share songwriting talent that would inspire and wow the crowd. I had a few moments before the show to talk with one of the young songwriters, Ari Zizzo. Ari is a fourteen-year-old songwriter … Read More