The Web Files

May 3, 2018

Margie Palatini is one of my favorite authors. Words are fun. She brings a delightful humor to her texts that hook her readers. On her website, she has an index of literacy skills linked to her books.

The Web Files is a book full of idioms and alliteration that challenges her readers to think, to connect, to visualize. This text would be a fun readers theater to challenge the rolling tongue. Enjoy a fun activity from her website.

So you’re saying that you were robbed, is that right ma’am? What exactly is missing from the nest, ma’am? Eggs, Ma’am? Chicks, ma’am?”

“P-p-peppers,” she said with a flap.

“Peppers?” I asked.

“My perfect purple peppers that were just about ready to be pickled.”

“About how many perfect purple almost-pickled peppers would you say were pilfered, pinched, and picked? A bushel?”

“P’awk! Pawk!” she squawked. “No—a peck! A peck, I tell you! A whole purple- pepper-pickin’ peck!”  pg. 10-11

Savorings for The Web Files:

  • Humor – idioms and play on words (interweaves fairy tales and Dragnet TV series)
  • Alliteration
  • Higher level of punctuation – apostrophe with slang (horsin’ around)
  • Inference
  • Magic of 3
  • Word Choice

Night Animals

February 27, 2018

Skunk takes a walk at night to visit his friend, Possum. Possum seems to be hiding. He hushes his friend. He’s afraid. He’s afraid of the night animal.

The evening continues as Gianna Marino introduces other night animals – wolf, bear, bat – in Night Animals. Using speech bubbles, the animals share personified feelings of fright for the darkness. Humorously written, the reader will learn who are night animals and what their behavior is like. My favorite if Possum, especially when Skunk gets surprised. Do you know what skunks do when they are frightened? This book would be a fun way to introduce a nonfiction text on the subject of nocturnal animals.

View a fun video trailer about Night Animals.

Savorings for Night Animals:

  • Speech Bubbles
  • Imperative Sentences/ Commands
  • Dialogue moves plot forward
  • Humorous
  • Personification

SOLC: Nope. I’m Not a Robot!

March 18, 2013

I am not a robot! Nope. Hardly. I have laughter, cadence, variation in my voice. I think with reasoning, emotion, and heart. I empathize, reflect, and play.

Nope. I am NOT a robot!sols_6

I know I am not a robot, because a robot doesn’t have to push her glasses up to see the numbers or characters.

Nope. “I’m not a ROBOT” I want to say as my middle-aged eyes are adjusting, refocusing to pass permission to comment.

I’m not a robot, because a robot doesn’t have to move closer to the computer screen and decipher the melded letters.

Nope a robot wouldn’t care whether it’s comments brought pleasure to the author, whether encouragement was more important than eye strain.

Nope. I’m definitely not a robot, so to prove my aliveness, I will continue to squint and strain to verify my comments to appreciate your slicing efforts.


(This post idea happened last night when I pulled my glasses up, drew in close to the computer screen, when commenting. I verbally said, “Nope. I am definitely not a robot!”)

SOLC: The Funny Things Kids Say – LOL!

March 12, 2013

sols_6Treasures of the day – hearing a kid say something funny. Here are two from today:

During interactive writing group, Lil, a first grader, was writing the sentence we had just practiced. She looked up in the middle of writing a word and said, “Do you know one of Michael Jackson’s moves is?”

What I wanted to say was, “Where did that idea come from? We are writing about Spring. Does Michael Jackson have some correlation with the season?” Instead I replied with an inquiring look, “What?”

“He dances,” did a little shoulder move with a smile,  and on she went to writing the rest of her word. Really? He dances.

*              *              *             *            *              *

At the end of the day, waiting in the car pick-up line, Parker, another first grader, announced, “Hey, Mrs. Gensch, you are invited to my birthday party.”

“I am?” I replied.

“Yep. Guess how old I am?” smiling with anticipation.

“17,” my serious reply came.

“Nope. I’m 8! And I definitely know one thing?” Parker continued.

“What’s that?” my curiosity was ready for something about his party or a gift he got.

“I definitely have to start wearing deodorant.” His serious look and slight nod caused my coworker to turn around, holding back a smile. Me – I laughed, aloud, echoing down the hall. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings; I just couldn’t hold the chuckle in.

“I’m serious, Mrs. Gensch. I stink and I have to wear deodorant,” Parker smiled.

I hugged him. “Parker, good to know.”

At least he didn’t say he had to shave.





SOLSC: The Substitute Report

March 23, 2012

On Wednesday, I had left my Title I groups in the hands of a capable young lady, my guest teacher. All my plans were explained in detail, including some helpful student-personality information.

The next morning, I read the letter on how the activities unfolded. The beginning was the basic “I finished everything you left me” and then proceeded to share a little about the students, like this particular first grader: “Josiah was very eager to read the book and talk about it. I gave him a sticker. :)” Whew – glad that one went well.

My eyes, like a typerwriter  computer, scrolled through the page and landed on this final nugget about two kindergarteners. Language and vocabulary is my main focus with these two English Language Learners (one speaks Spanish only and the little girl – well, her first language is English, but her sentence structure is like a 3-year-old). The note said,

Lindsey was worried that I would be mean because she didn’t know me. (I could see this little one just shying away; she’s very dramatic.) I talked to her and by the end of our time, Linsey was very rambunctious. She even had Jose giggling, (which is so not like him.)”

I chuckled. Who would have thought I needed to let the kindergartener know she was not a stranger, just a guest teacher?

My substitute ended with this wonderful note:

Thank you for the opportunity to look over your students.”


SOLSC: Kindergarten Snippets

March 16, 2012

Kindergarten – just the word makes me cock my head a little and smile.  Most of the time, they are cute, fun, and so energetic. There are moments though that my kindergarten teachers could be bald. You know what I mean?

My favorite part about kindergarteners is their matter-of-fact expressions. Here are two that I heard today. 🙂

One bright five-year-old, who has great phonetic spelling, said today, “I know how to spell my friend, Jacob’s, name.”

His teacher smiled and said, “How?”

“Jakup. Jake – up.”  🙂


Another little boy, Tyler, can be very particular. When his mind is made up, he is right. (Do you have any of those kind of kids?)

During small group reading instruction, the teacher was introducing the word LIKES.

“See, Tyler. You already know this word, like,” she said covering up the letter S with her finger. “The letter S is added to make another word, LIKES.”

The little boy looked at the word, crossed his arms, and made a face. “What are they doing putting an S on the word LIKE? It’s LIKE, not that other word.”

His teacher nodded and replied,”Yes, it is LIKE, but in some sentences, like the ones were are reading today, it’s appropriate to read the word LIKES to make the sentence make sense.”

Tyler eyed her and said, “Nope. Not going to do it. You need to just kick that S off my word LIKE.” He proceeded to read the entire book leaving off the S. His teacher tried several times to interject the word LIKES, but Tyler was not going to believe it.

I wonder what Tyler is going to do when he reads the word LIKING.

SOLSC: Teenage Humor

March 11, 2012

Yesterday, I spent the majority of my day with teenagers at a youth function. My job: van driver (and encourager, listener, connector).  I was trying to sneak in little bits of time to write and read throughout the day on my iPad. To another mom, I was explaining how writing on a laptop has one advantage over the iPad: you can cut and paste with the laptop.

One of the quieter, never-seems-to-notice-me teens looked up and said, “Mrs. G, you just need to right tap the screen.”

Burrowing my brows, I thought for a moment. I actually acted the right clicking in my head, when my brain realized I was a sucker .

“Ha, ha. Nathan, I finally got it,” I replied as I rolled my eyes. He just smiled and went back to his iPod.


Have I got a book for You!

October 19, 2011

Have I got a Book for You! – Really, I do. The voice of Mr. Al Foxword is superb. In all of his flattering-salesman pitch, Al works his magic. He begins by showing his customers are satisfied. He is the #1 seller of products that satisfy. Melanie Watt has created another attention-grabbing, fun-loving book.

I love how he engages me, the reader, into wanting his book called “Have I got a Book for You!” (Yes, it is the exact replica of the book you are reading.) The book mimics the commercial ads on everyday TV. This book would make a great mentor text for persuasive writing.

Delightfully, some fourth grade students narrate the book in the following YouTube video. It gives you a glimpse into the writerly voice Melanie Watt uses.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Have I Got a Book for You!:

  • Persuasive
  • Second person narrative
  • Voice
  • Speech bubbles
  • Interjections

Dirty Joe the Pirate

July 27, 2011

Bill Harley creates a fun story in poetic rhyme (AABB) in Dirty Joe the Pirate: a True Story.  I love John Davis’s  illustrations; it seemed like I was reading a cartoon. Fun. Dirty Joe and his crew plunder ships seeking a special smelly treasure – dirty socks! The socks flew in the stern and bow as trophies of their dirty deeds.

One day, the crew happened upon another pirate ship. This pirate created fear the crew had never felt before, for this ship searched for another rare treasure – underwear! The illustration of the high-flying underroos cracked me up.

“It’s Stinky Annie,” someone said, “and her band of smelly varmits.”

When the two ships begin to raid one another, the men realized the girls were fighting barefoot. They are shocked and outwitted, stunned to weakness. As the two captains face each other, a familiar resemblance reveals a surprise – they are siblings! The ending will make you chuckle and surprise your students.

YouTube features Bill Harley performing the Ballad of Dirty Joe .  Enjoy!

Savorings for reading and in writing for Dirty Joe the Pirate: A True Story:

  • Alliteration – fluttered, flapped, flags
  • Word choice
  • Surprise ending
  • Conversation – humorous
  • Boy read that any girl will enjoy

Warsaw Community Public Library (2008)

Cowboy and Octopus

September 1, 2009

Boy readers will love Cowboy & Octopus.  I read the book to a fourth grade class, and we were all laughing.  The humor reaches in and tickles your funny bone. 

Cowboy and OctopusJon Scieszka creates a tale of friendship between two odd characters – an octopus and a cowboy.  The book does not share how the idea sparked in Jon’s brain, but the end papers give the reader a clue.  Savoring a book requires some inquiry, asking questions to develop insight.

Jon Scieszka uses the book’s humor as an in road to discussing how to be a friend.  Each character, Octopus and Cowboy, definitely have their differences, and their likes.  Yet, they appreciate each other and share their honesty too.

We are friends,” says Cowboy.  “And that’s why I am telling you – your new hat looks like something my horse dropped behind him.  ‘Cause that’s the truth.”

Savorings for reading and in writing for Cowboy & Octopus:

  • Realistic conversation – “Sounds loco to me,” says Cowboy.  “But okay.”
  • Interweaving of Detail – Cowboy decides to surprise Octopus and make him dinner.  Octopus is definitely surprised.  “Heavens,” says Octopus.  “What is this?”
  • Ellipse – “Wow,” says Octopus.  “That is really… um … different.  Do you like my new hat?”
  • Chapter Titles – scenes that highlight their friendship
  • Humor –
  • Rereading – you must reread sections to catch all of the humor (knock, knock joke)

excellent Boy Read!

PES library and Warsaw Public Library