The Teachers’ Lounge

October 20, 2014

Kids wonder what happens when teachers get together. They pass by the room with the sign Teachers’ Lounge and try to peek. Jerry Pallotta portrays adventurous activities for teacher relief in What I Saw in the Teachers’ Lounge. Wouldn’t it be fun to walk through the forest during lunch time? As I reread the book, I noticed Howard McWilliam gave some clues from the paintings on the wall. Several match the adventures the teachers have.

After reading the book, kids could draw and write what might be happening in the teachers’ lounge. It would be fun to hear what they think.

Below is a video of the book, narrated by a student. The quality is good. It definitely gives you a preview of the book.

Savorings for reading and in writing for What I Saw in the Teachers’ Lounge:

  • Wonderment – what is happening?
  • Interjection – Yikes
  • Sentence Structure – simple text as well as complex sentences with clauses
  • Plural possessive
  • Magic of 3

Little Red Writing

October 13, 2014
Little Red Writing by Joan Holub is a must-have book to encourage narrative writing in young children. From the beginning, my attention was captured. Like a mystery, clues are interspersed throughout the story. Melissa Sweet’s  mixture of fonts, mediums, and cartoon frames create added action and intensity to a rather predictable fairy tale.  As a mentor text, you will be able to teach story elements while Little Red is exploring her story. As a fractured fairy tale, this book creates a great compare/contrast lesson with the actual fairy tale. It is an example of how children can also gain ideas for their own stories from books.

The play on words is brilliant. Each scene, short but with depth, creates the opportunity for discussion about narrative basics, tension, balanced description, and focus. The element of surprise brings a twist to a rather known fairy tale.

Little RedI must say, I wondered if Ruth Ayres had collaborated with Joan Holub. At the end, Little Red’s teacher encourages her to “Write On!”, a phrase I hear Ruth extending to us all.

Have fun reading this tale!

Savorings for reading and in writing for Little Red Writing:

  • Story elements
  • Idioms
  • Types of genre on the same subject
  • Compare/Contrast texts
  • Vocabulary

 


Superhero School

November 7, 2013

Superheros have been the theme lately. Our family loves the movies and are anxious for the new ones to come out. Our staff retreat this past August was titled: “I Teach…What’s Your Super Power?” Searching for books to match our theme was a fun challenge. One book,  Superhero School by Aaron Reynolds, hooked me in for an adventurous peril.  Andy Rash, author of Are You a Horse?, details a comic-book hero setting full of action that will ignite your students’ interest.

A boy read for sure as kids are the superheroes … of math. Yes, math. Leonard heads to school expecting to learn how to do incredible feats of saving. Instead, his teacher, Mr. Blue Tornado, has them learning multiplication, division, and fractions. Annoyed and a bit distracted with his own desires, Leonard learns a great lesson in using math within everyday experiences (everyday for a superhero that is). The savvy craft in this book will keep your kids’ attention and you all will enjoy the surprise ending.

I love the “kid talk” in this piece:

But then it hit Leonard like a giant mutant octopus.

A short YouTube video (less than 2 minutes) gives you a glimpse of Aaron. It’s not the best sound quality, but I still liked “meeting” the author.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Superhero School:

  • Repeating sentence structure
  • Magic of 3
  • Kid language – “...cooties had to be considered.”
  • Narrative with Math Connection
  • Vivid Verbs – revved up, recalculated

SOL: A Bee Story to Celebrate 500!

October 29, 2013

Yesterday during my second grade group, O said, “There’s a bee flying around there, Mrs. Gensch.” I looked up at the light and sure enough, one was buzzing around. It’s October. What is a bee doing in my room? I usually ignore the flying creature, but A chimed in, “I think I may be allergic to bees.” This announcement caught my attention.

“What do you mean by maybe allergic?” I pried with a concerned look. The bee continued to buzz around, dipping closer to us. What lotion did I put I today anyway? I thought to myself. Bees are attracted to different fragrances. Maybe it is my hairspray? For goodness sakes, stay away, I commanded the annoying pest.

“Oh, my mom is allergic to them. My dad is and so are both of my sisters. So I think I might be,” she stated matter-of-factly. My look of “And tell me more please” spurred her on.
“Oh, I have never been stung.”

That did it. I grabbed a book and headed over to the window where the bee was banging against the pane. I thought about calling our custodian (who is a gem by the way) but that would take too long. I had reading to get to and this little, distracting gnat was not going to get in my way of teaching.

SMACK! Got it!

O, A, and C had been watching me the entire time. They cheered when the critter was smushed. “Wait! There is another one,” O pointed out from a safe distance. By golly, he was right. Another bee was bashing its head against the window. “Yes I wish you were outside,” I stated aloud.

WHACK! It fell dead on the window sill. “Whew!” A stated wiping her forehead.

Yes, I was thankful too. Seeing the unmoving bug lying there, I noticed several others, like twenty or more. What???? More have been in my room?!

We finished group time, accomplishing my primary goal. Then I hunted Mike, our custodian, and told him the story of the bee annoyance in my room. I am anxious to be rid of these! And I definitely do not want an “I think I might be allergic” child having an attack in my room. Look out bees! You will NOT conquer me.

(This story is in honor of my friend and writer, Tammy Shultz. She has the BEST bee story ever and hopefully you all will hear someday. Our BONS writing group have enjoyed her story. Today marks my 500th post and I am so glad to honor the stories we share. Hugs to you friends!)

Yippee!

Cheers!

Fireworks please!

I am jumping for joy at this accomplishment. It surprises me. Little by little this summer, I have been watching the numbers. Only a few more. Gather some more. Share. Grow. Now it’s here.

Today as I readied myself for my Slice of Life this week, the number flashed at me like neon lights. My smile grew. This accomplishment is something I am celebrating! Ice cream may be in order! 🙂

Yes, today I have written my 500th post.

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Mouse Views: a Mapquest

April 5, 2013

Dear Tam,

I thought of you when I spotted this book by Bruce McMillan. I guess the photo of a pet mouse made me think of your book character. I also thought your grand kids would like this book. The pictures are photographs, magnifying articles found in a classroom. The name of the book is Mouse Views: What the Class Pet Saw. Each picture gives you a visual clue where the pet mouse is. Eventually, the mouse returns to the children.

In the back of the book, the author explains he thought of the idea after having lunch with some teachers. Map skills is hard to teach when introducing the concept in first and second grades. A map of the school is in the back, diagramming each place the mouse went. I could visualize classes doing this. Your grand kids to map out your house, backyard, or their home even.

My friend, Michelle, has a class guinea pig, and the door of its cage was left open just like the first page of this book. It made me think that classrooms could make up their own stories of a pet traveling around the school and make a fun map for new kids who come to school. Kids love taking pictures, so that could be added in as well. Just an idea.

Happy map making,

Mary Helen

Savorings for reading and in writing for Mouse Views: What the Class Pet Saw:

  • Map Skills
  • Prediction
  • Story prompt
  • Visual perception

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.”