Friday, November 27, 2015

winter wonderland blog hop

Hello friends! Welcome to BigTime Literacy and the Reading in a Winter Wonderland Hop! I'm so excited to share with you on this annual tradition, and I hope you like what you find here from me!

Before we get to the good stuff, just a little bit of housekeeping for this link up... The Reading Crew and I decided not to present this as a hop, but as a closed link-up. At the bottom of this post, you can find the maps for both the K-2nd and 3rd-5th bloggers who are participating. That way, you can jump around from blog to blog however you'd like to.

We are giving away two collections of books! Each book that is featured on each blog is part of the collection. So, be sure to collect the mystery words that are listed on each bloggers' page in blue, so then you'll have the opportunity to enter to win the collections of books we're giving away!

In addition to featuring a great book for this time of year, we are also sharing freebies to use with it. Please note: my freebies will only be available for a limited time, so make sure to get a copy before they are changed to a paid product!

So without any further ado, let's get to it!
Enjoy the blog hop and have a wonderful holiday season!
The Legend of the Poinsettia

I have to come clean up front - I picked a great book - The Legend of the Poinsettia - a long time ago. I just love Tomie dePaola's books - the stories are great and I love the illustrations. When I was in the classroom, I used her Legend of the Bluebonnet as part of my Traditional Literature unit, which is what led me to her Legend of the Poinsettia. Well, working last minute like I usually do, I wasn't loving the text I chose - but only because the most obvious reason to use it is for teaching about the genre of Traditional Literature. Unfortunately, I waited too long to switch my text, so I'm delivering some great resources, but they are going to be bigger than the theme of this blog hop. I guess that's okay since you might not even teach a unit on Traditional Literature at this time of year, anyways!

About the book
This book tells the story of how the Poinsettia came to be. This Mexican legend explains how we all came to know this beautiful flower that adorns our homes at Christmastime. The main character, Lucida, and her mother are set to make the blanket for the Christ child, but then when Lucida's mother becomes ill, things don't go as planned. Lucida is left without a gift to give to baby Jesus. In a last minute attempt to bring something, anything, she grabs and arm full of weeds growing outside the church. In a Christmas miracle, they are transformed into the brilliant flowers we today call the Poinsettia.

Teaching with this text
This book would best be used as part of a larger unit on Traditional Literature. My idea would be to have groups of students study the various types of traditional literature: Fables, Fairy Tales, Legends, Myths, and Tall Tales. I would start by talking about the characteristics of all Traditional Literature: 

Then, together in groups, students would be given 3-5 books within that subset to read so they can construct their knowledge of TL. I've created this matrix for students to use as they are reading and studying their books:

I think a Matrix is a better version of a Venn Diagram. What's great about it is that kids compare and contrast within different characteristics, in this case, by characters, the setting, problem and solution, and another category that they can develop themselves. Then, after they complete all the similarities and differences (which Marzano cites as a high-yield strategy for learning) they can then think about generalizations they can make about that subset of TL.

I'm guessing that the research wouldn't end there - students could then go on to research online more books that could fit the genre and also check if their predictions about qualities of the genre are correct. Finally, I'm envisioning it ending with the groups teaching the rest of the class about their subset of TL.

My Freebie
You're going to love my freebie! It includes Traditional Literature Posters, a matrix that matches the posters, and also blackline masters of the matrix that are editable so you can modify them to meet your needs. Additionally, I've complied a brief bibliography of books that could be used to support this unit on Traditional Literature. Please note: this freebie will only be available for the weekend of November 27, 2015!

Well, that's all I have for you today! I hope you've found something helpful here at BigTime Literacy, and if you did, be sure to follow my blog! Don't forget about our giveaway! In case you missed it, my mystery word is poinsettia. You can enter it onto your sheet or into the Rafflecopter below. Good luck and happy holidays!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

gratitude lately

What a great day to celebrate our blessings! Write your own post and link up with me if you'd like to join!

Today I'm thankful for days of rest. No work for the rest of the week!

Thankful for Justin Theroux. He's so nice to look at...but his show, The Leftovers, it's crazy strange! I was watching the whole episode this morning thinking, "Whaaaattt?" and then at the end it makes a little sense, so I'll watch another. Every single time. Anyone else watching it?

Thankful for sweet notes from students, and their teachers who teach them about showing gratitude.

Thankful for our district's first Twitter Chat! Check out the Storify of it here, and below, a few of my favorite tweets!

Thankful for super funny Bernie memes!


Thankful for this nephew, Jack:

And my sister, who brought him to meet me for the first time a few weeks ago!

Thankful for my blog as a space to write, the people who read and talk to me about it, and the friends I've made because of it.

Making it up as I go!

That's all for me. I hope you have an awesome Thanksgiving and take some time to think about all the amazing things this life blesses us with!

Monday, November 23, 2015

a quick twitter chat how-to

Super exciting news - our district is holding our first Twitter Chat tonight at 7:30pm! This came about because of two amazing, inspired teachers, Theresa Carrillo and Leah O'Donnell. We're planning to spend 30 minutes talking about what we're thankful for:

And, interestingly enough, I just ran across this from edutopia yesterday:

No better time for this #D100chat than right now!

I wanted to share TweetDeck with you - it's the way I participate in Twitter chats and what I plan on using tonight. It makes it so much easier to follow along and keep up with everyone!

TweetDeck is a website that is connected to twitter where you can see multiple things at once. Don't be overwhelmed when I show you...I"m going to explain everything, but once you log in with your Twitter account, you'll see something like this:

There's the toolbar off the left, and then all these columns. When you log in the first time, you won't see any columns - these are the ones I have set! Let me walk you through the toolbar first thing.

This is my toolbar - yours will look different though. The top button in blue - that will be there. That's how you write a new tweet - so you can participate in a Twitter chat right here on TweetDeck. When you click that blue button, a dialog box opens and you can compose right there.

Under that is a search button. Use that if you just want to quickly look up a hashtag, a Twitter user or something else.

Under the search, you see seven buttons - those are all links to the columns I have set:

  • A little person for my personal user, @bigtimeliteracy
  • A bell that signifies notifications for @bigtimeliteracy
  • Another person for the @IllinoisWP user - I tweet for them!
  • Another bell for the notifications @IllinoisWP
  • Home is the home feed of @bigtimeliteracy
  • Magnifying glass is a search for our school's hashtag, #tigerslearn
  • The second magnifying glass is another hashtag, #ILWries

The line under that saves space for the tools below. You can add as many columns as you'd like, so the icons - the person, bell, home, magnifying glass - well I have more than what is shown because I have more than 7 of them. The toolbar allows for scrolling so you can easy navigate down or up to the column you'd like to see.

Under that, some more tools - Adding a column, expanding the toolbar, Users (in my case @bigtimeliteracy and @IllinoisWP) and settings.

So, to get ready for a Twitter Chat, you have to add a column, in our case, with a search of the #D100chat hashtag. Add that column, and I usually move the one I am working in (during the Twitter chat) right next to the toolbar. (You can change the order of the columns as often as you'd like!)

Once you have the column set, you're ready to begin your chat. The tweets will pop up, in real time with newest at top in the column for the hashtag you have set. Then, just click the compose Tweet button to add to the conversation.

Next time, maybe you'll do a twitter chat for the Good 2 Great chat, in which case you'd add a column for #G2Great. Or any other twitter chat for that matter. The point is that it's the hashtag that allows you real-time access to the tweets.

Are you going to join our #D100chat tonight? We hope so... it's a great time for showing gratitude, and always a great time for collaboration via a Twitter Chat! If it's your first one, let me know how it goes!

Happy Tweeting!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

family writing project - year 2

School gets out at 3:00 and most parents come to pick their child up. But, at Emerson, there's a small group of 15 who come to meet their children for Family Writing Project.

It's our second year with this after school club and we have a bunch of families return, but also some new families joining!

The afternoon begins with snacks and decorating writing folders. There is also a prompt on the board asking family pairs to make a list of family traditions.

When everyone has had some time to get a list going, families Mix and Mingle to get to know one another and share their family traditions.

The afternoon carried on with a read aloud - an example of a personal narrative. The story was called Kitchen Dance, and the teachers used it to demonstrate how authors write stories bit by bit. It was a beautiful story told in both English and Spanish languages that described a family dancing in the kitchen as they made a meal, and all the joy and love that went along with it.

When the story wrapped up, Ms. Bless and Miss Kriegl talked about the bit by bit writing - how the author didn't just say, "We danced in the kitchen," but instead, "We heard noises in the kitchen. We crept downstairs. We peeked through the door. Mom's skirt was twirling and dad was banging on a pan." Families were then encouraged to write their own stories bit by bit.

What followed next was the bulk of the workshop - time to write! Everyone wrote their own piece, but conferred together if and when they needed help. Teachers did some writing too, as their voices will not be left out of the end-of-project book!

As the session wrapped up, there was time to share, first in small groups, and then a few brave students and parents shared with the whole group.

What a great way to spend the afternoon! Finally a moment for the teachers to have time to write, too! Our six week Family Writing Project will continue next week.

Be sure to follow the awesome writing teachers who head this Family Writing Project - Jennie Bless writes here and tweets here. I'm still working on getting Amanda Kriegl on Twitter!

How do you engage families at your school?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

school traditions

This month, and I'm already a little late, but the Compelled Tribe is writing about traditions. I was racking my brain trying to figure out what to tell you about that was a tradition at my school, and then next thing I know I was sitting in our annual Veteran's Day Assembly and my heart was happy. Our whole district celebrates Veteran's Day in a big way - at each school, each with art, and songs, and writing, all to honor the Veterans in our community!

There are so many people involved with planning the event. Our art teacher has the kids make all kinds of art to use to decorate the gym.

Our local Boy Scouts post the colors and lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance. This is followed by the choir who sings the National Anthem.

One of our fifth grade teachers created a slide show that ran throughout the assembly. This slide show listed the names of Veterans in our community - by relation of teachers, staff, and students. It's such a nice touch to add to our assembly, and we're so appreciative of all the time and effort it takes to create it! Thank you, KS!

Our Assistant Principal, up there in blue, was our Master of Ceremonies, leading us through all the various songs and traditions throughout the show.

My favorite part is the singing! Our choir, led by our music teacher, did this mash-up of two great songs. Kids singing patriotic songs always gets me!

Then, each of the grade levels sings a song. Here, fourth graders sing Fifty Nifty while the younger kids look on, wondering how they can remember all those states, and in alphabetic order, too!

And of course, we honor the Veterans who join us for the assembly. Some years, the students who invited them give them a special pin. Every year, they stand to be recognized. Towards the end of the assembly, we play Taps, too.

I love that our traditions teach students about our country - not just that we have a day off for something called Veteran's Day, but also why we have that day off, and who it is for. It's so awesome to see the arts and literacy practices collide for an authentic celebrations of our American heroes.

What traditions does your school keep?
Please leave a comment and share!

Monday, November 9, 2015

speak my langauge

I am a words person. Well, I am a building relationships person, and that happens most efficiently for me via words. Have you ever read Gary Chapman's book, Five Love Languages? Well, this book was where it started with me understanding myself better. In his book, Chapman talks about how in relationships (and he refers to romantic relationships, but it works for all of them) that there are five different languages that people use to communicate:

The reason it's important to know someone else's love language is that you can express yourself to them in a way that is most comprehensible to them.

I tell you all this, because I got the best affirmation the other day at work from a colleague. Since I am a Words of Affirmation person, that goes a long way with me. Appreciation, in and of itself, is so important in the workplace, but paying attention to your colleagues, and trying to figure out the best way to appreciate them, well that is like magic.

So, to my person who made time to listen on Thursday night, and also share a little bit about themselves, know that your words have reinvigorated me, and I think I've got enough energy in me to keep on keepin' on for weeks on end!

On a side note, just check Chapman's book out on amazon, and noticed that there's a kids' version... and one for teenagers! This comes highly recommended!


How have the Love Languages influenced your work and/or relationships?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

currently november

I'm late to the party friends, but it was because I was having an excellent birthday this last weekend. I turned the big 3-5 and celebrated with friends on a trolley in our costumes! More to come on that later though!

So I'm back for Currently, the fun first-of-the-month party sponsored by Farley. Check out her link-up and write with us if you want to!

Without further ado...

Listening to Hello by Adele
Most downloaded song in one week - just broke records, I'm guessing on iTunes. It's so good. Can't wait for the rest of the album!

Loving the birthday party!
Halloween costumes plus 35 friends on a trolley, a scenic view of the skyline and fun music - such a win!

Check out some costumes:

Morton Salt Girl and Love Potion #9:

Carl and Russel from Up:

Farmer and a Cow:

And lots are all of us over by Adler Planetarium for a group shot:

What amazing memories to carry with me from this birthday!

One more, the skyline for realsies:

Seriously, love this view!

Thinking about my sister's visit!
My sister is coming on Thursday and bringing my new little nephew Jack and I can't wait! We're going to have some time to hang out, go see the city, visit family, and I get to cuddle with that cute baby boy! Stay tuned here, or on IG, for pics of the baby!

Wanting to have it all together
I wish I had it all together - at work, in my personal life - everywhere. Let's dish about work first... Like, I wish I have read all the new Calkins curriculums so I could coach them better (or at least read the orientations to each unit). I wish I had a binder per grade level with all my important docs - like those orientations to the units, and a calendar where I keep a curriculum map of what we've done, and I keep reflections about teaching and learning as we talk about student work. I'm kinda doing all of this, but I need a system in place to get it all organized. So that's on my radar.

As far as my personal life, I mean, do we ever have it all together? Being that it's November, and a time for thinking about gratitude, I guess I'll just go with that...
  • Thankful for amazing friends and family who are always there for me, via facetime or a phone call or on my doorstep
  • Thankful that I really put 100% into everything I do, and I have no regrets when things don't work out
  • Thankful for my apartment that I love so much in a city that is mostly awesome.
  • Thankful that I stay positive almost always, even when things are crappy, because that's life, sometimes it just is.
  • Thankful for the Peppermint Mocha that is sitting right next to me in a red cup, and time to sit in a Starbucks and write. And thankful for writing!
Anyways, life is never perfect, but it's mostly amazing, so just gotta focus on that, right?

Needing a new couch
I've had my couch since like 2006 maybe? It's super feathery and I love it but it's out of shape and just needs to be replaced. I've been thinking about it for awhile now, but just need to make it happen. 

Pretty much all of it - the whole traditional thanksgiving dinner, especially when I'm making it. A few years ago I went to Phoenix and a few friends and I made the whole dinner ourselves, and it was so awesome. I can't wait for Thanksgiving!

That's all for me this month! I hope you have a fabulous November and I hope to be back with some literacy content - for sure over the break when I have time to slow down!

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