The activity was to write a question about their nonfiction text on a post it. The text says, “watch out! There is a skinny tornado.” The question says, “what, did it skip leg day?”
When I was a kid, Ferdinand was my all time favorite book. It was read to me over and over until I had it memorized. No one was allowed to skip pages no matter how far past my bedtime. I had a lot of questions, like, ‘what is a cork tree?’ and ‘why is his mother a cow?’ but I loved the way he would sit just quietly and smell the flowers.
With the new movie coming out, I read the book to my 2nd graders. It's never too early to learn that the book is always better. I haven't seen the movie yet, but the kids were excited to read the story that goes with it. One student exclaimed, "Miss Leestma, you're not even looking at the words!" Old habits die hard. I finished the book to a round of applause. I'm not going to lie, this is one of my favorite things about 2nd graders. Every so often you'll finish a book and they can't help but clap. I've often wondered why I loved a book so much that was published in 1936, 50 years before I was born, but, reading it with my class showed me that it still holds up another 31 years later.
Why do we love this story about a bull who won't fight? A bull who would rather smell the flowers in the ladies' hair? There are no flashy illustrations, no dramatic action scenes (unless you count getting stung by a bee), and our hero Ferdinand ends up right back where he started.
I think that we love that Ferdinand is himself. He doesn't bow to what others are doing. He knows he doesn't want to fight or go to Madrid. When he is taken away, he just kind of goes with the flow. At the end of the day, he's back under his favorite cork tree surrounded by what he loves best. Isn't that what we all want at the end of the day? Ferdinand has stood the test of time (even though his mother is a cow) and I hope it goes right on doing so.
Here is a document I use during our nonfiction reading unit. Students enter unfamiliar words and find the definition. We end up with a class glossary of new words and learning!
I thought I'd share a few things I've made for my students. Here is a page I used to help students see the difference between simple and complex sentences. Students illustrated each sentence. Hopefully when they write they will begin painting pictures with their words!
My latest Newbery read is See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng. Again, I stayed up far too late to finish this book. Are you sensing a theme? I have a hard time putting these books down. I suppose that's why they're the best books of the year. In this story, 11 year old Alex leaves home and heads to New Mexico to launch his rocket. He's going to send an iPod into space full of audio recordings like his hero Carl Sagan. (Not to be confused with his dog, Carl Sagan). Alex has had a tough 11 years, but he's got goals. He's brave, smart, and finds his pack along the way. I really think that students in 5th grade or above will identify with Alex and be rooting for him to succeed.
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate. Go read and share this book with all the kids you know. This book is recommended for students in grades 3-6, but could be easily read aloud to younger students. I wasn't planning on reading this in an afternoon, but I did. The story, told by a tree (that's right: it turns out trees have a lot of stories to tell), is about friendship, loyalty, wishes come true, all sprinkled with a bit of magic. I'm not sure I'll look at trees the same way again. In fact, two days after reading this story, a large old tree in my neighborhood was taken down. I watched as branch by branch the tree was dismantled and turned to chips. I couldn't help but think about Red, our trusty wishtree, and all of the stories this tree next door had to tell.
Deciding if he needs to use an apostrophe or comma:
“Miss Leestma, do I use an up-postrophe or down-postrophe?”
I teach 2nd grade. I read children's literature all day long. So, of course, when I get home all I want to read is more. There is such an abundance of quality literature out there, it's ridiculous. Classics are great, but I'm a huge fan of connecting students to books that are current, diverse, and make sense in their lives.
For a few years I have been a part of a book club with a few of my close friends. We were nerds in high school and we're nerds today. My students know that I'm in a book club and we talk about how it's okay to talk about books, share books, and not like every book you read.
This month it was my turn to choose the read. I wanted to do something we hadn't done before. My twitter has been blowing up with Mock Newbery lists and I thought about how behind I was in reading this year's new children's lit. My good friend and fellow book clubber is a children's librarian. She willingly shared a list of potential Newbery winners she had at the ready. We sent out the list and told the group to read as many or as few of the books as they'd like. Shortly, we will discuss which book we think deserves the win and watch the results roll in. Excited, I went to the library checked out a fresh stack of books and put about another dozen on hold. I am only two books in at the moment, but I am super stoked about this challenge. Watch for future posts about my favorites! (Hint: they might all be my favorite).
Teacher, reader, tea drinker, and dog mom.