Friday, September 26, 2014

Spreading joy and love for reading

Pharell’s Happy. Can you hear it?  Can you feel it?  You can’t help but want to dance a little.  It just makes you happy, right?

It might seem crazy what I’m about to say
Sunshine she’s here, you can take a break
I’m a hot air balloon that could go to space
With the air, like I don’t care baby by the way
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do….

Come on you know you want to clap along…

Giving props to Pharell, I can’t help but also reflect on the powerful, Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess.  In this energizing professional resource, a quote by Carlos Santana resonated with me:

There is nothing more contagious on this planet than enthusiasm.  The songs become incidental, what people receive is your joy.”

In keeping with the tradition of Pharell and Burgess, I wanted to share some books that leave readers with that feeling of joy.  I hope the feeling is contagious. Like Scott Campbell's Hug Machine, I could hug each of these books and mentor authors.
Happy Reading!


365 Days of Wonder RJ Palacio gifts us again with a “wonder”ful book of precepts.  These daily quotes from songs, famous characters and the original work of students are a celebration of kindness, hope and joy.

Spreading kindness with @WillixReads' glitter board to highlight quotes from RJ Palacio's 365 Days of Wonder
A is for Awesome- by Dallas Clayton

This is an ABC book with a special twist.  All of the “awesomeness” can be described through affirming words in this alliterative alphabet that is a MUST HAVE for all ages. 


 Because Amelia Smiled – by David Stein

David Stein’s book is the perfect illustration of what it means to pay it forward.  One act of kindness can change the world. 

Someday – Eileen Spinelli

Believe in the possibilities.  Expect the unexpected.  Dream- then make it a reality.

Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match- by Monica Brown

This is a feel good book that happens to also be a bilingual picture book.  Marisol celebrates her unique qualities and doesn’t care about what others think.   She is proud to be herself and everyone will fall in love with the mismatched Marisol. 


Plant a Kiss- Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Amy Krouse Rosenthal never disappoints.  Her books always put a smile on my face. In this book she pairs up with another “heartprint” author/illustrator, Peter Reynolds to show how an act of kindness can grow and grow.

Be Happy- by Monica Sheehan – This is a little text with a big heart.  Simple illustrations and inspirational text that will leave its reader happy.  Fabulous video paired with the uplifting song, New Soul by Yael Naim.* 

As my grandmother used say and sing to me,
“When you’re smilin’ the whole world smiles with you…” Teach from the heart, spread a little joy, touch some hearts and minds…..Smile.

What titles make you smile? #smileTweet with the hashtag #smile or share your faves in comments below. Would love to hear from you.
Keep smiling,


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Connected Educators


        Donald Graves’ reflected on the impact of energy and teaching in The Energy to Teach.  He said, “Teaching is an emotional rollercoaster.  Rollercoasters demand energy-high energy- and you need to know how to maximize what gives you energy and minimize what takes it away.”   In thinking about maximizing energy one cannot ignore the impact of such energizing events as attending conferences and participating in chats.  Both allow us to come together to reflect, refuel, and reenergize our teaching.   Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending the first annual connected educators meet up hosted by the Farmingdale School District, on Long Island. 

The sessions were planned in the a.m. and the afternoon evolved from an edcamp model. (Stay tuned for the EdcampLI and nErDcampLI news to follow).   I have learned from participating in #educoach ( a must chat for literacy coaches and fellow lead learners) I believe in sharing #eduwins.  Too often we hear about what isn’t working in education,  let’s talk about what is working…

An #eduwin inspired  by Dr. Bill Brennan  at #CELI14:  Coming together to: Connect. Learn. Share. -ACT.  Here are some reflections that I wanted to share:

"Harness the power of collective IQ- Twitter is a safe place to take risks as educators and suspend judgment- the idea takes center stage." - Ryan Scala

"Tech and our relationships push us further- a breeding ground for ideas." - Adam Bellow

"Learning is a community.  Learning is Life. We are all educating each other." Laurie Walsh

"We have to teach students to be managers of their learning.  The tools are out there to get them engaged."  Alejandro Rivera

On the power of connected educators: "Energy, rejuvenation, collaboration, possibilities- Unlimited." - Carol Varsalona "

"We have an obligation as educators to be connected and to share." Tom Whitby

I am a learner everyday.  I learn from the students and teachers that I work with.  I also learn from the amazing educators that I connect with on Twitter and in real life. These opportunities  allow educators to connect, learn, and share.   It is opportunities like these that give me energy.   #MyPLNRocks.  There are no experts. We are all learners.  Educators need to live and breathe learning lives. 
There is  a current of electricity that comes from staying connected on and off line.  Thank you for keeping the current LIVE. 


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

#NF10for10 2014

 An Invitation to Notice & Wonder


Thank you to Cathy Mere, Mandy Robek, and Julie Balen for hosting this exciting event. 

This #NF10for10 list pairs collections of engaging, short NF texts with links to connect to wonders via  This year I have been working hard to layer texts and help students think more deeply within text sets.  Hope your students enjoy this invitation to notice, to wonder, to investigate further, and to push their thinking too.  


"Big Thinking in Small Packages"

Want students to write about their thinking and learning?  Try poetry. 

Donald Graves called poetry, "Big thinking in small packages."  

"Poetry is a memorable way to provide information."

This book of poetry explores inventions like roller coasters, Velcro, Fig Newtons and more. It helps readers look at everyday objects in a new way.

Wonderopolis # 164- What is an acrostic poem?


Lives of the Scientists Experiments, Explorers (and What the Neighbors Thought)

The latest in this series by Kathleen Krull.

Still wondering?   Curiosity is all it takes.  
Have you ever wondered what it takes to be an inventor?  Can kids be inventors too?  Wonder #673
 Wonderopolis #673 Can Kids be inventors too?

10 Inventors who Changed the World 

Connecting ideas and reading across texts, students can think more deeply about a topic.  In 10 Inventors Who Changed the World, read to find the "life links" or chains of influence in this unique series of biographies. Great for older readers and fans of graphic novels.   
Ever wonder about word origins? 
Hello? Does Thomas Edison get credit for our most popular greeting?   Check this out and explore the interesting connection of events great for link to word study lessons.  

 An Illustrated Timeline of Inventions and Inventors

 Visual Literacy:
"Pictures help us see the story" 

"By Kids for Kids"  


Don Wulffson provides a variety of short engaging well crafted pieces students LOVE.  Discover lots of fun facts about the history behind Popsicles, Post its, and even perfume.
Did you ever wonder about the ice cream man? How about the first ice cream truck?
Want to learn more? Great collection of mentor texts for writing in this collection too.
 How about the history of deodorant? How about how post its came to be?   Wulffson addresses these wonders and more in his collection of short texts.   
Have you ever wondered why  some people's feet stink?  Well Wonderopolis explains it all here:

Imaginative Inventions

 Great text to connect to all above as many of the same inventions and inventors are found here in this fun text written in verse.

Wondering about how things work or how things came to be?  How about roller skates or chewing gum? 
Wondering about roller skates?
Great wonder to also pair with POP! The Invention of Bubble Gum by Meghan McCarthy


Mistakes That Worked

 How about another "mistake that worked"? Want to know more about who invented potato chips? 
Wondering about potato chips?
  Another great text to explore- but I wrote about this last #NF10for10.  Great piece on George Crum  found in What Color is My World.

Students LOVE the Gross Factor

Students also love learning about wacky, wild and gross foods? How about hairy, scary foods throughout history?  Fun hybrid text with poetry too:
Great examples of connected texts to read across and  synthesize information from multiple texts.
I have included this last mentor text because it is filled with examples for our students to explore the ways in which authors provide information and engage the reader.   
This new title from Loreen Leedy  has an interesting text structure.  Your students will find  fun facts, poetry, riddles and it has includes a question and answer format too.  Lots of great models for energizing nonfiction. 

I hope you enjoy finding those mentor authors and mentor texts that are your "co-teachers".

"Emulate those teachers that instilled the sense of wonder and curiosity that inspired you.”
Robert John Meehan

Happy Reading #NF10for10 
Can't wait to read and learn from other's lists. 

Thanks to all!