WWW – Jumpstart’s Read for the Record

By request I am bringing back the WWW (Weekly Wednesday Website) this year!  This means that each Wednesday I will send out a school-wide email with a recommended website that you might find useful in your classroom.

readfortherecordThis week’s WWW is Jumpstart’s Read for the Record

This site has all the details for the annual Read for the Record event, which “mobilizes millions of children and adults to celebrate literacy by participating in the world’s largest shared reading experience.”  Last year 2,462,860 adults and children participated!

bunny-cakesThis year’s book is BUNNY CAKES (a Max and Ruby book) by Rosemary Wells

Date to Share It with Your Class:  Tues, Oct 21

And here are some additional links to make it easy for you to participate!

we give books Share the book on your Interactive Whiteboard!  We Give Books offers free online books, including all the previous Read for the Record books.  (Remember Otis last year, and Ladybug Girl the year before that?)  Create an account (if you don’t already have one), log in, and search for Bunny Cakes.

bunny cakes reading guideBunny Cakes Reading Guide – provided by Jumpstart to help you get the most out of your reading experience

Rosemary WellsBiographical Information (including a brief video) for Rosemary Wells (the author/illustrator)

Win a copy of BUNNY CAKES for your classroom library!  I will be giving away a paperback copy of Bunny Cakes to one lucky blog reader!  When you register your class online for Read for the Record, you will receive a welcome email from Jumpstart.  Leave a comment before 2:00 EST on Wed, Oct 15, letting me know you’ve registered your class and I’ll enter your name in the drawing.  (I’ll announce the winner here at 2:30 on Oct 15 and ask for your contact information then.)  Good Luck!

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A Picture is Worth How Many Words?

Here’s another idea I shared during my Comics in the Classroom workshop last month:

For years teachers have been using wordless books to encourage creative writing with their students, but imagine putting a new spin on it by having students write dialogue and narration using a comic book format!  It’s easy when you use speech bubble sticky notes, and the same book can be used over and over again.

Here are two simple examples:

red book From The Red Book (Caldecott Honor Book) by Barbara Lehman

The Red Book crosses oceans and continents to deliver one girl into a new world of possibility, where a friend she’s never met is waiting. And as with the best of books, at the conclusion of the story, the journey is not over!


Students could even use this as a starting point for writing their own graphic novel sequel to show what happens to the boy who finds the book at the end of the story!


lion mouseFrom The Lion & the Mouse (Caldecott Winner) by Jerry Pinkney

A wordless adaptation of one of the well-known Aesop fable, in which an unlikely pair of animals learn that no act of kindness is ever wasted.


Students studying fables could use this activity as inspiration to re-write other fables as comic books.  In this video, Jerry Pinkney offers an explanation of the thought process behind the book:


Of course, not all wordless books lend themselves to speech and/or thought bubbles, but here are some others that would work well for the comic format:

girl and the bicycle The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett

“A little girl sees a shiny new bicycle in the shop window. She hurries home to see if she has enough money in her piggy bank, but when she comes up short, she knocks on the doors of her neighbors, hoping to do their yardwork. They all turn her away except for a kindly old woman. The woman and the girl work through the seasons, side by side. They form a tender friendship. When the weather warms, the girl finally has enough money for the bicycle. She runs back to the store, but the bicycle is gone! What happens next shows the reward of hard work and the true meaning of generosity.”

chalk Chalk by Bill Thomson

“A rainy day. Three kids in a park. A dinosaur spring rider. A bag of chalk. The kids begin to draw. . . and then . . . magic! The children draw the sun, butterflies, and a dinosaur that amazingly come to life. Children will never feel the same about the playground!”

secret box The Secret Box by Barbara Lehman

The story of what happens when three children find a secret box that was hidden long ago, and travel across town and across time on a puzzling adventure.  It’s up the the reader to interpret the ending, and to imagine what happens next.

Click here for additional teaching suggestions for this book.



farmer and the clown The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee (who I LOVE!)

“A baby clown is separated from his family when he accidentally bounces off their circus train and lands in a lonely farmer’s vast, empty field. The farmer reluctantly rescues the little clown, and over the course of one day together, the two of them make some surprising discoveries about themselves—and about life!”
Click here for an interview with Marla Frazee about the book.  And don’t miss this blog post from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast filled with artwork (and pre-artwork) from the book!



bluebird Bluebird by Bob Staake

The story of a beautiful but brief friendship between a lonely boy and a cheerful bluebird.

Click here to view the artwork for this award-winning book.


unspoken Unspoken: A Story From the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole

“When a farm girl discovers a runaway slave hiding in the barn, she is at once startled and frightened. But the stranger’s fearful eyes weigh upon her conscience, and she must make a difficult choice. Will she have the courage to help him?”

Here is Henry Cole “reading aloud” from the book.  This is a great introduction to show students how to think about and interpret a wordless book.


If you’d like to purchase pre-cut speech bubble sticky notes, here are some that I found online:


Can you recommend another wordless book that students could use to write narration and dialogue?  Please share it in the comments!

Note: When you purchase sticky notes or books 
via the links in this post, I receive a small 
commission (4%) from Amazon in the form of a gift card.
I use these gift cards to buy books for teachers 
to use during special reading projects and celebrations.
Thanks for your support!
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WWW- The Global Read Aloud

By request I am bringing back the WWW (Weekly Wednesday Website) this year!  This means that each Wednesday I will send out a school-wide email with a recommended website that you might find useful in your classroom.

 gra_logoThis week’s WWW is The Global Read Aloud

Why a Global Read Aloud?

From the GRA site: “Global collaboration is necessary to show students that they are part of something bigger than them. That the world needs to be protected and that we need to care for all people. You can show them pictures of kids in other countries but why not have them speak to each other? Then the caring can begin.”

Our ADE Vision Statement reads as follows: “At Alice Drive Elementary, all students will receive the respect, encouragement and opportunities they need to build the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to be successful, contributing members of a global society.”  (emphasis mine)  This is a truly meaningful way to give our students a global voice!

The Global Read Aloud connects students to other kids all over the world through a shared reading experience.  Last year more than 144,000 students in 30 countries on 6 different continents participated, including two of our ADE teachers!

The book choices for this year are:

peter reynoldsFor younger students, an author study of Peter H. Reynolds, author of the books The Dot and Ish – both available on Tumblebooks – as well as many other books.

For older students, a choice of 3 novels for the teacher to read aloud to the class(Follow the links to learn more about each one.)

One For the Murphys by Lyndy Mullaly Hunt

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm

The Global Read Aloud site provides resources to get you started when you sign up, and there are discussion guides available for the books.  I have read all three novels and will be happy to help you choose the best fit for your class.  I will also purchase a copy of the book for you, and after the read-aloud you can add it to your classroom library.  (For the author study, I will purchase one Peter Reynolds book for each classroom, and you can trade them with one another during the author study.)  I will also assist you with making connections to other classrooms.  I’ll be happy to meet with grade levels or individual teachers to discuss it further.

p.s. A link to this week’s WWW is posted at http://www.netvibes.com/weeklyweb, along with all of the previous WWW websites.

To my online readers: Are you participating in the Global Reading Challenge this year?  Are you looking for elementary classes to connect with?  Please leave a comment and let me know which book you are reading!


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Professional Resources for Using Comics and Graphic Novels

On Monday I led a workshop for teachers on teaching with comics that included tips and project ideas, lesson plans, printables, free online comics, and free comic creation tools.  In Wednesday’s blog post I shared the online resources I’ve compiled for using comics in the classroom, but I didn’t share any print books.  Here are some professional resources to consider if you want to learn more about using comics in the classroom:

teaching early reader comicsTeaching Early Reader Comics and Graphic Novels
by Katie Monnin
For teachers who want to use comics with elementary learners, this resource provides standards, lesson ideas, and reproducibles for students in Kindergarten up through 6th grade.  Each section includes sample lessons and a bibliography of comics and graphic novels to use with students.  Here’s an interview with the author from the Cynsations blog in which she talks about media literacy, teaching with graphic novels, and the companion book to this one for older students titled Teaching Graphic Novels: Practical Strategies for the Secondary ELA Classroom.

using graphic novels in the classroomUsing Graphic Novels in the Classroom Grd 4-8
by Melissa Hart
This book can be used with upper elementary and middle school students to help them analyze the graphic novel format and use that understanding to write and draw their own comics.  Standards-based lessons are supplemented with graphic organizers and reproducibles.

using graphic textsUsing Content-Area Graphic Texts for Learning: A Guide for Middle-Level Educators
by Meryl Jaffe
This is a resource to use with upper elementary and middle-grade students with a focus on using graphic novels as texts to convey content information.  The book includes separate chapters for Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies that include standards-based lesson ideas and bibliographies of recommended titles.  Here are some online articles written by the author.

comic strip mathComic-Strip Math: Problem Solving: 80 Reproducible Cartoons With Dozens and Dozens of Story Problems That Motivate Students and Build Essential Math Skills
by Dan Greenberg
Teachers of grades 3-6 who want to add a spark to their math lessons will want to consider this book, which introduces word problems with a silly comic strip that puts the math into context for the students.  Don’t limit yourself to the reproducible pages here; use this as a springboard for your students to create their own comics and story problems!

using comic artUsing Comic Art to Improve Speaking, Reading and Writing
by Steve Bowkett
This book can be used in all classrooms to help students understand the writing and speaking process through what they know about comics and graphic novels, and to help them understand the concept of making pictures in their minds as they read text.  It explains how comics offer the perfect condensed version of a story to illustrate writing conventions such as a strong opening and closing, a problem and a solution, creating suspense with pacing, etc.  It also includes a section on non-fiction writing and a bibliography.

teaching visual literacyTeaching Visual Literacy: Using Comic Books, Graphic Novels, Anime, Cartoons, and More to Develop Comprehension and Thinking Skills
by Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher
The focus of this book is on visual and media literacy, and explains how graphic novels and cartoons can spark thought-provoking discussions and lessons.  It includes a chapter on political cartoons – which can be used in social studies classes- as well as chapters on picture books and films.  These are not lesson plans, but rather essays and articles presenting background information, research findings, and advice for including visual literacy in the curriculum.  The authors share additional resources at their website, Literacy for Life.

Do you have a resource to recommend?  Please share it in the comments!


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WWW – Comics in the Classroom with Symbaloo

By request I am bringing back the WWW (Weekly Wednesday Website) this year! This means that each Wednesday I will send out a school-wide email with a recommended website that you might find useful in your classroom.

symbaloo comics webmix

This week’s WWW is Comics in the Classroom
Hosted by Symbaloo

This week you are getting a two-fer!

Symbaloo is an ancient Greek verb meaning ‘gathering’ or ‘assembling’ and perfectly reflects the mission of the company: to allow users to gather various websites into one central location. It’s simple to create a “webmix” (their term for a grid of links) by simply copying and pasting the desired URL into Symbaloo.

You can create as many separate webmixes as you want, and you can set each one to either be Public or Private. Some teachers use it to organize their own resources; others use it to share sites with students.

Basic accounts are free, but a paid premium version is available. Symbaloo also offers an Education version. From the site: “SymbalooEDU accounts come with preset educational webmixes pre-installed that are continuously updated with the latest and greatest educational sites recommended by our Symbaloo Certified educators.”

As you can see from the screenshot at the top of this email, I used Symbaloo to gather all my comic resources onto one page. Even if you missed the Comics in the Classroom workshop on Monday, I hope you will take time to explore these links. There are ideas here for students in Kindergarten through 5th grade.  You’ll find:

  • articles, tips, and lesson plans for teaching with comics (green squares)
  • free printables (purple squares)
  • blogs devoted to selecting comics and graphic novels for kids (white square)
  • free online general comic creation tools (blue squares)
  • free online topic-specific comic creation tools (orange squares)
  • free online comics (pink squares)
  • anti-bullying unit for students (yellow squares)

The two Promethean flipcharts I used in the workshop are Teaching With Comics and Understanding How Comics Tell a Story.  If you have ActivInspire installed on your computer, you can download these flipcharts for your own use.


p.s. A link to this week’s WWW is posted at Netvibes, along with all of the previous WWW websites.
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WWW – Learn 360

By request I am bringing back the WWW (Weekly Wednesday Website) this year!  This means that each Wednesday I will send out a school-wide email with a recommended website that you might find useful in your classroom.

learn-360 logo

This week’s WWW is Learn 360

Everyone is feeling the loss of United Streaming this year, so I’m happy to announce that our replacement streaming video service, Learn 360, is up and running!


The screenshots below will walk you through setting up your account:

Click on the tab for NEW USERS and enter your passcode (if you don’t know it, see your school librarian or technology coach)

 Learn 360 New Users


Complete your profile to REGISTER

Learn 360 Register


There’s a Help Center (circled in green below) to get you started with tutorials and how-to tips, and it even features a live chat option if you need additional assistance.

There’s also a Lesson Plan area (circled in pink below) that takes you to a page of topic links.  (There’s not much on the Lesson Plan page right now; I hope that will change soon.)

And you can sign up for the Learn 360 newsletter (circled in red below) to get monthly updates on new content and features.

Learn 360 Help


Have fun exploring the resources available here!

You can also follow @Learn360 on Twitter.

p.s. A link to this week’s WWW is posted at Netvibes, along with all of the previous WWW websites.


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WWW: International Dot Day Website


This week’s WWW (Weekly Wednesday Website) is….

dot day logo

The International Dot Day website!


Monday, September 15, is International Dot Day, inspired by the book The Dot by Peter Reynolds!

In Peter’s words: “In this book, we meet a girl named Vashti who has convinced herself she can not draw. Her teacher dares her to make a mark. Vashti makes one little dot on her sheet of paper… which turns out to be the beginning of her creative journey!  But The Dot is more than a book about art. It is a book that encourages us to be brave about expressing ourselves. It gently reminds us to start small and explore the IDEA. It is also a tribute to great teachers who know how to use humor, “off-the-path” approaches, and who have the vision to see the possibilities in EVERY student. The book ends off with Vashti sharing this gift with others, beginning a ripple of inspiration.”

If you want to use Dot Day to inspire your students, you can…

  • Click here to download a copy of the Dot Day Educator’s Handbook
  • Share the book with your students via Tumblebooks  (I’m sharing it with 4th and 5th grade during related arts this week.)
  • Schedule a class visit to the library next week for a Dot Day story time or art activity
 p.s. A link to this week’s WWW is posted at http://www.netvibes.com/weeklyweb, along with all of the previous WWW websites.
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Comfort Reading

I have not been feeling well for the last week or so, and while I’ve been making it in to work, it’s only through the use of coffee and sugar that I’ve been getting through my days. My afternoons and evenings have mostly been spent with a good book, and by that I mean an old favorite. When I’m sick, I just want to curl up with a “comfort book” that I know and love. Here’s what I’ve been enjoying:

candymakers The Candymakers by Wendy Mass
I love the way she manages to surprise the reader with one plot twist after another, even though she’s telling the same story three times from three different points of view.

skulduggery pleasant Skulduggery Pleasant: Scepter of the Ancients by Derek Landy
Equal parts wit and action, I just revel in the clever banter between the skeleton detective Skulduggery Pleaant and 12-year-old Stephanie (aka Valkyrie Cain) as they battle evil together.

red blazer girls The Red Blazer Girls: The Ring of Rocamadour by Michael Beil
I was a huge Nancy Drew fan growing up, and this modern-day “girl detective” story takes me right back to my youth. So glad it’s just the first in a series!

penderwicks The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy byJeanne Birdsall
This is another book that reminds me of my childhood reading because the family reminds me of the Melendy siblings in the book The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright. (So glad that series was re-released!) The four sisters in this book are all individuals, but they have a wonderful all-for-one-and-one-for-all family spirit.

no more dead dogs No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman
The premise of this book grabbed me immediately, because I have a firm and unwavering aversion to sad dog books. I wish Wallace Wallace (yes, that’s his name) could transform some actual tragic dog stories (Old Yeller, I’m looking at you) the way he did Old Shep, My Pal. Definitely one of my all-time favorite authors, Korman is one of the few who can actually make me laugh out loud while I’m reading, and as they say: Laughter is the best medicine!

Which books are your comfort reading? Please leave a comment and share them!



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First Day with First Grade

I saw the first 1st grade class of the year on Friday, and we had a great time together! I like to mix it up with them because if we spend too long sitting still in one spot they either get the fidgety-wigglies or they fall asleep!

mr. wiggles bookWe begin by sitting on the story rug while I read Mr. Wiggle’s Book by Paula Craig, and we discuss all the things that make Mr. Wiggle sad when people don’t take care of books. Unfortunately the book is out of print now, and the prices on Amazon (at the time of this posting) are ridiculous! If you have a copy of the book, it’s a great introduction to book care for younger students, and it leads right into a fun song.

Wwhaddaya think of thate talk about what we see on the cover of the book — Mr. Wiggle wearing his reading glasses and “holding” a book — and then I introduce them to These Are My Glasses from the CD Whaddaya Think of That by Laurie Berkner. We then sing the chorus together a few times, using simple motions to act it out, and the kids love it! (By the way, when you order the CD from Amazon, you get the mp3 version free with your purchase.)

2-Mr. Wiggle0003

Mr. Wiggle is sad when you throw your library book.

Then we move to the library tables and review book care with a Mr. Wiggle powerpoint on the Promethean board. Finally, I hand out drawing paper and crayons and ask students to draw a picture of Mr. Wiggle, and a picture of something you should or should not do when borrowing a library book.  We talk about the “No” symbol (at the end of the book, and on slide 8 of the powerpoint) and they feel extremely sophisticated when they use it on their Do Not drawings! 1-Mr. Wiggle0002

If we have time, I allow volunteers to share their pictures with the class. We then practice the song one more time so they can sing it for their teacher when she picks them up.

I love to hear how indignant the kids sound when they tell me about things that are bad for books. Most of them take book care very seriously, which is just the way I like it!


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The WWW is Back!

One of the ways I’ve shared technology with my teachers in the past is to email them a WWW (Weekly Wednesday Website) to share an online resource that might be useful in the classroom.  Starting today I’m resuming those emails, and I’ll be sharing the sites here as well.  I’ve also created an archive of all the sites I’ve shared so far so that teachers can find a particular website without having to search through a list of emails.

Today’s WWW is…

discuskids    DISCUS Kids

The South Carolina State Library provides access to $2.2 million worth of research, reference, and learning resources for students in our state via the DISCUS website.
These resources include:

  • Britannica Elementary (general encyclopedia)
  • BrainPop Jr.  (early elementary lessons and online activities)
  • CultureGrams (social studies resources)
  • Kids InfoBits  (general encyclopedia, with magazine and newspaper articles)
  • NovelList K-8 Plus  (fiction and nonfiction book recommendations)
  • Searchasaurus  (kid-friendly search engine)
  • Biography in Context (biographical information, including photos and videos)

If you don’t live in South Carolina, I’m sorry to say that you can’t access these databases.  If you do live in South Carolina, I hope you’ll take advantage of them!

Discus Kids   http://scdiscus.org/discus-kids



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