Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A River of Words

Just the title of this picture drew me in! The thought of a river of words...

William Carlos Williams was a doctor who honored his calling to write poetry!

Jen Bryant gives the words sound: 

        Gurgle, gurgle - swish, swish, swoosh! - gurgle gurgle.
            That is the sound of the river just beyond the town where Willie lived 
            when he was younger.

The imagery she uses will take your breath away:

        The gentle sounds and shifting rhythms of the poems were like the music
        of the river.

Through her story, we learn that Willie had words in his head that did not have rhythms or rhymes. He wanted to write about "ordinary things."

Willie had some very interesting friends when he went off to college: Ezra Pound, Hilda Doolittle, and Charles Demuth. The talked about books and music and art. This helped Willie when his medical studies became difficult.

Once he graduated, Willie did become a doctor, but he continued writing his poems.

This picture book can be used as a mentor text for wonderful descriptions, explanations of why Willie did some of the things he did, and examples of his writing to be used as mentor texts within the book.

The back matter has a well put together timeline of William Carlos Williams's life..along side it are world events! Both the author, Jen Bryant, and the illustrator, Melissa Sweet, provide information about their research for this wonderful picture book.

The Great Figure

                                              Among the rain
                                              and lights
                                              I saw the figure 5
                                              in gold
                                              on a red
                                              to gong clangs
                                              siren howls
                                              and wheels rumbling
                                              through the dark city.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Stealing Home

In preparation for Black History Month, I wanted to start ahead of time to provide some great picture books that you can use with your students. 

What I find so unique about this picture book is that it is one sentence. It is quite a long sentence, but only one nonetheless. It is describes Jackie standing on third base trying to steal home! 

Each page has a a sidebar that gives more information about segregation in the major leagues, Jackie, the Dodgers, Branch Rickey, and many other pieces of important information that will help the reader understand the story behind this book better. is the language of the book itself that I love.

     Arms outstretched to keep his delicate balance,

     ...pigeon-toed dance...

     ...wakes to a visible electricity,

     darting a quick glance sideways,

Think of all the excitement you could have in your classroom with the beautiful vocabulary of Robert Burleigh. Oh...make sure you check out the ending!

So check with your librarian and get this one lined up for Black History Month...better yet, for any time you are teaching figurative language during your writing time!

Sunday, January 17, 2016


As I am preparing for my presentation on Saturday, I knew I needed to post some items for the attendees. Well, I did not want to leave any of my blog followers out, so I am attaching those items here too!

Hopefully these will help you out as you are working with your students.

Comment Sheet for Readers

Composition/Essay Checklist

Editing Checklist

Peer Review

Ms. Jordan Reads ( has some other graphic organizers you may want to use with your students for nonfiction. 

               Non-Fiction Text Structures

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Children's Book Academy

Are you a writer?

Do you have a middle grade novel locked up inside of you?

Well check this out...

Head on over to:  Children's Book Academy 

Mark Twain and the Queens of the Mississippi

One of my very favorite natural wonders of the United States is the Mississippi River. When my husband and I head over to Baton Rouge to see our family there, I always want to take a drive down River Road to see the Mighty Mississippi. And if I am lucky, I can talk my husband into taking a ferry across the river.

Mark Twain loved the Mississippi. He even became a steamboat pilot. What a wonderful adventure to travel up and down the river.

Cheryl Harness makes Sam Clemens' (Mark Twain) life come alive in this well crafted picture book. She not only lets the reader learn about the Mississippi, but she also provides information about steamboats, pilots, the Civil War, and Mark Twain himself.

This would be a great book to read to give students some background knowledge on Twain before reading one of his stories.


Monday, January 11, 2016

ALA Youth Media Awards

Oh my goodness! So many books I must now read!

I watched the very end of the webcast to see that Matt De La Pena won the Newbery Award for Last Stop on Market Street. (The book is also a Caldecott Honors winner.)

The Twittersphere is all abuzz with the announcements. If you missed anything, you can go here:

Congratulations to Jerry Pinkney for winning both the Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement and Laura Ingalls Wilder Award.

What is on my list to read...besides all of them?

Last Stop on Market Street
Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear
Trombone Shorty
The War That Saved My Life
Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement

Friday, January 8, 2016

Journal Book

My blog is going to be a bit different today. I want to share a great little journal I found with all the teachers out there who may be struggling with "On Demand" writing ideas. 

I bought this little book at Barnes and Noble the other day for the workshop I am co-presenting. I think with some tweaking, you can figure out ideas for topics and or just use what they have with your students. Each page has a quote and then a writing prompt.

Good luck as you prepare for those tests...ARGH!

One sample is...

"Always do your best. What you  plant now, you will harvest later."  -Og Mandino

What do you hope to harvest through hard work and dedication?

    How about an expository idea...

       Explain why it is important to work hard.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Melissa Stewart

For those of you who do not know the awesome Melissa Stewart...WHAT?

Anyway, for those of you who do not know Melissa Stewart, you MUST read her blog from today. She provides a list of nonfiction picture books sorted by....TEXT STRUCTURES! YAY Melissa!

Celebrate Science

Oh, and if you do not know Melissa, here you go. 

Melissa Stewart Books

This is one of my favorites!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A Cold, Chilly Day Here In Texas

As the cars are driving down the road in front of my window, the spray of water trails behind them. The dreary gray sky reminds me that winter has arrived here in Austin. Not only I walked to the car from the theater where I finally saw Star Wars, goosebumps covered my arms. That's why I am late completing my blog post.

What would be a fun book to read during these winter months? How about a version of The Three Bears? Jan Brett wrote a version that any student would enjoy - The Three Snow Bears. It will certainly cover some of the TEKS for Theme and Genre (and I am sure it will fit other standards for folktales/fairy tales).

Preparing for my presentation in 17 days (yikes), I have reacquainted myself with Ralph Fletcher's book A Writer's Notebook. If you teach writing, make sure you have your copy! Aspiring's something you should have too. 

Stay warm out there!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Back from a Long Absence!

It has been a very long time since I have been on either of my blogs. I had a couple of personal issues in my life come up and have been somewhat depressed about them. But it is a new year, and I want to start fresh.

I am going to be presenting at the TCTELA 2016 Conference with Caron St. Onge in Austin, Texas. We are presenting on Writer's Notebooks. Maybe I will see you there. The conference is at the Renaissance Hotel the weekend of January 22nd. 

Another thing I have been doing is completing my course with the Institute of Children's Literature. I have one assignment left to finish my course. This too has been an "on again, off again" adventure for me. My most recent assignment was a nonfiction article that I have been thinking about for awhile. I am going to see about revamping it as per my instructor...and as per the magazine I want to submit it to. Maybe I will be published!

My plan for this blog is not completely clear for this year as of yet. I really want to include more middle grade novels, but I also want to have some good mentor texts (in the form of picture books) for teachers to use in their classrooms. I love suggestions for either a middle grade novel or picture books.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and will have a blessed new year!

Happy Reading!