Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Slice of Life: Currently . . .

I'm falling back on an old favorite for this week's slice. 

Currently . . .

watching Season 8 of Vera (Does anyone know if the series will continue after Season 9?)

reading Beartown by Fredrik Backman & Other Words for Home by Jasmine Wargo 

listening to this week's episode of a favorite podcast, "What Should I Read Next? 

making plans to begin the August book for our Tween Book Club, The Explorer by Katherine Rundell

feeling delighted that both grandsons are actually napping at the same time

planning a family getaway next month with our  children and three grandsons 

loving the sunshine, that summer has finally arrived, and my tomatoes are ripening
It’s Slice of Life Tuesday!
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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Slice of Life: Book Sharing!

One of my favorite things to do is share books. Ever since I retired in 2014, I've led a book club for middle school students. It  has changed a bit over the years. 

We meet less frequently now and our meetings occur at lunch, instead of after school. We begin each year with a focus on reading and discussing Newbery possibilities and March Book Madness titles. Our focus for other months includes African American History Month and Poetry Month. During the summer our club morphs from Books, Brownies, and Beyond (a middle school book club) into a Tween Book Club. We welcome 4th and 5th graders to our meetings at the public library (and one this summer at Island Books, our independent book store). 

One of the things I've created this summer is a Tween Book Club padlet for collecting blog posts, book lists, what we're reading this summer lists, summer reading challenges, and other book related links. I like the visual nature of Padlet and the ability to organize the links and things I want to share. How do you stay in touch with readers over the summer? What are you favorite middle grade book resources?
It’s Slice of Life Tuesday! 

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Friday, July 19, 2019

Poetry Friday: Train Thoughts

Carol at Carol's Corner is hosting
this week's round-up of poetic goodness. 
"I Will Love You Well" is Carol's heartfelt poem
about Rooney (the service dog who arrived in her 
life this summer). We look forward to more posts about
Carol's new canine companion. I think Rooney has quite a fan club!

Clackety Track: Poems About Trains (by Skila Brown and illustrated by Jamey Christoph) has done a bit of traveling lately. I checked it out (probably on someone's recommendation), and took it to Jack's house. Then I asked for it back so I could write a Poetry Friday post about it. It sat on my desk while Jack and family were on vacation (and I failed to write the post). Then it traveled back to Jack's house this past week. This morning I sent a text to my daughter asking if they could tuck the book in today's bag bound for our house (along with the two grandsons). We watch the grand boys at our house on Fridays and Grandpa helps out.

Jack loves the rhythmic cadence of these train poems. And while he was on vacation, he had his first ride on a zoo train, making that poem even more interesting. "Shoulder Ballast Cleaner" with its words curving around the vehicle, is a visual delight. And the train facts at the end taught me more about the shoulder ballast, a new term to this Grandma (never too old to learn from a children's book). The succinct four lines of "Electric Train" introduced me to another new word, pantograph, explained in the facts written on train cars at the end of the book. "Bullet Train" found me telling Jack about the bullet train we rode from Paris to the countryside so we could explore the battlefields of World War I.  There's a poem about the subway and one about a sleeper train and so many more to love. 

These final lines of "Freight Train" capture its beauty and allure: "Clankin' crayon pack on wheels. / Racin' rainbow made of steel. / Rows of grooves, cables, and bars. / Graffiti rockin' out the cars. / A badge of rust. A proud oil stain. / There's nothin' plain about a train." If you have a lover of trains in your life, then you should definitely check out this delightful homage to trains.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Slice of Life: Thinking about Names!

When the checker at Starbuck's called me by name on Saturday, I was shocked. I'm an infrequent Saturday morning hot chocolate drinker. I was shocked and impressed. How did she manage to remember my name? 

And then she told me about her 3rd grade teacher who recently saw her and said, "Hello, Samantha!" Samantha was surprised that she would remember her name nearly two decades later. I'm rotten at remembering names. It's why I always told my students to stick out their hand for a handshake and say, "Hi, I'm ... " whenever they see me in the future. I told them that would allow me to relax and enjoy our conversation without searching my brain for their name.

This encounter with Samantha on Saturday led me to think about my ongoing attempts to declutter my teaching files. Yes, I know I retired five years ago. This task is ongoing and long overdue. I started in the Language Arts drawer, but soon realized that the Social Studies files would be easier to part with. I loved teaching both subjects, but literacy is where my heart is. 

Many of the files were of project-based learning and while it was easy to part with the stacks of informational pages, the hardest task  was parting with student samples. Names on papers circled in my head before landing in the bin. I felt somewhat like Miss Nancy on Romper Room. Only instead of looking in the magic mirror, I was looking in the recycle bin. Here are just a few of the names I can recall from sample papers I recycled! "I see Abbie, and Jeremy, and Priya, and Joshua. And there's Namya, and Nick, and Kylie, and Aaron. I see Rachel, and Charles, and Lauren, and Shawn. And there's Max, and Samy, and Collin, and Kajal.  I see Nora, and Issac, and Homa, and Mariam. And there is Michi, and Brendan, and Margaret, and Dylan and Linh."

I'd better stop before I make you listen to all 500+ names of my former students. I'm rotten at remembering names, but their 6th grade faces are forever imprinted on my heart which makes throwing their papers in the recycle bin a bit easier.
It’s Slice of Life Tuesday! 
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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Slice of Life: My Dream Job, Book Consultant!

It's my dream job. Just hanging around a bookstore (or a library) recommending books to other people. I know booksellers and librarians do lots more than this, but this is what I would want to do if I worked in a bookstore or a library.

I was in Island Books, our local independent bookstore, when I heard a voice, "Of course, Ramona is here!" After adding to the stack of choices for our Tween Book Club's August read, I stepped up to this individual (whom I hadn't recognized) and asked, "What did you mean by the comment? 'Of course, Ramona's here.'" 

As she reassured me that a bookstore was a perfectly logical place to encounter me, I recalled that she teaches at our middle school (I always have trouble placing folks when I see them out of context). She shared that she will have three foster daughters arriving at her home soon. And just like that, I stepped into my dream job to scan shelves and share titles with her. It was a perfectly delightful way to spend part of a summer day! 
 It’s Slice of Life Tuesday! 
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Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Slice of Life: Checked Out!

I'm an inveterate library user. I think it's safe to say that I make it to our public library more than once a week. As the books I want to read always outnumber my ability to get them read, I've started using two tools more frequently that are offered through KCLS  (King County Library System). 

One is the For Later Shelf. I no longer keep lists of books I want to read. If I read a review or a blog post that piques my interest, I'll add it to my For Later Shelf. I currently have 71 titles on that shelf. 

The other is a button that I can use, "Pause Hold." This allows me to put a pause on books that I've placed on hold. It still maintains my place in the queue, and I can unpause the hold whenever I'm ready. My strategy is to put the last day of the month as the pause until date. Then I try to look at my paused holds near the end of the month to determine if I'm ready to read any of them. If I'm not ready, I change the date to the end of the next month. When I reviewed the titles at the end of June, I unpaused a few and left nine there until the end of July when I'll review them again. 

You would think that with these two tools I would have a manageable number of books checked out, but I still end up with more on my plate than I can possibly finish.  I currently have 39 items checked out, but let me break those down for you:

21 are picture books - I read them first and then pass some along to grandsons Jack & Robby. Most of these are books that I request from book reviews and mentions by fellow bloggers. Here's a new favorite I just picked up yesterday from my holds shelf:  On the Night of the Shooting Star by Amy Hest. (Check my upcoming Poetry Friday post for two new poetry picture books I adore.)

5 are middle grade books - My favorite genre of books to read... Am I just a grownup who never left middle school? Could it have something to do with the fact that I taught this age group for fourteen years? And that five years after retirement, I still lead a middle school book club? We're reading Kate Messner's Breakout for our July meeting. And the next two I want to read are The Bridge Home (this year's middle school choice for Global Read Aloud) by Padma Venkatrama and A Kind of Paradise (a book for lovers of books and libraries) by Amy Rebecca Tan.

8 are nonfiction - I'm currently reading Cathy Guisewite's Fifty Things that Aren't My Fault: Essays from the Grown-up Years and Habit Stacking by S. J. Scott. I'm having fun browsing Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany by Jane Mount. It will live on my coffee table until it's due and I have to return it.

3 are Choice Reads books - Choice Reads are the candy store books! Our library describes them as "a quick, browsing collection of uncataloged paperbacks that are also represented in our cataloged collection." They are displayed with covers out and I always stop to shop this display. My current choices include Glory Road by Lauren K. Denton, Extinctions by Josephine Wilson, and The Forgiving Kind by Donna Everhart. And no, I won't get them all read, but it's fun to try.

2 are library book bags - They are checked out to us for a year at a time and one of them is overdue. Do they charge me a late fee for that? I'm headed in tomorrow with book bag in hand.

It's safe to say that I will never run out of books I want to read. And isn't that a lovely prospect?
 It’s Slice of Life Tuesday! Click over to Two Writing Teachers to read more slices!