Monday, June 30, 2008

Discoveries and Other Fun Little Things-PART II

So, as I was saying. 
This last saturday was a ME day. I owed it to myself. I needed a break from everything. So, after my successful time at the children's section over at Barnes and Noble at Easton, I went to the Just $ 1 corner of the bookstore to see if I could find anything useful. Well...I did. Mostly I found good books that I could use as part of my art journal images. I felt like a bought a whole tons of stickers for one dollar. The possibilities are so many when you find a book that has great graphics or pictures, or words. 
Then I just walked around and enjoyed the beautiful display of art work all around Easton. If you need ins
piration, a walk through these amazing stands get you all fired up and ready to just create.  
And my great saturday evening included Tennis Practice. I can't say I "play" tennis. Last tuesday I had my first tennis class, and this was a definite practice time. And may I just say...serving is a lot of work. I do not like to serve in a match. But I will practice. I 
gotta get better, right?
So, this saturday recipe for a healthy weekend included books, art and sports. It can't get any better, right? Like I said earlier...those little things in life make me very HAPPY. I guess I am now kinda ready to get back to working on those papers. Kinda. 

Discoveries and Other Fun Little Things

I've been craving a day for ME. A day where I didn't have to look at my synthesis and position paper for OSU, a day where I can spoil ME with little things in life that makes me happy. I am not talking about extraordinary things my friends...I am talking about little things, and in a minute you'll see what I mean. So, last saturday I decided that was going to be the day I do that for here is what I did and looooooved every minute of it. First, I went to Barnes and Noble at Easton Town Center (I love going to local bookstore, but gas price was $4.15 on saturday , OUCH! so I have to use make a wise decision to stay close to my place). I got my tall coffee, and went straight to the Children's Book Section and what do I find? two great books by Mo Willems that I haven't read before (new E&P releases)...TA...DA...
I Love My New Toy! (Elephant and Piggie) I was laughing out loud in the bookstore (all by myself) while I was reading this book! People may think I need to "get out" more often, but no, that is such not the case. Here is the thing: I think Mo Willems is just EXTRAORDINARY! He created two adorable best friends character" Gerald (the elephant) and Piggie (the pig, of course). And these two characters have more LIFE than any other character I have seen in children's books. He gave these two characters such a strong, unique, funny personalities that after reading a couple of these books you just fall in love with them.
In his book, I Love My New Toy, Piggie has a terrific new toy and can't wait to show it to Gerald. When Gerald plays with this new toy, it "breaks" when it lands on the floor and with this event comes a bit of drama that puts their friendship to a test. When reading this book, you HAVE to slow down and appreciate the characters' expressions when they are conversing. It says it all. It feels so real. Their frustration. Their excitement. Their sadness. It is just adorable. The next book I found by Mo Willems is, I Will Surprise My Friend.

I Will Surprise My Friend! (Elephant and Piggie)So here is the scoop behind this story, Gerald and Piggie ran into two funny little squirrels having a blast by hiding and surprising each other. Inspired by the two squirrels, Gerald and Piggie decided they were going to give this game a try. It looks like fun surprising each other...well...they DID surprise each other in an unexpected way.
Something new I noticed that Mo Willems used in this book are the thinking bubbles with black and gray illustrations. I love the contrast with the color pictures because it makes those thinking bubbles stand out. This is another great feature to teach children when using mentor texts! And again, please notice Piggie and Gerald's face expressions, they are hilarious! After using Mo Willems books with my Kindergarten, First and Second Grade ESL classes this year, I can say this much...
  • His books inspire children to read. The lovely characters and their amazing conversations make children want to pick up his books and read them!
  • My kindergarten class learned most of their sight words thanks to Elephant and Piggie Book Series. They read them over and over again. 
  • My students learned about expressing emotions in their characters in different ways: through illustrations, through face expressions, by using ALL CAPITAL letters to show strong emotions like anger or frustration. 
Please check out Mo Willems' blog. You will love it. 
So that was the beginning of my saturday morning, but there is more to come LATER! I got some great pics to share as well! Stay tuned!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Article online and Summer School Completed!

Ok...another thing accomplished this Summer of 2008....Today was our last day of Summer School and I must say, once again, it was successful. My friend Jessica covered for me the first 8 days of summer school since I had to take my last class at The Ohio State University. And she did a fantastic job setting things up. It is easy to set in the middle of class and keep on going when you are lucky enough to find a good friend who is a great teacher to set things up and get them started!
So why are these classes so good for our ELLs??
small sizes classes
tons of opportunities for oral language development
great multicultural literature!
GAMES that encourages them to speak out and communicate with each other!
and, well, of course....possible Hollywood Acting Career opportunities! This is their chance to do tons of reader's theater which they absolutely LOVE! 
One of the first skit we did was Yo! Yes! by Chris Rascha. Talk about children reading with expression. They finally understood HOW to sound like there is a question or an exclamation mark. or how to sound disappointed. We had a good time.

On an earlier post I wrote about planting for a Community Garden in Whitehall. Well...check out the story published yesterday. Those are my little students! So proud of them. And good article too. I am ready for an Art filled weekend! Enjoy it!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Where The Steps Were by Andrea Cheng

Oh How I love when I finished reading a book and know there are so much potential for development and ideas, conversations and insights! These are some of the ideas I had running in my head after I finished reading this novel-in-verse Where The Steps Were by Andrea Cheng.
Meet a third grade class in inner city Cincinnati, Ohio. Under the guidance of   
 this caring teacher, Miss D, this grade class tell their story, their  year at Pleasant Hill Elementary. This class discover the works of Langston Hughes, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln and other heroes. There is one thing in particular I love about the Andrea Cheng's n
ovel...the way those children connect to the lives and work of these American Heroes. The third graders respond to the poem Dreams by Langston Hughes in ways that apply to their lives making it so much more relevant. 
This third grade class has one concern in common: they are worry about their school closing. They worry about their future, they worry about their past as they know it.  Another great element to complement this story are the black and white drawings throughout the novel. 
A wonderful book that leads itself to other great learning!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008's is it going?

I heart summer time. Even if it implies....
*still waking up at 6:10 in the mornings... (I am teaching Summer School)
*having to write 2 major papers for graduate school (but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel...)
*and feeling like the day does not have enough hours to get things done. 
Because even though, I am feeling OVERWHELMED with my two papers for OSU, I still heart summer because it implies...
*opening all the windows in my apartment and listen to the UH-mazing birds surrounding my place (really, just awesome!)
*having more time to work out at the gym and have time for myself
*getting to read new books that I could use next year with my students
*getting to work in my little studio room and create art whenever I feel like it...
*our little ice cream place in New Albany serves the best ice cream ever, and the library is right next to it...what more could I ask for?
*going for walks late in the evenings
*getting to do little fun projects during summer school like creating a Community Garden in Whitehall.
* getting to do more patio seating than any other time in the year
* getting to sign up for classes that I WANT TENNIS CLASSES! (yeah!!! finally! I start today)
* getting to try new recipes and catching up with friends from Food Network
*finding new music in i-Tunes
*watching new movies, old movies, funny movies, kids' movies!
*not missing the great sunsets!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Summer Project Number 1= DONE :)

Besides being a teacher and loving it, I have other passions in my life like Photography, art journaling and scrapbooking. Being a teacher (to 68 wonderful ELLs children) and being a graduate student, didn't leave me so much time to play with creativity. So...I am looking forward to investing time this summer in making some art projects with photos, with a little bit of everything. I decided that the first thing I need is a place where I can feel inspired and an organized mess where I can function. My little studio room in my apartment went under some major transformation. I wish I could have take a picture of the before and after like make over shows magazines do. But all I have is pictures of the final product which I must say I am very proud of. I took special notice of the process that it took to get here. I did a lot of great garage sale shopping, actually use coupons to purchase things, something that in the past I just wasn't good at doing it. I purchased things little by little, I took realistic steps to get here since I have way too many things I needed to organized. All I can say that this took TIME and a lot of "before thinking" to complete this project. I can pretty much compared it to the process of writing: a lot of thinking involves, it takes time but when you get to that final piece, you are beaming with proud because you reached the finished line. 
Now...summer art they come! 

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Back again...

Cover Image

Not having internet connection is in my list of things that drive me c-r-a-z-y!! The timing of this couldn't have been worse! the 48 Hour Reading Challenge was going on and I started my last class at OSU! I needed internet really badly for both things! Anyways...things happen. Moving on. 
On a brighter note, let me tell you about this book that I absolutely enjoyed! Let me introduce you to Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate. Meet Kek a young boy from Sudan arriving to the United States to join his aunt's family in Minnesota.  Told in free verse style , this is his story of survival since he saw his brother and dad getting killed. But the story is so much more than that: his feelings of lost, despair, guilt, excitement...a mixed of feelings between the world he left behind in the Refugee camp and his new life in the United States. In his ESL class, Kek found a community, and a support system while he is learning English. 
Kek tells his story and it is impossible not to care for this boy. He feels real. He feels like so many of my students. The author, Katherine Applegate, did an amazing job capturing Kek's impressions of life in the United States. I highly recommend this book to everyone working with English language learners and students who are refugees in the USA.  Be prepare to laugh and cry. Trust me. 

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Summer Goals Meme 2008

My friends at  just tagged me with  Summer Goals Meme. So my dear new friends here are my goals for Summer 2008:

1. Finish my master's project so I can graduate with my Masters in Education at The Ohio State University

That's it! You might think I am not ambitious enough, or that I don't dream big, but trust me...for this is my big dream come true. To be able to graduate from an American University is a dream come true for me. I've been only dreaming about this for, oh, let's say about 20 years. So, this ONE goal is huge for me. I will be taking 2 courses this summer at OSU and also teaching summer school. After July 22, I will be posting my Summer Goals Meme Part II. Stay tuned!
So, now I tag Kevin at

 48 Hour Book Challenge Greetings from Nowhere (Frances Foster Books)A couple of tissues and cups of coffee later and I finished Greetings from Nowhere by Barbara O'Connor.  From a conversation earlier on with my new Columbus Bloggers friends over breakfast, I knew from the very beginning that this book was fantastic, I guess I had no idea how seriously great this book would be. So, picture this...four people but they are really not connected to each other (yet), a motel, and the Great Smoky Mountains as the witness of the  interactions and friendship that unexpectedly unfolds in the story. 
Four strong characters, four people you get to know and love, four lives, add it all up and you got Greetings from Nowhere.  
Here are some of my favorite lines from the book...
"You can fool a person. You can fool a dog. You can fool a cat or a horse or a teacher or a friend. But you cannot ever fool a heart." (page 14).

"She began to whisper her mother's name over and over inside her head. Dorothy. Dorothy. Dorothy. She liked saying it so much, she decided she would say it a lot." (page 11).

Barbara O'Connor has a way to describe the character so that you feel like you truly know each individual so well. And I don't mean describing a character physically but emotionally. WOW. A round of applause to a job well done. Can't wait to read this book next year with my 5th grade book club!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Columbus Bloggers Ready for Another Challenge!

   I could have not started my summer vacation in a better way. My saturday morning was one packed with great people, awesome company, amazing surprises, in other words, very full filling. Today I met for the first time other Columbus bloggers to kick off the 48 Hour Book Challenge hosted by MotherReader. I feel like I have new friends in Columbus, I met Franki and Mary Lee of A Year of Reading; Katie of Creative Literacy; Abby of Authentic Reader; Karen of Talkworthy; and Karen and Bill of Literate Lives. I honestly was very thrilled to put a face to the blogs I am constantly reading and learning from. I believe I've just met a very strong reading community in Columbus. I will be writing all about this event in my Summer Journal (see earlier posts) so I can share this with my ESL students in August. 
Our saturday morning started the way any event should start: with food, of course. We met at NorthStar Cafe for breakfast, and then we moved on to Cover to Cover, our cozy local children's bookstore in Columbus, OH. And my friends, let me tell you, I felt like Christmas in June because Sally, the bookstore owner, has kindly let us look through gallies of soon to be released books! Oh mine oh mine!! Sally just made my summer. Close friends of mine know that the best present you can give me are BOOKS! I am looking forward to reading those books in my box (yes, I said box!).
I might be the last one to get to read Greetings from Nowhere by Barbara O'Connor but there's where I am starting so let the fun begins!