Friday, July 31, 2009

Poetry Friday

My Tribute to Summer Days
by Stella Villalba

Summer Days

Please don't come to an end
You feel so good in my hands
Love to have you by myside
Love to know you mean late nights

Summer Days

I enjoy you, oh! so much
waking up any time I want
feeling lazy, feeling energized
Love to know I got so much done!

Summer Days

You help me get caught up
in so much summer reading fun
you were to witness of all those nights
Love to know I grew so much

Summer Days

It's Ok, I should let you go
and feel grateful I had you at all
You make new memories for me
and unforgettable moments that will stay


Here is my book finding for this week and I couldn't be more excited! Countdown to Summer: A Poem for Every Day of the School Year by J. Patrick Lewis is a wonderful new addition to my personal library. You're reading the title of the book and you are probably thinking Countdown to Summer? But we're almost finishing summer! This book is the perfect book to start the school year. Imagine having at your fingertips a poem for each day of the school year? Yes, I think what J. Patrick Lewis did is very creative as well! The first poem in the book is numbered 180 and so the countdown begins. Ethan Long created the illustrations that paired each poem perfectly. You will find in this book limericks, haikus, riddles and shape poems! Some of my favorite poems include poem # 130 American Autumn, # 98 A Monthly Calendar, and of course # 1 School's Out! I believe this p0etry book is a great companion for students in grades 3 and up.

Would you like to know where to go next? Head to Poetry for Children where Sylvia Vardell is compiling all the round ups for this week!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I'm Your Bus

I'm Your Bus I'm Your Bus by Marilyn Singer and Illustrated by Evan Polenghi is a perfect read aloud for early primary bus riders! For many of our students, riding the bus will be a new experience this coming school year. This book will be a delight to listen to especially since it is filled with juicy, fun sounding words like sweeping, zipping, parking, creeping. This book is written as if the buses are talking to the audience. The buses describe their busy day, their adventures, their caring and the places they will take you throughout the year. This book was done by two creative and successful souls who give a lot to the community. Marilyn Singer has won several Children's Choice and Parents' Choice awards as well as a Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Honor. Evan Polenghi is an art director for a children's music publishing company. He even created designs for Gap Kids and Baby Gap. What an award winning team these two individuals are!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Recycle This Book!

Recycle This Book

Recycle This Book 100 Top Children's Book Authors Tell You How to Go Green Edited by Dan Gutman is one of those great findings that you can't put down! I am so excited I got my hands on this little treasure. There are many great picture books like this one that discuss important topics about recycling, protecting our Planet, saving the environment, but what I really really really LOVE about this one is that it is a collection of short essays written by PHENOMENAL children's authors! Picture this: an afternoon hanging out and talking about the little and realistic things we can do to help our planet in the company of...

Seymour Simon
Jane Yolen
Ralph Fletcher
Gail Gibbons
Shannon Hale
Andrew Clements
Ann Brashares
Linda Sue Park
Rosemary Wells
Jerry Spinelli
Sara Pennypacker
Jeanne DuPrau
Joseph Bruchac

and so many other AMAZING authors! This book is divided in four parts so that it shows you what you can do to help the environment in different places: your home, your school, your community, your world. As I am reading each essay I realize how simple, realistic, doable things are their suggestions. The essays are written in such a comprehensible, easy to follow kind of way, definitely written having children in mind as their main audience. I can see how I can use this book with either my 2nd grade ESL students as well as with my 5th grade ESL students. I enjoy thinking of the different possibilities and the potential this book offers: reading aloud with my students one author each day, summarizing our learning with one or two sentences, having a bank of practical ideas accumulated by the end of the book, creating a mural of our learning as we read them! The possibilities are endless, I honestly can't wait to share this with my students! They will love it!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My Visit to Cedar Point!

I love the possibilities with the Flip Video camera! I love how easy everything is! I love how I don't have to carry this heavy thing on my shoulder in order to record a moment I don't want to forget. I love the lack of cords when you use the Flip Video. I love how I can make simple movies in matters of minutes. I love how I can share videos with my family in South America!

Did I mention I love this little pocket video camera?

Oh friends...say hello to endless possibilities?

Twitter Mosaic Meme

Oh! I have been tagged by my friend Franki over at A Year of Reading to create this fun post! So here's is my mosaic and looking at it you can tell it is actually a small mosaic in the amount of friends and followers. I must confess: I like it this way. I like it this way for two reasons:

1. I find it manageable in the amount of people I can follow and actually have the time to read their updates.
2. I get overwhelm sometimes with the many things available to us in our modern technology world but I truly still enjoy twitter! I get a lot of useful, fun information. It is the "sharing" world of cool facts, quotes and findings.

When I look at my twitter friends I see a rainbow of possibilities. I have friends that share with me the joy of our teaching world, I have friends who are into the creative side like scrapbooking, photography or all things handmade like Etsy. I was also very thrilled to find Paulo Coehlo, author of The Alchemist, one of my favorite authors of all time. He is such an inspiration to me and I am one of those people who read every single book he has written. And better yet, loved them all. I also get to Twitter in Spanish and in English. How great is that? I also have friends or follow individuals whose souls are so creative, or adventurous, or just life lovers who are very inspirational to follow!

So, let's keep having fun, shall we? I'm tagging anyone who:
1. loves this kind of Meme
2. Haven't discover Twitter yet (never too late!)

So, here are the rules:
1. Go to to create your mosaic (you can choose friends or followers).
2. Copy the code and paste it into a blog entry.
3. Reflect and comment on your mosaic.
4. Tag some “tweeples.”
5. Link back to this post or the post where you were first tagged.

Have a lovely weekend friends...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Change-up Baseball Poems

Change-up: Baseball PoemsI loved finding this book at our wonderful Columbus Metropolitan Library. Change-up Baseball poems by Gene Fehler and illustrated by Donald Wu. There are so many boys in my classroom who will be so thrill when I share this book with them. The author Gene Fehler was called "the Shell Silverstein of baseball by The Sporting News. He is a true baseball fan and only someone who feels the passion for this sport can truly write about the excitement and thrill of this sport. I really like how Gene Fehler's first poem in this book starts a poem during the winter season, when the baseball field is nothing but a blanket of snow. And that's how this book ends as well, in winter time when a child contemplates the field and cannot wait till spring start. I am sure you will enjoy Gene Fehler's poems from winnings, loses, superstitions, cheering, to teammates, and field. It is a book to be enjoyed many times over.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Skip Through the Seasons

Skip Through the SeasonsAnother great summer finding: Skip through the Seasons by Stella Blackstone and Maria Carluccio. This book invites you to go through each month of the year encouraging you to pay close attention to the illustrations to find all the different items in the book. There are several things I really enjoy about this book:

  • the great use of strong verbs to start each month, for example: whirl into March, splash into April, jive into July or sail into August.
  • the fantastic illustrations done by Maria Carluccio full of life and color.
  • the words found at the bottom of the page so children and adult can find these items among the illustrations
  • it reinforces vocabulary and oral language in a fun way!
  • This book is available in Spanish as well!
PLUS, at the end of the book you can learn where the names of the months come from. It also includes the different calendars found throughout the ages, for example, the Hindu, Islamic and Hebrew calendar. And for the grand finale you will find the days of the week in different languages ranging from French, Italian, Spanish to German. This book is packed with fantastic things to share with children! This book is a Barefoot Books publication. Check out their website right here!

Baseball...Baseball everywhere!

The Girl Who Threw ButterfliesThe Girl Who Threw Butterflies by Mick Cochrane is the story of Molly Wiliams, an 8th grader whose father has just died in a car accident. As a middle school girl, the last thing she wants is for the other students to look at her with pity or remember her for what happened to her instead of for who she is. In the meantime, things at home are not easy to handle either. Molly's mom is dealing with her husband's death by closing herself, keeping it quiet and distant instead of reaching out to Molly. Molly and her dad shared a common love for baseball. It is one of the memories that Molly wants to hold on to the most. It was the string that attach her and her dad. Her afternoons used to be filled with playing ball with her dad, of batting, and green fields. Molly's dad taught her how to throw a knuckleball and it made Molly strong and confident. Confident enough to decide to join the baseball team, the boys baseball team at her school. And with this decisions, comes a string of events that will define Molly at such a young age. One of the things I truly enjoyed about this book is the powerful language Mick Cochrane uses to describe some of Molly's deepest feelings. For example: on page 71 it says,

"But even now Molly didn't want to get over baseball and she sure didn't want to get over her dad. She didn't even want to get over her grief, that aching sadness in her chest. It connected her to him. It was a painful connection just the same, and she would never willingly give that up."

I must admit having this throat-tangling feeling several times as I am reading this book. Molly is such a believable character. She acts, responds and deals like a teenager would. But Molly is more mature than most eight graders I know but she is living her age, her sadness. But she is also incredibly talented in baseball, which is this talent with the combination of perseverance and strength that will make Molly become more than "the girl who threw butterflies."

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ready to Learn Rhyming Words!

Billy and Milly, Short and Silly!One of the hardest things to teach young ELLs is rhyming words. Imagine when you are learning a new language to be asked to think of words that rhymes with a particular sound, you will have to have a pretty strong command of the target language in order to acquire such a high level of understanding and production. Please do not misunderstand me, ELLs CAN learn and produce rhyming words, it just takes them more time, more practice, more repetition. Well, I found a great book at our wonderful Columbus Metropolitan Library to reinforce the teaching of rhyming words (did I ever mention how much I HEART this library, I would be lost without it!)
Billy & Milly, Short & Silly by Eve B. Feldman and pictures by Tuesday Mourning is a great book to teaching rhyming words in content. This is reason number one this book is a winner to me, the rhyming words used in this book share Billy & Milly very short stories. This is the kind of book where you are relying a lot in the pictures in order to understand the story. For example: you see Billy & Milly sitting on the stoops of an apartment building. Billy is holding his basketball and Milly is just waiting crossed arms for the ice cream truck to get closer. Billy gets his basketball and starts playing hoops while Milly is enjoying her scoops of delicious ice cream. All of a sudden, oh no! Billy's basketball hits Milly's ice cream and oops! the ice cream is gone!
Now, go back and read the bold words I have just used to tell the story : stoops, hoops, scoops, oops. Those are the only words you will find in those three pages that tell that particular story. What a wonderful invitation for our students to do what I just did: tell a story using those rhyming words using the pictures as clues for meaning and understanding. A wonderful new addition to my treasure of books!


Incredible InventionsIncredible Inventions Poems Selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and Illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach is a book that I most definitely want it in my collection of poetry books. Here you have another poetry anthology put together by Lee Bennet Hopkins with the common theme of inventions. The inventions covered range from puzzles, jeans, to roller coaster and escalator. I love the poems he selected for this anthology since some poems have more details, others are very simple and some are concrete poems. It is great to find such a variety in one book. But hold on, here is my favorite part: at the back of the book there is a "Behind the Inventions" section which includes a brief information of when, where and who invented the items mentioned in the poems. At the bottom of these two pages, the illustrator included a picture timeline of the inventions. How incredibly talented and creative is that?
One of my favorite poem is Two Puzzling by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater with the illustrations done in a bird's eye view. This book is definitely a treat for your mind and your eyes.

And where is the poetry round-up you might be wondering, head to Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup to get our weekly doses of poetry inspiration!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The World of Alvin Ho

Alvin Ho Collection: Books 1 and 2: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things and Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural DisastersAlvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters

This 4th of July weekend, it was Alvin Ho's weekend. I read Alvin Ho Allergic to Girls, school, and other scary things and Alvin Ho Allergic to camping, hiking and other natural disasters by Lenore Look. And because I am writing about Alvin Ho, it only makes sense that I write a list of why I enjoyed his company and stories this weekend...

1. He is a big fan of Henry David Thoreau
2. He has all kinds of phobias and is "not afraid" of sharing them in public.
3. He always says things like "in account of..."
4. His heart melts when his dad calls him "son"
5. He believes that crying is great because you feel better afterwards
6. His parents are so understanding and supportive
7. Alvin Ho is terrified of all kinds of adventures but his life is all about adventures
8. Alvin's little sister Anibelly finds tremendous joy in digging holes
9. Alvin enjoys History!
10. Alvin's best friend at school is a girl, who is energetic, fun and optimistic
11. There is a very scary glossary included in the back
12. Alvin's loves making lists (and they include some doodling as well).

I was also happily surprised to see that both of Alvin's books are now available in an audio format. I love when a book is available on AUDIO CD because my ELLs benefit so much from listening and following the story along at their own pace. Not only the ELLs students are learning correct pronunciation and intonation when listening to books on tape, but they are also learning and understanding so much more when they don't have to worry about pronouncing or decoding each word, but just listening to the book for enjoyment. That's when comprehension happens. :)

I can't wait to share these books with my students. I think they are going to enjoy Alvin's trouble and honesty so much. Plus, HOORAY for another book with great boys characters!

Friday, July 3, 2009


Today I wrote a poem of my celebration of eight years living in the USA. Eight years ago, I left South America to make dreams come true. I am one of the many million of immigrants that come here to make things happen, to live their dreams as we have imagined. Nobody warns you of all the things that are will come your way. But that's just life. It comes with no warning signs at all. Next time you meet someone who left home to be here in the USA, just remember, it is never easy, it is a leap of faith. I love this country very very much. I am grateful for the memories that keep accumulating in my heart. Someday when I walk away from here, I know I am taking with me some of the most significant moments in my life. And that, my friend, is a blessing all by itself. Happy 4th of July My Dear USA! Happy Eight Years to me!

This Poem was inspired by the lyrics to the song "Seasons of Love" from the Broadway Musical RENT (one of my favorite Broadway Musical of all times!)

by Stella Villalba

How do you measure eight years
when you live overseas?
Do you count the sunsets
you didn't miss?
Do you count the times
you heart was so full?
Do you count the nights
you wish to repeat?
Do you count the beauty
your eyes didn't even know it exist?

How do you measure eight years
when you live overseas?
Do you count the lives that you touch
or that it touched you?
Do you count the road trips
you wish they never stop?
Do you count the times
the moon was your only witness?
Do you count the blessings
you have received?

Eight years living overseas
Eight years growing every day
in a different kind of way

but most importantly...

Happy Anniversary to me!

Poetry Roundup at Tabatha A. Yeatts

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I press the RESET button...

in my life and now I am back. There is a time in everyone's life where you may need to pause, step back, reflect and refocus. I do struggle sometimes with the fast pace of life in the United States so pressing the reset button works for me. So what does this mean?
It means...

stepping away from the computer and the internet world for a while
calling friends whom I haven't talked for a while, reconnect with them
spending time alone in my place, organizing & cleaning
having long heart to heart conversations with friends
not letting the distance affect the strong bonds with my family
getting out of my comfort zone and try new things
not being afraid to take a leap of faith
going on a vacation with my long time friends and reminiscence good times, without forgetting our present.

I went to Marco Island, Florida with my 2 of my dear friends from Paraguay. It was a series of magical moments, so strong and special to describe it with words. These friends have been part of my life for the last 15 years, and this trip was a little reunion to make sure that we are taking care of our friendship. It did wonders to all of us. We talke
d about our lives away from home, our blessings and our struggles, our successes and our failures. It is amazing what it does to your heart and your soul to be able to be as honest as
you can. By the way, have you ever been to Marco Island? What a precious little hidden treasure that place is. I felt like I went far, far away, but I was just actually in Florida. It felt very different to me. The warm water was an invitation impossible to resist. The white sand is your ally in your morning or evening walks.

The amazing sunset is your witness of beauty on earth.

One of the books that traveled with me was Umbrella Summer by Linda Graff. Instead of spending too much time writing about this book, I'd like to invite you to head over A Year of Reading where Franki reviewed this book. I agree with her in absolutely everything she described about this book. Once again Lisa Graff, BRAVO, BRAVO! Another book so beautifully written!

So what else is going on this summer? Well, I am teaching Summer School like I do every year. My class is a 1st and 2nd grade ESL combination. I introduced the little Flip Video Camera to my new students so they would get used to seeing it during our time together. We had such a blast with that little thing. Today the students performed the book Yo! Yes! by Chris Rascha.
Yo! Yes? (Scholastic Bookshelf (Paperback))There are so many reasons I LOVE LOVE this book. Through this book, I get the chance as a teacher to teach them in a FUN way about question marks, exclamation points, proper intonation, inferring, acting and interpretation through body language. The child
ren had an absolute blast and so did I. Oh the amazing possibilities when creativity is involved.

Speaking of creativity, my little studio is ready for me this summer. One of the things I am being very intentional about is my personal writing. I have been spending a good amount of time writing on my writer's notebook. I know my students always ask me to share with them my summer, my memories, so I love to refer back to my notebook for these occasions.
I am also rereading Notebook Know-How Strategies for the Writer's Notebook by Aimee Buckner. This useful book is packed with tons of strategies to try either as a writer or a teacher of writing. I have always enjoyed trying a certain strategy myself first, then ask my students to attempt it so we can all share our thinking, challenges, and different ways to try it.
I hope that you are my dear friends having a relaxed summer doing whatever makes YOU happy. That's what summer is all about, reseting and recharging.