Saturday, January 30, 2010

I Am Going!

Yes, yes, yes, yes!!!

He DID it again! Another funny & brilliant book in the Elephant & Piggie Book. I Am Going by Mo Willems came out and I am holding this little precious right now!!

I won't tell you much...
I actually won't say anything at all...
Just go and check it out...
Trust me!
It's worth it.

I can't wait to share this story on Monday with my students. Thanks Mo Willems!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Poetry Friday

January 18, 2010 was such a great day for so many people in the world of Children's Literature. There is so much anticipation and excitement built that it is impossible not to be part of that level of enthusiasm and be ready to celebrate the accomplishment and effort of so many great writers and illustrators. You can visit the American Library Association website to see a complete list of the 2010 ALSC award winners. I truly missed my Ohio Blogger Friends at their annual get-together to celebrate this day.

One of the awards given is the Pure Belpre Award. Established in 1996, this award celebrates a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator for their work and contribution to the celebration of the Latino culture.
RETURN TO SENDER, a novel, ages ten and up (and up!), by Julia Alvarez -- click for book summaryToday for Poetry Friday, I would like to celebrate and applaud one of the 2010 Pure Belpre Author Award Winner: Julia Alvarez for her work in Return to Sender. I couldn't think of a better book, a better writer than Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez that portraits the situation that so many immigrant families in the USA are facing through in rough times like the one we are experiencing. Julia Alvarez gives voice through this story to so families who are experiencing similar situations. I am not going to talk about the story line except to give you a few key words that will get you thinking about what the book is about:

American Families
Undocumented Immigrants
Interdependent relationships
culture celebration
culture understanding

Julia Alvarez has written poetry books as well. The Woman I Kept to MySelf is a wonderful collection of poems about self-reflection, understandings and feelings. Julia Alvarez started writing 30 poems for her 40th birthday as a way to reflect on life, on the things she has accomplished, and on the direction her life was going. But her birthday came and went, and Julia Alvarez kept on writing, pouring out her soul in those poetry. This seventy-eight poems will have you ponder and thinking as Julia Alvarez herself meditates throughout her years.

So today I am giving a standing ovation to those Latino/Latina writers whose books not only explore cultures and encourage understanding among us, but also give a voice to so many silent voices in America who deserves to be heard.

Happy Friday, Happy Poetry Friday! Thank you Anastasia for hosting Poetry Friday today at Picture Book of the Day.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Muhammad Ali The People's Champion

"I am America. I am the part you won't recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours, my goals, my own; get used to me. "
Muhammad Ali: The People's Champion
Walter Dean Myers' newest book Muhammad Ali The People's Champion is an amazing biographical work. When you open this book, the first thing you will find is a poem that grabs your immediate attention. The strong way its written, the memorable words, and the strong ending makes this poem stands out all by itself. Walter Dean Myers' brilliant idea to start the book this way opens the way and the curiosity to learn more about Muhammad Ali.
In this book, Walter Dean Myers goes through Muhammad Ali's most important events in life, recounting his amazing fights and exploring the other issues and struggles he went through.
At the end of the book, you'll find a timeline with Muhammad most important life event starting from the day he was born in 1942, and ending in 2005 when he was awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom. The illustrations done by Alix Delinois complement Mr. Walter Dean Myers work beautifully.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

And again, it was a magical night of WISHES & DREAMS

January 15, 2010

Some of you already know that every year I organize and put together a Cultural Festival at Beechwood Elementary with the purpose of celebrating the diversity found at our school. My goal is for our ESL families to have a night where their country is celebrated, their children's effort is applauded and their cultured valued and celebrated by everyone in our community. You can find my earlier post about this festival right here.

There are so many people involve in this event, in this celebration that every one has such a huge impact on the success of the Festival. This event is
put together by:
The ESL families & their children
The Beechwood Staff
Our brilliant Music Teacher & 4th grade choir
Our amazing, extraordinary PTA
Parent Volunteers
Several Business Communities that provide donations.

This year we had 600 people RSVP to this event. We had an overwhelming response from the Community. It was amazing. The theme I have chosen for this Festival was WISHES & DREAMS. Our dear music teacher found some amazing and inspiring music for our 4th grade Choir to perform during the Cultural Festival. Their repertoire included Defying Gravity from the unforgettable Broadway Musical Wicked, a tribute song to Jesse Owen for following his dreams, and a thrilling song sang completely in Shona, one of the languages spoken in Zimbawe. The 4th grade brought tears to our eyes with their magical singing voices.

Using my flip video (best classroom investment ever!), I recorded my ESL students in grades Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade share their wishes with our audience. I compiled their wish video into a slide show using Keynote (Apple). I showed the slide show last night to our families and it was one of those inspirational moments I'll never forget.

After reading the book Wish: Wishing Traditions Around the World by Roseanne Thong and Elisa Kleven, I learned about the different ways countries make wishes. Here in the USA usually children and adult make their wishes when they blow out the candles on their birthday. The book WISH helped me learn about other great traditions. One of those traditions I learned is that in Guatemala people make gigantic kites, decorate them, write their wishes on it, and let them free on the Day of the Death. So last night, our students made kites, wrote their wishes on it, and hang them up in our school WISH mural. Now all of our kites are hanging right in front of our school office. I wish I could share with you every wish these children made. But all I can say now is that it is very hard to read those wishes without some tissues. Their wishes represent their humble hearts and their childhood innocence.

Wish: Wishing Traditions Around the World

Our last part of the night was the sampling. Thanks to our ESL families and communities business, we had food from all over the world. And our parent volunteers worked so hard to serving everyone a small taste of the countries' food. Children were respectful, parents were involved, and sincere wishes were made. I couldn't ask for anything else.

Five years ago I created the Cultural Festival at Beechwood. When I started this, I never imagined that this Festival would become of the biggest community event in the neighborhood. We had come such a long way and our community has grown so much. My heart is filled with gratitude.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I Want a Dog!

I Want a Dog!I Want a Dog by Helga Bansch is the story of Lisa, a little girl that all she wishes for is a dog. Lisa tries really hard to convince her parents of all the fun reasons why they should have a dog but every time she hears the same excuse: the apartment is too small. Lisa, a determined little girl, is not ready to give up her wish. And she thinks of a clever way to make it happen. It's a win-win situation for everyone! You will love and appreciate Lisa's determination. A wonderful creative book just like her author. Helga Bansch was born in Leoben, Austria where she became a teacher. Helga Bansch made marionettes for puppet theaters for years. She now gives workshops for children. I would love to see more work by this rising writer. Happy Reading Time!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Another great addition to my collection

Julie Andrews' Collection of Poems, Songs, and Lullabies (Hardcover)

As many of you already know, poetry is a big part of my personal life. But it is also a HUGE part of my teaching life. I'm proud to say that when we do Poetry in my ESL class, I never get a sigh, or a grunt, or a negative reaction. Both boys and girls in my class have been exposed to tons of poetry in this past 6 years that I have been teaching at Beechwood Elementary. We celebrate National Poetry Month every year and we involve the whole school in our celebration. I even had students whose poems were chosen for publication. We read, share, and write poetry as part of our life as readers and writers. I usually get Original Poems written by my students as gifts on my birthday. So I am always always on the look out for great poetry books. I also LOVE LOVE when poetry books include an audio CD with poems read aloud by different writers. My ELLs benefit so greatly from those books since they don't have to worry so much about pronouncing the words correctly and they can concentrate on enjoying the melody, sound and rhythm of the words in the poem.
I found a new poetry book that includes a CD that I am sure my students will LOVE. Julie Andrews' Collection of Poems, Songs and Lullabies. The poems were selected by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton . The amazing watercolor paintings were done by James McMullan. How amazing is to see mother & daughter selecting poems together! The book and poems are organized by sections. Some of them include: All Things Bright and Beautiful, Accentuate the Positive, Growing up. Julie Andrews gives a special introduction to each section by sharing some family stories and memories. She has definitely given her special touch to this book by making it personal, intimate, filled with memories, and insights.
One of my favorite poems is called Bedtime Blessing by Julie Andrews on page 74. I guess you will have to get this book in your hands in order to find out what this poem is all about.
Please head over to The Miss Rumphius Effect for the roundup and to be inspired with more poetry. Also don't forget that Mother Reader's Comment Challenge 2010 starts today. I love her project, it encourages all of us to provide feedback to other fellow bloggers and build a sense of community. Let's get this wonderful party started. And Ohio bloggers: Happy Snow Day, our first one in 2010!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Wonderful Discovery

Neo Leo: The Ageless Ideas of Leonardo da VinciI absolutely enjoyed reading and reading this book. Neo Leo The Ageless Ideas of Leonardo DaVinci by Gene Barreta is a wonderful celebration Leo's extraordinary ideas and inventions. The way the author set up this book is a total fascination to me because I love to compare how Leonardo's ideas back then have been transformed into an actual reality. This books how Leonardo's ideas were revolutionary and how he found inspiration for his ideas by spending time outside observing his surroundings carefully. The point this book makes is that most of his inventions were not built during his lifetime. But the notes that were able to survive the test of time prove that he had some amazing ideas in mind. When you lay the book flat you see on one page how Leo's ideas were transformed into realities. For example in 1903 The Wright Brothers became famous for creating an engine-powered aircraft. On the opposite page the author points out how 400 years earlier Leonardo had designed several man-powered aircraft including the ornithopter. Fascinating!!! Get ready to be impressed with the pages that follow because the book goes through some amazing inventions from contact lenses, through bicycles to parachutes.
At the beginning of the book, the author Gene Barreta explains that reading Leonardo's notes were a huge challenge for historians because Leonardo always used mirror writing which means he wrote everything backwards!! Wow. Genius souls like Leonardo DaVinci left a huge mark in our modern world and most of his work still remain a mystery.
I am sure so many of my students will be in total awe when they see and read this book. And please check out Now & Ben The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin. Another amazing publication by Gene Barreta which received several recognitions & awards.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Thank You! Gracias! Merci! Mr. Jon Scieszka

Do you know the True Story of Jon Scieszka? Well, if you don't, please sit down and join me in a celebration dedicated to Jon Scieszka, USA's First National Ambassador for Young People's Literature.
Every one knows that he is a writer but what they don't know about Jon Scieszka is that it all started with one book. So, yes, I am here to tell you that Mr. Scieszka is an amazing, fantastic and inspiring writer. It all started in 1989 with the publication of ... Children of all ages enjoy this new witty version of the famous tale of the Three Little Pigs. Jon Scieszka's great sense of humor comes through in this book. I have read this book so many times to different audiences, children of all ages, and everyone enjoyed, laughed, got intrigued and appreciated this new version. I would even add that many children believe that Scieszka's version of the tale is in fact THE TRUE version of the Three Little Pigs. Absolutely adorable and magical. That is the power of a true writer.

And ever since 1989, Mr. Scieszka has been unstoppable. He has published so many other successful stories like...


This young child turned into a man, who became a writer, a teacher and rediscovered how incredibly inspiring children's enthusiasm and intelligence is. While teaching, he discovered the perfect audience for his funny and smart stories: children. And writing stories, became his path which interesting enough that is the meaning of his last name in Polish: path.

Children in the USA are very lucky children who are able to enjoy his sense of humor and creativity through his books. It is my hope that in the near future more of his books be translated in different languages so that other children in different part of this world can enjoy his talent.
Thank you, Gracias, Merci for your contribution to children's literature, and for instilling the love for reading to our young American children.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A little time off and back to start fresh in 2010

I took a pause in December from blogging and the internet to reconnect, refocus, and recharge my batteries. There is no other place where I could do all these things than home. I went to see my family in Paraguay and spend a beautiful (and hot!) Christmas with them. The time there was what my soul needed to not lose focus and to remember the other things in life that are so so valuable. While it was snowing here in C-bus, it was hot, hot, hot in Paraguay. And that's how it always is in December. We had our traditional food for Christmas which includes asado, chipa guazu, Clerico, and three different kind of salads. Our big dinner is always on December 24, we waited until midnight and received Christmas day with hugs, sparkles and fireworks. It is amazing and beautiful. And after midnight the family party continues and nobody goes to bed before 3! I know that the way we celebrate Christmas in South America is very different than the way it is celebrated here in the United States but that is the beauty of it. Can you imagine if we all do the same thing? b-0-r-i-n-g! So I propose a toast for the New Years: here is to celebrate what is different, here is to the unknown, here is to welcome and embracing diversity and to reach everyone and all. Happy New Years!