Thursday, June 24, 2010

Kindergarten Diary

Antoinette Portis has a new book out! Yay!!! I'm sure you know her from her previous books Not a Box and Not a Stick. My students LOVED both of her books.

Kindergarten Diary   Not a Box  Not a Stick

Kindergarten Diary comes in a perfect time for the next school year. In this story, Annalina is excited but scared at the same time about starting Kindergarten. Annalina tells us in her diary all about her new life in Kindergarten, meeting the teacher, playing on the monkey bars, making new friends, sharing the toys, the first Show and Tell, the first birthday party. I love reading how Annalina practices writing her name but discovers that it has too many letters. She will learn how to write Anna first and the rest will come later.
Throughout her diary, she takes us into her Kindergarten world, the real Kindergarten world where she discovers that the kids in room 2k will be fine, after all.
A fantastic read aloud, a must have for the beginning of the school year when we are trying to build a sense of community in the classroom.
Enjoy your summer, Enjoy the Journey.

Monday, June 21, 2010

For the Love of Soccer!

In my last post, I talked about Soccer, the  importance of this sport in many cultures around the world. If you missed that post, you can click here.  Reality is that right now around the world, millions of people are gathering to watch the soccer matches during the World Cup. It is a world event, it is without a doubt a celebration. I have recently discovered a new book in our amazing Columbus Metropolitan Library, which by the way, it is Library of the Year! How about that??!!! We are have so many reasons to be proud. My new discovery at the library was this book: For the Love of Soccer written by Three Time World Cup Champion: PELE and illustrated by Frank Morrison. For the Love of Soccer!Now, for soccer fanatics out there, you know how BIG Pele was in his days. He is a world champion soccer star, he played for BRAZIL soccer team and his career has been nothing but brilliant. Pele is not only an amazing professional soccer play but he is also an amazing individual who carries his country's flag in his heart, who emphasized the love for the game but also the importance of playing in a team. I believed he did a fantastic job in his first children's book conveying that message. That's what this book is all about: you can play soccer anytime, anywhere, but being part of the team is something SPECIAL. You win, you lose, but you play for the love of the game.
I can not wait to share this book with my students when we come back to school. Regardless of their age, everyone knows PELE. That's how HUGE he is.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010 much more than just a sport!

I can't think of  a better time in the  year to share this with all of you, so much of what is going on right now involves soccer! Yes, that's right, the Soccer World Cup is going on and it is a world event. So many cultures share the passion of this sport, and it is the one thing that so many countries have in common. For so many cultures, soccer is more than just a sport, it is a bonding time in the neighborhood, in the community. I remember growing up in South America and just playing soccer with the other kids in the neighborhood in any open space we could find. We didn't have a fancy field, we didn't even have goal posts but we have each other and we knew how to have FUN.

As our Hispanic English language learner population grows here in the United States, so does the love and popularity for this sport as well. Here is what I have noticed while I'm on duty on the playground: our kids are playing soccer everyday...regardless of where they are from, regardless of their skills and endurance, they are out there playing soccer every day. It has become so popular during recess time, and I believe this is a wonderful thing that unites children. As this sport increase in popularity at recess time, so does the behavior problems. Why? very simple: they're becoming passionate about the sport and they haven't quite been taught the rules of the games. They are learning as they go, as they play.  And here's is when our role as educators come into play: I saw this as an opportunity to address the issues by teaching them the rules, and starting to develop a sense of TEAM in our young players.

Columbus Crew Soccer Team won the MSL Cup in 2008 and since then the love for this game has grown so much in this city! I contacted our amazing Columbus Crew and explained the situation in our school, my vision and expectations  and the reasons for why I would love for a visit to our school. I have to say working and coordinating this event with Robin has been such a wonderful experience. They are all so supportive of schools, and so professional about what they do!

And so it happened...just like magic, our dear Beechwood Elementary welcomed two players from the Columbus Crew: Eric Brunner and Kenni Schoeni. I have coordinated with them the important issues and topics that I was hoping they would address to our children and they were very receptive to our needs. Both players talked about their passion for soccer but most important they emphasized the sense of team playing over and over. Our students needed to hear this message loud and clear: it is not about shinning individually in soccer, it's about shinning as a team, playing together to reach a common goal.
They accepted questions from our audience, and then they demonstrated some of the basic soccer skills.  They were absolutely FANTASTIC. Our students  listened to them so carefully, they felt so lucky to be the ones welcoming such amazing players. Not only they had a chance to meet them and get free tickets to the Kicks for Kids game but they also had a chance to practice those basic skills with the players.

All in all: an unforgettable experience for our students in Whitehall City School and for our staff as well. And may I just add that the behavior soccer issues decreased after their visit?? YES! I thought you would be interested in learning that as well. :-) Because taking their soccer away at recess time was not the answer to the problem, it will be like taking a big part of their culture away. Soccer= culture! Enjoy the journey!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Discovering Oliver Jeffers

The Heart and the BottleWhen the book The Heart and The Bottle came out this year, I became very interested in the work of Oliver Jeffers. Who was this amazing illustrator and writer with quite the imagination? I have to be honest with you and admit not knowing much until I got the book The Heart and The Bottle in my hands.
Each time I read this book, I discovered new things...what is The Heart and The Bottle about? It is about a little's girl world who was full of wonders and discovered nurtured by her dad who continuously supported and encouraged this journey until one day...
Dad is not in the picture anymore and the girl felt lost and confused so she decided to tuck away her heart in a bottle.

My fifth graders and I read this book in a Book Discussion Group and their thoughts, observations and journey throughout this book was fascinating!! The text in this book in very minimum so my students have to rely heavily on the pictures in order to infer. And may I just say they INFER!!! High level thinking and questioning. We talked about how magnificent and fascinating is the work of Oliver Jeffers as an artist. So my students' challenged was to record their thoughts and how their thinking changed throughout the story by using pictures. Once again, my students were up for the task impressing me not only with their artistic talents but also with their inferences.

Of course, after reading The Heart and The Bottle, I was thirsty for more books by Oliver Jeffers and to my surprise I discovered not only other equally wonderful books but also several of his books are available in Spanish. Check them out!

De vuelta a casa (Especiales de a la Orilla del Viento) (Spanish Edition)   The Way Back Home

Como atrapar una estrella (Spanish Edition)How to Catch a Star

Keep an eye on this amazing artist, I'm sure we will be hearing more from him as the book The Heart and the Bottle will becoming a motion picture very soon!