"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

ReedALOUD: We Found a Hat

The existential hat journey continues! Jon Klassen finishes the trilogy in classic Klassen style with with We Found a Hat
Were we expecting answers? Of course not. Were we expecting another book that would get us thinking? Of course we were!
I am eager to read all three stories with my second graders and have them react/reflect/respond. I would love to know what these students think happens after the last page, taking advantage of that emotional and imaginative space that Jon Klassen leaves for readers' imaginations. That will have to wait though. Today, my kindergarten students and I read We Found a Hat.
This hat story is presented in three chapters. This format adds to the story arc. It also puts emphasis on the time of day and this is a day that I would like to be a part of! Not only are these turtles best friends, they are partaking in some of my favorite activities: exploring nature, watching a sunset, and sleeping under the stars. This is a perfect day in my books! Klassen uses a color palate that perfectly captures the mood of and moments in the story. What stands out is that incredible sunset. It is serene and stunning. 

A dilemma ensues. Two friends. One hat. 

They decide to leave it where they found it.
But... one friend is having a hard time not thinking about that hat.
Those eyes are glued to that hat. 

What will they do? I don't know, but my kindergarten students have some fabulous ideas.

If fan art is any indication, my kindergarten students completely understood the importance of those eyes.

Kindergarten students find answers to their wondering questions: I learned that...

Kindergarten students share what they learned from their Wonder Wall books

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

ReedALOUD: Du Iz Tak?

This week, the second and fourth grade students and I read Du Iz Tak?, written and illustrated by Carson Ellis. This book is nothing short of brilliant. I could gush for the next few sentences, but I will refrain and just say, "Buy this book for everyone you know."

I don't really know where to begin explaining this book. The gorgeous illustrations? The crazy creative use of a made up language? The celebration of the natural world?  It is all just lyrical and lovely.

Carson Ellis has done something incredibly special. She has created characters with delicate features and imbued them with fabulous personalities. Each page encourages careful exploration, lest you miss some important and beautiful detail, as with the subtle side-bar story lines (keep an eye out for the stick bug and slug, and don't forget about that cocoon). The use of color is effective and reinforces the sense of time as the seasons pass gently by. Did we talk about that invented language yet?!

I can tell you that four classes of fourth graders had the same mind-blown reaction I had when reading the book. The four classes of second graders were also impressed. You will find examples of the students' work and reactions following a brief dive into this amazing book. The library was filled with the new-found language during browsing and borrowing.

The inside flap of the book let's the reader know that "Du Iz Tak?" means "What is that?" Since we did not have Carson Ellis in our midst, the rest of what you see here is how my students and I translated the language.

Our story begins...

"What is that?" By reading "Ma nazoot" with expression, the students guessed it might mean, "No clue," or "I don't know."

The plant grows and our protagonists can't reach the next branches. I read the next four pages through and then went back to this page. The students quickly decided that Ru=we, badda=need unk=a ribble=ladder. We now knew the meaning of several more words!

All is going along swimmingly for our friends until the voobeck (spider) came along. 

All I needed to do was point out the body language of the two insects to the bottom left -  hands raised in fists- and the students knew the frustration of our characters. 

That poor slumping moth let's us know how disappointing this situation is. 

To embody this beautifully-wrought characters with such personality and expression is incredible.

The spider doesn't last long. (I'll not spoil the story for you, but it went over very well with the students.)  

Imagine the surprise and awe felt when this "scrivadelly gladdenboot" blooms!

I asked the students to translate this, which they did easily!

The seasons change and so all good things must come to an end, but not without one last little surprise. I'll not spoil it for you here. You will have to read it yourself!

I used this book a little differently with each class that I worked with. Here's a peak at what it looked like and sounded like. More detail on the way I used the book with students is below.
In a nutshell:

Class 1 - I made a copy of parts of a few pages and asked the students to do their best to decode/translate the language using the picture and context clues. We then read the story and talked about the language and the book. As I listened to students working, many were trying to use their knowledge of other languages to figure out what language this was.
Class 2 - I revered this lesson and read the book first and then had the students work in groups to decode/translate some of the language. We then read the book a second time.
Class 3 - I repeated the lesson with class one, but saved time for students to add to the story.
Class 4 - I explained that the language was made up from the beginning and explained that we would still be able to translate it based upon picture clues and context. We built a word bank at the end, which the students used to write in new scenes and new characters. They also made up their own vocabulary to add to the story.

Class 1 and 2 - I explained that the language was made up from the beginning and explained that we would still be able to translate it based upon picture clues and context. The students added to the story with new words and new characters. 

Class 3 and 4 - I explained that the language was made up from the beginning and explained that we would still be able to translate it based upon picture clues and context. We used what we knew to translate the book as we went along. They also made up their own vocabulary to add to the story.

I hope this is only the beginning and that more things will be popping up in this garden soon!

Monday, November 28, 2016

ReedALOUD: This is Not a Picture Book

Today the third graders and I read Sergio Ruzzier's This is Not a Picture Book! 

The third graders were completely riveted with this book. As a read aloud it is fantastic.The spare writing, The many messages. The engaging art.  They were hooked by the title page. Did I mention that the story begins before the title page? Another brilliant little touch. These third graders understood the book's important messages about the difficulty of learning to read as well as how, once those words are unlocked, there lies a gift -- the stories that allow readers to travels to places far and wide but always bring them safely back home. 

Prior to reading the book, I explained to the students that the book was like an onion, there were many layers which meant there could be many aspects to discuss. Right away, in each class, a student pointed out the the cover has a story written on it (they were not yet aware that it is indeed, this story).

(better view on the case art)

Following a brief pause at the end papers, the story begins...who doesn't love to find a book lying around?

After a brief exploration, our reader is disgusted to find there are no pictures in the book.

The frustration felt is taken out on the book, but soon our reader feels badly and apologies.

More exploration ensues, a new reader arrives, as do my favorite lines to read aloud:

"It's a book 
with no pictures."

Can you read it?"

The art in this book is engaging in both the use of color and style. I love how this log bridge represents those first tentative steps into reading -- heading over that chasm of uncertainty, yet off into an adventure.

Everything here looks familiar, but not quite right.

The "aha" moment arrives. Some of those letters click into place, a pattern emerges, a word is recognized...a story is born.

In the next few pages Sergio Ruzzier introduces the reader to the idea of words that are funny, sad, wild and peaceful. After reading the book and discussing it, the students had an opportunity to share sad, wild, and peaceful words that they had come across in their own reading. These third graders' words demonstrate the power of story.

Spoiler alert here...the ending is wonderful

Sigh. Sniff. Sigh.

So true. So beautiful.

Yes, this one will stay with me.

After reading the book I asked for a volunteer to read the end papers. I projected this page.
The student sounded out each of the first few words carefully. I stopped the volunteer after three or four words. Many students wanted to give it a try. They were then asked to look over the whole page. The AHA! moment crossed over their faces as they found words they recognized, like bee, mountain, and cloud. In two of the classes, a student noticed that the words were all words just in jumbled order and then did a pretty decent job of decoding on the spot.

We then went back and read the story as it appears at the end papers on the back flap. It is the story. Of the book. The third graders were completely awed.  This also provided a chance to talk about what Sergio Ruzzier had been able to show in his art and what words still remained. This book is like an onion, many layers to discuss. Right?
There is much that could be done with this gem of a book. I have seen it on quite a few Mock Caldecott lists and completely agree. This one deserves a good long look.