#THE100DAYPROJECT

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I’m a day late.

But I likely wouldn’t have joined at all if today wasn’t a snow day. Yes, it’s April 4th and there’s a blizzard out there. Wanna see?

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The blizzard is also responsible for my project choice: #ruralroutegardensdailyvideo. Because I just happened on #the100dayproject, I needed an idea in a hurry. And because I haven’t allowed myself any planning time, I needed to choose an idea that is eminently doable. As I gazed out over the thick blanket of snow covering the gardens this morning (just yesterday almost snow-free) my hopes for an early start to the season disappeared, but the idea to film one part of the garden for 100 days sprung to life.

I love my gardens. I love that I designed and built them. I love watching them grow and change from day-to-day.

For #the100dayproject, I won’t be capturing random photos of my garden because I am taking to heart the advice of Elle Luna and Lindsay Jean Thomson, facilitators of #the100dayproject, who strongly suggest setting some constraints on the project. Here then are the criteria:

  • Action—> video a day
  • Location—> front garden
  • Type of shot—> pan left to right for 30 secs
  • Time—> random
  • Tools—> Pixel 2 phone, no filters

And here is the first video:

 

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Building Baby’s Library: Part 3

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I’ve begun building a library for grandchildren. What a joy it is to peruse the shelves of books aimed at babies and toddlers! It’s been a long time since I spent time in that part of the bookstore and there are so many new treasures there. But, I am drawn to titles that my #nf10for10 community members have curated over the past five years. Their expertise is not to be ignored! So, without further ado, here is my 2018 list–a mix of all-star non-fiction titles and a few new ones to round the list out.

FROM THE #NF10FOR10 COMMUNITY ARCHIVES:

Award-winning artist Sylvia Long has teamed with up-and-coming author Dianna Aston to create this gorgeous and informative introduction to eggs. From tiny hummingbird eggs to giant ostrich eggs, oval ladybug eggs to tubular dogfish eggs, gooey frog eggs to fossilized dinosaur eggs, it magnificently captures the incredible variety of eggs and celebrates their beauty and wonder.The evocative text is sure to inspire lively questions and observations. Yet while poetic in voice and elegant in design, the book introduces children to more than 60 types of eggs and an interesting array of egg facts. Even the endpapers brim with information. A tender and fascinating guide that is equally at home being read to a child on a parent’s lap as in a classroom reading circle.

The biggest snake, the anaconda, can swallow a deer or goat whole. The smallest mammal, the Etruscan shrew, could easily sleep in a teaspoon. In a striking full-color collage, each spread of Biggest, Strongest, Fastest portrays an animal that stands out in the animal world as the largest, slowest, longest lived. Readers can see the animal’s size in relation to something familiar, and a chart on the last page indicates the size, weight, and diet of each animal, as well as where it can be found in the wild. Biggest, Strongest, Fastest is an entertaining, informative introduction to the world records” held by fourteen members of the animal kingdom. “

We can be sure of this: It’s a circle without end. It’s pumpkin seeds to pumpkins to pumpkin seeds again! This treat of a picture book comes cloaked in the colors of fall. Bouncy verse and glowing photographs show a backyard pumpkin patch move through its natural cycle — a bug’s eye and a bird’s high view of seeds sprouting, flowers blooming, bees buzzing, pumpkins growing . . .and then going back to earth.

The clouds drift across the bright blue sky–all except one. Little Cloud trails behind. He is busy changing shapes to become a fluffy sheep, a zooming airplane, and even a clown with a funny hat. Eric Carle’s trademark collages will make every reader want to run outside and discover their very own little cloud.

Over the snow, the world is hushed and white.

But under the snow is a secret world of squirrels and snowshoe hares, bears and bullfrogs, and many other animals who live through the winter, safe and warm.

OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW takes readers on a cross country ski trip through the winter woods to discover the secret world of animals living under the snow.

How do snow crystals form? What shapes can they take? Are no two snow crystals alike? These questions and more are answered inside this exploration of the science of snow, featuring photos of real snow crystals in all their beautiful diversity. Perfect for reading on winter days, this book by a nature photographer and a snow scientist will inspire wonder and curiosity about the marvels of snow. Snowflake-catching instructions are also included for aspiring young snow scientists!

Wonderful Worms encourages an appreciation for the small creatures of the earth by explaining the vital role that earthworms play in the planet’s ecosystem. The book also contains informative charts and cross-section illustrations of the worm’s underground environment.

ADD TO THE LIST SOME NEW TITLES:

Now babies can learn all about the things that go in a book that’s indestructible. With call-out identifications on each spread, Things That Go! is a vibrant introduction to those irresistible vehicles that fly, drive, sail, dig, lift, dump, and more.

Apparently, this book is 100 percent baby-proof, chew-proof, rip-proof, and drool-proof, which sounds amazing. Indestrucibles are not new, new, but they are certainly new for me!

Look for Momo hiding on a farm, in a bookstore, at a construction site, and in other unlikely locations (the photos are also loaded with other hidden objects for kids and parents to find together). Perfect for bedtime reading, car trips, playtime, or anytime, Let’s Find Momo is part art book, part puzzle book, and all fun!

BORDER COLLIES! Whether the dog’s name is Momo or Satchmo, we love border collies. Here is our Satchmo looking as intense as only a border collie can.

Finally, LOVE.

Love is an abstract idea and artists of all ilks attempt to capture its essence. I needed to include this book because love is not fiction, is it?

Here Matt de La Pena and Loren Long illustrate love for us in ways that are deeply satisfying and terrifying. They recognize the complexity of love and its ability to sustain us in spite of its intangibility and its guises.

This book will always come at the right time for us as we work to understand ourselves and others in our lives.

 

In this heartfelt celebration of love, Newbery Medal-winning author Matt de la Peña and bestselling illustrator Loren Long depict the many ways we experience this universal bond, which carries us from the day we are born throughout the years of our childhood and beyond. With a lyrical text that’s soothing and inspiring, this tender tale is a needed comfort and a new classic that will resonate with readers of every age.



Posts in this series.

Building Baby’s Library 

Building Baby’s Library: Some old. Some new. Some Tried and true.



#nf10for10

#PB10for10 Information

by Cathy Mere

Here’s how you can participate:

  1. Grab a Badge (just copy the URL address of the one above or take a screenshot)
  2. Join the #pb10for10 Google Community
  3. Choose Your Favorites:  All you need to do is choose ten picture books you cannot live without for whatever reason.  In the first days of this event, everyone shared their ten very favorite titles.  This still works.  You will notice, however, that many past participants choose some type of theme to determine their selections.  We’ll leave this up to you.
  4. Narrow Your List to Ten:  It isn’t easy, is it?  We’ve seen some crafty ways to get around that number.
  5. Write Your August 10th Post:  Write a post about the ten books you cannot live without.  Share your post on August 10th and link it to the Picture Book 10 for 10 Community.
  6. No Blog?  No Problem:  If you don’t have a blog, this might be the perfect time to start one — or there are a million digital ways to join (see post below).  Of course, now with the Google Community it is quite easy to just post your favorites directly into the community without a blog.  We will also be tweeting from the #pb10for10 hashtag.
  7. Comment:  On August 10th (and maybe for a week — there are a lot of posts) take some time to read posts from other participants.  Please comment on at least three.

So…

Pull out your library cards, load up your Amazon accounts, or better yet – plan a trip to your local bookstore on August 11th because you’re going to be unable to resist checking out (or purchasing) a few new picture books.  We hope to see you on the 10th!

A Few Historical and Informational Posts:

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#ECOOchat takes on #OneWordOnt

Happy New Year to Everyone!

The Ontario Educator Community at large is embracing 2018 with …. well, with words that will support, guide, and possibly teach them throughout the year.

Yes, my friends, #OneWordOnt is back bigger than ever this year and to help spread the word (intended), #ECOOchat has invited #OneWordOnt to take over their next session!

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Essentially, #OneWordOnt is a community of educators who have decided to use one word to focus their attention and growth for the year. You can learn more about this community by reading this Introductory Post, by following the hashtag #OneWordOnt in Twitter, or by joining the G+ Community of bloggers.

Please join me and the ECOO Board of Directors this Tuesday, January 9 at 8:00 pm for an #ECOOchat on Twitter for the conversation to inspire you to choose your #OneWord!

 to send this message to Twitter – “I’m attending #ECOOchat on Tuesday, January 9 at 8 PM to discuss #OneWordONT.”

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2018: One Word.

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Last Thursday (December 28, 2017), I was invited to join #ONedMentors to chat about #OneWordOnt. I had given my word lots of thought…

But at the time of the invitation, I had not definitively chosen my word. I was leaning towards “empower” because the students’ feedback shone a light on their fears and showed me where I need to focus my efforts. I need to work at building their confidence and empowering them.

So far so good, right?

tattooerr-cart before the horse

What I hadn’t yet done though was complete the process of vetting the word. I think I know what the word means, but I am keen to discover how others ‘see’ the word. Like Jen Aston, I want to consider to what contexts my word connects. Like Derek Rhodenizer and his guests (on his weekly voicED podcast, “A Word in Progress with Derek”), I want to ‘poke and prod’ the word to see what it will give up. Like Stephen Hurley, etymologist extraordinaire, I want to dig a little deeper into the word because my knowledge of the word may only reflect current usage and not its historical meanings or connotations.

While “empower” means

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it also means to “boost confidence” which is the way I was thinking about the word until I did Google Image search on the words “empower education quotes”. To my surprise, the page returned did not support many ideas about enabling. Rather, it reflected back to me a word that emphasizes power and societal/class struggle. There are contexts where this understanding of “empower” is necessary and right, but this is not what I am after.

I kept digging.

I find John Wenger’s article on empowerment revealing. His audience is the workplace leader or manager, but I don’t think that matters because as a therapist he comes at the challenge of motivating and engaging others with much the same perspective as do educators. Here he unpacks his thinking about the word and why you can’t empower anyone.

 I bring my understanding of the word “empower” from my days as a therapist when I was working with clients whose lives were characterised by a deeply felt lack of power, or potency, in their lives. They were not the star of their own life stories, in other words. They were subject to decisions made by child protection authorities or social service authorities or parental authority or some other kind of powerful person or statutory body which held sway over important aspects of their day-to-day lives. While it is true that so many people in their lives were the agents of disempowerment, it seemed to me that to presume that I could empower them was just the opposite side of the same coin … Empower, to me, presumes that the one who empowers has the power to begin with and grants it to the other; it reinforces a paradigm of power and control to which the other person is subject. If I am the granter of power, there is still a power imbalance. This relationship presumes that I hold some kind of hierarchical authority over you and that, only by my good grace, are you exercising any authority. While I am in the position of granting power, I remain in the position of taking it back.

“Empower” is not the right word for me. I want to provide the means by which my students can develop the courage to take on their fears. I want to equip my students with the tools that can support their courageous decisions and actions. I want to encourage them to set goals, prioritize their studies and focus on personal progress. I do not want to leave any doubt as to where the power lies. 

Wenger argues for the use of “enable” over “empower”, teasing out the subtle differences between the words to make his case. And although this word can have some negative connotations, I am compelled by Wenger’s thinking. To “enable” is to emphasize “capability development and a worldview that, when fully able, people can put their abilities to good use.” And to enable,

encompasses what someone does to ensure that others have the requisite capabilities and skills to carry out a job well, to take up their own power (potency) and when necessary, showing them the door to gaining new capabilities and skills. It seems to be more akin to equipping and supplying than conferring power. Once equipped, the enabler can then get out of the way and let the person access their own power to get on with it.

Enable—>faciliate, make possible, provide the means. This is a good place to start.

Last year, I believed that providing opportunities for students to make choices in their learning would help them become persistent and productive learners. I was wrong. As one student clearly stated in her feedback to me,

Choices revolve around one of the worst phrases anyone could ever be told, ‘It’s up to you.’

This year I hope to enable my students to develop the courage to take on the academic challenges that they need to face to reach their goals and to make decisions about their learning.

Stay tuned for what courage in English class might look like, and thanks for stopping by!

#OneWordOnt 2015— Innovate

#OneWordOnt 2016— Discipline

#OneWordOnt 2017— Choices

 

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2017 #OneWordOnt Reflection

It’s hard to believe another year is at its end and that it’s time to reflect on my #OneWordOnt for 2017.

Remember how I told you about wanting my students to see the walls in their lives? The ones that interfere with their learning? The ones that hold them back from engaging in and with the broader community? The walls we grapple with everyday?

I also told you about choices–how we make choices

“to participate, to be optomistic … to inquire, be curious and to challenge the status quo … To find hope instead of fear in the face of uncertainty” (Seth Godin).

We began the semester with a frank conversation about creativity, openness, and fear.

We created “Stories of Me” and posted them in a public gallery. 

We built blogs where we posted our thinking about the course content.

We read self-selected novels.

We conferenced about our reading.

We collaboratively annotated texts using Hypothes.is. 

We curated our best work into an Evidence of Learning Document. 

We made choices in our learning everyday.

You know, decisions about criteria, about our learning goals, and where we needed to go next.

But the choices remained narrow, superficial, conventional.

So, we found the walls. We can see them now.

20171228_14484220171228_14491420171228_14495920171228_145035We just didn’t tear them down.

My next step is to find ways to empower enable students to make the choices to have the courage to tear down their walls.

Three guesses what my word for 2018 is. The first two don’t count.

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Synthesize, Evaluate, and Draw Conclusions

This the sixth post in a series that explores IQ: A Practical Guide To Inquiry-Based Learning by Jennifer Watt and Jill Colyer. Here are the links to post one (IBL and Learning), post two (In the Mess of Learning, what will stick?), post three (Questioning and Expertise in Inquiry-Based Learning),  post four (Supporting Conversations), and post five (Gather and Analyze).

How can I help my students make sense of their evidence and data?

This is THE question.

To synthesize is to weave themes and ideas together to create a cohesive picture of line of thought (108).

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The key to synthesizing, to be able to weave themes and ideas together, is the depth and breadth of knowledge we have. It’s unlikely that I will be able to see patterns or make connections if my knowledge on the topic is superficial.

Notice the number of sources the student in the cited examples has gathered.

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(I love this chart and will definitely incorporate it in the inquiry process this year.)

In order to do the level of thinking that synthesis requires, students must 1) draw on their background knowledge and 2) conduct sufficient new research. And they need to engage in this process in an efficient manner. This means that students need to have fairly good fluency with most of the research steps. But if students struggle to read, to make meaning with the sources that they have found, then they will get bogged down at the very outset of the process. If it takes a student days to wade through an article then not only is there not enough time but even if and when more time is allocated, students can become discouraged and frustrated at their lack of progress. When teachers are designing the learning (deciding on the topic of the research etc. ) then there may be some opportunity to locate resources that better suit the students’ needs. However, since we believe that the inquiry process works best when students make their own choices, we ask students to find their own sources.

I need to identify those students who struggle to work through the early part of an inquiry (whole class articles for back ground knowledge building) and work with them regularly to strengthen their reading skills. Reading for meaning sheets and summarizing in their inquiry journals offer frequent opportunities for students to push their thinking.

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Building Baby’s Library: Some old. Some new. Some tried and true.

My first grandchild was born on January 29, 2017, and she has been born into a family of readers! That she would receive many, many books from me was never an issue. BUT having an event like #pb10for10 to focus my thinking about what to get her when is terrific. For #nf10for10  last February, I choose 10 non-fiction board books as a foundation for my grand-baby’s library. This time around I have added 10 fiction board books to that foundational shelf. So without further delay, let’s begin to build a library for baby!

Some old.

And when I say “old”, I simply mean that the book has been around for awhile in general and in my home specifically.

My kids LOVED Carl and his antics. While I was getting ready to write this post, my husband re-read the book and laughed just as hard this time. Baby is sure to make this a favourite since she is from families who LOVE their dogs.

No Matter What is a gorgeous book. It’s the story of Small, a mischievous fox cub, and his mother Large, who tries to explain the unconditional love a parent has for his or her child. This book is not one that will be out grown soon. With stunning illustrations and witty details, this story will be pulled out and re-read for years.  While the lyrical rhyming text will grab hold of baby’s ear and her attention, the need for assurance that “no matter what I will always love you” is ongoing. Munsch may tell baby that mommy and daddy will love her forever, but Gloiri provides the assurances that it’s true.

Some New

Obviously, these titles are new to our family. Published long after my own children had grown past picture books (some of us never do though!), I have read these books to children in classrooms while working as a literacy coach.

Olivia by Ian Falconer is a terrific match for my granddaughter. Olivia is big in spirit and life is grand! Falconer’s minimalist approach (dark lines on white background with accenting red) combined with his deadpan humour is sure to get mom and dad smiling as baby explores her world.

For one such spread, demonstrating “”She is very good at wearing people out,”” Falconer shows Olivia engaged in a variety of activities in 13 black-and-white vignettes, using red sparingly-for a hammer handle, a yo-yo, a ball, a mixing bowl spatula and a jump rope-as she progresses from energetic to spent. Against a completely white background, these vignettes seem to bob on invisible undulating waves, with the intermittent splashes of red creating a sense of movement and urgency-until Olivia’s collapse at the lower right-hand corner of the spread beneath a single line of text (“”She even wears herself out””). Publisher’s Weekly

Now, some will say that the next two books are a bit ahead for our little one, but like baby clothes, you never know exactly what books you’ll need when. AND I think we can often underestimate when children are ready to listen to longer stories with bigger ideas. So, I’m including 2 Jeffers’ books because they are fun and the brightly illustrated pages draw you in.

Up and Down does a great job involving the parent and child with sharp visuals and a story that gets the child thinking about why things are the way they are. Why do penguins have wings, if they don’t fly? What’s your theory?

In A Little Stuck, Floyd gets his kite stuck up a tree. He throws up his shoe to shift it, but that gets stuck too. So he throws up his other shoe and that gets stuck, along with… a ladder, a pot of paint, the kitchen sink, an orang-utan and a whale, amongst other things! Will Floyd ever get his kite back? A hilarious book with a wonderful surprise ending that Like Up and Down can generate conversations about predictions and solutions to the problem. Both books help parents and baby think about the world and ask questions to understand it better.

In 1995 my mom passed away and the son whose daughter’s library I’m building never knew her. She was inimitable, but today her great-granddaughter carries her name and already I can see my mom’s love of life in her. My mom’s favourite song was “What a Wonderful World” and this lovely version of the song is a must. Look at the richness of the illustrations and of course, the lyrics will never grow old.

I would be completely remiss not to include a sing-a-long book on this picture book shelf. Pete, of course, is just too much fun.  James Dean brings us a groovy rendition of the classic favourite children’s song “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” sung by cool cat Pete and perfect for sing-a-long time with baby. Our girl is growing up near farms and we have farming friends, so she’ll be able to make some strong connections to the book and the song. Oh, and daddy loves to sing, too!

Balloons love the moon, and a tuba loves a tune, but these don’t compare to the love we have for you. Canadian poet Lorna Crozier uses evocative rhyme, complemented by Rachelle Anne Miller’s whimsical imagery, to provide babies and toddlers with common concepts that explain just how great love is. Reading poetry to our kids helps them hear what language can do; how it dances and stretches and shrinks. More than Balloons is a treat.

Comparisons are creative and lovely…The constancy of the rhyme scheme is remarkable…The artwork is exquisite: simple, yet elegant lines, delightful animal characters, warm washes of color, and plenty of details to build young vocabularies. (Kirkus Reviews 2017)

 

Some tried and true.

My mom was a grade three teacher, and when Dennis Lee’s first anthology, Alligator Pie, was published she bought it and taught with it every year until she left teaching. I was a teenager then, and I can still recall her reciting the title poem at home. It gave her such great delight. I never forgot the poem and Alligator Pie was the first anthology I bought when I became a mother. This book is just the title piece, on its own. It’s a board book and it’s awesome. Like the illustrations in Olivia, Sandy Nichols uses dark lines and sparse colour allowing the vignettes to pop off the page at us.

Finally, here is Are You My Mother? for my son because this was one of his most favourite books. Are You My Mother? follows a confused baby bird who’s been denied the experience of imprinting as he asks cows, planes, and steam shovels the Big Question. In the end, he is happily reunited with his maternal parent in a glorious moment of recognition. We want to find lots of ways to let our children know that we love them and that we will continue to love them “no matter what”.




#PB10for10 Information

by Cathy Mere

Here’s how you can participate:

  1. Grab a Badge (just copy the URL address of the one above or take a screenshot)
  2. Join the #pb10for10 Google Community
  3. Choose Your Favorites:  All you need to do is choose ten picture books you cannot live without for whatever reason.  In the first days of this event, everyone shared their ten very favorite titles.  This still works.  You will notice, however, that many past participants choose some type of theme to determine their selections.  We’ll leave this up to you.
  4. Narrow Your List to Ten:  It isn’t easy, is it?  We’ve seen some crafty ways to get around that number.
  5. Write Your August 10th Post:  Write a post about the ten books you cannot live without.  Share your post on August 10th and link it to the Picture Book 10 for 10 Community.
  6. No Blog?  No Problem:  If you don’t have a blog, this might be the perfect time to start one — or there are a million digital ways to join (see post below).  Of course, now with the Google Community it is quite easy to just post your favorites directly into the community without a blog.  We will also be tweeting from the #pb10for10 hashtag.
  7. Comment:  On August 10th (and maybe for a week — there are a lot of posts) take some time to read posts from other participants.  Please comment on at least three.

So…

Pull out your library cards, load up your Amazon accounts, or better yet – plan a trip to your local bookstore on August 11th because you’re going to be unable to resist checking out (or purchasing) a few new picture books.  We hope to see you on the 10th!

A Few Historical and Informational Posts:

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