Monday, November 26, 2007

What do you get a Wookie for Christmas when he already owns a comb?

Members of our family have never really been lucky in a "Whoa - I bought this painting at a garage sale and found an original copy of the Declaration of Independence" sort of way. But we sometimes win at raffles (strangely - mostly we win mirrors) and radio contests. As a young child - "A Star Wars Christmas" was one lucky prize and the top hit? The title of this blog post!!

It made me think about what you get a literacy geek for Christmas when she already owns several blank notebooks, very comfy and colorful writing pens and more highlighters than should be allowed one person. And so - here is a list for all those teachers/literacy geeks in your life!!

1. Where the Wild Things Are Notecards - or other cards from your favorite children's books. This just happens to be my personal favorite!!

2. Mini-magnetic file folders: These are great! I have a habit of making notes on small pieces of paper or clipping out photos to put into my writer's notebook and then losing them. These help catch all.

3. Smencils - yup! You heard me! Smencils!! Imagine writing with a pencil, Number 2 no less, and smelling cotton candy or better yet - chocolate! Makes assessment season a bit more palatable!

4. The T-Shirt that captures it all!! Of course - this is just one of the many shirts that are perfect for the gym or lounging around the house blogging that you can find in this catalog!

5. Kindle!! I have to admit that I am longing for this little gadget!! Best sellers for $9.99 - newspapaers and blogs on demand - same size as a paperback - what more could you ask for?

These are my top five - if you have other ideas, I'd love to hear them!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

"I don't have anything to write about!!"

How many times have your heard that complaint from your students?

I am a big, big fan of writer's notebooks to help avoid this complaint but I understand that not everyone is similarly enamored. But I do love the idea on this post about coming up with a list of 100. In fact, I love it so much I am going to incorporate it into the trainings I do both for writer's notebooks and for creating blogs to use in the classroom.

I used to do something similar for my students when I wanted them to either think about what they already knew on a topic or what they had learned. We called it a "Three Minute Essay." Using an egg timer, students were to write continuously on an index card to answer the topic (i.e. What do you know about the American Revolution?) The only rules were that they had to continuously write, no stopping to think, for the full three minutes. Even if all they were writing was "I have no idea what I know about the American Revolution and I can't believe that I am continually writing that I have no idea what I know about the American Revolution." I found that the continual writing did help activate the students' memories and they did get some information down eventually. Spelling and grammar didn't count - it was all about getting the ideas out.

When using the list of 100, I will probably set a time limit for the brainstorming session and I am wondering if I will find the same trends:

1. First 30 entries or so: where you escape circular thinking
2. Next 40 entries: where patterns emerge
3. Last 30 entries: where the gems are

What list of 100 can you create with your students?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


I don't own this book...yet!! But reading about it over at Educating Alice has me hooked.

I love wordless books.