Mad ramblings of a Literacy Specialist

Good Fit Books April 3, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — madhotliteracy @ 5:50 PM

weightliftingshoesThis is not the time of year that most of you are teaching the “good fit books” lesson —- but it may be the time of year for a quick little review with your kiddos.

The Sisters gave us that terrific demo lesson with the shoes that so many of you love doing with the students in the fall.  (For those of you who don’t remember, we do have the DVD — come to the reading room and check it out)  Well, one very smart, efficient teacher out there turned the lesson into a snappy powerpoint presentation — I love it.

This is a chance to do a quick review (especially with younger students) using the same lesson, the same images, but a different presentation style.  It would be nifty on the SmartBoard too.

The graphics in this are terrific.  There are a couple of very interactive parts of the slideshow where you’ll want to talk with the students before moving on.  You certainly can tell that this was put together by a teacher!! I would upgrade the sound if I were going to use it in my classroom —- there ARE sound effects, but they’re somewhat sparse — it feels like a whole lot of silence —- If you’re talking through this presentation with students, that might be okay —- I’m viewing it from a computer, all by myself.

Check it out here and see what you think…..


Poetry Month: Prompts

Filed under: Uncategorized — madhotliteracy @ 3:39 PM

One fun teaching blog, Bud the Teacher, has found a great way to get all of us involved in celebrating National Poetry Month. He’s inviting readers to write some poems and publish them on blogs, his site, etc. If you’re like I am, this is is easier said than done.  Apparently, Bud thought so too.  He’s providing prompts for us to get us started….His first prompt along with his poem can be found here. Its an interesting photograph to jog the sleepy brain and get it moving and playing with language.  I found myself wondering what might happen if we presented a photo like this to our students — didnt’ talk it to death — just let them write.

This might be an amazing activity in a classroom.  I’m thinking this might be a perfect lesson to utilize the SmartBoard —- just upload Bud’s photo onto the SmartBoard and off you go!!!  Hmmmmm —- anybody want to join me in trying this one out???

I’m hoping Bud is going to provide us with more photo prompts to keep us all writing through the month.


Trivia for Kiddie Lit

Filed under: Uncategorized — madhotliteracy @ 3:32 PM

I’m not a huge fan of trivia questions as a part of reading instruction or assessment — but as part of fun —- count me in.  Trivia can be a huge source of fun and a way of playing games and working cooperatively on a subject.  It can also be a way of documenting surface knowledge — or monitoring that reading actually occurred.

Personally, I take the Crickler News Puzzle quiz at least a few times a week.  It keeps me honest about how well I’m keeping up with the major news stories in the world.   I know in a quick snapshot if I’m falling behind in my reading of the news.

In thinking about trivia questions in that light, I came across a fun kiddie lit trivia site.  They have many, many categories and titles of children’s books — and a trivia quiz for each of them. Click here to take a look at it.

To try it out, I took the quiz on the  Little House on the Prairie series.  This was a huge favorite of mine as a child (I devoured them, along with the silly television series of the day).  I wondered how much I’d still remember from the reading all those years ago.  I only answered the first 30 questions — the rest were from some other added on Little House books (the Martha and Caroline books??? — I’d never read them and had absolutely no idea.  The first 30 questions were about the original Little House books and about Laura Ingalls Wilder herself.  I did okay…… I answered 22/30 correctly.  Not bad for 30 years later.


Poetry Resources March 30, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — madhotliteracy @ 6:39 PM

We’re hunting for fun poetry resources once again (its that time of year, isn’t it??)  Here are a few that I found from the Choice Literacy Newsletter (go Brenda!!).  Can’t recommend them enough — even if you can’t swing a subscription, they’re worth just getting the newsletter (although– fair warning — each newsletter will tease you to death with things you want be need a subscription for —- I warned you!!!)

This is an amazing project from Gregory K. of the GottaBook blog 30 Poets/30 Days will feature a new poem each day in April from top children’s poets, including Kristin O’Connell George, Mary Ann Hoberman, X.J. Kennedy, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Jane Yolen, Janet Wong. . .and many more.  There are also links to interviews of poets and daily poems from children:  You’ll find it HERE

The Academy of American Poets has a treasure trove of resources for April celebrations, including new poems, quotes, lesson plans for teachers, and links for students:  HERE

And my personal favorite —- Magnetic Poetry —-  Students can now create virtual magnetic poems at this site, as well as read recent creations from their peers:  HERE


Another Workshop Video March 23, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — madhotliteracy @ 6:59 PM

Reader’s Workshop Slideshow

Filed under: Uncategorized — madhotliteracy @ 6:43 PM
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I found this slideshow today while doing some research for the upcoming PLA —- see what you think…..


NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month November 5, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — madhotliteracy @ 4:34 PM

What a fun idea!!  I’m wondering if some of our kids might like to participate in this one.

Its National Novel Writing Month — and the goal is to simply write 50,000 words by the end of November.  That’s it!! Nothing special, nothing sophisticated — just get the words down on the paper.

Everyone who accomplishes the 50,000 words gets a certificate from NaNoWriMo.  Here it is in NaNoWriMo’s own words:

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and—when the thing is done—the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.

In 2007, we had over 100,000 participants. More than 15,000 of them crossed the 50k finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.

So, to recap:

What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month’s time.

Who: You! We can’t do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let’s write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.

Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era’s most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.

When: You can sign up anytime to add your name to the roster and browse the forums. Writing begins November 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by November 30 at midnight. Once your novel has been verified by our web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.

So, how does it work, you ask??

Again, NaNoWriMo’s own website:

1) Sign up for the event by clicking the “Sign up Now” link at the top of the site. It’s right at the tip of the runner’s pencil.

2) Read the ginormous email our noveling robots send you. It will have “Love” in the subject line.

3) Log into your account and use the links on the My NaNoWriMo page to set your timezone, affiliate with a region, and tell us a little bit about yourself.

4) Begin procrastinating by reading through all the great advice and funny stories in the forums. Post some stories and questions of your own. Get excited. Get nervous. Try to rope someone else into doing this with you. Eat lots of chocolate and stockpile noveling rewards.

5) On November 1, begin writing your novel. Your goal is to write a 50,000-word novel by midnight, local time, on November 30th. You write on your own computer, using whatever software you prefer.

6) This is not as scary as it sounds.

7) Starting November 1, you can update your word count in that box at the top of the site, and post excerpts of your work for others to read. Watch your word-count accumulate and story take shape. Feel a little giddy.

8) Write with other NaNoWriMo participants in your area. Write by yourself. Write. Write. Write.

9) If you write 50,000 words of fiction by midnight, local time, November 30th, you can upload your novel for official verification, and be added to our hallowed Winner’s Page and receive a handsome winner’s certificate and web badge. We’ll post step-by-step instructions on how to scramble and upload your novel starting in mid-November.

10) Win or lose, you rock for even trying.

Check them out at