Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cork & Fuzz

My  Cork & Fuzz collection
While visiting Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville over the summer, I stumbled upon the beginning chapter book readers about Cork & Fuzz. The front cover caught my eye, with the campy looking font for their names. I picked up one of the books and instantly knew it would be a good fit for some of my readers who are just beginning to creep into early chapter books. Much like Frog & Toad, Henry & Mudge, and Poppleton, the chapters are simple and relatively short.

Upon further investigation, I now know that Cork is a muskrat and Fuzz is a possum. Never in a million years did I ever think I would find a possum "adorable," but Fuzz definitely is! Muskrat holds his own in the cuteness category, too. Their antics remind me a lot of Frog & Toad. I'm sure their silliness will help them worm their way into the hearts of many of my readers!

With titles like "Best Friends," "Finders Keepers," and "Short and Tall," I think young readers will find many topics with which they can relate. I found myself giggling along with Fuzz and his buddy Cork as they try to problem solve and learn more about being friends.

I'm already thinking about which readers I'll introduce to Cork & Fuzz this year! I know they'll grow to love these two critters as much as I have.

~Komos :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Math Exchanges Blog Tour

I'm thrilled to be one of the four blog stops on Kassia Wedekind's Math Exchanges blog tour! I have my copy of her newly released book, Math Exchanges, and will be reading it over the course of the next few weeks. My blog will be "featured" on October 4th!

Additional details can be found at Kassia's site or Stenhouse's site

I will give you a teaser on my thoughts though... I'm almost 40 pages into the book now, and I'm excited. ABOUT MATH. I don't think this has EVER happened before!! More thoughts, reflections, and questions to appear right here on October 4th!

**Updated info!! A copy of Kassia's Math Exchanges will be raffled off on each blog featured on the tour!! All you have to do is leave a comment or ask a question for the blog host or Kassia!**

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I'm a Versatile Blogger!!

After a late night at my cousin's wedding, I slept in a bit and awoke to an email saying that Cathy Mere of Reflect and Refine had commented on my blog. When I investigated further, I read that she had included me in her "Versatile Blogger" award!

I cannot say enough good things about Cathy. Over the last 6 months, I've gotten to know her via Twitter, and my thinking has been pushed in so many ways due to her questions, comments, blog posts, and her More Than Guided Reading book. Cathy and I also co-hosted this summer's #cyberPD (along with Jill Fisch) based on Patrick Allen's Conferring book. Thanks, Cathy, for including me in your Versatile Blogger award list!

After accepting the Versatile Blogger award, there are three things that I'm supposed to do:
1. Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Nominate 15 other blogs that you've discovered.

So, 7 things about myself that you may or may not already know...
1. I am a huge fan of Twitter (and just might be addicted!!)
2. I bleed Cubbie Blue. I've been a die-hard fan since 1984.
3. I'm an outdoorsy girl who loves fishing, camping, water, and being in the mountains.
4. This is my 17th year of teaching in my district, and 16th year of First Grade.
5. I might also be addicted to following the Iditarod and sled dog mushing.
6. I'm passionate and opinionated about teaching!
7. 98% of my recent adventures in education came about because of Twitter! (starting a blog, co-hosting #cyberPD, co-moderating the #daily5 chat, connecting with my kindred spirits in teaching, hosting a day of Kassia's Math Exchanges blog stop, using Evernote, just to name a few...)

And now... which blogs have I "discovered?" (One more thing about me... I'm not so much of a rule follower, so I chose some blogs I know haven't been nominated yet. However, I could not resist including some amazing blogs that I read but have already been nominated!) These blogs may or may not fit the traditional description of "versatile" but they have helped me become more versatile in my teaching... so that counts, right?! :)

1. Christine at MissYarzabek.com
2. Melody at MrsWatson.ca
3. Dawn at Teaching with Picture Books
4. Reading Teach at A Teacher on the Edge
5. Alyson at KidLitFrenzy
6. Jen at Jen Robinson's Book Page
7. Thinking of Teaching
8. Kassia at Math Exchanges
9. Nicole at Nicole's Book Nook
10. Michelle at Literacy Learning Zone
11. Jill at My Primary Passion
12. Katie and Pat at Catching Readers
13. Mr. Schu at Watch. Connect. Read.
14. Franki and Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
15. Lori at Lori's Lessons

Ugh, I'm struggling to not include so many of the fantastic blogs I find each day... but I have to stop. There's more to do in my busy Sunday afternoon! :)

~Komos :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


A major theme throughout the year is creating excitement about books. Each year, I enjoy sharing many titles with my first graders that have to do with why reading is important and creating excitement about reading. Some of my favorites include:
Miss Brooks Loves Books (And I Don't!) by Barbara Bottner
Charlie Cook's Favorite Book by Julia Donaldson
We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems
Born to Read by Judy Sierra
Reading Makes You Feel Good by Todd Parr
How to Teach a Slug To Read by Susan Pearson
The Best Book to Read by Debbie Bertram

It goes without saying that I share my genuine love for books and reading with my first graders, too! They hear stories about my real reading life and know I truly am a reader.

Brand New Books bin
One of my favorite ways to build excitement for books is to have a special place for new books being added to our classroom library! I've added a "Look! Look! Brand new books!" bin to our window ledge to draw attention to new titles.

Generally, I try to do a book talk about the books before putting them in the bin, too. Today, I showed my kids all of the new books we got through our Scholastic book order. They were most excited about the three new Elephant and Piggie books! You can guess that this was the first place they all flocked to when it was time to read!
We love new books!
Before sending book orders home, I also take the time to go through each flyer and mention titles I think they may be interested in. We give silent cheers for books we'd like to buy. This encourages them to go home and talk to their families about ordering books.

By building excitement and good reading habits, I know I'm helping to build a strong foundation for the rest of our year together! How do you do this in your classroom?

~Komos :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

"I was just there..." Reflections on September 11th

I have been glued to the TV this morning. How is it possible that it has been 10 years since that unspeakable tragedy impacted our lives? It feels like just yesterday, and yet... so much has changed. As I watch the families of the loved ones who lost their lives or gave their lives on that day, I can't help but think back to where I was and how I handled the events of that day in 2001. 
I'd arrived at school about an hour before my first graders would be there. As we often did, my friend Cathie and I were sitting in my room, chatting about our lesson plans and our lives. Just before 8:00, my friend Christa came in to the room and told us her husband had just called to tell her a plane had hit the World Trade Center in New York. We grappled with the news of the tragic accident, but all I kept thinking was, "I was just there." A few minutes later, Christa returned to tell us that yet another plane had hit, this time striking the South tower. Now, we were beginning to realize that this was no accident. As the events of the day unfolded, we were under a lockdown and were told not to use our computers or phones. As you can imagine, we were all struggling with trying to understand what had happened while working with very limited information. I remember secretly calling my parents to make sure they were ok and to reassure them that I was fine. But what kept going through my head was the fact that I was just there.

You see, in June of 2001, my friend Hanns and I set out on a three-week road trip that would take us from New Jersey to North Carolina (and many places in between.) On Tuesday, June 26, 2001, we were on the last day of our visit to NYC. We'd already visited the studios of Good Morning America, taken the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, and watched Rent on Broadway. On our last day, we were visiting the boroughs of Greenwich Village, SoHo, and TriBeCa. We walked for what seemed like miles as we visited Wall Street, the Financial District, and the World Trade Center. I distinctly remember it being a hot, hot day in Manhattan. As we walked toward the World Trade Center's twin towers, there was a beverage cart outside that was selling Mountain Dew... a perfect cold drink on a sweltering hot day. Hanns and I both grabbed a drink, and we stepped inside of the North Tower to take advantage of the air conditioning for a few minutes. Because we had so many places we were trying to see before we left NYC, we didn't go up into the tower. But I did manage to get a picture of the flags inside the building as well as one of Hanns outside (with his Mountain Dew.) Looking back on those photos now, the ones that strike me the most are those taken from the ferry... of the skyline that is now forever changed.

In the days that followed 9/11, I struggled to reassure my first graders that we were safe and that I'd be able to take care of them. I cannot imagine the horror that the folks of NYC, Washington DC, and the flights of that day endured. It will be a day I will remember... forever.