local event« Previous Entries
I am a teacher. That is what I tell people when they ask me what I do. While I may not be in a classroom at this moment, the educator in me is constantly working. Lesson plan ideas, classroom management concepts, and fun facts are always running through my mind.
The reality is I miss many items outside of my own classroom. I miss…
- being in a classroom and watching children learn
- seeing the smiles on a child’s face when he/she learns a new concept and they are so proud
- creating inventive ways to help different children to reach their academic potentials
- being part of an educational community as a teacher
- working side by side with other amazing educational professionals
Unfortunately, the world of education has changed a lot over the last 5-10 years. The Race to the Top funding and the push for Common Core Curriculum has caused a dramatic shift in what classroom time looks like. Children in New York State and around the country are constantly getting ready for one test or another, taking one of what seems like a million tests, or being stressed about what their test results may mean for their schools/teachers. The reality is that your children and mine are paying the price. Creative and authentic learning environments are a thing of the past. We are teaching to the tests. Kids are becoming little robots that are taught how to highlight key phrases, pull apart a topic, and answer questions that may not even have a correct choice.
I have a lot more to say on this topic, but right now I am biting my tongue a bit. Rather than rant and rave here, I am working with parents and teachers to get the word out. I want our voices to be heard. Thanks to this, my family will be joining others on June 8 at the Empire State Plaza for the One Voice United Rally Together. Why rally? Here is a video from Peter DeWitt on the NYSUT website that answers the question.
As an educator, tax payer, and most importantly a parent I will be there with my entire family showing my boys that I will fight for their right to the education that they deserve. My children are more than a number. My 4th grader should not lose eight days to the ELA, Math, and Science tests, plus other hours for benchmark exams, and countless days spent preparing for these high stakes test. I should not have to hear my KINDERGARTENER come home worried about a test that he took on a computer. He should not fear tests and have to worry about this as he starts out his academic journey. His focus should be on reading, writing, learning math concepts, making friends, and enjoying school. Sad to say, his teachers are not to blame.
New York State needs to wake up, see what they are doing to our children and stop the insanity. For more information about the rally on June 8, please head to the information page from NYSUT. I will leave you with this PDF from NYSUT about the rally that you can download and share with others here.
I urge more people from throughout New York to make a trip to Albany in a little over two weeks to teach your children a valuable lesson.
Going to The Albany Children’s Book Festival was an experience our entire family enjoyed. As I have mentioned in two previous posts (Part 1 and Part 2), meeting some of the talented authors and illustrators was wonderful. In addition to that, the kids were excited to read books that were new to them and add to our summer reading list.
What I really appreciated about this festival was being able to see the local authors. Often times, the kids and I forget that we have some wonderful authors and illustrators within the Capital District area. One example of this is author and illustrator Matthew McElligott. I was introduced to Mr. McElligott by my oldest son after he went to NHL’s school and spoke with the children. I was so curious, I immediately went out and read Benjamin Franklinstein Lives! and adored it. I am hoping to read this and the other books in the series with the boys, plus I know JSL will like the picture books by McElligott as well.
Of course, then there is the moment that you recognize someone and feel so very naïve. That moment was when we wandered over to the table with author and illustrator Daniel J. Mahoney. Mr. Mahoney looked VERY familiar. Of course, it was NHL that realized why. NHL knows his son and I had absolutely no idea about his books none. Ooops! Now that we are on radar, JSL and I are looking forward to Monstergarten which is coming out in July. No doubt we will also look at some of the other books he has written and illustrated.
The kids had a lot of fun talking with author and illustrator Jef Czekaj when they brought their passports over. He even drew a cute little cartoon critter next to his name. I reminded the boys that we had read at least one of his books over the summer. Yes, I recall the kids reading Oink-A-Doodle-Moo multiple times and laughing and enjoying it a lot. I know we will be looking at more of Mr. Czekaj’s books this summer.
After this, the kids spotted a table set up to make some monster drawings. Local teacher, author, and artist Ira Marcks. Mr. Marcks actually had a station set up for kids to create their own Monster drawings. He talked with the boys as they were making their colored pencil creations. He also shared some of his camps and other local events that we will be investigating for the summer. His book Witch Knots is a graphic novel that really highlights his work.
After two monsters were drawn, we took the boys to get their prize for getting a lot of autographs in their booklets. Then it was time to select books so we could purchase them and go home. As I wrote in Part 2, NHL immediately knew what book he wanted to get. JSL, had some troubles selecting a book. We must have gone back to several tables over and over again. Thanks to this, we now have more books to add to the summer reading and several birthday present ideas for the kindergarten kiddo. In the end, my little Matey fell for author and illustrator Victor Ramon Mojica’s book Captain Cross Bones in the Treasure Hunt. I think Mr. Mojica sold the book by interacting with JSL and giving him a cool autographed poster of Captain Cross Bones. I also know we will be checking out Barbara Mojica’s Little Miss History book because they also looked like something the boys would adore.
Check out my little Wizards after we got home and were looking at our books and other items from some local vendors and libraries. You can see they love their new hats and were ready to dive into their new books.
If you hear about a children’s book festival coming to your area, I urge you to make the time to take your kids. This experience was beyond anything I could have imagined. It helped my boys to come out of their shell, gain confidence, and ignite their desire to read even more new and wonderful books.
In part one of my posts about The Albany Children’s Book Festival, I wrote about some of the first authors and illustrators that we were able to meet and talk with. By this time, the boys were running ahead to check things out. While I was still chatting with Jennifer Berne and Diane deGroat, they continued on along the row of tables. When I caught up with them, they were over with author and illustrator Jeff Mack. I immediately recognized his illustrations from Bunnicula and was thrilled to see that the series now has a Ready-To-Read options for younger readers. In addition to this, Mr. Mack is the author/illustrator of the Hippo and Rabbit books for Beginning Readers (getting these for JSL’s birthday), Clueless McGee chapter books, and many other picture books. The kids loved that he signed their books with a cute little illustration. While I was chatting with someone I know from Albany Kids Out and About, the boys kept moving ahead. When I arrived, JSL and NHL were mesmerized with a private storytelling for just the two of them at a table. The book was Pig Kahuna and it was written and illustrated by Jennifer Sattler (on the left below). She was not the one that was reading the book to the boys, that was author and co-owner of the The Flying Pig Bookstore Elizabeth Bluemle (on the right below). My heart melted watching the faces on my kids, so I took a photo to share. These two women were amazing, they spent quite some time with NHL and JSL. You could tell that they get children and love to interact with them. In addition to Pig Kahuna, Ms. Sattler has also written and illustrated quite a variety of other picture books that are now going onto our summer reading list and the kids can’t wait to see Pig Kahuna Pirates! coming in Spring 2014. Ms. Bluemle has written several books for kids including How Do You Wokka-Wokka? which are also going onto our must reads this summer. From here, we walked to the end of the row of tables and met author Julie Berry. At first, the boys were getting a little antsy from being in the room for a while. Then something clicked with NHL. As Ms. Berry talked with us about her Splurch Academy for Disruptive Boys series he perked up. He liked that the books also included illustrations, drawn by Ms. Berry’s sister Sally Faye Gardner. When it came time to select a book to purchase, he wanted to go back to get the first from this series. We started reading this book together and I think we are both hooked. NHL has already asked us to order the next three books. This is huge for a reluctant reader who is not typically into fiction books (my Aspie loves reading about math, science, and history). I love that this even helped us to find new books that he wants to read. The next part of this series will introduce you to some very talented authors and illustrators that are from the Capital Region. I must say we have a lot of amazing people creating children’s books in our area. Oh and I will also share how JSL finally selected the book he wanted to purchase at the event (it was not an easy task). Oh and if you are curious about the books we read, more will be featured on upcoming Tuesday Tales so stay tuned.
Books are a big part of our lives. As a teacher, I started a huge collection and now our boys have added a lot more to the mix. When we saw that we would be in town for The Albany Children’s Book Festival on April 27, 2013, we knew that we would have to go.
When we first walked into the main room, the boys were not entirely sure which way we should go. Each of them had been given a little passport like book to collect autographs of authors and illustrators. If they did this, they could show it to get a special wizard hat later on. Looking back, I wish I had taken more photos and been able to chat with the authors and illustrators more because it was a fascinating experience.
At first, the boys were a little shy and unsure of where to find the people in their different books. Soon after, they were ready to get autographs from anyone and everyone at a table and see what books were on their tables.
One of the first tables we went to was with author Amy Gordon. NHL noticed one of her books called Return to Gill Park and we learned that it is part of a series that she has written. She signed the boys’ book, we took a photo, and I grabbed her card to add these books to our reading list.
Sitting next to Ms. Gordon was author Laurie Calkhoven and many of her history based books. TechyDad was very intrigued with her picture book I Grew Up to Be President. I am excited to see more historical books that NHL may not be reluctant to read. Her Boys of Wartime looks like great historical fiction books that we will add to our summer reading list.
From here, we wandered around some more looking at a lot of tables and trying to take in all of the amazing books around. That is when I spied a book that I had been sent from a publisher in 2010 and was excited to meet the author. Jennifer Berne was beyond sweet and fun to chat with. When I asked her to pose for a picture, she immediately pulled over Calvin Can’t Fly. Now I can’t wait to read some of her other books like Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau and On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein that is coming out in May. We are also super excited to hear that Calvin will be back for a sequel.
While I was talking to Ms. Berne, she introduced me to the woman sitting next to her. At first it took me a minute and then I realized I knew her work. Yes, she is the brilliant illustrator behind the pictures in Pioneer Woman’s books about Charlie. Diane deGroat was too funny talking about how Ree is more famous than she is. I explained that my son was in love with Charlie thanks to her drawings and wanted to tell his own story while looking at her illustrations in Charlie the Ranch Dog.
There is a lot more to share, but I am going to break this into a few posts so I can highlight the people that we were able to meet and take photos with.
I would love to know if you have met any authors and illustrators and what your experience was. This was so much fun for the boys, especially after they heard about my tour with author Ridley Pearson a year ago in Epcot.
A lot of the last few months feel like a blur to me. Thanks to items going on in the background, I was focusing a significant amount of my attention to those areas. During this time, I was able to keep up with blogging and freelance writing. Unfortunately, other projects had to take a backseat. There was simply no time to develop them to the level that was required. Call me a type A individual, but I can’t put partial effort into something.
Yesterday, Christina from Well, in THIS House… and I went to a networking event held by Women TIES. The luncheon included an educational program with a focus. The theme was “How to Get Companies to Pay You to Market to Your Audience” with keynote speaker Shannon Cherry.
I had met Shannon before, but not on a professional level. Her enthusiasm and helpful hints made the wheels in my head start to go a mile a minute. I drove home thinking about ways to dust the project off and twist it to something new and even more exciting. A huge thank you to Shannon and the other women in the room who are leading the way to empowering more of us to try new things, think outside of the box, and get out of our comfort zones.
Of course, I also hope to connect with more of the people that were at the event thanks to the sheet with contacts. The fun part, one of the people there was a seventh grade teacher that I had for Social Studies.
So this week I ask you, what are items that have served as sparks of inspiration in your life? I would love to hear about them and please include a link in the comments if you have written about them.
« Previous Entries