Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry

Gooney Bird Greene (2002), written by two-time Newberry Award winning author Lois Lowry, was a very nice read. I would say it’s for children as young as 1st or 2nd grade. It’s a nice beginning chapter book.
I was going to return this to the library, but I liked it so much so I’m going to save it for Phillise. Read this excerpt from the book and you’ll see why I liked it:

There was a new student in the Watertower Elementary School. She arrived in October, after the first month of school had already passed. She opened the second grade classroom door at ten o’clock on a Wednesday morning and appeared there all alone, without even a mother to introduce her. She was wearing pajamas and cowboy boots and was holding a dictionary and a lunch box.
… “Who are you?” Mrs. Pidgeon asked politely.
“I’m your new student. My name is Gooney Bird Greene-that’s Greene with a silent “e’ at the end- and I just moved here from China. I want a desk right smack in the middle of the room, because I like to be right smack in the middle of everything.

The title is as unusual as the main character herself. Gooney Bird Greene is an unusual name for a little girl. It’s such a strange name that everyone wants to know its origin. Since she’s such a great storyteller, she obliges and tells them in her own melodramatic way. She has a knack for telling story, that according to her are “perfectly true”. Although they do not seem to be true, they are. When she tells a story everyone stops and listens. Even her teacher.
I really liked this book because it introduces young readers to the concepts and elements of storytelling as soon as Pg. 4. I cannot wait to get another classroom so I can read this to my students. This would work well with another book I reviewed, The Plot Chickens by Mary Jane & Herman Auch.
As usual, check it out @ your local library or bookstore.

The Road Map To Reading!

Here’s a little Road Map to Reading. Although the road to reading is a fairly complex process fraught with much tension and much work, there is hope. At my last site, I had an awesome Literacy Coach who gave me these steps to reading. So, without further ado, here they are:

**Phonemic Awareness– Simply put, phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify and manipulate sounds and words. One of my favorite p.a. activities is to use word families (i.e., -an). If you place a /b/ in front of it, the word is now ban. Place a /c/ in front of it, and it’s now can. Place a /d/ in front of it and it is now Dan, etc.

Concepts About Print– Does the child understand that print goes from left to right.

Explicit, Systematic Instruction in Phonics– Letter/sound correspondence, i.e., “A” makes the Long /a/ or ah sound. For each letter, there is a sound or corresponding sounds.

Decoding– While writing is described as encoding (Putting into the secret language), reading is described as decoding (deciphering & making sense of the secret language). Just think about it, learning to read is like deciphering a secret language. In essence, children are secret agents deciphering the code. So, if you put the short /i/ sound with the /f/ sound, it will make if.

Fluency/Automaticity– Again, simply put, does the child read in a human-like way (very naturally) or like a robot, taking time to sound out and pronounce every letters.

Explicit Instruction in Comprehension– This is where many students get “tripped” up on the CSTs. Since they take so much time Decoding, that barely leaves any time for comprehension. I had much success. I’m not sure how other teachers go about doing this, but, as always, I keep it very simple. Once you work on all of the above, their fluency/automaticity will increase. This will leave more time for comprehension.
I read to my students every day. Now, come very close and I’ll share a very simple secret with you. While reading, I asked them questions, we discussed the story & I had them sum it up in their own words. Okay, you can leave now. That’s it. That’s the secret to increasing comprehension. That’s my explicit instruction in comprehension.

** Taken from UC Davis, School of Education website**

I found a nice website for Phonemic Awareness

L.A. Times Festival Of Books ’10!

Yep, it’s that time of year again for the L.A. Times Festival of Books ’10.
Event: L.A. Times Festival of Books ’10
When: The fifteenth annual edition of the Festival of Books will be held on Saturday, April 24 and Sunday, April 25, 2010
Where: U.C.L.A.

Wow, I cannot believe it’s been a whole year already. It seems like just a couple months ago that I went with Phillip & Phillise. I’m not sure if I’ll make it this year. I already made plans to go to the zoo with my mother & sisters. We’ll see how things go. I’ll play it by ear. If I have enough time, I’ll go.

Here’s a little information on the Festival:
The Festival of Books began in 1996 with a simple goal: Bring together the people who create books and the people who love to read them. The Festival was an immediate success and has become Southern California’s major literary event. Last year over 130,000 people attended the Festival, which featured almost one hundred ticketed author events, childrens’ storytelling, poetry readings, book signings and nearly 500 exhibitor booths.
According to, the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is the largest and most prestigious literary event in the U.S. Held annually, the festival promises entertaining and educational activities for children and adults who love books.
There will be 400 authors in attendance. Here’s the list.
One of my favorite new authors, Pseudonymous Bosch, will be there.


Even though it took an incredibly long time, I am back to the grind. I had an interview today to sub for a neighboring district. The interviewer was nice & very friendly. She recommended me. It’s not my ideal job, but it’s work. My kids gotta’ eat. Besides, beggars cannot be choosers. It’ll do until something else comes along!

HERE’S TO 2010!

42nd Anniversary Of Martin Luther King’s Death

Upon the request of Lowell Dempsey, I am re-posting this.
This month of April marks the 42nd anniversary of the death of Dr. King and we are commemorating his life and work by creating a memorial in our nation’s capital. The Washington, DC, Martin Luther King, Jr., National Memorial will honor his life and contributions to the world through non violent social change.

Mr. Dempsey put together this micro-site to help get the message out – there are videos, photos, banners, and even a web toolbar that, when used, donates money to the creation of the memorial:

After many years of fund raising, the memorial is only $14 million away from its $120 million goal.

Lowell Dempsey,
Twitter @mlkmemorial