Book Review: Welcome to Your World by Smriti Prasadam-Halls

Welcome to Your World by Smriti Prasadam-Halls

(March 2020, Candlewick Press)

A stunning picture book celebrating the loving bond that connects families to one another.  Lyrically written and beautiful illustrations make the scenes between animals and their babies come to life. Welcome to Your World is a perfect gift for new mothers.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Candlewick Press in exchange for a review.  

©2020 by Dawn Little for My Learning Life. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Book Review: Mermaids on a Mission to Save the Oceans by Janet Balletta #ReadYourWorld

 

Mermaids on a Mission to Save the Oceans by Janet Balletta

Marlene is one of seven Mermaids chosen by the Council for the Mermaid Mission to save the oceans from mankind’s pollution.  Each Mermaid is assigned to one of the seven continents and responsible for protecting the oceans around their assigned continent.  Marlene was assigned to North America.  As a result of her work with her sister mermaid, Fina, who protects the oceans around South America, Marlene and Fina were receiving a medal.  They worked together to protect the Gulf of Mexico from chemical dumping.  They joined their sisters at the Merfolk reunion in Asia where the Council for the Mermaid Mission honored them.

My thoughts:  The author explores each of the seven continents and the environmental needs of the oceans surrounding each continent in a fun and engaging way.  The illustrations are bright and colorful.  I think children in early elementary grades would find this text engaging to identify the seven continents as well as learn bits of environmental science content as well.

I received a copy of this book to review for Multicultural Children’s Book Day from the author, Janet Balletta.  Learn more about Janet and her books on her website.

 

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.

Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.

MCBD 2020  is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board

 

Super Platinum

Make A Way Media/ Deirdre “DeeDee” Cummings,

Platinum

Language Lizard, Pack-N-Go Girls,

Gold

Audrey Press, Lerner Publishing Group, KidLit TV, ABDO BOOKS : A Family of Educational Publishers, PragmaticMom & Sumo Jo, Candlewick Press,

Silver

Author Charlotte Riggle, Capstone Publishing, Guba Publishing, Melissa Munro Boyd & B is for Breathe,

Bronze

Author Carole P. Roman, Snowflake Stories/Jill Barletti, Vivian Kirkfield & Making Their Voices Heard. Barnes Brothers Books,  TimTimTom, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee & Low Books,  Charlesbridge Publishing, Barefoot Books Talegari Tales

 

Author Sponsor Link Cloud

Jerry Craft, A.R. Bey and Adventures in Boogieland, Eugina Chu & Brandon goes to Beijing, Kenneth Braswell & Fathers Incorporated, Maritza M. Mejia & Luz del mes_Mejia, Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry Blossom, SISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard, Josh Funk and HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTER, Maya/Neel Adventures with Culture GrooveLauren Ranalli, The Little Green Monster: Cancer Magic! By Dr. Sharon Chappell, Phe Lang and Me On The Page, Afsaneh Moradian and Jamie is Jamie, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, TUMBLE CREEK PRESS, Nancy Tupper Ling, Author Gwen Jackson, Angeliki Pedersen & The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm Tree, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 by Mia Wenjen, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher (Founders of Inner Flower Child Books), Ann Morris & Do It Again!/¡Otra Vez!, Janet Balletta and Mermaids on a Mission to Save the Ocean, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo & Bruna Bailando por el Mundo\ Dancing Around the World, Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler Diaries, Sarah Jamila Stevenson, Tonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book Series, Teresa Robeson  & The Queen of Physics, Nadishka Aloysius and Roo The Little Red TukTuk, Girlfriends Book Club Baltimore & Stories by the Girlfriends Book Club, Finding My Way Books, Diana Huang & Intrepids, Five Enchanted Mermaids, Elizabeth Godley and Ribbon’s Traveling Castle, Anna Olswanger and Greenhorn, Danielle Wallace & My Big Brother Troy, Jocelyn Francisco and Little Yellow Jeepney, Mariana Llanos & Kutu, the Tiny Inca Princess/La Ñusta Diminuta, Sara Arnold & The Big Buna Bash, Roddie Simmons & Race 2 Rio, DuEwa Frazier & Alice’s Musical Debut, Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series  Green Kids Club, Inc.

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty Arab, Afsaneh Moradian, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Bethany Edward & Biracial Bookworms, Michelle Goetzl & Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Educators Spin on it, Shauna Hibbitts-creator of eNannylink, Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joel Leonidas & Descendant of Poseidon Reads {Philippines}, Imagination Soup, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Serge Smagarinsky {Australia}, Shoumi Sen, Jennifer Brunk & Spanish Playground, Katie Meadows and Youth Lit Reviews

FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

TWITTER PARTY! Register here!

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

 

©2020 by Dawn Little for My Learning Life. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Teaching Third Grade: Comparing Texts

A few weeks ago, I received a special treat from Candlewick Press, Jon Klassen’s Hat Box.  At the time I was in the middle of planning lessons to teach the “comparison of settings and plots between texts by the same author” to teach in a third grade classroom.  The timing was perfect.

I set about planning lessons that included read alouds of each of the books, I Want My Hat Back, This is Not My Hat, and We Found a Hat.  After we read the three books, we compared the plots and settings.

After students captured the information on their graphic organizer, they chose two books in order to write a comparison of the settings and plots.

Even though I used the three books together to teach children how to compare plots and settings, each book is a perfect stand alone read aloud for children.  And so much fun!

.                                            

©2019 by Dawn Little for My Learning Life. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

One Little Word for the New School Year

Over the last few years, I have been choosing “one little word” as a guide for my calendar year on January 1st.  But, I have always felt a connection to September as a “new year,” as well.  The beginning of the school year has always been a time for a fresh start.  I love the opportunity to “begin again” in September.  This year, I decided to choose one little word for the new school year.  This word will guide my professional life this year.

The word I chose for the 2019-2020 school year is: purpose.

I am going to use the following guiding questions to help me as the school year progresses:

  • What is my purpose for my work?
  • How can I use my purpose to effect change? 

To remind me of my one little word, I created this sign to post in my office.  It will remind me daily that I have a purpose and that I can use my purpose to effect change.

©2019 by Dawn Little for My Learning Life. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Be The Yoga You Teach: Equity and Justice in Trauma Informed Practices

This morning, I saw this tweet by Paul Gorski challenging us to think about how an equity and justice based approach to trauma-informed practices in schools might look different from common approaches not grounded in equity understanding.

Since becoming a Staff Development Teacher seven years ago, I have learned so much about race, equity, and social justice.  I’m still learning. And confronting.  I work to confront my own biases on a daily basis.  This, I believe, is the first step in our work on equity and justice practices within schools.

“Be the yoga you teach”

This afternoon, I viewed the next module in my online course, “Trauma Informed Yoga for Youth” and learned about their philosophy.  The internal practice of yoga is based on one principle: “be the yoga you teach.”  According to Yoga Ed, “practicing the yoga tools and life skills we wish to nurture in our students allows our work to emerge from an authentic place. The internal practice allows us to utilize yoga tools to empower our teaching.”  In order to “be the yoga we teach” the focus is on building the five pillars of our internal practice: self-awareness, authenticity, curiosity, self-compassion, and empathy.  

I immediately connected with the idea of embedding an equity and justice approach into two of the five pillars of internal practice: self-awareness and authenticity.

Self-awareness is the state of consciously being aware of thoughts and feelings.  When we work with children, we may encounter specific words or actions that cause us to react strongly. These triggers are often connected to our own unresolved emotional experiences from childhood. 

Being self-aware is where we begin the work on our implicit biases.  In this Teaching Channel blog post, guest blogger and author of Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain, Zaretta Hammond explained that, “one of the nation’s leading implicit bias scholars, Patricia Devine of the University of Wisconsin, compares implicit bias to habits that, with intention and practice, can be broken.”  She goes on to explain three conditions needed to successfully “de-bias.” 

  • Intention – the acknowledgement that we harbor unconscious biases and the motivation to change
  • Attention – pay attention to personal triggers and know when stereotypical responses or assumptions are activated
  • Time – make time to practice new strategies designed to “break” your automatic associations that link a negative judgment to behavior that is culturally different (my emphasis) from yours

Cultivating self-awareness in our teaching allows us to recognize our own past experiences and reactions as they are triggered. This awareness empowers us to shift from a place of reactivity to a place of clarity, where we move through our own past to recognize the present experiences of the children in front of us.

According to Yoga Ed, “authenticity fuels self-awareness. To live authentically means to be truthful and open to what is happening in the present moment. By practicing authenticity with ourselves, we honor our thoughts and emotions internally so we are able to monitor and express them effectively. By practicing authenticity in the classroom, we cultivate a safe environment for our students to explore what it means and how it feels to be authentic.”  To me, the pillar of authenticity aligns with Glenn Singleton’s “Speak your truth” agreement from Courageous Conversations About Race

I like when two pieces of my learning life come together into an “aha” moment.  Building my understanding around equity and justice within trauma informed practices is just another piece in my learning puzzle.  I’m going to continue to ask questions and confront issues of equity and justice, especially as my school begins to incorporate trauma informed practices such as yoga, mindfulness, and restorative justice.

©2019 by Dawn Little for My Learning Life. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Let Them Explode!

Last night, we watched the fireworks from our balcony on the beach.  That is one of our traditions each year.  In past years, I watched through the eyes of my kids – the excitement, enjoyment, and joy was always a fun way to view the fireworks.  This year, while my kids still enjoy watching the fireworks, they didn’t have that pure unadulterated joy like they had when they were younger.  So instead of watching through their eyes, I viewed through the lens of an educator.

There were several groups of people who were shooting off fireworks in front of our condo.  All the people gathered on the beach, by the pool, and on their balconies were “oohing and aahhing”, naturally.  They put on a spectacular show. But, as we were watching the fireworks explode in bright colors in the sky, a policeman drove up and down the beach shutting people down.

Often times as educators, we tend to do the same thing.  Our students are bright, bold, fireworks.  They need time to build up and then shine brightly.  They don’t need the educators in their lives to shut them down.  What if we allowed our students to explode?  What can we do to ensure our students are able to shine brightly like those fireworks every day?  After spending some time reflecting on this analogy and thinking about ways I can help our students shine brightly in the new school year, I’m ready to start making plans. What are some ways you help your students shine brightly?

©2019 by Dawn Little for My Learning Life. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Giving Ourselves Permission

Every year for the last fifteen years, we spend the week of July 4th at the beach with family.  We, along with my husband’s parents, sisters and their families, all meet at the beach. There are 15 of us now. There is something nice about the continuity.  My son was a year old when we first started this tradition.  My daughter was two months old the first time she joined us.  This is the only way we have ever celebrated the 4th of July as a family.

For me, this week marks an end to one school year and the beginning of the next.  I feel like I am in limbo as I reflect on the old and begin to think about the new.  I try to take time during our vacation to slow down and relax. It is always difficult for me to “turn everything off” and get into relax mode, but I do my best. For me, relax mode is working on my own self-care.  During the school year, I usually work at 110%.  That is a combination of personal and family activities, my work at school, and my side projects.

As women, I fear that we don’t give ourselves enough permission.  Permission to take care of ourselves. Permission to prioritize what is important to us.  Permission to just be.  I started by giving myself permission to not work out this week.  That allowed me to sleep in.  I was able to get a massage when we arrived, and that helped me to relax a little at the beginning of the week.  I spent every morning at the beach, reading, and listening to the waves crash. That, to me, is the best form of relaxation. The four of us spent time together as a family, playing miniature golf and driving go-carts. Harell and I went out to a nice dinner to celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary, after we spent the day shopping with the kids.

Each year, we lament that our time here is not enough.  The week seems to fly by and just as soon as we are settled into a routine, it’s time to pack up and head home.  I think this is the first year that I am leaving with a heart full of memories and an aura of relaxation.  I’m feeling energized to begin to dig into the new school year.  I’m ready to set goals for myself both personally and professionally.  I’m ready to work on the best version of myself I can be for the next 12 months.  Until next year at this time, when I will reflect all over again.

©2019 by Dawn Little for My Learning Life. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.