June 2013 e-Newsletter

Books Come Alive with Storytelling Adventures!

WriteSteps Goes Global

Freebie: Writing Themes

Jan Palavin Joins the WriteSteps Team

June Conferences
"The journey of a lifetime starts with the turning of a page."
~Rachel Anders

Books Come Alive with Storytelling Adventures!
Swash buckling pirates, faraway lands, and new adventures loom on the horizon! Summer is right around the corner and this means there will be plenty of time for students to explore new worlds by diving into books. We recommend a summertime reading list for each grade level. Your students will return to school in the fall with a deeper appreciation of the wonders and adventures that books can bring into their lives!

Scroll down The Inspired Writer to download our freebie of the month on writing themes! After reading the books on our list and looking at the different types of themes, some of your students may want to model similar themes in their own writing.

Kindergarten
Oceans
By National Geographic Kids
Swim with sharks! Dive with dolphins! Stroll the beach with penguins! Young readers will joyfully immerse themselves in this awesome adventure at sea, in which stunning National Geographic photos reveal hidden worlds of action and beauty. This is a great book to share with young readers due to the graphics and beautiful images.


I Can Read with My Eyes Shut
By Dr. Seuss
The Cat in the Hat takes Young Cat in tow to show him the fun he can get out of reading. This book is great for beginners and also allows discussion about why it's so important to read. Dr. Seuss has always been a favorite of mine and a summer reading list would not be complete without a little Dr. Seuss!


The Maggie B
By Irene Haas
A little girl's wish to sail for a day on a boat named for her "with someone nice for company" comes true. The illustrations in this book are beautiful and it teaches children responsibility and the need for self-reliance.


Frog and Toad Are Friends
By Arnold Lobel
From writing letters to going swimming, telling stories to finding lost buttons, Frog and Toad are always there for each other—just as best friends should be. Frog and Toad Are Friends is a terrific book you can read out loud to your kindergartener.


Where the Wild Things Are
By Maurice Sendak
Let the wild rumpus with Max and all the wild things continue as this classic comes to life as never before with new reproductions of Maurice Sendak's artwork. Astonishing state-of-the-art technology faithfully captures the color and detail of the original illustrations. Where the Wild Things Are continues to be one of the best loved books of all time and is must read.



1st Grade
The True Story of The Three Little Pigs
By Jon Sceizka
A spoof on The Three Little Pigs story, this time told from the wolf's point of view. There is always another side to a story! A. Wolf explains his side of the classic tale in an almost plausible and sympathetic way.


How I Became a Pirate
By Melinda Long
Illustrated by David Shannon
Young Jeremy Jacob is plucked from obscurity while innocently constructing a sand castle and is thrust into a brand-new life as a pirate. Jeremy thinks a pirate life sounds like fun, as long as he’s back the next day in time for soccer practice, and so he goes along with the ragtag group of seafaring thugs.


Charlotte’s Web
By E.B. White
Illustrated by Garth Williams
Charlotte's Web is the story of a little girl named Fern who loved a little pig named Wilbur—and of Wilbur's dear friend Charlotte A. Cavatica, a beautiful large grey spider who lived with Wilbur in the barn. This is one of the most beloved children’s books of all time and is a must read.


Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
By Judith Viorst
Illustrated by Ray Cruz
People of all ages have terrible, horrible days, and Alexander offers us the cranky commiseration we crave as well as a reminder that things may not be all that bad. Children can relate to Alexander and realize that everyone can have bad days sometime.


Matilda
By Roald Dahl
Illustrated by Quentin Blake
Matilda is a brilliant and sensitive child, but her parents think of her only as a nuisance. When one day she is attacked by her odious headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, Matilda suddenly discovers she has a remarkable power with which to avenge herself!



2nd Grade
So you want to Be President?
By Judith St. George and David Small
So You Want to Be President? is a children's picture book written by Judith St. George and illustrated by David Small. Published in 2000, the book features a comprehensive guide to the Presidents of the United States.


My Father’s Dragon
Written and Illustrated by Ruth Stiles Gannett
When Elmer Elevator hears about the plight of an overworked and underappreciated baby flying dragon, he stows away on a ship and travels to Wild Island to rescue the dragon. My Father’s Dragon is on the Common Core State Standards Text Exemplar – Stories list for grades 2-3.


The Courage of Sarah Noble
By Alice Dalgliesh
In 1707, young Sarah Noble and her father traveled through the wilderness to build a new home for their family. The true story of Sarah's journey is inspiring. And as she cares for her father and befriends her Indian neighbors, she learns that to be afraid and to be brave is the greatest courage of all.


The Three Billy Goats Gruff
By Paul Galdone
Treasury of time-honored tales from many lands includes the title story and such old favorites as "Johnny Cake," "The Three Bears," "The Little Old Woman Who Went to the North Wind," "The Wonderful Pot," "The Gold Bugs," and many others.


The Jungle Book
By Rudyard Kipling
Illustrated by Robert Ingpen
Accounts of a courageous youngster and formidable creatures of the Indian jungle abound in this series of 14 imaginative tales. Mowgli, a boy raised by a wolf pack, learns the lore of the jungle from its inhabitants. The illustrations in the book are beautiful. 2nd graders will join in Mowgli’s adventures in the jungle.



3rd Grade
Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa
By Erica Silverman
Illustrated by Betsy Lewin
Hold on to your hats! Two new pals have arrived on the scene: Cowgirl Kate and her stubborn, but devoted cowhorse, Cocoa. Together they count the herd, ride the range, and, of course, argue till the cows come home--as only best friends can do. This is the first book in the Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa series and has been selected as a Common Core State Standards Text Exemplar – Stories list for grades 2-3.


Pippi Longstocking
By Astrid Lindgren
Tommy and his sister Annika have a new neighbor, and her name is Pippi Longstocking. She has crazy red pigtails, no parents to tell her what to do, a horse that lives on her porch, and a flair for the outrageous that seems to lead to one adventure after another! This book allows every child, whether it be in age, or in heart, to live out fun adventures from which they'll always come out on top, with Pippi leading the way.


The Fantastic Mr. Fox
By Roald Dahl
Someone's been stealing from the three meanest farmers around, and they know the identity of the thief--it's Fantastic Mr. Fox! Working alone they could never catch him, but now Boggis, Bunce, and Bean have joined forces, and they've concocted a cunning plan to dig him out of his hole once and for all. What they don't know is they're not dealing with just any fox. Mr. Fox just happens to have a fantastic plan of his own . . .


Hey Batta Batta Swing!: The Wild Old Days of Baseball
By Sally Cook and James Charlton
Illustrated by Ross MacDonald
Discover what it was like before there was a pitching mound or players had numbers on their jerseys. Learn how Babe Ruth got his nickname, why Brooklyn's team was called the Dodgers, and what Roger Clemens gave to keep his lucky number 21 when he switched teams. See what clever ways players have found to win -- even ways to cheat! Sprinkled throughout are definitions of baseball's weird and wacky vocabulary, from a "meatball" to "Uncle Charlie".


Grandma’s Gift
By Eric Velasquez
This is the story of a Christmas holiday that young Eric spends with his grandmother. After they prepare their traditional Puerto Rican celebration, Eric and Grandma visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a school project, where he sees a painting by Diego Velasquez and realizes for the first time that he could be an artist when he grows up. A heartwarming story of self-discovery, Grandma's Gift is a celebration of the special bond between a grandparent and grandchild.



4th Grade
Every Thing On It
By Shel Silverstein
An amazing collection of never-before-published poems and drawings from the creator of Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, and Falling Up. You will say Hi-ho for the toilet troll, get tongue-tied with Stick-a-Tongue-Out-Sid, play a highly unusual horn, and experience the joys of growing down. These collections of poems by Shel Silverstein are a classic for children and a perfect summer read.


The Black Stallion
By Walter Farley
The sole survivors of a devastating shipwreck, Alec Ramsay and the Black Stallion must learn to rely on each other to survive. As a strong bond develops between them, Alec gains the trust of the magnificent beast and eventually the Black allows Alec to ride. Finally, they are rescued, but will Alec and the Black be allowed to stay together? The Black Stallion is a must read for anyone, at any age.


A Wrinkle in Time
By Madeline L’ Engle
In A Wrinkle in Time, the wonderful and unforgettable characters of Meg and Charles Wallace Murry, and their friend Calvin O’Keefe, are introduced. When the children learn that Mr. Murry has been captured by the Dark Thing, they time travel to Camazotz, where they must face the leader IT in the ultimate battle between good and evil—a journey that threatens their lives and our universe. This book provides a road map for seeking knowledge and compassion even at the worst of times.


The Boxcar Children Series
By Gertrude Chandler
The series focus on the story of the Alden’s, who begin their adventure by making a home in a boxcar. Their goal is to stay together, and in the process they find a grandfather. This is a great series for young readers. The central characters make it easy for students to empathize with the children.


Tuesdays at the Castle
By Jessica Day George
Every Tuesday Castle Glower takes on a life of its own-magically inventing, moving, and even completely getting rid of some of its rooms. Good thing Princess Celie takes the time to map out these never-ending changes. Because when the castle is ambushed and Celie's parents and oldest brother go missing, it's up to Celie to protect their home and save their kingdom. A great new series that readers will devour!



5th Grade
Racing in the Rain: My Life as a Dog
By Garth Stein
Have you ever wondered what your dog is thinking? Meet one funny dog—Enzo, the lovable mutt who tells this story. Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: most dogs love to chase cars, but Enzo longs to race them. Enzo finds that life is just like being on the racetrack—it isn't simply about going fast. This is a great book for young animal lovers.


On the Wings of Heroes
By Richard Peck
World War II has invaded Davy’s home front boyhood. There’s an air raid drill in the classroom, and being a kid is an endless scrap drive. It’s an intense, confusing time, and one that will invite Davy to grow up in a hurry. This novel illustrates a tender, unforgettable portrait of the World War II home front and a family’s love.


The Boy Who Loved Words
By Roni Schoetter
This is a book that sparks conversation about using better vocabulary in writing. Selig collects words, ones that stir his heart (Mama!) and ones that make him laugh (giggle). But what to do with so many luscious words? After helping a poet find the perfect words for his poem (lozenge, lemon, and licorice), he figures it out: His purpose is to spread the word to others.


Out of My Mind
By Sharon M. Draper
Melody is not like most people. She cannot walk or talk, but she has a photographic memory; she can remember every detail of everything she has ever experienced. She is smarter than most of the adults who try to diagnose her and smarter than her classmates in her integrated classroom—the very same classmates who dismiss her as mentally challenged, because she cannot tell them otherwise. This is a book that sparks great discussion.


The Lightning Thief
By Rick Riordan
After getting expelled from yet another school for yet another clash with mythological monsters only he can see, twelve-year-old Percy Jackson is taken to Camp Half-Blood, where he finally learns the truth about his unique abilities: He is a demigod, half human, half immortal. This book has a can’t-put-it-down pull that will draw readers in.



WriteSteps and the American Institute for Enrichment Sign Global Partnership Agreement
We are excited to announce an exclusive partnership with the American Institute for Enrichment (AIE) that combines the global reach of AIE with our research-based, award-winning, 100% K-5 Common Core writing and grammar program.

The partnership will expand our reach across classrooms on a global scale and support our mission to empower K-5 teachers with writing and grammar lessons that provide children with the essential skills they need for a lifetime of confident writing.

Under the terms of the new agreement, the partnership will allow WriteSteps to expand outside of the United States and reach schools in Australia, Singapore, China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Indian Subcontinent, UAE, Kuwait, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, and Israel.



"We are excited in our new product partnership with WriteSteps," said Viral Parekh, Program Director of AIE. "Developing writing skills is becoming an increasingly critical part of education's role in preparing students for today’s communication based environment. The American Institute of Enrichment's mission to enrich student's education through concept based education is strongly supported with the WriteSteps writing program and its fundamental approach in developing skills through the elementary years. The potential of this partnership is limitless as we collaborate and impart concept based education at more schools in more regions in the years to come."

Suggested Themes for Student Writing
The WriteSteps freebie of the month is centered on Writing Themes. Click here to obtain the writing theme files. The files contain:
  1. A list of themes that students can write about.
  2. Writing prompts for 12 themes. Each prompt is worded differently for students in grades K-1, 2-3, and 4-5.
Students might recognize some of these writing themes in some of the books from our summer reading list!
Jan Polavin, Teacher of 32 years, Joins WriteSteps!
Jan’s impressive career as a classroom teacher for the past 32 years is one of the many reasons why she is a great fit as an Awareness Ambassador (Inside Sales) with WriteSteps. She is also passionate about sharing our writing and grammar program to school districts throughout the country.

"WriteSteps affords me yet another avenue by which to positively impact student learning and achievement," says Jan. "I strongly believe I can make a significant difference and I am determined and committed to educate school districts on how to improve their students’ writing and grammar skills."

Jan Palavin with her sons Nick and Todd, and her husband Mitch, at a University of Michigan football game.

Depending on the season, Jan enjoys a variety of outdoor activities such as biking, sailing, spending time on Lake Michigan beaches, downhill skiing, and attending University of Michigan football games.

June Conference Schedule

June 12-14, Austin, TX
Stop by the WriteSteps booth at the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association Summer Conference in Austin, TX at the Austin Renaissance Hotel to learn more about how we can help you with your Common Core transition.

June 30-July 2, Washington, D.C.
Herman Humes Jr., Awareness Ambassador, will be at the National Public Charter School Conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center to answer your Common Core writing questions! While there, you can sign up for a free trial to eWriteSteps, which automatically enters you into a drawing to win a new iPad!



"A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, traveling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies and adopting new viewpoints."
~Wilfred Peterson