My family and I took a week-long trip to San Francisco last week. We rented a one bedroom apartment through Airbnb in the Marina District, which meant we didn’t get gouged by a hotel for everything from garage parking to breakfast. I vowed not to do too many touristy things while we were in town. We lived like locals, which afforded me the chance to experience San Franicsco in a new way.
I kept a list of things I loved the time we left Pennsylvania until the time we returned. Seeing as this is a not a travel blog, I related all of my favorites to writing and education.
1) I visited the Chronicle Books headquarters on my first full day in town. Lara Starr, who has been my contact at Chronicle for the past few years, gave me a tour of their offices. It was exciting to see where the magic behind the books happens. I spent time tlaking with Lara and her team who told me about some of their forthcoming titles. There are a lot of great books to look forward to from Chronicle in the months to come!
One of my present favorites is Jumping Jack by Germano Zullo and Albertine. It is about Roger Trotter, a jockey, and his horse, Jack. They’re superstars in the horse jumping world. The two draw crowds who expect them to win whenever they perform. One day Jumping Jack and Roger enter the ring and the unthinkable happens. Jack misses his jumps and makes the pair look like amateurs. Roger, who is devoted to Jack, wants to get to the bottom of the problem so he takes Jack to the doctor, a psychologist, and a on a two week vacation. Once the pair get back to jumping, Jack stumbles, but something unexpected happens — and that is the surprise ending that makes this humorous book a story worth having in your library.
Jumping Jack is an excellent mentor text with illustrations that make you fall in love with the characters from the very first page spread. Besides a strong lead and a circular ending, it can be used to mentor students to vary sentence lengths, play around with punctuation and print features, use adverbs in meaningful (rather than extraneous) ways, sentence fragments, and so much more. Also, this book is funny, but not in a knee-slapping way. It is the kind of humor that is attainable for young writers to accomplish — even the ones who don’t think they’re very funny. That’s why it’s a great mentor for subtle humor.
2) San Francisco is an environmentally conscious city. We didn’t see a plastic bag the entire time we were there since they’re essentially banned from the City! But the city takes it a step further. Every time you need a paper bag from a grocery store, you have to pay $.10! This charge encourages people to utilize reusable bags for their shopping needs. Conversely, some stores will refund customers $.10 for every reusable bag they bring and fill up upon checkout. As a result, we toted reusable shopping bags around with us during the trip.
This made me think back to the reusable shopping bags I use at home. I’ve been using them for seven years, but don’t see many people in Central Pennsylvania using them. Our grocery stores sell them, but they don’t reward people for using them (or penalize people for utilizing plastic or paper bags.) This made me think I should contact the management of the local grocery stores to see if they’d be interested in a program similar to the one I saw in San Francisco. It might take several phone calls and e-mails, but if I could persuade our local stores into a bag program, then it would save a LOT of resources!
3) “What’s next?” That was what Isabelle asked me as we were about to leave one destination for the next. Seeing as we packed a lot into every day, we were constantly on the go. As much as she thrives on routine at home, I think she enjoyed the hustle and bustle of our time away. Therefore, I used this to my advantage. I worked on sequencing with her whenever I had a chance. We’d retell the day (sometimes forwards and sometimes like Tell Me the Day Backwards). I intend to extend this activity by organizing the photos from our trip so we can talk about the order in which things happened by using sequencing words and transitional phrases.
4) We visited Habitot, a children’s museum in Berkeley. I noticed informational cards for parents every time we entered a new exhibit within Habitot. Each exhibit card provided parents with things to say or questions to ask their child as they explored a given play space. It was like Choice Words summarized for parents!
I thought these kinds of cards could be adapted for parents who are chaperoning field trips. If you’re taking a trip to an art or science museum, consider taking a peek at Habitot’s parent engagement cards. Then you can adapt them for students’ parents so they can engage in meaningful conversations with students during the field trip.
5) I brought my stylus and iPad on the trip so I could journal in my digital writer’s notebook. However, I didn’t open my notebook apps once. I also didn’t update my daughter’s private family-only blog either. While I could blame it on the cubital tunnel, from which I’m still suffering, the truth of the matter is I wanted to take some time away from writing. I got invested in reading some good books and felt like I needed to catch up on some sleep. I know the importance of writing daily, but I also know the importance of taking a break. And that’s exactly what I did last week.
This giveaway is for a copy of Jumping Jack. Many thanks to Chronicle Books for donating a copy for one reader.
For a chance to win this copy of Jumping Jack please leave a comment about this post by Friday, June 6th at 11:59 p.m. EDT. I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winners, whose names I will announce at the bottom of this post, by Sunday, June 8th.
Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win. From there, my contact at Chronicle will ship your book out to you. (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field.)
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Thanks to everyone who left a comment. Vanessa Worrell’s commenter # was selected using the random number generator. Here’s what she wrote:
I am a literacy consultant who has spent the past dozen years working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grades K-6, I'm a former fourth and fifth-grade teacher so I have a passion for working with upper elementary students.
I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).