Teaching Masterpieces in the School and at Home

Welcome to my Educational Wikispace. Please click on one of the topics on your left. Thanks for visiting and always know that I will continue to add to my space as time allows. If you are an educator, I wish you all the best as you do your best to reach the goal of teaching every child to the best of your ability. If you are a parent, thank you for caring enough about your child's education to visit my site (You are your child's FIRST teacher and most precious resource!). Happy Reading!

Todd Cole, Teacher of Masterpieces

Read right from the beginning!

50 Shades of Teaching
By Todd Cole, Teacher of Masterpieces
I am a Westminster College Alumnus

Shade #50 - I tie shoes and sneakers and I zip and unzip coats that are stuck. I am a teacher.
Shade #49 - I have had six classroom hamsters, none which remained alive for an entire school year, thus, 6 classroom funerals. I am a teacher.
Shade #48 - I listen to stories that never end and knock knock jokes that don't make sense, but I remember to laugh. I am a teacher.
Shade #47 - I know that the MAGIC WORDS are "PLEASE" and "THANK YOU." I am a teacher.
Shade #46 - I know that "Spaghetti" is a favorite food, yet one of the most difficult words to spell and pronounce. I am a teacher.
Shade #45 - I know that EXPENSIVE WORDS are words that mean the same thing as CHEAP words, but when kids use them, they get the attention of grownups. For example, why not say "ENORMOUS" instead of "big"? It sounds more expensive. I am a teacher.
Shade #44 - I know how to do the Literary Term JIG for "Synonym same, antonym opposite" in order to help children remember their meanings. I am a teacher.
Shade #43 - I am a security blanket when I sit with a child who missed the bus. I am a teacher.
Shade #42 - My favorite place in a bookstore is the children's section. I have over 3,000 children's books, yet I don't have any children of my own. I am a teacher.
Shade #41 - My favorite thing to do at a teacher's conference is to LOOK FOR FREEBIES. I attend workshops during the summer to improve my profession. I am a teacher.
Shade #40 - I present workshops for future teachers and current teachers during my own time to help my profession. I am a teacher.
Shade #39 - I grocery shop, in hopes that I won't bump into a parent from school, only to end up having a conference in aisle three...and then when the conference is over I find that my cart is parked next to the ROGAINE FOR MEN display. I am a teacher.
Shade #38 - I shop for underwear only to hear those dreaded words, "There's Mr. Cole." Great, now my whole class will know if I'm a boxer or brief man. I am a teacher.
Shade #37 - I read the new Common Core curriculum during the summer. I read books on education for my "entertainment" when I'm on vacation. I am a teacher.
Shade #36 - I attend soccer, football, basketball and baseball games to cheer on my students. I am a teacher.
Shade #35 - I have been known to be called "Grandma", "Mommy" or "Daddy" by mistake, and considered it a compliment. I am a teacher.
Shade #34 - I have been called "teacher" over and over again, but waited to be called "Mr. Cole" before I responded. I am a teacher.
Shade #33 - I say "NO" to drugs in school as part of my lesson plan and hide my beer at The Iron Bridge when I see a student approaching my table to say "hello". I am a teacher.
Shade #32 - I teach English As A Second Language Students, Learning Disabled Students, Life Skills Students, Gifted Students and all of those in between in the same room, at the same time. I am a teacher.
Shade #31 - After a child vomits in my classroom, I wonder why the smell caries with me all day long, only to find out at the end of the day, that Joey also vomited in the cuff of my pant leg. I am a teacher.
Shade #30 - I think like a child, so the environment at school is exciting for a child,. I think like an adult, so I reach all children in my classroom. I am a teacher.
Shade #29 - I spend like a millionaire, so my students will have what it takes to make learning fun. Find the simile. I am a teacher.
Shade #28 -I know that DYING WORDS are "can't", "shut up", "stupid" and "I'm Done!" I am a teacher.
Shade #27 - I attend funerals of grandparents, parents and even my own students, with the knowledge that they are in a place called "Heaven" where everyone can read, laugh and play together. I am a teacher.
Shade #26 - I am a BANK for students who forget their lunch money. I am a teacher.
Shade #25 - I am a parent for students who forget to bring in their PICTURE DAY form. I am a teacher.
Shade #24 - I am a nurse for kids who need a band aid and for those who receive fluoride pills. I am a teacher.
Shade #23 - I am a friend to students who feel like nobody wants to play with them. I am a teacher.
Shade #22 - I make rules, but realize that rules are made to be broken. I am a teacher.
Shade #21 - I have memories that are happy and I have memories that are sad. I have memories that are profound...like spending the day with frightened teachers and students on 9/11, saying, "Everything is ok, we are safe.", when I had no idea if that was really true. I am a teacher.
Shade #20 - I know when a child has had an "accident" before he is willing to admit it. I am a teacher.
Shade #19 - I know how to handle the embarrassment of an "accident" by saying, "It's ok, it happened to me, too." (Not yesterday, but when I was very little.) I am a teacher.
Shade #18 - I understand the difference between "CODE YELLOW" and "CODE BROWN" when I call our janitor to the classroom. (Think about it.) I am a teacher.
Shade #17 - I know that lice is an awful creature to find in a child's hair, but have learned to accept that I will undoubtedly have a child who will get it, at least once a year. I am a teacher.
Shade #16 - I learn to have extra presents wrapped for myself to open at the Classroom Christmas Party for the child who couldn't afford to bring one in for me. I am a teacher.
Shade #15 - I collect money for Book Orders, Red Cross, Picture Day and Classroom Parties. I collect permission forms for field trips, fluoride pills, emergency information...and I send the same forms home several times until they are filled out and returned. I am a teacher.
Shade #14 - I insist that every child receives a birthday party invite if they are going to be handed out in class. Otherwise, call your guests or send them an invite in the mail, but no one is to feel "left out" during the school day if it can be helped. I am a teacher.
Shade #13 - I have learned not to fight CITY HALL, but also learned to quietly keep my "belief system" intact when it disagrees with those in power. I am a teacher.
Shade #12 - I listen to children...even when I don't have time. I am a teacher.
Shade #11 - I read fiction and nonfiction stories and include multi-cultural works in my selections. I expose children to different genres and the "Latest Bestsellers". I am a teacher.
Shade #10 - I teach different strategies for reading and writing and let each child select the best strategy that suits his/her learning style. I am a teacher.
Shade #9 - I know that each year will be a challenge. I realize that some parents will appreciate me, others will talk about me, some will help me and others will hurt me. That's all a part of it. I am a teacher.
Shade #8 - I know that Christmas is on Dec. 25 and Earth Day is on April 22nd. I know that Halloween is on October 31 and Dr. Seuss' birthday is March 2nd. I am a teacher.
Shade #7 - I know that life will go on without me in my classroom, but I hope to make a difference each day. I am a teacher.
Shade #6 - I refer to HEAVEN as "that Teacher Store in the Sky." I am a teacher.
Shade #5 - I have learned to NEVER pick up from the floor what I THINK to be a BROWN CRAYON. (Think about it.) I am a teacher.
Shade #4 - I have learned to not have story time after lunch, or anything that requires close proximity, particularly when the lunch menu involves baked beans. I am a teacher.
Shade #3- I write rough drafts for educational grants while I wait for a church service to begin, and then say an extra prayer that the grant is accepted during the Sunday Morning Prayer. I am a teacher.
Shade #2 - I tell my students that I ’m going to have the words "Don't forget your period at the end of a sentence." printed on my tombstone. The first time they hear me say it, their reaction is "Wait, are you dying?" I am a teacher.
Shade #1 - Most importantly, I teach children, not the curriculum. I help students turn school-time learning into lifetime learning. I am a teacher.
Todd Cole
Teacher of Masterpieces

June 2015

As your child enters a fun-filled summer, you will be acting as his/her teacher. It will be important to keep his/her skills ALIVE during the summer so that he/she is ready for fifth grade. Here are some tips:

  1. Visit our school’s Summer Library Reading Program. The program occurs every Wednesday morning during the month of July. Bring your child to sign-out a book to read. He or she can take the AR test for the book, too. The points your child earns will go toward the first nine week marking period in fifth grade. Plus, your child might see a friend!
  2. Visit your public library in New Castle. If your child doesn’t have a library card, this would be a great time to do it. It’s an inexpensive trip and the results are plentiful!
  3. Enter IMAGINATION DESTINATION – the reading contest at Barnes and Noble. We’ve attached the program to this letter. It’s a fun way to earn a free book from our favorite store (Mr. C. and Mrs. V.).
  4. Pizza Hut is conducting a Summer Reading Program called SPARK YOUR GREATNESS WITH BOOK IT! Go to http//www.bookitprogram.com/summer/default.asp. It’s for kids in grades k-6, and features a minute tracker app, book recommendations, recipes for readers, printables, games, and activity calendars.
  5. The SCHOLASTIC SUMMER CHALLENGE – http:/www.scholastic.com/summer/ - it asks kids to log their reading minutes to earn rewards. The challenge is to beat last year’s 64, 213,141 minutes and set a new record!
  6. Of course, our highest of all recommendations is to simply read with your child. Share a book together. Read silently. Model – read from the newspaper or a book that you’ve been looking forward to reading. If your child signs out a book at the library, you can sign one out to read, too.
  7. Have your child look for his/her favorite author’s website. Encourage your child to send an email to him/her or write a letter to him/her.
  8. Have your child write to a friend over the summer. Have your child write to a grandparent.
  9. If your child has a sleep over – have the guests bring a favorite book to read.
  10. If you have a campfire at night, have your family tell stories around the fire. Storytelling is a form of reading, too.

Happy Summer! Happy Reading and Writing!
Mr. Todd Cole, Teacher of Masterpieces

My Salute to Books
By Mr. Cole
WFMJ-2014 Christmas is at the end of this list!

Authors I LOVE
  1. Patricia Polacco – award winning author and illustrator of picture books that are for an advanced reader. She has an interactive website with printables for coloring and postcards. You can meet her on her site through video. www.patriciapolacco.com
  2. David Mc Phail – He came to our school several years ago. Many of his drawing are framed in our school library. He, too, has a website.
  3. Jack Prelutsky – He is my favorite poet for children. He has an awesome, interactive website. His poetry is humorous and he’s written a bevy of books that showcase his talents that are hilarious. www.jackprelutsky.com
  4. Beverly Cleary – She’s still alive. Her website is outstanding. It’s very interactive and you can meet her through a video. Her children’s novels are a MUST as part of school and classroom libraries. www.beverlycleary.com
  5. Jan Brett – If you live on a farm, this author is for YOU! Known for her outstanding illustrations that help to predict what will happen on each page, Jan Brett needs to be acknowledged in any book collection. She, also, has a superb website that has free printables for young children. www.janbrett.com
  6. Eric Carle – he keeps coming up with new books that are top notch. Every library should have many of his books for the early reader.
  7. Andrew Clements – realistic fiction novels – FRINDLE and JANITOR BOY are two of my favorites. His website shows where he does most of his writing – in a small fort in his back yard. www.andrewclements.com
  8. Kate DiCamillo – author of Because of Winn Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux, Flora and Ulysses. All of these novels have been honored by Newberry Awards.

Series I LOVE
  1. Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne
  2. Hank Zipzer Series by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver
  3. Little House in the Big Woods Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  4. I Survived Series by Lauren Tarshis
  5. The “Who Was” Series – biographies that are for 3rd and 4th graders.
  6. Tacky the Penguin Series by Helen Lester – picture books about a fictional penguin.
  7. Encyclopedia Brown Series by Donald Sobol – for the reluctant reader, each book contains short mysteries.

Sports Books I LOVE
  1. All books by Mike Lupica – his books can be found at Ollie’s for a good price – his books are for a more advanced 4th grader or an average 6th grade reader.
  2. All books by Tiki and Ronde Barker – their stories are from personal experiences as children. Some are picture books, but most are novels for 3rd grade and up.
  3. Sport Novels by Matt Christopher – He’s the #1 Sports Series for Kids!
New Favorite Books from 2014 –
  1. WONDER by R.J. Palacio – story of a boy born with a disfigured appearance who enters school in fifth grade after being homeschooled since birth. Each chapter is written through the eyes of someone in his life. Every family should read this book, together!
  2. WONDERSTRUCK by Brian Selznick – He is the same author as THE INENTION OF HUGO CABRET. I like this novel even more. Two stories told together – one through words and the other through illustrations. Eventually, both stories unite for a marvelous ending. Although, it is a thick book, it’s a very easy read.
  3. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywait – Red’s tired of workin hard and Blue’s bored with always coloring water. They all decide to call it quits. A boy named Duncan saves the day! A picture book for all ages. Imagination is the theme.
  4. One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate- an Easy novel to read, but boy it has a message for all ages! This is a “Must Read” for all families, just like Wonder.
  5. The Message of the Birds- I found this gem last Christmas – how we rely on children to convey important messages about life.

Oldies, but Goodies:
  1. Santa’s Book of Names by David McPhail – story of a boy who learns to read with Santa’s help on Christmas Eve.
  2. Welcome Comfort by Patricia Polacco – a child without a family, who is bullied in school, doesn’t believe in Santa or any type of “believing.” The school janitor takes him “under his wing”, along with his wife who is the school librarian.
  3. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg – This makes a great gift for a new parent. It’s a classic.
  4. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White – Don’t let your child grow up without his/her own copy of this classic.
Books for Parents and Teachers:
  1. The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease – if you don’t know where to start, he has an amazing list for you!
  2. Igniting a Passion for Reading by Steven . Layne – strategies for building lifetime readers.
  3. The Reading Zone by Nancie Atwell – how to help kids become skilled, passionate, habitual, critical readers.
  4. 75+ Reading Strategies by Danny Brassell – boost achievement and build a life-long love of Reading.
What can you do to instill a LOVE for books and reading?
  1. Take your child to the public library and have him/her get his own library card.
  2. Visit the library often.
  3. Take a trip to a bookstore and stay awhile.
  4. Subscribe to a magazine that interests your child. They love to get mail, too.
  5. Write to a famous author together.
  6. Let your child catch you reading for enjoyment.
  7. Read road signs, billboards, etc. while in the car together.
  8. Read the back of the cereal box together.

Favorite Book list for WFMJ-2014 Christmas Show:
  1. Gifts from the Heart by Patricia Polacco
  2. The Trees of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco
  3. Welcome Comfort by Patricia Polacco
  4. Santa’s Book of Names by David McPhail
  5. The Message of the Birds by Kate Westerlund
  6. Snowflakes Fall illustrated by Steven Kellogg
  7. Blizzard by John Rocco
  8. Santa’s Kwanza by Garen Eileen Thomas
  9. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
  10. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – celebrating its 75th year as a book and 50th year as a television special.
  11. The Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Book –Brian miller, Adam Paulson and Kevin Wool – UglyChristmasSweaterParty.com

2016 Caldecott and Newberry Award Winners
1. LAST STOP on MARKET STREET by Matt de la Pena. This is a bus ride that every child should take. One may think it's a multi-cultural book, and it is, but more importantly is speaks to the "haves" and the "have nots." A boy questions why he doesn't have all the "extras" that other kids have on the bus. Eventually, he comes to find out just how fortunate he is to not grow up with all "the extras." What a great lesson for all children and ADULTS to learn.
2. THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Ten year old ADA has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by her daughter's deformed foot to let her outside. So when her little brother, Jamie, escapes the war in London, Ada sneaks out to join him. And so begins an adventure for Ada learning to read, look for German spies, and how to ride a pony. All of this is done with the help of a woman who decides to befriend the two siblings. Adventure, identity, self-word, and a sense of family, all rolled up in one.
3. ROLLER GIRL by Victoria Jamieson - A Graphic Novel - kids run to this genre. A girl who signs up for roller derby camp, assumes her best friend will, too. Not the case. This is a story of a summer filled with ups and downs for a girl who is used to her best friend always being with her. She is forced to make a new part of herself without the best friend.
4. ECHO by Pam Munoz Ryan - She's one of my favorite novel writers for kids. This is a tough novel to describe in a few sentences. Pam Munoz Ryan starts with a tale from an ENCHANTED FOREST, with three sisters and a boy named Otto who plays the harmonica. Then, it moves into a story of a boy during the days of Hitler who lives a life sheltered by his loving father...they both work in a harmonica factory. Then she introduces another boy named Mike in Pennsylvania in 1935 and finally, a girl named IVY in California in 1942. Eventually, these stories come together. Her words are richly written and encourage you to read more and more.
1. FINDING WINNIE by Lindsay Maltick - The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear- Winnie the Pooh. I had no idea that Winnie had such a colorful history. It begins with a veterinarian finding a bear in Canada on his way to Boot Camp in Canada. He names her Winnie after his home, Winnipeg. He brings the bear to camp, and she becomes the mascot and love of everyone there. Eventually, Winnie travels with the troop to England, but eventually she is given to the London Zoo. A boy named Christopher Robin befriends him...and thus the beginning of a world of favorite bear tales. Personal photos are provided at the end of the story.
2. VOICE OF FREEDOM FANNIE LOU HAMMER by Carole Boston Weatherford - The spirit of the Civil Rights Movement. Fannie is the youngest of 20 children. She participated in marches, sit-ins, and voter education training. She spoke at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. What a remarkable woman. Each page tells of a different time in her life and how she managed to rise above the most difficult of times. Wow!
3. WAITING - by Kevin Henkes - Characters waiting on the window sill. One waits for the moon, another for the rain, and another for snow....and so on and so on. Finally, a new character is placed on the sill - a cat. What is she waiting for? When you turn the page you find several kittens added to the sill. We all wait for something. What do you wait for? For a young reader. I love it.