When Being “Too Pickley” Was “Just Right”

McCannBoysLast month I had the great honor of a virtual visit in the classroom of one of New Jersey’s finest teachers, Kevin McCann. Kevin brings out the best in kids. It shows in his amazing students, and – as you’ll see below – in his adorable sons. I know you’ll enjoy this peek into our visit as well as a glimpse into the family life of one great dad! 


by Kevin McCann

SmashBurgerIt is funny how ideas can come to you when you are a teacher.  I am not only a third grade teacher at John F. Kennedy Elementary School in South Plainfield, New Jersey, I am also a proud parent of three awesome boys.  They challenge and push my wife and me everyday.  Each in their own way!  My oldest son, Daniel, has a strong personality.  The youngest, Tyler, is going through the stage of not sharing.  My middle son, Matthew, is the one who fusses about food.He would eat mozzarella sticks or chicken nuggets everyday of the week if allowed.  It’s ironic because he won’t try a breaded chicken cutlet because he says, “I don’t like that kind of chicken.”

Too-Pickley-coverMy wonderful wife, Michelle, who is also a fabulous teacher, was aware of a book to read to the boys, which might encourage Matthew to try other foods.  The book was Too Pickley by Jean Reidy.  Coincidentally, during writing workshop that day, my class was talking about being more descriptive with their word choices.  When I heard Jean Reidy’s choice of words, I knew it would be perfect for my class. I always love when a picture book can be used in the classroom to model or enhance a concept or skill.  For instance, I have used If You Give A Pig A Pancake by Laura Numeroff to help with cause and effect.  The books I Wanna Iguana and I Wanna New Room by Karen Kaufman Orloff have been used to help teach persuasive writing.  Was this another picture book I could use to help the class?  Time would tell!

Jean Reidy Class VisitThe next day I read Too Pickley to my class.  The students loved the book.  It wasn’t only the rhyming and descriptive use of words, but the magnificent illustrations that made the class ask to read it again.  I decided to go to the library and get Too Purpley and Too Princessy.  Our class was also working on generating ideas for writing while enhancing their word choice.  The books in this series were perfect picture books to use in the class to help the students understand these skills,   Jean Reidy does an outstanding job with her word choices.  As a class, we then looked at the background information on each book as we explored her website.  We were trying to see if we could find out where Jean Reidy generated the ideas for her books.  We discovered the books were about people she knew…the people in her life!  This is a conversation that is continuously woven throughout our writing workshops as students are working to find inspiration for their own writing ideas.  Her books made everything real for my students.  They understood that they could look to the people in their lives for story ideas.

ReidySkypeTo cap it off, Jean Reidy made a virtual visit to our class through Skype.  She discussed where she got her ideas for writing, read a book to the class, and even took time for questions.  Matthew is still “too pickley,” but thanks to him, my class was able to use Jean Reidy’s books in class, meet Ms. Reidy, and enhance our knowledge of writing through real life experiences!

Kevin McCann is a third grade teacher at John F. Kennedy Elementary School in South Plainfield, New Jersey.  He received his B.S. from Rutgers University.  He also has his M.S. in Educational Leadership from Scranton University.  Besides teaching he is also involved in coaching on various levels.  Kevin coaches middle school cross-country and high school wrestling.  In 2008, he was the Governor’s Teacher Recognition/Educational Services Professionals Program Recipient.  Kevin was also named the State Coach of the Year for wrestling in 2005 and 2010. During his free time, Kevin enjoys music, running, lifting, and hanging on the beach with a good book.  He currently resides in Bridgewater, New Jersey with his wife Michelle and their three boys Daniel, Matthew, and Tyler. 


Interested in a virtual visit?

Check out my Time Out for Teachers page!












2 Responses to “When Being “Too Pickley” Was “Just Right””

  1. Sue@betwixthomeandschool

    Wow! That’s a fantastic review of your book from Kevin. When I taught descriptive writing in first grade I used the same exact books as Kevin. His recommendation of your book has encouraged me to run out and purchase it to share in my college courses I’m teaching, currently! Thanks for sharing this post today.

    • jean

      Thanks, Sue! Yes, Kevin is a great teacher. For more ideas, you may want to take a look at my other “Tuesdays for Teachers” posts. They’re filled with truly creative ways to use picture books in the classroom and tied to the curriculum. And they’re developed by awesome teachers like Kevin. Lot of fun!