Monday, October 12, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I'm linking up with two blogs: Jen at Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee at Unleashing Readers to share books that I've finished this past week.  

For the past few weeks, while I've been working with some students around comprehension issues during out WIN time, the rest of the students on our team have been reading about water.  They've read expository text about the water cycle, unequal access to water around the globe, and the cleanliness of water.  They've analyzed water around the United States, watched a short video about accessing water in third world countries, determined what they would do for their town if their water source was compromised, and even done math computations around, you guessed it, water.

So when, quite by accident, I saw that Linda Sue Park had written this book, I knew I needed to buy it.  Park has outdone herself again.  She takes two children living in South Sudan about twenty years apart, and weaves their stories back and forth in a way that makes this book hard to put down.  Nya, the girl who walks four hours twice a day to bring water for her family (does it make sense why she can't go to school?!) is made up from stories Park heard.  Salva, the boy who runs away when his village is attacked and becomes one of the "Lost Boys of Sudan" is real.  I won't tell you how his story intertwines with Nya's because that would give too much away, but let me tell you that I was tearing up at the end of the book.

I understand why Rick Riordan has such a strong fan base in the preteen crowd, and I'm very impressed with how excited students are about Greek mythology because of reading his books.  When I sat down to read Magnus Chase, what struck me the most was the humor.  The chapter titles alone will make you chuckle!  Now mind you, I only got to chapter 9 before the book got taken from me by a very eager student, but I hope to finish it some time soon.

What have you been reading?  If you haven't had much time to read, stop over at these two blogs to read reviews from other teachers and librarians.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

What was the name of that book I wanted to read?

I'm linking up with Joanne over at Head Over Heels for Teaching because her blog post got me thinking about what I do to get kids excited about reading.  Take a look at her post because it's chock full of good ideas!

One of my favorite things to do is help match kids up with good books.  I talk about books a lot and in a lot of different ways.  Sometimes I haven't read the book but I'm familiar with the author, so I make that connection, or connect to another book I know the kids are familiar with.  Sometimes I talk about the topic and connect to things students are familiar with, or the similarities between the new book and one they know.  Sometimes I read the first few lines (or paragraphs) in the book because I know that will grab the students.  And sometimes, I pretend to be the main character and talk about what's going on in my life.

Kids get jazzed up about books when you're excited about them.  But, since I talk about books a lot, I don't always remember which ones students are referring to when they say something like this.  "Do you remember that book you were talking about two weeks ago.  You know, the really good one!"  (Blank look on my face.) So I ask, "Do you remember the title, or the author, or what it was about?"  "No, I just remember that it sounded really good and like I'd want to read it."


Enter my solution.  Is it fancy?  Nope.  Kids keep it in their binders and whenever we talk about books, they take it out and write down the necessary information.  And then, when they ask me for help in picking a new book, we start here.  If you'd like a copy of these, you can find it here.

It's a Win-Win!  And who doesn't like that?!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Linking up with Five for Friday

I keep trying to link up with DoodleBugs Teaching, but somehow Fridays just get by me. The best-laid plans.....Yup.  You understand.

This is the coolest stack of books EVER!  Wanna know why?  Because two people who didn't know what to do with their gift cards to Barnes&Noble offered them to me!  I was like a kid at Christmas.  And the look on my students' faces when I showed them the books?  Priceless.
Worked with my students on how to prepare a top-notch response to an open-ended question.  Kids worked hard in groups to put together responses.  I was really pleased with the thought they put into not only citing evidence, but explaining why they picked that evidence as their example.

Now that they've worked on it together, they should have a good foundation for doing this on their own.

 Last week was Open House and I got to meet a lot of our team's parents.  I think they heard me when I explained why their students needed to read for 30 minutes every day.  I don't care whether they do it all in one sitting, or in smaller blocks.  Don't care what it looks like as long as it gets done.  Here's one of the slides I made for them based on the books kids read last year.

Scholastic is sponsoring two cool contests right now.  The first one has kids write an original myth about something in nature.  About a third of my students have decided to enter.  Rick Riordan, of Percy Jackson fame, has done an excellent job of getting kids excited about mythology.  He and Scholastic have paired up for this one.

The second one is with Linda Sue Park, author of A Single Shard and A Long Walk to Water, among others.  She challenges kids to write a a great first sentence.  She will take the winning entry and create a short story from that sentence.  How cool is that?!
Last weekend I participated in a "Walk Out of the Darkness" for a good friend whose daughter took her life last March.  It was both humbling and wonderful to surround her in this way.  At one point, I linked arms with her, and then, just like that, we all linked arms.  Someone behind us took this picture.  These women have been my friends for more than 30 years and I'd walk to the ends of the earth with them.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!