Saturday, December 19, 2015

Super Cool (free) Bookmarks and #BestBookEver!

My students had a lot of fun coloring these bookmarks, which I found at Dawn Nicole Designs.  She has a lot of great coloring pages and a variety of bookmarks.  My kids colored these, put their names on the back, and then I laminated them for them so they'd last.   Special thanks to Dawn Nicole for making them free. Teachers with lots of students love free!
I had an ulterior motive.  With  72 students, I'm usually finding a book a day, laying on a counter or in a desk, and I just don't remember who's reading which book on which day.  With names on the bookmarks, TA DA!  Here you go, kiddo, you left your book in my room!

My kids were taking a looooonnnng unit test (can you say five days worth?  A little nuts, but that's another story) so this was a fun diversion when they took a break from that.

When I started reading this book to one of my classes, we needed to have a discussion about some of the ugly language in the book.  I'm not one to shy away from tough topics, but I wanted students to understand the language of racism, and not to be surprised when I read words that we consider highly offensive today.  Here's the Booklist review:

Gr. 4-8. Based on the author's experience as a white child of an FBI agent who was sent to Jackson, Mississippi, in 1964 to support the fight for civil rights, this first novel brings the terrifying racism close-up: the name-calling (including the n-word), the cruel segregation, the Klan violence. Alice ("Yankee Girl") Moxley, the new girl in school, is desperate to be accepted, but she knows how much worse it is for her classmate Valerie, the only black student. Introducing each chapter, newspaper headlines chart the political struggle, but the honesty of Alice's narrative moves this beyond docu-novel. She's much more concerned with the Beatles and clothes than with politics--but the racism is always there. She admires a classmate who challenges the in-crowd, but Alice is not a noble freedom fighter; she likes Valerie and talks to her, but only when no one else is around. The real tension is whether Alice can move from being bystander to standing up for what she believes. Rodman shows how hard it is. 

My students were transfixed throughout most of the reading of this book.  There were places where I needed to give them some background information - certainly at the start, but also about the Beatles, who are referenced a number of times.  

When we got to the last page, they sat there, in stunned silence.  Then, one student asked, "Wait, is that the end?"  (Yup.) Another asked, "Is there a sequel to this book?" (Nope.)  I asked what they thought happened next, and we had a lively discussion about what Alice Ann's life might have looked at beyond this point.

And then, as students were getting up, two boys, with no prior planning, stood up and both exclaimed, "HASHTAG, BEST BOOK EVER!"

I have to agree.



Sunday, December 6, 2015

Bookopolis website and fun Christmas/Winter writing!

We hit the ground running on Tuesday, when students came back from Thanksgiving break.  At the end of the week, after students had finished a quiz, I introduced them to this new website I thought they might enjoy.


Bookopolis is a safe, kid-friendly (grades 1-8) site. where kids can review books, read other kids' reviews, and earn badges that they can show off on their page.  It's sort of like Goodreads for the younger set.

My students had a blast!  Within minutes of us talking about what constituted a "good review" - they were off and running on laptops and iPads.

The kids laughed when I explained that this was the new "me."  The "me" that they like to go to when they want a new book to read and don't feel like pulling out the "Books I Want to Read" list that they keep in their binder.  And this one is way cooler and much younger!  I love helping them find good-fit books, but sometimes I'm busy with another student (or five!) and this is a great place to read reviews about tons of books, written by kids their age.

During our "Daily 3" time, I gave students a chance to have fun with some Christmas and Winter story starters.  I hadn't finished them in time to print on cardstock and laminate, so I put them on my Activboard and let those students who were working on writing come up and go to the one they wanted.  These girls were looking through and laughing at some of the choices before they started.  
Each sentence starts out the same way:  I knew it wasn't going to be an ordinary day when.....  There are ten that have a Christmas theme, another 18 that have a Winter theme, and I added four sheets of Winter-themed writing paper.  Check them out at either my TpT or TN stores!

Have a great Sunday,