Monday, March 26, 2012

It's Monday! What are you Reading? 3/26/12

It's Monday! What are you Reading? From Picture books to YA is a meme hosted by Jen and Kellee at TeachMentorTexts. Hop on over to their blog to see what others are reading this week!  

Here are the books I read this week:

Here are the books I am working on:

I am reading Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu, and listening to the audiobook of The Touble with May Amelia by Jennifer L. Holm. This is Holm's follow up novel to Our Only May Amelia, which I have not yet read. However, from what I can tell, you do not necessarily need to read one before the other. Breadcrumbs would make and excellent read aloud from what I can tell. A mixture of realistic fiction and fantasy.

Both books that I am currently reading are very good so far, but I will tell you more about them when I finish!

What reading adventures did you take this past week, and which ones will you venture into next?


Friday, March 23, 2012

New Discovery: Pic Lit!

This week, my kids used a really cool site I discovered (thanks to Twitter)! The site is called Pic Lit. There, you can search a wide variety of inspirational photos and create sentences (or paragraphs) that appear right on top of the photos. What I really like is there are two ways of doing this:

1) A drag and drop with provided words for those writers who need some inspiration


2) A freestyle for writing virtually anything

Since this was the first time my kids had used the site, I just had them write what came to their minds when they say the picture. Here are some of the results:

I told them not to worry about spelling or capitalization this time, so excuse our errors. I just wanted them to be inspired. As I have thought more about this site, I feel like there are TONS of possible uses in the classroom. Some of these include:

  • writing a full poem with the picture as a background
  • collecting favorite book quotes and writing them into pictures that match
  • writing sentences using sensory and figurative language
  • writing sentences about "life" and life lessons
  • writing themes of books

I needed to create a log in, and then I used our class name as the "Pen Name." When the kids log in, they log in as me, but they are all able to log on simultaneously. There isn't a print feature, so you can have them email you the pictures and then copy and paste the images into word if you want to print them. I use a program called MSWSnap to take pictures of them from the site and then save them. Do what works best for you. 

How do you think you might use Pic Lit in your classroom?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Great Twitter Chat!

My teacher buddy, David Etkin, shared something marvelous on Twitter the other day: 

Reading Partnerships

I was so intrigued by the idea, that together we cooked up the idea of a Twitter chat to discuss this innovative teaching tool. We came up with the hashtag #RdgPartners and jumped right in! 

Click here to see the Google document archive of our first ever #RdgPartners chat!

It's Monday! What are you Reading?3/1912

It's Monday! What are you Reading? From Picture books to YA is a meme hosted by Jen and Kellee at TeachMentorTexts. Hop on over to their blog to see what others are reading this week!

The picture books: 
The Lion's Share
The Lion's Share: A Tale of Cake and Eating It, Too by Matthew McElligott
Memiors of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian and Illustrated by Tim Bowers

Chapter Book:

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt is a follow-up novel (or in his words "a companion novel") to The Wednesday Wars. Both books take place during the Vietnam War, but feature different main characters. (One does not necessarily have to have read one before the other, but it helps for some background on Okay for Now's main character.) In this novel, the main character is Doug Swieteck. You may remember him as Holling's ill-mannered, trouble making (can we call him a friend?) classmate. Holling makes a cameo in the beginning, but shortly thereafter Doug and his family relocate to a new town.  What I really loved about this novel was the inside view we get of Doug's home life. Let's just say it is far from desirable and, in my opinion, it really makes Holling's life seem like a walk in the park. The story moves through Doug's first year in a new town, a new school, and even a new job. As you can imagine, it is not an easy acclimation. But, by the end of chapter one, you will come over to (and stay on) Doug's team.

Where The Wednesday Wars made references to Shakespeare, Okay for Now revolves around several paintings by John James Audubon. I have to admit, I think I liked it more than its predecessor. Schmidt tugs at your heartstrings (and your funny bone) throughout the novel. I think students will enjoy this as a read aloud, although it may be more appropriate for grades six and up.

Watch this video to hear Gary D. Schmidt talking more about Okay for Now

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Update and Pinterest Finds

Hello bloggy world! My grad class just got a whole lot more involved, so... much of my free time has been devoted to that. I will still post as often as I can, but it may only be about once a week. I've been doing a lot of reading in addition to a LOT of school work, so stay tuned for a post about that tomorrow.

I want to say a big thank you to all of my new followers! I am so excited to be inching close to 100, and flattered that you all think enough of my blog to join!

In the meantime, I thought I would share some fun things I found on Pinterest that you all might enjoy!

Already use these but lost the website. Thanks, Pinterest!
 This site has writing prompts grouped by month. There is one for each day of each month, so you never run out! I already use these in my room and I like them a lot. I give the kids a choice of using the prompt or writing a free-write. 

This is a great homework idea from the author of "Conferring: The Keystone to Reader's Workshop." I am going to suggest this to my reading/writing counterparts next year. 

Students can't interrupt reading groups when the light is on! Great visual reminder! 
This is a great management idea from the Lesson Plan Diva. Use this touch light when you are working with small groups or having reading/writing conferences to let students know you don't want to be disturbed. Definitely implementing this ASAP!

Reader's Notebooks 
A great (and more organized ) to keep a reader's notebook (or in my case, a response journal) from Word from the Corner's blog. Next year, we are going to set these up at the very beginning. I may tweak it a bit, adding my own creations to them. 

And finally....
Fluency Study 
This is a fluency study that Life in 4B did with her fourth graders. I love the idea of teaching fluency this way to intermediate students. It's not just about reading fast! I proposed the idea of doing the "Interpretive Reading Contest" at our school, with the winner for the whole school reading aloud on our morning announcement for World Read Aloud Day next year. I can't wait!

There you have it! I hope you like these ideas as much as I do! Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Monday, March 12, 2012

It's Monday, What are YOU Reading? 3/12/12

Check out the Picture Books and YA novels others are reading at TeachMentorTexts
Here are the picture books I read this week:

The Girl Who Spun Gold
By Virginia Hamilton
Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match
(A Bilingual Picture Book)
by Monica Brown
Freedom School, Yes!
By Amy Littlesugar

The Faithful Friend
by Robert D. San Souci
Big Jabe
by Jerdine Nolen
George Washington's Birthday
by Margaret McNamara

The novel I read this week was The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. This is a Young Adult novel (which you will realize pretty immediately). The Fault in Our Stars was spectacular, to say the least. It is a funny, tear-jerkingly real and raw story about teenagers living with cancer. The main character, Hazel Grace, will grasp your attention immediately and hold it well beyond the last page of the book. Her friend, August, will do the same. This is a story that will be with me for a long time to come. 

Here's the trailer:

Annnnnd a really wonderful song inspired by the book (using quotes from the book, but no spoilers!)

I am about half way through Okay for Now  by Gary D. Schmidt (author of The Wednesday Wars) and will continue working on it this week. 

What great books did you read/ are you planning on reading?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Week in Reveiw 3/5-3/9

This was a GREAT week in 5th grade!

First of all, we celebrated World Read Aloud Day with a VERY special guest: Katherine Applegate, author of our current read aloud The One and Only Ivan. (I will be devoting an entire post to this experience because that is what it will take to sufficiently explain how utterly awesome it was.) She honored us with two sessions (one for each class) of reading aloud from the book and talking about being an author. It was wonderful!

We are STILL working on our persuasive essays regarding the right to chew gum in school. I have learned that, despite my immense fear of them, writing conferences are more useful than simply editing the work for my students. Turns out what I thought was easier, is actually MUCH harder. Also, what will they learn it I am doing all of the editing and they are just copying my corrections. Lesson learned. I really did enjoy sitting down with my students, listening to them read their work out loud and then say things like: "Oh! I don't like how that sounds. I am going to change it to..." Yes, the process is taking longer, but it is much more meaningful for them. Plus, they are doing all of the work as I guide them through it, instead of me doing it all for them. Wish I had caught on sooner!

Because the kids are so engaged with our read aloud, I have begun to also use it as a teaching tool. I do not teach a lesson WHILE reading aloud, we just enjoy the book during that time. Instead, I pull past excerpts to help with my instruction. Why pull in an additional text when the kids are already familiar with one that will do the same job? This week's lessons revolved around figurative language, which any good novel is chock full of.

That's it for now. More posts on what I've been reading this week and WRAD coming soon!

Monday, March 5, 2012

It's Monday, What Are YOU Reading? 3/5/12

This week I am sharing two weeks worth of reading. I was very busy last week and did not gt around to posting (sorry!).

I have been reading a LOT of picture books. Both in my search for quality picture gooks for middle grade students, as well as in my attempt to accomplish the Caldecott Challenge. Here are the ones I have read over the past two weeks:

I also read two chapter books:

Inside Out and Back Again is the story of a Vietnamese family's journey to America as refugees from the Vietnam War. It tells the story of their highs and lows as they adjust to the way of life in the United States, through verse and the eyes of a young girl. Based on the author's own experience, Inside Out and Back Again is a wonderfully written story about strength, courage, and finding your place in a new world. 

Bigger Than a Bread Box by Laurel Snyder (a favorite Twitter author of mine) is the story of 12 year old Rebecca and her family coming to terms with looming possibility of divorce. When Rebecca's mother decides to pack up the kids and head for her home state of Atlanta, Rebecca is understandably resentful. She spends her first day sulking in the attic of her grandmother's house. There, she discovers a collection of bread boxes, but one in particular catches her eye. It isn't until later that she discovers it has the power to grant long as they aren't bigger than a bread box. Rebecca also learns that for every wish you make, there is a consequence. I loved this book because of its realness, but also its qualities of mystery and fantasy. The kids are already lined up to read it!