Monday, March 31, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 3.31.14

This weekly post comes from Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers.  It's a great source to find new books to use with your students.

Yea for Spring Break reading!  I've had PILES of books to get through!  And although I didn't read everything in those piles, a dent was made!

I read so many picture books this week.  I'll discuss the ones that were real standouts.  If you would like to see all the picture books I read be sure to click on my GoodReads link on the sidebar!

Picture Books

Some Bugs
Some Bugs by Angela DiTerlizzi
5/5 stars
(review featured HERE)

Baseball Is . . .
Baseball Is... by Louise Borden
5/5 stars
This book was a fantastic find.  I was so impressed with the writing that I moved it right up to my list of mentor texts.  The vocabulary is so rich and well organized.  The amount of content in this picture book is impressive.  

Say Hello Like This
Say Hello Like This! by Mary Murphy
4/5 stars
I really like this one for teaching adjectives, and thinking about the appropriate words to describe things.  My first thought was to use this book with very young readers, but I think you could use this with even an older class to help them understand specific word choice.  I like how the author describes how a cat's hello is "prissy and proud".  

EIEIO: How Old MacDonald Got His Farm with a Little Help From a Hen
EIEIO How Old MacDonald Got His Farm by Judy Sierra
4/5 stars
Very cute take on how Farmer MacDonald changes his city yard (he's tired of mowing it) into a compost growing organic farm... with a little help from one very smart little red hen!

Going Places
Going Places by Peter and Paul Reynolds
4/5 stars
Use to teach central message - thinking outside of the box is good!

2006 Geisel Award Challenge

Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa
Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa by Erica Silverman
3/5 stars

Amanda Pig and the Really Hot Day
Amanda Pig and the Really Hot Day by Jean Van Leeuwen
3/5 stars

A Splendid Friend, Indeed
A Splendid Friend, Indeed by Suzanne Bloom
4/5 stars

Henry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas (Henry and Mudge, #26)
Henry and Mudge and the Great-Grandpas by Cynthia Rylant (2006 Geisel Award winner)
5/5 stars

Waiting for Hi, Fly Guy!, it's on hold for me at the library!

Informational Texts

The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life
The Scraps Book by Lois Ehlert
5/5 stars
Beautiful book narrated by Ehlert showing readers her inspirations for her artwork from her books, how she creates the art, how she works.  Seeing the personal artifacts that helped create her artwork is very touching.  This would be a perfect companion book to read to a class after they did an author study of her picture books.  I think students would really get into seeing the beginning stages of some of her books!

Sea Turtle Scientist
Sea Turtle Scientist by Stephen R. Swinburne
5/5 stars
I will have to feature this series in another post.  So much to write about!  I learned so much more about these fascinating creatures in this text.

I am Abraham Lincoln
I Am Abraham Lincoln by Brad Meltzer
3/5 stars
Good introduction to Abraham Lincoln's life to very young readers.  Written in narrative format.  


Firefly July and Other Very Short Poems
Firefly July poems selected by Paul B. Janeczko
4/5 stars
Poems that are very accessible for young readers, all centered and organized around the seasons.  Variety of poets, but all illustrated by Melissa Sweet.

Early Chapter Books

Like Bug Juice on a Burger (Eleanor, #2)
Like Bug Juice on a Burger by Julie Sternberg
4/5 stars
I really like this series for young readers.  The titles are always very clever and make me laugh.  The main character, Eleanor, goes through similar things kids go through everyday which makes the reader relate to her.  In this book, Eleanor is off to sleep-over summer camp for the first time.  After a rough start, things get better!
This is the second book in the series of three.  While there are small references from the first book, you don't have to read the books in order.

Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake (Eleanor, #3)
Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake by Julie Sternberg
5/5 stars 
My Goodreads summary:  This is the third book in the series, and probably my favorite. I love Eleanor. She is spunky, yet kind. She speaks her mind, but thinks of others. Sternberg has done an excellent job making Eleanor real. She deals with real problems that kids face everyday. Matthew Cordell's illustrations add to the story without being distracting for young chapter book readers. 
This third installment made me love Eleanor more. Eleanor's best friend is Pearl. We've seen her in the other 2 books and know they have a close relationship. In this book Ainsley moves in, and the best friends have to face the test so many friendships go through - can a best friend of 2 go to best friends of 3? Amongst this test, Eleanor's dog is sent away to doggie training camp and Eleanor has to get over stage fright to perform in her class play. As if that's not enough for a fourth grader to deal with, Eleanor gets her first tasting of kids teasing her about a potential crush. 
This series is great for teachers to use when teaching writing. Eleanor and Pearl are prone to using similes, especially at the beginning of each book. And what a great hook in each book. Here's this book's - "I did a mean thing. A very mean thing. To a new girl AND to my best friend. I HATE that I did it. But I did. This is worse than carrot juice on a cupcake or a wasp on my pillow or a dress that's too tight at the neck. I hope you never do anything that mean. I really do." Love these hooks!
And this part is funny, because it's soooo true. "And then the boy who sits behind me, Nicholas Rigby, started humming the Disney song "It's a Small World." He hummed and hummed, just loud enough for me to hear. "Shh!" I told him. I turned and glared at him, too. Because Nicholas Rigby is always getting us in trouble. Plus, I knew I'd never get that song out of my head."

Middle Grade Books

Dangerous by Shannon Hale
4/5 stars
It seems like all the books written these days for middle grade/YA are dystopian society books.  Luckily, this one is something different - space.  I liked that it had a different concept and it wasn't until the end of the book that it got a little far fetched.  Maisie was a fun character.  Strong girl who faces life head on even with a physical disability (think the Schneider Award committee will be reading this one???)

Harriet the Spy (Harriet the Spy #1)
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
4/5 stars
I read this book with my daughter so we could participate in the Twitter #SharpSchu Book Club!  I read this book when I was a child and then now.  It was definitely two different reads.  I loved the book as a child.  I remember trying to emulate Harriet.  Now, I can't believe what a bully Harriet is and how unbelievable that she never understood how she did something wrong.  Thinking back on the younger me, I really hope I wasn't mean like that!  But, if I took a step back and think about Harriet and how her character inspired many writers, it takes on another meaning!

Every Day After
Every Day After by Laura Golden
5/5 stars
Fantastic historical fiction set place in the Depression-era.  Lizzie is a fantastic character, one that the reader bonds with and wants to climb in the book and help.  So many layers to this book as there are multiple problems that Lizzie has to overcome.

Odd, Weird & Little
Odd, Weird and Little by Patrick Jennings
2/5 stars
My Goodreads summary:  I really liked what this story wanted to tell.  It's about bullying and fitting in.  It's about being brave and being different.  I loved the idea of that story.  The author did a great job of capturing that middle grade voice.  The things the kids do and say happen at school.  It's that line kids cross all the time - being that secretive bully - the one where what you're doing is mean and hurtful but doesn't cross the line of getting suspended or expelled.  Some kids think it's a right of passage, and they are allowed to cut other kids down like that.  But it's not ok.  And it shouldn't be tolerated.  So great idea to the story, but I wish the author had stayed on the realistic fiction side of the story.... It made it seem ridiculous. 

Continuing to Read

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin
Rump by Liesl Shurtliff

Rethinking Intervention: Supporting Struggling Readers and Writers in Grades 3-6 Classrooms
Rethinking Intervention by Shari Frost

Reading with my ears....

Sky Raiders (Five Kingdoms, #1)
Sky Raiders by Brandon Mull
As I've mentioned, this is the first book I've listened to on CD.  It's nice getting a book "read" during a time I don't normally read.  But, it is harder for me to listen to a book than read it.  This is proving I am definitely a visual learner!  There are times I miss something and I can't just flip back a page or go back a paragraph to see where my comprehension broke down.  It's good to stretch ourselves though, try something new!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Celebrate This Week 3.29.14

It's always good to end the week on a positive note.  Sometimes we concentrate on the negatives.  We have a choice.  Choose positive.  Choose to celebrate.  I will be joining Ruth Ayres and her weekly link-up, Celebrate This Week.  Check out all the other celebrations HERE

It's always hard coming off a week of vacation.  No matter how much I love what I do, I do love being home too!  Of course it helps having so much time to do that other thing I love - read!
So here are some Spring Break Celebrations:

Celebration #1 - Time to read.  We didn't go anywhere (boo) and the weather was not conducive to spending time outside (boo again) so there was lots of reading time!  See my Monday IMWAYR post!

Celebration #2 - Good swim week.  My daughter was back to a regular routine of swimming this week and the time off seemed to help.  She worked really hard this week and seemed to have some speedier times.

Celebration #3 - Good dental visit this week.  I really don't like going to the dentist, so I'll celebrate 6 more months before I have to go again!  And we're still not being sent to the orthodontist, I'll take the extra time!

Celebration #4 - I got my daughter all signed up for her Classification meet in Colorado Springs this summer.  She will be classified as a disabled swimmer which will help her at home so she won't be DQed for things she physically has no control over with her leg.  She will also be able to swim in paralympic events after this.  The coolest part is she'll be swimming at the US Olympic Training Plaza.  So cool.

Celebration #5 - My daughter and I started reading RJ Palacio's Wonder over break.  I'm reading it to her so we can stop and discuss it.  It's interesting listening to her thoughts since she's had similar experiences to Auggie.  She talked about how she hates that everyone always stares at her shoe lift and she does the same thing as Auggie - she's aware but she keeps walking.

Celebration #6 - This might have been the best comment from my daughter this week.  We participated in #SharpSchu book club this past Tuesday evening.  We both read the book Harriet the Spy and my daughter was very excited to participate in her first Twitter chat.  She loved typing her responses and she got a huge kick out of people favoriting her comments.  She felt so popular!  But her best comment was when she said, "I loved talking to other people about the book.  It was better than just talking to you about it."  Thanks......

Have a great week!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday 3.26.14

NF PB 2014

We know that a big part of the CCSS is to include more informational texts into our students' reading.  I quickly discovered I had a "gap" in my reading diet - the genre of informational texts!  To help me fill the gap this year, I am going to participate in Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesdays!  This is a great link-up hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy.  Please visit this website to see other educator's link-ups.  My goal is to read at least one informational text each week and post information on the blog.  The more books and subjects I read, the more I can encourage (my #OLW for 2014) other teachers to use in their classroom! 

This week I read a fantastic picture book for young readers, Some Bugs by Angela DiTerlizzi.  I was so impressed with it.  In its very simple language, young readers can gain so much information about bugs.  I love DiTerlizzi's use of verbs on each page.  I can see students looking at the organization of the text.  How did the author organize it (how bugs move, what they do, how they sound)?  What verbs/actions go together?  What did you learn about bugs?  I also loved the "index" at the end with illustrator, Brendan Wenzel's, pictures and labels.  I think young students will pour over the illustrations and accessible text, while teachers will have days of lessons to go along with this fantastic spring book.  It's a must have for me!

Some Bugs

Monday, March 24, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 3.24.14

This weekly post comes from Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers.  It's a great source to find new books to use with your students.

It was kind of a slow reading week for me.  I read a bit each day, but not a whole lot was actually finished.  This week will be my reading week since I'm on Spring Break!  I have no real plans, other than to get through as many books as possible!
This week I was busy trying to put a unit on friendship together for our first grade team.  It's actually a unit we'll do early in the year next year, but we're going to try it out on our current first graders.  I had a few stand-by favorites that I knew I wanted to use, but drew a blank on old favorites.  I turned to some Nerdy friends and they came through within hours!  The friendship books I read are thanks to them!

Picture Books

The Invisible Boy
The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
5/5 stars 
This book has been on my TBR list since early January.  I finally got around to it this past week.  Wow.  Just an amazing book.  Because it needs to be told.  We all have someone who feels like the Invisible Boy in our classes.  We've probably felt like the Invisible One before.  Empathy for each other really needs to be taught and emphasized in our schools.  I assume that it is taught, that the idea of inclusion, and community is expected at all schools.  But as I found out this year, it isn't.  We can't assume.  We need to teach.  Not only does this book have a beautiful message, the illustrations are equally touching.  The back of the book has wonderful questions for specific pages that children and classes can discuss.  If you haven't already, put this book on your must read list.

Other friendship theme books:

Oliver by Birgitta Sif

Ten Things I Love About You
Ten Things I Love About You by Daniel Kirk

When Blue Met Egg
When Blue Met Egg by Lindsay Ward

Each Kindness
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson

Hello, My Name Is Ruby
Hello My Name is Ruby by Philip C. Stead

And Still Reading.....

Harriet the Spy (Harriet the Spy #1)
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
This is our Mother/Daughter book club selection.  We're getting ready for #SharpSchu book club this Tuesday!

Dangerous by Shannon Hale
I like it so far.  It's nice to read a YA book that has adventure in it, yet it's not a dystopian novel!

And Reading with our Ears
We're trying this out for the first time... I'm not one to listen to a book.  I love holding a book in my hands and I'm also a visual learner.  When we're in the car, my daughter loves to read.  I would get sick!  But she does the majority of her reading in the car.  But we're trying something new by listening to a book.  It's funny to look back at her.  She doesn't know what to do with her hands!  We'll see how it goes.  We're still in the beginning stages.

Sky Raiders (Five Kingdoms, #1)
Five Kingdoms:  Sky Raiders by Brandon Mull

What are you reading?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

My Spring Break Must Dos

It's Spring Break!  Yea!  I have no plans other than to get a lot of reading done.  I have a huge pile of books that I have bought or pre-ordered in the past few weeks that are here and begging to be read.  I have 50 books checked out from the library (yes, that's the maximum!).  Will I get everything done?  Not a chance.  But there are some things that I consider are "must-dos".
Have you ever gone to Walt Disney World and stayed on property?  If you have, then you've seen the Disney "Must-Do" lady.  She's been doing this little segment that plays every time you turn a TV on in your resort room.  I know I've been seeing her segments for at least eight years, probably more.  She shows all the "must-dos" at each Disney Park and some of the other places, like Downtown Disney and the water parks.  It's cute.  Unless you've seen it waaaaaaaay too many times like me.  By the end of a vacation, you're done with the must-dos.  But no worries, she'll still be there the next time you go!
Well, taking a tip from her, I'm going to list my Spring Break must-dos.  Check back next week and see how I did!

My professional literature Must-Do

Rethinking Intervention: Supporting Struggling Readers and Writers in Grades 3-6 Classrooms
Rethinking Intervention by Shari Frost  (started, just didn't finish)
This has been on the pile for awhile.  It's an area I need to be thinking about immediately so it's a must-do!

My YA Must-Do

Insurgent (Divergent, #2)
Insurgent by Veronica Roth (nope.  Never started)
Read Divergent
See Divergent movie
Read sequel

My Middle Grade Must-Do

finish Dangerous by Shannon Hale read 3.25.14

Harriet the Spy (Harriet the Spy #1)
finish Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh read 3.25.14

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin
read Rump by Liesl Shurtliff
because if I don't Carrie Gelson said gnomes are coming after me... :)  I started it... That counts, right?  Have to have it done by next weekend because we're meeting the author!  Yea!

Every Day After
read Every Day After by Laura Golden  read 3.28.14
because I've had it checked out for weeks and it keeps getting pushed off!

Under the Egg
and if I'm really lucky read Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald (not a chance of getting to it over break.  It's on the top of the TBR pile!)

and finally, read all the Picture Books I have checked out from the library, which are too many to list here :)
I read 30 picture books!

Crossing my fingers!!!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Celebrate This Week 3.22.14

It's always good to end the week on a positive note.  Sometimes we concentrate on the negatives.  We have a choice.  Choose positive.  Choose to celebrate.  I will be joining Ruth Ayres and her weekly link-up, Celebrate This Week.  Check out all the other celebrations HERE

One of the best days of the year.  The day Spring Break starts!  I'm not going anywhere this Spring Break.  My husband says no... something about us just having gone on a cruise. And while I'm grateful for that, I'm not super grateful about our weather.  We're having weather that we've had over past Winter Breaks.  But I'm going to try and be grateful.  So, for that reason, I'm going to celebrate being able to be grateful for:

#1 I'm grateful that stores have spring clothes out, so even though I will freeze when I wear them, I'm going to pretend it's really spring time!

#2 I'm grateful that it is Spring Break!  Both teachers and students are ready for a little break, time to get recharged for those last few months!

#3 I'm grateful for comments like these, "Mrs. Knott, I just put the second and third Sasquatch book on my TBR list." and "I'll borrow that one {next Lunch Lady} after Spring Break, I have a lot of books already set for vacation." and from a colleague "I had to start a TBO list." me:  "What's that."  colleague "To Be Ordered".  

#4 I'm grateful that I can post a question on Twitter, and within an hour, I have 50 books checked out on my library card due to the answers.

#5 I'm grateful that I think my parents are going to watch my daughter so my husband and I can sneak out and see a movie.  Yea!

May spring find a way into your life, even if it's only in the clothes!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday 3.19.14

NF PB 2014

We know that a big part of the CCSS is to include more informational texts into our students' reading.  I quickly discovered I had a "gap" in my reading diet - the genre of informational texts!  To help me fill the gap this year, I am going to participate in Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesdays!  This is a great link-up hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy.  Please visit this website to see other educator's link-ups.  My goal is to read at least one informational text each week and post information on the blog.  The more books and subjects I read, the more I can encourage (my #OLW for 2014) other teachers to use in their classroom! 

I'm thinking positively... thinking spring!
And I'm stretching the nonfiction just a bit... the first book is nonfiction.  I'm suggesting taking the information learned in this book - write new learning down (maybe even putting the learning into groups) and then use that learning while reading the fiction books.  Even when reading fiction, all of these have information that go along with the informational text and can add to the students' learning.

Need some connections with NGSS?  Try these:
1st grade - Structure, Function and Information (how plants use external parts to help them grow, patterns that help plants survive, how plants are like their parents)
Kg - Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems (what plants need to survive, how plants change their environment to fit needs, plants needs and where they live)

Informational Text:

Weeds Find a Way
Weeds Find a Way by Cindy Jenson-Elliott
Use as the informational text - collect new learning and enjoy the beautiful language of the book and illustrations!

Fiction tie-ins:

Rooting for You
Rooting for You by Susan Hood
Great information about how a seed grows.  Students will love the illustrations and pages that open out and down!

If You Hold a Seed
If You Hold a Seed by Elly Mackay
Follows a seed as it grows from young sprout to a tree.

The Dandelion's Tale
The Dandelion's Tale by Kevin Sheehan
Lifecycle of a dandelion told in a sweet story.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Happy Novella Birthday!

Today is the "birthday" of the novella, "Unforseen" by Ridley Pearson, part of the Kingdom Keeper series!  Visit the Kingdom Keepers Inside page HERE to get your own copy of the novella.

Unforeseen - A Kingdom Keeper's Novella

I was sent an ARC digital copy of the novella and I'm about halfway through.  Just like the Kingdom Keeper books, I'm at the edge of my seat as I'm reading it, but because it's shorter than a novel, it seems like the action has been nonstop.  This makes it very hard to stop reading, but bedtime does call!

Here is the Goodreads summary:  Fairlies Amanda and Jess have won the hearts of Kingdom Keepers fans. Over the years, they’ve protected and supported the five Disney guides with their paranormal abilities. Now for the first time, author Ridley Pearson focuses on the “fairly human” girls, taking us inside Jess’s mind as she and Amanda embark on a journey to unravel her latest prophetic dream.

Jessica’s “gift” to dream of future events is both a blessing and a curse—the same visions that have saved countless lives are pure torment for her. Trapped in a body with a mind that has a mind of its own, Jess is condemned to see things she would often rather not. 

Picking up after Kingdom Keepers VI—Dark Passage and leading up toBook VII—The InsiderUnforeseen opens with Jess dreaming of “cracks” in Disneyland. Is this vision something that will consume and destroy her friends, the Kingdom Keepers? 

Jess sets out to find answers, embarking on her own nighttime adventure inside the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. There, she encounters an old man with secrets, a young Imagineer-in-training whose future Jess wants to see, and a treasured wonderland about to shatter. 

Sometimes, the Unforeseen is better left unknown.

I've enjoyed the Kingdom Keepers books that I've read and I'm looking forward to reading more in this series.  I think Pearson has done a better job tightening up the details in these stories as the series has gone on.  I am enjoying this story as it concentrates on the fairlie sisters, Jess and Amanda.  It's been nice learning more about them.

I will post my final update here once I complete the novella and on my Goodreads page.

I finished the novella and it was one wild ride!  I'll be honest, I think I missed a lot of little things because I was trying to read through it so quickly to find out what happens.  There are no chapters, it's just one continuous story.  And once the action starts, it doesn't end, so there is never a good place to stop and catch your breath.  As a result, I'm not sure I completely understood the ending.  I'll need to go back and reread to be sure.  If I caught it right, I don't think I like what it's foreshadowing.
I liked reading this book that concentrated on Amanda and Jess.  It was nice just staying up with 2 of them instead of 5 or more!  
There are references to New Fantasyland in this book and the new rides.  I like that Pearson is keeping up with Disney changes!  As I mentioned before, I think Pearson's writing has gotten tighter in each book.  In the first book there were so many holes and inaccuracies, you had to suspend more belief than just the fact that the dolls from it's a small world come to life (I always thought they were more creepy than cute).
I also liked how the girls interact with Belle.  I have not read all of the KK books (although I own all of them!) and I have not seen them interact with as many "good" characters as "evil"/Overtakers characters.
Fans of the KK series will not be disappointed.  I think there will be even more people who want to see more of the fairlie sisters!