Sunday, January 29, 2012

It's Monday! What are you reading?

I’m joining Jen & Kellee (and many other bloggers) in discussing what we are reading this week. Join us! Go to their site and link up your own blog.

Ugh. Ugh, Ugh, Ugh. I just didn’t read a lot this week. I mean, I read some but not my normal amount. Which, by looking at my bookshelves, I really need to step up my reading, not decrease! I have so many books I haven’t brought to school yet it is insane.

So what happened? Well, I can tell you – I met John and Hank Green. Not really, I mean I met them through the Internet. See, I’m a bit compulsive. When I “meet” a new author and love their writing, I am then driven to learn all I can:

What else have they written? Do they have a blog? What are they like?

So, after reading (and obsessing) The Fault In Our Stars last weekend, I looked John Green up. Holy Moses – what the heck is Brotherhood 2.0? Vlogbrothers? And then my free time went down the tube, YouTube that is. Hours of hilarity ensued but my husband began to wonder if I was going to jump on I-74, drive two hours east, and begin stalking John Green.

Not necessary. Chris and his brother, Andrew, are eerily similar to John and his brother, Hank.

At any rate, if you have spare hours on your hands, I highly recommend their videos – but only if you don’t have a lot of reading to do.

So, what did I read this week?

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate *
999 Tadpoles by Ken Kimura
Tony Baloney by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Nothing Like a Puffin by Sue Soltis
Owly  Wormy, Friends All Aflutter by Andy Runton

* indicates my favorite reading of the week

I’m currently ½ way done with 100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson (great so far!) and since my boys and husband are watching WWE pay-per-view, I figure I still have an hour of reading time to go. (Unless I am drawn back to the evil awesomeness that is Vlogbrothers).

And, you might have noticed what I DIDN’T read. That’s right; The Dark Frigate is still sitting on my dining room table. I’m having a hard time wanting to pick that up. But, what would you do?

Or ANY of these which are all sitting by my bed right now to begin after 100 Cupboards.


Really, it is becoming increasingly difficult to pick up. Well, I’ll let you know next Monday how that plays out, but it isn’t looking good. Have a great reading week everyone! 

Saturday, January 28, 2012


I don't even know how to properly write about this book, much less talk about it. That being said, I decided to create a vlog. Not sure what I was thinking - maybe it kind-of fits considering John and his brother Hank vlog weekly? After trying many takes I can safely say I won't be doing this often. Much easier to just teach. But had to share my love of this book. Check it out. (And WOW am I looking good there. Love the way you freeze.)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Reflecting on Award Season - Slice of Life

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers

So as many of you in the field of education or in the world of books know, yesterday was a pretty big day. I might not know which teams are going to the Super Bowl but I do know that today was the ALA awards. As you might have guessed from reading a few posts on this blog, I was pretty excited. But, until today, I didn’t realize how invested I truly was.

Arriving to school I rushed to my classroom to log on to the live feed. My student teacher, Jackie, and I watched the first few awards come in. I cheered for a few, showed Jackie where those books were in my classroom library, and gave some impromptu book talks. Then the students strolled in. Quickly they figured out what was going on and a group gathered in front of our Promethean board to watch before we had to switch classes. Then, darn it, I had to work. I tested students for their fluency benchmark all morning long. Between students I’d check Twitter. The Caldecott was announced, I knew all four books, had just read the medal winner yesterday. Then, the Newbery. I had read Inside Out and Back Again, I had heard of Dead End in Norfleet but I hadn’t read it yet. Hadn’t even heard of Breaking Stalin’s Nose. Honestly, I saw those titles and my first reaction was a letdown. There were so many books I LOVED this year – where were they? My feelings were like a roller coaster rolling between letdown, angry, hurt, and more.

Then I began to process. First, I realized that what I always preach applies here too, not every book is for every reader. I LOVED Breadcrumbs by Ursu, my mom wasn’t a huge fan. (If you are reading this by some miracle, sorry Anne!) I thought it was a magical world, it wasn’t my mom’s cup of tea. Doesn’t mean it still isn’t an excellent fit – just not for my mom. And honestly, I haven’t read two of the Newbery’s yet – I might love them. I was just angry for my favorites (books and authors – to be honest, I was having a hard time separating the two.)

So my healing had begun. It fully swung around after reading Teri Lesesne’s blog post tonight. She said it better than I ever could. Just go here, read it, and come back. I’ll wait.

Read it? Isn’t she brilliant? And if you don’t follow her on Twitter, remedy that immediately. She’s @professornana on there and what a reference she is! Amazing. Anyway, I loved how she said what I was attempting to point out above. Not ever book is for every reader. But I bet I can find a reader for Dead End in Norfleet and that kid will love it just as much as I loved Laurel Snyder’s Bigger than a Bread Box. (And, while I’m handing out directives today, if you haven’t read that – remedy that as well.) So, was I a bit disappointed today, yep. But I now have several books I’ve added to my “to be read” pile. Not a bad thing. And for a while today, books dominated the “trending” list on Twitter. Happy Day! I congratulate all the winners and look forward to another year of racing through books to try and predict again. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

I’m joining Jen & Kellee (and many other bloggers) in discussing what we are reading this week. Join us! Go to their site and link up your own blog.

This week I am so happy I read everything I had “wanted” to read in last week’s post. I didn’t read as many books as last week, but with grad school starting up, I figured that would be the case.

Thinking Through Genre by Heather Lattimer
The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis *
The Fault in Our Stars The Fault in Our Stars by John Green *
Pirate Boy by Eve Bunting
E-mergency! By Tom Lichtenheld *
A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka
Mouse & Lion by Rand Burkert
No Two Alike by Keith Baker
The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle
The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man by Michael Chabon
Worst of Friends by Suzanne Tripp Jurmain
And.. #nerdbery number two...
 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting *

I placed an * by any book that really stood out for me.

This week I want to read the next in my #nerdbery list, The Dark Frigate. I want to leave the rest of my reading open just in case there are some books in this morning’s award announcements that I haven’t read yet. (Please, no!) Then I will be scrambling to read them. Oh, and my ever exciting text book for School Finance. Can’t wait to crack that one open. Let me know if you’d like to borrow it when I’m done. J

Have a wonderful week and happy ALA Announcement Day!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Monday is almost here!

Do you feel it? The excitement in the air? The anticipation of something wonderful? That’s right, it is almost here. Just two days from today they will announce the Caldecott and Newbery winners for 2012. I have dreamed, hoped, and read like a maniac but the day is upon us.

Last year was the first year I actively set out to try and read the winner before it was announced. I think I was a bit smug – you see the year before I had read the wonderful When You Reach Me and proceeded to tell anyone who would listen that it would win, psychic I tell you! So I read like a maniac in 2010 and had so many books that I would be happy to have win dancing around in my head. My students and I had discussed and were sure we were ready. That fateful day I glanced down at my Twitter feed and said, “Moon Over Manifest?” To which my students responded, “What’s that?” How let down I was, I was sure it was a perfectly fine book but I hadn’t even heard of it. What happened? (And I have read it since, it is a fine book but there are several I had LOVED and I can’t say that about MOM)

So this year, I read. I read and read and read. And I hope this isn’t jinxing the announcement, but here are the books I would love to see win. Not the ones I am confident in winning because last year shot that confidence right away from me – but if any of these books are announced on Monday morning, I will be a happy person.

My predictions:


Medal Winner: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. I LOVE this book. I fully realize the committee might decide it doesn’t qualify for one reason or another, but I ADORE it.

Honor Winners:


Medal Winner: Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell

Honor Winners:


And there you have it. Now, it’s time to wait. And in waiting I’ve read The Mighty Miss Malone and am just beginning The Fault in Our Stars. Not too shabby of a way to begin my new year of reading.

Will you be listening Monday morning or watching the live feed? Will your students be as well? I plan on it and as soon as I can rush home from school, I know I will be hurriedly typing out my thoughts here. And I find it amusing that I am nervous for my favorite books. I hope, I hope, I hope.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Motivation - Slice of Life

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers

Motivation is something I think a lot about. What motivates us? What motivates my students? What do you do when motivation is gone? How do I motivate myself?

A few years ago I read Todd Whitaker’s book What Great Teachers Do Differently. This past year I was assigned his book geared towards principals. Both books are strikingly similar in relation to praise and motivation. He says praise needs to be, “authentic, specific, immediate, clean, and private.” I think all too often I have fallen back on the ease of complimenting my entire class, telling them I appreciate them. Or writing “good job” on top of their papers. Really, this does not help to motivate my students. Getting to know them, taking an interest in their lives, telling them when you see them going above and beyond – that is what is the key. The problem with that? It takes time, just like anything worthwhile. I need to find the time again.

And sometimes I need to find the motivation for myself. Not for work, necessarily. I’m pretty driven there. I need to find the motivation to take care of myself. To make exercise, eating right, getting enough sleep a priority. I’ve begun this year putting exercise in the forefront. I’m treading carefully, I tend to get burnt out if I jump into something and overdo it so I’m aiming for some type of exercise every other day. My mind tries to tell me that I don’t have the time, I can just get caught up tomorrow, but I’ve found what motivates me. I listen to podcasts. I know – not your typical running type of music – but it works for me. I love Katie Davis’s podcasts about Kid Lit. I enjoy listening to Franki Sibberson on her Choice Literacy podcasts. And Franki is also another part of my motivation; I know I am not alone on this journey. She is running too and I’ll be seeing her in five short months. I want to run in a crazy Team Sparkle skirt at our conference this summer. So, I jump on the treadmill.

Thinking about myself and what motivates me to run, I think back to my students. Those hard to motivate kids that I can’t ever find that carrot for. What gets me running? Someone to cheer me on. Something I love waiting for me there. Gentle but reachable expectations. Someone who gives me specific and private praise and names what I’m doing well. A good feeling about what I’ve done. I need to ensure that the environment in my classroom is set up to motivate my kids and for them to motivate themselves. With that, we can reach our goals.