Bringing Things to a Close

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Photo CC-Booklane

This semester is drawing to an end, and I have to admit I feel like I have gotten more out of this semester than many of the semesters preceding this one. I’ll attribute part of this to many of the authors I have been introduced to this semester by my different professors, and of course to the amazing professors that I’ve had. I’ve read books on reading and writing by Don Murray, Peter Elbow, Nancy Atwell, and of course Penny Kittle. As the semester draws to a close I am grateful that Book Love is one of the books that I had the foresight to buy this semester because I have a feeling I will be wanting it over and over again in the future.

These final two chapters helped fill in a lot of the missing pieces that I had been looking for in the book. How do we as teachers make a way to fill societies need for grades? How can students expand their learning from the books that they are reading? I’ve these questions over and over as a I read, and I feel like I have a better grasp now on some possible answers to these, and several other, questions.

First off, I love the idea of the Big Idea Books. I feel like they work to help students develop a deeper understanding of the books that they read. I had a conversation with one of my professors a while back, and we were discussing how often we just read for surface content, and we don’t look for anything deeper in our books. Having the Big Idea Books helps students to think about themes, ideas, and arguments that are being made by an author. Even acknowledging the theme of a book can be a huge step for a student. I honestly didn’t really learn how to look at this until I was a sophomore in college. No one had really pointed out to me that there is more to books than just a story. Books have meaning, and I think it’s important that students at least look for those meanings. Also, having the book timelines really seems like it would lead to some interesting results.

I think that the quarter students assessments are really great. It is huge to be able to set goals and reflect on them. Having students reflect on their own reading lives gives them time to see how they have improved, and allows you to see what areas they think they are improving. I think it is really important to look at students’ own self-assessment because it allows you to see into their heads a little bit.

Over the years I’ve heard a million arguments against standardized testing, and even pitched a few of my own, but I think Kittle makes one of the best arguments about it that I have heard. She also presented a few thoughts on standardized testing than I had thought about before. Her suggestions on reading assessment actually make a lot of sense.

I’ve gotten so many amazing ideas for my classroom from this book. I’ve learned a lot about student readers, and ways to hopefully create more student readers. I’m glad that I will have this book around for quite awhile because I’m sure that I’ll be looking back at it several times in the future. Another great book to add to one’s teaching bookshelf.

Let’s Get Pumped for Summer!

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Photo CC- Frank Schmidt

Summer has always been my least favorite season. I prefer the crisp days of Fall, or even the hopeful days of Spring, to those hot summer days spent trying to avoid the humidity that Eastern Nebraska likes to bring (thank you corn). The one nice thing about summer is that instead of taking classes my days are filled with my job at the local gas station and lots and lots of books. I’m especially excited for this summer because I have an idea of what I want to read, and how I want to keep my experiences from this class going.

I took a look at the #readeveryday challenge, and I have to say it looks like it might be more than I can chew, but I do think I want to set a reading goal this summer. I really Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge. It continues to push adversity, but also gives you a manageable amount of books to read even though it is actually set up to be accomplished over the course of the year. I also looked at some other Reading Bingo’s that seemed interesting and brought a variety of books to the table. I’d like to at least read 30 books by the end of the summer. Although I feel like if I can read that many books during this semester then I can probably do way more.

Summer Reading Bingo Challenge for Kids.  Get Your Kid Reading this Summer with these Free Printable Bingo Boards!:

Photo Credit- The Chirping Moms

I also found a Bingo card that focused on who you read to and where you read that looked interesting and creative, and I definitely want to try it even if it might be for little kids (Pinterest really is amazing). I have this grand images of curling up on the couch and spending my afternoons in good books. In reality my reading will probably be mixed in wherever I can get it. I’ve gotten into a really good habit of reading before bed, and I want to keep that going. My family is very active during the summers, so I can foresee a lot of outdoor reading and reading in the car.

I plan to continue using Goodreads and other YA blogs to find books to read over the summer. I have a lot of YA series that I want to read that I didn’t get to read this semester. I’m hoping to read Red Queen, finish the Maze Runner series, and finally reread The Mortal Instruments books by Cassandra Clare. Along with these there are still a few random TBR books that I want to check out. Thankfully I’ve looked and our local library carries most of them, yay! Our library is actually located in another town about 10 minutes away. While this may not be much of a drive gas really makes it hard to make a trip there everyday. My sisters and I have developed a tradition of going over to the library at least twice a week to stock up on books. We’ve learned to get more books than we think we need because often the stack we picked up the day before is gone in at least a day. I’m know this tradition will continue to help me continue to stock up on books to read, and with two sisters in middle school, and a sister who is a Junior I’m sure I’ll be able to get plenty of book suggestions.

I’m really excited for the summer of freedom and reading that I have ahead of me. It’s going to be great, and hey it will keep me out of trouble.

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4.17.17

This week was filled with many books that either caught my attention or served to keep me occupied during my late night moments of insomnia. Even with Easter weekend I still managed to find some time to curl up and binge read three books this week. When I say binge read I mean that I sat down and read each of these in the span of two hours, so yay for six hours of reading this week.

Girls Like Us by Gail Giles

Keeping on the track of reading about different disabilities this book deals with two Image result for girls like us gail gilesSpecial Education students as they learn to function after graduation. Biddy was born with a birth defect, and is unable to read or write. She also isn’t always able to keep track of (or understand) what’s going on. Then there’s the outspoken Quincy, who may not be able to write, but she will sure speak her mind. The two couldn’t be more different, but they also couldn’t be a more perfect match.

Pros: Wow a very eye opening book. The story deals in detail with what it means to be considered stupid just because your brain doesn’t work the same as everyone else. It really focuses on those with mental disabilities and what they go to try and fit into a world where everyone else tells them they are different. Biddy and Quincy are so different, but they have to learn to work together, share chores, and ultimately trust each other. This book has so much to do with friendship, respect, and what it means to be human. A sort of spoiler the book does touch on the subject of sexual assault, and to be honest it pissed me off the ideas that were put into these girls’ heads since they were different, and yet, it opened my eyes to how often the events in the book can actually happen.

Cons: The first half of this book was so slow. It took me forever to get into it, and I almost invoked my reader’s rights and gave up. Even though I’m glad I stuck with it, I really only loved the second half of the book (if that’s possible). The bad guy was your stereotypical creepy guy, and the plot was slightly predictable at times. I think this is why I hated the first half so much.

The Vanishing Game by Kate Kae Meyers (Book Club friends there are spoilers ahead)

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Let’s see. I’m not even sure how to describe this book. It honestly messed with my head in so many different ways. There is mystery, a little fantasy, and thriller all mixed into one, and my word it’s done beautifully. The book follows Jocelyn who receives a letter from her brother, Jack, who is supposed to be dead. Jocelyn teams up with a childhood friend, Noah, and revists her childhood in order to solve the clues and find Jack before it’s too late.

Pros: This book keeps you on your toes. If you like books that take you on several twists and turns, and you never know what’s coming next then this is the book for you. I didn’t even see the ending coming (and yes I’m still trying to figure it all out). Jocelyn spends a lot of time in her past mostly describing what it was like to be in and out of foster homes, and what it means to live with abusive parents. This book deals heavily with psychology, and it really makes you think. I’m not really sure what else to say, but that I really loved it.

Cons: As much as I loved the ending I felt like they tried to resolve everything too fast. Every twist is thrown at you in one chapter, and honestly I needed more time to digest it all. I wish all the information had been a little bit more spread out. Other than that I loved this book, and if it fits your interests I would highly suggest reading it.

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

The third book I gulped down this week was actually my least favorite of the three. Sure it hooked me in, but there were definitely a few things missing. It’s Friday night and Rashad just wants to grab a pack of gum and some chips. Next thing he knows he’s being accused of stealing and a police officer is pummeling him. Quincy, sees the event happen, but the officer is his best friends older brother. What do you do when you are caught in the middle of it all? In an age where police brutality and racism are heavily discussed this books comes in as a way to help navigate it all.

Pros: Rashad is African-American and while he follows every rule he is still treated badly. Rashad is forced to look at the facts and decide whether or not he wants to do Image result for all american boyssomething or just stay quiet. He also has to work through how is race somehow impacted the police officer’s decisions. Quincy also has a lot to work through. He has to decide whether to do the right thing, especially when doing it could cost him everything. The two journeys help the reader think about what it means to act up and not just sit back and watch.

Cons: While there was plot to this novel there also wasn’t a plot. The book drug, and I felt like nothing was really resolved by the time it finished. Of course the boys have made their decisions, but I wanted something more to come of it. I think this was just me being optimistic and hoping that a book would somehow do something that we haven’t been able to do in real life. I guess that’s what makes this book so great is that it points out we have a long way to go, but each of us has a choice to do the right thing.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4.10.17

During the past semester I’ve picked up a lot of books that I had never heard of before. Maybe it’s the fact that my school library didn’t have a lot of them, or simply that I just hadn’t kept up with what was popular. Whatever the reason was I feel like I’ve made a lot of steps toward fixing this lack of knowledge about what’s popular for teens. This week’s popular reading was 13 Reason’s Why by Jay Asher. I will admit that this reading was partially spurred on by the Netflix show, and partially because the book deals with several topics that I’ve been interested in.

Synopsis: For those who haven’t heard about the book (or the show), it centers around Image result for 13 reasons why book coverthe suicide of Hannah Baker. Before Hannah dies she leaves thirteen different tapes that explain why she ended up killing herself. On each tape is a person that in some way contributed to her death. The story is told in first person by Clay Jenson, who has just received the tapes. We follow Clay as he tries to figure out which tape has his name on it, and what he did to cause his crush to kill herself.

Pros: This book deals with some very heavy details. There is obviously Hannah’s suicide, but underneath her suicide are occurrences of sexual assault and bullying. I won’t reveal all the reasons Hannah kills herself, but they do get readers thinking about the power of words and actions. There is a lot in the book about suicide awareness, and how to know the signs of a person considering suicide. The signs are obviously spread throughout the novel, but are missed by every single character. It gets the reader thinking about their actions, and how they can have a positive impact on another person’s life. I think the book does a good job of painting a picture of what can happen when you take things too far.

Cons: Be careful who reads this book. As someone who has suffered from depression this book was actually very triggering. There are a lot of scenes in the book that are graphic, and can have a negative effect on students who may already deal with some of these issues. This is really something to be aware of. Also, at times it is hard to tell when it is Hannah talking on the tapes and Clay is thinking. These two events are often hard to keep separate.

I read this book in a couple of sittings, and while it took me awhile to get out of my funk it did bring a lot of issues to light that I would rather not be hidden. I think Asher did a beautiful job of dealing with some very hard issues here. I highly, highly recommend checking out this book. It’s very informational and enjoyable (while sometimes very frustrating).

A Little Coffee for the Reading Classroom

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Photo CC-Crash Symbols

How do we motivate our students to become better readers? Maybe a better question is: How do we motivate ourselves to help our students to become better readers. Reading is important. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that. In fact, the statistics are there, yet teachers everyday continue to be satisfied with the result rather than the process. What do I mean by this? I think too often teachers become so caught up in teaching that ONE book students just have to read, and so they put students’ reading lives to the side so that they can teach THAT book. Now I was a nerd in high school I read pretty much every book ever assigned, but I would bet half of my class survived off of Spark Notes, and the class discussion (which normally consisted of myself and two others because we were the only one’s that read).

Don’t get me wrong I think the classics have their place, but they don’t have the right to destroy the beauty of reading. I think Jim Bailey was right, most of our high school and middle school English classrooms have succumbed to the GERM. We’ve become so bogged down by standardized testing that we have forgotten what teaching is about in the first place. I do want to point out that when I see we it’s more of a generalization. Obviously not everyone has done this or we wouldn’t be talking about a solution to the problem. So how do we cure ourselves from this germ, and motivate our students to become the readers that we know they can be?

Step 1: Get rid of the preconceived notion that if you don’t introduce students to it they won’t read it. You might be surprised by what they are willing to read when you aren’t shoving material down their throats. In “Aim Higher: A Case for Choice Reading and a Whole Lot More in AP English,” Amy Rasmussen quotes a friend who says, ““I was never allowed to choose for myself in AP or Honors English, but had I been allowed to…I would have read all of those books [classics], and arrived at a deeper level of love and reverence for literature, much earlier in my reading life.” Gives you something to think about.

Step 2: Bring free choice into your classroom. Pretty self-explanatory, but let students have some say in what books they are reading. We’ve talked about this one before so lets move on.

Step 3: Motivate! You may be asking, “How do I motivate my students to read.” Don’t worry I have some ideas.

Step 3a: Lead by example. It’s hard to encourage students to read if you aren’t reading yourself. If they don’t see you reading, and enjoying yourself reading, they won’t see the importance.

Step 3b: Build relationships with your students. Ask them about the books they are reading, and what they think about them. This works in two ways: you can see if they are really reading the book they have chosen, and they will know that you have an actual interest in their reading life and you want to see them improve.

Step 3c: Give students options. Do book talks that briefly highlight different books in the classroom. Don’t just leave students hanging.

Step 3d: Give your students goals that they can achieve. Maybe it is helping them figure out how many books they can read in a semester, or it could be helping them to learn a certain number of new words from their reading (reading journals are great for recording these). Whatever it is help them build reading goals for themselves, and then celebrate when they reach these goals.

Step 4: Remember that the research backs this up. You aren’t on your own in implementing this. Others have tried this, and they have the statistics to prove that it can work. You don’t have to fight the battle for your students unarmed. In fact, you can prove that reading improves vocabulary, helps students perform better on high stakes testing, and so much more.

Yes, The Scarlet Letter is great, but is it really worth sacrificing your students’ reading lives over?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4.3.17

If there’s one thing I discovered this week it’s that long plane rides can be great for getting reading done, unless your like me and get motion sick when you down for too long. Despite this minor setback I managed to get a lot of reading done this past week, while having a great time. On a completely unrelated note, if you are interested in Sigma Tau Delta and attending their international conference next year I suggest that you go for it. It’s an absolutely amazing experience. Anyway on to the books

Kissing Doorknobs by Terry Spencer Hesser

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Do you ever get compulsive thoughts stuck in your head all the time? Does the saying ‘step on a crack break your mother’s back’ echo so many times in your head that you begin counting cracks anytime you step out your front door? If any of these apply to you then you might be struggling with something similar to our main character Tara, a girl who has relatively no control over her life. Tara suffers from an undiagnosed form of OCD in a time where the disease was fairly new. The book shows her struggles and the different ways OCD can show itself.

Pros: This book taught me so much about OCD. I honestly didn’t really understand a lot about the disease and how it manifests itself before picking it up. The book itself is a short read that isn’t afraid to get very real about issues. The book details the many compulsions that Tara finds herself suffering from, and the effect these compulsions have on her social and family life. Tara has some great characters who come alongside her, but for the most part she fights her battles, and she does it well. Kind of a spoiler, but in the end when she finally gets treated she is the one that steps and becomes a pretty awesome female lead. I think this book has a lot to say about how tough you have to be to fight OCD, which isn’t a mental illness but something caused by a chemical imbalance (who knew?).

Cons: The book gets a little intense at times. Tara’s mother hits her multiple times to try and get her to stop her compulsion and those scenes get a little messy. I struggled with these scenes because it felt almost abusive, but at the same time it shows just how little people understand about OCD and what it is. At the end when Tara is finally diagnosed her mom is pretty dang remorseful. There are some editing errors within the book, and often the narrative gets a little jumbled, but those didn’t really get in the way of the book’s message.

I think overall this is a great book, and it’s eye opening. Tara is taken to multiple specialists and diagnosed with several different issues. This demonstrates a lack of knowledge even among the professionals. It’s a nice quick read, and you will learn a lot from it.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Meet Junior, a Spokane Indian living on a reservation. He is smart, but he was born with what he calls water on the brain. This condition leaves him looking, and behaving, slightly different than the rest of the kids on the rez. Junior decides to attend school at nearby Rearden where no Spokane has ever stepped foot before. Now Junior has to learn to navigate two different worlds, and somehow come out on top.

Pros: This book is rough. It is honest. It is informational. You might cry, but that’s okay I did too. Alexie doesn’t shy away from displaying the realities of life on the rez for Junior. Image result for the absolutely true diary of part-time indianHe doesn’t use anything to soften the blow he just lays it all out there, and I love that because I think it makes this story hit home. Junior has some great support in his life, and he has to go through a lot of crap half of us can only imagine. Yet somehow in all of this he manages to make something great come out of it. I really can say anymore than this because honestly I feel like it would ruin the book and it’s one I feel everyone needs to read at least once in their life.

Cons: None. GO GET THIS BOOK NOW

An Ace Up Your Sleeve

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Photo CC-aquarian_insight

You know the saying, “Always have a trick up your sleeve?” It’s fairly common, while it may originally applied to cards it has become a catch all for many topics. The YALSA website and corresponding blog The Hub are definitely tricks to have up your sleeve. In just the hour or so I spent browsing I found plenty of books to add to be TBR list as well as different ideas for my own classroom.

I started by looking at some of the different awards that the ALA gives out. I was aware of the Printz award, but there were other awards that I learned a lot about. These included the Edwards Award, Alex Awards, and Morris Award. Within these awards you can find a lot of good suggestions for books. The Alex Award is given to books that are written for adults, but appeal to YA audiences, while the Morris Award is given to first time YA authors. You can look at these awards for ideas for books for your students, or you can use them to support new authors and start to give them a platform in your classroom or library.

I also discovered that the YALSA has recently launched the Teen Book Finder Database. The database has over 4,000 books listed in it. The books range through different types of genres, but many of them are award winners as well. Not only that, but the database is also available in the form of a smartphone app. They have a link on their page that’s pretty easy to use. I even downloaded the app and started looking through it. There is actually a lot there. I suggest that you all check it out!

As far as The Hub I thought it was really great. I started off by looking at the yearly reading challenge. Basically the challenge helps you to try and read all of the newly released award winners. It seems like quite a challenge, but it could be something that you could encourage your students to take part in. I liked that the different posts dealt with current events and books that built off of it. For example there is a post about NASA’s recent planet discoveries. Included in the post are several books that deal with teen’s in space. There is another post dealing with strong women leads. I like the way that this is organized in topic form. That way if you send your students here they can dig around and look for book options.

As for myself I definitely picked up some new books to read in the future. These are just a few:

  • These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  • Cry, Heart, But Never Break by Glen Ringtved (This one looks like a definite tear jerker)
  • Hunted by Megan Spooner
  • The Smell Of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

There are several more, but these were the one’s I thought looked the most interesting! I loved this and I will definitely be bookmarking these for the future.

It’s Monday! What are You Reading? 3.27.17

Well, after some marathon reading I managed to get both of my books completed this week. Thankfully they balanced each other out well or it would have also been a highly emotional marathon.

First up, Deadline by Chris Crutcher. As we discussed in book club on Thursday this book Image result for deadline chris crutchertakes you on an emotional roller coaster. The book follows lead character Ben Wolf who has just found out that he has one year to live. From the moment he finds this out to the end of the book he decides he is going to try and make an impact on his small Idaho town. It’s his senior year of high school and instead of doing cross country like the previous three years he turns out for the football team, decides to take on the town drunk, and his ultraconservative history teacher, as well as go for his crush Dallas Suzuki. Oh, did I mention he decides not to tell anyone that he is dying, or get treated?

Pros: This book deals a lot with death. Ben has to work through what his death will mean, and what death is ultimately. There are a lot of different coping mechanisms put in place here that students can learn a lot about. It also gives you a chance to think about death in a few different ways than normal. Also, Ben really focuses on leaving a positive mark on his town. He’s dying. This book could have gone anyway, but Crutcher chooses to have it go positively.

Cons: This book will make you cry a lot. Okay not really a con, but my only other thing that bugged me was that the cover picture was upside down (probably not a good reason to dock a book). Seriously, this book doesn’t do anything you would expect it to, and the ending will throw you for a loop.

Image result for nimonaNext up: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Yes, another graphic novel. I promise this is my last one for a little while…maybe. Anyway, this book is about Nimona, a young girl who wants to become the sidekick for notorious villain Lord Ballister Blackheart. Although Nimona isn’t exactly just a little girl, she is also a shapeshifter. The book follows the development of a friendship between Nimona and Blackheart.

Pros: This book deals a lot with friendship. I mean a lot. I think you could say that it is one of the main aspects of the book. Blackheart learns that sometimes being friends with someone means accepting all of their flaws. He does everything he can to make sure she stays safe, and to take care of her even though she can be a little crazy at times. Also, their is a sort of haziness surrounding who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. I think the book gives a really good lesson on taking things at face value. It teaches you to look at the facts, and not just what you are told. I think that is a good lesson to get students thinking about.

Cons: This is one of the first graphic novels where I actually struggled to keep up with what was going on inside the pictures of the story. The frames jumped around really fast and sometimes the frames without words were hard to understand. I think one of the things that makes a graphic novel good is the ability to use pictures in a way that they don’t always need words. I’m not sure why I felt like there was a lack of clarity, but it was something that caused a distraction for me and added confusion. Other than that I really loved this book.

I highly recommend that you all check out either of these books. They are both really great. I’m off to Kentucky this week for the International Sigma Tau Delta convention in Louisville, but I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get some good reading done while I’m there. Have a great week everyone!

 

Making the Best of Social Media

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Photo CC-Dana Spiegel

Oh social media, that thing that just seems to suck away time (and our productivity). In fact, I’ve started this post almost three times now only to be distracted by Facebook. It also seems to have become this control factor in our lives, especially our teen’s lives. Is there a way to use it positively though? After spending an hour sifting through articles, and looking at different sites I think there is a way that we as teachers can have some good come from this. Some of our students’ favorite social media sites can actually be used to enhance their reading lives. I found some interesting things while digging around.

I started my digging on Goodreads because I figured that would be a good spot to start. I can see a lot of good coming out of introducing your students to Goodreads. First off you can use it to track what your students are reading, you can have them make a ‘to read’ list (as Kittle suggested), or they can get involved in conversations about their favorite books. They can leave their own book reviews or they can read other’s reviews. Reading the reviews allows them to see whether a book is something they would enjoy, or not. I also discovered the group settings on Goodreads. I found a teen board that is dedicated to discussing different books, characters, and so on. From what I understand it is also possible to create your own group which would allow your students to be able to discuss books in a sort of chat room type area that is still moderated fairly well.

Next up I started looking at blogs. There are actually several blogs out their for teen readers. Two that I really enjoyed looking at were Reading Rants and Teenreads. Teenreads is actually pretty cool because it is run mostly by a board of teens from all of the world. It is definitely an interesting site to check out. These two sites both provide a space to start conversations about books, and look for new books to check out. Having teens blog about books themselves also isn’t a bad idea. Blogging allows you to connect writing to reading, but also allows students to use their own voice to tell about the book that they have read.

Wattpad. I noticed a few other people have talked about it so I will just briefly touch on it. While Wattpad isn’t specifically teen writers and readers, it is targeted more toward that age group. It was something that I really loved in high school, and does have some good in allowing kids to access new books, different ideas, or even get suggestions for authors. While this site is great, there also is a question about quality. Often books remain unfinished, or authors take forever to post. This can lead to a lot of frustration, and cause problems.

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc… I’m going to group these all together because I think they are pretty related. You could also probably through Snapchat into this mix as well. These apps are all great for networking with authors or looking into the lives of authors. You can follow many YA authors on all four of these platforms. You can also tweet at your favorite authors, and surprisingly enough sometimes they will answer you back. These are also places where students can share their reading experiences with the rest of the world.

The last place I want you all to look at is Skype. I know it seems an odd inclusion to this list, but I think it does have some merit. I’ve seen Skype used effectively in reading classrooms several times. One of the ways I’ve seen Skype used was book discussions. A group of teachers from several schools got together and had their students read different books. The teachers then organized a Skype call in which the different classes were able to share opinions and develop a discussion about the books. Also, you can organize Skype calls with librarians and even authors.

Social media may not be the greatest, but since we are stuck with it why not use it for some good. I’ve just touched on a few of the many ways you can use social media in your classroom. I suggest you look into it even more because I’m sure you’ll find an idea worth using.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Graphic novels! I’m hooked and I can’t seem to get off of them. They are so quick to read, plus filled with so many diverse characters. I kid you not, I’ve encountered many more diverse characters in the handful of graphic novels that I’ve read over the past few weeks than any of the novels I’ve been working through (with the exception of The Born Free’s of course). Sadly I only managed to get through one book completely this week, but I am well on my way to finishing my other two books.

The one book that I did get through was Drama by Raina Telgemeier. I was drawn to this book because I like all things acting, and this book did not disappoint. The book follows 7th grader Callie as her middle school prepares to put on their very own performance of “Moon over Mississippi.” Callie loves all things drama, but unfortunately she was blessed with a singing voice. Instead, she determines to make the props and set for the show the absolute best anyone has ever seen. This book focuses on awkward crushes, friendship, and trying to navigate the waters between both as a 7th grader.

Pros: This book prominently displays several diverse characters. It’s main claim to diversity is that one (or more) of the characters is openly gay, or on the way to becoming openly gay. Although Callie isn’t the gay character she does befriend and help make these characters into the stars of the show. There is a lot in here about being open to other’s and building each other up. There is also a lot about relationships. There is heartbreak, and confusion, and maybe relationships, some tears, and some laughs as Callie and her friends try to figure out just what it means to have a crush or even date for that matter.

Cons: Callie meets two brothers (twins) at the beginning of the book, and I’ll be honest it was really hard for me to tell which one was talking sometimes. In fact, I often got their character traits messed up. Their names also both start with J so that doesn’t help much either. Now, I’m not going to dock this book because I wasn’t able to keep the characters straight, but I will warn you that it can get a bit confusing at times. Other than that I can’t really think of anything that really turned me away, or made me question this book.

Overall, I loved this book. It’s funny and quirky with the right amount of reality sprinkled into the story. I’d highly suggest reading it. FYI I did just turn it in to the library today, so you might want to wait a little bit before rushing to get it. Also, you’ll never see the ending coming.

 

I’ve also been reading Deadline by Chris Crutcher and Nimona by Noelle Stevenson so far both books are great, and I can’t wait to tell you all about them next week! Happy reading everyone 🙂