Tuesday, November 3, 2015

What are you reading?

Ok, I seem to have drifted away from blogging, but I'm determined to get back to it! 

I've been very busy, but managing to get some reading done too.  Right now, I'm reading The Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski.  It is a fantasy story that takes place in Prague and the surrounding countries.  In the story, a little girl named Petra lives in a small town.  Her father creates mechanical wonders that he instills with magic, including a pet clock-work spider for Petra named Astrophil.  The story starts with her father coming back from building a magical clock for the prince, but in return the prince took something very precious.  I am looking forward to reading more abut the magical creations and find out if Petra has some magic of her own.

What are you reading?  Leave a comment and you could win a free book!

Friday, October 2, 2015

It's not Monday, but here's what I'm reading!

I have to confess, on Monday I was still reading Neverwhere for the third week in a row.  I loved the book, I just didn't know what to write about it for yet another post. The good news is, I finished it last night (it was so good!) and I started another book right away.

Now I'm reading A Place Called Ugly by Avi.  I chose this one because it was published the year I was born (yup, google it and you can find out how old I am) which is one of the 2015 challenges.  At first I was just looking up all books published that year, but that was really overwhelming.  Then I decided to pick an author I knew I liked and see if they had anything published that year.  Avi was the lucky winner.  I haven't read one of his books in a while, but Something Upstairs and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle were two of my favorite books when I was 10ish.  I was even more excited when I found out we had it in our library at the South (even if the copy is a little old and beat up)!

This book is about a 14 year old boy who has been going to the same beach cottage each summer for 10 years and he absolutely loves it.  Then he finds out they are planning to tear it down to build a fancy hotel in its place.  He decides to stay behind when his parents go back to the city to try to stop the demolition.  Can you imagine being a 14 year old, with $16 and an empty house trying to accomplish something like that?  I keep wondering if I would have had the courage when I was that age to do anything that courageous.

What are you reading?

Monday, September 21, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading?

I'm so sorry for the lull in posting.  

The first few weeks of school
for me are all about assessments.  I get to read with all the students who are new to the district, then all the students who qualify for Title 1 assistance.  I love reading with kids, but it doesn't make for very interesting blogging.  If anyone is dying to know, we are using the Founts and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System to do our assessing.  You can read about it here if you want. 

So, it's Monday! I am still reading Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (who just had a baby!  Congratulations, Neil!).  I am definitely loving it, but it's taking me a while to read.  I guess I have gotten used to being able to read middle grade novels in a couple days, so it feels like 2 weeks with the same book is forever.  I think I'm going to pick up a kids book to read at the same time, because I need to keep moving through my challenges if I'm going to get all 50 completed by the end of 2015.  

So, what are you reading this Monday?  Please leave a comment and let me know! If you're a South School student, you'll be entered to win a free book.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Open House!

Visiting the blog for the first time after Open House?  Leave a comment saying hi, and your South School student will be entered into a raffle to win a free book!  

Check back often for updates.  

You can also follow us on twitter!


Thanks for visiting!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Even more exciting than Open House...

Tomorrow night is Book Fair Night!
I was there this afternoon when they started rolling in the cases full of books.  I might be a total book nerd, but for me, it's so exciting to see all those cartons full of books to be explored.  I can't wait to see what is available and what great deals I can get! 

Of course, I'm also looking forward to meeting everyone's families tomorrow night at Open House.  I will be in my classroom most of the evening, but I will also be popping into classes where I know I will be working with students.  If all else fails and you want to find me... check near the books.

Monday, September 7, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Well, school started last week, but I finished my 20th book of the summer today!  This morning I finished GuysRead: Other Worlds edited by Jon Scieszka.  It's a book made up of short stories by famous authors that are all in the sci-fi genre.   This book was a little out of the zone for what I usually read (aliens taking over recess, planets where people's entire lives only last 8 days) but I am glad that I pushed myself to finish it.  

The next book (which I am starting as soon as I hit "publish") is going to be Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.  He is one of my favorite authors, so I am really looking forward to it.  While he has written amazing books for kids, Coraline and The Graveyard Book are two favorites, this one isn't intended for that audience. I decided to read it now because one of the challenges is to read a book that was turned into a tv show.  I've read lots of books that have been turned into movies, but it was more of a challenge to find one that's been turned into a tv series.  

So, now that school is back in session, I'm looking to give away some books!  Leave a comment to tell the world what you're reading this week! You'll be put in a raffle to win a free book!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Today in history

This is an abridged (shortened) version of the awesome post from A Mighty Girl's Facebook page.  A Mighty Girl is a website that promotes strong girl characters in books, movies, and toys.  They have a great Facebook page that shares amazing young women throughout history.  Here's what they shared today:

On this day in 1957, 15-year-old Elizabeth Eckford encountered an angry mob when she attempted to enter Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. 
Eckford was one of nine teenagers, known as the Little Rock Nine, who became the first African American students to attend the previously all-white Little Rock Central High School after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled school segregation unconstitutional in its famous Brown v. Board of Education decision.  
While the nine students had planned to enter the school together, the meeting place was changed the night before and Eckford, whose family did not have a telephone, did not learn about the change of plans. As a result, she attempted to enter the school alone through a mob of 400 angry segregationists and a blockage by the Arkansas National Guard, which the pro-segregationist governor, Orval Faubus, had ordered to block the students in violation of the Supreme Court decision.  
Due to the line of soldiers blockading the school and threats from the crowd, Eckford was forced to flee to a bus stop. As she sat at the bus stop crying, New York Times reporter Benjamin Fine consoled the scared girl, telling her "don't let them see you cry." Civil rights activist Grace Lorch, who had learned that Eckford had arrived separately from the other students, then arrived to escort her home. 
In response to Eckford and the other students being blocked from the school, Little Rock Mayor Woodrow Wilson Mann asked President Eisenhower to send federal troops to protect the students. To enforce desegregation, Eisenhower sent the US Army's 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock and federalized the entire Arkansas National Guard to remove control from the governor. The Little Rock Nine were able to start school by the end of September. Although soldiers were deployed at the school for the entire year, many of the students experienced physical and verbal abuse, including Eckford who at one point was pushed down the stairs. 
The governor continued to fight integration and, the following year -- in what came to be known as the "Lost Year" -- ordered Little Rock's four high schools closed rather than allow it to continue
The famous photograph pictured here shows Elizabeth Eckford on September 4, 1957 as she walked alone through a mob to Central High. Taken by Will Counts, it was a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize for Photography. The young woman shouting in the photo, Hazel Massery, apologized to Eckford and the two made amends at a 40th anniversary celebration of the school's integration. 

 There are lots of amazing books written about this sad period in our country's history.  However, most recently I read the novel The Lions of Little Rock.  This is an amazing story of two girls who form a forbidden friendship, set during the "lost years" mentioned in the article above.  The kids in Massachusetts voted and this book won the Massachusetts Children's Book Award last year, and it deserves every vote it got! I have a copy in my room for anyone who wants to borrow this powerful book. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Welcome Back!

Yesterday we had our "Welcome Back to School" assembly!  First the kids had a little pep talk from the Kid President, who reminded them to...
Then Mrs. Stevens told everyone about our new positive behavior system.  We will be spending the whole year catching kids being  respectful, responsible, and prepared.  If a kid is caught, their name gets entered into a raffle.  After just one week, three kids already won the chance to get fancy take-out lunch with a teacher and friend of their choice.  Mrs. Stevens also mentioned some future prizes, including wearing the Bulldog costume at a pep rally.  As you can see, the kids were pumped about that one!
After that we got to honor those kids who went beyond the required summer reading and did some extra. 

Each student who read 2 or more books this summer will receive a colorful certificate.

The kids who read between 2 and 4 books were entered into a raffle and 30 kids, 10 from each grade, won a bookmark! I've already seen some inside books as I walked around school yesterday.

Anyone who read 5-8 books was put into another raffle.  They had the chance to win a book mark and a free book of their choice! The crowd went wild after each kid's name was picked.

Last, and definitely not least, any kid who read 9 or more books automatically got to pick a free book.  There were 23 amazing readers who were in this category!  Their names also got put into a raffle and 6 of them got a gift card for our Scholastic Book Fair next week.  

Mrs. Stevens gave a special shout out to our fourth grader who read 17 books and our sixth grader who read 18!  So amazing!

Keep up all the great reading, Bulldogs!!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Happy September!

Sorry for being a day late!  Yesterday was my first day at school and things were super busy.  It was so great seeing all the kids again and talking about summer reading with some of them.  

I just wanted to take a minute to share this awesome calendar that is produced by the website LibrarySparks!
You can also click on this link to see a bigger version, if the one above won't get bigger for you.  I think reading is always a cause for celebration, but this calendar gives even more ideas for special ways to include some words in your day!  

So, Happy Library Card Sign-up Month!!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

How'd I do?

Just like I said I would, I kept my reading goals poster on my fridge all summer.  Every chance I got, I tried to read.  My goal was 20 books and.... I didn't quite make it.  However, I am incredibly proud that I am currently reading my 20th book! Nineteen books in one summer is definitely the most I've ever read.  

Today I started reading Guys Read: Other Worlds which was edited by Jon Scieszka.  It is a collection of short stories that are all either fantasy or science fiction.  It has stories by some authors I've heard of (Rick Riordan, Tom Angleberger) and lots that I haven't. I'm hoping that they might become new favorite authors!  

I can't wait to see all the readers at the South and find out how their summer reading goals turned out.  But in the end, it's not about whether or not you hit a goal, it's about loving books and reading all you can!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Almost There!

I can't believe it!  School starts on Monday and I am only 3 books  away from my summer reading goal!  I've read 17 books this summer.
I think reading about this little lady was just the right inspiration I needed!  I can totally read 3 more books in 5 more days, or at least I'm going to do my very best!  Wish me luck!

Monday, August 24, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Well, it's the last Monday of summer vacation.  The teachers have work days on Thursday and Friday and then the kids return to school next Monday!  And, just like the kids, I am trying to squeeze as much summer into this final week as possible, and for me, that means as much reading as possible!

What I'm reading today involves a little bit of a confession: I've never read Matilda the whole way through!  I've read the first few chapters, and I watch the movie any time I find it on TV, but I've never read the whole book.  I was down in my basement a few days ago trying to find books that will fulfill the remaining categories of the 2015 challenge I'm working on.  One of those is "a book that was turned into a movie."  This category has so many options, and I had picked up a few possibilities (Mary Poppins was a strong contender) and then I found my sad, beat up copy of Matilda.  The poor book doesn't even have a front cover any more, which is probably why it was in the basement and not my classroom.  Clearly, this is a book that needs reading! 

Matilda is one of my all time favorite book-loving characters, and I am glad I am finally reading her story the whole way through!

So, what are you reading today?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge Update!

I am so excited to have passed the 50% point on my reading challenge!!  Reading Gingersnap put me at 25 books, and now finishing Seer of Shadows got me to number 26!

You can see all the books I've read so far if you click the link on the right! -->

One thing I love about this challenge is that it is pushing me to read a bigger variety of books.  Up until recently I was just choosing books I wanted to read and then hoping I could find a category that they fit in.  Now, I'm choosing books specifically because they match something on the list.  And while I have always loved books by Avi (True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and Something Upstairs were two of my favorite books ever when I was younger), I don't think I ever would have read Seer of Shadows if I hadn't been specifically looking for a thriller or mystery.  

There are some categories that I am having trouble figuring out what to read for them.  I want to stick to mostly books that I can recommend to fourth-sixth graders, but that makes some categories (a classic romance?) harder to plan.  If anyone has any recommendations for any of the categories I still need to read, please leave me a comment!!

Ones I'm finding tricky:

  • a classic romance
  • a book written by someone under 30
  • a book that came out the year you were born (1981, go ahead and do the math)
  • a book with bad reviews
  • a book set during Christmas
  • a book originally written in a different language

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Summer Reading Goal: How's it going?

The goal I set for myself this summer was to read 20 books!  
I knew this was a high goal, and I am still working to get there.  So far this summer I have read... 
Divergent, Insurgent, Blue Moon, Brown Girl Dreaming, A Snicker of Magic, The Crossover, El Deafo, Three Times Lucky, A Handful of Stars, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, The Truth About Twinkie Pie, Fish in a Tree, and The Fourteenth Goldfish.

I am really proud of how many books I've read, and really hoping I can squeeze in a few more before school starts in a couple weeks.  The only tricky thing, is that trying to fit in 7 more books is leading me to choose shorter books, which isn't necessarily what I want to do.  That isn't usually how I make decisions about what I will read, and I know two books that I'm really interested in reading are both over 400 pages, which I can't do quickly.

Time to go read! 
How are you doing with your summer goals?

Monday, August 17, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading?

On this fine, hot, Monday, I am reading The Fourteenth Goldfish.  I am definitely loving it, but I wasn't expecting the Sci-Fi aspect of it.  I didn't know much about it before I started it, so I was expecting a story that focused mostly on a kid and their pet goldfish.  Boy, was I wrong.  I didn't even notice that the fish on the cover was in a beaker, not a fish bowl.  I love when books surprise me!

So, what are you reading?  

Thursday, August 13, 2015

I know it's a seriously good book when...

I finish the whole thing in one day, even though my son totally skipped his nap.  

Fish In A Tree, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, is a book that everyone should read.  Teachers, students, anyone who has ever felt like they don't quite fit in all the time.  I am so excited that this book was chosen for the Global Read Aloud this year and I can't wait to share it with as many classes as possible at the South!  Ally's struggles to feel smart and fit in make you realize how much perseverance and grit everyone needs to have to be successful and face challenges.  She is truly inspiring, clever, and funny!

Monday, August 10, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Happy Monday, everyone!

Last week I was away on a family vacation, but I spent my Monday finishing up The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls.  I will admit, it wasn't one of my favorites.  It reminded me too much of other books that I love, but I felt like it was missing something.  However, if you're in the mood for a story that is twisted, dark, and creepy, this one might be right up your alley!

As for today, I am currently reading The Truth About Twinkie Pie, and really enjoying it!  It's about a 12 year old girl, who moves from rural South Carolina to a really fancy part of Long Island.  She is really smart and hard working, so she gets really good grades and goes to a fancy private school.  So far she's fitting in really well, almost too well.  I have a feeling things might get a little more challenging for her in the friend department pretty soon.  

The thing I like best about this book are the recipes.  See, the main character's mom died when she was a baby, so now she lives with her sister.  The only thing they have left from their mom is a notebook full of recipes that their mom hand wrote.  The recipes are mixed into the story and you can really get to know the mom through the funny things she wrote when describing the food.  I think I might have to try to make some of them before I finish this book!
So, what are you reading??

Monday, July 27, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading?

At the moment, I am reading The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand.  I have to be honest, I totally picked it based on its cover.  I was intrigued by the creepy, old-fashioned gate on the cover.  So far, it reminds me a bit of Coraline by Neil Gaiman, which is a favorite of mine.  It is a little creepier and more suspenseful than I thought it would be.  I don't have a ton of time to read this week, as we are having company and getting ready for a big trip next week, but I am hoping to make some good progress over the next few days because I'm at a turning point in the book!

What are you reading??

Monday, July 20, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading?

At the moment, I'm reading A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord.  Just like her award winning book, Rules, she captures the voice of a 12 year old wonderfully.  The struggles and challenges of being a young girl, being raised by her grandparents, worried about her dog, and trying to navigate friendship in a small town make this book really relatable and fun to read.  

What are you reading? Let me know!

Monday, July 6, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading?

This week I'm reading The Crossover by Kwame Alexander.  This book won the Newbery Medal this year, and I can definitely understand why! It is written in verse (like poetry) and has a definite hip hop feel to it.  It is told from the point of view of a 7th grade boy who is really good at basketball, just like his famous basketball playing father.  So far I am definitely enjoying this book.  I keep picking it up to read "just one more chapter" and then reading for at least 5-6 chapters.  

What are you reading this Monday?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Happy Independence Day!

Happy 4th of July!
Interested in reading about our country's independence?  Here are some great middle grade novels about the Revolutionary War and founding of the USA.

The Fighting Ground by Avi

Night Journeys by Avi
Attach of the Turtle: A Novel by Drew Carlson
Betsy Zane, The Rose of Fort Henry by Lynda Durrant

The Keeping Room by Anna Myers

Monday, June 29, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading?

I'm still reading A Snicker of Magic and I love it!!  This book is taking me a while to read, but not because it's slow or I'm super busy.  It's taking me a while because I am savoring every page just like it's that delicious ice cream cone from the cover!  
It's been a long time since I've read a book where I want to copy down quotes from every page and hang them up all over my house, but this book is like that.  I love words, but Felicity Juniper Pickle (even her name is amazing!) loves them even more than me, and boy she knows how to pick them.  I think I'm going to have to reread this book with my own little blue notebook.  It's spindiddly!

So what are you reading?  Anyone who leaves a comment will be entered to win a free book (even though it's summer vacation).

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Yesterday was the first day of summer vacation, and so it was the first day the summer lending library was open.  As with anything new, I was a little nervous about how much it would get used.  Then I got a text from my principal:
First check out!
I am so thrilled that our kids are excited about books!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Last day of school

Well, it's the last day of school, and that means the first day of summer reading!  I am so proud of all the plans the kids have to read this year.  Having a concrete plan is the best first step possible to make sure those books get opened up this summer!  To help with these plans, I did a display on my windows...
It had a section for students and teachers to write their summer reading goals.
Then it had ideas for places and time to squeeze in some reading, even though we know summers are full of other fun things as well.
The kids that I work with in small groups also made and decorated plans to hang up somewhere important at home.  Somewhere that they will see it every day, like the fridge, their bedroom, or (my favorite) right over the TV.  Parents can really help their kids pay attention to these plans and encourage them to bring a book any time they might have a spare few minutes.  

I made one too!  I've already read 2 books, since making my plan.  I'm one tenth of the way to my goal!