Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from July, 2017

Review: The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Talk
Starr grew up in the hood. She is surrounded by gang violence, and watches her best friend get killed in a drive-by at 10 years old. But that all pales in comparison to the night she gets a ride home from a party with her childhood friend Khalil. The blue lights go on behind them and Starr's life changes forever.

My Thoughts
I think there is a lot to think about and discuss in this book. I believe in the importance of diverse books that address tough topics, but I had trouble connecting with the characters. I have no experience or perspective to match it, but I am glad I read the book because it caused me to think deeply about my own biases and perceptions. It also made me think about how the media portrays things and how much I take as truth that probably should be more fully examined.

That being said, I felt the dialogue was heavy handed and overplayed. It just felt too contrived, like I knew exactly where the st…

Review: Orphan Train Girl

Orphan Train Girl by Christina Baker Kline
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Talk:
Molly lives in a foster home...her 3rd actually, in as many years. She just can't seem to fit in or find a forever family. Then she meets Vivian, a very unlikely ally. The 92-year old hires Molly to help her clean out her attic, and to share her life's story. A story that is very similar to Molly's.

My Thoughts
Beautiful story. The books weaves the stories of Molly and Vivian perfectly, and I just fell in love with both characters. Perfection.

My Recommendation
5/5 stars
Grades 5+

View all my reviews

Review: These Shallow Graves

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Talk
It's 1890, and Josephine (Jo) Montfort is living the life of a rich New York socialite. That is, until her father mysteriously commits suicide and her life is turned upside down. As she digs deeper into the strange circumstances surrounding her father's death, Jo finds herself in the middle of dangerous secrets that don't want to stay hidden.

My Thoughts
This was a fun read. I really enjoyed the mystery as well as the historical fiction piece of this story. I really liked the main character Jo, and her desire to break the mold and find herself.

My Recommendation
4.5/5 stars
Grades 7 and up (there are a few adult-ish situations, but very mild; some mild language)

View all my reviews

The Perfect Planner

Every year I go through the same struggle...paper or digital? Online lesson planner or Google Docs? Outlook or Calendar?
I don't know that I will ever arrive at the perfect solution, but I do have a few thoughts that guided my decision for this year (to be revealed at the end of this list).
I can't have more than 1 platform going at once. My district provides access to both Microsoft and Google products, as well as Adobe Cloud. This year I had some appointments on Outlook, a few on paper, and some in Google calendar. Needless to say, I missed some meetings.It is easy for me to miss things on my digital calendars because I'm not always at my computer and I don't always remember to check all of the calendars listed above.I need something I can change up pretty easily if I make a mistake or change my mind.
To make things even trickier, a fabulous co-worker made me a homemade bullet journal this year and got me totally hooked on the process of daily to-do lists. So while I…

PD Review: Blogging for Educators: Writing for Professional Learning

Book Talk It seems funny to write a review...on my blog...about blogging. But as a new-ish blogger, I wanted to get better at my practice and sought out books dealing with blogging for teachers. This was trickier than I expected, as much of the literature is for teachers who want to blog with their students. That's awesome, and I hope to do this as well, but I'm really looking at how to be a better blogger.

Sackstein's book is part of the Corwin Connected Educators Series. If you've read any of these books, you know that they are quick reads, to the point, and strategies-based. This book is right on target.

Review: No More Reading for Junk: Best Practices for Motivating Readers

No More Reading for Junk: Best Practices for Motivating Readers by Barbara A Marinak
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Have you ever really thought about why you do the things you do in the classroom in terms of reading instruction? How many of us have created reading incentive programs, or jumped on the Book It train? In Marinak and Gambrell's book, they (gently) eviscerate the token economy approach to literacy.

In Part 1 (Not This), Marinak takes us through her evolution as a reading teacher, focusing on the many mistakes she, and others, have made. She talks about dressing up and quacking like a duck, and principals shaving their heads, as well as commonly used bribes like candy, toys, and food. I really appreciate Marinak's transparency in part 1, because although she is correcting mistakes that I have made many times in my teaching career, she does it with humor and by pointing out her own mistakes.

Review: The Thousandth Floor

The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Talk
Imagine what it would be like to live on the 1000th floor of a 2-mile high tower in the middle of New York City. Avery and Atlas Fuller don't have to imagine it, they live it. They and their friends live a magical life, full of money, friends, shopping, and drugs. Everything they could possibly want. But the more you have, the more you have to lose...

My Thoughts
I really enjoyed this book for myself. It has enough mystery and glamour that it kept me turning pages. It is supposed to be futuristic, but I didn't feel like that overwhelmed the book at all. There were hints of future life, such as the drugs the kids took and the contact lenses they wore that doubled as mobile devices. But that really didn't dictate the story. This one is really about relationships and status. It looks at the way money can impact friendships, and that having everything you could possibly want doesn't mean you are happ…
Recap: 2017 PA Forward Information Literacy Summit 
Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the PA Forward Information LIteracy Summit at Penn State University in State College, PA. The focus of yesterday's conference, according to their website, was:
"libraries and maker culture, and will be relevant to any librarians interested or involved in teaching and learning, including academic, public, school, and special librarians, and other educators."
As a new Maker Librarian, this really appealed to me. I have a great space, but I don't feel like I have the curriculum or data to really back up what I am doing. So I went into the conference hoping for some specific tips and strategies for making my Makerspace more curriculum-ready.

The keynote speaker was Heather Moorefield, professor of LIS at USC. She focused on what other libraries are doing with Makerspaces, especially in the realm of mobile makers. Here are some examples of what she shared:

Slice of Life

Most of my blogging is professional in focus, or at least it tries to be. But thanks to Two Writing Teachers, today I'm going to focus on a slice of my life.

This is beach week for my family. For the past 21 years we have spent a week as an extended family at a tiny military recreation area in North Carolina.





Beach week is really big for my family for a couple of reasons.
1. We slow things down. I have two teenage boys, a military husband, and a puppy. Life can be a little crazy. Beach week lets us step away from the crazy and breathe.

2. We spend time together.
Now please don't get me wrong. Norman Rockwell we ain't . There is still arguing and nit-picking. But last night we all got in kayaks and floated down the Cape Fear river and watched the sun go down. I walked in from a walk yesterday to find my boys playing a card game...and trust me, that is NOT a daily occurrence in this house.
3. We try new things.
Yesterday my husband and I decided to try something new. We rent…

Summer Planning

It seems like I've been waiting for summer break since Christmas. It's finally here, and what am I doing? Spending countless hours perusing my favorite teacher blogs, reading posts in my Facebook groups, and scrolling through Twitter.

It's the teacher's plight. We just can't help it. I love the approach  Two Writing Teachers takes to the summer planning frenzy. Embrace it, know it's coming, and try to plan in some time away from it all. As in all things in my life, I need a plan if I'm going to get it done. So I am borrowing liberally from the Two Writing Teachers idea for summer planning. Here's what I'm going to do with the rest of my summer:
July
To Read PYRCA books (YA category)Salt to the SeaPhantom LimbsBurn Baby BurnPYRCA books (MG category)SlackerEchoWolf HollowProfessional DevelopmentInvent to LearnThe Big Book of MakerSpace ProjectsFinish up 2 grad classes To Do Beach Time!Yearly plans for all grades (5-8), just map out the topicsSketch out…