Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Maze Runner

I want to post reviews/ book chats on the books I read over break.  My first review was gong to be The Maze Runner.  It has been on my TBR pile since I listened to a review on the Books on the Nightstand Podcast.  It has sat there for months, until one day the 5th grade teacher in my school came to me (maybe its the thousands of books displayed in my room) to get another book.  I handed him a pile and he chose Maze Runner.  He read it in a couple days and could not stop telling me how much he loved it.  Nothing like an excited reader to convince you to read a book.  I was not disappointed.  It was fantastic.  I could go on and on, but while I was blog hopping on my friend and coworker's blog I found this high school student who did a much better job then I could ever do.

Read Lulu's review of The Maze Runner.

Now go read the book!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Goodnight Myrtle Beach, Thanks for the Inspiration

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"The more you read, the more you'll know!" , this is my mantra.  I tell my self, I tell my students, I tell anyone who will listen.  

The last two years I have attended the New York State Reading Conference, followed by a vacation in Myrtle Beach, followed by the New York State English Language Arts Exam (one after another in a 4 week period).  You may think "How exhausting!" (with a slight bit of resentment in your voice).  

It inspires me... ironically they spend a lot of time promoting reading at the conference, consequently I spend a lot of time reading on vacation, and then imagine this... I know more.  I learn about families, (dis)utopian worlds, historical events, reading strategies, authors, places... the list goes on and on. 

I am personally amazed at the connections I make to a book after I read it.  I walk around wondering, "How did I understand these things before I read that book?".  I know this happens to our students.  Our students who read.  

We had a pizza party for the 100 students in our school (out of 260ish) that met their reading goals.  They were so proud of them selves.  The room was filled with book talk.  They applauded each other.  It was an English teachers version of heaven.  But how do we reach those who were not there, the large handful of my 6th grade students who did not even meet 50 percent of their reading goal?  The ones who are going to have a hard time reading the ELA Exam that is written at grade level, because they are not practicing reading. They therefore are not building foundations to help make connections or raising they reading level.  How do I get them to finish a book? I can convince them to pick up a book, but how do I persuade them to read at home, how do I convince them to keep reading?  The more  they read, the more they'll know....  How do I help them read more? 

Any answers?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Reading Challenge Update & New Challenge

Okay... So I read 8 books, meeting but did not exceeding, my personal challenge (insert sad face here). 

During my two week break I finished:
Chasing Lincoln's Killer
A Tale Dark & Grimm
Igniting a Passion for Reading
43 Cemetery Road: Over My Dead Body
The Things a Brother Knows
Podcasting for Dummies
Maze Runner

If we count the repeated readings of 5 Little Ducks I did with my nephew though, I guess we could say I met my personal challenge.

Speaking of challenges... for the last 5 years Mother Reader has hosted a 48 hour book challenge.  I have admired it from afar, but after this awesome break, I think I am ready to accept the challenge.  Do you want to join me?

Read more about it here: Sixth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Teacher's Spring Break

2nd week of our spring break, and day 3.5 in Myrtle Beach. I promised myself to beat my 8 book total from last year.... But this year we have done a little more sightseeing. My 2 year old nephew is with us, so I am having sooo much fun, but not getting all the books read I wanted to.

I have finished:


Chasing Lincoln's Killer

A Tale Dark & Grimm

Igniting a Passion for Reading

43 Cemetery Road: Over my Dead Body

I am currently reading:

The Secret of the Old Clock

The Things a Brother Knows

Podcasting for Dummies

In my pile I still have:

39 clues

The Westing Game

Maze Runner

We will see how far I can get. We have walked the boardwalk, visited the state park, toured Brookgreen Gardens ( WOW) and swam in the ocean. I think I can take it easy and just read for the next few days!

I'll keep you updated!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

2 Sisters: Renamed....

On the last day of the New York State Reading Conference my best friends and I ran to the large presentation room early (after spending way too much money in the vendor area) and snagged front row seats. Why might you ask would we want to covet the front row...

The second presentaters were The 2 Sisters!!!! Daily 5 and CAFE have become our life and we couldn't wait to see and listen to the 2 woman behind it all. The presentation was exceptional. They are both knowledgeable and very talented presenters.

After the presentation they signed books and poised for photos. We felt like we were "hanging with the stars" but they asked us where we taught, what our positions were, and talked with us like we were the stars! Kind, thoughtful and brilliant!! What great mentors!

Maybe I should let them know I have renamed us "The 5 Sisters"!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

NYSRA presentor: Tim Rasinski

As I mentioned in an earlier post Tim Rasinski was one of the presenters at the New York State Reading Conference I attended earlier in the week.  Well... I opened my email this afternoon, and who do you suppose emailed me... that's right Tim himself!!  Ok, I know he probably sent it to everyone... but I feel special. 

He attached some scripts, and song books and provided a link to his website to get word ladders, readers theater scripts, a nursery rhyme book, and other materials.

At his presentation he asked us to consider:
  • What does it mean to be a fluent reader?
  • How are reading fluency and comprehension connected?
  • What strategies can you use to help students become more fluent?
  • How can you measure fluency?
  • How should data from fluency assessments be used? 
Luckily he addresses the answers to these questions in a book titled Essential Readings on Fluency, written for the International Reading Association.  
"The 16 articles, published originally in IRA’s influential journal The Reading Teacher, provide a clear definition of fluency, describe its importance, suggest research-based strategies for instruction to support fluency development, tackle how it should be measured, and emphasize the appropriate use of assessment data."
You can read excerpts from the book on fluency he edited here.  I found the article on "Teaching Reading with Talking Books"  (page 46) very interesting because I use this strategy often with my 6th graders (one of the great uses for iPods in the classroom!) .  

You can listen to a Podcast introducing the book, and outlining a few lessons, one of which is the Fluency Development Lesson.

Check it all out, my friend Tim would love to share.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Rest of the 2012 Charlotte Award Nominees!

Here is the list of the remaining Childrens' Choice award nominees for the New York State 2012 Charlotte Awards.  Click on the title to link to Amazon or Barnes & Noble ebooks. 

Please ask your school or local public librarian for copies of the books.  They would be glad to get them for you.  Books marked with a * were available for epub download from my local library. The books are very easy to download, my library even has a video to show me how to do it!

The Intermediate List (Grades 3-5):

The Can Man

Emily’s Fortune (ebook)

Family Reminders

Fly Free!

Jake  (ebook)

Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute

Mirror Mirror: A book of reversible Verse

Nic Bishop Lizards

The Sandwich Swap

Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride

The Middle School List (Grades 6-8):

All the Broken Pieces

Bystander  (ebook)

The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. (ebook)

Candy Bomber

Cleopatra Rules!

How to Survive Middle School  (ebook)

January’s Sparrow

The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook

Slob (ebook)

A Tale Dark and Grimm (ebook)

The High School List (Grades 9-12):

Beautiful Creatures (ebook)*

The Chosen One (ebook)*

The Maze Runner (ebook)*

North of Beautiful (ebook)*

The Notorious Benedict Arnold (ebook)

The Sweetheart of Prosper County (ebook)

The Things a Brother Knows (ebook)*

Trash (ebook)


The Year of Goodbyes

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Igniting a Passion for Reading

I just returned from the New York State Reading Association annual reading conference.  I am excited and invigorated to be the best teacher of literacy I can be.  I saw Ralph Fletcher, Dr. Donald Leu, Kelly Gallagher, Dr. Donna Scanlon, Dr. Timothy Rasinski, The 2 Sisters, lots of authors, and Steven Layne.  WOW! What an experience.  I will tell you all about it, but tonight I wanted to get started on creating a database of Book Chats, suggested by Steven Layne (he has a binder, but I of course had to go tech!).  I used google docs, and am posting the form here so my teacher friends can give me a hand.  I thought this might also be a useful tool if I become a Charlotte Award Committee Member.  Lets give it a whirl.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Ballot for the 2012 New York State Reading Association's Charlotte Award

Named for the main character in E.B. White's Charlotte's Web, the purpose of the Charlotte Award is to encourage students to read outstanding literature and ultimately become life-long readers. Additionally, the award recognizes the authors and illustrators of such literature.
The Ballot for 2012 was announced today.  We waited with baited breath to find out who would be nominated....
The Pre K-2 Primary list for this award is as follows: