Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Reading Resolutions & March Book Madness



I decided to spend some time our first day back celebrating all our reading this year! I also know that many students were having some trouble deciding what to read next as our Mock Newbery Book Club is coming to an end. I thought, it was time to start talking up March Book Madness so that they can read the books in this year's bracket. I learned about March Book Madness at Nerd Camp Michigan this summer and I knew I wanted to participate! Visit the official Weebly {here} for all the details on the Middle Grade bracket. There are also brackets for picture books and YA. This year's theme is "New Classics."

If you'd like to save a copy of my Google Slides Presentation you can grab it {here}. Just make a copy to edit! I also did slide at the end for some goal setting in 2017. Gave me students some tips on setting goals and I also included my reading goals for 2017!

Hope it can help you out!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

#SixyBooks in 2016!

I set a goal back this time last year to read just 60 books in 2016. I was in a reading slump and wanted to recharge my reading life. I've always loved reading and I knew I had to dedicate some time for things that I hold dear. So I jumped on board with the #SixyBooks challenge on Twitter.


Turns out, I blew past my goal of sixty books well before year's end! I found my love of reading renewed thanks my dearest #BookJourney crew and "Nerdy" friends and authors. Even my students and their participation and excitement over Mock Newbery kept me reading throughout the early part of the school year. I didn't quite double my goal as planned, but I'm hoping shooting for 120 in 2017. But I did read 112 books in 2017!

Here are a few of my favorites!
Many were published in 2016 but some were older books, I had never picked up.








If I was giving out the Newbery here would be my top three picks!
Hour of the Bees was my 2017 favorite book of the year & my top pick for Newbery!

What were some of your favorite reads in 2016?

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Mock Newbery Book Talks: Part 2

Although, I had some grand ideas about having about 4 books out a month, that had to get scrapped as more students than expected signed up to be part of our team's book club. Initially we had 85 students sign up - we're down to about 60 at this point but holding strong. So, we've released books in two parts to have enough copies for all readers that were ready for books and to allow for some books to be released. Students are reading and reading A LOT this year. I've always had readers in my room due to our strong reading community, time to read, and book clubs but this year is far beyond any expectations.

Here's the second part of our book talks...
{Click the image} to download the entire book talk with book trailer/book talk links.
 I'm not sure if it's a front runner on the Newbery Committee but this book is a front runner in my eyes. I loved the idea of a story within a story and the fantasy and folklore that was expertly blended with realistic fiction. This story reminded me so much of my grandparents and had be crying like a baby at the end. Loved this book. Couldn't put it down. And I've read lots of great books so far this year.

 We're going to Skype with debut author about Molly & Finding Perfect. This book struck a personal cord with me and I felt like this was a book I needed to share with my students. As a teacher in a high achieving and very competitive school, I've seen numerous students struggle with anxiety and OCD. Molly is a great mirror and instantly many students connected with the story and couldn't wait to pick up a copy! Click the image above for an amazing audio teaser!

 Another personal favorite. I laughed and cried so hard as I read through Maxi's Secrets. This was another top favorite of the year. It's far more than a "dog" book and Maxi can teach us all some very valuable lessons.

I also thought it was important to add in some other titles that I didn't feature but could be contenders for the 2017 Newbery. This just helps my readers access other books and see that there are differing opinions on great reads. Click the images below for teasers for The Inquisitors Tale & Some Kind of Courage.

Which book(s) have your vote for the 2017 Newbery so far?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Character Unit Book Club

So excited to be launching my first in class book club tomorrow! I get a lot of questions about book club and you can check out my Book Club Basics post {here}.

A big thing I stress is keeping book clubs authentic. For me, these are not literature circles with a packet and jobs. Could use those roles, sure! But a real book club, doesn't function that way. In real life you read a book independently and then get together with your club to discuss and enjoy the book. In my class, book clubs operate the same way. Students read the books independently and then come together on Fridays to share, discuss, or work on something fun! We also use these books as ways to get in our Reader's Workshop mini-lessons. Since I've read all of the books, its easy to do a comprehension check as well or help striving readers. As always, you need to do what's best for your classroom. I always try and offer lots of choice and once students finish two book club novels within the unit, they are on free choice.


Our first book club of the year focuses on characters. We dig deep and look at how and when characters act out of character. We also begin to analyze how other characters and even settings can impact characters. At the conclusion of this unit, students write a literary essay focusing on their main characters. My teaching partner and I wanted to focus on books that will help build community within our team. Therefore, many of the choices deal with characters that have special needs or are dealing with problems outside of their control like divorce and having a parent in jail.

This unit could work with ANY novel with strong characters but here are few of my favorites... 
If you'd like to book talk any of these novels, click the Book Talks graphic. It will link you to my Google Drive link. You can download my SMARTnotebook file with strong character novels.


Saturday, September 10, 2016

15th Anniversary of 9/11

Books help connect students to history and each other. With this year being the 15th Anniversary of September 11th, I've found so many books to help students understand this time in American history and why this date has impacted everyone that remembers the events of the day. I feel like exposing students to high interest historical fiction and nonfiction help bridge the gap of understanding for students born after September 11th.

Here are few of my favorite reads for middle grade readers:



What are your favorites for sharing and discussing 9/11?