It’s Monday! What are you reading? 3/2/15 #IMWAYR

IMWAYR

Lately, I’ve been reading some great books on Net Galley and borrowing books from my students. It’s been a good reading week!

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys and invites bloggers to recap what they’ve read this week while planning ahead on what to read next! Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee at Unleashing Readers added their own twist by focusing on kidlit, from picture books up to YA.

Be sure to click on the covers for an in depth synopsis and others’ reviews

under a painted sky

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

YA Historical Fiction, Release Date: 3/17/15
384 Pages
My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
I haven’t read many YA novels that take place in 1849 and on the Oregon Trail. Ok, I don’t think I’ve read any, but I’m glad I found this one! This gorgeous hooked me from the start. Samantha and her father are Chinese immigrants in unfriendly and unfamiliar territory. After a suspicious fire, Samantha is left alone with nowhere to go. Her father’s landlord offers her a place to stay, but after a very scary situation, she is forced to leave town with Annamae, a slave who is desperate to head out West,  with little more than what they can carry. They decide to disguise themselves as “Sam” and “Andy” and when they meet a group of cowboys, things get really interesting. This is one of the best books with the theme of “friendship” I’ve read in awhile. I loved it! I was surprised there were almost 400 pages, because I flew through it, needing to know what was going to happen next. The group gets themselves in some pretty interesting situations, and the ending is pretty intense! I really, really would have been fine with 300 more pages. Excellent book and I highly recommend!

my best everything

My Best Everything by Sarah Tomp

YA Contemporary Fiction, Release Date: March 3, 2015
400 Pages
My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Isn’t this cover really cool too? It’s one of my favorites that I’ve ever seen. Lulu has just finished high school and is headed as far away as possible from the small Virginia town she grew up in. Unfortunately, after some financial issues, money for college isn’t there anymore and her dream is crushed. Desperate, Lulu convinces her two best friends and brand new crush to sell moonshine around town to make her dream of escaping a reality. I was caught a little off guard by the moonshine plot twist, but it’s really well done and perfect for the setting and characters. I loved Lulu and her friends. The whole book is a letter to Lulu’s crush, Mason, and as the reader you’re not sure if it’s a love letter or a goodbye letter. I was a little frustrated with the somewhat open ending, but that’s just me, needing loose ends tied up. Would like more by this author. Good book. Definitely recommend!

Unlocked

Unlocked by Ryan G. Van Cleave

YA Contemporary, written in verse, 2011
176 Pages
My Goodreads Rating: 2/5 Stars
Andy is at the bottom of the high school food chain. His dad is the school’s janitor, he has no friends, and is frequently picked on. There’s a rumor going on around school that Blake, a fellow student, has a gun in his locker. To impress a girl, Andy steals his dad’s keys and decides to find out if the rumor is true. After a series of events, Andy and Blake become friends and everything goes downhill. This book focuses on bullying and school violence and is pretty intense.

cant look away

Can’t Look Away by Donna Cooner

Contemporary YA Fiction, 2014
272 Pages
My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
One of my students bought this title at the book fair we recently had and I asked if I could borrow it when she was finished. I highly recommend doing this no matter what the book is. It instantly shows the student you value their reading choices and it opens up a great opportunity for dialogue. Can’t Look Away’s protagonist is Torrey Grey, a You Tube star, famous for her beauty and fashion videos. She has a cult following, and when tragedy strikes her family, Torrey’s world is turned upside down – online and in real life. She and her parents move, and she is thrown into a new high school, with new rules and new mean girls to contend with. While the least of her worries is not being recognized, Torrey has a lot to deal with and a long way to go to realize what is really important. This book has great teen reader appeal. While it wasn’t my favorite book I’ve ever read, I’m glad I read it because it led to several conversations with a student reader in class, in the hallway and now we have a bond over a book and that won’t ever go away.

It’s Monday! What are you reading? 2/23/15 #IMWAYR

IMWAYR

Thanks to Mother Nature’s tight grip on Ohio this past week, I have been on an almost week long hiatus from school. Extra time = reading time! It’s been awesome and I feel like I’ve finally got my reading groove back. Hope it’s here for awhile!

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys and invites bloggers to recap what they’ve read this week while planning ahead on what to read next! Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee at Unleashing Readers added their own twist by focusing on kidlit, from picture books up to YA.

Be sure to click on the covers for an in depth synopsis and others’ reviews

odette's secrets

Odette’s Secrets by Maryann MacDonald

Historical Fiction Novel, written in verse, 2013
240 Pages
My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Odette and her parents are non practicing Jews that live in Paris. Their lives are turned upside down after her father enlists in the army, is captured and sent to a camp. Odette is sent to live and hide in the country and has to adapt to a completely new way of life. I enjoyed this novel in verse and think it would give middle school students a good perspective of a child’s struggles during WWII in a place other than Germany.

hidden

Hidden by Helen Frost

Realistic Fiction Novel, written in verse , 2011
160 Pages
My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Wren Abbot is in the wrong place at the wrong time. She stays in her mother’s van while her mother goes inside a gas station, and the van is stolen. The van is stolen by Darra Monson’s father, and he doesn’t know anyone else is in the vehicle. When Darra’s dad hides the van in his family’s garage, Wren finds herself trapped. Wren manages to escape and the two girls lives are instantly intertwined and never the same again, especially after they meet years later at summer camp. I really liked this book and found the alternating viewpoints fascinating.

this one summer

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki

YA Graphic Novel, 2014
320 Pages
My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
This One Summer won both a Caldecott Honor and a Printz Honor, which is pretty interesting. This coming of age story centers around Rose and her family’s yearly trip to the beach.  Most of the book is really sad and full of family secrets and Rose trying to figure out life and growing up. While I found some spots a little slow, the artwork in this book is beautifully done.

and we stay

And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

Contemporary YA Fiction, written in verse  2015
240 Pages
My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
And We Stay is another 2015 Printz Honor book and I loved it. Emily is shipped off to a prestigious boarding school after her ex boyfriend threatens her in the school library one day and takes his own life. Her new school is Amherst College, where famed and tortured poet Emily Dickinson lived. Emily is forced to come to terms with what happened and move on with her life. Easier said than done. This book is very well written. The combination of flashbacks, present time and poems from Emily Dickinson intertwined into the storyline were beautiful. This is a really sad book but I think it was an excellent choice for a Printz honor. Highly recommend!

fish in a tree

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Middle Grade Fiction, 2015
288 Pages
My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
This book has had so many fans from the start that I knew I had to read it. Talk about a heartwarming book for teachers and students! Ally is a super smart young lady, but she can’t read. She is too embarrassed to ask for help, her teacher and principal think she is a trouble maker and she is constantly picked on by the mean girls. Her dad is deployed, her mom works all the time and her brother has his own frustrations. It isn’t until Mr. Daniels, a long term substitute, comes to Ally’s class that things begin to change for her. I got choked up so many times while reading this book. It is so, so special. I loved the friendship between Ally, Albert and Keisha, and think this is right up there with Wonder, Counting By 7’s and Mockingbird, which are all books that hold a special place in my heart. Highly recommend!

My One Little Word for 2015 – CREATE #olw15

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This week my students will be completing a project where they create their own Bucket Lists and choose one item to analyze further as if they were going to complete it. It will require quite a bit of research and documenting sources. They will then present their projects to the class at the end of the week. I love projects like this because they are personal and we all learn so much about each other while students gain valuable skills in the process.

My Bucket List includes, among other things, visiting several faraway destinations, meeting a couple of NFC quarterbacks, relearning Spanish, moving to the Pacific Northwest, and being a mom someday. When thinking about my One Little Word for 2015, I really didn’t have to think too long and hard about it. I am a very creative person and feel as if I haven’t been tapping into that part of my brain for a very long time. I am definitely not a painter or a person that can even really draw, but I do love art, and even more, the process of making something.  Activities such as craft projects, interior decorating, writing, card making, and even cooking, which I feel can be a very creative outlet, are missing from my life. This year I am going to make time in my life for me and for time to CREATE.

I have so many ideas and I really want to open my own Etsy store this year. Here’s to my One Little Word, CREATE, and all the possibilities for 2015!

It’s Monday! What are you reading? 12/29/14 #IMWAYR

IMWAYR

Here’s a first for me – I have only finished one book so far while I’ve been on Winter Break! It’s been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to sit down to read my mail let alone look at a book. I’m hoping this will change in a day or two and I can get to some of the books that have been sitting patiently all over my house this fall.

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys and invites bloggers to recap what they’ve read this week while planning ahead on what to read next! Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee at Unleashing Readers added their own twist by focusing on kidlit, from picture books up to YA.

Click on the covers for an in depth synopsis and others’ reviews

el deafo

El Deafo by CeCe Bell

Middle Grade Graphic Novel, 2014
233 Pages
My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
This is my favorite graphic novel that I have ever read. It is HILARIOUS!! and so, so sweet. It centers around the author’s childhood and losing her hearing after being seriously ill. Every page in this book has SO much to look at. The graphics are so well done and I laughed a lot.  I loved all the little stories that the author shared that dealt with being different and learning to live with her hearing aids and amplifier. I really hope this wins an award – maybe the Schneider – although, in my opinion, it is definitely Newberry worthy.

beekle

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat

Picture Book, 2014
40 Pages
My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
This picture book will melt your heart. The land of imaginary friends is so cool and unique. The pictures are amazing and I think that little ones will love this book and older readers will definitely relate to the storyline. I think this would be a great mentor text and generate lots of interesting stories in a middle school classroom.

book with no pictures

The Book With No Pictures by BJ Novak

Picture Book, 2014
48 Pages
My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
My husband and I gave each of our sets of nieces and nephews one copy of Beekle and one copy of The Book With No Pictures for Christmas. Last night, my husband sat down with his nephew Eli and read this book to him before bedtime. I tried to warn Eli’s dad that this probably wasn’t a great before bedtime book, but he insisted that it would be ok. Oh, how I wish I would have recorded the next 15 minutes of giggling turning into laughter and cries of “Read it AGAIN!”. I had to laugh to myself when Eli wanted nothing to do with bedtime after this book. Bottom line – this book is VERY funny! I could see it being a hit in any classroom. Even today my husband recited some of the lines out of nowhere and we laughed all over again.

interestings

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

Contemporary Fiction, 2013
480 Pages
My Goodreads Rating: 3/5 Stars
This “panoramic” novel was recommended to me and while I stuck with it for almost 2 weeks, I barely held on. It was, in fact, interesting, and once I committed, I had to know what happened to these characters. I found the last fourth of the book to be really disappointing. 480 pages was way too much. I want to read more by this author in the future, but I think I will stick to her YA books.

Our Class Blog is Live! A Call for #commentsforkids

blogging adventures

 

My students have been blogging now for about 2 1/2 months and we finally decided to go PUBLIC. We’ve been writing reviews, bucket lists, poems, stories and working on commenting. We’d love to hear from you and your students. If you have a class blog, leave the link below and we will return the favor by commenting on your blogs, too. On behalf of my student writers, thank you!

Mrs. Mosher’s 2nd Period Blog

It’s Monday! What are you reading? #IMWAYR 12/15/14

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It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys and invites bloggers to recap what they’ve read this week while planning ahead on what to read next! Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee at Unleashing Readers added their own twist by focusing on kidlit, from picture books up to YA.

Click on the covers for an in depth synopsis and others’ reviews

ill meet you there

I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

Contemporary YA Fiction, Release Date: 2/3/15
Alcoholism, Death of a Parent, War, PTSD, College, Romance
400 Pages, My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
I was lucky enough to read I’ll Meet You There through Netgalley, and I loved it! The main character, and recent graduate, Skylar Evans, is ready to leave the miserable, soul sucking town of Creek View for bigger and much better things at art school in San Fransisco. Freedom is right around the corner, but first she has to survive through the summer. With 3 minimum wage jobs, a scary home situation, strained friendships, and the return of hometown hero Josh Mitchell, Skylar is going to have her hands full. Josh Mitchell, on the other hand, is back from fighting in Afghanistan, and is barely holding on. His life is nothing of what it used to be and he is struggling physically and mentally. The only thing keeping him going right now is going to support meetings with other vets and working at The Paradise with Skylar. This book is so much more than a summer romance!

Such a great story and the differing perspectives of Josh and Sklyar are really powerful! I loved all the characters in the book, the setting, and really wish we could have more stories about those who have served and the struggles they have when they return home.

the summer I turned pretty

The Summer I Turned Pretty (Summer #1) by Jenny Han

Contemporary YA Fiction, 2009
Cancer, Divorce, Growing Up
276 Pages, My Goodreads Rating:4/5 Stars
The main character of The Summer… is Belly. Fifteen year old Belly (short for Isabelle) spends her summers with her mother, brother, her mother’s best friend and her two sons, Jeremiah and Conrad, at the beach. Belly has essentially grown up at the beach with these boys – through all the swims, feasts, pranks, trips to the boardwalk, and while this summer is more of the same, it’s also a summer that changes everything.

I enjoy Jenny Han’s writing, and this story was pretty good. At times I found the narrator, Belly, a little annoying, but the flashbacks and storyline were ok. I would be interested in reading #2, especially after reading the first chapter excerpt and thinking “Wait, how did THAT happen?!” From reading these few pages of book 2 it seems there will have to be a lot of flashbacks to clue readers in on what happened between the two books.

not that kind

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

Memoir, 2014
265 pages, My Goodreads rating 3/5 Stars
Disclaimer: I purchased this book in the midst of a 7 minute ebook buying frenzy. I have never seen Dunham’s HBO show Girls and don’t really know that much about her. You know where this review is going, don’t you? While I thought a lot of the book was interesting and somewhat humorous, I will be the first to admit that the majority of the book was way over my head and I didn’t get a lot of the references. While I’m happy I stuck with it, I honestly think I probably should have spent the couple extra dollars on Amy Poehler’s book instead.

all the bright places

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Contemporary YA Fiction, Release Date: 1/6/15
Mental Illness, YA romance
384 Pages, My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
This book is being advertised as a cross between The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor and Park. Yep. That tagline definitely does All the Bright Places justice. The first pages happen on top of a school bell tower with outsider Theodore Finch contemplating if this will be the day he ends his life. He is interrupted by the beautiful Violet, who is also on the bell tower trying to figure things out. Their stories will intertwine in complicated swirls and readers will get sucked into their love story very quickly. You’ll be thinking about these two characters long after you finish the last page. This book is amazing. Funny, sad and very, very powerful. It gutted me and I still think about it. So glad I got to read this through NetGalley. Highly recommend!

dumbest ideaThe Dumbest Idea Ever! by Jimmy Gownley

Graphic Novel Memoir, 2014
Art, School life, Achieving Dreams
240 Pages, My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
I picked up this graphic novel at the Scholastic sale solely on the title. I read it the next day and while I don’t think it’s the best graphic novel I’ve ever read, it does has potential in my classroom library. The author tells the story of how his first graphic novel was published when he was in high school and how dreams do come true with hard work. While this message sometimes gets lost in some slow sub plots, I think if the right reader comes along, this book will make a big impact on his or her life. It just so happens I have a student this year who loves graphic novels and is obsessed with drawing. You can bet that this book will be on his desk Monday morning with a “READ ME!” note. I’m pretty excited to see what he things about it!

Happy Reading, everyone!

Hour of Code – Celebrating Computer Science Education Week

hour-of-code-logo

This week we have been celebrating Computer Science Education Week in my Focus Reading Intervention classes by participating in the 2014 Hour of Code. Hour of Code is a one hour introduction to computer science that provides the opportunity for anyone to learn the basics. We spent Monday and Tuesday of this week watching a couple of short instructional videos and then exploring several really cool programs.

We started with “Code with Elsa and Anna” and it was a fantastic introduction to working with block style coding. While it was a little slow and glitchy Monday from the large numbers of students all over the world accessing it (Honestly though…what a cool problem to have!)  students learned the basics of coding and moved through 20 levels of programming.

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On day two, students used Scratch, Lightbot and another block style coding program for Flappy Birds. Scratch is pretty challenging for beginners, and it was fun to watch students designing their own holiday cards and animating their names. Any time 6th, 7th and 8th graders are willingly trying new things, problem solving, and working together is a definite proud teacher moment!  It was one of the most animated and excited I have seen my students. I love that students can use their new knowledge of coding and work on projects outside of school. I have a couple 6th graders that are now determined to create their own apps and become Scratch experts.

Here are my awesome students showing off their Hour of Code certificates!

photo 1 6th grade photo 2 7th and 8th grade