It’s Monday! What are you reading? #IMWAYR 11/17/14

IMWAYR

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

glory

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King

Contemporary High YA Fantasy, 2014
320 Pages
My Goodreads Rating: 3/5 Stars
A.S. King is one of my favorite YA authors and while I liked Glory O’Brien’s story, the plot was a little weird for me. It definitely has a Grasshopper Jungle vibe to it, so if you were in to that book, you’ll like this too. If you have never read any of King’s books, I highly recommend Please Ignore Vera Deitz, Everybody Sees the Ants, and Ask the Passengers. All are excellent!

the girl who

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry

YA Mystery, 2013
213 Pages
My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
The first chapter of this book will grab you and not let go. The main character has no idea where she is, who she is, or why her captors want to kill her. Cue the craziness! This book has major teen reader appeal and fans of Henry’s Girl Stolen will like this one too. The “twist” three fourths of the way through was a little “meh” for my taste, but I know this book will be a hit in my classroom for sure.

brown girl dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming  by Jacqueline Woodson

Memoir written in verse, 2014
336 Pages
My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
WOW WOW WOW! This book is amazing. It’s the kind of book that deserves a second or third read immediately after you finish the first. Woodson shares the story of her childhood and takes us from Ohio to South Carolina to New York City. She shares story after story about her unique and loyal family members, growing up in the South, her early struggles with reading and the deep desire to be a writer. Definitely one of my top 3 books of 2014!

I also read some picture books this week that I’ve heard about online and requested from my library. Sam and Dave Dig a Hole was definitely my favorite and one of my nephews will definitely be getting a copy for Christmas.

tough boris

nesting bird

journey

sam and dave

What are you reading this week? I’m always looking for new books, so please share what’s in your stacks in the comments. Have a great week of reading, Literacy Lovers!

Sacred Writing Time With a Twist

 

writers (1)

I am a big believer in having my students write every day. Every. Single. Day. No matter what’s going on, we always make time for writing in our notebooks. At the start the year, we organized our notebooks into specific sections, made Heart Maps that captured future writing ideas, and decorated the outside of our notebooks with 5 Word Memoirs. Every month we use Corbett Harrison’s Sacred Writing Time Bingo Cards and students have a plethora of choices to pick from during writing time. I always promote student choice, but the cards are safety blankets that students can always use if they wish. Since we have been using the cards for a few months, there is now a noticeable excitement around the room when I pass them out, as students check out their options. We immediately go through each column and students star the ones they are interested in and jot down ideas in the boxes too. Hurray for writing routines!

Last week I decided to switch things up, and try something new. I chose the first chapter of The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry as our mentor text and distributed copies of it to students. Recently having started this book myself, I was enjoying it because it is one of those books that grabs you from page 1. The first chapter starts with the female main character in a very desperate situation. She wakes up after possibly being drugged, has no idea who or where she is, or an answer to the biggest question, why there are two men trying to kill her. Major teen reader appeal!

The title of chapter one is “Day 1, 4:51 PM and when we finished reading the 4 pages, I asked students “What did you notice?” and we proceeded to discuss several things that stood out:

  • The title is very specific – Day 1, 4:51 PM. “This is an important detail. It was obviously done on purpose.”
  • The beginning sentences are noticeably short and get longer as the main character wakes up and adjusts to her surroundings. “Cool idea. It makes you want to keep reading because so many things happen so fast at the very beginning!”
  • The chapter ends with a MAJOR cliffhanger. “Wait! What happens next? We can’t just stop!”

Talk about insightful observations! Of course students wanted me to continue reading to find out what happens next, but I told them that it was now up to them to decide what happens. I threw out some directions – “Start the story 5 minutes, 5 hours or 1 day later and show what happens. Use suspense and descriptive details just like the author did. Go!” Students did some of their best writing of the year and after 20 minutes had gone by, hands shot up all over the place because they all wanted to share their stories. Proud teacher moment, let me tell you!

For the next week, the majority of my students continued their stories on and off during Sacred Writing Time and that is the proof that it was as successful lesson! A pro tip teacher bonus – I also had a drawing to see who got to check out the book first.

When writing activities come together as seamlessly as this one and students have FUN while working hard on pieces they are proud of – it builds community, writing skills, and an awesome story to tell all of you!

Happy writing, everyone!

♥  Lesley

 

It’s Monday! What are you reading? #IMWAYR 11/2/14

IMWAYR

 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.

ivan

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate

 Picture Book, 2014
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
The One and Only Ivan is my favorite book. This picture book tells the story of how Ivan made it to the mall in Tacoma, Washington and eventually to Zoo Atlanta. It is fantastic and the note at the end from one of Ivan’s favorite zoo keepers made me tear up. Such a special story. I look forward to reading Ivan’s story to my students every year.

chasing brooklyn

Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder

YA Mystery, 2010
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
This is one of Schroeder’s longest novels in verse and it is very hard to put down. I enjoyed the two differing perspectives and the characters Nico and Brooklyn were interesting to follow. A sad story about loss and grieving. I would really like to add this one to my classroom library.