Sunday, January 22, 2017

Holding Up the Universe

A new book by Jennifer Niven that I recently read was Holding up the Universe. I thought the book was great. It has had some difficult reviews, but I loved the characters of Libby and Jack.

Libby is a 16 year old student that has recently lost about 300 pounds. Prior to this she ate herself to 600 plus pounds and had to rescued and cut out of her home. She started back to high school and hadn't been in public school since the 5th grade. Even though she had lost the weight there were still many students out there making her life difficult and making fun of her due to her weight.

Jack is a 17 year old student who first encounters Libby at school by dare from some friends at school. He grabbed her in the cafeteria and Libby punched. Because of this they were both sent to the office and had to work on community service projects together. Allowing them to become friends or possibly more.

Give the book a chance, it really was well written and is a book worth reading.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Another Great Read!

Just finished reading another book and again it didn't disappoint! The book is Need by the author Joelle Charbonneau. I was walking through BAM yesterday and saw the book for sale and loved the cover so I thought I have to read it. If you are looking for a good mystery to read please check out this book.

Here is a blurb about the book from Goodreads:

One by one, the teens in Nottawa, Wisconsin, join the newest, hottest networking site and answer one question: What do you need? A new iPhone? Backstage passes to a concert? In exchange for a seemingly minor task, the NEED site will fulfill your request. Everyone is doing it. So why shouldn’t you?

Kaylee Dunham knows what she needs—a kidney for her sick brother. She doesn’t believe a social networking site can help, but it couldn’t hurt to try.

Or could it?

After making her request, Kaylee starts to realize the price that will have to be paid for her need to be met. The demands the site makes on users in exchange for their desires are escalating, and so is the body count. Will Kaylee be able to unravel the mystery of who created the NEED network before it destroys them all?


Friday, January 1, 2016

My Reading Life Over Break

Yes, I am addicted to reading and I love it. I have many friends and family make fun of me and say things like, "Oh you are reading again?" or "How can you read so much?" Well truth me told, I really enjoy it. What I really like to do is read books that will get my students excited about reading too. I'm excited to go back to school next week, and book talk some of the books that I've read and continue reading, so I can have more books to talk to them about. I love when I have recommended a book to a student and they come into the classroom and talk to me about the book. It's exciting, and then it gets other students excited about the book too. One book that had many girls in my classroom excited this year was 

This book is my Tamara Ireland Stone and is exceptionally good. Here is brief look into the book from Amazon: If you could read my mind, you wouldn't be smiling.

Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can't turn off. 

Seriously if you haven't read this book, it is great and you will be in for a treat.

So over the last week or so I have been reading quite a bit. Right before break began I finished reading the Slated series. I am reading Slated in my 7th grade reading classroom right now as a read aloud. I had to know what was happening in the other two books in the series so I read them right before break. This is a great series and the kids love it and we are finding tons of "Signposts" in our reading to help us to comprehend the book. 

Here is a blurb about the first book in the series from Amazon: Kyla’s memory has been erased, her personality wiped blank, her memories lost forever. She’s been slated. The government claims that she was a terrorist and they are giving her a second chance—if she plays by their rules. But scenes from the past haunt her as she tries to adjust to a new life, family, and school, leaving her unsettled. Who is she really? And if only criminals are meant to be slated, why are so many other teens disappearing? As she and her friend Ben seek answers, Kyla is torn between the need to know more and her instinct for self-preservation.

Another book I finished reading the day before break was Gone by Michael Grant. Another Sci Fi Dystopian fantasy book. This book hooked me!! I can't wait to talk about it either.

A little about this book from Amazon: In the blink of an eye, everyone disappears. Gone. Except for the young. There are teens, but not one single adult. Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television. No way to get help. And no way to figure out what's happened. Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day. It's a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen, a fight is shaping up. Townies against rich kids. Bullies against the weak. Powerful against powerless. And time is running out: on your birthday, you disappear just like everyone else. . . .

The first book I read over Christmas break was the 2nd book in the Gone series called "Hunger"
another great book in the series: 
It's been three months since all the adults disappeared. Gone. Food ran out weeks ago and starvation is imminent. Meanwhile, the normal teens have grown resentful of the kids with powers. And when an unthinkable tragedy occurs, chaos descends upon the town. There is no longer right and wrong. Each kid is out for himself and even the good ones turn murderous. But a larger problem looms. The Darkness, a sinister creature that has lived buried deep in the hills, begins calling to some of the teens in the FAYZ. Calling to them, guiding them, manipulating them.
The Darkness has awakened. And it is hungry.

My 2nd book read during break was a book Called "Boy 21" by Mathew Quick. 
This was a very good read and I have a few students in mind when I get back to school that may enjoy this: 

Amazon: Basketball has always been an escape for Finley. He lives in broken-down Bellmont, a town ruled by the Irish mob, drugs, violence, and racially charged rivalries. At home, his dad works nights, and Finley is left to take care of his disabled grandfather alone. He's always dreamed of getting out someday, but until he can, putting on that number 21 jersey makes everything seem okay.

Russ has just moved to the neighborhood, and the life of this teen basketball phenom has been turned upside down by tragedy. Cut off from everyone he knows, he won't pick up a basketball, but answers only to the name Boy21--taken from his former jersey number.

As their final year of high school brings these two boys together, a unique friendship may turn out to be the answer they both need.

The 3rd book I read over break was a book called "Willow" by Julia Hoban. This is a book I found on Amazon and thought it looked good so I ordered it. It didn't disappoint. 


A brief blurb about this book from Amazon: 
Seven months ago, on a rainy March night, sixteen-year- old Willow's parents drank too much wine and asked her to drive them home. They never made it. Willow lost control of the car and her parents died in the accident. Now she has left behind her old home, friends, and school, and blocks the pain by secretly cutting herself. But when Willow meets Guy, a boy as sensitive and complicated as she is, she begins an intense, life-changing relationship that turns her world upside down.
Told in an arresting, fresh voice, Willow is an unforgettable novel about one girl's struggle to cope with tragedy, and one boy's refusal to give up on her.

The 4th book I read over break was the book called "House Arrest" by K.A. Holt. This was is written in verse about a boy that has gotten into trouble and is on House arrest after stealing to help his mom take care of his sick little brother. I loved the character Timothy. 

Here is a blurb from Amazon: 
Timothy is on probation. It's a strange word—something that happens to other kids, to delinquents, not to kids like him. And yet, he is under house arrest for the next year. He must check in weekly with a probation officer and a therapist, and keep a journal for an entire year. And mostly, he has to stay out of trouble. But when he must take drastic measures to help his struggling family, staying out of trouble proves more difficult than Timothy ever thought it would be. By turns touching and funny, and always original, House Arrest is a middlegrade novel in verse about one boy's path to redemption as he navigates life with a sick brother, a grieving mother, and one tough probation officer.

The next book I read over break was "Vanishing Girls" by Lauren Oliver. Another great book full of mystery that had a plot twist at the end. 

The blurb from Amazon:
Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara's beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged.

When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it's too late.

The 6th book I read over break was "All the Rage" by Courtney Summers. This one kept me going the whole way through. A tough topic,  but wow was it good.
Amazon blurb: The sheriff's son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything-friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy's only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn't speak up. Nobody believed her the first time-and they certainly won't now-but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.
With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, Courtney Summers' new novel All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women in a culture that refuses to protect them.

My 7th book during break was another book by Lauren Oliver called "Delirium". This is another Dystopian Sci Fi book. It is set in the future and "LOVE" is against the law. When you turn 18 you have an operation to remove your desire to love. This book was one I couldn't stop reading and it had me hooked from the beginning. I can't wait to read the other two books in the series.


Blurb from Amazon: In an alternate United States, love has been declared a dangerous disease, and the government forces everyone who reaches eighteen to have a procedure called the Cure. Living with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in Portland, Maine, Lena Haloway is very much looking forward to being cured and living a safe, predictable life. She watched love destroy her mother and isn't about to make the same mistakes.
But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena meets enigmatic Alex, a boy from the Wilds who lives under the government's radar. What will happen if they do the unthinkable and fall in love?

My 8th book that I've read over break is "Taken" by Erin Bowman. Another Dystopian trilogy that was great: 

Blurb from Amazon: Gray Weathersby has grown up expecting to disappear at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. They call it the Heist—and it happens to every boy in Claysoot. His only chance at escape is to climb the Wall that surrounds Claysoot. A climb no one has ever survived . . .

My 9th book over Christmas break is  "Unwind" by Neal Shusterman. Okay now this was really had me on the edge of my seat. Another Dystopian book. 


This book is addicting and I know I will have students wanting to read it. The topic is hard to take, but when you take into account that this is Science Fiction it is okay. Here is the blurb from Amazon: In America after the Second Civil War, the Pro-Choice and Pro-Life armies came to an agreement: The Bill of Life states that human life may not be touched from the moment of conception until a child reaches the age of thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, a parent may choose to retroactively get rid of a child through a process called "unwinding." Unwinding ensures that the child's life doesn’t “technically” end by transplanting all the organs in the child's body to various recipients. Now a common and accepted practice in society, troublesome or unwanted teens are able to easily be unwound.

Currently, I am reading the 2nd book in the Unwind series called "Unwholly" and hope to finish it before school begins on Monday. Since today is Friday I think I can do it!
Blurb from Amazon: 
Thanks to Connor, Lev, and Risa—and their high-profile revolt at Happy Jack Harvest Camp—people can no longer turn a blind eye to unwinding. Ridding society of troublesome teens while simltaneously providing much-needed organs for transplanting might be convenient, but its morality has finally been brought into question. However, unwinding has become big business, and there are powerful political and corporate interests that want to see it not only continue, but also expand to the unwinding of prisoners and the impoverished.

Cam is made entirely out of the parts of other unwinds; he is a teen who does not technically exist. A futuristic Frankenstein, Cam struggles to find identity and meaning and wonders if a rewound being can have a soul. And when the actions of a sadistic bounty hunter cause Cam’s fate to become inextricably bound with the fates of Connor, Risa, and Lev, he’ll have to question humanity itself.


Well Happy New Years, and happy reading! I hope to read many more books this year in 2016!


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

New Job in a New City!

I have been absent for awhile and it is my intention to start blogging again. I'm excited to announce that I'm moving up from 5th grade in Elementary School to a 7th grade Reading Teacher. I can't wait to just teach reading each day. Not only did I change schools, but moved to a new town too. It's exciting and scary at the same time. However, I tell myself you can't grow without change, so I'm sure this move will be for the best!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Walking Classroom Spotlight

I was spotlighted this month in The Walking Classroom's newsletter. We have been having sub zero temperatures here in Wyoming and we haven't been outside to walk in a few weeks and the students are itching to get outside! I'm pretty honored to be featured in their newsletter and here's the link.

Also, below is highlight about our classroom:
Teacher Feature
Tammy Bourne
Lakeview Elementary
Gillette, Wyoming 



While we haven't made it out to Wyoming yet to actually meet Tammy, her upbeat emails always written in a bubbly bright pink font have made her stand out from the beginning! An adopter of The Walking Classroom since August, she has been busy spreading the word on her blog, Facebook, Twitter -- you name it! We love getting updates about how the program is going and seeing pictures of her students out on their walks! We are thrilled to have her as an adopter and are excited to highlight her as this month's teacher feature. 

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
I was born in Bellflower, CA. I grew up in Murrieta, CA and moved to South Dakota in 2006 when my husband retired from the Marine Corp.  We moved to South Dakota and went back to college to earn our degrees in teaching. In 2010 we moved to Wyoming.

How long have you been teaching and why did you decide to become a teacher?
This is my 6th year teaching. I have wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. However, life and family got in the way from me doing it right away. I got side-tracked for a bit, and worked in the insurance industry for 16 years. I am now a teacher and am loving it! 

When have you been your "best self" as a teacher?
When I am my "best self" as a teacher I feel it's during reading time. I love teaching reading and helping my students to comprehend the books that they are reading. One of the things I am really proud of as a teacher is having a large classroom library. I entice my students to read a variety of genres and they read lots of books.  Last year the majority of my class read over 40 books apiece.  It was so awesome! 

As a teacher, for what are you most grateful?
As a teacher, I am most grateful for my students. I love teaching and seeing the look of understanding that crosses their face when they understand a concept that we are learning. 

What are some educational resources that you utilize to help cover the curriculum?
Some education resources that I use are The Walking Classroom, Stephanie Harvey's Toolkit, Notice and Note, Comprehension Connections, STEM Science Materials, Pinterest, Math in Focus, Teachers Pay Teachers and so many other wonderful resources. 

Please describe an experience that you and/or your students have had with The Walking Classroom.
The Walking Classroom has provided my students with a new way of learning. They love getting outside and walking together. One day this week when we were out walking we had some great conversations after our walk. We have been studying Christopher Columbus in class, and we solidified our learning by listening to podcast about Christopher Columbus. When we returned to the classroom it was evident that my students had broadened their knowledge. I love The Walking Classroom! 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

National Board Certification...I did it!

I write this post with a happy heart! Yesterday, I received news that I am a National Board Certified Teacher in Early and Middle Childhood Literacy!
I began my journey late. I started the certification process in January of 2014. After I began I worked tirelessly towards my certification. The certification process is pretty rigid, but through it all I learned so much about my teaching and I was able to reflect about myself a long the way. I had to write 4 entries on writing, reading, listening, speaking and viewing, and finally one on my accomplishments. These entries were about 12 to 16 pages a piece depending upon the entry. In addition, two of them required video elements. My entries had to be submitted online to the National Board Website by May 16th.

This was quite a few months of writing and rewriting let me tell you. It's so hard to write about your teaching process and to reflect on what you've done. Through this process I'm getting better at doing it though.

Then in June of 2014 I took the National Board assessment for my certification area. I had to drive down to Casper Wyoming to the testing center. Where I spent 3 hours testing over the 6 required elements. Once I was done I took a sigh of relief that I was done. Then the wait began....

Score release day was yesterday, November 15th, 2014. I was so nervous to open my computer and sign in to the National Board site. However, I overcame my nerves and did just that and I was pleasantly surprised! It said, "Congratulations! You are a National Board Certified Teacher!" I started talking happily to the computer. You see, I know that many don't achieve in the first year and I didn't want to expect it. So truthfully, I was thinking I was going to have to redo something. Luckily, that wasn't the case and my journey to certify is complete. Now I'd like to motivate and help other teachers achieve their certification. It is a great professional development opportunity! Plus in the state of Wyoming it pays a stipend annually too.

This journey has been quite arduous to say the least, but it has been so worth it!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Notice and Note - Strategies for Close Reading!

Last night 7 other teachers and myself met in my classroom to attend the FREE webinar by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst on their book Notice and Note. The webinar was hosted by Heinemann who are also the publishers of this amazing classroom resource that is helping students across the country! If you haven't yet purchased or checked out this book you can purchase from Heinemann here!
The webinar was a short, but engaging 1/2 hour on Talking About Texts: What Matters!
Kylene Beers co authored this book and you can read more about Kylene on her blog here, you can follow her on Facebook here, follow her on twitter here and finally read about her on Heineman here. Bob Probst who also co authored the book can be read about on Heinemann here and you can follow him on Twitter here.

The webinar was focused on engaging students in authentic conversations about text. Bob and Kylene were discussing ways to move away from monologic questions (check for understanding) to a dialogic question where students are (creating understanding). They believe that monologic questions should still be used when a teachers goal is to check for understanding. However, when we want students to go deeper in their conversations and to really create understanding in their text, we need to be asking them dialogic questions.

As shared by Beers and Probst when dialogic conversations are used students really begin to create understanding. This slide was shared of the benefits of dialogic conversations!
If you are like me, you may be wondering how can I get kids talking in this way. It all begins first with getting our students to turn and talk authentically. Then as teachers we guide the class to change this language over time. However, according to Beers and Probst some of the students that are ready to move on will automatically guide other students in the process as well. We need to get our students to be independent thinkers and allowing them to work harder through discussion and dialogue is one way to get them there. We need students to slow down and think about what is happening in the text, and begin to question the text and notice the sign posts!

It was stressed if we can change how kids talk about texts, this will change how kids think about a specific text, and eventually this changes how kids think about any text! Bottom line: we must find ways to ensure kids are talking and thinking about texts!

According to Beers and Probst if you really want kids to have dialogic conversations we need to turn the questions over to them as well and we need to just let them talk!

After the webinar there was a Twitter conversation here is the link to the Twitter feed. Finally, for a link to more information about this great book and the webinar watched tonight, click here and for great resources on the Notice and Note Facebook page click here.
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