Friday, July 1, 2016

Fiction Friday 07-01-16

(click to find this book on Amazon)

Absolutely Almost is realistic fiction by Lisa Graff that many students will relate to. Albie has a whole list of things that he is not really very good at. As an only child, he just doesn't seem to measure up to the expectations. He has some learning difficulties. He messes up when he tries to give correct money to the delivery guy. No matter how much he studies he just can't get his spelling words right on the test. His Dad wants him to try harder. His Mom does not consider Captain Underpants appropriate reading for a fifth grader. His grandfather predicts he will wind up in a ditch! Kids at school are mean. He has been attending a private school, but must switch to public school (again, he doesn't measure up).

Albie's life begins to change when he gets a new babysitter. Calista is different, and she likes him for who he is. An artist, she creates a new cover for his favorite Captain Underpants books that says "Johnny Tremain!" One of the best things about this story by one of my favorite authors is that there is no neat wrap-up, happily ever after. Albie does, however, come through difficulties to feeling more self-worth.


And while I'm on the subject of Lisa Graff, I just read "A Clatter of Jars," her most recent book. I loved her 2014 story "A Tangle of Knots" and was excited to see that she was publishing a book in the same world. This one is set at a summer camp and has a whole new set of characters with just a cameo appearance by a few of the Tangle cast. If you read the first book and were wondering what happened to all those jars filled with talents this book will answer your questions!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Monday Made It! 06/27/16

I felt like I worked on a lot of things this week; they are just not all "ready for prime time." 

My quilt guild has a "Sit and Sew" on Tuesdays and now that summer is here I can go! This week I put together my June block of the month. It's called "Stacked Maple."

A big summer project each year is cleaning out the storage shed. With my job assignment changing for next year I have been in the mood to downsize. After filling my car and making a trip to a local ministry's thrift store, this is what I have. The bike is going back to the owner as soon as her vacation is over. Also, the stack of clear bins with the colored ones on top - stuff that goes to school with me. For the first time, I will actually have space in my shed!

I thought I was going to show you the new plants I put in along the front of my house. However, we ended up having some major home repairs done and I never did make it to the garden center. Maybe next time!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Fiction Friday: 6/24/16

This week I have selected a book that was probably my least favorite of the new SSYRA list. There's really not anything unique about the story or characters - not enough to grab my interest, at least. However, if I was going back to the third-grade classroom this might be my first read-aloud book. The reason for that - I think it will have boy-appeal. It can be difficult to find a book on the award list that I think my boys will love and I really think they would like this one.

(click to see in Amazon)

Fish Finelli:Seagulls Don't Eat Pickles by E.S. Farber is written for the grade 3 - 5 audience. It is the story of "Fish" who has a summer goal of fixing up his boat and competing in the big race. He bets one of the towns bullies $50 that he can find the elusive treasure of Captain Kidd which was supposedly buried near their town.

As Fish and his best friends, Roger and T.J., try to solve the mystery the story becomes a pirate adventure that will likely appeal to the boys in your class. There is a lot of science in the book and a lot of humor (on the level of 3rd - 5th-grade boys!).

At under 200 pages, it is a quick read and might be just the thing to motivate some students. I recommended it at the end of the past school year to a few of my students that I know are unlikely to wade through a longer and more serious text.

Happy Reading! I need to get back to book three of The 5th Wave trilogy!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Monday Made It 6/20/16

Having just gotten out of school on June 10th I wasn't ready last week for my favorite summer linky. I'm happy to be back - now I know summer is really here!

I just finished my seventh year in third grade, and I'm moving into a new position in August. When we return to school I will be a "block" teacher (that is "specials" for some of you). In other words, I'll be teaching K-5 like art, music, and PE teachers. I am so thrilled to be moving into our new STEM lab! I love STEM and so did my third graders! My first made it is the big pile I made in my old classroom :)


I complete the third of my "sister quilts" - I have been making a quilt for each sister as she turns 50. This one might be my favorite. The pattern is called Summer in the Park and I absolutely loved putting it together.

 I started working on my summer school project this first week of vacation. My goal is to put together the STEM curriculum for each grade level by focusing on one grade per week. This week I worked on Kindergarten. This is the binder I've been getting together for my youngest engineers!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Fiction Friday 6/17/16

I'm sharing another of the 2016-2017 Sunshine State books today. This one is my very favorite of the 15 books. Fair warning though: it will break your "teacher heart."

Fish In A Tree
Linday Mullaly Hunt

(click to see in Amazon)

"Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid."

Ally feels like a misfit in her school. It's been the same at every school. Because she is smart she has been able to hide the fact that she can't read.Her strategy is to distract and disrupt. She has never tried to address this problem since the only reason to not be reading at her age (sixth grade) is that she is dumb. 

Ally has a new teacher this year and Mr. Daniels sees something in her that others have not. She is amazingly creative and a gifted artist. She is also great at math. Why can't she read? (At this point I was talking out loud to the book and characters! Why has no one seen she has a learning disability?!)

Mr. Daniels reaches out to Ally and she agrees to accept his help. From her teacher she learns to cope with dyslexia.

This book is filled with great characters, including Ally's classmates (who are not all nice by any means!). 

I read this book last year and it may have been my favorite of 2015. It is one of those books that stay with you for a long time after reading. When I found out a few weeks ago that it made the Florida list I was thrilled and began recommending it to many colleagues.

Happy Reading!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Fiction Friday Returns! (and so do I)

Back around the end of February, I decided to take the month of March off from blogging. It was my birthday, we had spring break, and testing was right around the corner. Somehow my one-month hiatus turned into the rest of the school year. However, when I saw that Amanda at The Teaching Thief was reviving Fiction Friday I decided it's time to come out of hibernation!

When our new Sunshine State book lists released a few weeks ago I set out to read all 15 before the end of the school year and accomplished my goal. Full disclosure: I had read three books on the list last year :) Today I will share one of my favorites from this year's reading.

I fell in love with the heroine of this book within the first few pages. Gladys Gatsby is a gourmet cook who has been practicing her craft for the last four years. She is now eleven years old and cooking is a very important part of her life. Unfortunately, her parents are not exactly supportive. They are fast-food junkies and have no idea that when she is home alone Gladys is cooking up things like creme brulee!

The creme brulee turns out to be a disaster -- she starts a fire in the kitchen and her mom and dad find out she has been cooking. She is forbidden to use the kitchen and they take away her allowance (which she had been using to buy ingredients).

When Gladys accidentally receives an invitation to write a restaurant review for a big-time newspaper she concocts a scheme to get herself to New York City to go the restaurant. She has to fool her parents as well as the newspaper editor, involve some other students, and land her dream job.
I loved Gladys's commitment to her dream in this story. This is the first in a series with two additional titles available.

To check out the book on Amazon, just click the picture.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

TBT: A Series of Freebies #7

I always have several students who struggle with the concept of rounding numbers. For some of them it helps to have something to manipulate while trying to round to nearest ten or hundred. I put together this to use for them a couple years ago. Today's throwback Thursday revisits it.

To read my original post about using this in the classroom, click here. To download the freebie, click the picture.

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