Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New {School} Year's Resolutions . . . Link Up!

        As my summer vacation is quickly disappearing I began thinking about the ways I would like this year to be different from the previous nine.   Which is perfect timing to join Amanda's linky party!  The premise of this linky party is to make new school year's resolutions. So here are my resolutions/goals that I will be working toward during the 2012-2013 school year.

1.  Balance between work and home.  This was my only goal last year and I did OK with this, but I know that I can do better.  I want to be the "summer wife" all year round. 

2.  Better time management while at school.  I'm a chatty cathy at school during my planning/prep time (before school, during resources, and after school).  I need to use my planning/prep time for just that so that I can leave school at school and really be home when I am at home.

3.  Stay organized.  Every year my classroom is very organized (even the closet) at the beginning of the year, however, as time goes by the piles in my closet get out of control.  Whenever there is a visitor or a sub and I don't have time to put things away properly I shove the mess in the closet.  This year I want to keep even the closet clean.

        Wish me luck.  These three goals are important to me so I am going to focus on these first.  If all goes well I might add to the list.  If not these goals may roll over next year as well.  :)

        If you have resolutions/goals for the school year and you haven't linked up yet go ahead and do it!  It's fun to read about everyone's goals.  Just a warning though, try not to pick up too many resolutions from everyone else!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

My Can't Live Withouts! (linky)

        I found yet another linky party to join!  This one is hosted by Kelley over at Teacher Idea Factory and it is a great one because it is about those rockin' resources that we can't live without in our classroom.  Now I just have to try and narrow down the five, yes only five, things that I can't live without.  Here goes:

1.  My timer!  I have a regular old kitchen timer in my classroom that I use for EVERYTHING!  I get so engrossed in conferencing/small groups while my students are working that I lose all track of time and since we can't just write all day (that's what we do first in my room) I use my timer to make sure that the independent work period wraps up on time.  I don't just use my timer during the writing work period I use it during all of my workshops.  My timer is just from either Target or Wal-Mart I can't remember which but I could not imagine even trying to teach without it.  I even have a back up in my closet just in case the original dies during the day!

2.  My "ole timey" pencil sharpener.  Yes, one of my students actually referred to our pencil sharpener this way.  I don't care, I love it!  It is awesome!!!  It sharpens pencils quickly, quietly, evenly (it doesn't leave behind that strip of wood on one side-so annoying), and it is not expensive.  I purchased my ole timey pencil sharpener at Wal-Mart for $6.97-what a deal!

3.  Color coded supplies.  I know it sounds a little crazy but yes, I have color coded supplies in my classroom.  We have a yellow writing folder and I have a yellow crate to store published papers, green math notebook for notes, problem of the day, etc... and I have a green crate to store math tests and artifacts, a red reading folder where the students have their info on the genres and book response requirements and their BINGO sheet and of course I have a red crate to store the completed responses.  It may sound a little wacko but it helps keep me and my students organized!  This may be why I love back to school sales so much, this way I can make sure that each of my students has the correct color of supplies that they need without breaking the bank.


4.  My bucket filler buckets.  I'm sure that you know about the book, Have you Filled A Bucket Today? (A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids) by Carol McCloud.  The premise of the book is this...
"We all carry an invisible bucket that contains our feelings.  When our bucket is full, we feel great.  When our bucket is empty, we feel sad.  A bucket filler is someone who says or does nice things for other people.  By doing this, they are filling other people's buckets and filling their own bucket at the same time" (info from http://myfunteacher.com/bucketfillers.htm).  I read this book at the beginning of the year and my students create their own paper buckets that I cut and attach to a library pocket and hang on the cabinets.  The students are then permitted to complete bucket forms to fill another person's bucket at different times during the day and I try to have the students empty their buckets on the last Friday of the month.  This has been a really terrific way to encourage positive behaviors and attitudes in the classroom.  I can't imagine not having my students participate in this!!!

Have You Filled a Bucket Today?
5.  My coffee, grande white chocolate mocha to be exact.  This is my Friday treat, a reward for making it through the week.  I live pretty far from my school so I get up at 5:15 a.m. each day so it is the perfect pick me up on Friday, the day I really just want to hit the snooze button! 

        Well, that's it.  Those are the top five resources I can't live without.  What about you?  Do you have a secret or a trick or something else that helps you achieve the work smarter not harder concept?!?  If so link up.  Even if not link up, it's fun reading about everyone's "must haves!" 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Looking for a good book?

        This week for Fiction Friday I wanted to tell you about Sophie Simon Solves Them All  by Lisa Graff (also the author of last year's SSYRA and must read book Umbrella Summer).  This is a another SSYRA book and is a super cute book about a girl named Sophie who is ubersmart and as a result not your typical third grader.  Sophie likes calculus and giving earthworms heart transplants and other intellectual stuff.  Through all of the academic exploration she doesn't really seem to have time for other third graders and as a result she does not have any friends (which I think is really sad).  This all starts to change when Sophie sets her eyes on a graphing calculator.  Will a graphing calculator plus problems equal friends?  You'll have to read to find out!

Sophie Simon Solves Them All

        If you are looking for other great books don't forget to check out Fiction Fridays over at The Teaching Thief.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

First Day Jitters (linky)

        I'm four for four this week.  That is four different linky parties in four days.  Am I addicted to them?  I don't think so but I love hearing all about everyone else on a more personal level because it helps me feel connected to you and a little more normal about all of my worries.  Speaking of worries, Ashley from Fierce in Fourth is hosting a First Day Jitters blog hop.  The blog hop is based on the book First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg.  If you haven't read this book I highly recommend picking up a copy!  So now my task is to tell you about the three things that I am (most) jittery about for the new year.

1.  New students.  The best and sometimes scariest thing about being a teacher is that every year you get a new batch of students.  New students means a fresh start and that is empowering and encouraging and a little bit intimidating all at the same time.  I sometimes get nervous that I won't be able to figure out my kids quickly enough to meet their needs.  After all we only have 180 days. 

2.  New parents.  It's a package deal I know but new students means new parents.  This jitter comes from the unknown . . . of course this year is a little different.  There are several upcoming third graders with parents in the building and on the school board and even principals at other schools-talk about pressure for whoever gets those kiddos. 

3.  New principal.  I have had the opportunity to work for the same principal for the first nine years of my teaching career.  However, she just got a promotion so now I have a new principal.  I had a chance to meet with her for a few minutes on Tuesday and she seems really nice but she's new and that all on its own gives me the jitters.

        So if you have three (or more) things that make you jittery about the first day of school then link up.    

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My Teacher Story (linky party)

        This summer I have really enjoyed linking up with the different parties and reading all about all of you out in blogland.  Today I have decided to join Janaye's linky party and share my teacher story.  Here goes:

        I guess my teaching journey began when my sister went to Kindergarten.  Apparently (I only remember the story because I was not even three years old at the time) my mom was bringing my sister to kindergarten and she was crying and didn't want to stay.  I, however, had already sat down and made a new friend and that was it.  I was hooked.  School was where I wanted to be.  Fast forward a few years to my own school experience and it was Heaven.  I was that  kid that brought home textbooks even when I didn't have homework so that I could teach my stuffed animals and Barbies everything that they missed while I was at school.  I played school with my brother until he purposely would do things to get sent to the "principal's office" (my mom) I guess I couldn't take a hint that he didn't want to play.  I don't remember ever wanting to do anything else.  There was a time when I thought I might like to moonlight in the summer as a beautician, but that didn't work out.  After all I earn those eight weeks off!!!  I had a few teachers that inspired my to be great some because they were great and others because they were AWFUL and I vowed to be nothing like them because no student of mine was going to have a year like I did.  But I really and truly feel that I was called into teaching.  I love what I do and I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to teach for almost a decade.  I still can't believe it's been that long but that's completely beside the point :)  So that's it.  No frills, no chills, just me.
         So if you haven't had a chance to link up and share your story check out Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes and join the fun!!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tell Me More, Tell Me More!!! (linky)

        Did anyone else start singing the rest of the song Summer Lovin' from Grease after hearing about this link party?  I just couldn't help myself . . . I guess that's a preview to my many quirks.  This sounds like a really fun linky party that Mrs. Lemons from Step into 2nd Grade with Mrs. Lemons is hosting.


So are just a few of my many quirks:

1.  I am super organized at school but my house . . . not so much-it's more like kind of organized chaos.

2.  I have a freaky memory especially when it comes to numbers.  I remember dates, phone numbers, etc...  I still remember the birth dates of my former students. 

3.  I love crime shows Criminal Minds is my favorite.  I think that if I wasn't a teacher I might like to be a profiler but only if I don't have to be around dead bodies-OK so maybe that wouldn't be a good job for me.

4.  I HATE spiders!  Part of the reason is because I am allergic to them and the other part is because let's face it, they're just creepy!

5.  I have a frog theme at school and a collection numbering well over 500 frogs and it all started as a complete accident!

6.  I would like to be a professor at a college teaching/monitoring student/first year teachers or possibly a standards coach once my time as a classroom teacher is complete-but I'm kind of scared of grown ups.

7.  I look young for my age.  I will be 32 in October but still get carded if I decide to have an adult beverage so each year at Open House I work into my speech how long I have been teaching.  Parents are amazed every year at the length of time I've spent in the classroom and tell me. 

8.  I like to read but not on an electronic device.  I like REAL books.  I still visit the public library and not just or books for my students to use.

9.  I almost couldn't get on Pinterest because I don't have a facebook account.  So I joined Twitter instead and my one and only tweet says something to the effect that I only joined to get on Pinterest.

10.  I'm a little anti-social but not deliberately.  I just don't like large groups (of grown ups).  I'm awkward.  BUT get me in a small group (or a room full of kids) and I would do anything for you, listen to you without repeating what you say, and might even be a little funny.  I've been known to be hilarious.  

        I'm sure there are many many more things that I could share I just don't think I will.  At least not now.  Have a happy Tuesday!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Must Have Picture Books (linky)

        I love books!  I read them.  I borrow them.  I buy them.  This is why I am super excited about joining The Teacher Wife's linky party.  The most difficult thing will be just narrowing the books down to my top five picture books.  My favorites really change with my mood and my purpose for reading but I would have to say that right now my favorite picture books would probably be:

Product Details

        I love this book!  I read it at the beginning of the year.  After reading the book I have my students decorate their picture of a bucket and then glue the bucket to a library pocket.  We then use these as our buckets all year long.  Since I deliver all of the buckets I get to see all of the sweet things that my students say to one another.  It's so sweet!

The Dot (Irma S and James H Black Honor for Excellence in Children's Literature (Awards))

       the dot is a great book that encourages students to find their inner artist.  I like to use it when I am teaching theme because of the great lesson that it teaches! 

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        ish was written by the same author of the dot and is another great book to encourage students to just do their best.  I like to use this one too while I am teaching theme.

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        The Giving Tree is a classic book that I'm sure I don't have to tell you why it's one of my favorites, you know an oldie but a goodie! 

Product Details

        My final favorite is Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes.  First, let me say I love ALL of the Henkes "mouse" books!!!  This one is my favorite because of my personal connection.  In the book Lilly goes shopping with her Grammie one weekend to get her purple plastic purse, movie star sunglasses and three shiny quarters and I have TONS of fabulous memories shopping with my Gramma.  In fact she just took me back to school shopping last week-it was so cute!

        So those are my top five favorites (today anyway).  If you want to join the party I'm sure there is still time just head over to The Teacher Wife and add your books!!!  Or even just read through the hundreds of other great choices. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Classroom Rules

        This year will be my tenth year teaching and I am super excited.  I have actually made it to the point of the summer where I am looking forward to heading back to school.  I know it sounds a little crazy - I blame the back to school sales!  Anyway, as I begin preparing for the new school year and perusing all of the brilliant blogs and pinterest pins I can't help but wonder if I still love my classroom rules.  My rules have pretty much been the same since I began teaching (I adding one new rule when I came to third grade because my teaching partner wanted it and I wanted the rules to be consistent in both classrooms).  The rules in my classroom are:

1.  We keep our hands, feet, and all objects to ourselves.
2.  We listen when others are speaking.
3.  We treat others with kindness and respect.
4.  We always try our best!

        I chose these rules because they are what I feel is most important for a positive and productive learning environment.  I like that they are simple yet clear.  Then I found this picture below on pinterest. 

School rules 

        I don't think that it is necessary to add all of the above statements into my classroom rules, even though I agree with all of the thirteen statements.  So what I think I will do is print the poster, display it in the classroom and talk about all of the good points. 
        But, I have a question for you.  What are your classroom rules?  Do you have something that I don't?  Just wondering.  Please share your thoughts.  I can't wait to hear about your rules!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Another Must Read!

        This week I finished yet another one of the SSYRA books.  My newest book was Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George.  I have to admit I was a little skeptical about reading this book at first because I am not a fan of dragons and dungeons and other castle-y stuff . . . but this book is so much better than so many of the other castle books I have read in the past!!!  This book is about a royal family that lives in Castle Glower.  But the castle is not your average stone home, no this one is magical and can use its powers to protect the ones it loves and pester the ones it doesn't.  I don't want to give too much away but the story is centered around the three youngest children of the king and queen as they try to survive after their parents disappear and are presumed dead.  The main character Celie is eleven, but I think that even students as young as third grade would enjoy and be able to follow the storyline.  The book is fun and fast paced and at times a little intense as you root for the Celie, Lilah, and Rolf.  I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it!
Tuesdays at the Castle

        If you are looking for other must reads check out Amanda's blog The Teaching Thief as she hosts week six of Fiction Friday!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Going to Gramma's House

        This week I will be taking a little vacation to my Gramma's house.  I do this every summer.  We will hang out, play cards, and talk.  We will also go back to school shopping!  It's so cute.  My Gramma takes me every year for my first day of school outfit.  One thing we will not do is anything requiring the internet.  Nope, Gramma doesn't have a computer and therefore has no need for the internet.  So I will be gone for a little bit but and planning on rejoining the blogging world on Friday for Fiction Friday.  I hope everyone has a great week!!!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Documentation & a Freebie

        As you all know there are at least a million and half different ways to document your conferencing with your students.  If you are really fortunate your principal lets you pick the method as long as it gets done.  I have worked for the same principal my entire career so I am one of those really fortunate people that has had the opportunity to try and find what works best for me (after all I am the one required to write the info).  At first I had no idea how I wanted to record my notes so what did I do?  I copied my directing teacher's method that I learned during my student teaching.  I wrote down my notes on sticky notes and then transferred the sticky notes into a binder where each student had their own page.  This didn't really work for me.  It was a pain to transfer the sticky notes every day and it was way too overwhelming to wait until Friday.  I couldn't keep track of who I had already met with (I hadn't figured out yet that I could prewrite my students names down-oops).  Next I tried the pages of labels.  I prewrote the names out so I could see who I had and had not yet met with so this was a little better but I still didn't like having to move the notes because it was a pain and labels can get expensive if you don't catch them on sale and I needed the larger size so that I could fit everything that I wanted to document.  Then I found MY method!  I had begun typing up my lesson plans but was still given the traditional plan book so I then used that (free) plan book to record my notes.  It is wonderful!  I can divide the book in half one half for reading and one for writing, this year I want to see if I can divide it into thirds so that math can be in the same book.  I prewrite the names so that I can make sure that I conference with everyone before turning the page.  There is even enough space left over to double up my students that need multiple conferences per week.  I can usually get to everyone in a normal week so there are plenty of pages to get me through the whole year!

        There are also probably a bajillion different ways to record your guided reading notes.  I couldn't find just the right form for me, so I made it.  I am attaching the form I use just in case you haven't found your Goldilocks form for Guided Reading.

E-mail me (Nickie1024@gmail.com) and I would be happy
to share with you a FREE copy of my Guided Reading lesson plan.

        If you haven't found the "just right" form for you maybe my form will work for you.  If my form doesn't work for you don't be afraid to create your own!

Friday, July 13, 2012

I Heart Fiction Fridays

        I have always loved Fridays but this summer I have another reason, that's right it's because of Fiction Friday!  This week I did not get as far along in my book list as I had hoped because of too much blog stalking but I did want to tell you about one of the SSYRA books that I finished, one that I started and a grown up book-sometimes I have to remind myself to read those too!
        First up, President of the WHOLE Fifth Grade by Sherri Winston.  This book is about a girl named fifth grader named Brianna Justice that has already planned out her entire future.  She wants to be a millionaire cupcake baker just like her idol and her first step is that she needs to become her fifth grade class president.  But this year there is a change there won't be five class presidents, instead there will one fifth grade president.  Brianna is super duper excited that is until the new girl nominates herself and then tries to take her spot as the president of the whole fifth grade!  This book is super cute and would be an excellent read aloud for any grade 3rd and above and perfect for 2012 with the presidential election coming up this November.  The book talks about the history of our presidents and goes through the steps of a class/school election.  As a fun tidbit since Brianna wants to be a famous cupcake chef the author share tons of great cupcake recipes that you the reader could follow which could be an awesome extension activity to celebrate completing the book with your class.  I would highly recommend this book!!!

President of the Whole Fifth Grade 

        Next up, Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George.  I haven't finished this one but let me tell you if the first six chapters are any indication of the quality of the book this one is going to be awesome.  I plan on sharing it officially next week.

Tuesdays at the Castle

        Last up the grown up book, My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult.  I read this a few summers ago because I wanted to see the movie.  This book was so great!!!  Even if you saw the movie but didn't read the book I cannot express how much you need to read this book.  The book is so much better than the movie and there is an interesting twist that is different from the movie.  As a warning you will want to have a box of tissues handy. 

My Sister's Keeper

        Thanks so much for visiting my blog and reading about my book recommendations.  I hope that you will consider reading these books and don't forget to check out The Teaching Thief for more great fiction must read books!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What a Thrilling Thursday!

        I just got back from Hobby Lobby (Super Spring Deals are happening right now 67% off) and I was seriously considering going to my subdivision's pool but then I decided to turn on my computer first.  And boy am I glad I did!  I was nominated for another award.  This is so exciting!!!  Now for those of you master bloggers (and I mean that with all the love in the world) this is probably not as exciting for you as it is for me but I was super stoked!!!  The award is the Liebster Blog and I it is just for those bloggers with under 200 followers so I just barely made it (totally kidding I am better with numbers and counting and place value than that).  So here it are the rules for this one:

1.  Copy and paste the award onto your blog.

 2.  Thank the giver and link back to them.
        Thank you you so much Julie from Math is Elementary!!!   I am super excited that you decided to join Amanda's Fiction Fridays because that's how I found you.  So I guess I should thank Amanda too, thanks Amanda!

3.  Nominate five other bloggers and let them know by commenting on their blogs.
        I agree with Julie's sentiment that there are so many new bloggers out there in bloggyland that are truly deserving of this award so choosing only five will be tough but here goes.  Congratulations to:

        Many of the above mentioned blogs are within their first few dozen or so posts so if you get a chance check them out!!!  Maybe I'll head over to the pool now . . . then again General Hospital starts in less than thirty minutes.  Maybe tomorrow . . .

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I Heart Audrey Hepburn!

I just love Audrey Hepburn! 
She was so upbeat and wise beyond her years. 
One of my favorite quotes from her will make its debut in my classroom this fall. 
You can find it below.

Audrey Hepburn Quotes
I hope you find her message as inspirational as I do!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Awesome Award!

        This morning I logged on to check out the wonderful blogs that I follow and I found a pleasant surprise, I was awarded The Versatile Blogger award by Emily and Antoinette over at 4321 ... TEACH!!!

So now here are the requirements for the award:

1.  Thank the blogger who nominated you.
       Thank you again Emily and Antoinette, I <3 your blog!

2.  Include a link to their site.
       Here it is again:  4321...TEACH

3.  Include the image award on your blog.

4.  Give 7 random facts about yourself.
     *My faith in God is very important to me!  
     *My husband and I met building a house for Habitat for Humanity on one of the coldest January mornings I can remember, so I did not look that cute!
     *I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up while I was still in Kindergarten.  I would come home and teach my brother who is 18 months younger than me everything I learned in school that day!
     *I am a collector of quotes.  My two newest favorite quotes are, "Someday everything will all make perfect sense.  So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason." (from pinterest) and "Worry is believing that God won't get it right.  Bitterness is believing that God got it wrong."  (from a comment from Sarah's Laughter blog)
     *My classroom theme is frogs!  They are EVERYWHERE!!!  There are well over five hundred froggy nik-naks and I haven't purchased a single one.  Even more interesting the frog theme was a total accident but I love it now!!!
     *I love all types of music and my ringtone changes with my mood.  Right now it is Taylor Swift's Ours.  But my collection includes samples from every genre except techno, I never understood that "music." 
     *My biggest pet peeve is the misuse of homophones.  Eye don't no why their are sew many people that can't get this write!  Its knot really that hard if ewe think before ewe right/type :)

5.  Nominate 15 other blogs for the award.

6.  When nominating include a link to their site.
     Done (above)

7.  Let other bloggers know they've been nominated.
     Check for a comment from me :)

        There are tons more random things about me but I need to let my nominees know that I have chosen them!!!  (For example evidently I LOVE exclamation points).  Wishing everyone a terrific Tuesday!!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Has anyone read . . .

        I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I stumbled upon a book with tons of writing game ideas at a recent trip to the public library.  Well I neglected to mention that I also picked up the book Teaching Reading Beyond the Primary Grades by Marjorie Y. Lipson.  Now this was an impulse check out.  I am not familiar with the title or author but this was intriguing all on its own because it was published in 2007.  I couldn't help but ask myself why had I not heard of this book?  Then I realized I was teaching 1st grade back then.  It wouldn't have been on my radar because as I'm sure you all know there is a LOT of reading instruction going on down in first grade!  Warning . . . small rant coming.  Something that has bugged me for about five years now is that I have heard several, in fact too many in my opinion, second grade and above teachers say that they don't teach reading and that the kids should already know how to read before they get to them.  While there is some truth to that, I have also heard and said, "You get what you get and you don't pitch a fit."  Now as a third grade teacher I am constantly on the look out for professional materials that I can share with intermediate teachers to help them help their struggling readers since they may not know how to teach someone how to read.   So I say all that to ask has anyone read Teaching Reading Beyond the Primary Grades by Marjorie Y. Lipson?  Did you like it?  Was it helpful?  Should I just return it to the library?  Please if you have any thoughts I'd love to hear them!!!
Product Details

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Back to School Sales have Begun!

        This week I saw that the back to school sales have begun.  I saw a few good deals at both Staples and Office Max.  This week at Staples you can purchase Rose Art crayons, pens, and squeeze glue for only a penny a piece with a $5 purchase.  At Office Max you can get up to 10 free folders with a $5 purchase.  How should you spend your $5 to earn the free folders?  Why with composition books of course, they are on sale for only fifty cents!  Happy shopping!!!

        ***I just realized that these deals may only be in my city and state, hmm . . . sorry about the possible tease.  I hope that deals are available in your area also!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Fiction Fridays (sort of)

        This week my brother-in-law and his family have been in from Japan (he's in the Air Force) and my hubby has been off all week so that we can spend time with them so . . . I didn't get to finish either of the new SSYRA books that I started this week, I know that's kind of sad.  However, because I LOVE Fiction Fridays I wanted to share some books I read last year because they were great reads and you may not be familiar with them.  Here goes:

        First up Captain Nobody (I know that Amanda over at the Teaching Thief read this one this week too, but that is just how awesome the book is!!!
        Have you ever felt invisible?  If you have, Captain Nobody by Dean Pitchford is the book for you.   This book is about a boy named Newton (yes, just like the fig cookie) who accidentally discovers the super hero within himself one Halloween night.  This book is filled with fun and adventure from cover to cover.  I absolutely loved this SSYRA book.  In fact, Captain Nobody may be my favorite of all of the books so far!  I think if you read this book you will enjoy it too : )

        Next The Secret of Zoom by Lynne Jonell and 43 Old Cemetery Road, Dying to Meet You by Kate Klise
         The Secret of Zoom was an intriguing book about a girl name Christina and her scientific family.  She finds more than she bargained for (both good and bad) after an innocent visit to her attic.  This book was a little slow to start (for me) by my refusal to abandon it surely paid off! 
The Secret of Zoom

         Dying to Meet You was very different from the other SSYRA books I read last summer.  This book is mostly written through correspondences between the characters.  It is filled with letters and newspaper articles, which makes it a quick read.  My favorite part of this book is the play on words that Kate Klise has used for the names of the characters of the town of Ghastly.  Some examples include, a real estate agent named Anita Sale ("I need a sale") and town citizens named Sammy Tarry ("cemetery"), Kay Daver ("cadaver") and Fay Tality ("fatality") just to name a few. Don't let the characters' names trick you this is a light and fun read.  *****Now a series!

Dying to Meet You (43 Old Cemetery Road)
        Then Out of my Mind by Sharon M. Draper.  The story is centered on the main character Melody Brooks and the every day trials that she faces as an eleven-year-old girl with spastic bilateral quadriplegia, also known as cerebral palsy.  Through each page we can see how Melody's disability limits only her body and not her mind.  This story was incredibly moving and I found myself cheering Melody on as she faced each and every obstacle in the book.  **FYI this was the 2011-2012 winner for the SSYRA books!

Out of My Mind

         Now:  Do you love to read stories that are filled with action, adventure, crazy gadgets, and spying?  If you do, NERDS:  National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society by Michael Buckley is a book that you will not want to miss!  This book is about a boy named Jackson whose life is drastically changed the day he gets braces.  He goes from Mr. Popularity to the school pariah.  After Jackson's exile from the "cool kids" he finds out that there is much more to school, especially his, than playing sports and being popular when he spots several interesting coincidences by a group of nerds. After following the nerds into their secret headquarters he accidentally becomes one of them.  But can this group of kids ever learn to get over the terrible things that Jackson did to them when he was popular and accept him?  You will be on the edge of your seat as you read to find out if a group of nerds at Nathan Hale Elementary can save the world from an evil mad scientist. 
        ***A fun feature of this book is that at various intervals you (the reader) will actually have to pass certain tests to earn the security clearance necessary to continue reading-they will be grueling, but well worth the effort!   *****Now a series!
NERDS: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society (Book One)

        Finally:    A few examples of things that people are afraid of include heights, snakes, and speaking in front of large crowds, etc . . . But Alvin Ho, the main character of Alvin Ho:  Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things is afraid of so much more!!!  This book tells the story of a boy (just about to begin 2nd grade) and how his fears control his whole life.  He is afraid of everything, including but not limited to elevators, trains, bridges, substitute teachers, shots, school, etc . . . Throughout this book you will see how Alvin tries to use his PDK (Personal Disaster Kit) to help him deal with all of the scary situations he encounters, which according to Alvin is almost everything in his whole entire life.  This is a really fun book and will make anyone feel much braver, at least in comparison to Alvin!  *****Now a series!

Product Details

        I hope that you will at least consider checking these books out, I am sure your students and maybe even you will enjoy them!  For more great suggestions head over to The Teaching Thief for her Fiction Fridays!!!