Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker by Shelley Johannes


Thank you to #partner @kidlitexchange for a review copy of this book.
As a teacher, I adore students who are unique and not afraid to be themselves. Beatrice is the fictional representation of these students. Because Beatrice does not fit the mold of the typical student, this can get her into trouble even when her intention is sincere. Many children can relate to Beatrice and the fun story told by author Shelley Johannes. A perfect transitional chapter book which includes illustrations children will adore. A must-have for all elementary school and classroom libraries.

Hanging from trees by her knees, doing handstands . . . for Beatrice Zinker, upside down works every time. She was definitely upside down when she and her best friend, Lenny, agreed to wear matching ninja suits on the first day of third grade. But when Beatrice shows up at school dressed in black, Lenny arrives with a cool new outfit and a cool new friend. Even worse, she seems to have forgotten all about the top-secret operation they planned!

Can Beatrice use her topsy-turvy way of thinking to save the mission, mend their friendship, and flip things sunny-side up?


Grilled Cheese and Dragons (Princess Pulverizer #1) by Nancy Krulik


Thank you to #partner @kidlitexchange for a review copy of this book.

A super cute beginning chapter book about a princess who does not want to be a princess. Instead, she wants to go to knight school and become a night. On her journey, she meets others who are not the stereotypical characters you would meet in a kingdom. The first book even includes grilled cheese!

My daughter, who is seven, absolutely loved this book. It fits her spunky personality and outside-of-the-box thinking. We are looking forward to the next books in the series. I plan on buying them for our home and my classroom library. A must-have series to include in elementary libraries. They will be read over and over again.

Princess Serena (or as she prefers, Princess Pulverizer) doesn’t want to be a princess–she wants to be a knight! But her father, King Alexander of Empiria, thinks she still has a lot to learn when it comes to exhibiting valiant behavior. So he presents a challenge: the princess must first go on a Quest of Kindness and perform good deeds to prove that she truly deserves to go to knight school. With help from a friendly dragon named Dribble and a perpetually terrified knight-in-training named Lucas, can she complete her quest and discover what it really takes to be a hero?

Ask and Analyze

I’m currently reading Teach Like a Pirate, by Dave Burgess along with a few of my teaching colleagues. We are reading the chapter Ask and Analyze this week.

The chapter describes creativity. Dave stresses this is NOT a natural talent some people have and some so do not. Instead, it is intentionally nurtured through asking the right questions. How do we ask ourselves the right questions to nurture our own creativity in teaching?

As I read the chapter, I thought back to the morning I was running (many years ago!) on the treadmill and the idea of our classroom restaurant was born. The question I asked myself was, “How can I invited parents into our classroom to thank them for supporting their child in their educational journey during the year? What can the students do to show their gratitude?” I presented the idea to my 1st/2nd grade class and, from there, we created our restaurant. It was such a big hit that the following year all first grade classes in our school participated. If you want to read more about our restaurant, read my post How We Transformed Our Classroom into a Restaurant. 

Reflecting on this experience, I wonder how often I ask myself the right questions to support creativity. Do I ask myself how I can best present the lesson to get the most “bang for my buck?” Do I allow myself time for this in my planning? Do I intentionally plan the joy in learning? 

The answer is sometimes I do, but most of the time I do not. I get busy, overwhelmed, and forget this important piece. It is not about not having enough time, it is about prioritizing and making the time. Anything worth doing deserves the time. Our students deserve to be the priority. They deserve to experience the joy of learning more often than not. 

Thank you Dave Burgess, I needed this chapter.