Spirit Hunters Book Review

Wow. Talk about scary. This book is like Poltergeist for kids. Harper moves to an old house that is rumored to be haunted. Her little brother becomes possessed by a spirit and only Harper can help. Little does she know that she has more help and more power than meets the eye! Great book but pretty scary!! I recommend for ages 11 and up and for kids who do not get nightmares easily.

From Amazon

A riveting ghost story and captivating adventure, this tale will have you guessing at every turn!

Harper doesn’t trust her new home from the moment she steps inside, and the rumors are that the Raine family’s new house is haunted. Harper isn’t sure she believes those rumors, until her younger brother, Michael, starts acting strangely.

The whole atmosphere gives Harper a sense of déjà vu, but she can’t remember why. She knows that the memories she’s blocking will help make sense of her brother’s behavior and the strange and threatening sensations she feels in this house, but will she be able to put the pieces together in time?

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Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls Book Review

This book was action-packed and fun to read. Little did Abigail know the new school she was attending was a front for a spy organization. Along with her friends, Abby is thrown into the spy world and discovers there is more to her mother than she ever dreamed. I recommend this book for ages 9 and up.

From Amazon

A girl discovers her boarding school is actually an elite spy-training program, and she must learn the skills of the trade in order to find her mother in this action-packed middle grade debut that’s perfect for fans of Stu Gibbs. 

After a botched escape plan from her boarding school, Abigail is stunned to discover the school is actually a cover for an elite spy ring called The Center, along with being training grounds for future spies. Even more shocking? Abigail’s mother is a top agent for The Center and she has gone MIA, with valuable information that many people would like to have—at any cost. Along with a former nemesis and charming boy from her grade, Abigail goes through a crash course in Spy Training 101, often with hilarious—and sometimes painful—results. 

But Abigail realizes she might be a better spy-in-training than she thought—and the answers to her mother’s whereabouts are a lot closer than she thinks…

Other Words For Home Book Review

Jude’s story is one that will stick with you for a long time. Jude is brave despite everything she has to be afraid of. Her family is strong and supportive in this time of change. Her friends near and far, new and old, are the friend everyone longs for. Not just a story, a lifeline all should read.

From Amazon

Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.

At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before.

But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.

The Bridge Home Book Review

This book captured my attention so much that I finished if in one day. The MC tells the story in such a beautiful, caring way it make it easy to read and fall into her life as a homeless, runaway child living on the streets. I couldn’t believe the lengths the children had to go through to make money and some of the creepy adults they had to deal with. Luckily, they also met some caring adults along the way. This book is a Global Read Aloud selection fall of 2019. I highly recommend it for grades four and up. A must have in classroom and school libraries.

From Amazon

Life is harsh in Chennai’s teeming streets, so when runaway sisters Viji and Rukku arrive, their prospects look grim. Very quickly, eleven-year-old Viji discovers how vulnerable they are in this uncaring, dangerous world. Fortunately, the girls find shelter–and friendship–on an abandoned bridge. With two homeless boys, Muthi and Arul, the group forms a family of sorts. And while making a living scavenging the city’s trash heaps is the pits, the kids find plenty to laugh about and take pride in too. After all, they are now the bosses of themselves and no longer dependent on untrustworthy adults. But when illness strikes, Viji must decide whether to risk seeking help from strangers or to keep holding on to their fragile, hard-fought freedom.

Book Review: The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart

Image from images.macmillan.com

Dan. You are breaking my heart and filling it up, all at the same time. How is that possible?! I’ve cried. I’ve laughed. Coyote Sunrise is the next #mglit #mustread of #2019

Coyote and her dad, Rodeo, lost their family five years ago and have been on the road ever since. When Coyote finds out a park is being ripped up in their hometown, she comes up with a plan to get Rodeo take her across the country without him knowing. Along they way, they pick up passengers that impact their lives for the better.

You will not want to put this one down. It showcases the best in human beings and toys with your emotions. Dan has a way with the written word. He makes it so easy to read. Almost like you are reading your favorite dessert. I would not be surprised if Coyote is nominated for a Newbery!

Two Middle-Grade Books I Highly Recommend

I have been going through a reading slump lately with school starting back up. Fortunately, with traveling to Stanford for health reasons, I had a lot of time to read. Here are two books I highly recommend.

Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson

I cannot explain how much I loved this book. Kids who come from different walks of life get to know each other and realize they have more in common than different. It is what every teacher wishes to see in their classrooms. Acceptance and understanding. This book would be a PERFECT read aloud for ages 10 and up. Everyone should read it. I can just imagine the deep classroom discussions this book could lead to.

Synopsis from Penguin Random House:

It all starts when six kids have to meet for a weekly chat–by themselves, with no adults to listen in. There, in the room they soon dub the ARTT Room (short for “A Room to Talk”), they discover it’s safe to talk about what’s bothering them–everything from Esteban’s father’s deportation and Haley’s father’s incarceration to Amari’s fears of racial profiling and Ashton’s adjustment to his changing family fortunes. When the six are together, they can express the feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.

Resistance by Jennifer Nielsen

This book was action-packed. Jennifer Nielsen is one of my favorite middle-grade authors. You know you are getting a book that will keep you wanting to read well past your bedtime. Kids love her books because they can learn about history in a way that relates to them. You will not regret purchasing any of her books!

Synopsis from Google Books:

Chaya Lindner is a teenager living in Nazi-occupied Poland. Simply being Jewish places her in danger of being killed or sent to the camps. After her little sister is taken away, her younger brother disappears, and her parents all but give up hope, Chaya is determined to make a difference.

#TeachersWrite Experience

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I am loving my experience with #TeachersWrite so far. After my first week, I actually have a piece of writing. Yay! I know if I want to be a better writing teacher, I need to write. The #TeachersWrite blog is just I need for guidance to overcome the fear I’ve always had about writing. If you are interested in checking it out, click here. It links to author Kate Messner and her blog. (By the way, if you have not read THE SEVENTH WISH, by Kate Messner, you must.)

Now, for the brave, getting over the fear, part of this process. My work in progress is below. Feel free to comment and share what works for you, what does not, and any suggestions for improvement.

 

He just does not understand! I do not want a dog, I need a dog. When I am terrified after waking up from a nightmare, a dog will be there to comfort me. When grief takes over my body like a disease, a dog will love me.

“Dad, I will pay the adoption fee, pick up the poop, feed him. I swear I will!”

“Rrr,” Dad grunted, shutting the office door behind him.

Defeat washed over me like a wave. I’m drowning. I slowly trudge up the stairs and plop down on my bed.

“Rrr,” I grunt.

Students’ Top 10 Books for Fifth Grade

I am excited to share our class’s top ten list of MUST HAVE books for a fifth grade classroom library. All of our read alouds made this list. Here are the most loved books in our classroom in order of popularity!

  1. The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart 
  2. The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth  
  3. because of mr. terupt by Bob Buyea    
  4. Blood on the River by Elisa Carbone
  5. The I Survived Series by Lauren Tarahis
  6. Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz
  7. Smile, Sisters, and Drama by Raina  Telgemeier
  8. The Bone Series by Jeff Smith
  9. The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm  
  10. City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

All Things Smart-Insight from my Students

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Image from kizoomlabs.com

After participating in another Twitter chat on Saturday, #satchatwc, I knew I had to survey my students again. This time I gathered their thoughts on the word smart. Most of the educators participating in the chat believed there are many forms and definitions of the word smart. All of us have a talent/gift to contribute. All of us can be smart. But I wondered, does it really matter how we, adults, view smart, if the message is not getting across to our students? Here is what my fifth grade students had to say.

What do you think the word smart means?

“Someone who knows a lot of things.”

“You are good at all subjects. Intelligent.”

“Make wise decisions.”

“You get everything in Math, Reading, everything!”

What do you think makes a person smart?

“Learning, research, and also reading.”

“Practice. Lots of training the brain.”

“They know lots of things.”

“Learning.”

“Trying hard. Not giving up. Practice.”

“Mistakes.”

Do you think there are different types of being smart? Explain.

“Yes. There is street-smart and smart-smart.”

“Everyone is smart already in their own personal way.”

“Yes. You can be techy smart or life smart and that means you can manage your money.”

“I do not know really but if there is I did not know.”

Do you see yourself as a smart person? Explain.

“Ummm, no. I really don’t get math and science and stuff and it makes me really mad.”

“I’m in the middle because I don’t always get everything right.”

“No, but I have street smarts.”

“Yes, I know many things. I know a lot of math but especially technology.”

“Yes, I can build.”

Any other comments on the word smart? Thank you for being honest and open with your comments!

“I don’t like the word smart.”

“Why is it called smart?”

“Everybody is smart.”

“Would you consider me smart? Please be honest too. Thank you! (I promise not to cry. I just want to know what you think.)

My Reflection/Take-Away

As I sat down tonight reading over the surveys, I was pleasantly surprised at how many students understood there could be different types of smart. Many spoke of effort and practice to help get “smarter.” One even said mistakes make you smarter! I do not know if this message was gleamed from me, previous teachers, or parents, but I was excited to read their thoughts.

On the other hand, even if students viewed and accepted different types of being smart, some did not view themselves as being smart. They could not identify something they were smart, gifted, or talented in. This troubles me tremendously! I try to notice and recognize the successes in all my students, yet some do not see this in themselves.

I intentionally set those surveys aside. I’m making it my top priority to help those students discover, recognize, their own unique gift(s) they bring to our classroom and the world. If I can do that, I have succeeded as a teacher. Just maybe, I can help foster a life-long learner. A passion for learning. Hoping to plant the seed!

There is a First Time for Everything

I have been thinking, for some time now, to start my own blog. It is a scary, an extremely scary, thought. I always struggled with writing, putting my thoughts into words. It never sounded the way I wanted it to sound. I felt the full message I was trying to get across was not there. Then I thought about mJan29 006y students who struggle everyday with putting their thoughts onto paper. I challenge them and expect them to write in every subject area, including writing their own blog post. But I never challenge myself to be a better writer.

If I am going to be the best teacher for my students, I need to learn right along with them, right? Why not blog and reflect on my teaching? Why not open myself up to criticism, feedback, just like I expect of my students?  When talking about education reform, Grant Wiggins said in his new post today, “Implementation Version 1.0 is LIKELY to fail. We won’t get this right, most likely until Version 3.5. So, let’s fail early and often (as they say at IDEO) and work to get it right as quickly as possible, based on feedback and advice.” I am taking this to heart. I will fail. I will fail early and often. This is how I will become the teacher my students need me to be. I’m all in! Are you?