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!

Advertisements

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.

Questioning, I Need Your Help

  

 How do we go from toddlers and preschoolers asking questions about everything around them, to school-agers who hardly ask questions at all? What is the message being sent to students in the way we view and deliver teaching and learning in the standard classroom?

Our staff is reading articles about questioning and student engagement. When is a child truly engaged? What is our definition of student engagement?

With these question running through my head during Winter Break, I feel torn by what is expected of me as a teacher, and what I believe is best for the whole child in my classroom. Where is the balance? What is best for one child is not necessarily best for another. How do we get children to be engaged for true learning instead of pleasing the teacher and finding the right answer. 

Some of the things I have implemented this year is the focus on effort vs. getting the right answer. The focus on learning vs. the right answer. The focus on effort vs. correct spelling. I have to say this again and again in my classroom. I find students slowly taking more risks and less fix-mindset, negative thinking. But I cannot do this alone. 

How do we change the culture of school? How do we change a classroom into a learning/wonder/investigation studio? 

I do not have the answers. I cannot begin to pretend to know how to make this change. But I know what I believe in my heart, and I am torn. 

I am turning to my PLN, Twitter community to help me begin to find the answers to these questions. Please help me start the conversation. Please help me find the courage to move forward.