The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson: A Book Review

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Thank you to Scholastic Books for providing me with an advanced-readers copy of THE PARKER INHERITANCE for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

Twelve-year-old Candice moved from Georgia to her Grandmothers house. Her grandmother passed away two years ago. Candice had no desire to be in Lambert, North Carolina for the summer. Leaving her friends behind was not fun. After Candice finds a letter addressed to her grandmother in the attic, she follows clues which send her on an adventure of a lifetime. Candice and her new friend Brandon, follow the clues and find out there is an unjust history in the town of Lambert and a fortune waiting to be found.
Author, Varian Johnson, weaves the present and past of Lambert masterfully. This is a book you will want to read in one sitting. It’s a perfect book for those who love deciphering clues as adventure awaits. The reader will not be disappointed. This book lends itself as an excellent read aloud, leading to deep discussions in the classroom. I definitely plan on using it for in my fifth-grade classroom. Perfect for grades four and up. THE PARKER INHERITANCE will be released March 27th. Pre-order it now!

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Good Dog by Dan Gemeinhart: A Book Review

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*I requested and received an advanced-readers copy from Scholastic. All opinions are my own.

Told from the perspective of Brodie, a dog that just passed on. This is a touching tale about a dog who cannot move on in the after-life until he knows his boy, Aiden, is safe. Brodie returns to the “alive” world with his friend, Tuck. Together they encounter many trials and tribulations as they search for Aiden. Will Brody make it to Aiden before his soul is gone forever?

Wow. Author Dan Gemeinhart does it again. Dog-lovers will devour this gripping, heart-wrenching story. Brodie is a dog who sacrifices EVERYTHING for his boy. Even when Brodie encounters dogs that are just plain evil, he stops at nothing to save his boy Aiden. Beautifully written, Brodies’ love for Aiden will stay with you long after you finish the book. This is my ten-year-olds second favorite book of all time. I recommend it for grades three and up. GOOD DOG will be released on March 27th.

#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.

My New Writing Journey

 

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#teacherswrite 2016 Monday June 27th

I am not a writer. I have never been. I try to say things on paper, but when I read it, the message is not there. No formal training on writing, but I am expected to teach my intermediate students the art of writing. This is why I am here. I want to learn. I desire to learn. I am scared. I worry someone will read what I have to say and think, “Who do they think they are?? Really, you are a teacher?” The fear is there like a wall. Do I climb over it? Do I let others see me in my vulnerable state? Or do I just keep doing what I have always done?
One thing I do know, once I became a reader, I was a better, much better, reading teacher. My passion rubbed off in the classroom. I had a book recommendation for every type of student/taste. If only I can accomplish this with writing. If I become a writer, will I be a better, much better, writing teacher? I hope so.

Now…what do I write about???

Benefits of Student Blogging (and things to let go)

As I reflect on my students’ progress in the area of writing, I cannot ignore the positive impact blogging has had with my students. 

  • Motivation: Students write because they have an authentic audience. The Global Read Aloud enabled us to make connections easily with classrooms around the world. Students receive comments from other students. (Which they value way more than teacher comments). We have continued many of these connections throughout the year. Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension has a vast resource on student blogging by Pernille Ripp, founder of the Global Read Aloud.
  • Knowing Your Audience If I had to pick the biggest change in my students’ writing ability, it is writing FOR an audience. When I read my students’ writing, it sounds like they are talking to me, actually having a conversation with me. As a reader, I am genuinely engaged and enjoy the voice that leaps from the paper. Parents have commented on this as well.
  • Practice We all know, readers become better readers by reading and writers become better writers by writing. Students actually enjoy writing for a real audience and tend to write more even on their free time.

Things to Let Go When Blogging with Students

  • Perfection Students will post writing that is not perfect. If you pick apart their writing, they will stop. Allow for mistakes, but teach them how to use spell check and peer edit. Approve posts even when they are not perfect. The struggling writer will actually write way more than you imagined if you live by this! Trust me.
  • Fear If you have thought about starting student blogging, but are afraid, just do it! Kidblog.org is a great classroom blogging site that allows the teacher to filter everything before it is posted, even comments from around the world. It is free and user friendly. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg about the benefits of student blogging. If anything, give it a shot! If you have any other benefits you have noticed in your class on blogging, please share.