Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Book Talk: Tears of a Tiger

Tears of a Tiger was one of the first young adult books I read when I started my teaching career. I was amazed at how powerful the story was and at the author's choice in ending. That year, I taught a section of English 9 in addition to my reading classes. I had a student, one I will never forget for other reasons, read Tears of a Tiger first. He came back to me, not too long after I'd given it to him, and said he cried at the end. I was surprised that 1) this big, strong guy cried at the end of this novel (I have since reflected on such perceptions and 2) that he felt comfortable enough with me to admit that he had an emotional response to this book. He went on to read the rest of the trilogy, then Feed by M.T. Anderson and 1984 by George Orwell. Watch the video to find out a little about Tears of a Tiger by Sharon Draper.


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QsCIsVZVwk]

Thursday, July 21, 2011

QR Codes in Books


qrcodeI've heard tell that necessity is the mother of invention. What I like about summer is that it gives me time to think about what worked, what didn't work, and what drove me absolutely crazy in my classroom the previous year.

What you have to know about my classroom is that it's structured by Read 180. Three stations, 20 minutes a station. I tend to run into a problem when a student finishes his book and wants something else to read. While I'm teaching the small group, he'll come, interrupt the flow, and ask what he should read next.  I understand that most of the students I get are reluctant readers, I want them to learn to be independent reluctant readers. If twenty minutes is all I have with a group, I want to be able to use all 20 of those minutes and not take a quarter of them book talking to another student (not that I mind book talking--the timing is just inconvenient).

That prompted me to start making YouTube videos of my book talks. With any luck, I can get my channel unblocked at school and have a computer station set up so to the viewing of these videos can be done independently. If that doesn't work, I had another idea, which became my project for the summer.

Last school year I saw many conversations on Twitter about QR codes and using QR codes for comments. It wasn't until this summer and reading this blog post that I really understood what QR codes were and figured out how I could use them. To address my problem of being interrupted while teaching by a student who wanted a new book -- a problem I don't mind having because it means they're reading -- I decided to create QR codes that link to various YouTube videos and commentaries about books. These barcodes will be taped to the inside of the books at the beginning or end, and students can use my phone to access the content.

The fact that my phone is the device necessary for this project to work has beenthe only snag. Because YouTube is blocked, and because I want my students to be able to read whatever commentary from wherever on the web, and because I won't connect my iPhone to the wireless in my classroom, it seems like the best choice. Students have used my devices before without too much incident -- iPod nano to watch videos from Skeleton Creek and Trackers or listening to audiobooks -- so I'm not too worried. There will be ground rules. But I think having the video option will help those students who have a hard time reading the back cover of a book and deciding whether or not they want to read it.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Review: Bone: Quest For The Spark, Book One

Bone: Quest For The Spark, Book One
Bone: Quest For The Spark, Book One by Thomas E. Sniegoski

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I picked up Quest for the Spark at the Scholastic Warehouse Sale in May, I fully expected it to be a spin-off graphic novel series. I was surprised when it wasn't. So a mostly-new cast of characters is on a quest for the light that will drive the darkness away.

The book talk will be uploaded by tomorrow.

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Review: Resistance, Book 1

Resistance, Book 1
Resistance, Book 1 by Carla Jablonski

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Resistance, Book 1 is historical fiction set during World War II in France. This story is about a few French kids who want to join the underground resistance against the German occupation of France. Two children are harboring their Jewish friend, and their goal is to help him escape to Paris. It's an interesting look at what WWII was from somewhere outside the concentration camps.

If you liked Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, Resistance might be a good graphic novel supplement.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Review: Sent

Sent (The Missing, #2)Sent by Margaret Peterson Haddix

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This one came out of one of the boxes of books I  picked up at the Scholastic Warehouse Sale in May. It's the second book in a series of mystery stories by Margaret Peterson Haddix called "The Missing." The first book is called Found. If you haven't read Found, start there. If you have and are ready for Sent, there's a book talk below that makes sure you're up to speed.

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After Looking for Alaska

I considered creating a QR code for the video on YouTube, but decided that I wanted you, my reader (who is probably one of my students who has just finished Looking for Alaska by  John Green) to get a little commentary before you watch listen to the song I've attached.

This song was written by one of the FiveAwesomeGirls on YouTube, and covered by Hank Green (who is the author's brother). As you listen, I want you to see how many references to the novel you can find in the song.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Review: Found

Found (The Missing, #1)Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix

I read Among the Brave a few years ago (never made it all the way through that series) and it was good. I remember finding the storyline engaging. First semester last year, one of my students read Found and said that I should as well. It took me a little while to get to it, but I'm glad I did.

There's a book talk below the fold.

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Knife of Never Letting Go

Curiosity got the best of me when I picked up this one. I was out at Half-Price Books in Indianapolis, and the dust jacket, which is clear plastic, caught my eye. I picked it up, read a little and was intrigued. When I checked on Goodreads, I saw that a number of my friends already read it and loved it. When I finished this novel I was upset because I could not immediately start the next book. You think the cliffhangers at the end of the Hunger Games books were intense? They have nothing on the cliffhanger from the first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy.

Here's the book talk.

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes

I read Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes in the car on the drive from Nashville to Indianapolis with my grandparents and mother.  I've heard a number of good things about Chris Crutcher, through I had only read Deadline (which is also fantastic). Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes was added to my to-read list at least three years ago when I took an English/Language Arts methods course as an elective for my master's. We did literature circles. The group I was in read Fahrenheit 451, and created a podcast (which I should really find and put on the internet because it was super cool). Other groups read Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar, another title that I don't remember, and Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes. So I finally picked it up. Here's the book talk, see if it would work for you.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Review: Matched

Matched (Matched, #1)Matched by Ally Condie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Matched is another novel that reminds me of The Giver by Lois Lowry. In the Society, where Cassia lives, everything is chosen for her. Her job will be selected for her, her mate or Match, will be selected for her. When something unusual happens with her match Cassia begins to wonder about the system that she's been living in -- if it's as perfect as she always believed it to be. Seeds of curiosity are planted, first by the issue with her match, then with a gift from her dying grandfather, that make this a story about finding out what choice really is, and deciding if following the rules is what keeps everyone safe, or if breaking them leads to a better life.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Books I Read in June

Here we have to books I read in June (almost half a month late). Book talks are currently in the works for many of these titles. My favorites from June: Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, Beauty Queens, Rot & Ruin and Ship Breaker.

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher
Web 2.0 for Educators by Gwen Soloman
The Twilight Saga (yes, I read all four) by Stephanie Meyer
The Adventures of Captain Underpants (#1)
Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets (#2)
Captain Underpants and the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space (#3)
Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants (#4) by Dav Pilkey
Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel
Big Nate Strikes Again by Lincoln Pierce
Big Nate: A Cartoon Collection: From the Top by Lincoln Pierce
Big Nate: In a Class by Himself
Thirteen Days to Midnight by Patrick Carman
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach
The Adventures of Rabbi Harvey: A Graphic Novel of Jewish Wit in the Wild West by Steve Sheinkin
Tyrell by Coe Booth
Bossypants by Tina Fey (audiobook)
Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson & the Olympians (series) by Rick Riordan
Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Mayberry
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Teaching the iGeneration: Five Easy Ways to Introduce Essential Skills with Web 2.0 Tools by William M. Ferriter
Hold me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
Candor by Pam Bachorz
Linger by Maggie Stiefvater