Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sixth Grade YA - Girl Stolen. Loved It!

Just as many of you do, I try as best I can to read as many of the YA books that my Sixthers are reading or might read or I think they should read.  It is not as easy as it might seem..but it is always worth the effort and time.

Girl, Stolen by April Henry was a great read. Here is the very short lead in........

Sixteen-year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of the car while her stepmom fills a prescription for antibiotics. Before Cheyenne realizes what's happening, the car is being stolen.

Griffin hadn't meant to kidnap Cheyenne and once he finds out that not only does she have pneumonia, but that she's ..........................

 The big shocker is on page 3. Totally changed the book and I was off and running.

I know that not only will my frantically looking for a new book gals love it, the boys will find it a good read too with lots of adventure, attack dogs, kidnapping, and cars.

Right now a few young ladies are reading Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer. I loved hearing Martina report "there has already been 4 murders and I am only on page 102". I watched as she and her pals all were stealing glances at it during some kind of random ramblings by their teacher. Honestly, I can't wait to read it too!

What books do your students all clamor for?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Tell-Tale Heart ....A Tad Bit Creepy!

Edgar Allan Poe...what's not to love about his scary stories? I read about the Tell- Tale Heart on someone's blog (remind me where I borrowed the idea from!!) and knew my classes would love it. The story is only 3 short pages and is a great way to get the class all together on one story for just one class session. I read the first page aloud in my super scary, eerie, raspy teacher voice and then they were to read the rest on their own. As I was slowly walking around the room reading aloud, I could see that most of their eyes were glued to me and taking in every word. When I told them to read the rest, I was a tad bit proud to hear them all begging me to finish it off I did. They loved it and we talked about all the elements used and when did we know what was going to happen, and all of the loads of literary elements there is to discuss with any Poe writing.

Since my creepy crew loved it so much, I found no less than 20 YouTube versions of the movie so we watched a great B/W 26 minute version. They loooooved it...."especially the part where we can only see the shadow but we know he is pulling off the head" and then one sweet gal added in "and you could see in the shadow that the blood was gushing out of the head". 

 Yup, creepy as can be...and we would not want it any other way!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Book Pusher in Room 208

Okay.... I have calmed down a bit. Well, not too much but enough to think straight and to make a plan. I rounded up funding elsewhere and have decided to be the Book Pusher of Room 208. My readers all suggested lots of current books that they want to read and share with each other. We also made a list of loads of great Lit Circle or Class Reads or even Lunch Bunch Readers. Armed with that info, I ordered up all kinds of books and look forward to sharing them with my sweet sixthers. I would use all of the Scholastic points I have earned and saved for just this moment..but our school took all the points away and put them into one big account. Don't get me started!

So we will start with Island of the Blue Dolphin as a class read - I have a whopping huge Study Guide in the works and should have it ready...soon-ish for your downloading pleasure.

In the wings are Wonder for a Lunch Bunch Read and for small groups. The Watsons Go to Birmingham is just dying to be started and I have 30 of those so I can do a class at a time on this terrific exploration.

What are you reading with your class?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Paper Plates or Sixth Grade Novels ?

I never thought the day would come that the PTSA board members would look a teacher in the eye and tell them that they will pay for someone's request for $250 worth of paper plates and 100 euro of fake flowers...........but were denying the request for $200 of Current, Interesting, Relevant, and sometimes Life Changing Young Adult novels and books.

 I. Did. Not. See. That. Coming.         But it did.

I was in a state of disbelieve, humiliation, shock, denial, and then back to disbelief.

Even more disconcerting was to get two totally different version of why it was denied from two different people who were there for the vote.

Oh did I fail to mention, that I am the VP of the PTSA board and have worked my sweet butt off for the school and our fundraising.

Paper Plates but not Reading books like Wonder, Girl Stolen, anything by Rick Riordan, Marie Antoinette Serial Killer, Hatchet, Brian's Winter.

Words fail me. And that rarely happens. I am sure I will calm down..but not too soon!

Friday, October 11, 2013

True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle - Loved It !

I have dreamed of a classroom read that would grab the girls for the excitement, the boys for the adventure and knives, and the teacher for the buzz of book talk and anticipation of what will come next! Yowza, never did I expect this book to be this much fun for all 72 of my 6th grade readers.

A big "Danka" goes out to Allie in Germany for suggesting the book to me and for being a week ahead of my class so share loads of ideas and activities. Love to have a teacher pal that thinks like I do!

We started out the book by all agreeing that NO ONE would have ever selected this book based on the cover. Too old fashion looking, too girly, too boyish, too "we will never like it". I asked my lovely readers to please just trust me and if it proved to be a dud, well then on to another book we would go.  I read aloud the Preface and we were all hooked. Talk of a murder in the first line...what's not to like about that?! 

The hardest part was keeping the would-be swashbucklers from reading ahead.
                                                  How Great Is That?

After loads of pleading, we bumped it up from 1 to 2 to 3 chapters a night with a lively discussion the next day. The other teachers commented on how the kids were talking about it in their classes and were monitoring each other to be sure no one slipped ahead. Finally, around chapter 14 I let them go at their own pace but agreeing that we had to be up to XX chapter by tomorrow...and swearing everyone to secrecy if they read further. The only stipulation was that no one was to finish the book until we could all finish it together.

Today the end of the book assessment was a great success with every reader clearly showing their understanding of the book, the theme, plot, friendships, and subtle events that made this book a fabulous hit! Even during the "trade with a partner and grade" session, we had several friendly debates about who said what and why. To the very last minute they were discussing the ins and outs of the characters.

Don't you just looooove when that happens?!!  What books has your class read that will stay on your Must Read list?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Writers Workshop Wednesday

We had a great kick off to Writers Workshop Wednesday last week so we were all looking forward to a relaxed period of writing. All week I made reference to "our boy that is lost in the woods" (our agreed loose topic). Why is he in the woods? What does he have with him? Is anyone looking for him? Was he kidnapped but escaped and is running for his life? Is he running away from home? We never answered or discussed it, just reminded everyone oh so casually to be thinking about "our boy".

After a few quick reminders of no aliens, guns, or flesh eating bacteria they were off and writing. I was careful to not type or tidy up (my two never ending teaching tasks when they are all working) but I did not want to walk around either. So I wrote a story of my own...only for me.

Magical Moment does not start to describe how it went. Class after class..writing, writing, and more writing. Even the most hesitant writers were heads down and writing. Near tears and holding my breath at the same time.

In between sessions, I managed to whip off a quick note to my newest teaching buddy- Allie in Germany- to share the moment with. As always, she was full of encouragement and congrats!

I am so happy that I took the time to really let the idea of Writers Workshop Wednesdays settle in and find a place in our class. The kids came back on Thursday asking if they could stay in during recess to write some more.    It.Does.Not.Get.Better.Than.That.