Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

I just finished this book; it only took me a matter of days because I just couldn’t put it down. I LOVED this book; it is now on my top 10 all-time favorite book list, along with The Book Thief and To Kill a Mockingbird.

So instead of telling you about this book I am going to tell you a story about when and where I finished this book. I finished this novel on a plane, traveling by myself. So let me set the stage for you…
“Alaska Airlines flight 830 to Portland, final boarding call”. I stand in the boarding line, backpack on, phone in hand and book tucked under my arm, excited to have two hours of uninterrupted reading, and of course to see my husband who has been in Portland since Tuesday (we are spending our 22 anniversary in Portland).
“Good morning!” I say to the flight attendant as I board, smiling she replies, “Welcome aboard”. Walking and waiting, walking and waiting, it takes about 5 minutes for me to get to my seat, bags up, bags down, overhead bins open, overhead bins closed…and on and on. I finally get to my seat, 28C, aisle. The two ladies I am sitting next to are already in their seats so I quickly take my backpack off, take out my glasses and tuck it under my seat.
I get settled into my seat buckling my seat belt. I take a quick look around at the many faces surrounding me. They are talking to their traveling companions, looking at their phones, talking to the flight attendant trying to get their bags in the overly crowded overhead bins. I am content with my surroundings so I open my book and begin to read.
I’m starting a new chapter. Via and her mom are in an argument about her play, Auggie gets upset and runs to his room. He waits and waits for someone to come check on him, no one comes. Finally Via comes and gets Auggie because Daisy is sick…
Now at this point, people are still boarding the plane, movement is going on all around me, and my eyes are tearing up. I look away from my book and get the tears under control, I start reading again, Via and Auggie must say good bye to Daisy…The tears have now left the building! I am trying to cry silently, I am trying to control the mascara that has been perfectly placed. I stop reading again, regain some control and think I really should not read this now, but I have nothing else to read and we haven’t even moved from the gate yet!
I decide to try and skim this part of the book, because there is no way I can get through it without making a mess and a scene.
No good, I can’t skim, I read every heartbreaking word and I am now a blubbering waterfall. I finally remember that I do have tissue in my bag so I pull out my backpack and grab one, ONE…what was I thinking? In a matter of seconds that ONE little tissue is S.O.A.K.E.D.
I blow my nose, pat my eyes trying not to disturb the make-up and I discretely look around to see how many people around me are wondering what the heck I am reading, it seems that they are paying no attention to me…which disappoints me, I want someone to look at me, ask me “What is wrong?” or “What are you reading?” I want to tell someone about this book that I am reading, but alas I continue by myself in the solitude of my book.
I finally get through the chapter about Daisy and read about the overnight field trip, the bullying and the rise of true friendship from characters that were not so friendly.
I smile.
I am in a happy place right now, one with my book, enjoying my time.
The drink cart comes around; I get some water and enjoy their little salty snack that they still hand out for free. I take off my glasses, and pull out a tiny mirror to check my eyes, make sure they are not big black raccoon eyes, they are not. I surprise myself at the “carefulness” of my crying and wiping, I am good to go!
We finally have about 30 minutes left of the flight and I am just about done with the book, the timing should be perfect!
I put my glasses on, open my book and continue reading. Alas, I get to the end, graduation, Auggie made it. He is happy, he has friends, his parents are proud and then Mr. Tushman gets up and speaks. He speaks of kindness…Tears once again start falling, this time I cannot control the nose and the tissue in my hand is useless because it has become a limp soggy piece of nothing.

I finally go into my backpack and grab another tissue. I blow my nose and get that all under control and I finish the book just as wheels are touching down. 
I look around again, and still, no one has noticed that this stranger sitting next to them was taking a different trip then they were. While everyone was flying to Portland, I was on an emotional roller coaster, one filled with, empathy, sadness, caring, understanding, frustration, and love.
I get off the plane and head to the bathroom to really check my face. My eyes and nose are slightly red, but I am happy. I have just experienced a literary piece of excellence.
As a teacher it makes me want every student to read this, to see the different perspectives of all the people affected by something that is not “normal” and what it means to be a true friend.
As a parent to two healthy girls it makes me to see that I sometimes forget that there are families out there that are dealing with things that I just cannot relate to but that in the end we as parents love our children unconditionally and always want them to be safe and happy.
As a human being it makes me see that there really are a lot of good people out there but because of those rotten few it sometimes takes a little bit for that kindness to come through. 
Therefore, it is our job as teachers, and parents, and most importantly human beings to teach and show by example what it means to be “just a little more kind”.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Throwback Thursday Book Review

The Picture Book Teacher's Edition - The Hallowiener TBT Book Review
This is one of my favorite Halloween books and it is an amazing book, not only does it have a great lesson, but there are so many reading skills and strategies that are fun to teach or just practice. Check out the book review and get started with those lesson plans. Click the picture below to take you to the review.
The Picture Book Teacher's Edition - TBT Book Review Button
Congratulations to this weeks Surprise Prize Giveaway winner,
 Emily Levine!


Monday, September 8, 2014

Surprise Prize Giveaway #3

The Picture Book Teacher's Edition surprise prize Giveaway Ends 9/14/14
It is time for another Surprise Prize Giveaway! Enter to win the Reading Skills and Strategies packet that goes with the TBT book review I will post on Thursday 9/11/14.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Throwback Thursday Book Review

The Picture Book Teacher's Edtion - Beatrice Doesn't Want To TBT
This books is such a great book for introducing students to all the wonderful things books have to offer, a definite must for the beginning of the school year. Check out the review I did back in September of 2012, just click the button below.
The Picture Book Teacher's Edition - TBT Review Button
Happy reading!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Top 10 Books for September

Trying to figure out what my Top 10 books should be for this September, I started thinking about summer vacation and how animals are usually such a big part of summer. We see animals at theme parks, in our yards, in the ocean, while we camp and sometimes running down our neighborhood streets. My Top 10 Book list is about animals.
The Picture Book Teacher's Edition - Sept 2014 Top 10 Book List - Books about animals

The Picture Book Teacher's Edition - Sept 2014 Top 10 Book List - Books about animals
The Picture Book Teacher's Edition - Sept 2014 Top 10 Book List - Books about animals

The Picture Book Teacher's Edition - Sept 2014 Top 10 Book List - Books about animals

The Picture Book Teacher's Edition - Sept 2014 Top 10 Book List - Books about animals
The Picture Book Teacher's Edition - Sept 2014 Top 10 Book List - Books about animals
The Picture Book Teacher's Edition - Sept 2014 Top 10 Book List - Books about animals
The Picture Book Teacher's Edition - Sept 2014 Top 10 Book List - Books about animals
The Picture Book Teacher's Edition - Sept 2014 Top 10 Book List - Books about animals
The Picture Book Teacher's Edition - Sept 2014 Top 10 Book List - Books about animals

To find more of my Top 10 Lists use the "Other information and fun stuff" pull down tab under the Labels section in the right hand margin.
Happy September,

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Frog Principal by Stephanie Calmenson

book review graphics
Mr. Bundy loves being a principal. He loves it so much he wants to hire a magician for the next school assembly. Unfortunately for Mr. Bundy, the magician turns him into a frog during his audition. The magician doesn’t know how to turn him back and Mr. Bundy doesn’t want anyone to see him like that, so they both run out of his office. Mr. Bundy heads to the local pond where he tries to figure out what to do. Mr. Bundy wants desperately to be the principal, even if he is a frog, so he does the only thing he can, convinces the students that a talking frog can be a great principal. Mr. Bundy is allowed to fill in as principal while he is “gone”. Your students will love what happens to Mr. Bundy the frog principal as he turns back into Mr. Bundy the principal.
Below is a list of reading skills, strategies and ideas that you can use to create a meaningful lesson to use with this book.
I have also created an Asking Questions Freebie for you and your students to enjoy.
Reading level: 2.9
Theme/subject: new life experiences, school
Genre: humorous fiction
Suggested Vocabulary/phrases: phone book, amuse, amphibians, bog, hopping mad, scrawled, beloved, cattails, fainted, stunned, trampled, refreshing

Reading skills and strategies:
  • Asking questions - {possible questions before} I wonder how a frog became a principal. I wonder what kind of school it is. {possible questions during} I wonder when the magician is coming back. I wonder how Mr. Bundy will turn back into a person. {possible questions after} I wonder if the kids will figure out the Mr. B was really Mr. Bundy. **Remember to have your students answer/reflect their questions.
  • Author's point of view – Third. Be sure to find 3 pieces of evidence to support this (Mr. Bundy, they, the kids).
  • Author's purpose – entertaining {evidence} People cannot turn into frogs. Frogs cannot talk and people don’t eat fly’s.
  • Beginning, middle, end - {most important event from beginning} The magician that Mr. Bundy wanted to use for an assembly turned Mr. Bundy into a frog. {most important event from middle} The frog became the principal of the school. {most important event from end} Mr. Bundy was able to turn himself back into a person.
  • Cause and effect – Why did Mr. Bundy call a magician? Because he thought the kids would love to see some magic at their next assembly. Why did the magician rush out of Mr. Bundy’s office? Because he needed to find the instruction book to turn Mr. Bundy back into a person. Why did Mr. Bundy hop out of his office window? Because Ms. Moore the Vice Principal came in and he didn’t want her to see him. How come the kids promised the frog that he could be principal? Because that was the only way for them to get their baseball back. Why did the kids think they didn’t need to keep their promise? Because they crossed their fingers behind their backs. Why does Ms. Moore decide to let the frog be principal? Because a promise is a promise. Why were the kindergarteners trying not to giggle? Because Mr. B was swimming through their water. How come Mr. Bundy turned back into a person? Because he got hit on the head with a baseball and started reciting a magic spell. How come the kids were so excited to have Mr. Bundy back? Because they thought it was embarrassing to have a frog as a principal.
  • Character analysis - describe Mr. Bundy {looks like, feelings, thoughts, character}
  • Classify & categorize – classify principals – categorize what a good principal does and what a bad principal does.
  • Compare & contrast – Mr. Bundy the person to Mr. Bundy the frog. Your principal to Mr. Bundy.
  • Connections - {possible text-to-self connections} Having a great principal. {possible text-to-text connections} You can connect this book to any children’s book about principals, such as A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech, Mr. Tanen’s Ties by Maryann Cocca-Leffler or The Principal from the Black Lagoon by Mike Thaler.
  • Drawing conclusions & inferencing – Why are the kids crossing their fingers behind their back? {text clues} The kids are promising the frog that he can be the school principal as they are crossing their fingers. {what I know} I know that anyone crossing their fingers when the make a promise means they don’t have to keep their promise. {my conclusion} I think the kids are crossing their fingers because they just wanted to get their ball back and really didn’t want the frog to be their principal.
  • Fact & opinion{fact} Mr. Bundy called a magician. The magician turned Mr. Bundy into a frog. The kids promised the frog he could be principal. Mr. B got knocked in the head with a baseball. {opinion} Mr. Bundy is the best principal ever. The magician was really good. The kids loved having a frog as a principal.
  • Main idea & details - {main idea} The story is mostly about a frog being the principal for a school. {details} Mr. Bundy, the school’s principal left a note saying he had an emergency and would be back soon. The frog in the pond asked the kids if he could be their principal. The kids were embarrassed about the frog being their principal.
  • Plot - the turning point or climax in the story was when the frog got hit in the head with a baseball.
  • Predict – What do you thing the story is going to be about? Do you think the magician will come back? Do you think the frog will make a good principal? How do you think Mr. Bundy will turn back into a person? Do you think anyone will figure out that the frog was really Mr. Bundy?
  • Problem & solution - {problem} The problem in the story is that Mr. Bundy is a frog and doesn’t know how to get back to being a person. {solution} Mr. Bundy solved his problem by reciting a magic spell after he got hit in the head with a baseball.
  • Sequencing – Mr. Bundy called a magician. The magician turned Mr. Bundy into a frog. The magician ran away. Mr. Bundy left a note and jumped out the window. The kids lost their baseball in the pond. The frog promised to get their ball from the pond if they promised to let him be principal. Ms. Moore held an assembly to tell the kids that Mr. Bundy was going to be gone for a while. The frog came to the assembly. Ms. Moore told the frog he could be principal. The frog told the kids to call him Mr. B. The kids were embarrassed to have a frog as a principal. Mr. B got hit in the head with a baseball while he watched the kids play. When Mr. B was knocked out he started saying a magic spell. Mr. B turned back into Mr. Bundy. Everyone was happy to have Mr. Bundy back.
  • Story elements - list title, author, characters, setting, beginning, middle, end, or problem & solution.
  • Strong thought – Mr. Bundy that he could be a good principal even as a frog. Do you agree? Why or why not?
  • Summarize - {someone} Mr. Bundy {wanted} a magician for the next assembly {but} but the magician turned him into a frog {so} Mr. Bundy talked the kids into letting him (the frog) into being their principal. {then} Then Mr. Bundy got hit in the head with a flying baseball and he {finally} finally was able to turn back into a person.
  • Visualize – Visualize what your school would be like if you had a frog as a principal.
The Picture Book Teacher's Edition Click the above picture to get this freebie.
Happy reading!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Top 10 Ways To Make a New Teacher Feel Unwelcome at Your School

10. Eat lunch together as a grade level in the classroom right next door to the new teacher and never invite her to join you.
9. Never respond or acknowledge that the new teacher sent you an email.
8. Schedule staff and grade level meetings on days the new teacher doesn’t work.
7. Put the new teacher’s name on her mailbox 6 weeks after she starts.
6. Make sure to not let the new teacher know when there is a change of plans concerning grade level events.
5. Be sure to not add the new teacher’s email address to the staff group, this way everyone needs to remember to add her when emailing the list, which they never remember to do.
4. Tell the new teacher that the events calendar is in her mailbox and then never put it in there.
3. Tell this new teacher how important it is for her to come to SST meetings and then don’t call to let her know they have started early, been postponed or were cancelled. Just let her show up late, or not show up at all, or better yet show up and be the only one there.
2. Put the new teacher in a room occupied by the afterschool program and then tell her that basically it is their classroom and I am just using it…deal with it.
1. If you are upset with a student that just walked into the new teacher’s classroom, make sure you walk right in and yell and discipline that student in front of you and the other students, and then make sure you don’t acknowledge or talk to that new teacher as you turn and leave her classroom.
What makes it all okay?
When one of your students comes up to you and tells you how much you helped them and that because of you they now love to read.


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