IMWAYR: Middle School is AWKWARD

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I happened to catch this book while browsing other graphic novels and comics online. I can’t believe I never heard of this one before this year! As a middle school teacher, I know that daily life in school is awkward, and this book brings my middle school days back to life. Awkward, by Svetlana Chmakova, was published in 2015, but the plot took me back to 1980. Middle school has always been the same — unfortunately awkward.

The main character, Penelope (Peppi) is new to Berrybrook Middle School. What does she do on her first day? She breaks Cardinal Rule #1 for Surviving School (Don’t get noticed by the mean kids). When she trips over her own feet and falls into the quiet boy, Jaime, she definitely gets noticed. Talk about embarrassing yourself on the first day of school! How she handles herself after that is even worse, though.

Next, she tells herself that maybe she could follow Cardinal Rule #2 for Surviving School (See out groups with similar interest and join them), instead. She makes new friends in the art club, all the while re-living her awkward moment with Jaime, and trying to think of a way to reconcile. Later, when the art club and the science club face off in an all-out war, middle school lives are turned upside down.

If you’re a middle school fan (like me — crazy as it seems), check out Awkward. I have also ordered the sequel, Brave, about a boy named Jensen. I can’t wait to see what happens next at Berrybrook Middle School.

 

 

Slice of Life Tuesdays: Back with a Vengeance!

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Hello again!

I haven’t written a “Slice” in a while. I was busy finishing up my last school year as a 6th grade teacher and transitioning to a school librarian position, which starts in August!

I am so excited to use my School Librarian license!

I went in to school today to take a tour and get started with reading the handbook of procedures, learn how-to-do tasks, and have some fun.

“Happy Summer” just got busy!

IMWAYR: York

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It’s Monday! What are you reading? 

I started York: Book One – The Shadow Cipher, by Laura Ruby and I’m hooked. I must say, I picked up the book after several recommendations and my continued fascination with New York City’s history. The introduction — New Year’s Eve, 1855 — set up just one of several stories of New York’s shining skyscrapers and compelling citizens. Theresa and Theodore Morningstarr, twins who had disappeared into the labyrinth of the Morningstarr Tower, left a puzzle for the people of New York before they disappeared. No one knew what happened to them. They just disappeared.

(Move forward in time)

In present day New York, Tess and Theo Biedermann spend time with their family and friends in one of the Morningstarr apartment buildings, constantly surrounded by the hum of tourists who each think he can solve the mystery of the Old York Cipher of long ago. The puzzle had never been solved.

When a real estate developer buys the building, the Biedermann’s must try to save their home, and find the answer to the puzzle. Is the Old York Cipher a true story?

You’ll have to read along with me.

I loved the opening lines of this tale! “The true story of any city is never a single tale; it’s a vast collection of stories with many heroes…” This lead made me think of our writing institute. Our theme was “We are Story.” I carried that theme, and that mission, with me this past year of teaching and living my own life. We ALL have stories to tell. I can’t wait to jump back into this — ah, these! — stories.

Happy Reading!

 

IMWAYR: Math and Reading Come Together

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I just love using picture books for my middle school classroom! This book will help both math and reading teachers spread the book love. This is 7 Ate 9: The Untold Story, by Tara Lazar, and illustrated by Ross MacDonald, and it is comic genius in picture book form. 

Private I tells the story of his newest case: 6 banged on the detective’s door, scared that 7 is coming to get him. Private I took the odd case and started looking for the root of the problem. But 7 cannot be found for questioning. There are a number of suspects, and quite a few witnesses to interview, too. Private I’s work seems to multiply as the case moves forward. Can he solve the case in time, or will the numbers be subtracted, one by one?

If you’re looking for a twisted mystery, Tara Lazar provides the narrative. If you’re looking for some math vocabulary to add to your lesson plans, this book is a positive addition to your library. If you want to read a beautifully-illustrated picture book during your child’s bedtime routine, Ross MacDonald serves up the cake — I mean, pi.

Have fun reading 7 Ate 9 soon!

 

Slice of Life Tuesdays: When There’s Not Enough Time

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Dream School: Have enough time for all my students to read whatever they want, write to publish their own longer works, and travel to the places we study in geography.

“There’s never enough time.” Who said that? Mike Miller? Somebody said it first.

One of the frustrating parts of losing time is that it seems that you once had so much that you slacked off, got lazy. You goofed around and wasted your time. It was fine, because you had enough time – no need to worry because the due date was far in the future. Now, the deadline is looming; now you are in “crunch time.” There’s not enough time left to show your true potential.

If I had more time now, I’d read aloud more books to my students. I never got to read Pax, or share all the new titles that came across my desk this year. There’s a new pile of “To-Be-Reads” at home, too, and a growing list of books I wish I’d purchased. Sharing great titles with students and encouraging a love of reading is the best! But I’m almost out of time.

If I had more time now, I’d help students to publish more of their works. I have a nice pile of fantastic writing from this school year, but some students were not able to revise, edit, and send their work in to publishers. I would have entered more contests, as well. Some of the contest topics seemed amazing! But I’m almost out of time.

If I had all the time in the world, I’d travel around the world. I’d love to climb the steps at Machu Picchu! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could take my students on a field trip to  Canada, or the Dominican Republic, or to Ecuador? I have many places on my bucket list of travel. But alas, I’m not sure I’ll have the time.

As this school year winds down, I wish you all the time you need to achieve your goals.

 

Poetry Friday: (Golden Shovel) “Dreams”

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I continue to pour over the poems in Nikki Grimes’ book, One Last Word. Ms. Grimes is an amazing poet and the “Golden Shovel” poetry is exquisite. This form of poetry is most difficult to create! A Golden Shovel poem takes a line from an existing poem and transfers each word from that line (called the “striking line”) to your own poem, as the last words in each line of your new creation.

I used “I Leave the Glory Days” by Nikki Grimes as my mentor text. The line I pulled was “The past is a ladder that can help you keep climbing.” Here’s my poem:

Dreams

When I’m stuck, I reach for the

lessons from my past.

I want to live my dreams, but it is

so difficult! Longing for a

new adventure, I climb the ladder

of hope that

someday I can

find the right people to help

me succeed. I’d take you with me, but you

don’t have the same dreams as me. Keep

on your own path. I must keep climbing.

A Writer’s Identity Crisis

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“Are you a real writer?” One of my students asked me that this year.

“Sure, I am!” I proudly stated.

“Do you have a book?”

“No, not yet. Someday, maybe.”

I saw the rolling eyes. (Middle School!) I kept writing anyway. But I thought about this conversation, and I found myself asking the same question. Am I a writer?

Well, I’m a blogger. I have been for years now. I write “Slice of Life” stories with my friends at Two Writing Teachers (www.twowritingteachers.wordpress.com). I write book reviews. I write posts for the Nerdy Book Club (www.nerdybookclub.com). Is a blogger a writer?

I’m a teacher, so I write lesson plans and curriculum notes. Does that count as writing? I spend most of my time on this, so I’d like to think so. But no one ever reads that kind of writing, except maybe a principal or a substitute teacher every once in a while. If no one reads your work, are you a writer?

I write reflections about my reading. One of my favorite professional books from this last year is Writers are Readers: Flipping Reading Instruction Into Writing Opportunities by Lester Laminack and Reba Wadsworth. I read all the time. I’m a better reader than a writer, but I do write about my reading. I have flipped my classroom and my students are readers AND writers. Does that make me a writer?

I’d like to think I’m a writer, but I don’t write every day. It’s a terrible problem! I make the common excuses: say I don’t have time, say something else takes priority, say I don’t have anything to write about. Maybe I’m not a writer. Hmm…

As I try to figure this out, I’ll keep writing. Maybe someday, I’ll be a writer.

 

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