Slice of Life Challenge #12

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All week, we have been planning our Friday night dinner.  We normally eat out or get take-out on Friday nights because I tutor from 6-7pm.  It’s just easier when I know I don’t have to do the cooking and the clean-up.

Earlier this week we found a local coupon book that had somehow slipped our minds.  The coupons expire on April 5th, and we do hate to waste them.  ;)  We flipped through the booklet and determined which ones we could reasonably get through before the expiration date.  One of my favorite restaurants was included- La Rosa’s Chicken.  It’s like a hometown Boston Market with delicious comfort food.

This evening I finished tutoring and was very excited. After driving up the street and ordering the meal, we brought it home and set the table.  The warm smell of chicken drifted out of the bag and filled the kitchen.  I scooped a large spoonful of rich, creamy, decadent macaroni & cheese and sighed contentedly.

Is there anything better than a meal full of comfort food……..that you didn’t have to cook yourself?

Airhead by Meg Cabot

Meg Cabot’s newest series will debut in June 2008. The first title in the series is Airhead and I just finished reading the ARC.

It’s difficult to summarize the novel without giving away the elements of surprise in the plot. The story follows Emerson Watts, self-proclaimed outsider at Tribeca Alternative High School. A brainy tomboy, Em’s best friend is the video game loving Christopher. When Em and Christopher are forced to chaperone her younger sister’s day at a mega-story grand opening, tragedy strikes. After a horrible, tragic injury, Em wakes up in the hospital a full month after being hurt. As she begins to emerge from her coma, she comes to the realization that her worst nightmares have come true. Through a sci-fi-type surgery she has become Nikki- the seventeen-year old supermodel who has taken the world by storm.

The story started off a little slow, but picked up in the middle. I really enjoyed this book! Em is a character who is easy to relate to- she is very much like I was in high school. I also enjoyed the secondary character of Lulu. As the story moved forward she became less like a caricature of a society heiress and more like a sweet, fun-loving girl who just happens to have all the money in the world. The story was humorous and thought-provoking, which is not an easy combination to work with as a writer. However, Cabot makes it work! I am already dying for the sequel, because I want to know what happens next! The story isn’t left as a cliffhanger but it does leave you wanting more.

I would consider pairing this with The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson. Both novels offer a glimpse at teenage girls struggling to figure out who they really are. They also have that slight sci-fi edge to them, adding more mystery and intrique to the story. I think the struggle to define “who they are” is something many teenage girls will relate to, so I plan to recommend Airhead to a few of my students when we get back from spring break.

Children’s lit on TV?

I am watching “The Return of Jezebel James” because it is the only show on TV right now.  Imagine my surprise when I realize that the main character is a children’s book editor!  I think I caught Harper-Teen at one point, so she seems to work for Harper.

And hey, it’s not a bad show, either!  I’ve been laughing a little.  And there are some nods to children’s lit!!!

Poetry Friday

Today’s Poetry Friday theme is Bob Dylan and his music. I was poking around, reading lyrics from some of Dylan’s songs and discovered some that really struck a chord with me. The song is “Clean-cut Kid”. It weaves the tale of Vietnam vet.  I met with my literature circle group that is reading Cracker!: The Best Dog in Vietnam today and we were discussing Vietnam.  My kids are loving Cracker’s story, and they are learning a lot about the war in Vietnam.  This song tells the tale of so many young men who went over to Vietnam and had no idea what to expect.  Read it over and just picture the images that Dylan creates….

  Everybody wants to know why he couldn’t adjust
Adjust to what, a dream that bust?

He was a clean-cut kid
But they made a killer out of him,
That’s what they did

They said what’s up is down, they said what isn’t is
They put ideas in his head he thought were his

He was a clean-cut kid
But they made a killer out of him,
That’s what they did

He was on the baseball team, he was in the marching band
When he was ten years old he had a watermelon stand

He was a clean-cut kid
But they made a killer out of him,
That’s what they did

He went to church on Sunday, he was a Boy Scout
For his friends he would turn his pockets inside out

He was a clean-cut kid
But they made a killer out of him,
That’s what they did

They said, “Listen boy, you’re just a pup”
They sent him to a napalm health spa to shape up

They gave him dope to smoke, drinks and pills,
A jeep to drive, blood to spill

They said “Congratulations, you got what it takes”
They sent him back into the rat race without any brakes

He was a clean-cut kid
But they made a killer out of him,
That’s what they did

He bought the American dream but it put him in debt
The only game he could play was Russian roulette

He drank Coca-Cola, he was eating Wonder Bread,
Ate Burger Kings, he was well fed

He went to Hollywood to see Peter O’Toole
He stole a Rolls Royce and drove it in a swimming pool

They took a clean-cut kid
And they made a killer out of him,
That’s what they did

He could’ve sold insurance, owned a restaurant or bar
Could’ve been an accountant or a tennis star

He was wearing boxing gloves, took a dive one day
Off the Golden Gate Bridge into China Bay

His mama walks the floor, his daddy weeps and moans
They gotta sleep together in a home they don’t own

They took a clean-cut kid
And they made a killer out of him,
That’s what they did

Well, everybody’s asking why he couldn’t adjust
All he ever wanted was somebody to trust

They took his head and turned it inside out
He never did know what it was all about

He had a steady job, he joined the choir
He never did plan to walk the high wire

They took a clean-cut kid
And they made a killer out of him,
That’s what they did


Copyright © 1985 Special Rider Music

Slice of Life Challenge #11

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One of my favorite parts of my day is my drive to work .  It’s only about 15 minutes from my house to school, but I try to make good use of the time I have.  Until recently, I listened to my iPod and just relaxed.  However, I recently began listening to my first audiobook.  As a highly visual learner, I shied away from listening to books because I assumed I would just tune out.  Plus, I love to sing along with my radio (at the top of my lungs), so losing that time made me a little sad.

A few days ago I had to drive to a wedding that was over an hour away.  I downloaded an audiobook onto my iPod and figured I would give it a shot.  As I drove up the parkway and into the mountains, that hour flew by!  I was enjoying the story and realized that listening to a reader would also help me with my read-alouds.  It’s interesting hearing another person’s interpretation of  character’s voices, mannerisms, and speech.

Every morning when I get into my car, I place my iPod into it’s stand and set up the FM transmitter.  Even though I only have 15 minutes (at the most), listening to someone tell me story has now become my favorite part of my morning routine.  Even when I pull into my parking spot at school I sometimes spend a few more minutes in the car, finishing a chapter.  For someone who has regretted the loss of her pleasure reading time, audiobooks are filling a great void in my life.

Professional Books Reviewed

I am very excited about a website I found today while looking for some reviews.  I am constantly looking through catalogs and deciding I *need* every professional book.  However, professional books are expensive and I can’t afford to buy them willy-nilly.  A co-teacher and I are considering purchasing a fairly expensive professional resource but aren’t sure if it will be suitable for our classes.  They seem to frown upon returning  professional resources after perusing them, but what else can I do? However, while looking for the author’s website I found a site that publishes reviews of many, many professional books and was pleased with the reviews I read.  Most of the reviews are written by education professors with many years of experience in the field.  Check it out!

Slice of Life Challenge #10

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no toner in the copier

paper jam

no staples

copy-less for another day

missing homework

library books misplaced

“i know i did the homework….can’t i just get credit?”

head meet wall

read-aloud, relax, enjoy

quiet

“this is the best part of our day!”

pride. satisfaction. smiles.

*i rarely write poetry.  be kind. :)

Slice of Life Challenge #9

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Walking back to my room after prep, I realize something is wrong.

It’s quiet.  Too quiet.  My class is usually rambunctious and chatty in the room after health.  I can always hear them coming down the hall.  Randoms words, whispers, bangs, booms, and the scrapes of chairs against the floor lead me like a leashed dog back to my classroom.  But today is different.  No voices.  No metal chairs scraping against the hard floor.  No bangs.  No booms.  No laughter.

Why can’t I hear anything?

I begin running scenarios through my head.  But I know what’s wrong.  Silence means trouble.  Silence in a room of school children practically screams, “WE GOT YELLED AT!”

Walking in the door, I survey the room.  Twenty some-odd preteens sitting at their desks like perfect angels.  That’s always the number one sign that they are anything but.

I glance at their health teacher only to see her sigh and motion me outside the door.  I can see it in her eyes- all teachers look the same when they have had it with “that”class.  And it was last period.  A double whammy for the poor health teacher.

“What did they do?!”

As she explained their overly-rambunctious behavior, resulting in my neighbor teacher coming in to scold them,  I nodded and began plotting how to deal with this sudden onset of spring fever, come 3 weeks early.

Update on my read-aloud

Today I began our newest read-aloud. Thank you to everyone for your suggestions!

I decided I wanted to go with a new genre, something my kids wouldn’t pick up on their own yet would hold their interest, and something that was light and quick. Our newest class read-aloud is Marley: A Dog Like No Other by John Grogan. The kids love it so far! It’s a new genre for me to read aloud- non-fiction (that is not a picture book). It is also easy for my students to relate to. Already they are sharing stories about their own dogs, cats, and various pets. The connections were made immediately and I can only imagine them growing as we continue.

I am hoping that we can finish in about 10 days. We read 25 pages today and baring interruptions should hit 50 tomorrow. With less than 200 pages we may finish before spring break. That would be perfect, allowing us a fresh start when we begin the Holocaust after that.

Anytime we finish a novel, either as a class novel or a read-aloud, I print the cover and staple it to our “We Have Read….” bulletin board. Today I finally had time to update it. When our librarian saw it she was thrilled. For some reason, it is hard to convince other teachers to read-aloud. I can’t imagine my class without a read-aloud. It allows me to model reading behaviors and strategies while modeling a constant love of reading. It is contagious- my kids are reading more than they ever have before. Why other teachers don’t read-aloud baffles me!

I have heard all the excuses….no time, test prep, “the kids don’t listen anyway”, and more. Yet I make time with both my classes, even though I only have two hours with them. As for the students not listening, modeling should take care of it. If you constantly show that reading is important and fun it will begin to stick! My class is proof of this. And you must find exciting books that they will want to read. Realistic fiction is a big hit in my classes, but once they were introduced to it we were able to move to other genres. I know a lot of my kids wouldn’t pick up Tuck Everlasting on their own.  Now that we read it together many of them list it as the best book they have read!  It’s all in the teacher’s choices and modeling practices.
I am interested in hearing your experiences (especially at the intermediate/upper grades, when reading aloud falls by the wayside)!  Do you read-aloud in your room? Do you have a specific read-aloud time?  What are some of your most popular titles?

New books!

Today my large order from Scholastic came. My newest professional book has me very excited: Day-to-Day Assessment in the Reading Workshop: Making Informed Instructional Decisions in Grades 3-6 by the Kidlitosphere’s very own Franki over at A Year of Reading!!! After reading Franki and Mary Lee’s blog for over a year now, I feel like I know Franki, so it is very exciting to have her reading workshop book in my hands. Granted, I know I won’t be able to read it until spring break starts but I am very much looking forward to it.

I also got first dibs on my school’s copies of Book Links and School Library Journal today so I am all set for reading this week. Along with the fact that I am reading a few books at once. Right now I am reading: Meg Cabot’s Airhead (ARC), Leepike Ridge, and Wait for Me. I am also listening to my first audiobook. ( I am a visual learner, so this is new for me. I wanted to start with something easy….) The Ivy Chronicles is wonderful! Definitely chick lit.

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