Slice of Life March 31st, 2013 #slice2013

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I have been participating in the Slice of Life challenge since 2008 and it’s always one of my favorite blog-related activities.  Thank you to Ruth and Stacey for this awesome challenge!

This year’s challenge has certainly been different.  For the first time I had students slicing with me, and many of them sliced every day!  It’s been a pleasure reading their entries and comments this month and I am so glad I challenged them to participate (even if some of them dreaded it).

But this month has also been full of ups and downs.  Chris had surgery on March 19th, and the lead up to that was frantic.  The following week was spent in the hospital and he came home last week.  He’s been home a few days now and it’s such a relief to have him recovering here, instead of in the hospital.  The SOL challenge gave me some time to focus on each day and forced me to sit down and think of the things I am grateful for each day.  And I am grateful for the Slice of Life challenge for helping me keep my sanity this month.

I can’t wait til next year!

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Slice of Life March 30th, 2013 #slice2013

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I spent a good portion of my day trying to get ahead (and caught up) before going back to school on Monday.  That means I graded a lot (trying to get caught up, to what feels like no avail), cooked a lot, and completed a lot of food shopping. Those tasks, coupled with getting Chris out of the house for a bit and watching Wreck-it Ralph resulted in a very tired Sarah.

Baked ziti

Baked ziti (Photo credit: dolescum)

Chris has a few more weeks of recovery at home so I wanted to get some meals in the freezer that he can use for lunches while I am at work.  Because he loves pasta, I decided to make my first baked ziti.  I know, I know.  What can I say?  I’m Irish, not Italian!  But I ended up making a double batch of ziti, so we have one pan in the freezer and one in the refrigerator.  I think we are set for a while!

Then, I made some baked eggs that we can use for breakfasts this week and some frozen crockpot meals.  That way, I can just toss the meals in the slow cooker before I go to work and I won’t have to waste time cooking when I get home.  As an aside, I can’t tell you how much I love Pinterest.  All those recipes I have been pinning for months have finally come in handy!

I’m not really a cook, but I can follow a recipe, so Pinterest has been a lifesaver.  And while it was tiring, I am glad that we have a bunch of meals already completed for the week.  It should make the transition back to school a little easier!

Slice of Life March 29th, 2013 #slice2013

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Yesterday it was announced that Amazon will be purchasing Goodreads next quarter.  I’m not sure how to react to this news, because I love Goodreads.  I loved its independence, the community, and the interface.  While I am an Amazon customer (no independent bookstores closer than an hour away), I don’t need Amazon taking over every website I use.  They already own all or part of Shelfari and Librarything, which is one reason I don’t use either site.

But what upsets me the most about the sale is that I encourage my students to use Goodreads.  It was independent and not tied to any major retailer, so I was comfortable recommending it.  It also allows my students to grow as they move through school and eventually graduate.  The few other book social networking communities I tried out were aimed at kids and my students would eventually age out of them.  While this may seem like a silly thing for me to worry about, it’s important that my students find a community of readers that can stay with them as long as they are willing to participate.

When I taught 6th grade, I always shared Goodreads with my students and encouraged them to join (with their parents’ permission).  Many of them did.  It’s been over 6 years since I first started recommending the site and I still hear from many of those students.  There is an ebb and flow to the site, allowing members to pick up where they left off, without any pressure or judgement.  In the last few months I have been contacted by 5 former students, ranging from 8th grade to current juniors in high school, who have become active on Goodreads again.

 One of those students told me she was looking up a book her friend was reading and the search results included Goodreads.  She remembered using the site with me, clicked on it, and soon she was adding books to her “want to read” shelf and reminiscing over the list of books she last updated in 7th grade.  I now see her adding books a few times a week and she even recommended a book to me!  The power of a reading community is stronger than most people realize and too many students (and adults) lack access to one in the flesh.  Too many of my former students tell me that they haven’t heard a booktalk since leaving my classroom, haven’t had a teacher recommend a book that wasn’t canon since being with me, and no longer remember how to find books on their own.  And how can we expect them to keep reading if no one is providing them with the opportunity to find and read books?

That’s why I love Goodreads.  I love that current and former students can message me about books.  I love that our school book club can have conversations between meetings.  I love that I can model my reading life and passion for all of my students (current and former) in an unobtrusive manner.  And I love that there is no commercial tie-in.  We are surrounded by ads all day and Goodreads was a welcome respite from that.  Sure, there are banner ads and such, but they were book-related and usually lead to a publisher’s official site or an author’s blog.  They didn’t lead me to an Amazon order page.

Goodreads is about community and passionate readers.  It’s not about making a buck.  At least, it’s not about making a buck for me.  Sadly, it seems to be about money for the founders.  I can’t blame them for that, of course.  But I do wish they had offered the users of Goodreads an option.  Maybe we would have been willing to kick in money to keep the site independent!  I’d even be ok with publishers buying into the site.  But a single retailer?  That’s harder for me to digest.

We have a while before anything changes because the sale doesn’t close until next quarter.  I’m not going to stop using Goodreads and I hope I won’t have to in the future.  But I will be watching carefully.  And in the meantime, I think I will be doing what author Kate Messner suggests.  We can support other retailers, especially indie bookstores, in the reviews we post.  But my students and I will keep using Goodreads, while crossing our fingers that the community isn’t destroyed by Amazon.  Because the community is what drew me to the site and it’s why I share it with my students.  Losing that would be a shame.

Voting for the Children’s Choice Book Awards

Make sure you get your vote in!

 

Voting is now open for the Children’s Choice Book Awards! This is the only national book awards program where the winners are selected by children and teens of all ages. I hope you will consider sharing the news about this exciting program! Vote now on BookWeekOnline.com and spread the word!

 

Voting is open through May 9th. Winners will be announced live during Children’s Book Week (May 13-19, 2013), at a charity gala to benefit Every Child a Reader (ECAR).

 

Tweets and Facebook posts that will help us spread the word: 

  • Voice your choice! Voting for @CBCBook‘s Children’s & Teen Choice Book Awards is open now through May 9 atbookweekonline.com!

Slice of Life March 28th, 2013 #slice2013

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Isn’t it amazing how certain songs can remind you of people or take you back to a part of your life?  I’ve been reminded of that twice in the past 24 hours.  Chris and I sat down to watch Les Miserables today and I kept thinking of my friend Aileen, who first introduced me to Broadway musicals way back in elementary school.  Thanks to her I fell in love with Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, Annie, Cats, and pretty much every Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.

I was also reminded of the power of music at last night’s Taylor Swift concert.  I was already out of college (*sob* I am old) when Taylor Swift released her first single, but her music always makes me think of my teen and college years.  She writes the soundtrack for many people’s lives, I think.

Then there are the songs that make me think of Chris and our life together.  Avril Lavigne, Ingrid Michaelson, Michael Buble, and so many others.  I can be transported to a mood, a time, a place, or a feeling when certain songs come on.

Music fascinates me because it is inherently tied to our emotions.  I’m not a musician, but I love music and the soundtrack it provides.

Slice of Life March 27th, 2013 #slice2013

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Tonight I took my little sister to see Taylor Swift.  Ok, she was a convenient excuse for me to go see Taylor Swift.

I’ve loved Taylor Swift ever since I first heard “Tim McGraw” back in 2006.  Even though she is younger than me, her songs provide a soundtrack for my teen and college years.  Her songs are like little YA novels set to music, and her albums are all awesome.  I’m partial to her more country-esque albums, but I own them all.

Tonight, I almost went deaf at her Red Tour.  I’ve never seen so many light-up signs or heard so much high-pitched screaming.  But it was awesome to watch all these young girls and teens (and twenty-somethings!) sing along to “Mean” and nod along as Taylor told them to ignore the people who try to bring them down.  They also sang along, even louder, to “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and I laughed as Taylor Swift told the audience they shouldn’t get back with their evil ex-boyfriends just to be with someone.

It was a great night and a great time with my sister.  :) And now it’s after midnight and I need some sleep!

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