Summer Literacy Packet

Last year I was inspired to put together a summer literacy packet after reading about a few other blogger/teachers who used them with great success.  I had a few students complete the packet last year and I awarded them 7th grade survival packs when they mailed the completed packets back to me.  Because my students move on to a new school after spending the year with me, I don’t expect to receive many completed packets.  However, I do like to give my students the option.

This year I updated the packet a little.  I added a new week of activities that focuses on Shakespeare, because my students will be expected to read “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in 7th grade and I decided to give them an opportunity to become familiar with some of his work.  

Week Seven: Shakespeare


In 7th grade, you will be reading some of Shakespeare’s magnificent work.  William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright who is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language.  His surviving pieces include approximately 154 poems and 38 plays.  He wrote three types of plays- tragedies, comedies, and romances (also called tragicomedies).



Writer’s Activity Choices Week Seven (pick one & put your initials):

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,

Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,

Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,

With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:

There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,

Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight;

And there the snake throws her enamelled skin,

Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in.

         Imagine the scene as you read the piece. What do you see? You may need to look up some brief          definitions of unfamiliar words – for instance,  “woodbine” (honeysuckle) or “eglantine” (sweet-  briar).  In your writer’s notebook illustrate the scene you imagined, using the text as a reference.       Be sure to color it in! (Initial here, _______, if you select this option.)


  • Many of Shakepeare’s most famous quotes are still used today.  Choose one of the following quotes and in your writer’s notebook, write a paragraph explaining what the quote means.  In another paragraph, explain why this quote is still relevant to kids and teenagers today. (Initial here, _______, if you select this option.)


                                          -“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
 By any other name would smell                                                                           as sweet.”  Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

                                          -All that glitters is not gold.”  The Merchant of Venice (II, vii)

                                          -“Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness,                                                                              and
 some have greatness thrust upon ’em.”  Twelfth Night (II, v, 156-159)


Reader’s Activity Choices Week Seven: (pick one & initial it):


  • Go to the library and check out a book based on one of Shakespeare’s plays.  A list of possibilities is below.  Shakespeare is tragic, gory, violent, and romantic.  It just depends on which story you choose!  Write me a letter-essay telling me your thoughts about the book.         (Initial here, _______, if you select this option.)

1.     Romeo’s Ex: Rosalind’s Story by Lisa Fiedler

2.     Dating Hamlet: Ophelia’s Story by Lisa Fiedler

3.     Ophelia by Lisa Klein

4.     The Wednesday Wars by Gary S. Schmidt

5.     King of Shadows by Susan Cooper

6.     <The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood

7.     The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper

         You may also read any age-appropriate non-fiction or a middle grade version of one of his plays. Talk to the librarian or bookseller for more ideas.          


I really hope that the students who choose to complete the packet do the Shakespeare activities because I think it will open up a whole new world to them.  The y seemed excited about the idea of it today, but the summer is long.  🙂


Dork Diaries Winner!

The winner of the Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life contest is…..



Congratulations, Carrie!  I’ll be emailing you for further info.  Enjoy the book-  it’s awesome!

Wrapping Up the Year

It’s that crazy time of year, when I am wrapping up the 4th marking period, finishing up 7th grade placement recommendations, and this year packing my room ( I move to a new classroom in the fall). Oh, and continue teaching my room full of 6th graders, despite the boxes lining the perimeter of my room. Needless to say, it’s a little crazy!


But in two weeks, school will be over and this little guy will be coming to live with my fiance and me.  🙂  Meet Dublin!

Chelsea's last litter 002

Student-led Book Clubs

Over the past few weeks, two of my students have been holding their own book club.  The two best friends decided they wanted to read my single copy of Gone. For the first few days they shared my single copy- two heads bent over the book during independent reading. After a few days, I noticed they had two copies. When I questioned them, they said they went to the library and requested a copy, interlibrary, so that they could read next to each other but also “take the book home to read without fighting”. Before this year, they told me they hadn’t been to the library in years.

Every day while we read in class, I watch these two girls move next to each other, open their copies of Gone, and silently turn the pages. They talk about the book with each other and with me, coming to me to share their responses and exclamations. I LOVE IT!

I didn’t require that they read the same book. I didn’t even suggest it (knowing I only had one copy). Instead, they took it upon themselves to have a book club. It’s amazing the power that social reading has. Why don’t we harness this in more classrooms and use it? Students reading, recommending, and talking about books is more powerful than any literacy kit, basal reader, or literature set.

Dork Diaries Special!/Nikki’s Purse Giveaway!

A few weeks ago I reviewed an awesome book,Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life, by Rachel Renee Russell. The girls in my class are passing this book around like I’ve never seen before. If you teach tween girls, I can’t recommend Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life enough!

Today, I am so excited to announce that Nikki Maxwell herself is stopping by the blog today! It seems she has lost her diary and is asking for our help. Play the video below to find out more.



Wow Nikki! Thanks so much for stopping by!



Rachel Renee Russell has graciously offered up a Nikki’s purse giveaway for one lucky reader of mine! The purse includes some of Nikki’s favorite items- a pink purse purse, a hardcover copy of the book, and tons of goodies (Love’s Baby Soft perfume, nail polish, gum, a fun pen, and even more).

Four ways you can enter:
1. Leave a comment on this post by  June 16th.
2. Blog about the giveaway (this will earn you TWO extra entries)
3. Twitter about the giveaway (1 extra)
4. Facebook about the giveaway (1 extra)

Leave a separate comment for EACH entry, meaning you can have up to FIVE comments!! Good luck!

Twenty Boy Summer Giveaway!

That’s right, it’s time for the second giveaway in my birthday month!



Don’t worry, Anna. I’ll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it.”
“Promise me? Promise you won’t say anything?”
“Don’t worry.” I laughed. “It’s our secret, right?”

According to her best friend Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy ever day, there’s a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance.  Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there’s something she hasn’t told Frankie—she’s already had that kind of romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

Beautifully written and emotionally honest, this is a debut novel that explores what it truly means to love someone and what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every single moment this world has to offer.


Listen to Sarah Ockler talk about her newest novel.


Five (5) winners from TheReadingZone will receive:

Twenty Boy Summer hardcover Book


How awesome is that?  And all you have to do is leave a comment by 6/25.  


How to Enter:

  • All you need to do is leave a comment on this post to enter. If you would make sure your email address is in the comment, that would make life easier for me. 
  • If you link to this giveaway in any way (on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) I will give you one extra entry for each link. Please leave a separate comment for each link, to make my life easier!
  • Open to US resident only (sorry!)
  • Contest ends June 25 at midnight Eastern Standard Time.



For more information visit   

Assessing Student Writing

One theme that rose to the top of my “What Do You Want to Know?” series was assessing students. In reading and writing workshop, assessment can be a struggle for those who are tied to a standard grading scale of A-F. However, Mark Overmeyer has a new book coming out in July, What Student Writing Teaches Us, that focuses on using assessment to empower and improve student writing.

“Assessment, when used correctly in a formative way, can empower students and teachers to not only improve, but better yet, to believe in themselves as writers and teachers of writing. And once you believe you are a writer, and a teacher of writing, any barrier, no matter how imposing, begins to crumble.”
—Mark Overmeyer

Right now, you can read What Student Writing Teaches Us on the Stenhouse website for FREE! What a fantastic way to start the summer.    Even better?  Mark Overmeyer will be answering your questions here in June 25th!  So get reading and come back to this post to ask Mark your questions about formative assessment.

And seeing as this is my birthday giveaway month, there is a contest you can enter, too!

 Contest details from the Stenhouse website:

In his new book Mark discusses how a writing prompt that might seem limiting actually helps students focus their writing. He talks about a second-grade classroom where students were excited to write about the following topic: “Your baby brother is inside the house and you are locked out and need to figure out a way to get back in.”

Your challenge is to write a quick, piece in 500 words or less for that prompt. Mark will select the winner, who will receive a free, signed copy of What Student Writing Teaches Us. Submit your entries by July 15 to The best entries will be posted on the Stenhouse blog and website.


How awesome is that?  I’m about halfway through the book and I’ve already taken copious notes- it’s a great book for teachers of writing!

The Clique Summer Collection #1: Massie by Lisi Harrison

The Clique Summer Collection #1: Massie (Clique Series) by Lisi Harrison is the first of the Clique Summer Collection books. I’ve never read the Clique books but every year I have a handful of students who love them. I’ve flipped through them before but I’ve never sat down and read one all the way through.

Massie is a spoiled brat. In fact, spoiled probably isn’t even a strong enough word. She drove me crazy throughout the book, tossing out designer names, treating her friends and parents like dirt, and generally being a miserable human being. Yet, I couldn’t put the book down. This is chick-lit for kids, silly, over-the-top, and fun to laugh at.  You would never want to be friends with Massie but you totally love laughing at her insanity!

I know there are some people who think the Clique series is teaching tweens to focus solely on looks and designer brands but my students laugh at that idea.  They tell me all the time that they know the books are fiction and they would never even talk to someone like Massie in real life.  But they do love reading about girls like her.


Don’t forget!  You can win all 5 Clique Summer Collection books at my blog by entering here!!!

48 Hour Hour Book Challenge Wrap-up

Today is a very busy day- grocery shopping, getting dressed, and then I am leaving for the TONY AWARDS!!!!

That means I am wrapping up the Challenge early this year. But I’m happy with the time I was able to devote to it this year, despite a busy weekend. Here are my final stats:

A Map Of The Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell- 273 pages

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han- 276 pages

Moon Science, History, And Mystery by Stewart Ross- 121 pages

Boys Are Dogs by Leslie Margolis- 195 pages

Girls Acting Catty by Lesle Margolis- 158 pages

My Season with Penguins: An Antarctic Journal (Robert F. Sibert Honor Books) by Sophie Webb- 47 pages

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson- 353 pages

The Princess Diaries, Volume II: Princess in the Spotlight (Princess Diaries Series) by Meg Cabot- 86 pages (audiobook while driving 1 hr roundtrip for cupcakes!)

Hate That Cat: A Novel by Sharon Creech- 148 pages

Biology: Life as We Know It! by Dan Green- 128 pages

The Clique Summer Collection #1: Massie (Clique Series) by Lisi Harrison- 127 pages

The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick- 90 pages

Total pages read: 2001
Total Time: 17 hours reading, 2 hours tweeting/cheering on

Total Reading Time: 19 hours!


*If I get any more reading done, I will update this post.

Biology: Life as We Know It by Dan Green

I’ve been reading this one on and off all day.  It’s definitely a great book to flip through and read what interests you.  But I love these books because they always hook my students.  The illustrations by Simon Basher are fun to look at and always catch my students’ attention.  

The topics in this edition of Basher’s science series, Biology: Life as We Know It! include cells, mammals, DNA, and much more.  A great addition to any science teacher’s library.