Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Along for the Ride is without a doubt my favorite Sarah Dessen book yet.  The main character, Auden, is one that I easily relate to.  Maybe it’s her sometimes lack of social skills or her dedication to academic achievements- either way, I felt like she was me at times.

Auden has never really seen anything wrong with the fact that she was an adult without ever experiencing a true childhood.  Her parents, both academics, have always treated her like an adult.  She never played kickball, ran around the neighborhood, or even rode a bike.  Sure, she had a few friends from her private school, but she mostly spent all of her time studying. What she doesn’t realize is that she has spent her whole life trying to prove something to her parents.

But when her parents divorce and her dad remarries, she begins to think maybe everything she did wasn’t enough. She stopped sleeping when her Dad moved out, and spends her insomniac nights at a local diner.  When her stepmother has a baby, Auden suddenly decides to throw away her summer plans and go stay with her father, stepmother, and new sister. Spending the summer in a small beach town, she suddenly has the opportunity to relive everything she never got to experience during her childhood- most importantly friendship and love. And when she realizes that she may only be a shell of what her parents want and nothing like what she, Auden wants, she learns that it’s never too late to grow up and be who you want to be.

This is the perfect book to read on a warm summer day.  Dessen has crafted a gorgeous story, with characters who are flawed like normal human beings.  Yet despite their flaws, they are all likeable.  I don’t know how she does it, but Dessen gets better and better with each book she writes!

Highly recommended for middle school and high school libraries.

(And at certain points in the story, you can see the love of a new mother beaming through the story, like a flashlight in a darkened room.  It’s an amazing testament to the love Sarah Dessen has for her young daughter.  I can’t help but wonder what it will be like for her daughter to someday read this book, thinking all the time that her mother had to have been using her own experiences as a new mother.  It’s gorgeous and will be a wonderful gift someday.)


Mark Overmeyer Answers Your Questions About Assessment

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


(Don’t leave me hanging….I need some questions!)

The Clique Summer Collection Giveaway Winner!

Without further ado…..



drumroll please……



The winner of the The Clique Summer Collection  is Liza Lee!  


Congratulations, Liza!  You win a copy of all 5 books in the series!

The Clique: Summer Collection Series-

    • The Clique Summer Collection: Massie
    • The Clique Summer Collection: Dylan
    • The Clique Summer Collection: Alicia
    • The Clique Summer Collection: Kristen
    • The Clique Summer Collection: Claire

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.