#48HBC Update (Sunday)

Update!  It’s strange not dedicating the entire weekend to the challenge, but I’m happy with what I have done so far.  I think with blogging/tweeting/cheering people on, I will just hit the 12 hour mark.  I’ll be thrilled with that, considering I lost an entire day to previous commitments.

*Edited at 2:41pm

I’m reading in hour-long increments now.  So many distractions today!

*Edited at 7:37pm

Had to take the dogs for a run/swim at the park.

*Edited at 9:05pm

Time spent reading:

11 hours, 15 minutes

Time spent blogging/tweeting/encouraging others/catching up on the challenge:

1.5 hours

Total time so far:  10 hours, 39 minutes

Books completed:
Capture the Flag– Fantastic MG mystery.  I loved it!
One for the Murphys– Get your tissues ready.  Loved the connection to Wicked.
The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo– A Christmas gift from my baby sister, which came highly recommended.
Salvage the Bones: A Novel– I am too much of a dog lover to be able to enjoy this book.  I appreciate that it is well-written, but it left me feeling sick to my stomach.  Warning: excessive focus on dog fighting.
Sudden Flash Youth: 65 Short-Short Stories (Karen and Michael Braziller Books)– Looking forward to using this with my freshman next year.  Some of the stories are really powerful!
Mangaman– A student recommendation. Not my favorite, but enjoyable. I’m not a graphic novel reader, yet.
Trafficked– So, so good.  I love watching Law & Order: SVU, and this read like an episode of the show.
The Polar Bear Scientists (Scientists in the Field Series)– I love this series so, so, so very much.


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48 Hour Book Challenge Update #48HBC

Update!  I spent the day at my in-laws, running around with the dogs before heading off to a wedding. I read in the car on the way there and on the way back (my husband drove!  No worries. 🙂 )

Time spent reading:

4 hours, 15 minutes

Books completed:
Capture the Flag– Fantastic MG mystery.  I loved it!
One for the Murphys– Get your tissues ready.  Loved the connection to Wicked.
The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo– A Christmas gift from my baby sister, which came highly recommended.

48 Hour Book Challenge!

As always, I am participating in MotherReader’s 48 Hour Book Challenge.  I have a busy weekend this time, with a wedding and a day spent down south, but I’m going to squeeze in as much reading time as I can.  I plan to read in the car while driving, and hopefully spend a good deal of time reading tomorrow.  My goal is 10 hours (so sad!  Much lower than in the past!).  I am pledging $2/hr to RIF for the challenge.

#Bookaday for #SummerReading Fun

Want to share your summer reading with a community of readers?  Looking for books to add to your “to be read” pile?  Just want to talk about what you are reading?  Then check out #bookaday this summer!  Search the hashtag on Twitter and you can connect with teachers and librarians.

#Bookaday is no-pressure and lowkey, so it’s easy to pop in and out during the summer.  The hashtag was started by the wonderful, amazing Donalyn Miller aka The Book Whisperer.  Entering its 4th year, #bookaday gives readers a summer goal:  read one book per day.  This is an average, so you might read 3 picture books one day and then complete a YA novel over the next few days.  The goal is to aim for an average of one book per day.  And any book counts!  That means picture books, graphic novels, chapter books, middle grade, YA, and adult books are all fantastic!  You set your start and end date, so there’s no deadline pressure.  Some (lucky) folks are already out of school, so they’ve already started #bookaday.  I will jump in after school ends on June 18th.

I love the #bookaday community because it is full of voracious readers.  I learn about new books and share the titles that I love with others.  We have great conversations and we cheer each other on.  By the time school starts again in September, I have a lengthy list of titles to share with me students. Some of those titles are books I read, and others are books recommended by members of the #bookaday community.  It’s fabulous!

Won’t you join us this summer?  #Bookaday is a lot of fun and I can’t wait to get started this year.  I’d love to see you join in, too!

Taking a Dip in the Nonfiction Pool….#SummerReading

Back in January, my history co-teacher brought up the idea of incorporating the NYTimes into our daily routine with the freshman class.  We wrote a grant proposal for our Parent-Teacher Association and they approved it, with our subscription beginning in February.  Today, we receive 16 copies of the paper daily and it has revolutionized our teaching. Every morning we get to school and skim the paper for an article to focus on that day.  We draw up an activity and the students read and respond to the article when they get to class.  This usually leads to a discussion and we’ve had some great ones.

At the beginning of our great experiment, many students were lacking in general background knowledge.  Today, they can speak about a variety of issues and have learned to evaluate writing for bias, opinion, facts, and much more.  They follow stories over extended periods of time and can have intelligent discussions about issues that include Syria, standardized testing, Facebook’s IPO, ancient artifact ownership, and concussions in sports.  Bringing the NYTimes into our class has afforded us many opportunities to make connections between the past and the present and I can’t imagine teaching without the paper now!

One of the most striking effects of adding the NYTimes to our curriculum is the sustained silent reading that my students participate in daily.  Unlike our independent reading time, this is a part of the day when every student is reading a longform nonfiction article.  Most of my students don’t spend a lot of time with nonfiction, so this daily exposure has been vital to their growth as students.  I was concerned about them regressing over the summer, when they don’t have the Times waiting for them when they wake up.  I am thrilled to share that The Learning Network at the NYTimes is launching its Third Annual Summer Reading Contest!

How does the contest work?  Every week students can comment and share an article that they read that week.  In their comment, they will explain why that particular article interested them in approximately 350 words.  Any article will do, from the Magazine section, or sports, or business, or opinions, or the arts, etc.  The editors will choose a few comments each week as winners and those comments will be highlighted in a separate post on the blog.  That’s like being published in the NYTimes!  Pretty good, if you ask me! (Some examples from last year can be found by scrolling down on this page.)

The best part is that the rules are pretty loose for this contest.  I love the fact that students can read anything they want in the paper.  They can even choose graphics, videos, and other forms of media as their article for the week!  And while the Times has a paywall, students can access 10 free articles each month.  Plus, any articles linked from the Learning Network blog don’t count towards the paywall cap!  That should provide more than enough opportunities for students who don’t have digital subscriptions to the paper.

The contest will begin on June 15 and run weekly through the summer.  I will be sharing with my students and posting reminders on our class Facebook page throughout the summer.  I will also post links to interesting articles each week, to give the more reluctant student readers a jumping off point for the week.  I’m really looking forward to this summer’s contest because I think it will encourage my students to continue reading the paper over the summer.  Hopefully, they will continue to improve their nonfiction skills.  And honestly, I really just want them to form a habit of reading the newspaper more often!  Whether they read one article per week or the entire paper, cover to cover, they will be practicing an important lifeskill.  They will also be building their background knowledge and forming opinions on current events.

What do you think?  Students from age 13-25 are invited to participate in the Third Annual Summer Reading Contest and I think it’s going to be great!  Do you read the newspaper often?  What about your students?  Do you think this contest will motivate them to give it a try?

A link to the rules

******The NYTimes is partnering with a variety of organizations today for a #SummerReading tweet-a-thon.  Be sure to follow the hashtag on Twitter!

Be sure to check the rest of my posts this week for other summer reading ideas.

Books to Bask In This Summer

Summer time used to mean spending hours at the bookstore one July night, waiting in line for the newest Harry Potter book. I would spend the whole winter counting down to the release day, usually with a widget on my desktop.  When I had the book in my hand I would settle in to read it as fast as possible, usually starting the book on the ride home.  I’d bask in the book while sitting outside, or in the patch of sunlight on my bedroom floor. That was summer reading for many years of my life.  Once the last book was published, I began searching out other “summer reads”.  It’s nice to have a new book to look forward to during the summer months. To this day, I keep track of summer releases and pick a few that I will definitely read, in order to keep the excitement alive.  I share the list of books I plan to bask in this summer with my students, many of whom have their own lists of books to be released.

Today I am at BEA (BookExpo America), one of my favorite days of the year.  I get to meet with authors and publicists, and sometimes I even get to see fellow bloggers.  But the best part is coming home with books that I can’t wait to read.  Those books usually make it to my “must read immediately” list.  And there are always a few that make it to me “must hand out to my students so they can pass it around all summer” list.  The hardest decision is when a book is on both lists!

Many of the books I pick up today will be ARCs, or advance review copies, of titles coming out later this summer or in the fall.  These ARCs serve a dual purpose- they help me choose books for my curriculum and they help get my students excited about reading.  Students love to be able to read (and sometimes review) books before the general public and I love giving them the opportunity to do so.  But even if you can’t get ahold of these books in ARC form, you certainly can get them later this summer.  I’ve made a list of some soon-to-be-released books that I think you will want to get your hands on this summer.

To get the summer started for those of you already out of school (so jealous!), I have Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne. Out this week, Laybourne’s novel sounds like a modern-day Lord of the Flies set in a big-box store. I love disaster novels so this one is right up my alley!

Also out this week is Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats, which sounds like a great addition to my senior English curriculum. I read a starred review in one of the trade review magazines and I already ordered my copy.

I’m dying to read Rebecca Stead’s Liar & Spy, which will be released on August 7th. Stead is the author of one of my favorite books, When You Reach Me) . She’s also the author of First Light, one of the first books I reviewed when I started this blog!  Her newest book sounds like a great summer read and it’s already on my e-reader, courtesy of Netgalley.

Another book I am dying to read this summer is Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown. I’ve enjoyed all of Brown’s books because she writes teens so well and so realistically. I’m looking forward to curling up with her newest novel, which deals with the pressures of OCD and the desire for perfection. Perfect Escape will be released July 10th.

On August 14th, My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece will be released. I’ve had the pleasure of already reading this title, courtesy of the publisher, and you will not want to miss this one. I cried through half of the book, but upon finishing it I felt content. The writing is brilliant and the story will punch you in the gut.

Of course, you know I will also be reading a few professional development books this summer. Number one on my list is Lucy Calkins’ Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement. Lucy is one of my teaching gurus and I know her newest book will inspire me in new ways. I’ve already begun to work with the Common Core, but Calkins is a genius and her Reading and Writing Project is my favorite curriculum design. There are a bunch of us on Twitter who are planning to read this one and share our thoughts with each other over the summer. Now that’s real professional development!

And finally, when school starts up again in September, we can look forward to Maggie Stiefvater’s newest offering. I love, love, love her Printz-Award winning novel, The Scorpio Races, and I know I will also love The Raven Boys. Stiefvater’s writing is evocative and lyrical, and it wouldn’t shock to see The Raven Boys on a few award lists next fall. This is one ARC I am hoping to get my hands on before September!

Do you have specific “summer books” that you look forward to reading every year? What will you read this year?