All posts filed under: reading

Independent Reading Assignments

Have you ever read a book where, after you finished, you just couldn’t stop thinking about it?  I just finished reading Vincent and Theo and it has moved me.  So beautifully written about a man who has been largely misunderstood.  As I have been reading through this book the past few weeks, I shared what I was learning with my parents, my husband, and my walking partner.  Van Gogh’s story is fascinating, and so much of it I didn’t know, especially about the bond with his brother.  I didn’t even know Vincent Van Gogh had a brother. When my students choose their own books to read, they not only bring in their experiences as a reader, but their excitement to share what they’re learning.  It’s contagious watching their faces light up discussing what they are currently loving.  Required independent reading is a mix of enjoying books for fun and demonstrating understanding of literary terminology.  They’re reading for pleasure but also critically, to be able to write about characterization, author’s craft, imagery, tone.  They’re creatively writing as …

Speed Date with a Book

School had been in session for a few days and we were ready to start reader’s/writer’s workshop.  How do you choose a book?  I pose this question to my students, with a picture of a woman staring at a large bookshelf filled with books. Hands start going up.  I find books by my favorite author, says one.  My friend is an avid reader, so I ask her what she’s reading.  That’s how I get so many good recommendations, says another.  My favorite genre is fantasy, so I look for that sticker on the spine, chimes in one more. How many of you have a what-to-read-next list?  About 1/3 of the class raises their hand. How many of you have a hard time reading a book that isn’t by your favorite author or a genre you really enjoy? Most of the students raise their hands. Have you ever thought about what life would be like without books?  Many give me a puzzled look.  It’s then that I show them this video from StoryCorps.  It’s powerful and all about books …

Setting Up a Classroom

For those of you who follow this blog only for food, feel free to skip over this.  Today’s post isn’t about food, it’s about education.  Teaching has been a part of my life since graduating college, and instead of creating a whole new blog designated just for that, I decided to add a space in this blog for my other love.  If I were more tech-savvy, I would figure out how to create a preference email, so you only received what you wanted, but honestly, I just figured out Google Drive this year, so I am really behind the times… Fourteen years ago, I started my first teaching job.  Four years ago, I bought a house and moved to a new city, 45 minutes away from school.  Two years ago, I transferred districts to work closer to home.  This year, I finally get my own classroom.

March Book Talks

I read some really great books last month that I’d like to recommend to you.  All of these novels are considered Young Adult, but they appeal to more than just teens.  Being an English major, if you told me that someday I would read YA lit (and actually like it) I would have laughed heartily.  However, if you haven’t given one a chance yet, I would urge you to try one. Book—Piecing Me Together Genre–Realistic Fiction Summary–Jade is a poor, African-American attending a private high school through an academic scholarship.  She decides to be a part of a program tilted Woman to Woman, a mentoring program for high school girls.  Through the woman she is being mentored by, Jade learns more about her strengths, talents, and how to be true to herself when she doesn’t feel like she fits in. Why I liked it–This book was beautifully written, and although it’s been two decades since I’ve been in high school, I really resonated with the main character.  Watson does a great job with characterization and seeing …

February Book Talks

This past month, I read four books that I would like to share with you.  Some of the books I read are more “adult,” (and I guess you could argue what that really means), but many are young adult books, as I give book talks to my 8th graders often.  They’re not into “adult” books.  I thought the fantasy/dystopia fad would taper off among YA books, but based on my students’ reading habits, this genre is far from going anywhere. I try to read a variety of genres, as my students read a wide range as well.  The following four books fall into fantasy, mystery, autobiography, and realistic genres. Book—The Lie Tree Summary:  Set in England at the turn of the century, teenager Faith Sunderly and her family has had to leave prestigious London for the small town of Vale, all on account of something her father has done.  As the truth of why the family had to leave in haste comes to light, Faith’s father is murdered.  It is when she tries to figure …