Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Happy Book Release Day Kate and Ranger!

Ranger in Time: Race to the South Pole 
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published June 28th 2016 by Scholastic Press 
Ranger, the time-traveling golden retriever with search-and-rescue training, joins an early twentieth-century expedition journeying from New Zealand to Antarctica. He befriends Jack Nin, the stowaway turned cabin boy of Captain Robert Falcon Scott's ship. They're racing against a rival explorer to reach the South Pole, but with unstable ice, killer whales, and raging blizzards, the journey turns into a race against time... and a struggle to stay alive. 
This is book number four in Kate Messner's Ranger in Time series and you can finally get your hands on it TODAY!! I know one little boy at my house who is super excited to get it! Make sure to check out the series if you haven't (you won't regret it, I promise) and all of Kate's other amazing books! 

Happy reading!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Fuzzy Mud by Lousi Sachar

Hardcover, 192 pages
Published August 4th 2015 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers 

From the author of the acclaimed bestseller "Holes, " winner of the Newbery Award and the National Book Award, comes a new middle-grade novel with universal appeal. Combining horror-movie suspense with the issues of friendship, bullying, and the possibility of ecological disaster, this novel will intrigue, surprise, and inspire readers and compel them to think twice about how they treat others as well as their environment. 

"Be careful. Your next step may be your last." 

Fifth grader Tamaya Dhilwaddi and seventh grader Marshall Walsh have been walking to and from Woodbridge Academy together since elementary school. But their routine is disrupted when bully Chad Wilson challenges Marshall to a fight. To avoid the conflict, Marshall takes a shortcut home through the off-limits woods. Tamaya reluctantly follows. They soon get lost, and they find trouble. Bigger trouble than anyone could ever have imagined. 

In the days and weeks that follow, the authorities and the U.S. Senate become involved, and what they uncover might affect the future of the world.

This book is a fantastic book for a Science class read aloud! Whether it is during an environmental unit or just to get class started every day, I know that Science teachers could do wonders with this one in their classrooms! 

Louis Sachar knows how to scare kids all the while have them begging for more. You find yourself needing to keep going because you have to know what is going to happen and if they are going to survive. This novel will definitely keep you on your toes and wanting more. I had some students lined up ready for it because I kept gasping and being my normal crazy-reader self while reading this one, and they will tell you that they were the same way! 

Happy reading!!

Teacher blogs should come with a disclaimer....

Let's be real. There are so many amazing teacher blogs out there that it is a bit intimidating. Their classrooms and lessons all look so cute, they look so put together, and then there's me! Rolling into school on two wheels because one of the kids had a melt down, having that last minute lesson idea that I have to run in and get ready, and realizing on the way to school that I forgot to put on deodorant. Yes, that was one day this year!

One thing that I have learned to do though is to not compare myself to each and every one of them. Parts of me, yes, but as a whole I cannot and will not compare myself to someone who is not me. It is not fair to me and not fair to them either. Easier said than done, right. Here's what I mean....

Is my classroom going to look like all of theirs with the cute bulletin boards, super organized classroom library, and fun fonts everywhere? Ummm.... no! But, I can use some of their ideas and implement them into my classroom. We are not the same teacher and what they are able to get done in decorating their classroom, I may never be able to replicate. AND IT IS OKAY! Same goes for you.

Finding teachers on Instagram is almost as bad as Pinterest... I get lost for hours!! Anyone else? I have found that having a notebook where I can keep ideas that I see from blogs and Instagram has been a big help. I can go back and revisit them and implement them in my own way into my classroom when I want to or if I want to. Sometimes it may be an idea from a second grade teacher and I rework it to work for my middle schoolers.

Moral to the story- don't get overwhelmed and get down on yourself. You are a ROCK STAR teacher and just because you don't have it all together like some of these amazing teachers do in their pictures doesn't make you any less. I have a friend who blogs about her house, family, and amazing things going on in our community and I remember her telling me one day, "Jennie, you only see what is in front of the camera that I have cleaned. You don't see the disaster that is on the other side of the camera where the kids have their toys everywhere, the dirty dishes are still in the sink, and my desk is a mess. Pictures only show one side of things.... the side I want you to see!" Theses blogs should really come with a disclaimer. 

So remember, they would be jealous of our rooms too because they are full of amazing kiddos who do amazing things. Even if we don't have all of our ducks in a row everyday! I guarantee you that they don't either and would readily tell us that!

Remember.... jot down some ideas to implement. Don't try to dive in and do it all. Challenge yourself to try two things a week for a while and see how that goes. Make sure that you are doing them with fidelity and consistency though and not just flying by the seat of your pants with them. These teachers are using these things in their classroom with consistency- that is one of the reasons it looks so good! Stick with it and remember- you don't have to do it all! With that being said, I wanted to share a few of my favorite blogs to check out! Sometimes Instagram can be a wealth of information and ideas too so make sure to check those out (you can even put your favorites on notice so that when they post on their blog and/or Instagram, you can find out immediately).

Instagram @miss5th

Instagram @teachinginhighheels 

Instagram @elementaryshenanigans 

Instagram @creativeenglishclassroom

Instagram @hellojenjones

Instagram @Kasey_kiehl

 Instagram @jenblanca 

 Instagram @musingsfromthemiddleschool


All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

Hardcover, First Edition, 316 pages
Published September 29th 2015 by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books 
Rashad is absent again today.

That’s the sidewalk graffiti that started it all…

Well, no, actually, a lady tripping over Rashad at the store, making him drop a bag of chips, was what started it all. Because it didn’t matter what Rashad said next—that it was an accident, that he wasn’t stealing—the cop just kept pounding him. Over and over, pummeling him into the pavement. So then Rashad, an ROTC kid with mad art skills, was absent again…and again…stuck in a hospital room. Why? Because it looked like he was stealing. And he was a black kid in baggy clothes. So he must have been stealing.

And that’s how it started.

And that’s what Quinn, a white kid, saw. He saw his best friend’s older brother beating the daylights out of a classmate. At first Quinn doesn’t tell a soul…He’s not even sure he understands it. And does it matter? The whole thing was caught on camera, anyway. But when the school—and nation—start to divide on what happens, blame spreads like wildfire fed by ugly words like “racism” and “police brutality.” Quinn realizes he’s got to understand it, because, bystander or not, he’s a part of history. He just has to figure out what side of history that will be.

Rashad and Quinn—one black, one white, both American—face the unspeakable truth that racism and prejudice didn’t die after the civil rights movement. There’s a future at stake, a future where no one else will have to be absent because of police brutality. They just have to risk everything to change the world.

Cuz that’s how it can end.
If you had told me when I was in high school that in just a few short years we would see racial tension seeping back into the forefront of society, I can honestly say I would have laughed at you. I grew up in the South which means that (unfortunately) I am no stranger to racial tension. Though many could clearly see the line between races, I was oblivious. My parents raised us that way- we are all the same no matter what. No matter our gender, race, religious preference, or whatever else may separate us. My husband and I are raising our children with the same mindset, but now we are having to explain why some are being treated differently because of those same things. 

One of the main ways these conversations can begin with our children both at home and at school is through literature. This book is one of those that will begin (and has begun) amazing conversation and opened the eyes of many. Told from two perspectives, this novel deals with the issue of racism in a way that brings emotion to the forefront all while making the reader truly explore their own inner workings. Which side are you on? Rashad's or Quinn's? Would your minds be changed if the races were reversed? 

This book needs to be in every library. I will say that this one will be for some of my more mature 8th graders and above, but my younger students aren't quite ready for this.It doesn't mean I won't pump it up and recommend the heck out of it. Hopefully they will go talk to their parents and get them to buy it! This book is a crucial read and everyone should take the time to read it, reflect on it, and begin conversation about it.
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