Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Hardcover316 pages
Published January 8th 2015 by Dial Books

Wall Street Journal's Best Children's Book of 2015 
An exceptionally moving story of triumph against all odds set during World War 2, from the acclaimed author of Jefferson’s Sons and for fans of Number the Stars. Nine-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him. So begins a new adventure of Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan—and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother? This masterful work of historical fiction is equal parts adventure and a moving tale of family and identity—a classic in the making.

Sometimes being placed into a new setting can be the worst thing in the world- or so it seems. Especially when you are young, there is a war surrounding you, you are different from everyone else because of something you have no control over, and your mother seems to not care about you. For Ada, the best thing that ever happened was when she and her brother were sent to live with Susan Smith. 

There are parts of war that we either don't think of or don't even have a knowledge of, and I have to say that this novel opened my eyes to yet another side of a war that I constantly find myself drawn to in reading and research- World War 2. I loved this story from start to finish. Ada is one of those characters that you fall in love with and root for throughout the entire book. I found myself gasping in parts, getting angry with her mother in other parts, laughing at the antics and lessons Ada had to learn (and her stubbornness- because I can completely relate) and in tears during other parts. It is well deserving of its Newbery Honor. 

History teachers this is definitely one that you should have in your library and would make a great Read Aloud while you are teaching this time period in history. This book deserves a place on every book shelf from elementary school to high school! 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz

Hardcover272 pages
Published March 1st 2013 by Scholastic Inc.

Survive. At any cost.
10 concentration camps.
10 different places where you are starved, tortured, and worked mercilessly.
It's something no one could imagine surviving.
But it is what Yanek Gruener has to face.
As a Jewish boy in 1930s Poland, Yanek is at the mercy of the Nazis who have taken over. Everything he has, and everyone he loves, have been snatched brutally from him. And then Yanek himself is taken prisoner -- his arm tattooed with the words PRISONER B-3087. 
He is forced from one nightmarish concentration camp to another, as World War II rages all around him. He encounters evil he could have never imagined, but also sees surprising glimpses of hope amid the horror. He just barely escapes death, only to confront it again seconds later. 
Can Yanek make it through the terror without losing his hope, his will -- and, most of all, his sense of who he really is inside?

Based on an astonishing true story.

I would have majored in History Education if I hadn't needed so many foreign language classes. Seriously, I offered to wash my professors dog for a C in the class... it was bad. Due to my love of history,  I love historical fiction. When it is based on true stories- count me in!

This beautifully written novel is stunning. By telling Jack (Yanek) and Ruth's story through his eyes, readers are able to get a birds eye view of what living durning the Holocaust. Especially what it was like living through 10 different concentration camps. Alan Grantz's writing captures readers attention and sucks you right in. You find yourself rooting for Yanek, crouching because you dread what is coming next, and cheering when the American troops finally come in to liberate the prisoners.

This book is a must read for my middle schoolers and is a great addition to any Social Studies curriculum. The first person point of view as well as the details of this deplorable time in history lend a hand to those teachers who are looking for a way to make history more personal. I was able to listen to the audiobook version of this and highly recommend it! It would be great to play some snippets from the novel during lessons!

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


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