Monthly Archives: May 2012

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?


Mon Reading Button PB to YA

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys where you can recap what you’ve read this week while planning ahead on what to read next! Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts added their own twist by focusing on kidlit, from picture books up to YA.

Last week I read:

Aside from a couple of picture books with the kiddos, last week I didn’t read ANYTHING for me. *gasp*

I usually read with my students during the first 10 minutes of each class, so I get about an hour of reading done during each school day. However, students are returning books for library inventory, we’ve had alternate schedules for field trips, we’ve been finishing up the library genre-fication project…it’s just been a crazy week at school.

At home, I’ve just been lazy about picking anything up. I promised one of my students that I would read Evermore next (even though I have other books I’d rather be reading), and I think I’m just mentally blocking myself from getting started. I’m changing that today, though…as soon as this is posted, I’m jumping into Evermore.

This week I’m reading:

                   Kristy's Great Idea: A Graphic Novel (BSC Graphix, #1)  Evermore (The Immortals, #1)  Jumping Off Swings

I was OB.SESSED. with Baby-Sitters Club when I was younger, and the series is being issued in graphic novel format now. Kellee from Teach Mentor Texts had mentioned on Twitter that she was reading one of the graphic novels, and when I saw a copy at Half-Price Books, I just had to pick it up!

We’ve already established how I feel about Evermore…hopefully I’ll be into it once I start it!

I bought Jumping Off Swings in March-ish after seeing it discussed on Twitter. (Sidebar: Obviously I get a lot of book recs from the fabulous teachers, librarians, book people that I follow on Twitter. If you’re not on Twitter, you’re missing out!) I started reading it when I got home, and got to about page 80. I knew immediately that my students would connect with this story of a girl who gets pregnant after hooking up with a guy at a party. I book-talked it the next day, and it was snatched up by 1st period immediately! From there it was passed between about 6 girls and 1 boy. It has FINALLY made its way back to me, and I can’t wait to finish it! Every girl asked if Jo Knowles had more books, and the librarian put in an order for all of her books.

So that’s my plan for the week. What about you?


Top 10 Tuesday


This is a weekly meme hosted by the good folks at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is…

Top Ten Blogs/Sites You Visit That AREN’T about Books

1. Postsecret:  I faithfully check the website every Sunday for new secrets that people have submitted to Frank Warren’s project.

2. Baseball Beer Season: This is my husband’s blog that he started this Astros season to chronicle his challenge to have a different craft beer for every game. 162 games. 162 brews.

3. Twitter: Not sure if this exactly counts, but I read through all of the tweets on my timeline!

4. I keep track of our local Houston news during my lunch break at work. I usually end up at the Tubular blog, checking out reviews about shows I watch (Fringe!).

5. 1000 Awesome Things: This blog was started in June 2008 by Neil Pasricha and counted down from 1,000 to the #1 awesome thing. His journey finally reached its “end” on April 19th.

6. English Companion Ning: This ning was created by Jim Burke, and is a wonderful place to communicate with other English teachers about ideas, lesson, tips, etc.

7. Two Peas in a Bucket: My other hobbies include photography and scrapbooking (when I can find time), and I love this website for inspiration and resources.

8. Pinterest: I discovered this site while on maternity leave with my youngest in the spring/summer of 2010. It can definitely be a time-suck, but I love being able to pin ideas as I visit sites as well as looking at other people’s boards for inspiration. Feel free to add me as a friend!

9. TravelZoo Top 20: I get this email in my inbox, and I just can’t help but scroll through and dream about how one day (when I’m rich and retired) my husband and I will just book these great deals and take off on trips around the world!

10. Pink Is the New Blog: Guilty pleasure of entertainment gossip. Don’t judge me! I honestly haven’t checked out this site in ages, but I sometimes check in just to see what’s going on with the crazy celebrities.

This was probably the hardest top 10 I’ve done so far. Scrolling through my Google Reader I realized that EVERY blog I routinely read is a book blog!

I can’t wait to check out some other posts and find some interesting places to visit!

Genre-fying the Library! (3)


If you haven’t checked out part 1 and part 2 of my “Library Genrefication Project,” click the links so you can catch up on my big project!

So as we cleared the shelves, we sorted the book onto a long cabinet that had the different genres listed along the front.

The area on the other side of the cabinet is the reference/professional book/picture book area (and ISC/ISS area.) You can see the shelves that we’ve started clearing on the back wall. This was second period, so they were finishing up the 2nd column of shelves.

Below are realistic fiction books written by authors whose last names start with A or B:

I’m hoping that the next step in the library makeover is updating the posters that we have displayed! These READ posters are literally from the 90s. Bill Cosby has no gray hair. Dakota Fanning is still like 8. We need new stuff! Here’s another example:

This is the view if you’re looking out of the library, looking over the long cabinet that serves as our 4th wall. The top of the cabinet has magazines while the bottom shelves house the biography/autobiography/memior books. Has anyone separated this section? I’ve toyed with separating political/historical figures from pop-culture/celebrity…just not sure if it would be worth it. Students might ignore the political/historical and miss out on some good reads.

We thought about ordering genre signs, but it seems that all of the merchandise available for purchase are geared more toward elementary libraries. We just needed something simple that told what genre was in that area, so I made these simple genre signs in just a couple of hours:

First, we cut quite a few file folders into quarters. We cut it in half along the crease that’s already there, then folded and cut in half again. There’s a little bit of excess that you might have to cut off to make a better rectangle.

I used Microsoft Word and typed the genre vertically (using WordArt), then a short description of that genre in a text box beneath the genre. I copy/pasted this so that it was side-by-side like the SPORTS genre listed above. That filled 1/2 of a page in Word. Then I repeated this with another genre, so on each printed page there were 2 genres.

Using the picture above as reference, ADVENTURE and SPORTS were printed on 1 page, then my librarian cut the page in half, separating the genres. Next, fold the paper in half, so you can see the genre from the front and back, and slide a file folder into the fold. If you were to flip the ADVENTURE sign over, it would say the same thing on the back.

Whew, is that clear as mud?! It sounds confusing reading it, but I swear it was SO super simple!! This is what the signs will look like once they are on the shelves:

Once the laminator at our school is fixed, each sign will be laminated then taped to the inside of the shelf. We have currently started re-shelving the books (yay! You’ll get that update soon!), and we’ve realized that we need more of these signs. Some of the genres start in one column of shelves and carries over to another. We want a sign at the beginning of the genre as well as at the top of each shelf. Also, some students suggested that  we put a sign on the front of the shelf, so I’ll be printing out a few of signs to tape to the front of the shelves. They’ll probably be a little bit smaller/different, so I’ll post a picture of those once they’re done.

Okay, next update I’ll tell you how we alphabetized the books before we re-shelved them and give updated pictures of what’s going on! I know you’re excited 😉

Genre-fying the Library! (2)


Our library genre-fication project is going so well! I promised updates and pictures, so enjoy!

The library doesn’t have a 4th wall…just 3. The back wall is open, and I am standing “outside” the library to take this picture. The cabinets in the foreground with the plant/book provide the 4th barrier to close in the library.

There are also a couple of shelves that highlight new books that are on this 4th “wall” to the left (if looking at the picture now). Since this is pretty much all of our fiction, this isn’t as monumental a task that it would be in the library at a larger school. I can’t even imagine how this would take place then!

Looking at the pictures above, books that have an author’s last name ending in “A” are on your left and “Z” is on your right. There is a long cabinet (like our 4th “wall”) that separates the main part of the library from the profession/reference book section (that also serves as our In School Suspension area). I put stickie notes along the front of that cabinet that had our different genres on them.

My first period class was the group to start the genre-fying. I explained that they would be working in pairs to determine what genre their books would fall under, then place their books on the cabinet in the correct area. They started with 10 books for each pair to analyze, and they were to come back for more until that column of shelves was cleared. This took place during each class period. It was too difficult to check each groups’ work before they put it in the genre they thought it fit, so I decided that we would separate everything, then I would double check decisions as we alphabetized them later.

Here are some of the groups working to determine the genre of their books. The purple papers you see on the table are their genre papers that we filled out during the first weeks of school. The papers list the “main” fiction genres then the genre’s definition, main characteristics, and examples.

You can see the cabinet where we’re organizing the books into the genres behind these guys. They were having a great discussion about whether a book should be realistic or historical fiction, but were completely distracted when I pulled out my phone to take their picture. This is them “staging” their discussion…gotta love 9th graders! 🙂

Right now I’m in the process of double checking the students work. For the most part, the students did a great job! There were definitely some books that were in the wrong genre, but this definitely got done faster with the students helping than without. And I can tell that they’re proud of their participation and ownership in the project. My 9th graders will always be able to look at that library and know that their hands shaped the way it is organized!

Waiting on Wednesday


Waiting on Wednesday in a weekly meme, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that lets us gush over books we just can’t WAIT to get our hands on!

I can’t wait for…

Olive Corbett is definitely NOT crazy.

Not anymore. These days she takes her meds like a good girl, hangs out with her best friend Ami, and stays the hell away from the toxic girls she used to be friends with.

She doesn’t need a boyfriend. Especially not a lifesaver-type with a nice smile. And she doesn’t need the drama of that creepy new girl Miranda, who has somehow latched on to Olive’s ex-best friend.

Yet from a distance, Olive can see there’s something sinister about the new friendship. Something almost… parasitic. Maybe the wild rumours ARE true. Maybe Miranda is a killer.

But who would believe Olive? She does have a habit of letting her imagination run away with her… (via Goodreads)


I absolutely love the cover of this book, and the premise sounds somewhat Mara Dyer-ish. The author is from Austrailia, and it looks like this is the US release of the book. I will definintely be buying this one when it comes out!

Release date: May 22nd

Top 10 Tuesday


This is a weekly meme hosted by the good folks at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic was initially Top Ten Authors I’d Like To See On A Reality Show, but was turned into a freebie week since this topic was kinda hard.

For the original topic, I would LOVE to see the following authors on a Big Brother type show where we could just watch them be and interact.

  • John Green
  • Maureen Johnson
  • Libba Bray
  • Tahereh Mafi
  • Lauren de Stefano
  • Maggie Stiefvater
  • Jesse Andrews
  • Stephanie Hawkins
  • Ally Carter
  • Gae Polisner


Top 10 Professional Reads for Teachers

1. The English Teacher’s Companion by Jim Burke — This was the first professional book I purchased/received when I was a first year teacher. Jim Burke is one of my English teacher idols, and I’ve had the pleasure of hearing him speak once in my school district. If you’re not a member of the English Companion Ning, you should sign up today!

2. In the Middle  and The Reading Zone by Nancie Atwell — These two books changed my teaching forever. I read these during the summer between my 2nd and 3rd year of teaching, and immediately implemented independent reading in all of my classes.

3. The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller — I read this for the first time last summer and was so inspired. Each year Donalyn challenges her students to read 40 books, and I presented this challenge to my students this year. This is one of those books where the entire department needs to read, discuss, and implement the ideas inside! Donalyn is a great resource on Twitter (@donalynbooks), always ready to offer a recommendation or answer a question. She also hosts the Twitter #titletalk chat each month! (This link will take you to the #titletalk archive.)

4. Conferring: The Keystone of Reader’s Workshop by Patrick Allen — This book has helped me shape my reading conferences this year. There are definitely things that I need to tweak this summer, and I can’t wait to reread this while I have time to think rather than in the middle of the school year.

5. Notebook Know-How: Strategies for the Writer’s Notebook by Aimee Buckner — I read this book this semester, and I can’t wait to implement the ideas that I have gathered on keeping a notebook! My students will be kissing their 3 ring binders good-bye! I plan to read her book Notebook Connections: Strategies for the Reader’s Notebook this summer and see how I can combine these ideas.

6. Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It by Kelly Gallagher — If you’re a reading or English teacher and haven’t read this book…what are you waiting for?! This is another one of those books that should be read by the entire department.

7. Mechanically Inclined by Jeff Anderson — If you’re having a hard time getting grammar concepts through to students, this book will be a life saver! Between this book and his Everyday Editing, you will see such a drastic change in your approach to grammar.

8. Mini-Lessons for Literature Circles by Harvey Daniels — I read Daniels’ Literature Circles, but this book with the mini-lessons was so helpful with readily implementing the ideas of lit circles.

9. Choice Words by Peter H. Johnston — I won this book as a door prize during a reading conference this summer. After reading, I was amazed at how changing even just one word in a question, request, or comment can make such a difference in how it is perceived by students.

10. Acts of Teaching: How to Teach Writing by Joyce Armstrong Carrol and Edward E. Wilson — My school district is a stong supporter of the Abydos Writing Institute (former New Jersey Writing Project). This book was the text we studied during our 3 week training this summer. It has so much information, and I am definitely in need of a refresher over the summer!

 If you’re a teacher, I hope that these are (1) books you’ve already read or (2) books you can add to your professional pile!

What about you? I’d love to know your favorite professional reads!


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?


Mon Reading Button PB to YA

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys where you can recap what you’ve read this week while planning ahead on what to read next! Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts added their own twist by focusing on kidlit, from picture books up to YA.

This week I read:

                                    Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)  Me and Earl and the Dying Girl  Stupid Fast

I absolutely LOVED the voice in Shatter Me! The character is frantic and a bit paranoid, but comes to grips with some things as the book goes on, so it’s very interesting to see the change in her voice/pace of story-telling.

Coming up for this week:

                                                          Evermore (The Immortals, #1)  Nothing Special

One of my students has been wanting me to read Evermore for a while, and I’m finally getting to it!

Nothing Special is the sequel to Stupid Fast, and I can’t wait to hear more of Felton’s voice.

The family didn’t make it to the library last week, so we’re heading there on Tuesday. I’m planning for this to be a light reading week because I’ll be spending a lot of my after school time finishing my “library genre-fication” project!

What have you read this week?