Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Audiobooks on Youtube

Did you know you can find audio books on youtube?  Now, I personally love reading audio books from the library.  I check them out on CD and play them in the car.  It is a great way to pass the time if you spend a lot of time in the car.

My students are finishing up their novel studies for A Wrinkle in Time and Gregor the Overlander. The first week we started reading one of my students was on her computer during reading time.  I asked her to close her computer and she asked if she could follow along to the audio version of A Wrinkle in Time on youtube.

Honestly, I never even thought to look for audio books on youtube. But it is a great free resource if you have reluctant readers who prefer to follow along with the audio book when they read. You can even take the clips and embed them on another site if you do not want to give them free reign on youtube.

Here are examples of clips from A Wrinkle in Time and Gregor the Overlander.  You can just search in youtube for the book and chapter you want and quote a few are on there.

Monday, April 21, 2014

#IMWAYR April 21, 2014

Time to update on what I have been reading.  I hope you had a great Easter weekend!  I certainly did.  I did my first 5k type event, even though it was actually 4 miles.  I participated in the First Baptist Dallas Easter run.  I was afraid I would be the only doing an interval pace of running and walking.  Luckily, there were other partial walkers as well. I stopped at Klyde Warren Park to get a picture on the race.

Now time to link up with Must Read Monday and #IMWAYR.

Must-Read Monday Linky

This week I wanted to start a new read aloud.  I couldn't decide between Paperboy by Vince Vawter or Wonder by RJ Palacio.  I read my students the descriptions of both books today.  We took a vote, and they chose Paperboy. Wonder is a about a boy named Auggie with a facial abnormality who goes to school for the first time.  The book is written in different points of view and really tells a wonderful story. Wonder is really well suited to 4th and 5th grade.  Paperboy takes place in Memphis in 1959.  A boy takes over his friend's paper route for the summer, but he struggles because he has a stuttering problem.  He meets some really interesting people along his route and has to deal with some difficult problems.  The book is probably more geared toward 6th or 7th grade, but since we are at the end of 5th grade I thought it might a good challenge. I thoroughly recommend both books!

On my own, I am trying to finish Doon and The Diviners. I just started Doon.  It is about a girl who goes to Scotland for the summer with her best friend.  It seems like an interesting adventure.

I am not enjoying The Diviners nearly as much as I normally enjoy Libba Bray's books.  It definitely has some interesting characters and some wit.  It almost reminds me a bit of The Great Gatsby because of the time period and it being Manhattan.  It describes different characters, but none of them do you really become sympathetic to. 

What are you reading?

On a side note, Nala and I went on an interval run/walk tonight and stopped to grab some photos with the Bluebonnets.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Positive Thursday: Simple Pleasures

I am going to link up for Positive Thinking Thursday with Mrs. Laffin's Laughings.

Lately, I just have been working every time I have a negative thought I try to think of a positive one. I have decided to start over counting my 1000 Gifts.  I only ever made it to 400 something. Being thankful helps transform your attitude and thoughts.

I also love to listen to praise and worship in the car.  That always encourages me!  My favorite song right now is "Keep Making Me" by Sidewalk Prophets.

Sometimes it is also worth the time to just enjoy some of Life's simple pleasures:

Happy Hour at Sonic ( I love my large Rootbeer with crushed ice in my styrofoam cup that is bad for the Earth. I know I shouldn't, but I do.)

A cup of tea

A walk with the dog on a pretty day

A new book

An afternoon power nap

A good workout

Monday, April 14, 2014

Must Read Mentor Texts and #IMWAYR April 14th

Today we started a unit in Science on Scientific Thinking and the Scientific Method.  Normally, you would do this at the beginning of the year, but it fit with what I wanted to cover right now.  We are finishing up the Civil War in US History.  After that, I want to spend the last six weeks or so covering the US Regions.  We have been looking at Ecosystems in Science, so we will look at how the Ecosystems and climates, etc. are different in the different US regions. I am putting my students in groups.  Each group will have a region.  They will choose an experiment based on features on their region, as well as conduct a research project to find real world problems and solutions in their region.

Before we can do all that though, we needed to talk about the Scientific Method.

Today we read 11 Experiments that Failed. (I am linking up with Collaboration Cuties.) It is a great story to introduce the Scientific Method.  The little girl tries all these experiment ideas that go completely wrong.  The kids pick up on the steps and process super quick from the story though.

We followed it by completing some activities from this Scientific Inquiry Unit, which worked out great. We will complete some more of these, while they start identifying what they want to research for their region.

Some other things I read this week:
Must-Read Monday Linky

We read Come on Rain today to introduce our fictional narrative unit.  We discussed how it was a great story for small moments.  We also identified all the sensory detail and descriptive details. There are some great descriptive sentences in this book, so it will flow well into also doing some poetry over the next couple weeks. We will be using a mentor sentence from the book this week from one of Jivey's mentor sentence units.

On my own, I have been reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian.  I really like Sherman Alexie.  I first read one of his books in a graduate literature class.  It deals with some real issues about the poverty, alcoholism, and depression that exist on many of the Native American reservations.  Alexie is a very witty writer, and his books are very enjoyable to read while also very real.  I am about half way through and really enjoying the book.

I started an ebook I checked out from the library called The Wicked and the Just.  I love Historical Fiction and was interested in learning more about the history of England taking over Wales.  I am not enjoying the book though, so I am not sure I will finish it.  The characters are really flat with no depth, which is sad because the history is interesting.

I am just starting The Diviners by Libba Bray.  I have loved all of Libba Bray's books.  Loved! So when I saw this one, I had to read it.  It takes place in NYC in the 1920's with some supernatural stuff.  I am curious to see how it measures up to her other books, which are some of my favorites.

What are you reading this week?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bibliotherapy: Using Literature to help Kids Deal with Social and Emotional Issues

Have you ever heard of bibliotherapy?  Bibliotherapy is something I learned about since I started working on my PhD in Gifted Education.  It is the use of literature to help kids deal with social and emotional issues.  Kids (and even adults) are able to learn about life and how to deal with difficult circumstances through the catharsis they experience with characters. You can use picture books or novels.

If you want to learn more about Bibliotherapy, one of the best resources is to read Some of my Best Friends are Books by Judith Halstead. I read the book and keep going back to it.

Tonight I am giving a talk on Bibliotherapy (as a graduate student) by suggesting different books that can be used to help gifted kids deal with issues that are common to giftedness, such as perfectionism, isolation, social skills, empathy, developing imagination, valuing differences, etc. I look forward to sharing some blog posts as well with suggestions of picture books and novels that could be used for some of these different issues.

The idea of "some of my best friends being books" is something I can definitely relate to.  As a kid, I was an only child, very mature for my age, and we moved a lot.  I liked being by myself, but I also always struggled with feeling lonely and making friends.  I always loved (and still do) finding great series to read.  I loved really getting to know a character well because those characters really were my friends and became very real to me.  Bibliotherapy could be used with all kids, but it is especially appropriate for gifted kids because so many of them often are prolific readers.

You can click HERE to see my Pinterest board for Bibliotherapy where I am pinning books to use for different issues. Have you ever used a picture book or novel to help a student deal with an issue?  If so, what are some of your favorite books?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Literature Circles by Student Choice of Genre

We spent the last two week surveying the different fiction genres. The week before last they read three different stories from different genres.  For each genre, they completed one of Jen Runde's Genre Posters.  They worked out perfectly.

Last week for some variety, I put them in three groups.  Each group read one genre.  Then, they had to complete a project to teach us about the genre they read.  Two groups wrote skits they performed and one group made a short movie.  They presented their projects on Friday.

 Then, they had to vote for their top 3 preferences of genre to read.  I had explained that we would be doing a round of book clubs/literature circles based on genre.  I chose our books based on their votes.  Everyone had either Science Fiction or Fantasy as their first or second choice.

So, I chose a Science Fiction novel and a Fantasy novel.  The Science Fiction group is reading A Wrinkle in Time and the Fantasy group is reading Gregor the Overlander.

Today we started our novels.  I handed a blank calendar template out to each group with their novel.  They had to decide as a group how much they would read each day.  They had four weeks to read the week.  One group chose to read the book in three weeks, and the other decided they wanted to finish the book in a week. By giving them a calendar and making them decide, it holds them accountable and motivates them to read.  We will be doing some different writing assignments as we read. I am going to have them focus on writing and citing text, as opposed to just answering comprehension questions.

How do you organize literature circles in your classroom?

Now to catch you up on what I have been reading:

This week I finished:

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

This book is a really interesting story that is paired with photographs throughout.  The idea of a phototext - a fictional story with photographs - is something that really intrigues me and I would like to research more as a graduate student. The story is about a teenage boy that always thought his grandfather was crazy because he talked about his childhood spent with these peculiar children with special gifts.  If you look at the cover of the book and the photographs, the book almost seems like it will be creepy.  But it actually is really just a Fantasy story.  The photographs add a whole other layer though that tell their own story. This would be a fabulous story to do with a study involving graphic novels, where you could discuss what are the elements of a visual narrative. I am looking forward to starting the next book in the series.

The Madman's Daughter

This book was inspired by HG Wells' The Island of Dr. Moreau.  It is from the point of view of Moreau's daughter.  This was a really interesting story.  It definitely could be used for a discussion of ethics.

Grave Mercy

This book takes place in Brittany, a sub-region of France, that was once its own country during the 15th century.  It is about a girl that is supposedly sired by death and gets sent to a convent to train to be an assassin.  The book sounds dark, but was actually more about royal political intrigue. I didn't realize that when the Catholic church went into the Celtic areas that they adopted a lot of the pagan gods as saints to pacify and convert the Celtic groups. Most of the people and details in this book are based on real people, but the main character that is trained as an assassin was fictional.  It was a really interesting story, and I look forward to reading the second book.  Historical Fiction will always be my favorite!  Now, I want to go research more about France, England, and the Celtic regions. From Wikipedia, I learned Brittany was sometimes referred to as little Britain (as opposed to Great Britain), hence now I know the significance of the term Great Britain.

What have you been reading?
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