Monday, June 27, 2016

What I Have Been Reading - June 27, 2016

Despite it being summer, I am still staying pretty busy. I am taking 6 hours of graduate classes in summer session 1. So the next two weeks will be pretty busy as I finish final projects and papers. I still have been reading in the month of June. I have been tracking what I am reading in 2016 on Goodreads. I am currently at 54 books, so I am on track to meet my 100 book goal for 2016. The majority of what I read is Young Adult/Teen Fantasy books. This week I am linking up with Unleashing Readers for #IMWAYR.

Now that it is summer, I have been trying to make a little more effort to read actual adult fiction. A friend of mine recommended Modern Mrs. Darcy. Every summer, Anne Bogel does a summer reading challenge broken into different categories. She also had a post earlier in June with "Hot New YA books." Between the YA list and the summer reading challenge, I have picked some books to add to my library request list. Here are a few books that I recently finished:

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfield

This was a  modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. I actually listened to this one on audio and really enjoyed it. It was fun trying to anticipate what the modern spin on the plot would be. Pride and Prejudice is one of my all-time favorite books. I actually want to re-read it now.

Mystic Summer by Hannah McKinnon

This was just a super-easy read that would work well for the pool or the beach. A sweet story and easy to read. I did appreciate that the main character was a teacher.

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

This is Sophie Kinsella's first YA novel. You may have read her other Shopaholic books. I have read a couple of them, but it has been years. This was a fabulous book though. It was probably one of my favorite reads in 2016 so far. It dealt with bullying, mental illness, the ups-and-downs of being a teen, and family dysfunction, but all with so much heart and humor.  I laughed through the entire book.

These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shankar and Kelly Zekas

This was nothing deep, but I enjoyed it. It is sort of a mystery set in Victorian England, but involves characters who discover they have X-men like powers.  It was an enjoyable and easy to read plot line.  It reminded me a little of The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason, but not done quite as well.

I have been thinking over the past week that I want to reflect back more on my favorite reads from 2015 to now. So my next couple posts will probably focus on sharing some of my favorite reads from the last 1-2 years. What are you reading this summer?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Monday Made It (On Wednesday): Branching out with a Bullet Journal

Well, I haven't blogged in awhile... Anyway, one of the nice things about summer is having more time to do things like blogging and reading and napping and eating lunch with grownups.

On Monday morning I was reviewing over the Monday Made Its at Tara's blog (including the ones from last week). I have enjoyed surveying everyone's creations for Monday Made It for the last few years. It is always inspiring and gives you ideas to get you thinking about getting ready for the school year.

I felt completely inspired by Nicole's guest post from last week where she shared her bullet journal. I have seen bullet journals on Instagram, but I hadn't given it too much thought yet. Nicole shared her bullet journal and this blog post, which had been her inspiration.

So for my Monday Made It (shared on Wednesday) for this week, I decided to start my own bullet journal. I actually use an Erin Condren planner that works pretty well for me for keeping up with grad school homework and due dates. I have used both Plum Paper planners and Erin Condren planners. I prefer to horizontal weekly layout; it works better for me. At work, I tend to keep a little task list on a small notepad I found at Staples last year for a $1. On one half, it says "To Do Now" and on the other half it says "To Do Later."

The part I have struggled with keeping organized is more for long term goals and ideas. I liked the idea of trying a bullet journal to organize other parts of my life like lists of books I want to read, long term research goals, projects for grad school, projects for my classroom, etc. I had a cute journal I bought at Barnes and Noble a couple months ago that I hadn't used yet. I love this size journal. It is slim enough to fit in a purse or backpack easily, making it even more portable than my planner.

I have always kept an "idea journal" (hence, part of why my blog is named the Idea Backpack). I am someone who is always coming up with ideas and finding the need to record them somewhere. My idea journals have never been very organized though or necessarily easy to locate things later.  So I liked the idea of creating a bullet journal to organize different lists of goals and ideas with a table of contents.

Below are a few more pictures of some of the pages I started. Of course, one of my first priorities was making different "To Be Read" pages. I love keeping track of my reads on Goodreads, but I also like the idea of a physical list I can add to by genre.

I haven't added any doodles or artwork or done creative lettering yet. I was more just trying to get it started and begin organizing goals and ideas for this summer. Hopefully over time I will branch out and be a little more creative with some of my entries.

Once 2016 is over, I might also try incorporating the planner aspect into the bullet journal as well. How do you organize your ideas and goals? Do you use a journal or planner?

Monday, January 11, 2016

Free Resources for Teaching about Martin Luther King for Grades 4-6

Next Monday is Martin Luther King Day. So this week we will spend a little bit of time talking about Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement. You can find a lot of great free resources to help you teach about Martin Luther King:

General Resources:

Text of the Speech

Links to videos and passages from ReadWorks

Martin's Big Words read on Youtube

Online biography of MLK

More official website on MLK

Reading Passages and Questions about MLK:

Passage and questions from Tessa Maguire

Passage with Cause/Effect Activity and Timeline Activity from Fifth in the Middle

Martin Luther King Poem close reading and questions

Reading Passages and Questions about MLK Day:

Differentiated Passages from The Sweetest Thing (These differentiated passages are always really well done.)

Writing Prompts and Activities:

Passage and Writing Prompt from Kathy Adams on TpT

Writing Prompt to Get Students to write their own I Have a Dream Speech
(This assignment is really for grades 5 through high school, so it may challenging for some in grades 4-6).

Timeline Activity from I'mLovitLit (You have to find your own biographical passage or text. The links in the freebie were no longer working)
LSU Timeline link to go with this activity

Activities for the I Have a Dream Speech:

Text and Audio of the Speech

I also have a set of activities in my store to accompany the I Have a Dream speech for $2.75. It includes quotes by MLK with graphic organizers to get students to analyze the quote, an activity to write about their own dream. There are also organizers to get students to analyze the I Have a Dream Speech in their own words in my store for $2.75.

What are your favorite resources to teach about MLK?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

October Essay Writing Menu (On Sale)

Well, better late than never. I finally finished my October Essay Menu and Writing practice.  It's 50% off for the next few days since I finally finished it.

There is an essay menu, graphic organizers, checklists, rubrics, scaffolded practice pages, and publishing paper. I am making them to go with each month. I also have September and December made. Hopefully I will finish the November Essay Writing before the end of October.

Don't forget about the October Spelling and Vocabulary menu, too. This freebie has a menu of themed writing ideas that can be used with any list of words.

Monday, October 12, 2015

What is Mrs. Walker Reading? #IMWAYR 10/12/15

It's Monday which means it is time to link up with Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for #IMWAYR.  I haven't linked up in a few weeks so I am glad to share what I have been reading.

When I last linked up I was still listening to The Red Queen and The Fairy Tale Detectives on audio. I finally finished both of those books at the end of September. I really enjoyed both books.  I still like The Land of Stories better than The Fairy Tale Detectives, but I do think they will make good selections for a fractured fairy tale literature circle. I plan to read more of the books in The Fairy Tale Detectives series eventually.  I tried to start reading Rump by Liesl Shurtliff, but honestly I wasn't enjoying it so I never finished it. I may consider using it in my literature circles, but I haven't decided.

When I read through some of the #IMWAYR posts back in September, Cheriee at Library Matters wrote a review mentioning The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series and The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates. Both series intrigued me, so the last two audio books I have listened to have been Magic Marks the Spot and The Mysterious Howling. Both books are read by Catherine Kellgren on the audio. I believe she is the one who does the audio for the Bloody Jack series as well. She really is one of my favorite audio book performers. She does such a great job with all the different accents and voices.

Audio Books

The Mysterious Howling is about a young girl who finds herself governess to three young children raised by wolves.  I look forward to reading the next book in the series.  Really the plot in the book is not super exciting or deep, but the narrator is absolutely fabulous.  I think this would make great read aloud to teach students about how a speaker or narrator can have a different point of view from the main characters. There is really a lot of great sentences and vocabulary in this book as well, which also makes it great for read aloud.

Magic Marks the Spot is just pure fun.  It this book, the main character is a young girl who really wants to be a pirate but instead her father tries to send her to finishing school. She runs away to be a pirate to have her own adventure.  I love the Bloody Jack series, so I am happy that this series is more appropriate for my 5th graders. I plan on getting both the The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series and The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates series for my classroom library over time.

Books Read

I just finished Curtsies and Conspiracies this weekend. I then started Waistcoats and Weaponry last night.

I am thoroughly enjoying this witty series on a finishing school that secretly teaches its students espionage. I highly recommend the series for a fun read. Most of my 5th graders might not be quite mature enough for them, but 6th and 7th graders would be for sure.

What are you reading?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Persuasive Writing with the Spider and the Fly

I love October and all of the fun fall and Halloween related activities you can do.  This week we will be working on persuasive writing using The Spider and the Fly. We are going to do some research projects this month on spiders and bats so I thought this would be a nice introduction.

You can read a review of the The Spider and the Fly with some other helpful links from Joanne at Head over Heels for Teaching HERE.

To walk through the writing process, we also will be using a video series from LearnZillion. This series walks through writing a persuasive letter in response to "Little Red Riding Hood."  However, we are going to write in response to The Spider and the Fly. The link for the video series of lessons is HERE.  You could easily do all of the lessons to really scaffold the writing process or you could just pick and choose some of them.  LearnZillion does a nice job reviewing over concepts from previous lessons at the beginning of each video. This does give you the option to do just pick and choose some videos. I believe most of my students need the scaffolding so we are going to go through the entire series of videos.  It may take us a couple weeks instead of just one to get through it all.

What are some of your favorite mentor texts for October?

Monday, September 14, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading? September 14, 2015 #IMWAYR

It's Monday which means it is time to catch you up on what I have been reading. I will be linking up with Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts for #IMWAYR.

Honestly, this week was so incredibly busy with grad school that I mainly started two new audio books. I mentioned in my post last week that I was interested in reading some of the novel fractured fairy tales to possibly look at doing a round of literature circles with my students using these fairy tale spin-offs.  I was first inspired after reading A Tale Dark and Grimm.  This book has a wonderful sense of voice, which would make it a great read aloud for older students. It would also make for a great lesson on narrators. Overall though, it moves a little slow for me to just sit and read.  I started getting bored about half way through.  I did use this book as an introduction to a lesson on voice in my middle school Speech and Debate class this week (with 7th and 8th graders). I still think it is maybe a little too dark for some of 5th and 6th graders, but I may just use it as a choice in my literature circles.

On audio, I began The Fairy Tale Detectives (A Sisters Grimm novel). This book reads better to just sit and read independently.  It has a more smooth and engaging plot.  I am still working through it, but I think this one will make a great choice for my literature circles to use along with The Land of Stories.

The other audio book I began is The Red Queen. I am really enjoying this one so far. Amazon describes it as Graceling meets The Selection.  I would say this is actually a pretty apt description. It also has aspects that remind me of The Hunger Games.

What are you reading right now? I also am finally trying to do better about documenting my food and workouts at my personal blog Balancing the Backpack. You can read about my meal plans for this week HERE as I try to get back in a routine now that school has started.
Pin It button on image hover