It’s Monday-What Are You Reading 7/29/13

Here we are with another chance to share wonderful books with each other thanks to Jen and Kellee over at Teach Mentor Texts and Sheila over at Book Journey who both sponsor this great meme each week for young adult/children and adult respectively!


I haven’t participated in this since 7/15/13 so these books are for the last 2 weeks!

Professional Books:

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every ChildWho Owns the Learning?: Preparing Students for Success in the Digital Age

The Reading Zone: How to Help Kids Become Skilled, Passionate, Habitual, Critical ReadersReading Ladders: Leading Students from Where They Are to Where We'd Like Them to Be

Teach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator

Picture Books:

An Ordinary Toad's Extraordinary NightNight Is Coming

Cloudy With a Chance of MeatballsThe Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig

Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween: A Safety Guide for Scaredies

Upper grade books:

SidekickedRump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin

Young adult books:

Cryer's CrossBefore I Die

Elementary books:


Talk about some EXCELLENT and AWESOME books!

Yes, I was at the beach for 4 days so I was able to get lots of reading in there. 🙂

My reviews for all of these books are on my goodreads page which you can go to HERE.

I am CURRENTLY reading R5 in the Classroom and about to start Book Love.

R5 in Your Classroom: A Gui...Book Love: Developing Depth...

Trying to get in all the PD books I can before school starts because then I’ll be like a crazy lady! 🙂

An Ordinary Toad’s Extraordinary Night Book Review

An Ordinary Toad's Extraordinary Night

An Ordinary Toad’s Extraordinary Night by Joanne McGonagle.

I received this one from Joanne to read and review. However, I’m NOT being paid for this review, and it reflects my honest opinion. 🙂

You can find more information about her at The Tiniest Tiger.

Goodreads Summary:

An Ordinary Toad’s Extraordinary Night is the story of a young toad named Andrew, pondering whether his life would be more interesting had he been hatched a frog.
Andrew embarks on his first solo hop to ask his grandpa some questions about what it means to be an amphibian. The story is blended with factual information that compares and contrasts the similarities and differences among toads and frogs.
A young reader’s curiosity will be piqued as they consider the unique attributes of the individual creatures that make up a species, perhaps sparking the light of conversation in their hearts and minds.

My Thoughts:

The illustrations in this book were almost magical in their beauty. 

This would be a GREAT mentor text for my 6th graders when we study:

Theme of loving yourself, being unique
Collecting delicious words for our writing

I love how the story itself is on scroll paper. That added a special touch.

Andrew, the toad and main character, was also portrayed as a sensitive one. Not just concerning his feelings but also the feelings of others, even the frog bullies.

Thoroughly enjoyed this one. And did I mention how gorgeous the illustrations were??

5 of  5 stars

Scaredy Squirrel Prepares For Halloween Review

Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween: A Safety Guide for Scaredies

Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween by Melanie Watt.

I was able to read this one from Net Galley. Thanks Net Galley!! 🙂

Goodread Summary:

From costume ideas to trick-or-treating strategies, Scaredy Squirrel helps readers plan for the spookiest night of the year! Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween is the second in a series of nutty safety guides featuring everyone’s favorite worrywart.

My Thoughts:

How in the world have I missed reading the Scaredy Squirrel books????????? Oh. My. Word. This one was beyond cute!

A FABULOUS picture book with awesome vocabulary guaranteed to hook your most reluctant readers in the classroom!

5 of 5 stars

Word Nerds Book Study

Word Nerds

Sabra over at Teaching With a Touch of Twang has been hosting a book study on Word Nerds by Brenda Overturf, Leslie H. Montgomery, and Margot Holmes Smith. I read this book in ONE sitting. Could not put it down! The ideas and strategies are so practical and doable in the classroom. However, keep in mind that if you’re not already devoting part of your day to vocabulary instruction, you will need to carve out a chunk of time to begin. 🙂

You can read about it, and I think even preview it online, or buy a copy at Stenhouse. Here’s a little description of the book:

Word Nerds

Teaching All Students to Learn and Love Vocabulary

Brenda J. Overturf, Leslie H. Montgomery, Margot Holmes Smith

Word Nerds takes you inside classrooms at a high-poverty urban school and shows how two teachers implement creative, flexible vocabulary instruction that improves their students’ word knowledge and confidence, enhances classroom community, and increases achievement.

Here’s a study guide:

And here’s a video of 2 of the authors being interviewed:–201062181.html

My goodreads summary:

Now this is an AWESOME book about strategic vocabulary instruction. Not only does it offer strategies for teaching vocabulary, but it also gives you a 5 day plan and 10 day plan that you could follow if you wanted. Another practical PD book that I’m in love with.

Now let’s get started with my thinking on CHAPTER 7!! 🙂

Chapter 7-Spreading Vocabulary Wings

This chapter begins with the study of morphology which includes root words and affixes. This is an important part of the Common Core State Standards. The authors of this book call their activity-“Crystal Ball Words”. It’s an awesome activity that begins with 1 word and ends with about 41 words!!!!!!!!!! Wowza! Talk about expanding vocabulary! 🙂 Here’s the example from the book:


They also talk about how explicitly teaching vocabulary not only adds vocabulary to a child’s knowledge bank, but it teaches them about the world as they make connections and inferences when reading texts.

I LOVE the “talk like rascals” activity where the teachers wrote “pirate talk” sentences on index cards, and the students had to work in groups to change them into “rascal talk” sentences that are more sophisticated. One example was:

“me cut rock with me tool”-pirate talk

“My chisel blazes through the rock like a swift runner”-rascal talk created by students

And of course they ended with a pirate vocabulary celebration!!!

Some books they mentioned as ones to extend vocabulary were 13 Words, Frindle, and The Boy Who Loved Words.

I just have to say that I’m in love with this practical book and all of the strategies and ideas they provide. I absolutely LOVE their Crystal Ball Words activity, and the “rascal talk” activity is great as well.

I’ve already devoted a small bulletin board in my 6th grade classroom to our EXPLICIT VOCABLUARY INSTRUCTION that is going to take place everyday!!!!!!!!!!!

Can’t wait to begin SPREADING OUR VOCABULARY WINGS!!!!!!!!! 🙂

Sidekicked Book Review, Blog Tour, and Giveaway

Sidekicked - Blog Tour Banner


Sidekicked by John David Anderson

If you want to read more about the author OR if you want to go ahead and move this one up on your TBR list visit Goodreads! You can also visit his FACEBOOK page.

Anderson, John. SidekickedWalden Pond Press (HarperCollinsChildren), 2013. 373p.
$16.99. 978-0-06-213316-8. 

Dave Anderson - Photo2 - Resize

I received an ARC of Sidekicked from Walden Pond Press in exchange for being a part of a fabulous blog tour that you can read all about HERE. You can also enter a Sidekicked Sweepstakes on their FACEBOOK page.

Goodreads Summary:

With not nearly enough power comes way too much responsibility. 

Andrew Bean might be a part of H.E.R.O., a secret organization for the training of superhero sidekicks, but that doesn’t mean that life is all leaping tall buildings in single bounds. First, there’s Drew’s power: Possessed of super senses – his hearing, sight, taste, touch, and smell are the most powerful on the planet – he’s literally the most sensitive kid in school. There’s his superhero mentor, a former legend who now spends more time straddling barstools than he does fighting crime. And then there’s his best friend, Jenna – their friendship would be complicated enough if she weren’t able to throw a Volkswagen the length of a city block. Add in trying to keep his sidekick life a secret from everyone, including his parents, and the truth is clear: Middle school is a drag even with superpowers. 

But this was all before a supervillain long thought dead returned to Justicia, superheroes began disappearing at an alarming rate, and Drew’s two identities threatened to crash head-on into each other. Drew has always found it pretty easy to separate right from wrong, good from evil. It’s what a superhero does. But what happens when that line starts to break down?

My Thoughts:

An extraordinary story of good vs. evil with superheroes and villains and fantastic powers. 

I honestly didn’t know what my reaction to this one would be since I was never a fan of comics growing up and still have never seen Batman OR Spiderman. 🙂 So what a pleasant surprise to be drawn in with the quick witted humor tinged with sarcasm that Drew, or the “Sensationalist”, brought to the story.

I loved the mixture of superpowers and the real life of middle school.And the twists and turns kept me on my toes. Just when I thought I had it figured out-BOOM-it went in another direction. 

There was enough adventure and action to keep any of my 6th grade boys caught up in it-girls, too, but I think it’s an excellent one for the boys. As much as I liked it WITHOUT having the background knowledge of heroes and villains, I can only imagine how fascinated the kids will be when reading it!

I did wish one thing would have turned out differently, and I can’t say more without giving away too much, but it certainly didn’t take away from the story at all-just me hoping. 🙂

Sidekicked is a must read for kids in the upper grades. A comic adventure without the comics. Well, without the pictures because let me reassure you-there were lots of comical moments. I just loved Drew!

4 out of 5 stars

a Rafflecopter giveaway (For US residents only)

Mountain Math



This is my mountain math bulletin board. Doesn’t it look pretty? Love those bright colors.

But let me tell you a few things. Boy, was it HARD to align with my curriculum. And when I say curriculum I mean align with the math common core standards AND the math textbook that my district adopted.

4 hours people. That’s how long it took me to work it all out. That’s not counting PUTTING THE BULLETIN BOARD UP. 🙂

I’ll give you a rundown of the positive things about mountain math:

1. Spirals so that no skill is ever forgotten. In my opinion this is the way to go with math. Well, really with everything.

2. Cards are done for you. Sure you could make up your own kit (which I was tempted to do about each hour!), but who wants to do that?

3. Colorful. Yes, I’m ashamed to admit that color draws me in. Love it. Can’t help it.

4. Friendly customer service.

Now for the negative things. And I really do hate putting this out here, but it’s got to be told so that if YOU buy a kit, you’ll know what you’re getting. And they may not bother you. 🙂

1. The 6th grade kit was not common core aligned so you could buy extensions that MADE it common core aligned. Well, um, no not really!!!!!!!!!! Out of the 6 extensions (8.00 each) only 3 are 6th grade common core. Right. Not happy. And not ALL common core standards are in the kit. No inequalities. No other stuff-I can’t remember what else. So it’s STILL not common core aligned completely!! 

2. No answer keys are provided. Ok, maybe I’m being unrealistic here. Am I? 

With that being said, I am glad I bought the kit because I’m thinking it’s going to benefit my students so much. Hopefully. I’m sure they will be delighted to have more “math practice”. 🙂

Now this is what I have left to do.

1. Retype the question sheet that will be given to the students in my order.(Before school)

2. Number the cards easiest to hardest for each problem set.(After school starts)

3. Make answer keys. (After school starts)

Here’s the Mountain Math website.

Have you ever used the spiraling concept in your classroom?

Writing Workshop, 5 miles, and Car Trouble

Let’s start with the car trouble. Scheduled to go to a writing workshop with Rick Shelton presenting as part of #NWP early this morning. Engine light on. Check oil. Seems good. But just to be safe put a little in. Oooops. Power steering fluid. Go back to trunk. Get oil. Oooops. Antifreeze. WHAT?????????????????? Did I not just commit an ultra stupid mistake??? And not one time but two?????????? Tears. A few choice words. Sweat. Called hubby. He laughed. Not funny. Waited on him to get home. Stupid car. Stupid Monday. He changed the oil and air filter. Engine light still on. Wiggled some wires. Engine light cut off. WHAT?????????????/ I missed my writing workshop for THIS? Oh yeah. Last session at 1:00. Vroooomm-vroooommm………….. Made it. Thanks, Joe, my DH. Kiss kiss. 🙂

The writing workshop was fabulous. Rick Shelton made me laugh the entire time!!!!!!!!!!! It’s the 2nd time I’ve seen him.

Here are some takeaways:

Write with and for your kids. Can’t teach welding without being a welder. Can’t teach writing without being a writer.

Have you ever known a child prodigy writer? Nope. There aren’t any. It takes time…..

It takes 3-5 years to speak a foreign language and 8-15 to write one. Writing (English) is a foreign language.

Everything is revisable!

Use picture books all the way through high school.

When writing about a text, you don’t have to quote 5 lines. Just quote the right one.

When kids ask why they have to know something-tell them so you can have options in life.

When asking kids to paraphrase-SHOW them. LOTS.

It was a FANTASTIC workshop!!! 🙂

Finally, the 5 miles. I ran 5 miles yesterday in about 63 minutes. With 8 walk breaks. YES-8 walk breaks. There were not sitting stations along my dirt road-otherwise there would have been several sitting breaks!!

And I have a half marathon on August 10? GULP. 🙂

20130715-224051.jpgThese are 5 of my favorite furry friends that ran with me. They kept me going along with a very cool playlist. 🙂