Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Horrible Harry and the Ant Invasion

Horrible Harry doesn't always mean to be horrible

When Harry is named ant monitor in 2B, everyone knows it could be trouble, and of course, it is. The thing is, Harry is great at turning things around and, managed to salvage his big mistake while the class is observing the ants. However, when Harry is possibly responsible for the fish debacle, it's questionable if Miss Mackle will ever forgive Harry. What Miss Mackle and 2B don't know is that this time, it isn't Harry being horrible, it's someone else! Will Harry be able to clear his name? Find out in Suzy Kline's Horrible Harry and the Ant Invasion.

Reading Level: Fountas and Pinnell: L

Teachers: Here are some resources to help you to use this book in your class.

Web Resources

Vocabulary: Here are some words I picked out: monitor, observe, antics, sashay, responsible, revenge, miffed

Before Reading: Journal: What are some horrible things that could happen in your classroom if you class had an ant farm?

During Reading: Journal: Why do you think Harry liked Song Lee so much?

After Reading: Read Diary of a Worm and have the students write a Diary of an Ant.

Across the Curriculum: If you can, bring an ant farm, fish tank or other class pet into your classroom to observe like Harry and the other students in 2B do in Miss Mackle's class.

Kline, S. (1989). Horrible Harry and the Ant Invasion. New York, N.Y., U.S.A.: Viking.

Happy Reading (& Running) =) 

Dark Day in the Deep Sea

A Giant Octopus in the Deep Sea 

Jack and Annie have been recruited to help Merlin get better. He is in a deep state of sadness and it it up to Jack and Annie to find the four secrets of happiness to give to Merlin. When they embark on this mission, the find themselves stranded on an island. When they are picked up by a ship, the crew is in search of something, but it isn't happiness, it's a giant sea creature. Find out what happens in Mary Pope Osborne's Magic Tree House, Dark Day in the Deep Sea

Reading Level: Fountas and Pinnell: M

Teachers: here are some resources to help you teach this book...

Web Resources:
  • Teacher's Guide: Click here to find a teacher's guide for Dark Day in the Deep Sea and the nonfiction companion, Sea Monsters.
  • Lesson Plan: This link will take you to a lesson plan summary for Magic Tree House books #37-40. There are some great activities and printouts.
  • Story Mapping: Click here for a story mapping lesson using Dark Day in the Deep Sea
There are loads of MTH resources for the classroom. Let me know if you have or find any that you particularly liked or found very useful!

Vocabulary: here are some words I picked out: sorrow, shrouded, dune, capsize, harpoon, expedition, specimen, scurvy, salute, unfurl, compassion

Before Reading: Based on the illustration on the cover of this book, make a prediction about what you think is going to happen in this adventure.

During Reading: What do you think would have happened differently if Jack hadn't gotten seasick during the storm?

After Reading: Jack and Annie learned the secret that you can conquer fear through knowledge. Can you think of a time when you were scared of something but then learned about it and were not afraid anymore? Find out something new about a fear of yours, see if it helps you to not be afraid anymore.

Across the Curriculum: Use the Nonfiction companion, Sea Monsters and link into Science in the ocean or animals, etc.

Osborne, M. P. (2008). Dark Day in the Deep Sea. New York: Random House.

Happy Reading (&Running) =)

Nate the Great

The Great Detective

 Nate the Great prides himself on his ability to find things. When the phone rings during his pancake breakfast, he hopes he will be asked to find dismonds or pearls, but it's only Annie who needs help finding a painting she made of her dog. Nate dives into the case, getting all the facts he needs not only to find the painting but to find Super Hex the cat too. Learn about Nate the Great, and his detective skills, in the first of the series, Nate the Great, by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat.

Reading Level: Fountas and Pinnell: K

Since I just found out I will be teaching second grade, please bare with me while I get up to date on some books closer to second grade level for the time being :)

Teachers...here are some resources to help you teach Nate the Great in your class.

Web Resources:
  • Printables: Free Nate the Great printable activities.
  • Nate the Great, the Play: Here is a classroom guide if your class was lucky enough to go see Nate the Great on the state. It has pre and post show ideas and activities... but here's an even better idea, put on a reader's theater version of Nate the Great and include the pre and post show activities!
  • Graphic Organizer: A mystery graphic organizer from Read Write Think.

Vocabulary: With this book being so short, the only word I felt would be useful if pretaught was: detective

Before Reading: Nate is a detective. What do you know about detectives? Have you ever had to be a detective? Write a journal entry about a time when you were a detective (had to find something) and share it with a friend.

 During Reading: Journal entry: who do you think took the painting? Where do you think Nate will find it?

After Reading: How would you feel if you were Annie and your brother took your painting and painted over it?
What color would the monster have been if Annie's brother had blue paint instead of red?
In groups of 2 have one partner create a drawing or painting and have the other partner make it into something else.

Sharmat, M. W. (1972). Nate the Great. New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan.

Happy Reading (& Running) =)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Ordinary or Extraordinary?

To say I was impressed with R.J. Palacio's Wonder would be a huge understatement. The entire book is filled with such truth and raw emotion that I almost could not put it down because I wanted to know what was going to happen with the main character Auggie and all those surrounding his story. August "Auggie" Pullman is a very unique 5th grader. He was born with a severe facial deformity and has gone through his entire life up to this point getting series of facial surgeries. Even after his surgeries though, Auggie does not look anything like most people do. Up to this point Auggie never went to a real school, his mom had homeschooled him and Auggie was very happy with this arrangement. However, Auggie's family feels it's time for him to go to a real school. As if 5th grade is not a hard enough period of time in a child's life, Auggie will be approaching a 5th grade with no friends, no "real school" experience and a face that people are scared to look at. Palacio takes the reader through a first person narrative in the voice of Auggie, a few of Auggie's classmates and his sister. The shift of narrative perspective opens the reader up to heartbreaking truths that a one narrator story line does not offer. Take the journey with Auggie into 5th grade and meet a not so ordinary, perhaps extraordinary boy by the name of Auggie. This is a journey you should take, a journey you should talk about and a journey you should share. This is one of those no excuses, must read kind of books!

Reading Level: GLE: 4.8

Teachers: Here are some resources to help you to use this book in your classroom...

Web Resources:
  • Blog: This fantastic blog has links to this teacher's presentation during his read aloud of Wonder. He makes some great observations and asks some awesome questions.
  • This is a very new book, published this year which makes it difficult to find quality web resources, if you found one and would like to share please leave a comment with the resource in it, thanks!

Vocabulary: Here are some words I picked out... ordinary, extraordinary, anomalies, hindsight, aversion, biracial, phony, sympathetic, inclusion, hypocrite, fluke, taciturn, prude

Before Reading:
Discussion: Auggie has a facial deformity like not many people have ever seen before. What do you think your reaction to him would be? What is the kind of reaction you should have to something or someone that is different from what you are used to? (This type of a discussion can get tough, but is something that students should begin to discuss with each other and understand.)

Journal: Has anyone ever treated you differently based on how you look? If so how did it feel? If not, imagine what it would feel like.

During Reading:
Discussion: Why do you think the author chose to write this book in different points of view? Are there any points of view you feel are missing right now that are important to the story?

Journal: How do you think your life would be different if you were like Auggie?

After Reading:
Discussion: Why do you think Mr. Tushman chose Auggie to receive the Henry Ward Beecher medal?

Journal: Choose a precept from the list at the back of the book. Write about what you think it means. Create your own precept.

Palacio, R. J. (2012). Wonder. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Happy Reading (& Running) =)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever

Stuck with your family all winter break...

Okay, it is completely official that I am in love with Jeff Kinney's work and absolutely love the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. As I said back when I read the first in the series, every reader no matter how old (or young) can relate to Greg Heffley's ridiculous antics. We've all been there, we've all seen it, done it but never has anyone written it down in such a hilarious manner. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever, did not disappoint at all, and I laughed the whole way through. Cabin Fever is set in the winter months and Greg has a few issues to deal with. For starters, Christmas is coming and Greg has a bad feeling that the only time Santa checks up on him are the "few" times he isn't on his best behavior. On top of trying to please Santa, Greg is trying to keep his Kritterz pet happy, but he's run out of tokens and has to find a way to make money and buy more tokens, and to make matters worse, his mom says he needs to use his own money to buy Christmas presents this year! Greg needs to earn money, fast! Greg's determination to earn money earns Greg the spot as prime suspect when school property is vandalized. Just when Greg thinks his life is over, a blizzard hits and strands his family indoors. Now Greg has to sit and wonder what punishment awaits him when the snow is cleared. Do yourself a favor and enjoy "Christmas in July" and read Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever!

Reading Level: AR: 5.8

Teachers: Here are some resources to help you use this book in your class...

Web Resources:
  • Event Kit: In this event kit/launch party, Jeff Kinney came up with some great Wimpy Kid games and activities that relate the Cabin Fever. Use these games to launch this book in your class, or think about throwing a Wimpy Kid party as a classroom reward.
  • Interview: Here you will find a TIME for Kids article that consists of an interview of Jeff Kinney regarding his newest Wimpy Kid book, Cabin Fever.

Vocabulary: Here are some words I picked out... leverage, legitimate, confiscated, revenge, decoy, anguish, duped, hyperactive, petition, forgery, vandalism, perpetrators, culprits, dignity

Before Reading: Discussion: What does "cabin fever" mean? If you're not sure, use the picture on the cover of the book for a clue. Have you ever felt like you had "cabin fever?" Based on other Wimpy Kid books, predict what kind of trouble you think Greg might get into in this book?

During Reading: Journal/Discussion Questions: Greg is responsible for the vandalism to the school, but he didn't mean for any of it to happen. Do you think it is still Greg's fault? Should he be punished for what he did?
Have you ever done anything without meaning to harm something or someone, but did anyway? What did you do? If you were Greg, would you turn yourself in?

After Reading: In this book, Greg and Rowley create their own newspaper. In small groups, create a newspaper. Decide who should write what sections, what you will write about, who you think will read your paper, etc.

Kinney, J. (2011). Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever. New York: Amulet Books.

Happy Reading (& Running) =)

Thursday, July 5, 2012


The final book of The Hunger Games

Suzanne Collins brings us Mockingjay to wrap up the Hunger Games. I couldn't help myself... soon after finishing Catching Fire, I just HAD to know why Katniss had been snatched from the games and who had taken her out of the arena. I greatly enjoyed Mockingjay, but just as I said regarding Catching Fire, the first Hunger Games definitely was Suzanne Collins' best. However, Mockingjay is well worth reading as it is fast paced and exciting and ultimately lets you know where and how Katniss and Peeta end up. Katniss has survived her second time in the arena and eventually wakes up to find she was taken out of the games by the rebels. Gale and her family have escaped District 12. District 13 does exist. A revolution, which had meticulously planned saving Katniss from the games is in full swing. The rebels want Katniss to be the voice of the revolution. Katniss is not sure she trusts the rebels, but as it turns out, she has little choice in whether or not she becomes the rebellion's Mockingjay.

Reading Level: GLE: 5.3
                        Lexile: 800L

Teachers: Here are some resources to help you teach this book...

Web Resources:
  •  Hunger Games: Click here to see symbols, questions, themes and more for each of the three books.
  • Across the Curriculum: Check out this site for some discussion questions that will help you connect this novel to Civics and Social Studies.
  • Mockingjay Game: Here is a link to the "act of goodness" game that aligns with Mockingjay.

Vocabulary: Here are some words I picked out: enigmatic, indelible, conciliatory, immunity, ultimatum, dissent, spontaneity, incongruous, repudiate, decimate, coup, hijacked, innocuous, furtive, vendetta, censor, absconded, evocative, expedite

Before Reading: Where do you think Katniss has been taken at the end of Catching Fire? Predict where she is and who has taken her.

During Reading: Compare and contrast District 12 and District 13. Which would you prefer to live in and why?

After Reading: Write your own epilogue where Katniss and Peeta's lives end up differently after the war.

Across the Curriculum: Check out the 2nd link under web resources for ideas to connect this book and the revolution to Civics/Social Studies.

Collins, S. (2010). Mockingjay. New York: Scholastic Press.

Happy Reading (& Running) =)

The List

For these 8 girls, high school is defined by... a list.

Siobhan Vivian brings us the typical high school caste system in The List. On the 4th week of September for as long as anyone remembers, hundreds of copies of "the list" are posted at Mount Washington High School. The list consists of 2 girls from each grade. The Ugliest and the Prettiest. By the end of this book, you'll be asking yourself which label is worse. No matter if it is an honor or a horror to be put on this list, one thing is for sure, these 8 girls become the center of attention as everyone looks to see their reactions. Each of the girls this year have a very different reaction. As you read you will meet each of the 8 girls and see how they have been affected by seeing their name on that list. No one knows who posts the list each year, but a stolen school seal marks that the list is official. How is the seal being passed around? Is it a boy or girl posting the list? Will anyone ever find out? High School captured perfectly.

Helpful Hint: Make sure you read the prologue. It provides you with the list which I found to be a great reference when I first started reading and couldn't keep all 8 of the girls straight.

Reading Level: Ages 12 and up

Teachers: Here are some resources to help you use this book in your classroom.

Web Resources:
  • Writing Prompt: This site is a link to a writing contest (unfortunately the contest ended in April). The prompt for the contest is a great post reading activity. Maybe you can create a contest in your class using this prompt!
  • Being that The List is such a new book, it is difficult to find much more than reviews online. Please comment with any teaching links you find and I will add them to my list!

Vocabulary: Here are some words I picked out... conspicuousness, contraband, contradict, vindication, humiliation, subjective, innocuous, impromptu, pious, penance, sabotage, languish, rescind, aloof, crass, snafu, caveat, impasse

Before Reading: Journal: Write a journal entry depicting how you would feel and what you would do if you were on a list as "prettiest" (or "most handsome") in your class, then write a journal entry depicting how you would feel and what you would do if you were on a list as "ugliest" in your class.

During Reading: Group Work: As a group, write a character sketch for each of the 8 girls on the list. List at least 3 traits for each girl with at least one example to go along with each trait. Use these character sketches and add to them as you continue to read.

After Reading: Group Work: As a group, compare and contrast the girls at the beginning of the novel and at the end of the novel. Discuss: How did the list change the 8 girls?

Vivian, S. (2012). The List. New York: Scholastic.

Happy Reading (& Running) =)

Catching Fire

Just when Katniss thought life was back to normal...

Suzanne Collins brings us Catching Fire, the second of the Hunger Games trilogy. I found it extremely exciting throughout, but perhaps not quite as much as the first book. Still very much worth reading and it is hard to put the book down! Even though Katniss and Peeta haven't been talking much since they returned from the games, they are expected to act as the star crossed lovers who left the arena on the Victory Tour. President Snow has personally informed Katniss that she better make him believe the two are in love... or else. Life after the games was supposed to be easier, but it is just getting even harder. As the two go on the Victory Tour word starts to spread that there are rebellions beginning in the districts. The capitol is angry and with the Quarter-Quell games upon them, Katniss and Peeta are ready for anything as they will be mentors for the tributes of District 12. As they are preparing to mentor, the Capitol is insisting Katniss and Peeta will get married in the Capitol for all the districts to watch on television. Katniss isn't so sure she can live up to this lie for the rest of her life and when there is an extreme turn of events when President Snow announces the special rules of the Quarter-Quell, Katniss is not so sure she can survive no matter what. Read Catching Fire to find out what the extreme turn of events is...

Reading Level: GLE: 5.4
                        Lexile: 820L

Teachers: Here are some resources to help you to use this book in your class...

Web Resources:
  • Teaching Guide: This is a fantastic resource filled with comprehension questions, prereading activities and much, much more!
  • Teaching the Hunger Games Catching Fire: Start with this link, explore and then click through the "we recommend" links that take you to other pages on Bright Hub Education. Between all the links this site covers themes, characters, journal ideas and more.
  • Discussion Questions: This site offers discussions questions for each of the 3 Hunger Games books.

Vocabulary: Here are some words I chose... futile, retrospect, exorbitant, sadistic, capricious, duplicitous, clandestine, impotent, catalyst, irrefutable, odious, confidant, mollify, dovetail, plumage

Before Reading: Hunger Games (Book 1) ends with Katniss and Peeta returning home after tricking the game makers into letting both of them survive. Peeta has admitted that he truly is in love with Katniss and was not acting at all. Katniss does not feel the same way about Peeta and has truly hurt his feelings. Catching Fire picks up where the Hunger Games left off. Predict what will happen next in their story. Write a journal entry as Katniss or Peeta. What is their relationship like? How has District 12 responded to their return?

During Reading: Discussion: When the Quarter Quell is announced and former victors are going to back to the arena, how do you think the tributes feel? Do you think President Snow changed the Quarter Quell rule for this year to punish Katniss?

After Reading: Catching Fire ends with Katniss being pulled out from the arena. She does not know who has pulled her out or why they pulled her out or what they want. Write the first chapter (or 1st few pages) of what will come to follow for Katniss. Where is she? Who are these people? Why did they taker her out of the arena before the games were over?

Collins, S. (2009). Catching Fire. New York: Scholastic Press.

Happy Reading (& Running) =)
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