Monday, January 31, 2011


EmptyTitle: Empty     
Author: Suzanne Weyn  
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: 2010   
Genre/Format: Science Fiction/Novel   
Summary: Ten years in the future, Tom, Gwen, and Niki find themselves trying to survive in a world that has run out of oil/gas as a natural resource.   
What I Think:  I was in an 8th grade English classroom when they were looking for great opening lines and a student read from this book (see below).  I had to write down the title right away because I was intrigued just from the first line.  This book was a little hard for me to read because it really hit close to home for me.  I have been thinking more and more about "being green" and how important is it to pay attention to our carbon footprints.  Just today, our electricity went out and my mind immediately started racing knowing that the temperature is in the negative numbers and I had two kids to take care of.  I knew we were in trouble if the heat didn't come back on and I started thinking of this book and imagining the worst.  I love the topic for getting teens tuned into the state of affairs as far as the world is concerned.  I, myself, didn't realize how much we do depend on gas/oil besides for our cars (see below).
     From a teacher's perspective I love the introduction paragraphs for Gwen and Niki (see below).  The author does a good job of showing us who each girl is as a character.  There are lots of inferences to be made but just as many clues from the author to make those inferences.  Also, the first three pages in general lend themselves to inferring a lot about Gwen and Tom.
Read Together: 8 - 12 
Read Alone: 8 - 12 
Read With: Life As We Knew ItThe Dead and the Gone, and This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer;   
Snatch of Text:  “Gwen Jones squeezed out of her bedroom window onto the sizzling roof below.  Even through her flip-flops, she could feel the burn of the shingles.  The feebly whirring minifan on her night table was no match against the full bake of this night.  Whatever relief she could find out here was better than nothing.” p.1

“Niki Barton drew up a light blue cotton blanket from the end of her four-poster bed until it reached the bottom of her shorts.  The blasting air-conditioning was covering her arms with goose bumps.  Once the blanket was in place, she tapped the edge of Brock’s photo with the tips of her manicured nails.” p. 14

“ We’ve been headed down this road for a while.  I guess no one – including me – thought the oil would really run out.  We had no idea that everything is made from oil – plastic, insecticides, cosmetics – everything.  Shampoo and soap are made of hydrocarbons, linked and processed from oil.  Bricks and concrete are made with oil.  The shingles on our roof.  Carpet.  Fertilizer.  The asphalt we use to pave our roads – that comes from the bottom of the tank after oil’s been refined.  When there’s no oil, the bottom of the tank is empty.” p. 41
Reading Strategies to Practice: Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Making Inferences 
Writing Strategies to Practice: Descriptive, Expository 
Writing Prompts: Use descriptive writing to show your readers about your character without telling who he or she is.  Write an essay to explain how teens can make a difference in caring for the environment.
Topics Covered: Friendship, Family, Courage, Survival, Science - Environmental 
Translated to Spanish: No

Saturday, January 29, 2011

We just got home from a birthday party, the kids are in bed but I have to post my Bit of Me(me) before I head up to bed myself!  It's fitting that this week's question is about Ben and Jerry's ice cream because we were hanging out with college friends and that is where I truly fell madly, deeply in love with Ben and Jerry's...and my husband!

This week's question:
What is your favorite Ben and Jerry's flavor? Do you have more than one?  Can't narrow it down, tell us all about the ones you love!

I'm not sure I ever had Ben and Jerry's before I went to college...believe me, I had my fair share (and possibly more) of ice cream, but we didn't often go to our Ben and Jerry's.  It just so happened that the little store in our dorm sold Ben and Jerry's pints.  Gosh, how I loved those pints.  I think I loved holding one of those babies and just eating right out of the carton more than the ice cream itself, who am I kidding?  I love ice cream.  Since I went vegan back in August I gave up regular milk-based ice cream.  *Gasp!*  I know!  It was something I had to come to terms with when I made my decision.  So far I haven't missed it all that much...but it's not summer yet, so ask me how I'm doing in June.
Back to my favorite Ben and Jerry's flavor...I would have to say the Cherry Garcia.  I love cherries and chocolate together.  And, pink ice cream?  Gotta love it.  My hubby and I met in college my sophomore year.  We lived across the hall from each other in the dorms.  We would play Tetris and Mario and eat ice cream together.  We loved when we could find Cherry Garcia down in the freezers.  Hubs also loves their plain chocolate ice cream, Peanut Butter Cup, or Chocolate Fudge Brownies...if I remember right.
Now, I'm actually excited to try their sorbet flavors which are supposedly vegan!  I have had some sorbets from the store, but not any Ben and Jerry's.  The Berried Treasure and Jamaican Me Crazy sound absolutely delicious...uh oh, I have to go to the grocery store tomorrow...I might be making a trip down the ice cream aisle...but for now, off to bed!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Library Thursday Blog Hop 1/27

It's already Thursday and time for the Library Thursday Blog Hop hosted by Lazy Girl Reads!

I can barely even begin to think of all the books and other materials we checked out from the library this week!  It's dangerous when I take Peanut with me because he has to get his own books, usually books on CD, and videos, of course.  I have to beg him to come with me to find my own books because he is usually so focused on getting his own things!  I did manage to get him upstairs to the adult nonfiction section (which he claims is boring!) for these books:
 Can you tell where we're headed this summer?  I'm so excited I can't even explain it.  It's all I think about nonstop!  These were from the youth nonfiction and "oversized" picture books:
 And these were from the youth picture book was dangerous, Peanut was listening to a book on audio and I keep wandering around and finding more and more books to add to our pile...
We definitely have more than enough books to keep us busy at least until next week!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Happy Birthday, Denise Fleming!

I finally figured out how to get my video uploaded onto the blog!  I'm excited and a tad nervous!  This is my first ever vlog.  On January 31st, it will be Denise Fleming's birthday!  My students and I have been reading her books this month and I wanted to share some of them with you.
You can learn more about Denise Fleming at her website or follow her on Twitter at @DeniseKFleming.  Also, Happy Birthday Author has a post for Denise Fleming from last year for more info about her books.   I love learning about authors and illustrators.  Twitter has been such a cool way to connect with authors and illustrators!


Monday, January 24, 2011

Sticky Burr

Sticky Burr: Adventures in Burrwood Forest
Sticky Burr #2: The Prickly PerilTitle: Sticky Burr: Adventures in Burrwood Forest (#1)
and Sticky Burr #2: The Prickly Peril    
Author: John Lechner
Illustrator: John Lechner 
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: 2007/2009  
Genre/Format: Fiction/Fantasy/Graphic Novel  
Summary: In Sticky Burr: Adventures in Burrwood Forest we meet Sticky Burr who is dealing with Scurvy Burr who doesn't think he is such a great burr in general and wants him gone.  In Sticky Burr #2: The Prickly Peril, Scurvy Burr takes over the storytelling and again tries to banish Sticky Burr from Burrwood Forest.  
What I Think: Finding books I know my students will love is always exciting.  I am even more excited about finding the Sticky Burr: Adventures in Burrwood Forest series because I will be able to introduce a new genre to my students while also working on some identifying main idea skills.  The illustrations and the stories are great in both of these books.  If you've read my reviews of graphic novels before, you might have noticed that I think graphic novels can be hard to read, there is so much inferring going on and it just seems like a lot of work to me.  These books are just-right graphic novels for me.  The pictures and the dialogue tell the story but I didn't have to reread and I didn't end up with headache.  Bonus!
    At the end of Sticky Burr: Adventures in Burrwood Forest there is a two-page layout of The Burrwood Gazette.  The stories from the book are written like a newspaper.  I love this part of the book because it's a mini-review and I just so happen to be working on main idea right now with my 3rd grader.  We have been reading non-fiction, identifying the details, and then coming up with the main idea.  Next, we'll work on deciding on a title for the passage we read.  This little blurb at the end is a perfect way for me to read the story with him but then still practice our non-fiction reading.  How cool is that?  I love when authors add little extras like this to the books.
     Another bonus, if you know how to play a piano or some other instrument, there's music for a little song at the end of both of the books.  I never thought I would find myself saying I liked sticky burrs...I remember getting them all over me when I was a kid and also having to gently pry them off of my dog's fur growing up...but I do, I really do like them!
Read Together: K - 2
Read Alone: 2 - 5 
Read With: Babymouse (graphic novel series) by Jennifer and Matthew Holm;  Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute (graphic novel series) by Jarrett Krosoczka; Kit Feeny: On the Move (graphic novel series) by Michael Townsend; True Things (Adults Don't Want Kids to Know) (Amelia Rules) (graphic novel series) by Jimmy Gownley; Lost Treasure of the Emerald Eye (Geronimo Stilton, No. 1) by Geronimo Stilton
Snatch of Text: 
"BURR: (n) the rough, prickly
seedcase of certain plants
STICKY: (adj) tending to cling
to things difficult to deal with"
It's hard to quote a graphic novel, but check out the website to see artwork and fun!
Reading Strategies to Practice: Inferring, Making Connections, Making Predictions 
Writing Strategies to Practice: Dialogue, Main Idea/Titles, Narrative 
Writing Prompts: Choose a drawing from the book or draw your own sticky burr character and then create dialogue bubbles to build the story.   
Topics Covered: Friendship, Fitting In, Courage 
Translated to Spanish: No

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bloggiesta 01/11 Finish Line!

Well, my friends, Bloggiesta has come to a close for me!  I had fun and got a lot accomplished...although I seem to still be scared of reaching out to publishers.  I just wish there was a way to do it and know I wouldn't be bothering any one.  I'm going to work on this even though I didn't get it accomplished this weekend.  Even though there is a lot that goes into being a book blogger, it is so much fun. I love books and I love the community and fellowship I have experienced from starting this blog and connecting with others.  I love books and reading and I truly believe that the social aspect of books and reading is critical.  More and more, I find myself talking to strangers about books and ending up with the best conversations.  Books link people together.  It's amazing.  I love that as a teacher I get to interact with my students and get them excited about books through my passion with sharing books with them.  Students need to practice reading to get better at reading and if I can get them motivated to read something then that's helping them be better readers.  What does this have to do with Bloggiesta?  I got so much accomplished and this weekend helped me make improvements to my blog that help me feel even more proud of what I'm doing here at Teach Mentor Texts.  I hope you like what you see and come back and visit!  Thanks again to Natasha at Maw Books for hosting Bloggiesta!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Bit of Me(me) 1/20/11

I have Danielle from There's a Book to thank for helping me get into the book blogging scene.  She's my book blogging idol!  I love reading her A Bit of Me(me) posts but I've never played along...until now!  This is the perfect time for me to jump in because this week's topic is audiobooks and I might just be the audiobook queen.

Considering I'm the self-proclaimed, audiobook queen, yes, I listen to audiobooks!  It's not entirely my doing, I started listening to audiobooks when I realized I wanted to read more and needed to find the time to do it.  My solution: listen to books in the car on my drive to and from work.  I have a 45 minute (minimum) commute in the morning and in the afternoon.  I also drive around from school to school all day and I get in between 3-10 minutes each time I switch schools.  It all adds up believe it or not.  Lately, I've been uploading the books onto my iPod so I can hook it up to the car and then easily bring it inside and not lose my spot.  I listen while I'm doing chores (yuck...but the books make it a little better...) or playing or feeding the baby because I can get other things done while listening.  In my opinion, listening to the books is the same as reading the books, especially at my age, for a student I usually suggest they listen and read at the same time so they can see the words they hear and improve their reading, but for me, listening is just as good as reading the book.  
When I first started listening to audiobooks, I listened to the entire Princess Diaries series...I had to wait for those that weren't out just yet, but eventually I listened to the whole series.  I loved these because the narrators completely brought the characters to life for me.  Other audiobooks that stick out to me because I remember listening to them on audio and enjoying the narration are:  Twilight, The Book Thief, Copper SunThe HelpThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and  Room: A Novel. 

2011 Challenges

I guess I'm behind when it comes to the challenge bandwagon...I didn't realize it was important to decide by January 1st that I wanted to do a challenge is already closed as of the first of January, sheesh.

Thanks to Bloggiesta, I found Kim's blog, Page After Page.  She knew about these challenges that one is supposed to be signed up for before the first of January and even had a nice list of ones she is participating in.  There are three she joined that I'm excited about so I'm linking up, too.

Here are my 2011 challenges:

2011 Original TBR Challenge
Hosted by MizB's Reading Challenges
I have to choose 12 books from my TBR list that I'm really going to read!
1. Mockingbird
2. Ape House
3. Kneebone Boy
4. Across the Universe
5. The Sky is Everywhere
6. The Dreamer
7. Dash and Lily's Book of Dares
8. Mini-Shopaholic
9. Boneshaker
10. This World We Live In
11. Columbine
12. Matched
Alternates:   1. Haroun and the Sea of Stories   2. Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

Hosted by The Book Vixen 
The goal for this challenge is to read more books in 2011 than I read in 2010, which is a goal I set for myself and already shared with my students, so this works out perfectly for me. 

Now, there are different levels for this challenge and I'm going big (no way am I staying home!).  I'm going to do the "I'm on Fire!" level which means I plan to read 16+ more books than I read last year.  In 2010, I read  125 books - that's only counting chapter books/novels/professional books not any picture books. The new goal is 141 or more!

Buy One Book and Read It Challenge
Hosted by My Friend Amy
This challenge is all about stimulating the economy and supporting bookstores while at the same time stimulating reading.
There are two levels for this challenge, the first level is buying one book and reading one book.  The second level is buying 12 books throughout the year and reading those 12 books.  I'm committing to the second level of books.  I already know I won't be buying adult books, but I'll definitely buy books I want to read that I can add to my classroom library for my students.

I'm creating a 2011 Challenges page and will post my progress there!  Anyone else doing these particular challenges or other challenge that are really good?  This is my first time doing year-long challenges.  Should be fun!


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