Thursday, February 28, 2013

Open Thank You Letter


     Every time I see my old principal who hired me at for my first teaching job, I want to run over and give him a great big hug. Why? Because I would have never gotten to where I am if not for him. When I met my first principal (MFP), I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. It, at that point, was my choice because I didn't know what else to do. My "dream" of becoming a literature professor or lawyer didn't seem to be happening and I had to move forward, so I went to an open job interview for my county's school district after nudging from my mother who said I was born to be a teacher. I was randomly placed and was interviewed for the county by MFP and after the county interview, he offered me an 8th grade job on the spot. At the time, I was terrified of anyone over 11, so I turned it down [I had decided to go back to school for an elementary education degree]. Crazy, I know, but it was before jobs were scarce. He did, though, give me a contract with the county and said he'd contact me if a 6th grade job opened. And he did. I was flabbergasted that this brilliant principal at this amazing middle school wanted me to be a teacher at his school.  Then when my interview went HORRIBLE (I said "I don't know..." to at least 2 different questions that I should have been able to answer during the interview), I thought that was it, but no... He still called me and asked me to work for him. I have never had the guts to ask why, but he must have seen something and because of that, I wanted to write him this:

Dear MFP,

     It is because of you that I have been able to be part of what I now know is my fate. I may never know why you decided to take a chance with me, but you saw something in me that I didn't even see in myself then. The longer I teach, the more I get involved in education, and the more I meet wonderful educators, I know that this is where I am meant to be. It is my passion. I cannot even imagine my life going in any other direction than it has gone and I have you to thank.

Sincerely,
Kellee Moye

Thank someone today who changed your life. 
Hearing "THANKS" will make their day.


**Today's  and future Thursday posts are inspired by Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson**
Each Kindness

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What Color Is My World



Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Here at Teach Mentor Texts we are always looking for more ways to support teachers! We've found that teachers seem to be constantly on the lookout for great nonfiction. We know we are! To help with this undying quest for outstanding non-fiction, we are excited to participate in Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and The Nonfiction Detectives. Every Wednesday, you'll find a non-fiction review here - although it may not always be a picture book review. Please visit Kid Lit Frenzy to see what non-fiction others have to share, too.


Title: What Color is My World? 
Author: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld  
Illustrator: Ben Boos and K.G. Ford  
Publisher: Candlewick Press 
Publication Date: January, 2012 
Genre/Format: Hybrid Realistic Fiction and Non-Fiction Biography/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, basketball legend and the NBA's alltime leading scorer, champions a lineup
of little-known African-American inventors in this lively, kid-friendly book.
Did you know that James West invented the microphone in your cell phone? That Fred Jones invented the refrigerated truck that makes supermarkets possible? Or that Dr. Percy Julian synthesized cortisone from soy, easing untold people's pain? These are just some of the black inventors and innovators scoring big points in this dynamic look at several unsung heroes who shared a desire to improve people's lives. Offering profiles with fast facts on flaps and framed by a funny contemporary story featuring two feisty twins, here is a nod to the minds behind the gamma electric cell and the ice-cream scoop, improvements to traffic lights, open-heart surgery, and more - inventors whose ingenuity and perseverance against great odds made our world safer, better, and brighter.  
What I Think: I had to think longer than usual when coming up with the genre and format for this book because it seems fairly unique. This book tells the story of two kids whose parents recently bought a new house. As they work with a family friend to fix up the house, he tells them about African-American inventors that may not be well-known but that made a contribution to the world we live in today. Woven throughout are the kids' notes about what they learn as well as biographies of the famous African-American inventors who are highlighted.
     I really liked how they included people who specifically influenced technology that we use today. I look at Peanut and Little Bean and think of how they understand and use technology and I can't help but think that they just think things happen magically. I'm not sure they have any grasp of what's inside of any of the devices they use or how they work. There have been countless times that Little Bean touches my laptop screen or our TV thinking that it will work like a touch screen. A book like this is so important to remind kids of what we have in our world today and the people that had an hand in making these things possible in our lives.
Read Together: Grades 2 - 4 
Read Alone: Grades 3 - 5 
Read With: Courage Has No Color by Tanya Lee Stone, Bad New for Outlaws by Vaunda Micheux Nelson, We are the Ship by Kadir Nelson, A Vision of Beauty and others by Kathryn Lasky, other non-fiction about African-Americans in history
Snatch of Text: 
"' Sir Isaac Newton once said - '
'The apple-proves-gravity guy,' Ella said.
'Right. He said 'If I have seen farther than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.' Meaning that whatever he achieved is because of what he learned from all the great scientists that came before them.'"  
Mentor Text For: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Asking Questions, Expository
Writing Prompts: Look around you throughout the day and find something around you that you want to learn more about. Do research on the history of one thing that you recognize you want to learn more about. Write about what you learn and create something to share with others. 
Topics Covered: Ingenuity, History, Innovation, Inventions, Appreciation
I *heart* It:
 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Secret Letters

Title: Secret Letters
Author: Leah Scheier
Publisher: Hyperion
Publication Date: June, 2012
Genre/Format: Historical Fiction-Mystery/Novel
Goodreads Summary: Inquisitive and observant, Dora dreams of escaping her aristocratic country life to solve mysteries alongside Sherlock Holmes. So when she learns that the legendary detective might be her biological father, Dora jumps on the opportunity to travel to London and enlist his help in solving the mystery of her cousin's ransomed love letters. But Dora arrives in London to devastating news: Sherlock Holmes is dead. Her dreams dashed, Dora is left to rely on her wits--and the assistance of an attractive yet enigmatic young detective--to save her cousin's reputation and help rescue a kidnapped heiress along the way. 
     Steeped in Victorian atmosphere and intrigue, this gripping novel heralds the arrival of a fresh new voice in young adult literature. 
What I Think: I am a big fan of twists on classic stories, fairy tales, etc. and this one was quite an interesting one. Dora is an orphaned, young lady who is trying to learn more about her past, so she goes searching for her biological father, Sherlock Holmes, only to find he is dead. But do not worry, Dora has her father's deductive genes which we learn quickly when she goes to another detective to help her solve her cousin's mystery. It is through this random meeting that mystery that becomes Secret Letters comes to light. 
     My favorite part of this book is Dora. She is a strong, clever female character in a time when females were not supposed to be any of the such. On top of all this, she is observant, like her father, so her deductive reasoning skills are something to be jealous of. AND she is snarky. I love snarky girl characters mostly when it is exactly what they aren't supposed to be. 
     Now, Peter Cartwright is not anything to shake your head at either. He sees that Dora is exactly the detective he needs to solve the mystery he is in charge of and puts faith into a woman when his senior partner shunned her. It is because of Peter that Dora gets to even be a detective. 
Read Together: Grades 9 and up
Read Alone: Grades 9 and up
Read With: Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Charles Dickens
Snatch of Text: "I really should have ended there. But I had discovered more about him, and he was staring at me now with such a look of baffled rage that I could not stop myself. "You were critical of my cousin from the first!" I continued furiously. "Why did you judge her like that and turn away? She never injured you. And yet the story of her old romance obviously upset you so much that you could not speak to her impartially. I wonder why? could it have something to do with the fresh imprint of the missing wedding bad upon your finger? You took the ring off less than a year ago, judging by the fair strip of skin above your knuckle. And yet, sadly, you aren't wearing mourning. I am very sorry for you, sir, and because I am not blind, or innocence, I will conclude that you are a good man who is very angry at some other lady who has badly wronged him." 
     I had never experienced a silence like the one that followed that declaration." (p. 46-47)
Mentor Text for: Allusion, Deductive Reasoning, Dialogue, Snarky Humor
Writing Prompts: Read a Sherlock Holmes story and show how the plot arc, characters, deductive reasoning, and mystery are similar and/or different between the story and Secret Letters
Topics Covered: Sherlock Holmes, Illicit Love, Deductive Reasoning, Writing in Code, Strong Woman Protagonist, Family, Victorian England
I *heart* It:
 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/25/13

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…who knows, you might discover that next “must read” book!
After doing the meme for a couple of weeks, we realized this would be a fun meme to start up with a kidlit focus - anyone reading and reviewing books in children's literature - it can be picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, you name it in the world of kidlit and it's in! We have loved being a part of this meme and we hope you do too!  We encourage everyone participating to go and visit the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and to comment on as many posts as you can. We love talking books and believe in sharing and discussing what we're reading. We hope you join us!

Last Week's Book Adventures:
Jen Says: This week I finished The Forest of Hands and Teeth on audio and then decided I need a zombie-break so I listened to That Summer by Sarah Dessen. I also read Come August, Come Freedom by Gigi Amateau which is historical fiction that I really loved. If you haven't read Kel Gilligan's Daredevil Stunt Show, I highly recommend it. Super fun! I'm still reading Necromancing the Stone, just didn't have much time (again) this week!

Kellee Says: This was a rough reading week for me. I just couldn't find any book to hold my interest. I abandoned almost every book I started until I finally found Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson which was a wonderful read which grabbed me from the first page and never stopped- I read it in one sitting. I also finished my audio book, The Cat Ate My Gymsuit, and I wish I'd read it when I was in high school because I think I would have really connected with Marcy.  Also, I am taking part in the virtual book club discussion of Reading Amplified by Lee Ann Spillane over on Facebook and Twitter and I cannot wait to finish it as I am loving it!

Reviewed Last Week:
Just click on any picture above to go read the review

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
Jen Says: I still have Rotters to listen to but I also have Ghetto Cowboy and to listen to and I'm kind of in the mood for something shorter so we'll see which I actually decide to listen to. We grabbed some great-looking picture books at the library this week. Oh! I also have the second collection of Archie: The Married Life which I am so excited to read. I am also still reading Necromancing the Stone,  Navigating Early and have the second The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle that I want to read as well. 

Kellee Says: Like I said, it has been an off week. I didn't even really start my new audio book, Trash, until yesterday because I was on a music kick. With that being said, I am not going to say what I hope to read yet just in case I abandon it (since I don't like to share which books I abandon). So, hopefully one of them will grab my interest- we'll find out next week!

This Week's Reviews:
  
Check back throughout the week to hear about these books. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you please try to comment on at least the three blogs that posted before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!
 and

Jen's WRAD Blogging Challenge #3

The anticipation of World Read Aloud Day on March 6th is building! I've seen lots of people talking about their plans on Twitter. It looks like many classes will be Skyping with other classes or authors. Super fun!  Today stars the third week in the WRAD Blogging Challenge!  Make sure to visit litworld.org to sign up for World Read Aloud Day and for ideas for how you can celebrate World Read Aloud Day! 


Week 3: February 24 – March 2

A Snapshot of My Reading Life


I was excited for last week's prompt...but this one is super fun, too! This year, I challenged myself to read a book every day and to take a picture with a book every day. It's been a lot of fun so far. I find myself pushing myself to read something new every day and have been reading lots of picture books and early readers that I may not have picked up otherwise. 

Here is one of my daily book pictures:
Little Bean, me, and (a tired) Peanut
Every night, we read books in our house before bedtime. This is a picture of me and my two kiddos after we finished reading Copperheads. This was a book that Peanut brought home from school. All year long he has been bringing home a library book every week and every time it has been a non-fiction book. I wondered if his teacher or the librarian was encouraging the kids to check out non-fiction but he can check out anything that he wants...and apparently he enjoys non-fiction. We have read so many books about snakes. We've read lots of fiction picture books and some non-fiction but now that he is in kindergarten we've been reading a lot more non-fiction. 

I love snuggling in close with these two boys and sharing stories (...or facts) every night. I'm so glad that we have made this part of our nightly routine. I can't imagine not winding down with books. With all the books we have read, we have learned a lot but we have also strengthened the bond that we have with each other through reading aloud and sharing the wonderful experience. 

One thing I really love about the book pics I have been taking is that I have a snapshot of my reading life every day. I love the books and reading that I do as much as the people I share my reading experiences with. Hooray for bookish snapshots! What would be in your snapshot? (Or share a link to your post so I can visit!)
 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Come August, Come Freedom

Title: Come August, Come Freedom: The Bellows, The Gallows, and The Black General Gabriel
Author: Gigi Amateau 
Publisher: Candlewick Press 
Publication Date: September, 2012 
Genre/Format: Historical Fiction/Novel 
GoodReads Summary: An 1800 insurrection planned by a literate slave known as "Prosser’s Gabriel" inspires a historical novel following one extraordinary man’s life.
     In a time of post-Revolutionary fervor in Richmond, Virginia, an imposing twenty-four-year-old slave named Gabriel, known for his courage and intellect, plotted a rebellion involving thousands of African- American freedom seekers armed with refashioned pitchforks and other implements of Gabriel’s blacksmith trade. The revolt would be thwarted by a confluence of fierce weather and human betrayal, but Gabriel retained his dignity to the end. History knows little of Gabriel’s early life. But here, author Gigi Amateau imagines a childhood shaped by a mother’s devotion, a father’s passion for liberation, and a friendship with a white master’s son who later proved cowardly and cruel. She gives vibrant life to Gabriel’s love for his wife-to-be, Nanny, a slave woman whose freedom he worked tirelessly, and futilely, to buy. Interwoven with original documents, this poignant, illuminating novel gives a personal face to a remarkable moment in history. 
What I Think: I love great historical fiction because it allows readers to learn about a time or moment or person in history. Narrative text is my favorite, so reading a story that is based on true history is great. I enjoy narrative non-fiction for this same reason. What always blows my mind about narrative non-fiction or historical fiction is that oftentimes I read about something or someone historical that I didn't know about or had very little knowledge of before. I think I say this every time I read historical fiction but it is so true. I had never heard of Gabriel but the author did an excellent job of bringing his story to life and making me feel that I had to go look up what Gabriel's true story really was. This connection that historical fiction makes with non-fiction reading is what excites me the most. I love when one book leads to another book or some other text. To me, it's the definition of inquiry based learning. If I want to go look for more information because I'm curious, I feel that I'm going to be more likely to learn the information as well as just more interested in general. I love the implications of this for students.
     What I really love about this book is that things move pretty quickly. Readers get to follow Gabriel throughout his whole entire life. The author did a great job of highlighting parts of his childhood all through adulthood that link directly to what made him believe so strongly in freedom for African Americans and encouraged him to lead a rebellion. I can see how this story could be used to look seemed to contribute to his strong will and desire to be free. It was refreshing to read a book that does move quickly.
Read Together: Grades 5 - 12 
Read Alone: Grades 6 - 12 
Read With: Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson,  Copper Sun by Sharon Draper, A Voice of Her Own and others by Kathryn Lasky
Snatch of Text: 
"The conviction that had been growing in his heart for some years, which burned only stronger since he'd come back from Jacob's forge, formed clearly in him now: I am my own master. Gabriel belongs only to Gabriel." p. 84 
Mentor Text For: Non-Fiction Text Structures, Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Asking Questions  
Writing Prompts: Write about an experience or experiences in your life that have shaped your values and beliefs.  
Topics Covered: Freedom, Love, Will, Determination, Beliefs, Values, Motivation
I *heart* It:

Friday, February 22, 2013

A World Away

Title: A World Away
Author: Nancy Grossman
Publisher: Hyperion
Publication Date: July, 2012
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel
Goodreads Summary: A summer of firsts: Sixteen-year-old Eliza Miller has never made a phone call, never tried on a pair of jeans, never sat in a darkened theater waiting for a movie to start. She’s never even talked to someone her age who isn’t Amish, like her.
A summer of good-byes: When she leaves her close-knit family to spend the summer as a nanny in suburban Chicago, a part of her can’t wait to leave behind everything she knows. She can’t imagine the secrets she will uncover, the friends she will make, the surprises and temptations of a way of life so different from her own.
A summer of impossible choice: Every minute Eliza spends with her new friend Josh feels as good as listening to music for the first time, and she wonders whether there might be a place for her in his world. But as summer wanes, she misses the people she has left behind, and the plain life she once took for granted. Eliza will have to decide for herself where she belongs. Whichever choice she makes, she knows she will lose someone she loves.

What I Think: While reading this book, I felt like I was sneaking a peek into a world that I didn't know much about. I was ignorant about the ways of the Amish before this book. I knew they had no electricity and they dressed in bonnets and dresses, but the extent of my knowledge ended there though this is also where my fascination began. Usually I find myself learning the most from historical fiction novels and I extend that knowledge by jumping on the internet and learning more about the history. This book did just that, but about a contemporary topic. I loved learning about their culture. Nancy Grossman allowed us a glimpse into their peaceful and anything but plain lifestyle. Though their lives seem so out of reach for us, isn't it just a culture about family, God and relationships?
     This morning, I was also talking to my sister and found that it wasn't only a peek into Amish culture, but into the head of any 16 year old girl as well. I think this shows how truly the same people are even if they seem different. There are parts of the book that, pulled out from the Amish context, could connect to anyone- family, identity, love, etc.
     For a debut novel, I was very impressed. It was well written, a great plot arc that kept me reading, good research and well rounded characters. I adored the ending that, though resolved, leaves you with a feeling of hope, and I loved being part of Eliza's adventure. It is, underneath it all, a coming of age story about a 16 year old girl filled with trials, tribulations, romance and hard decisions.
     Would be a great book to read in conjunction with the study of the Amish culture (cross curricular with social studies?).
Read Together: Grades 10 and up
Read Alone: Grades 9 and up
Read With: From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas
Snatch of Text: "He reached inside his carriage and pressed a small package into my hands. Gently tearing away the newspaper wrapping, I smiled at the wood carving nestled in my curved fingers.
     "I made it," Daniel said, but I already knew that. I recognized the gleaming finish, the soft curves. It was a small nest with a bird rising from it, wings spread and head turned to the side. The bird's feathers were etched in tender lines, and the nest was a complex tangle of woven twigs. I cradled the carving, letting my fingertips roam across the different textures...
     "Enjoy your journey, Eliza," he said. "Then come back to your nest." (p. 75-76)
Mentor Text for: Plot development, Research
Writing Prompts: Eliza finds herself in a completely new situation in A World Away, what is a time where you found yourself discovering something new or not knowing what to make of a situation?
Topics Covered: Amish, Family, Love, Identity, Banishment
I *heart* It:
**4.5 Stars**

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Looking for a Graphic Novel?

As I was looking through the 2013 challenges that my friends took on, many chose to do Donalyn's Book Gap challenge. I was surprised to see that many people found that their book gap was graphic novels! Graphic novels are one of my favorite formats of books and I love what they have done for my kids' reading. So, today I wanted to share with you all my favorite graphic novels. This list will work for my book gap friends and/or for my teachers wanting to have more graphic novels in their classroom. 
**Each cover can be clicked on to take it to a review or its Goodreads page**

Teen Graphic Novels
Princeless Book One: Save Yourself Teen Boat! My Friend Dahmer Friends with Boys The Last Dragon The Kite Runner: Graphic Novel Americus Anya's Ghost Page by Paige The Odyssey Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence, A True Story in Black and White Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography Brain Camp Resistance Foiled (Foiled, #1) Zeus: King of the Gods (Olympians, #1) Breaking Up (Fashion High Graphic Novel) American Born Chinese The 9/11 Report Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life (Scott Pilgrim, #1) Maus, Vol. 1: My Father Bleeds History I Love Him to Pieces ( My Boyfriend Is a Monster #01 )  

Middle Grade Graphic Novels
   Drama Cardboard Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spy Crogan's Vengeance Giants Beware! Explorer: The Mystery Boxes Around the World Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity Mal and Chad: The Biggest, Bestest Time Ever!   Zita the Spacegirl Discovery Channels Top 10 Deadliest Sharks Discovery Channel's Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Predators Zebrafish Smile The Shadow Door (The Elsewhere Chronicles, #1) The First Escape (The Dopple Ganger Chronicles, #1) 
 Rapunzel's Revenge (Rapunzel's Revenge, #1) The Dodgeball Chronicles (Knights of the Lunch Table, #1) Sound Off! (Adventures of Daniel Boom AKA Loud Boy #1) Jellaby: Volume 1 Kristy's Great Idea: A Graphic Novel (BSC Graphix, #1) Bone, Vol. 1: Out from Boneville 
Jay-Z: Hip Hop Icon Sidekicks

Juvenile Graphic Novels

Bird & Squirrel on the Run Cow Boy  The Flying Beaver Brothers and the Evil Penguin Plan  Super Amoeba (Squish, #1) The Adventures of Ook and Gluk, Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future  Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute (Lunch Lady, #1)    Sticky Burr: Adventures in Burrwood Forest (Sticky Burr #1) Queen of the World! (Babymouse, #1)

Hope you find what you or your student needs!
Happy reading! :) 
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