Sunday, June 30, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/1/13

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...you just might discover the next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 


Announcement:
Please take note that the IMWAYR button has been updated to include Unleashing Readers.
In case you missed the announcement, 
Kellee is now blogging at Unleashing Readers with Rick Ginsberg. 
We will be cohosting IMWAYR from now on.
They launched their blog last week and it's going to be a fabulous resource! 
Be sure to grab the updated button! 


Last Week's Book Adventures:
Jen Says: This week was filled with lots of classwork including a midterm in one class, a final in the other class, and a book review. Mixed in with every other summer thing going on right now and it was a lot but also a lot of fun. I did have to review Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen for one of my classes that looks at young adolescent development so that was fun! I finished reading Flipped and finished listening to Eleanor & Park...swoon, wonderful first love story. I also listened to Little Prince, one of my Book Gap challenge books, on the way to an from ALA. I read more of Center of Everything and am really enjoying it.

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

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
Jen Says: After being at ALA and talking about so many great books there are just so many books I want to read! I'm really looking forward to finishing The Center of Everything and reviewing it this week and then I also have a few ARCs to read. I got copies of Kate Messner's Wake Up Missing and Jo Knowles' Living with Jackie Chan that I'm desperate to read! 

This Week's Posts:
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 make a comment cookie sandwich!
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!


Teachers Write Sunday Check-In Week 1

I hope everyone had a wonderful first week with Teachers Write! I’m so excited to hear how it went! Has the experience been what you expected? What was your favorite part of the week?


Last year, I knew I wanted to write a young adult novel and focused my energy on cranking out words, striving to make it to the end of my sloppy copy, knowing that they only way to revise, is to first have something written. Many of the Teachers Write posts last year were geared towards people like me who wanted to write fiction. We never intended to disclude non-fiction writers but in talking with different people, it seems like we may have neglected non-fiction writers.   


I invited my friend, Katherine Sokolowski, here today to share how she adapted Teachers Write to make it fit her needs as a non-fiction writer. I hope everyone can learn from her experience and know that we hope to give you the resources to feel supported with your writing but we also invite you to take as much or as little as you need.


JEN: Hi, Katherine! Thank you so much for being willing to share your experience with Teachers Write last summer as a non-fiction writer!


KATHERINE: Hi, Jen! Thanks for asking me to stop by! Glad to talk writing and Teachers Write with you.


JEN: To start, can you tell me what you goals were for your writing at the beginning of last summer when you signed up for Teachers Write?


KATHERINE: Hmm, my main goal was to continue writing. I had started my blog in November of that school year and I wanted to continue updating over the summer. I had also just started writing for Choice Literacy and wanted to continue writing articles for them over the summer as well.


JEN: Can you talk about what worked for you as a non-fiction writer participating in Teachers Write? What did you find helped you meet your goals?


KATHERINE: I had made it a goal of mine to write each day of the summer - just to write something. Some days I had an article/post in mind, some days a certain amount of time, some days an amount of words. I used Teachers Write to surround myself with a community of writers. Often the exercises were geared towards fiction writing. I’d use them if I was stuck and struggling to find a topic for the day - the writing exercises stretched my writing muscles.


JEN: With so much emphasis on the Common Core and non-fiction writing, I’m worried that people will no longer spend time on creative writing. I believe the literary devices we use in fiction writing brings non-fiction to life. Were there certain prompts or exercises that you used in your non-fiction writing?


KATHERINE: I can’t remember any writing exercise specifically. I do know that I use a lot of personal narrative in my own writing - I tell a lot of stories from my classroom and my life in general. To get my message conveyed to my readers I think my writing has to have similar elements that are found in fiction writing - there is a hook, a story, an emotional impact. Those things are necessary regardless of the genre of the writing. I think some of the writing exercises helped me to recognize those qualities in my own writing.


JEN: Even though you wrote non-fiction and didn’t always use the exercises that Kate shared, you said that you did find support in the community of writers through Teachers Write. Can you explain more?


KATHERINE: Sure! I think that being part of Teachers Write is similar to being in a writing group - you have people all around that are also working on writing as well. It makes you feel that you are surrounded by friends that are cheering you on. Being part of this community made me more aware of my own writing voice and increased the amount of writing I did daily.


JEN: I know that I found people I seemed to connect with and ended up having more specific conversations about our writing and our writing goals. Did you find others who were focusing on blogging or non-fiction writing?


KATHERINE: Not necessarily one or two specific people, but the entire community was wonderful. Many started reading my blog and leaving comments, which is always encouraging. They would also retweet my blog and send Tweets or Facebook messages, which kept me motivated to write more.


JEN: What are your goals for Teachers Write this year and how are you participating this year?


KATHERINE: This year I want to continue writing blog posts and Choice Literacy articles. I also have a book idea just beginning to form in my mind that would be geared towards teachers. I’m excited and nervous to begin.


JEN: What advice to you have for Teachers Write participants writing fiction or non-fiction?


KATHERINE: I think anyone wanting to participate in Teachers Write needs to make the program their own. What works for you may not be what works for someone else. If you need to do the writing exercises, great! If you need to just Tweet for support, fabulous. What’s important is that you write and - in the fall - share your writing with your students.

Thank you Katherine for sharing your perspective on Teachers Write and writing non-fiction! 
This discussion leads right into my second Teachers Write Tip! 
You get to decide what you want to write! Whether it's fiction or non-fiction, a novel, a picture book, or a poetry. Blog posts, journaling, or writing to share with others. It's totally up to you. Write what calls to you and if it means trying something new or different, go for it! I think it's awesome that we don't always know where our writing is going to take us. What an exhilarating feeling!

A reminder of my rules for Teachers Write Sunday Check-Ins:

1. We respect each other and the type of writing we do.
2. We only offer constructive criticism.
3. We are positive and encourage each other at all times.
4. We recognize and maintain this as a safe environment.
**I reserve every right to put the smackdown
on anyone who messes with our positive energy.**

Ideas for today, in the comments section:
What kind of writing are you working on? Fiction or non-fiction?
A picture book, chapter book, novel, poetry?
How did you do this week? Did you meet your weekly goal(s)?
What was the pit of your week? (The hardest part, the non-fun part?)
What was the peak of your week? (The best part, the most-fun part?)
What are you looking forward to and planning for the week ahead?

My Teachers Write Weekly Recap:
My plan for Teachers Write is to work on revisions for a young adult contemporary fiction novel and to draft another of the same. This week, I ran into a picture book that prompted an idea for a narrative non-fiction picture book of my own - see how writing surprises you? I ordered a few books from the library as research. I'm not sure where I'll go with that, but it seems fun. 

This week, I participated in the writing prompts from Kate and Jo. I feel like I eased into Teachers Write by reading and writing along with the prompts. I did open up the draft that I'm revising and I shared the beginning over at Friday Feedback with Gae and Geoff Herbach. On Tuesday, I shared how I was feeling overwhelmed by lots of things that were making it hard for me to devote as much time to writing as I wanted to...but I still count it as a win that I got some writing in!

This week I'm working on revising and outlining the beats for the first draft I hope to start in on. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Unleashing Readers Blog Hop

I'm excited to be celebrating the launch week of Kellee and Rick Ginsberg's blog, Unleashing Readers. Today they are hosting a blog hop, asking various bloggers to share their favorites from the different categories. I had a lot of fun thinking about my favorite read aloud, close reading book, lit circle/book club book, and classroom library must-have book...but it was also soooooooo hard to decide which are my favorites. I tried my best to only pick one in each category but it wasn't always possible!

My favorite read aloud(s): 


My favorite close read/analysis book:

My favorite lit circle/book club book:

My favorite book(s) for the classroom library:  

My favorite book in general: 

Seriously, this was the hardest thing I have done this week! I do have to say that all of these books are favorites in general and books I give five hearts to and wish everyone would read. As I was brainstorming, I was thinking about my favorite snuggle-up-and-read books, laugh-out-loud books, make-me-want-to-get-crafty and share-with-a-friend books. There are just so many books that I love for different reasons! What are your favorites in the different categories? Please share in the comments!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Poetry Friday

I love poems and after making it a goal to read more poems in 2012, I feel like I read more but I still don't feel like I read enough of them. I thoroughly enjoy novels in verse and wish there were more. Poetry Friday is a meme where bloggers share poems on Friday. Every Friday a different blogger rounds up all the posts for the week. Click here for a schedule of who is hosting the round-up for the week.

Today I finished rereading Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen for one of the courses I'm taking this summer. It's a class so I can have my middle school endorsement and focuses on young adolescent development. If you haven't read Flipped, I definitely recommend it and realized more than ever just how well it depicts young adolescent development having read it with a specific focus for my class. It also made me think of books I love like 11 Birthdays, Stargirl and Wonder where the characters really connect with each other and grow from being more understanding and compassionate towards others. I found this poem about other people and how people impact us and thought I would share.

People

Some people talk and talk
and never say a thing.
Some people look at you 
and birds being to sing.

Some people laugh and laugh 
and yet you want to cry.
Some people touch your hand 
and music fills the sky.

Charlotte Zolotow

There are so many people who have made an impact - big or small - in my life and it's pretty amazing to stop and think of those people from time to time. And then I have to call or tweet or e-mail them. In Flipped, the girl main character, Juli, is the kind of character who has so much spunk and energy that it's great to read and know she has people who support her and encourage her. I think we can always use more people to support us. I hope this poem inspires you to stop and think of the people who have made an impace on your life...and maybe, just maybe you call or tweet or e-mail them, too! 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Eleanor & Park

Title: Eleanor & Park 
Author: Rainbow Rowell  
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin 
Publication Date: February, 2013 
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Young Adult Novel 
GoodReads Summary:  
"Bono met his wife in high school," Park says.
"So did Jerry Lee Lewis," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be," she says, "we’re sixteen."
"What about Romeo and Juliet?"
"Shallow, confused, then dead."
''I love you," Park says.
"Wherefore art thou," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be."

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

What I Think: I love love stories. I just love them. Not all love stories are able to climb in and hunker down in my heart but Eleanor & Park definitely did. Rainbow Rowell does an amazing job of bringing these two teenagers alive and together. Her descriptions are like a lovely sigh. Her prose is as quiet and sweet as the cover is. There's more to Eleanor and Park's wonderful story though, Eleanor's family situation doesn't make things easy for her or her relationship with Park. I wish I knew what else to say! It's just a beautiful story about first love and like the summary says, you'll remember your own first love.
     In terms of a mentor text, Rainbow's description is eloquent and beautiful. There are so many wonderful descriptions but I pulled out one snatch of text that shows an example of similes. The book also goes back and forth between Eleanor and Park's perspectives and readers can see each of their points of view. More than anything, I love this book for the characters and how Rainbow lets us into their hearts to follow along on their story. By showing both perspectives, we see how Eleanor sees Park and how Park sees Eleanor and for this reason, it seems like this decision lets us see Eleanor and Park differently from how they see themselves. When we see how Eleanor sees herself but also how Park sees her and vice versa, we see how much they love each other. This would make such an excellent topic of discussion for students. How does the point of view factor in here? But more importantly, how do our perceptions of ourselves differ from how others perceive us? What a thought-provoking question to pose to adolescents!
Read Together: Grades 9 - 12 
Read Alone: Grades 9 - 12 
Read With: Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks and The Boyfriend List (series) by E. Lockhart.
Snatch of Text: "Holding Eleanor's hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive." -Park (p. 71) 
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Inferences, Visualizing,  
Writing Strategies to Practice: Personal Narrative, Descriptive, Simile
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you did something that scared you or something that your parents wouldn't approve of.  
Topics Covered: Love, Friendship, Relationships, Loyalty, Anxiety, Diversity, Courage, Self-Esteem   
I *heart* It:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Life in the Ocean


Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy. Every Wednesday, I'll review non-fiction picture book. (It may not always be a picture book.) Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other non-fiction books are shared this week!

Title: Life in the Ocean 
Author: Claire A. Nivola 
Illustrator: Claire A. Nivola 
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux 
Publication Date: March 2012 
Genre/Format: Non-Fiction Biography/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: Sylvia Earle first lost her heart to the ocean as a young girl when she discovered the wonders of the Gulf of Mexico in her backyard. As an adult, she dives even deeper. Whether she’s designing submersibles, swimming with the whales, or taking deep-water walks, Sylvia Earle has dedicated her life to learning more about what she calls “the blue heart of the planet.” With stunningly detailed pictures of the wonders of the sea, Life in the Ocean tells the story of Sylvia’s growing passion and how her ocean exploration and advocacy have made her known around the world. This picture book biography also includes an informative author’s note that will motivate young environmentalists.
What I Think: I just looked up Sylvia Earle on wikipedia and it says she is 77 and was named First Hero for the Planet by Time magazine. I have to be honest that I had never heard of Sylvia Earle before reading this book and yet she is a very famous oceanographer.
     Claire Nivola does a wonderful job of telling Sylvia's tale and gracefully weaving in bits and pieces of her life. There is one page where she jumps from various times in her life to move the story along and it struck me how expertly she did that. It also made me stop and wonder if I remember that happening in other non-fiction narrative picture books so I want to go look back at Here Come the Girl Scouts by Shana Corey because I vaguely feel like I remember it in that text as well. After reading Save the Cat, a screenwriting book by Blake Snyder, I'm so much more aware of structure in stories or the different "beats" of a story as he calls them. It would be a great activity to pull different biography picture books to see how the beats overlap, what a great text analysis that would be!
     I think biographical picture books are such a great way to introduce students to influential people of the past and present. I know I connect so much more with a person from reading a picture book or other narrative non-fiction than from reading the informational type books that don't use a narrative style. I do think there is a benefit of combining both and also incorporating online reading as well. It might be a lot of fun to ask students to think about the most random thing and then research who invented that object and do research on that. This would tie in perfectly with Chris Lehman's ideas in Engergize about approaching research in a more authentic way. I'm sure there are people behind inventions whose story isn't very exciting but I'm also sure are fascinating stories out there. I can see how this would even be a great activity for partner or small group work so students could gather their information and discuss together whose story they would want to really research extensively and write about. When I read The Devil in the White City, I was shocked to find out why the Ferris wheel is called a Ferris wheel and how it came to be that Ferris wheels even exist! Oh! Now I just sparked my own idea for a possible picture book! Off to see if there are books already written about this and if there is even enough information to be able to write this. I can see students getting excited about writing their own!
Read Together: Grades 3 - 12
Read Alone: Grades 3 - 12 
Read With: Can We Save the Tiger by Martin Jenkins, The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau by Dan Yaccarino, The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, Here Comes the Girl Scouts by Shana Corey
Snatch of Text:  
     "Sylvia has even heard whales singing while she has been underwater, and, once, the force of the sound saves made her entire body vibrate and shake. Wavelengths of light do not penetrate deep into water, but sound waves travel four times faster in water than in air, so whales can communicate across vast distances. Sylvia says that hearing their haunting and beautiful songs in the sea is like being inside the heart of an orchestra."
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Visualizing
Writing Strategies to Practice: Expository, Descriptive, Simile, $100 Words, Word Choice
Writing Prompts: Describe an experience you had in or near water, either in an ocean or other body of water or a pool. Use your five sense and be conscious of your word choice as you show, don't tell.  
Topics Covered: Values, Beliefs, Determination, Passion, Integration - Science, Oceans, Animals, Perseverance,
I *heart* It:

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The One Where I Get Real About Teachers Write - #slice2013


Every Tuesday, Ruth and Stacey, host Slice of Life at their blog, Two Writing Teachers. Last year, I participated in their month-long Slice of Life Challenge at my other sad and desolate blog where I shared a lot before I started blogging here at Teach Mentor Texts. It was not easy to write every single day, especially when I was trying to write about my life and something worthy for others to see! I did thoroughly enjoy the experience though and am excited to participate on a weekly basis starting today. 

If you want to participate, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post on Tuesdays or you can just head on over there to check out other people's stories. For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here. I have a feeling my Slices might lean towards how Teachers Write is going but we'll see, maybe something else going on will strike me. Part of the fun is the adventure!  

*          *          *

Teachers Write is here.  
Teachers Write is here.  
Teachers Write is here!

I know I've been talking about Teachers Write and anticipating Teachers Write but it's actually, truly here and I'm so excited and so stressed and overwhelmed and frustrated and sad at the same time. I adore everyone who I've met through Teachers Write and have discovered just how profound my passion for writing is thanks to Teachers Write, BUT...

But...
I'm taking two grad classes this summer so that I will be endorsed to teach middle school. And these classes are hard! They are both online and require lots of reading and analyzing and multiple-choice exam taking. Not to mention, I thought one would happen after the other but in fact, they overlap. 

But...
I'm trying to read all the books I desperately want to read and that my husband desperately wishes weren't stacked precariously on top of each other all over our house. I have so many books to read and just not enough time.

But...
I'm committed to blogging consistently here at Teach Mentor Texts and I love it but it takes tiiiiiiime.

And the most important: 
But...
I'm home for the summer with my most awesome family, my husband and two adorable sons, with whom I would love to be able to spend time. There are parks waiting to be discovered and water slides waiting for me to zip down them and these three great guys wanting to do do it all with me. Not to mention all the extended family members and friends I would love to hang out with, too. 

I don't usually vent here but Slice of Life is supposed to be about my life and truth be told, this is what I have been grappling with this summer. There's just so much that I want to do and not enough time to really do it all. From the bottom of my heart, I want to write. I want to dig into revisions and draft into all hours of the night but I'm finding I have to pick and choose what I can spend my attention on and things like homework and exams have to take precedence. And I'm so lucky to have the time with my husband and my kids that I feel I have to take advantage of that. Already tomorrow, I have things to do on my calendar and am up late writing this instead of working on my revisions. 

Please don't misunderstand this is making excuses for not writing. It's not about not wanting to write or avoiding my writing. This is just me acknowledging that I'm a busy girl and that it's not easy to make the time for writing this year. It's also me telling myself that at least one of my classes will be done in two weeks and the other will be done in a month. It's a little about me telling myself that the books will get read and that I don't have to push myself to read because it's supposed to be fun. And it's a lot about my telling myself that Teachers Write is here and I better enjoy it because it will just go way too fast. 

I'm feeling like I need baby steps to getting into the Teachers Write groove. I shared on both Kate and Jo's blogs today and that actually was just enough of an accomplishment for this first glorious day of Teachers Write. And I'm okay with that. There will be time for writing sprints and Friday Feedback and reworking my WIP. I know there will be time...and I. can't. wait....but I will, just one day at a time!

*         *          *

To see what other Slice of Lifers are sharing today, be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/24/13

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...you just might discover the next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.  


Announcements: 
Kellee's new blog with Ricki Ginsberg, Unleashing Readers, is live today! I enjoyed working with Kellee for the last two years. We have done a lot of great things together at Teach Mentor Texts and I'm so appreciative to have had the time to collaborate so closely with her. From visiting Unleashing Readers, I can already tell she is going to build an amazing resource there. While Kellee will not be blogging at Teach Mentor Texts any more, we will be co-hosting the It's Monday! What Are You Reading? meme. You can add your link at Teach Mentor Texts or at Unleashing Readers and it will be added to the same list. I wish Kellee the best! Make sure you head over to Unleashing Readers to visit! 

Wig in the Window Giveaway Winner

Erin Varley

Congratulations Erin and thank you again to Kristen Kittscher for the signed book to giveaway!

Last Week's Book Adventures:
Jen Says: Teachers Write is here! I'm so excited. I thought I was going to read Write Away but Save the Cat! Goes to the Movies came in at the library so I read that instead. I'm seriously in love with the ideas in Save the Cat! and this second book clarifies those ideas. Loved them both and am so anxious to get to work on revising now. I finished listening to Eon and I started listening to Eleanor & Park. I'm loving it already and anxious to see what is going to happen between the two now that I'm about half way in. Yesterday, I read through a great stack of picture books, many that I'll be reviewing in the next few weeks.
Kellee Says: It is with excitement and a heavy heart that I have to say: Today is my final day on Teach Mentor Texts. Jen and I have decided to part ways and today I am starting my new blog Unleashing Readers with my friend, Ricki.  Jen and I will continue to host IMWAYR together and will periodically post reviews together. I hope you hop on over to Unleashing Readers to see what we have going on there. 

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

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
Jen Says: I'm going to continue listening to Eleanor & Park (yay!). I'm still reading the text book for one of the courses I'm taking this summer (not so yay...) but I did start The Center of Everything by Linda Urban and Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg and I hope to keep reading them. For one of my courses this summer I have to read Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen so I'll be reading that as well. I keep saying I'm going to read Popular Clone and maybe this is the week it actually happens! And, finally, Teachers Write is here and I do want to read Write Away so that's on the list, too!

Kellee Says: Please check out Unleashing Readers to find out!

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