Sunday, June 18, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/19/2017

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. 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 your 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. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
This week I finished listening to Wild by Cheryl Strayed and started Gabi, A Girl In Pieces by Isabel Quinetro. I also finished The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie and Hold Me Closer by David Levithan. I read some of Disrupting Thinking and also started Fish in a Tree

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I plan to finish up Gabi, A Girl In Pieces on audio this week and to finish Disrupting Thinking and Fish in a Tree. I also am so super exited to read Renew by Shawna Coppola and Shift This by Joy Kirr. Oh, and I checked out every single workshop book I could from the library so I want to see if i can find ideas to share with colleagues in the fall. Hooray for workshop! (If you haven't read my post about blaming Reader's and Writer's Workshop...it's my favorite right now, so check it out!)

This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

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 comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/12/2017

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. 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 your 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. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
This week I read Beach Party Surf Monkey, Student-Centered Coaching by Diane Sweeney, and I started The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie. I was soooooooo excited to get a review copy of Lindsay's book and I'm loving it so far! I also read most of Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story by David Levithan while my kids were in the pool. I love summer reading!

Reviewed Last Week:
I celebrated yoga and just doing it at Story Exploratory!
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
This week I plan to finish up listening to Wild by Cheryl Strayed and finish reading Peculiar Incident and Hold Me Closer. And then I'll get to Disrupting Thinking which I mean to read last week. I have a stack of cute picture book biographies in the Little People, Big Dreams books to read. I also have a giant stack of books about workshop...I checked out every book my library had access to so I can review them and gather some ideas to share with teachers.

This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

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 comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

I Blame Writer's Workshop (And Reader's Workshop Too)

It's all Writer's Workshops' fault.

And Reader's Workshop too. 

I blame Writer's Workshop (and Reader's Workshop too) for making me into the writer I am today. 



I had time to read, time to talk about what I was reading, time to visit the library and explore books that were interesting to me, time to know myself as a reader alongside all the reading I did for school. I know I'm not the norm, I loved reading classics in high school. I felt really cool reading books that felt important, except for James Joyce's A Portrait of The Artist as a Young Man. I loathed reading that book actually. It was okay though because I knew that even if that book wasn't for me (and it really wasn't for 17-year-old me), there were others that were for me. Without Reader's Workshop and the fact that I knew there were other books out there, I might have judged reading solely on my experience with that book. I might have *gasp* stopped reading. I could have decided it was me and my trouble to connect with this particular book and applied that to every book out there. But no, thanks to awesome teachers I had in middle school and especially in high school, I knew there were other books. My identity as a reader didn't hinge solely on the books I was assigned to read in school. 

It's definitely Reader's Workshop's fault for helping me grow as an independent reader who loved reading outside of school as much as in school. 

Because if I hadn't loved reading books so much, I wouldn't have all the experience with stories and words that gave me a great foundation for being a writer.

Reading and writing goes together. They directly influence, impact, and interact with each other. Writing is taking reading to the next level. Readers soak up all these wonderful words...but the real trick is to now take all this knowledge of stories and words and to create your own. 

While I can point a finger at Reader's Workshop for making me a writer, Writer's Workshop has to take some of the blame too.


I had time to write, time to discover topics I wanted to write about, time to share with peers and give and get feedback, time to confer with my teachers and get their feedback, time to share my writing, time to understand that writing is a process and I could navigate it. Most of all, I had time to get over that little voice in my head that told me I couldn't write or it wasn't worth it or I wasn't good. Lots of people have that little voice. I do sometimes, but most times I can just sit down and write. The thing is, last year I had coffee with one of my high school English teachers and we were talking about free writing. I told her my rules for free writing and she pointed out that I shouldn't forget about not listening to the little voice in your head. Guess what?! I had totally overlooked it! Why? Because I don't have to fight that little voice! I don't have to fight it because my awesome teachers helped me get over it in Writer's Workshop. She had it in her mind because she remembers how important it is but I forgot it because she did such a good job of banishing it from my brain. 

*boom*

Pretty awesome, right? 

See?

It's all Writer's Workshops' fault.

And Reader's Workshop too. 

 I wouldn't be the writer I am today without Reader's Workshop and Writer's Workshop. 
Obviously, I'm a fan of Reader's Workshop and Writer's Workshop because I know the power of Workshop firsthand as a student who experienced it. But there is so much out there about the benefits of using a Workshop model in teaching literacy. 

Thanks to Stacey Reidmiller, I discovered Megan Smith's new blog One Book, One Pen where she shares ideas for how to get started with Workshop and I'm in love already and can't wait to read more. I'm so excited to share it with teachers in my district. I'd love to hear which are your favorite workshop resources so please share in the comments! 


Friday, June 9, 2017

Scholastic Mag Vacay Fun! #ScholasticMagVacay

Guess what!? Scholastic has an awesome giveaway going on right now! 

If you are already a fan of Scholastic's classroom magazines or Scholastic Teacher magazine (like me!) or if you are new to them, this is a great opportunity. You can check out all the classroom magazines here. And if you aren't a subscriber already, you can go to this request form to receive a free sample issue so you can join in on the giveaway.
I love that they have so many different options for classroom magazines. My school district just finished our first year of dual language so I love that they have resources in English and in Spanish. Plus they have magazines for all ages on a variety of topis. 

Wanna know what you can win? If you enter, you have a chance to win cash prizes: $250, $500, and $1,000! How amazing is that?
So how do you submit an entry? It's super easy! Take a picture of you (or a video!) and your summer vacation with a copy of any Scholastic magazine (just like mine above) and share it to your personal social media with #ScholasticMagVacay. That's it! Super easy, right?

The contest opened on June 1st and will run through August 31st. For all the details, visit Scholastic.com/ScholasticMagVacayAnd be sure to follow Scholastic on social media: FacebookTwitterPinterest

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Beach Party Surf Monkey Blog Tour and Giveaway




Thank you to Random House
for sending me a copy of this book to review 
and for providing a copy of the book 
for me to giveaway! (Details below!)

Title: Beach Party Surf Monkey 
Author: Chris Grabenstein 
Illustrator: Brooke Allen
Publisher: Random House 
Publication Date: May 1st, 2017 
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel 
GoodReads Summary: There's always something wacky happening when you live in a motel, and P.T. (named after P. T. Barnum, of course) has grown up at the world's wackiest! When word gets out that the hottest teen idols in Hollywood (plus current YouTube sensation Kevin the Monkey!) will be filming their next movie--Beach Party Surf Monkey--right in St. Pete's Beach, Florida, P.T. and his friend Gloria know that the Wonderland would be the perfect location. Now they just have to convince the producers!

But when things start to go wrong (crazed fans? missing stars?), it will take all of Gloria's business genius and P.T.'s wild stories to save the movie before both it and the Wonderland are all washed up!
What I Think: I enjoyed both books in the Welcome to Wonderland series and am excited to share them with my kids! P.T. is such a character but he's lovable at the same time. He tells lots of stories gets into all sorts of sticky situations but his heart is in the right place. 
    As a mentor text, I would look at how Chris is able to build P.T.'s character through letting us into his head and dialogue. There is a lot of dialogue in this book. I picked a snatch of text when we get to be inside P.T.'s head and understand some of his thinking. This is an example of how we can grow to like him because we see his thought process. The best part is that he uses some great imagery in this snatch of text without making it boring. It's a great example of a simile done well! So fun!
Snatch of Text:  
     "As I grabbed the door, I realized that if I took Aidan Tyler into the lobby of the Wonderland, he'd be like a prize blowfish in an aquarium. His fans would just press up against the glass to gawk at him. Some girl would probably make smoochy faces at him, too. And that would mean I'd have to spend my weekend cleaning greasy lipstick smears off our floor-to-ceiling windows.
     'Change of plans,' I told him." (p. 47)
Writing Prompt: Write about what you think about when it comes to fame. Do you like the idea of being famous? Would you want to be famous? Or do you have other thoughts about being famous? Make connections with P.T.'s experience with fame and your own.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 06/05/2017

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. 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 your 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. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
This week I finished The Happiness Project and Chris Grabenstein's first Welcome to Wonderland book: Home Sweet Motel. I listened to more of Wild by Cheryl Strayed and started the second book in the Welcome to Wonderland series, Beach Party Surf Monkey

Reviewed Last Week:
I celebrated summer and first line mentor texts at Story Exploratory!
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm excited to finish Beach Party Surf Monkey and know my 10 year old is totally going to love this series. This week I'll keep listening to Wild and plan to get to Disrupting Thinking by Kylene Beers and Rob Probst. I've heard amazing things! I also have Fish in a Tree to read (believe it or not I haven't read it yet!). 
This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

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 comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

So Excited for Teachers Write 2017!

Last night I took our dog Perdi to the dog park and then we made a trip to Starbucks so I could write. Since I had her with me, we didn't last very long but even twenty minutes was enough for me to get some words down on paper and to feel like I accomplished something. 
So much about writing is sitting down to write and celebrating every baby step throughout the process. The truth is, you'll only write if you take the time to do it. And you'll only get better if you take the time to do it. Over time, all those twenty minutes add up to so much more. 
When I think back over the past five summers with Teachers Write, I think of all the times I sat down with my notebook or with my laptop and how many words I've written. None of those words would exist if I hadn't made the time to write. I'm so thankful for Kate, Gae, and Jo and for everyone who has joined Teachers Write as a guest or as a participant. Being part of a community of writers helps me sit down and write. Being part of a community of writers helps me celebrate those baby steps through the process. 

I hope you'll join us this summer for Teachers Write 
from July 10th through August 4th.

Four weeks of pure awesomeness!

If you want to learn more about Teachers Write, you can visit Kate's blog post that will tell you all about it. And you can sign up here. I really hope you'll join us. It's all online and you can make Teachers Write your own. Maybe you want to sign up with a friend, maybe you want to check in on weekends, maybe you want to visit everyday, maybe you want to just read and follow along, maybe you want to join in and share your experience. We're happy for you to do whatever works for you. 

While Teachers Write has impacted me greatly as a writer...it's really all about teachers writing so we can better support our students as writers. Last fall, Kate, Jo, some other author friends, and I shared the power of being part of a writing community like Teachers Write at the NCTE conference. We wrote a collaborative poem about what we wish for our students and what we want for our words. You can read the poem here. It's beautiful and if I haven't convinced you to join us yet, I think the poem will. 

Do it for yourself. 
Do it for your students. 

You are worth it. 
They are worth it. 

If you have any questions or want to talk about Teachers Write, 
email me at jen {at} teachmentortexts {dot} com.

Oh, and please invite your friends to join us too!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Piecing Me Together

Title: Piecing Me Together 
Author: Renée Watson 
Publisher: Bloomsbury 
Publication Date: February 14th, 2017 
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel 
GoodReads Summary: A timely and powerful story about a teen girl from a poor neighborhood striving for success, from acclaimed author Renée Watson.

Jade believes she must get out of her neighborhood if she’s ever going to succeed. Her mother says she has to take every opportunity. She has. She accepted a scholarship to a mostly-white private school and even Saturday morning test prep opportunities. But some opportunities feel more demeaning than helpful. Like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for “at-risk” girls. Except really, it’s for black girls. From “bad” neighborhoods.

But Jade doesn’t need support. And just because her mentor is black doesn’t mean she understands Jade. And maybe there are some things Jade could show these successful women about the real world and finding ways to make a real difference. 
Friendships, race, privilege, identity—this compelling and thoughtful story explores the issues young women face.  
What I Think: I wish this book was around when I was in high school. There are so many emotions in this book but also so many examples of how Jade stands up for herself and what she needs. I think if I had examples of how teens deal with situations like Jade does, it might have helped me process my own experience. Instead, it took me a long time to realize and identify with being Latina. My childhood and high school experience was much different from Jade's but her story and the feelings she experiences would have been powerful for me to have as an example.
     As a mentor text, I really appreciate how Renée has given readers and writers a character who doesn't hide from her emotions, she processes them and lets herself. Even more than that, she acts on her feelings too. Her writing is honest and true. Putting words to feelings is powerful. As a writer, there are definitely times when I don't realize I think or believe something until I write it down. Suddenly, I'm staring at words that are wholly true that I didn't even know existed as part of me and how I see the world. There is power in having a mentor text that helps you realize it's okay to face our thoughts and emotions and that writing them down can help us do just that. I would share the snatch of text and talk to students about how sometimes we have a feeling that is hard to describe. Then I would ask writers to try to write about that feeling and what is informing that feeling just like Renée Watson does here. After that, I would ask writers to reflect on how it feels to write about those feelings and to imagine how reader might appreciate this type of writing.
Snatch of Text:  
     "The lights fade.
     My emotions are all mixed up and jumbled inside.
     For the first two songs, all I can think about is that white woman's smiling face, her annoying voice. And even though we're all dressed up in our new clothes, even though none of us had opened our mouths and talked to her, she thought we were the kind of kids who wouldn't appreciate classical music. Makes me feel like no matter how dressed up we are, no matter how respectful we are, some people will only see what they want to see.
     I try to let the music wash away that feeling that comes when white people make you feel special or stupid for no good reason. I don't know how to describe that feeling just to say that it's kind of like cold, sunny days. Something is discomforting about a sun that gives no heat but keeps shining." (p. 149)
Writing Prompt: Write about what Jade is feeling and why her emotions are all mixed up using evidence from the text. Write about a time in your life when you had mixed feelings and what made you feel that way.