Friday, July 3, 2015

July Book Recommendations

Today, I am starting a new monthly installment of book recommendations.   This year, I have challenged myself to read more, and I am documenting it on my Reading List page.  On the first Friday of each month, I will be telling about my favorite books I read the previous month to hopefully entice you to read them as well!

1.  The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad 

Published in 2002 and written during the spring after the Taliban fell in Afghanistan, this non-fiction memoir-like story tells readers of a proud Afgahni bookseller and his family.   The novel was written by a female Norwegian journalist who befriended the bookseller and was able to live with them for some time.  She gained incredible insight into the workings of a world that is unknown to so many.   

While this story takes place in a world so unlike the U.S., readers will be able to connect to the characters in the story - a son who is forced to follow his father's rules, a daughter searching for love, a wife who feels unloved and unnoticed.   

This novel is not for the faint of heart - it details the history of Afghanistan by intermixing it with heart-wrentching stories of poverty, power, pride, and forbidden love.   While I believe it is impossible to know what was like to live under the Taliban's vicious rule, this book allows the reader to begin to understand what it was like to live then- painting a picture of freedom being squashed, of destruction of a once rising country, and of rampant devastation.   

2.  Across the Universe by Beth Revis 

I flew through this novel while I was at the beach.   This dystopian novel was one of the best dystopians I've read recently.  First, it is narrated by both a girl named Amy, who was cryogenically frozen to be unfrozen in 300 years, and a boy named Elder, who will become the future leader of his space ship that will arrive at a new planet 300 years after Amy was frozen.   Amy is unfrozen early on the spaceship by a mysterious chance of events, and Elder and her become friends.

The society on the ship has rules unlike earth to which Amy must adjust.  First, everyone is the same (all same ethnicity - which causes Amy to stand out with her bright red hair), all creative people are in the 'crazy ward,' and there seem to be lots of secrets (not unlike a good dystopian novel to have these!).

As Amy and Elder begin to search for the person who unfroze Amy and is unfreezing others who are dying, they begin to discover more disastrous secrets of the ship.

Overall,  this novel reminded me of  a more action packed version of The Giver; however, the adults in this book are not as wise as the Giver and Amy and Elder must work to solve the ship's secrets before it is too late.  

**** Also, you can also check out a few summer reading recommendations I made before I left for vacation a few weeks ago if you are looking for other good reads!

What are you reading currently that I should add to my to-read list??? 

In Other News: 

Also,  earlier in June, I accepted a new teaching position within my building.  This school year, I will be the 9th and 10th grade intervention specialist.  I am very excited about this new opportunity and the blog, while still focusing on ELA, may take a more in-depth at special education resources geared toward ELA.

One item I am currently in search of is High Interest Low Readability Books for high school students.   I want my students to be reading independently no matter their independent reading ability.  To do this-- I need to be well-versed in books that are at many different reading levels and interests.   So far, the search has led me to my local librarian who is also going to do some reseach with me.  On the fly, she recommended a series called Bad Kitty which has picture books and chapter graphic novels that are between K-2 reading level yet are funny and relatable for students who are at a higher age level.  I'm going to check these out soon.  Hopefully, they will be in August's book review!

Please feel free to comment below if you know of any HI-LO Readability Books for high school students!   

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

5 Things To Do In July To Get Ready For Back To School

It is July 1st, Ya'll!  I cannot believe that one month of summer is already over!  I know we all don't want to think about the countdown to the start of school and all the work that back to school in August brings.   Yet, there are a few things that we can be doing now to help get us ready for August.

1.  Have lunch with your colleagues

July is a great time to schedule a lunch, or a delicious brunch (my favorite meal!) with a colleage or two.  You have time in July to catch up, talk about vacations, fun Pinterest ideas, and whatever else you feel.  If you wait until August when you are back in the building, these types of conversations can be distrating and cause you to be less productive.  If you catch up over a delicious Greek salad or coffee and pie now, it will save you time during a busy season of school.   Plus, it's an excuse to eat pie- or whatever your vice may be :-)

Coffee is always a good option for catching up!
image source

2.  Finish reading that professional development book, deep cleaning that room, or other to-do list item

Now is the time to pull out that book that you ordered last May that you've been wanting to read, clean that closet you've been putting off, or organizing your Pinterest, and more.   Waiting until August - a very busy month for teachers, means you realistically won't get those things done. So stop procrastinating and do it! Really- stop reading and go takle that to do list! (Well, maybe finish this post first...) If you are looking for a professional development book, check out my list of must reads and to-be read soon professional books.

3.  Plan classroom organization ideas

While my last point was to get ya'll to quit procrastinating, I know some of you will still ignore it- so planning classroom organization ideas is a great way to procrastinate and be productive in July.  Start thinking about the problem areas of you classroom- mine is filing the handouts I use (they often are thrown in a giant pile that I neve organize) and a system for student information.   Earlier this summer, I organized my Pinterest (one of the best things I've done all summer) and now I'm able to find the things that I pin rather than sifting through 1,000s of pins.  I plan to start looking for solutions to my classroom problems and pinning them to the appropriate boards so that in August I can determine the best ways to go about organizing and preventing organizational issues in the fall.  

4.  Choose one thing to organize in your classroom this month 

Think about clearing the files in the back of the cabinet, planning a new system for classroom library check out, organizing your files on your flashdrive/ computer, etc.  It will just make life easier in August.  Trust me.

5.  Carve out relaxation time

With basically one month left of summer, make sure you enjoy it!  Sit by the pool and enjoy the sun (if you are in a part of the country lucky enough to get it-- its poured for the last week here!), have weekly game nights with family or friends, read a great book (note: Friday's post will be all about the great reads I discovered over break or you can also check out my reading list tab), or enjoy a great Nexflix's series.  I plan on starting Dr. Who soon.  My students told me I would love it.  I told them I would have to give it a try and I must be true to my word :) Below is a fun pin I found a while back to encourage binging on Netflix.
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