You know what there aren’t enough of??

Middle school blogs. There are innumerable k-3 teacher blogs, many many, 4-6 teacher blogs, but I’m noticing a serious absence amongst the middle grade set. The Reading Zone comes close, but she’s moved on to high school, and she posts more about books (which is fantastic) than classroom ideas for a middle school.

This should change. I’ll try to post more classroom related things, but does anyone know of any other middle level bloggers out there?


It’s Monday, What Are You Reading – “Wonder” Edition

I had avoided picking up Wonder, because it came so highly recommended by… well… everyone. But, after hitting Scholastic’s warehouse sale, I found it there for 50% off, and I’m a sucker for a deal. So I picked it (and a jillion other books) up. When I got home, I made a pile of the books I was going to read, in order, and stuck Wonder at the bottom. I just didn’t think it could live up to the hype.

But, eventually, I made it through that pile of books and all that was left was wonder. That one blue eye staring at me. Daring me to pick it up.

So I did.

And I couldn’ I was up entirely too late that night, absorbed in the story, the varying viewpoints, and the struggles that the characters faced. I didn’t finish it that night though, because well, I am five and a half months pregnant, and middle school teacher’s start early. So I forced myself to put it down.

The next day, I looked at it, and found that I was unable to pick it up. I had but a few chapters left, but I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t make myself pick that book up and finish it. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to August, Via and everyone else. So it sat.

For a couple days. But I did eventually pick it up and finish it.

And now I’m sad. Because it’s been a week, I still miss them, and I haven’t found a new book to suck me in.

What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday What are you reading hosted by Teach Mentor Texts and Book Journey.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? Book drought edition.

I’ve been in a horrible, horrible book drought. With all the changes going on, I haven’t had time to seek out new titles, and the one I did find, I couldn’t make myself pick up. So, I wasn’t reading. At all.

Thankfully, this past Friday, a teacher friend and I went to Scholastic’s Warehouse Sale. Browsing among all those books, with a clear purpose in my head (finding books that will appeal to my new student population) re-energized me about reading young adult literature. I tried to focus on finding relevant titles to my new population along with beefing up my historical fiction and mystery sections in my classroom library.

I spent over 150 dollars. I got 25 dollars off with my coupon, but still. I came home with a big ‘ole box of new stuff. Once I got home, I didn’t even wait to start reading. So, without further adeiu, here’s what I read over the weekend:

Runaway Twin, Peg Kehret
Sunny finds herself longing to find the twin she was separated from at age 3. So she runs away from her foster home, the first one she’s felt good about in years, and sets off on a cross-country adventure to find her twin. She finds her twin, but the reunion leaves much to be desired in Sunny’s mind. A good, quick read.

Stalker Girl, Rosemary Graham
This title has been on my radar for a bit, but I never picked it up until I saw it at 50% off at the warehouse sale. This book is intense. I sucked me into the character, Carly, right away, but not because I related with her, or because I wanted to be her friend (a measure I often use with characters) but because I wanted to take her by the shoulders and shake some sense into her. The downward spiral she takes is terrifying.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Mark Haddon
I’m still working my way through this one, but It’s been around for a long time and I never got around to reading it. Is that bad of me? I’m enjoying it so far.

The Truth About Truman School, Dori Hillestad Butler
A book about bullying, specifically, cyberbullying. A good, quick read, which points the redundancy of the term cyberbullying. As one character states “Isn’t bullying bullying regardless of the form it takes?”

What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday What are you reading hosted by Teach Mentor Texts and Book Journey.

New Literacies Autobiography

As I pursue my Master of Arts in Literacy Education, we take a variety of classes. Currently I am taking a class on “New Literacies.” Our current assignment is to reflect on our “New Literacies Autobiography” a short reflection on literacy in our lives, of all forms. As the class is technologically focused, we are encouraged to write more than just a discussion post. Since I have tried (and largely failed at being consistent) to make myself into more of a writer, hence this blog, I decided that I would post mine here. So, if you’re not reading this because you’re in my small group, bear with me.

I am an only child. This, I think, has largely impacted how I view literacy. As a young child, I spent the majority of my time with adults, and when they didn’t want to hang out with a six, seven, or eight year-old, I was handed a book and told to go read. Luckily for me, I didn’t mind it. In addition to being an only child, we were a family that moved a lot. By the time I graduated high school I had moved more than twelve times and gone to more than seven schools. Because of this, my lifelong friends aren’t “my best friend “Jenny” that I’ve known since I was six!” My lifelong friends are Meg Murray, Laura Ingalls, and Claudia Kincaid. Oh, I had plenty of real-life friends, but before the advent of electronic communication as we know it now, once you moved away, communication with those left behind didn’t last long.

Books and the characters in them remained my closest friends up to high school and college. While I still enjoyed (and enjoy) reading, I was able to live in one place long enough to make lasting “human” friends. The majority of my childhood and adolescent literacy life revolved around books.

When I went to college, all of that changed. I started college in 1997, and was given my first email address. That little green-screen computer int he student union opened up an entire new world to me. Within a year, the internet was increasingly popular and forums, chat rooms, and blogs were quickly becoming the norm. As a transient kid, moving around a lot, I found these arenas to be wonderful for me. Going home for the summer? Great! All my “friends” come with me in my little grey box, as long as I hook it up to a phone line. Electronic communication quickly became my literacy of choice.

I didn’t desert my book-friends, however, they just took a backseat to electronics (and homework, it was college after all).

Now, as an adult, my definition of literacy, and it’s role in my life is evolving. As a reader and a reading teacher, I frequently forget that literacy is more than the ability to read a book and interact with a story. It’s writing, it’s even speaking, all forms of communication. These classes have helped me to expand my definition and look for new opportunities. When I realized that I was expecting my students to write, but wasn’t writing myself, I started this blog. When I discovered the number of wonderful teachers using Twitter for staff development, I joined in. Lastly, when I started my master’s coursework, I continue to discover new ways of defining and incorporating the idea of “literacy” into my personal and professional life.