Big stretches


Anyone here? I’ve been gone a couple weeks. My kids were going through testing ALL WEEK at school, SRI, xSkills, MAP testing, I felt terrible for the poor things. But it was strangely exhausting being at school watching them work their way through all the tests as well.

To top it off, my husband decided to share the joy of his most recent cold with me, so I’m curerntly snuggled up on my couch with the puppy watching television.

I know, I’m not even reading. Bad mrs duke. Shame. I think that it’s because I’m not loving the book I’m currently reading, but I’ll post more on that for Monday’s “What are you reading?” post.

Just wanted to let you know I’m still here!


Vanished: True Tales of the Missing

This was the second book I finished on my holiday break book-a-day challenge. I whipped through it in about an hour. Probably because I skimmed a lot of it.

In theory, this sounds like a great idea for a book, tell the tales of people who have gone missing, some found, some never heard from again. The potential for intrigue and a gripping story is here. Unfortunately, in practice, I didn’t feel that this book delivered. Many of the stories were rushed, as though the research wasn’t done, or perhaps there wasn’t enough background information, but just when I thought some of the stories were getting good, I’d turn the page and *poof* we were on to the next story.

There were two redeeming stories in this book for me. The story of musician Henry Grimes, who seemingly disappeared for over 40 years only to reappear with the help of a fan was a story I enjoyed. The story of author Antoine Saint-Exupery, I’d never know that he disappeared over the ocean and was never heard from again.

I’ll put this book on my school shelves for students, but I’m not that excited about what I read. I think I just expected more from a book with such a high level and such potential.

It’s Monday, what are you reading?

I’m a failure at Book-a-day. As I write this on Sunday morning, I’m not even close to finishing a book per day on my break, and school starts back up on Tuesday. But that’s ok.

I just got a copy of Lauren Oliver’s “Delirium” for a book club. That book is currently at the top of my list, I put it right up in front of all my other books. This week is a busy week for me, so I may not get to any other books this week (it’s a big one! and I’m not a speed reader, I’m a savor-er) but just in case, I have some backups waiting in the wings.

I still need to read “Among the Hidden” and the others in that series, I have the Skeleton Creek books awaiting my perusal, and I’m still working my way through Terri Lessene’s “Reading Ladders” on a professional level.

On top of that, my master’s classes start back up in February, and there will be plenty of reading in those classes, for certain!

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?” is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. The Middle Grade Version is hosted by the ladies at Teach Mentor Texts.

2012 Book Challenge – My own personal challenge.

I have a few confessions. Are you ready? Pull up a cushy chair (feel free to conjure one in a chintz-print if you have Dumbledore-like talents) these may not be as juicy as you want, but they’ll have to do.

1. I have never participated in any kid of yearly book challenge, ever. I’ve never been enough of a web presence to have any sort of accountability, and let’s be completely honest, I’m fairly lazy.

2. I don’t keep track of how many books I read. I just move from to the next like an addict. A book addict.

Juicy enough for you? Probably not, but it’s all I have to offer.

So, I’m challenging myself to tracking. In 2012, I will track every book I read. While I love technology, my go-to tracking device is going to be an old-fashioned notebook. Composition, of course. I have a love of those notebooks I can’t even begin to describe.

Along for the Ride, Sarah Dessen

The first book I finished for my book-a-day challenge over break was Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen. I feel quite accomplished having finished this book first, as it is absolutely the longest title on my list. (If I were one of my students, this would count for two books)

Ms. Dessen’s books are always incredibly popular choices among my middle school girls. By the end of the school year, I always have at least one less Dessen book on my shelf, mysteriously enough.

Along for the Ride delivers just as well as her other books. Auden, a recent high-school graduate decides to spend the summer with her father, his new wife, and her new infant sister on the coast, in the small town of Colby. A nocturnal girl, Auden finds a friend in Eli, a “local boy” with issues of his own. Dessen’s characters always have some issues to work through, but they’re always vulnerable enough that as a reader, I want them to succeed and grow.

One thing I love about this story is Auden’s relationship with her step-mother. It’s a good relationship. There’s no wicked-step-mother-vibe and their relationship grows in a healthy way. It’s refreshing.

I liked it, but I like all of Sarah Dessen’s works.

Now I’m off to finish my next book!

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

I skipped last Monday, because I had some crazy things going on in my life (among them being admitted my final portion of my reading and literacy master’s degree program, woot!) and so my brain wasn’t processing, and I forgot to post. But, I’m back in the game today and posting what I’m reading.

Mostly, what I’m reading comes from my previous post on my Break Book A Day plans. I’ve never been great at picking up one book at a time, so I’m technically 3 days behind, because I haven’t finished a book yet! I’ve got a great start on “Rules”, a big chunk of “Along for the Ride” finished, I’m still working on “Vesper’s Rising” which isn’t on my Book-a-day list, but is definitely being read.

I’m going to go hop in a toasty bath and get reading. Hopefully next week I’ll be able to tell you about all eleven books I finished over my break. (Sad that next Monday will be my last day of break:( )

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?” is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. The Middle Grade Version is hosted by the ladies at Teach Mentor Texts.

Book a Day, Break is Finally Here!

Today marks the first day of my holiday break from school. (finally). We are off from today through January second. I have decided to spend my break doing mostly one thing. Reading, of course. Yesterday before I left school, I gathered up a pile of books I wanted to read. Eleven days of break makes for eleven books I needed. Here’s what I came up with.

booksFrom the top down.

1. Rules – Isn’t it ridiculous that I haven’t read this book yet? I even have a literature circle set! This is the first book I’m going to try and knock off my list.

2. The Scorch Trials – This is going to a challenge for me. I struggled through “The Maze Runner” and yet, when this book arrived at my door as a gift from my PTA, I found myself putting it in my to-read pile instead of labeling it and putting it directly out for my students. I’m going to try it though.

3. Vanished: Stories of the Missing – This came free from Scholastic. I used my online ordering coupons (love those!) to purchase it. I need to do some serious bulking up of my non-fiction genres in my classroom library, so I snapped this up, and the short length inspired me to put it in my book-a-day pile.

4. Bystander – A book about bullying, and the importance of being the bystander, and how you react as that bystander. The effects you can have on someone’s life.

5. Along for the Ride – I’m a sucker for a Sarah Dessen novel. And every year without fail, her books are the ones that mysteriously disappear from my shelves at the end of the year.

6. Woods Runner – I need to get some historical fiction books in to complete my own 40 Book challenge, so Gary Paulsen’s book about the revolutionary war was a natural choice.

7 & 8. Among the Hidden and Among the Imposters – Another book series I can’t believe I haven’t read yet. My students eat these books up. (In fairness, I’ve read all of Haddix’s “Found” series!)

9. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – This book is all over my school right now, kids are LOVING it. So I figured I’d hop on that train and see what all the love is about.

10. Igniting a Passion for Reading – I’ve actually read this book before, but as I am working on an author visit (from Anne Ursu, how lucky am I?!) I wanted to re-read the book to pick up some tips on just how to make our visit spectacular.

11. Reading Ladders – This book was recommended to me by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts. Matching kids to great books for them is a passion of mine, so I fully intend to devour this book and keep it on had for years to come.

Of course, The Book Whisperer is at the bottom of my pile, it’s not on my book-a-day list, it’s just a constant presence on my desk at school!

I’m off to read!

It’s Monday, what are you reading?

It’s Monday what are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey.

I actually had a slow reading week last week. I get swamped with home life things, and some things fall by the wayside. Reading for pleasure is usually the first to go, sadly.

So, I’m asking for suggestions, instead of telling you what I’m reading. What should I put on my list? I teach middle school, and I’ve been reading a lot of middle grade fiction lately, so I need to bump up the stakes a bit and lean more towards young adult for awhile.

Hit me.

I’m planning an author visit.

I’m lucky. I happen to know a fairly well-known local author. I would definitely call her an acquaintance, and she is ultimately responsible for me meeting my husband, though somewhat indirectly. I attended one of her recent signings and this lovely, lovely lady generously offered to visit my school.

Here comes Anne Ursu.

I’m at a new school this year, new building, new district, new everything. Being able to bring in an author to visit is definitely not hurting my value (I’d LOVE to stay at this building). But more  importantly? My students are going to get to meet an author. A real, live, published author!

I immediately ran to my literacy coach, and we put the wheels in motion. We have a tentative date set, and kids are being told via word of mouth (for now) that they should look into reserving “Breadcrumbs” at the library, picking up their own copy via book order, amazon, independent booksellers, or borrowing a copy from a friend. (The waiting list for my classroom copy is 15 kids long, and I only have 45 students!)

I can’t wait! I’m so fortunate to be able to bring someone like this to my school, and it’s something my students are wicked excited about.

Now, we just have to get all the hard work done!

It’s Monday, (late Monday) what are you reading?

The lovely ladies at Teach Mentor Texts are hosting brought to my attention a meme on Mondays, titled “It’s Monday, what are you reading?” Well, I forgot to get my blog post scheduled for this morning, and I don’t blog from school, big no-no where I work, so I’m chiming in late today!

But, what am I reading? What aren’t I reading? I’m finishing up my re-read of Cinda Williams Chima’s Warrior heir series by reading “The Dragon Heir”. I did a book talk today on “The Warrior Heir” and the boy’s pencils were flying over their to-read lists waiting for their chance at my copy. Next on my list is Kate Messner’s “The Brilliant Fall of Gianna-Z.” Can you believe I haven’t read it?

Professionally I’m reading “Making the Match” all about matching students with books and a book on grading practices of which the title escapes me right now.