Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday

I'm linking up with Juice Boxes and Crayolas for this week's What I'm Reading Wednesday!

When You Reach Me Summary:
"Twelve-year-old Miranda has enough to worry about: her best friend, who suddenly refuses to hang out together; a boy she might kind of like; the homeless guy on the corner near her New York City apartment; and her single mom, an aspiring game show contestant. But now Miranda is getting creepy hidden notes that tell her to write down the story of what happens to her -- but not inform anyone. It will take a tragedy to show Miranda that neither the notes nor her friendships are quite what she imagined."

My Thoughts- I just started this book today but did a little researching beforehand. I was recommended this book by a professor when I was in college. It is definitely for the older kids. I think that it's perfect for sixth graders, but could be appreciated by some mature fourth and fifth graders. What attracted me to the book was the setting and the fact that Rebecca Stead, the author, touches on racism. I teach about the Civil Rights Movement and the racism, discrimination and segregation that occurred during that time. It sparks a lot of brilliant conversations between my students and I. Because of that, I think that this book would be interesting to my students since race is such a discussed topic in my classroom during that unit. I'll have to keep you updated on how this book turns out to be!

I am also reading the "Divergent" Series by Veronica Roth. I'm currently on the second book, "Insurgent" and loving it. I'm not reading this from teacher's perspective. I'm reading it for pure enjoyment, but I think that this book would be very enjoyable to a older middle schooler, especially since they're making a movie out of the book!

I am so excited to see the movie! The book reminds me a lot of the Hunger Games, which is one of my favorite series. However, it is different enough from the Hunger Games. I would definitely suggest this as a read for adults, but definitely not for our elementary school kiddos because there's some iffy language and even scenes with drinking involved.

Divergent Summary (in the Author's words):

"In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris, and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together, they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes-fascinating, sometimes-exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret: one she’s kept hidden from everyone, because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly-perfect society, she also learns that her secret might be what helps her save those she loves . . . or it might be what destroys her."

Choose Your Own Adventure!

I was going through my old chapter books that I had when I was in about fourth grade and I had all these memories coming back to me. It was then that I realized that is what I hope to help my students experience- the love of reading and being immersed into a plot of a great book.

How many of you recognize these from your childhood?!

Oh my gosh I used to love the "Choose Your Own Adventure" Series. I have a few books at home and my local library has a ton.

Now, they don't look all that appealing anymore. I don't know about your kiddos, but mine are obsessed with anything that looks like Diary of a Wimpy Kid lately (Dork Diaries, My Life as a Book, etc.) and these covers look like they're straight out of the 80s (which they are!) But lucky for you, this means that your local library probably has some books that aren't typically being checked out lately.

For those of you who may have forgotten, the "Choose Your Own Adventure" series is a book that allows the reader to determine the plot by making choices and flipping to designated pages to read on in that chosen plot line. For example, in the "Space and Beyond" book, the first decision you get to make is on page two where you have these two options- "If you choose Kenda as your birth planet, turn to page 3." or "If, on the other hand, Croyd attracts you, throw your luck to page 4." Ridiculous, but super entertaining and (I hope) engaging for my class.

So I was determined to use this in my classroom but I couldn't think of any ideas how.

My best idea I've had so far is to use the book to in my persuasive writing unit. This is what I'm thinking-

1. I'll introduce the book and explain how the book is interactive. 
2. Then I'll let the students vote with a hand raise for the option we should take. 
3. We'll read the book for a good chunk of time (whatever is appropriate that day- I'm thinking 10 or 15 minutes with the way my ELA block is set up). 
4. At about that time, I'll wait for a choice where the class is torn almost 50/50 and I'll tell them that it's just too close to call and that they'll have to write me a persuasive paragraph convincing me that their choice is the best decision.
5. Then I'll give them the rubric of requirements for a persuasive paragraph. And then they're off!

I used Heather Matthews' free rubric to create a rubric that best met my needs for this assignment. It was super easy to create and you can create yours too by going to her TPT store HERE.