Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Book Share Wednesday: Missing May

Missing Mayis the book I chose for our listening station this rotation to support our literature circles in our current Realistic Fiction focus.  It's a Newberry Award Winner by author Cynthia Rylant.  This book was a new one to me, but has been available in our school resource library for a while.  I wanted a book that was an easier read for my students, but also had some good meat to it.  This was just perfect.  In a very matter of fact, yet positive way, the author presents this story of a young girl orphaned early in her life and bounced from home to home among distant relatives.  When May and Ob come to visit, they just know they have to take Summer with them.  Summer continues to have tragedy in her life when May dies and leaves her and Ob to figure things out together.  With the help of a classmate, Summer gets through the sadness and together they help Ob.

A click on the cover will take you to the book on Amazon.

I purchased this novel unit to help me out.  I just choose a few of the questions that correlate with the chapters I've assigned to help my students practice answering in complete sentences.  Since it a listening station book, I want my students to focus on the enjoyment of listening to the story.

(I'm getting no benefit for sharing this product with you)

I'd love for you to share a book as well!  Please link up below or share your book in the comments.  If linking up, please be sure to grab the button and link it back to this post.  

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Organizing my Grading

Grading, especially keeping up with it, has been an area in need of improvement for me.  The actual keeping up hasn't gone as well, but the organization has been much better.  It started with this great drawer system I found at Jo-Ann's fabric and craft store on sale over the summer.  It has worked out beautifully to keep my in and out papers organized and out of the way.  The one adjustment I need to make is specifying to the students which direction to hand in papers.  I spend a lot of time turning papers back and forth. I added the two slot bin above for no-name papers and notes that need to go out from the school.

The second thing that has really helped me is using a class list and colored pens in combination.  The class list allows me to quickly go through the papers and record scores to then quickly transfer to our computer grading system.  They're already in alphabetical order, so I can easily enter them in the computer.  I also like having a paper record, technology is great, but there's always a time or two that it fails.

I use the colored pens to help me track which grades have been entered in the computer.  I use a different color every time I grade so I know that at the end of my grading time each day, I just look for all the grades marked in that day's color to enter or change in the computer.  This works really well to keep track of late and missing assignments.  It also helps in the way I grade math homework.  Each homework is worth 2 points.  Students receive 1 point when they hand it in and the second point is given when the homework is correct.  So, using the different colors helps me to know when a grade needs to be changed from a 1 to a 2.

I have really liked these B2P recycled water bottle pens made by Pilot.  I didn't know they came in a variety of colors until receiving this lovely pack.  As you can see in the photo above, the colors are vibrant and I think the pens write very smoothly.  These are gel, which you can get in single colors as well, but the pen also comes in a ballpoint option.  Shoplet sent me these and a few other great pens to use and review a few weeks ago.  I like to use the FriXion pens in my gradebook and when I sew to mark the fabric.  Since the ink disappears with friction or heat, it's perfect to erase easily from my planbook or remove with the iron in my sewing.  The FriXion highlighter would be great to use for close reading.  For writing throughout the day, I do really like the Acroball pen.  I've been using it when I do examples under the document camera.  My students can't see pencil very well under the camera, so I often use pen and this one writes nice and smoothly.

My next step in grading organization is committing to do it everyday so it doesn't pile up for me to do for hours on the weekend.

How do you organize yourself to grade efficiently and keep it all in order? 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Meeting Shannon Hale and Dean Hale Book Share Wednesday

Me on the left with three of my fabulous colleagues surrounding Shannon and Dean Hale
I had the opportunity to attend the UCIRA conference over the last weekend.  It's the Utah chapters IRA conference.  I had the pleasure of meeting and hearing from Shannon Hale, a local author with a big reach.  Shannon lives in Utah and has written many books, including a few you might be very familiar with.  Her husband, Dean, has co-authored several books with her as well.  This is the case with her newest book to be released next week on October 14,The Princess in Black.  This is the book they presented to us on Friday.
From the excerpt they read to us, I can tell this is a darling book.  It's going to be perfect for the lower-mid grades of K-3.  I'm thinking my fifth graders will even find it comical and a fun read.  An easier read chapter book, The Princess in Black is all about the adventures that this young princess has.  No-one identifies her because "princesses don't wear black."  Shannon discussed the wide appeal her books have to both boys and girls, despite them often having female protagonists.  She expressed the importance of offering all books to all children without caveats like, "I know there's a princess on the cover, but I really think you'll like it."

Here are some of her books you might already be familiar with:

Her Newberry Honor Book Princess Academy, the first in a 3 book series.

This is the first in a 4 book series. 

This one is now a movie and more for you, the adult.

Reading to grab your reluctant readers, a twisted tale graphic novel. I picked a copy of this one up at the conference and got it signed by Shannon and Dean.

Have you read any of Shannon's books?  Share your experiences with her books in the comments below.  Have a post about a book you'd like to share?  Be sure to join our Book Share Wednesday link up below.  Just grab the image to add to your post and link it back to this post.  

*Note, I have previously make only my posts on the third Wednesday of the month links.  I thought I'd try making every Wednesday Book Share post a link up and see how it goes.   


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