Six Word Memoirs- So Simple, Yet So Profound

26 01 2014

I recently had my students write their own six word memoirs. If you haven’t seen any of the books, there are multiple Six Word Memoirs that Smith Magazine has compiled. The most recent is my favorite-I Can’t Keep My Own Secret:Six Word Memoirs by Teens Famous and Obscure.

These are memoirs that tell an entire story in only six words. I was nervous about having my student’s try this because I wasn’t sure if they would get it and be able to think of their own. I showed them examples from the book (see below) and then made some of my own examples. I showed them how I brainstormed my ideas, and then edited to get it to say just what I wanted. I then gave the students a planning sheet and let them loose- well they wowed me!

They created such amazing six word memoirs. Some were funny, sad, powerful, light, deep… they had them all!!!!  I had them write their six word memoir on large notecards and then illustrate or color them to fit the tone of the memoir. I put them up on a bulletin board and they loved looking at everyone’s memoirs! Some wrote more than one, and some have been doing them “for fun!” 🙂

Some of the examples I showed them from the book are below:

Met online; love before first sight.

I fulfilled my awkwardness quota today.

I’m seventeen, engaged, and not pregnant.

My mom had my boyfriend deported.

Late for school every single day.

According to Facebook, we broke up.

Here are pictures I took of six word memoirs from my kids:


Top Ten Young Adult Book Lists!

7 12 2013

The Awesome thing about being an 8th grade language arts teacher is reading all the YA books. I mean really, one of my job requirements is to read young adult books so that I can recommend them to my students- how cool is that?!? I have my students complete a 30 book challenge, so I try to have a stocked classroom library with good books for my kids.

I was thinking about some of the top ten YA books from my room that my students have loved year after year.  I started by just jotting down a few titles and then I realized it was so hard to just narrow it down to 10, so I thought I would do a general top 10 , a top 10 list for reluctant readers and then a top 11 books in a  series list because I couldn’t decide which one to take out!

Please note that not all of these are new books; some are older ones that some of my most reluctant readers love. I also didn’t rank them in a particular order.

Maybe some of thee books are new to you, or maybe you know someone who would love one of these books for Christmas?

So without further ado here are my lists:

Top Ten YA books:

  1. The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen
  2. Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick ( all his books are hot picks in my classroom!)
  3. Life As We Knew It by Pfetter If you Find Me by
  4. The Fault Among Our Stars by John Green
  5. Prisoner B3087 by Ruth Gruener, Jack Gruener and Alan Gratz
  6. Forgive Me MatthewPeacock by (contains some language and mature content).
  7. The Absolutely True Diary of Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  8. Sleeping Freshman Never Lie by David Lubar
  9. The Girl Was Supposed to Die by April Henry (also wrote Girl Stolen- which was AMAZNG!)
  10.  If I Stay by Gayle Forman (she also wrote Just One Day & Just One Year- Also awesome!)


Top Books for Reluctant Readers:

1.The Juvie Three by Gordon Korman

2. The Limit by Kristen Landon

3.The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley Mackall

4. Gym Candy by Carl Deuker

5. Food, Girls & Other Things I Can’t Have by Allen Zadoff

6. Give A Boy a Gun by Todd Strasser

7. Acceleration by Graham McNamee

8. Chasing Lincoln’s Killer & The President Has Been Shot by  James Swanson

9. Life As We Knew It by Pfetter

10. Vietnam#1-4 by Chris Lynch. He also just came out with World War II books (quick historical fiction books)


 Top Eleven Series Books:

  1. Ashfall- Ashen Winter- Sunrise by Mike Mullin  (due to come our Spring 2014). Click here to read my recent post about this author and books.
  2. Unwind- UnWholly, UnSouled by Neil Shusterman
  3. Divergent- Insurgent- Allegiant by Veronica Roth
  4. Warrior Heir- Dragon Heir- Wizard Heir by Cina Williams Chima
  5. Maximum Ride- Nevermore  (there are 7 books in series) by James Patterson
  6. Tears of A Tiger- Forged By Fire- Darkness Before Dawn by Sharon Draper
  7. Eve- Once- Rise by Anna Carey
  8. Red Kayak & The Journey Back by Priscilla Cummings
  9. Child Called It- The Lost Boy- A Man Named Dave by Dave Pelzer
  10. Battle of Jericho- November Blues-Just Another Hero by Sharon Draper
  11. Maze Runner- Scorch Trials- Death Cure and Prequel A Kill Order by James Dashner               ** I know Hunger Games isn’t on here, but I was trying to get some different titles on the list and who hasn’t read that series yet?? 😉

Some Good Young Adult Picks!

20 10 2013

Since I am a big reader, and fly through young adult novels, I thought I would update you with some of my favorite recommendations in a few different genres. These are some of the books that I recommended for our class book awards (more on that coming soon!) The blurbs are short and sweet, but I think you get the idea. Happy Reading! 🙂1

 by Mullin. How would you survive a volcano that erupted and covered the Earth with ash? You are all alone. Daylight, power, cell reception, everything you know that makes life what it is, is gone. This is a survival story.


Prisoner B-3087 by Gratz. This follows the life of a teenage boy ripped from his family and thrown into Concentration camps during the Holocaust


Just One Day by Forman.  On a trip to Europe Allyson befriends a stranger and spends one day exploring Paris. The next day she wakes up and her friend is gone. She  spends the next year thinking about her friend. This one day in Paris changed her entire life and what she knows about herself.


The Girl Was Supposed To Die by Henry. A girl wakes up and doesn’t remember who she is or where she is. She finds that two men are supposed to kill her. Read this suspenseful book to find out if she is mentally crazy, or if people are actually out to kill her. 

Book Cover Match

13 10 2013

Here is a fun way to get students to “see” more books. Every once in a while, if I want to shake up my groups, I print out two copies of wallet size book covers of some popular young adult books. I then tape one set on the desks (one book cover per desk) and as the students enter the door I hand them the other copy of the book.  Their seat is where their book match is.


I have found that students were comparing book titles, and they were talking about books, while class was waiting to begin. “Oh I loved that book!” I didn’t know this author wrote other books, I read _____ and loved that book!” “This cover looks cool, I want to see what this book is about.”

I liked that I didn’t have to book talk a million books, and I didn’t shove the books in their faces, it was a much more subtle way for me to share some books I think they would enjoy!

How do you get kids to subtly “see” books?

BEST Books for BOYS!

7 05 2011

The Best Book for Boys (How to engage boys in reading in ways that will change their lives) by Pam Allyn is definitely a must have in your resource library!

As I read this book I found myself nodding in agreement, raising my eyebrows at other parts and saying oh yeah- that’s a good idea, and starring so may parts that I want to remind myself about, and come back to, to re-read- and that was all in the first 32 pages!! 🙂

The majority of the book is an annotated book list. Honestly, I am usually not a fan of a book that has a book list in it because I find that it becomes outdated so quickly, or I have to go online and look up what each book is about because it is just in a category without an annotation. BUT, when I went to this list I was excited! This list was annotated, it was broken down into categories, it was all ready for me to just mark the books I wanted for my classroom library and buy them. No additional research needed- for busy teachers this is just what I needed.

Since I was so excited about this book (I honestly can’t wait until next year to implement some ideas and get some new books into my classroom library- and we haven’t even finished this school year!), I thought I would share with you a brief overview of some of the interesting points that I read about in this book.

This statement really hit me when I read it, “we are not giving boys the books they want to read. We are not giving them enough time to read them… we must give boys choices in their reading lives, and make the classroom an opportunity for readers at different levels and with a variety of reading interests to thrive.”– This is so true!

Here are some of the points that stuck with me as I read:

  • We have to give all students, and especially boys, choice in what they read. So much of our curriculum and schooling is geared to girls as learners and readers.
  • In order to give students choice in what they read, we have to fill our libraries with a diverse range of topics.
  •  Share with students many different read alouds, not just our typical chapter books, but non-fiction books, websites, sections of magazine articles- we need to show kids that reading is all over!
  • Your library should have 30% nonfiction books, 30% poetry and 40% fiction. I know I need to up my non-fiction and poetry. Now, with these book lists I know what I want to add to balance my library out more.
  • Everyone reads differently, for me it is on my comfy couch curled with a cup of tea, for others it may be standing. When we go to the library, there is an area for the kids to sit on bean bag chairs and read. There are a few students who will stand for 45 min to an hour reading. I always ask them, do you want to sit down? Are you OK? And that is just how they read- not everyone reads the same way!
  • I have written about this before, but the whole class novel has convinced boys not to read! “ The whole class novel is the single most deadly bullet aimed directly at boys’ impulse to read.” As teachers we like control of the book, but we have to foster reading and choice through literature circles and independent reading.
  • Giving kids time to read independently is important. My kids read on average 35-40 minutes per night. The first few weeks of school I told them to read 10 minutes, and then we slowly increased the time. That way they were able to feel successful as readers and could accomplish their goal.
  • Let kids see that you are so proud of them for reading. As kids enter and exit my room, I am always asking them about the book they are reading, how is it? Did they like this part? If they tell me they finished I make a big fuss of them- kids love it!
  • “Encourage men to come visit your classroom who have varied reading passions. Let the boys see a strong grown man read a simple picture book, or a tender story about fearing going to sleep.” Love this idea! 🙂
  • Form an all- boy book club within a class. I would love to ask a male teacher to lead this!
  • Let boys read “light” books such as Captain Underpants. This helps boys build stamina, independence and their confidence grows as they find they are able to finish books.
I will be posting more about this book soon…. this post was just getting way too long!! 🙂

30 Book Challenge Update Part II

11 01 2011

In my previous post, I talked about how my 30 book challenge update is going. I got long winded, so I decided to make it two posts. Here is the rest of my thoughts about my 30 book challenge…

  • Once the students have read 10 books, they get a 10 book challenge sticker and get to put their name on a poster I made that says 10 book champ!. They LOVE seeing their name on the board. I also take a picture of each student and post it on my website – they are very proud! 🙂
  • When my students have read 20 and 30 books, they also get a sticker and get to write their name on the 20 book champ or 30 book challenge champ poster. At the end of the year, I plan to have a party with all 30 book challenge champ readers. I am hoping to get some local businesses to donate some gift cards to raffle off as prizes.
  • At the beginning of the year I was worried about giving prizes for each milestone they reached (10-20-30 books). I have found that they are really intrinsically motivated to read!
  • At the beginning of the year I told the students to take advantage of any free time that they have. Other teachers on my team have commented that any free time the students have ( after a test, or when they have completed an assignment) they immediately get their book out and read.
  • Kids are proud of their accomplishment and like to brag to others how many books they have read and suggest good books to each other.
  • My favorite moments was when a student (a not very big reader) up to me first thing in the morning  and told me that the night before he had read the rest of the book, Jerk. Then he re-read the entire book that night! He then told me that he wasn’t happy with his choice piece (we had a final piece for writing workshop due soon), so he re-wrote his choice piece that was inspired by the book! He told me he typed 24 pages on Word at midnight!! His story-  made me SMILE! 🙂
  • I think as a teacher it is moments like the one above that make all our hard work worthwhile!! Remember to write these small moments down- they keep you going when times get tough!

Great Young Adult Books!

5 12 2010

I have recently had a lot of people ask me what are some good young adult books that would be great for gifts? So, I compiled the list below(there are SO MANY MORE I could add, these were just a few that stood out off the top of my head). I hope this helps- for some it may be new titles that you have learned about, for others it may be a reminder of good books you have read or put on your to read list and forgotten about, and still others may have found a book that they think would be great for their classroom, a specific student, or for a gift. Here is my book list gift to you- enjoy! 🙂

Books that boys and girls will enjoy:

Must Read:

The Hunger Games series (Catching Fire, Mockingjay) by Suzanne Collins

If you liked Hunger Games, try:

The Maze Runner (2nd book in series: Scorch Trials) by James Dashner

The next hottest young adult books:

I Am Number Four (movie coming out in February on this book)by Lore ( Sci-fi There are only 9 surviving children left  and aliens destroying the surviving kids in numerical order. The first three are dead and John’s number four- this is a page-turner!!)

Matched by Condie (n a dystopian society, people don’t have to choose anything- everything is predetermined. The main character finds out her best friend is her match for her to marry. Then she sees flashing on the screen a different boy’s face. Thus Cassia sets on a dangerous path to figure out the truth. She rebels against her predetermined life.

Virals by Reichs (Tory, who is a strong girl character) finds a set of military ID tags linked to a missing-persons case. A group of science geeks try to figure out the case and The are exposed to a disease, leaving them with heightened senses that flare when they’re in danger. They get plenty of opportunities to exercise their powers of intense sight, smell, and hearing in this suspenseful story.

Good Reads:

Leviathan (2nd book in series: Behemoth) by Scott Westerfield (fantasy adventure- getting rave reviews!)

Theodore Boone; Kid Lawyer by John Grisham (mystery)

The Maximum Ride series (7 books in series- newest is Fang) by Patterson ( Science fiction thriller, adventure)A group of genetically enhanced kids who can fly and have other unique talents are on the run from part-human, part-wolf predators called Erasers in this exciting thriller

Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Sonnenblick (realistic fiction- a high school boy who is into music finds out his younger brother is ill. He has to deal with his brother’s illness, the stress on the family and his own life. A funny, sad overall great story!)

Thirteen reasons Why by Asher (realistic fiction about the effects of all types of bullying)

Sleeping Freshman Never Lie- David Lubar

Books Boys will Dig!

Sports books:

Gym Candy by Deuker (deals with issues of high school boys, football and using steroids)

Night Hoops by Deuker (basketball book)

Stuck in Neutral (Companion book- Cruise Control) by Trueman (The main character has cerebral palsey and doesn’t have any control of his muscles

Hothouse by Lynch (two high school boys who are friends have to cope with the tragic deaths of their firefighter fathers. This is a realistic exploration of the relationships between fathers and sons.

I.Q. Series:  Independent Hall (2nd book- The White House) by Roland Smith

The Maximum Ride series (7 books in series- newest is Fang) by Patterson ( Science fiction thriller, adventure)A group of genetically enhanced kids who can fly and have other unique talents are on the run from part-human, part-wolf predators called Erasers in this exciting thriller

Fear by R.L. Stine (collection of short stories- really good for reluctant readers)

Great Reads for Girls:

If you liked Twilight, try Shiver (2nd book, Linger) by Steifvater

Speak by Anderson (powerful story about a young girl and her courage to speak up)

Thirteen reasons Why by Asher (realistic fiction about the effects of all types of bullying)

Graceling (2nd book- Fire) by Cashore (Fantasy, love story and adventure, strong girl main character)

City of Bones ( City of Ahses, Clockwork Angels) by Clare

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Pearson (futuristic science fiction)- a girl wakes up from a coma and wonders what happened to                          her. This is the realization of how she survived a year long coma and her trying to remember who she is and memories                      of her past.

Sarah Dessen books- about various teen girl issues

Before I Die by Downham (a girl finds out she is sick and going to die, so she makes a list of what she wants to do before she dies with her good friend)

If I Stay- Forman (a girl and her really cool family are in a car accident. Everyone dies except the girl. She has to decide if she wants to stay on earth or be with her family. Second book coming out in the spring- great read!)

Breathless- Warman (a girl is sent to boarding school to protect her from her mentally ill brother. She is a swimmer and it tells about her adventures in boarding school)

The Chosen One by Williams (a girl who is a strong character and wants to stand up for herself lives in an extremely strict  polygamist society is forced to marry her old uncle. She loves to visit the bookmobile and read books that are forbidden in her community. She has to make a big decision to face the violence of staying the community or run away from her family forever).

Fear by R.L. Stine (collection of short stories – really good for reluctant readers)

Burn, Crank, Glass, Fallout by Hopkins (mature books about the harsh realities of teens  getting involved in real life issues such as drugs etc.. Written in prose form- teens who read them love them!)

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