Parents- Kids- Reading- it’s a book club!

20 06 2014

When you say parents, middle school students, books and reading some believe that it equals a recipe for disaster. Well, a few years ago a co-worker and I decided to try out this recipe- we created what we called a parent-child book club (still hate the name, but we couldn’t come up with anything better). We decided to see if there was an interest in having parents and students read the same book and then come together for an evening of book discussion, activities, snacks and reading fun! We found out that there were many parents and students who were interested in this type of program, and we’ve had a lot of really great nights where we all share our love of reading (even if we all didn’t love the book!).

We’ve definitely tweaked it over the years, but hopefully you can take a look at our recipe and see if there are some ingredients you may want to add to your school to create your own reading program that involves parents and their kids.

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 Here’s the recipe:

GOAL: Get kids and parents reading, talking, thinking, and sharing in the magic of reading together. We also felt that many parents didn’t know about some of the excellent young adult books that are out there and the power of young adult literature. We wanted the event to be stress free, fun, centered around the pure enjoyment of reading a book and sharing that enjoyment with others. We also wanted parents to be able to see their kids do some of the kinds of activities that are done in language arts classes.

PREHEAT: decide ahead of time on a book that would be appropriate and appeal to boys/ girls/ adults, 6th -8th graders and would lend itself to discussion and activities related to the book. We also tried to vary the genre each time. Once we figure out a book that would work, we had the students come and check out the books from us. We let the students take a book home for themselves and their parent (s). If we were short on books, they were allowed to check out one book per family.

LET RISE: give enough time for both the parents and students to read the books before the parent- child book club night.

BAKE: Once a quarter in the evenings from 7-9pm in the school library.

 

 

MIX IN: We always had coffee for parents and then a snack and food that was somehow related to the book (at times this was challenging!)

EXAMPLES OF FOOD:            

  • Snicker doodles, chips & salsa, assorted small candies (Stargirl)
  • Red apples, strawberries, cupcakes with red icing, Twizzlers (Giver)
  • Lemonade, lemon cake (Al Capone Does My Shirts )
  • Slurpee, brownies, pop, milk, fun straws (Acceleration)
  • Hot chocolate, oatmeal cookies (Down the Rabbit Hole)

STIR IN: Some fun! We always had a discussion element, but then mixed in a variety of activities that somehow related to the book. Parents and students both participated in these activities. When I say students below I refer to both students and parents.

EXAMPLES of the types of activities we did were. Book titles we used the activity for are in parenthesis.

  • Freeze frame or tableau. The students picked the part in the book they wanted to act out. (variety of books)
  • Reader’s theatre – we made from an important part of the book. The kids and parents took the script and then read and acted out the parts. (variety of books)
  • Had the students create and design their own utopia and draw it and explain it (The Giver)
  • Trace hand and put on wall a memory you don’t want to loose (The Giver).
  • Around the room were outlines of the different characters and some quotes the characters said in the book. The participants wrote their opinion about the character inside the body. We discussed & shared them later (The Revealers)
  • We had survival type games (Hunger Games)
  • Create a time capsule for present day. What would we put in it for people to open up in the future as that they can understand the past (The Last Book in the Universe).
  • Create a layered atmosphere (The Last Book in the Universe)
  • Make an anonymous card for someone who needs a pick me up and send it to them (Stargirl)
  • Agree/ Disagree- everyone moves to one side of room after statements related to the book are given (Giver)
  • Create your own motto (Stand Tall)
  • Create an “overcoming hardships” wall. Write advice for how to overcome a hardship ( Stand Tall)
  • Create a wisdom tree and include wise quotes from the book (Stand Tall)
  • Did an interactive online research about Alcatraz
  • On large butcher paper create a map of the setting. Be ready to explain it (Down the Rabbit Hole)
  • We gave the students clues and they create their own mystery story (Down the Rabbit Hole)
  • Debate- each group must defend an aspect of the population debate. Each group represents the farmers, government, hidden children, Barons (Among the Hidden)

 

 

LET COOL: at the end we gave each person a survey to get suggestions on future books we may consider reading, suggestions for the future, what kinds of activities worked well and what the participants enjoyed the most. We also book talked the next book and gave the date of the next meeting.

SPRINKLE: with a door prize such as the second book in a series that was read or a gift certificate to a bookstore. Enjoy with

PRESENTATION:  We always had a visual that related to the book around the room. We also tried to wear something that related to the book (black and white and hints of red for the Giver).

Examples of visuals:

  • We blew up large photos of Alcatraz and placed around room
  • Flowers on table with tablecloths and candy at everyone’s places (Stargirl)
  • Baseball items around the room, pictures of Al Capone (Al Capone)
  • We blew up the pictures in the book to see if the students could figure out the mystery in the pictures (Chasing Vermeer)
  • Bullying quotes and statistics placed all around the room in large fonts (The Revealers

 

OPTIONAL ADDITIONS:

We gave the parent/ child team a list of discussion questions so that as they read, they could talk about the book. We never collected these, or expected the participants to do these before hand. This was just an extra for them if they cared to do it.

 

*** We received a grant to help fund the cost of this parent-child reading program. Many parents said that they would be willing to pay to come, or to put money into a fund so that we could purchase the books. The books then were shelved in our library so that students could check them out, or teachers could use them as literature circle books. PTA or school funds may also be able to help fund this type of program.

 

These are some of the books we’ve done with success:

The Revealers by Doug Wilhelm

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliet

Stand Tall- Joan Bauer

Stargirl- Jerry Spinelli

Among the Hidden- Haddix

Down the Rabbit Hole- Abrahams

The Last Book in the Universe- Philbrick

The Giver- Lowery

Al Capone Does My Shirts- Choldenko

Acceleration- McNamee

Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie- Sonnenblick

Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

The Gospel According to Larry – Tashjian

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Poetry & Art

11 06 2014

Here is a neat idea to collaborate poetry and art.Traveling Stanzas  is a really neat project that the Kent State University design team and some local schools collaborated on. Students wrote poems and then sent them to the Kent State graphic art students. The Kent State students then took the poem, interpreted it using a variety of color, graphics and images to represent the poem.

The poems are great examples that I use when we mine for gold, but the art really brings out the poem. I am collaborating with our art teacher and our writing groups and writing poems, and her art students will interpret and design the piece. If you don’t have an art teacher, or don’t want to take on such a big project, start small and have the kids illustrate their own, or illustrate another classmates.

I am really excited to see how this turns out! Check out Traveling Stanzas to see the poems, art work and even purchase cards if you are interested.

This is one of my favorite poems:





SUNSHINE AWARDS!

7 01 2014

SUNSHINE AWARDS!

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The rules:

Acknowledge the nominating blogger. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
 Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
 List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
 Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)

 Well I was floored when Mary Lee Hahn from one of my favorite blogs, A Year of Reading, Sent me a message that I had been nominated for a Sunshine Award! It definitely brought lots of rays into my chilly day! THANK YOU! I’m beyond honored.

Here are my 11 random facts:

1. I was born in England and lived there until I was 9. I still keep in contact with my friends and visit them when I can.

2. I have three sisters (all from the same parents). My youngest sister was born was I was 18- talk about a shocker!  

3. I always read magazine from cover to cover, even if the article I really want to read is in the back.

4. I love to be outside as much as possible. Being outside is good for my soul.

5. Long( almost) daily walks with my husband is what keeps our marriage strong. We find this is the time when we just talk and aren’t distracted by other things( technology, house chores, cooking etc..).

6. I have an 18 month old daughter and I sometimes wonder how I am ever going to help her to be happy and succeed in this crazy world. 

7. I am slowly overcoming my fear of dogs. Ironically, one of my daughters favorite animals is a dog.

8. I have big goals and dreams of where I would like to take this blog, my ideas, and my professional future. Now I need to create the plan to make the dreams reality.

9. I am really trying to learn how to use my DSLR camera in manual mode. I love taking pictures and designing invites and cards, but I haven’t figured out how to get the best pictures in manual mode yet.

10. I have run a marathon (and a few half marathons) and although the training was really brutal, I really enjoyed race day, and when I was done I proclaimed that I want to run another one sometime. 

11. Traveling, working out, a book with a cup of tea, and sitting on my deck all make my world go round.

Here are my answers to a few of Mary Lee Hahn’s 11 questions:

1. What’s one thing you’re going to make this year?

I’m finally going to finish my daughter’s first year photo book. (she turned one last May 2013!!!).

2. iOS or Android?

IOS all the way, always and hopefully forever. It’s smooth & sexy 🙂

3. What’s your favorite new organizational trick?

tackling small projects at a time so that I don’t spend hours or days on organizing, but rather a few minutes each day. 

4. Where were did you grow up and how has that place made you who you are?

I grew up in England. I never really realized how much me being British has influenced who I am until my husband and I traveled to England, Ireland and Scotland two summers ago. As we were there he said that he rallied that manny of the things that I do aren’t personal quirks, but British quirks. One example is the way I hang the hangers in my closet. Go the Englnad and check out all the stores- it’s just different! 🙂

5. What is your favorite junk food?

Chocolate anything. 

6. Who is your hero?

My mom. She is such award worker and always puts everyone else first. She doesn’t talk negatively about anyone, and will do anything for anyone at anytime. Striving to be more like her!

7. What superpower would you pick?

   I would love to be able to teleport myself from one place to another. My family and my husband’s parents all live a few hours away from us. We visit them often so they can see my daughter, but I hate packing up the car and then repacking and driving to go home. Just teleport me!

8. Where would you travel next if you could?

Australia. It’s been on my bucket list for a while now and I am hoping in my lifetime I’ll be able to cross it off my list.

9. What frustrates you most?

Messy counters in my kitchen and not having a dinner plan after school.

10. What’s one favorite memory of childhood?

Long walks in the Moors every Sunday and feeding the ducks.

11. What’s your favorite instrument in the orchestra?

Clarinet. I used to play it and I really enjoy hearing it. I also love any music that has piano in it. 

Here are the bloggers I’ll nominate (in no particular order) to carry the sunshine to new corners of the blogosphere:  (I hope this isn’t annoying to the people I am sending this to; If it is, please just disregard. I respect your work and your blog- so know I’m just kicking some Sunshine your way!)

 Stacy Nokowitz at:  http://somenovelideas.typepad.com/

Julie Johnson at: http://www.raisingreadersandwriters.com

Sarah At: http://thereadingzone.wordpress.com

Tricia Stohr-Hunt http://missrumphiuseffect.blogspot.com

Sarah Anderson at: http://yaloveblog.com

http://themiddleschoolmouth.blogspot.com

Tara Smith at http://ateachinglifedotcom.wordpress.com

Erica Beaton at http://b10lovesbooks.wordpress.com/

Kerry at http://whatchareading-kerry.blogspot.com

Jillian Heise http://heisewrites.blogspot.com

Deb at http://deb-day.blogspot.com

And here are my 11 questions:

1. What is something that you always wanted to do that you still haven’t done yet?

2. If you could have either a full time maid or chef at your house, which would you choose?

3. Write about something you have been proud of in your classroom this year. (big or small) Don’t be humble- be proud!

4. New Year’s Resolutions- do you make them? Try to really keep them? Do you not even bother ’cause what’s the point? 

5. What was the best thing that happened to you last year?

6. What are you most looking forward to this year?

7. Bookstore or Library- where do you get your books?

8. Where do you get your book recommendations? Friends, blogs, websites, twitter, browsing etc…

9. Why/ how did you start blogging?

10. What’s the most influential professional development book you have ever read?

11. What’s the coolest/ most exciting/ most interesting thing you have ever done in your life? 

By the way, I’ve been on Twitter following and reading tons of Professional stuff- I just haven’t been gutsy enough to tweet that much (who would want to read all my surf?!) But, I’ve decided to take the plunge and start tweeting (a little bit!) You can follow me @annhagedorn 🙂





Easy Canvas Prints~ Spice Up Your Classroom or Home!

15 12 2013

I love canvas prints. I love them for my home and for my classroom walls. You can get some really cute inspirational images, quotes or sayings on them. They can get pricey, but I always try to find a good deal. Easy Canvas Prints is one place that I have gotten canvas prints from before and I’ve been happy with them; both for quality and price!

Easy Canvas Prints is running a contest right now, and you have a chance to earn up to $300 credit to buy what you want! Plus, anyone who enters gets 60% off coupon and free shipping- just in time for the Holidays!!

All you have to do is upload any photo you would like to print on canvas to gift to someone this holiday season.  The photo with the most votes will win a grand prize of a $300 credit to Easy Canvas Prints! The 2nd and 3rd place winners will win a $100 credit to Easy Canvas Prints. Anyone who enters will be sent a 60% off Sitewide + Free Shipping coupon code as well, so everyone wins!
The contest is open to those in North America and will run from 12/15/13 to 12/20/13. They will announce the winner on our blog on 12/22/13.

Here’s the URL to the contest: www.easycanvasprints.com/blog
Their Facebook page URL is: https://www.facebook.com/EasyCanvasPrints
Good Luck! 🙂




The Importance of Writing Daily

17 11 2013

It is so important to have students write daily, even if it is only for a few minutes and it is extremely important for students to see you writing and sharing with them. Writing WITH the students shows students that you value writing and it is important to you. I know it is so tempting to do all those classroom tasks while they are quietly working, but think about what that is conveying to your kids. If you have to do the classroom tasks, at least write before class and explain that you wrote earlier in the day and share some of your writing.

Every day, even on days when I don’t do writing workshop, I have them do what I call a “Warm It Up”. I give the students something to think about and then let them write for about 5-7 min. They can write about the prompt idea, OR anything else they want. {I do hate the word prompt. So many times teachers, myself included in the past, have given students a meaningless prompt and asked them to write about it. For example, write about a time with your pet. What about those of us who don’t have pets??!! } I encourage the to continue writing the entire time.

Today I showed them the book: Life’s Little Instruction Book: 511 Suggestions, Observations, and Reminders on How to Live a Happy and Rewarding Life. by Jackson Brown Jr.

Life's Instruction book

I had them come up with advice, funny, witty, serious, about school, life, teenagers etc.. and share them. It was great to hear what they wrote. I even am considering having my classes write their own advice book. It may be an end of the year project that they leave for future students??

I loved that when I told them to put their writer’s notebooks away, they were still frantically jotting down more advice that came to mind as others were sharing! 🙂





Awesome Teaching Poetry Resource!

10 11 2013

A few weeks ago, I talked about sharing poetry every day with my students. I also hinted that I would share an awesome resource that I use to work with students to close read poetry and go deeper than just reading it, mining for gold and letting it be.

Reading Poetry in the Middle Grades: 20 Poems and Activities That Meet the Common Core Standards and Cultivate a Passion for Poetry by Paul Janeczko is an awesome resource for close reading poetry. It also helps you, the teacher, to guide the students to look closely and take note of things that they may have missed during their initial reading.

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I first came across this great resource book when I was searching online. After I saw the few samples chapters and how it hits on Common Core standards, I knew I had to get the book!

There are 20 poems and activities to work with. Each poem and activity is set up and ready for you to copy and go- who doesn’t love that?! There is an activity page that goes with each poem that helps they students to dive into the poem and look a little closer. These activities are quick things for the students to do that will help guide their discussion and deepen their understanding of the poem.

The poems are on tons of different topics and each poem has a lot of things that students can talk about.  Along with poems and activities are a few pages of great commentary for the teacher. I found these really helpful in helping me to feel more confident about talking through and working with the poems with my students. My students never complain when we have to read these poems, and I have found that their confidence in tackling poetry has increased this year!  Paul Janeczko also has other companion or paired poem suggestions that are related to the poem that is being featured.

I could go on and on about this book and how great it is. It is defiantly one resource you MUST have on hand. It takes away all the prep work of searching for the perfect poem that hits your standards, the students can relate to and that is easy enough to tackle in a c lass period. The work can be done in about 20 minutes!!

If you want to see a preview of the book, go to Amazon and click on the cover to see inside. 

 





Awesome Author Visit and Great Books!

22 09 2013

Last Fall (yes, I’m really late on this post- but stick with me and I’ll tell you why it is still timely. You’ll thank me later! :))

Young adult author, Mike Mullin came to visit our school.  His plan was to teach a writer’s workshop throughout the day to over 200 students and then give a presentation to all of the students about his books. I was nervous about hosting an author and having him spend the day with us. Would the kids respond to him, would they be interested, what if they asked “stupid” questions (even though there is no such thing! ;))

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I have to say that it was one of the best experiences of my teaching career. The kids LOVED him!  Sometimes authors are more reserved, by nature, but Mike Mullin was charged! He interacted with the students, brought a large volcano replica with him, and even broke a cinder block with his bare hands! In the writing workshop part he taught the kids how to come up with some writing ideas and how to write a compelling story. He even told the kids that if they want to be good at something they need to practice for at least 10,000 hours to become really good at it. That really stuck with my kids throughout the rest of the year.

In the presentation part, he talked to the kids about how he got his ideas for the first two books in his trilogy, Ashfall and Ashen Winter. Sunrise is due out in the Spring (3/17/2014 according to his website).

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Ashfall and Ashen Winter are stories that I blew through! I was so intrigued with the story line and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next.

I was trying to decide how to  write a good explanation of Ashfall  without giving away too much (that’s my downfall!) I found a great review from Sarah I emailed her to see if I could include it on my blog and she obliged. Here’s her perfectly put review of Ashfall: 

“Alex, just your average teenage guy, is home alone for the weekend. He’s just chillin’ in his bedroom playing WoW when, all of a sudden he hears a massive crashing sound and the house practically caves in on itself. This is within the FIRST CHAPTER. To pretense here! Mike Mullin does not mess around!

 A supervolcano in Yellowstone National Park has erupted, spiraling the world into darkness and chaos. Alex doesn’t waste time in leaving to find his family. Only, they are over 100 miles away in Illinois. How will he ever make it there? He sets out on foot (and skis!) on a journey that changes his life forever.

 It’s a battle to survive. People are starving, freezing to death, getting stuck and trapped in their homes in the two and three feet of ash, and the snow on top of that. The ash and darkness isn’t even the biggest issue at hand. There are people with guns around every corner. Then you have your looters, murderers, rapists and let’s not forget the cannibals.

 “For the first time ever, I felt ashamed of my species. The volcano had taken our homes, our food, our automobiles, and our airplanes, but it hadn’t taken our humanity. No, we’d given that up on our own.”

 The numero uno thing I truly appreciated about Ashfall was how real it was. This isn’t a paranormal book. It’s about a natural disaster that alters everything about the way people live or die. Mullin describes the aftermath of the eruption in wonderful detail. The ashfall, the noise, the darkness, the weather changes, etc. It wasn’t outrageous and it wasn’t just for shock value. The survival tactics described were realistic and honestly, I found myself making mental notes for future reference! LOL It was FANTASTIC.”

 So, now that you are intrigued, go check out the book!

After Mike Mullin left our school for the presentation day, I had a long waiting list of students who wanted to read his books. They loved Ashfall and were just as excited about Ashen Winter. They really struggled with having to wait for the third book to come out (don’t we all? :))

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If you are able, you MUST get him to come to your school, he’s an author that won’t  disappoint. Check out his website to get more info. He also has some great educator curriculum guides and information and awesome book trailers you can entice your students with!

As to why you will thank me, I’m warning you now to go out there and get Ashfall and Ashen Winter and read them… you will be counting down the days until Sunrise’s release! 🙂 

 








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