Picture-This: TATDP-TI

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So this reading response is a little late but I decided to do ‘Picture This’ for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I chose the scene where Junior has his first day at Reardon. You can see from my sketch the differences between Junior’s culture and white people’s culture. They call him rude names and he starts to feel alone.
I decided to sketch this scene because it’s important to see the transition from Junior’s culture to a white culture. There are so many conflicts regarding these two cultures and the pressure that one child has in living in these two worlds.
Not just this sketch, but this whole book has made me see just how hard it is basically living a double life. I’m glad I read this book and got to experience somewhat of a culture shock that would be. It was very eye-opening.

Why standardized tests are pointless.

So one thing I found really interesting and inspiring in Penny Kittle’s chapter 8 was the “Big Idea Books”! These are really something to consider when you’re trying to get your students to intertwine their own reading lives with what you’re reading in class.  See for those of you who don’t know what I am talking about, let me explain.

First of all, she buys cheap notebooks and then labels them with themes that are common in literature.  Some of those themes include guilt, hope, fate, cruelty and isolation.  Those are just a few and there are a lot more that she mentions.  After that, she lays them out in her classroom and has each student pick one.  That student then writes in that notebook about where they find that particular theme in the book they are reading and how it relates to books the class has read over the semester.  The thing is, is that every student writes in these notebooks so there are different conversations going on about different books.  The students get to see what others are reading with this same theme.  Penny Kittle also gets to write in these notebooks as well.  Its basically a good way to see how your students are doing with themes and keep up with what they are reading.  It’s also a really good way to get some great book recommendations.  I will definitely pursue this idea further into my classroom with the hopes of getting my students thinking about themes and how they appear in books.

Chapter 9 discusses the importance of how testing is failing us as readers.  Personally I’ve never been a huge fan of testing (I don’t think anyone is) but we have got to realize that it isn’t really doing anyone any good.

The first failure that Penny mentions is that speed is required for testing but it is the main cause that students do so poorly.  Reading quickly cannot justify whether a student is a good reader or not.  It may justify how many words they can read in a minute but what good  does that do when they don’t even read every word?!  When you read quickly, you don’t get the chance to fully comprehend what you are reading.  There have been times when I get to going too fast and I have to tell myself to slow down and reread the passage because I’ll have no clue what is going on.  Slow down and take your time!

Her second point is involving the parents more (which I love).  These children have parents that know their every move and you’d think that they would know what is going on in their child’s life but they are being told they don’t.  Why not listen to the people who actually raised these kids and know how they work?? Just a thought!

Some of her other points include false hope in the students who are tested as good readers, tests do not show us that these kids will grow up and read for as long as they live, international scores are showing us a poor comparison, standardized tests don’t fully show what students can actually do, and we could be spending this time learning and not taking tests that do nothing for us.

There were many parts to this chapter but the part about standardized testing and all of it’s faults with students and teachers really caught my attention.  Penny really showed me the other side of school districts and even internationally when it comes to tests.  I know most teachers would agree with what she says about these pointless tests and how they aren’t doing a thing to get kids reading for the right reasons.  I’ve been told so many times that simply reading books can alter a student’s reading level and improve their overall level of comprehension.  Why don’t we compare reading a book to the standardized tests?  Let’s see how that turns out..

My Summer Reading Map!

This summer I definitely plan on increasing my book load but I don’t have an exact plan because as we all know, life is crazy and never goes the way we want it to.  I’m setting an ambitious goal and saying I will read one book every two days.  As crazy as my life is with my work schedule, softball league and family matters I think a book every two days is going to be challenging enough.  But I am definitely up for the challenge!

My TBR list consists of a lot of fiction because that is one of my favorite genres but I am also going to push more toward non-fiction and autobiographies to expand my horizons a little.  I’ve never been into the real stories but I want to challenge myself more this summer so why not try something I’ve never ventured to before! One autobiography I really want to get into is the story of Nelson Mandela called “Long Walk to Freedom”.  I’ve always been a real history nerd so any autobiography that has to do with someone who did something amazing (or not so amazing) would be my go-to.  I did read “The Diary of Anne Frank” in high school so I’m one book in on this genre!

Some more books on my TBR list include: “Paper Towns” by John Greene 7181669595_ec99076126_b, “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak, The Divergent series, the other eleven books of “The Shade of Vampire” series, “To Kill a Mockingbird (have started it), “Lord of the Flies” untitled.png, “Animal Farm”, “Pride and Prejudice”…just to name a few!

This summer is going to be a challenge to read a book every two days but I am up for the challenge.  I plan on reading at work when I have time to myself, when I have days off and I’m doing laundry or something, I plan on reading a lot at the coffee houses around Chadron just because coffee is my peace and reading would just be the cherry on top of that perfect sundae! I plan on reading whenever I go and visit my parents and I’ll definitely read with my mom because she loves to read as well.  Basically if there is a free minute in my day you can bet that I will be reading!

I’m anxious to see what this summer brings in the sense of challenging myself and reading more books than I ever have before! I really want to stick with my goal of reading one book every two days but it will be hard.  Does anyone have any good tips on how to keep myself from veering off my reading path?  Any suggestions would be helpful!

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(All photos)

Reading Letter-A Shade of Vampire

To whom it may concern,

Where do I begin? This book, A Shade of Vampire, isn’t your typical love story. It is a love story about a young woman and an ancient vampire. Sure it sounds a lot like the Twilight series but it’s so much better, in my opinion anyway! There is so much about this book and this series that I love but I cannot put my finger on just one thing. Maybe it is the fact that there is so much going on in the books and it is so real and clear. I love how each chapter is from a different character’s point of view. You get to see what it is like in their shoes and how they feel about the certain circumstance that they are in. And I’m being honest when I say that there are a lot of circumstances that go on in the book. You never know what is going to happen when you turn to the next page! That is something else I like about this book and series. You never know what is going to happen so you’re always on the edge of your seat. I have never read a book so fast in my life and it’s not because it was an easy read but because it was so good that I needed to see what happened next! I love books that keep me on the edge and don’t stop after something bad has happened. This book has a knack for having multiple things go wrong within a number of chapters or even pages which makes it more surreal. It’s not the usual happy ending that you normally get in love stories. It is so much better!

I mentioned before that each chapter is told from a different character’s point of view. I don’t know if I can say that I related to any of the characters but I really liked the character of Ben. Ben is a stubborn, brave, ignorant, self-centered, loyal and in love. He is my favorite character because you see him as this self-centered moron but you have to love him because he loves his best friend. And he doesn’t realize it right away which makes it that much better. It takes him awhile but eventually he realizes it and turns into this really great guy that you’d hate to see anything happen to. SPOILER…he dies later on in the series. Ben was a character that you hated in the beginning because he couldn’t see what you as the reader saw. Dramatic irony at its best! But he grew up and evolved into someone really great. I love characters like that! Those are the characters you root for the whole time but of course they usually end up dying…sad face.

I won’t lie and say that this is the only book of the series I have read because it isn’t. I have read all the way to book seven and there are eighteen books so I still have a ways to go. But that’s okay because I love this series and I’m up for the challenge. I will say that all of the books I have read so far, the first book is my favorite. I think the reason I like it so much is because it introduces all of the characters and what their problems are. You get introduced to the scenery and all of the possible scenarios that may or may not happen. That is what draws in a reader. The first book of any series is the most crucial because it gets the reader involved in what the books are going to be about. Bella Forrest is an amazing author and she has done a fantastic job with these books or the ones that I have read so far and I hope to read the rest of them! I hope you get the chance to read these fantastic books and enjoy Bella’s wonderful writing and stories!

Yours truly,

Breanna Korell

 

Challenge Accepted!

hqdefaultI read the articles for this week and one thing caught my attention multiple times: choice matters!  I caught a glimpse of it in the first article I read in “Aim Higher: A Case for Choice in AP Classes”.  I understood the article to read that choice is not happening in AP classes because they are advanced classes and teachers are preparing

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students for the college classroom?  Okay, and your point is??  That shouldn’t matter when it comes to reading.  No matter what the level of the classroom is, there should always be choice!  Students are not going to read some old literature from before they were born (I know I didn’t).  The more choice we give them, the more they will read and the more they will grow as readers.  I cannot remember which article I read this from but it said that we cannot force books on students that are not ready for them.  Plain and simple.  I think that is common sense but we are still doing it anyway.  WHY???  This concept kind of goes into the article “Curing the Reading GERM”.  Picture CC by: pixabay.com untitled

The first time I read “AR” on my screen, I immediately went back to elementary and recalled all the books I read or at least tried to and I couldn’t remember most of them.  None of them had a lasting affect on me except for a few and that’s all because I picked books that would get me to the next point level.  Sure, AR got me reading but I never read for the pleasure of it.  I read those books because I HAD to.  I really hope they don’t have AR wherever I go and teach but if they do, I know I have a plan to rid myself and my classroom from that.  This article brought up a lot of good ideas about how to rid yourself from the reading GERM and a couple I found interesting were having reading plans for your students and yourself, have your students make lists of possible books to read someday, and a plan that I love the most, read for 20 minutes everyday.  Get your whole school to read for 20 minutes everyday.  Have parents come in and read as well.  I think it is a great way to get your students to read and everyone that is involved in your students’ lives.  This was a great article to find inspiration from!

The last two articles, “Raising Students Who Want to Read” and “6 Simple Ideas to Get Kids to Read” were pretty similar for the most part and they really caught my attention.  And one thing that keeps popping up is “choice matters”!  You have got to let them choose what they want to read.  We cannot, cannot cannot force them on anything.  It has to come from them and them alone!  While the choice may be theirs, we can still hand out books to them that we know are on their reading level and go along with what they’ve been reading all year.  That, though, requires you to monitor what your students read and develop a reading personality for them.  Ask questions about what they are reading for the week, set up reading conferences with them and support them through it all!maxresdefault  I think sharing your expectations with them and having them share their own expectations are huge factors in building successful readers!  They need to know that you want them to grow as readers!  It will pay off in the end.

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I seriously cannot wait to have my own classroom and share some of these great ideas with my students and other teachers as well.  I do hope that I have some kind of roadblock like the reading GERM so that I can put these theories to the test and build myself up as a teacher and a reader.  I want to see first hand just how amazing something like this could actually play off for students.  I want to challenge myself as a teacher so that I can challenge my students and they challenge me as well.  I am more than ready for that challenge!

YALSA: Teen Read Week and Teen Book Finder

This site is amazing!  The first thing that caught my attention was the Teen Read Week.  This happens nationally every year on the same week as Columbus day and the dates for this year are Oct. 9th-15th.  YALSA started this in order to encourage more teens to read more!  I love it and the theme they are going with this year is “Read for the Fun of it!”.  How awesome is that?! They even have celebrities for this and the one for this year is Bella Thorne.  She started out as a small T.V. actress and has grown over the years.  I’ve read some about her and apparently she was diagnosed with dyslexia when she was younger.  She has given interviews where she talks about her diagnosis and how she has overcome it.  She really is an inspiration to young adults who may have dyslexia or some other kind of reading disorder and I think YALSA made the right choice in picking her to be a spokesperson.

Another real cool thing I found was the YALSA’s Teen Book Finder!  It’s an app that I actually downloaded on my phone and you can look for books by author, genre, etc.  I looked under mystery and found “The Secret Service: Kingsman”.  From what I know already, that is a movie which I have seen but I didn’t know it was a book.  I have added it to my TBR! I also found another genre that I had never even heard of and it’s called Chidlren’s Humor.  There was a book underneath it called “Creepy Carrots!”creepy carrots

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It sounded pretty interesting to say the least and I have also added it to my TBR!  This app is great and I suggest you add it to your phone if you need help finding books.

I had never heard of YALSA until now and it is a great site that everyone should familiarize themselves with.  Especially for teachers or future teachers because it has some great book find on it, authors and publishers to follow, activities and conferences to attend and so much more.  If you haven’t read about it, do it!  You wont regret it!

Teen readers and social media

So the first thing I found was that 81% of tech-savvy teens use social networking sites.  Of that, 76% use Facebook, 24% use Twitter, a quarter of teens use Instagram, one in seven use Pinterest and one in ten use Tumblr.  Just so everyone knows, teens do use different social media websites and a good portion of them use the one that is most common to us, Facebook.  I just thought that was an interesting set of data for everyone to grasp.

So as I was doing some research, I found the what I assume is the jackpot to the question we have to answer!  Okay so here we go!

Shelfari: you can create your own “bookshelf”, add books to it, connect with other book lovers and learn more about your favorite book! Did I mention it is all for free and anyone can use it!

One of my favorites is goodreads.  This site is great because you can get books recommended to you by your friends, keep track of what you’re reading and what you want to read. I have my own account and I love it! It is so easy to connect with others and get great book recommendations. It is like my own personal library. Oh and this site is also free!

Just these two sites alone could prove worthy for teens.  They can use them for all of the reasons I said above and they are also easy to start and maintain.  Why anyone wouldn’t want to join them, especially teens, is beyond me.  And I’m pretty sure some of these can sign up with Facebook so your friends on Facebook could easily see what you’re reading and maybe get connected! If you see the numbers I talked about above and you do the math, teens could be affecting more lives than they realize by just signing up with a couple of these websites!

I’m going to post the link to this website I found so anyone can see the gloriousness I found!