Saturday, 30 June 2012

What I'm Reading This Week...Book a Day Challenge: TBR List

Here are the books I hope to read this week:

Mockingjay (Suzanne Collins)

Have to read this one to finally finish off the series, and to get Jill off my back!

Women of Character (Black and Woodger)

One of the most thoughtful gifts I received this week! One of my students gave it to me. I think I had one conversation with his mom one time and she found out I'm LDS (they have someone in their familiy who is also LDS and was going on a mission). She gave this book to me for an end of year gift. I was so touched! It fits so well with all we strive to be at our school, and is something I will really love reading.

Room (Donoghue)

I borrowed this from a co-worker months ago and really must read it and give it back to her before she heads off for a year in Abu dhabi.

The Key of Do (Frechette)

Mama's Going to Buy You a Mockingbird (Little)

Ellen's Secret (Kean Booker)

I found these three books on a bench outside the library the other day. It turns out someone left them there as a part of the Canada Day Release Challenge. A sticker on each book said: Books are being released across Canada this week to celebrate Canada's birthday and Canadian authors) and then this website.  I'm exciting to be a part of it!

You Don't Sweat Much for a Fat Girl (Rivenbark)

Everyone needs a good laugh now and then!

Friday, 29 June 2012

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

I loved loved loved this book. I read it aloud to my class, having never read it before. A big risk! But, after reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret, I knew I could trust this author. We have been reading it in little snippets for months, and finished it on the very last day of school. When I knew I could time it perfectly like that I wished there was something we could do as a final activity to build on it. In the end, I found a video called Koko, which is about a gorilla that learned sign language. There is a lot of sign language and stories about deafness in this book - which fit in really well with our hearing and sound unit in science. Also, we had a student in our class this year whose parents are both deaf. He really enjoyed being the expert on all sign language and deaf matters for us. It was really great to watch him light up when he could share his expertise. It really was a great experience!

Here's the summary from the book's website:

A boy named Ben longs for the father he has never known. A girl named Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his mother's room, and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out alone on desperate quests to find what they are missing.

Ben's story, set in 1977, is told entirely with words, while Rose's story, set fifty years earlier, is told entirely with pictures. The two stories weave back and forth before ultimately coming together. Rich, complex, affecting, and beautiful–with over 460 pages of original artwork–Wonderstruck is a stunning achievement from a uniquely gifted artist and visionary.
One thing I really loved about this book was that the kids I read it to really loved it, and I loved it too - and I think we all enjoyed different aspects of it. It is a beautifully crafted story with amazing drawings. I wouldn't be surprised if this one was made into a movie too!

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

School's out and it's time to get started on my summer reading goal! I was inspired by this person and decided to take on the challenge. A book a day...that means 58 books. I plan to read lots of J fiction to get some ideas on new exciting books to share with kids at school. I'll throw in a few adult books in there too. I may need to make some of my books on the list picture books though...not sure if I can do a novel a day - but I'm going to try. One down, 57 to go!

I picked this one up at the library the other day. I think I had heard of it before...the title seemed familiar. Then I found a couple blog posts on blogs I frequent  (here and here) that talked about it. I'm always interested in books that are plays on To Kill a Mockingbird, because I love that book. This one uses the title Mockingbird, because the main character in the book has gone through a tragic loss. Here is the summary from Good Reads:

In Caitlin’s world, everything is black or white. Things are good or bad. Anything in between is confusing. That’s the stuff Caitlin’s older brother, Devon, has always explained. But now Devon’s dead and Dad is no help at all. Caitlin wants to get over it, but as an eleven-year-old girl with Asperger’s, she doesn’t know how. When she reads the definition of closure, she realizes that is what she needs. In her search for it, Caitlin discovers that not everything is black and white—the world is full of colors—messy and beautiful. Kathryn Erskine has written a must-read gem, one of the most moving novels of the year.

I'm not quite sure why this book is a "J" book though. I can't imagine that kids would be that into it. Then again, maybe it would make for an interesting discussion with kids. I think most kids have a hard time seeing things from someone else's perspective, especially someone that acts in ways they're uncomfortable with.


Thursday, 28 June 2012

The Last Day Blues

Today was supposed to be an easy day - clean out our desks, go to an assembly, play some games, etc.

I forgot about the emotional toll of it all. We spend a lot of time with these kids. We spend a lot of time worrying about them, trying to figure out what will make them tick, and realizing what doesn't work. Then the last day comes, and poof! That is it.

I will miss my class from this year for so many reasons. They were an amazing group. Today they showered me with lavish gifts, hugged me, and ran out the doors for their long awaited summer vacation.

Most surprising of all was one boy in my class. We have butted heads a lot this year. I have nagged him, tried to encourage him, threatened him, and loved him. Today he told me three or four times how he is really going to miss me. Really?! Even after all the hassling?!

I hope his new teachers gets him. I hope he stops procrastinating. I hope he continues loving reading.

Truth is, I am going to miss him too.

All of them.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Would you drink from the spring if you could live forever?

In my Gr. 3 class we have been reading a book called Tuck Everlasting. There is a spring that a familiy has drank from that has caused them to live forever. We talked about whether or not we would drink from the spring. I loved everyone's thoughtful answers!

* I would drink the water because then you would get to learn to do everything.

* I would drink the water because I could give some to my fmaily and we would live forever.

* I would not because people would recognize you and they will ask you questions

* Yes, I would drink the water because I can not be hurt by natural disasters

* I would drink the spring water because I love to live forever!

* Yes, because I don't want to go through the pain of dying

* I wouldn't because I would be lonely and my family would be gone

* I would not because I would never change but I could do everything but if I did I would have nothing to do because it's already done.

* I wouldn't drink it because my family would die and I'd be all alone

* I would drink the water whne I am 33 because I would have kids.

* I would drink the water because I would want to live forever.

* I would not drink the water because I want to die.

* I would not because it is like having to move to a different place every year

* I would not drink the water because then people could find out and the world would get bigger

* I would drink the water because living forever will let you leran how to do anything

* I would drink the water if other people had to.

* I would drink it because I would live forever and never get hurt.

* I would not drink the water because I want to know what heaven looks like

* I would drink the water because I would have forever to do whatever I want.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Good News!!

I can finally blog about this. Today the announcement was made at school: I get to do it all again next year!!! I am so thrilled. I was offered a Gr. 3 position again. I am really excited. I have loved teaching Gr. 3. I'm excited about the grade level team I will be working with. I'm excited to be able to teach something over again and not have to be learning everything as I go. I am excited that I get to keep working with all the great staff there, including our amazing admin. I truly feel blessed to be able to work with everyone there.

Yesterday I was at a Boys and Girls club training night where all the kids that will be working at the Stampede came to get "oriented". I met a parent of one of the kids in my crew. She is a teacher so we had our typical "where do you work, what do you teach" conversation. This woman's response wasn't unusual when I told her where I work. She said, "Oh. That is quite the structured environment." I still haven't learned how to respond to turn those conversations around. Mostly I don't say much. I've thought a lot about it though and think I need to start talking about what an amazing place it is to work when people respond with their generally uninformed and negative comments. If only they knew! Then again....maybe I shouldn't. If all those teachers knew how great it was to work where I do they'd all come knocking...and then where would I be! LOL

All in all: I am just plain excited! I have wondered over the past few days, while mulling over the future, and not being able to talk to anyone about it, why I am so lucky that delving back into the teaching world has gone so smoothly. I don't know. I just know I love it, and I'm so grateful!

Tuck Everlasting....again

I know I just blogged about this book in May, but I just finished reading it aloud to my class, and I have to say something about it again because it has been such a marvelous experience! This book is even better the second time, and amazing when read aloud. Reading it a second time, I noticed so many amazing connections, delightful descriptions, and loved the amazing suspense. I had my Gr. 3's eating out of the palm of my hand. They seemed to really love the story and got totally caught up in it. Today we had about six chapters left. I had our reading schedule mapped out so that we would finish it by the end of the year, and barely have enough time to watch the movie. Today we totally wrecked our schedule. Again and again, the kids begged me to keep reading. How could I not indulge them?! We finished the whole book...spent the entire afternoon reading, laughing, discussing, and reading some more. It was amazing!

It was interesting to me to notice the kids who didn't always follow along in the book. I read it all aloud to them and tried to use the best expression I could. My poorer readers would often sit and just watch me. They were firmly fixed and listened carefully. It's funny because I would always prefer to follow along in the book (I have sometimes even been known to follow along in a book when listening to an audio book...just another one of my weird quirks), but they really leaned towards putting the book down and soaking it all in just by listening. Kids are amazing listeners sometimes.

Just a few funny stories:

Like I said, I tried really hard to read it well and use a lot of expression. I sometimes would mix up the voice though. I was reading along this afternoon when one of the kids stopped me and said, "Mrs. Ackroyd could you read that again the way you had the guy talking before?" It took me a bit to get back into that voice....but I think I finally did. They loved it. It was the voice for the constable who goes with the man in the yellow suit to rescue Winnie from the Tuck family. He kind of sounds like a bumbling idiot who talks to much and doesn't think enough.

While we were talking about the constable it was mentioned that he talked a lot and wasn't very smart. One of the girls put up her hand and said, "But I talk a lot. Talking a lot doesn't always mean you're not very smart, does it?" LOL

I found out that three (well, the there who admitted it!) snuck the book home and read the whole thing on their own. No wonder they were making such accurate predictions! How can I get after them for that?! It's kind of like when I have to give my kids heck because they're reading at the dinner table. It is a lovely problem to have.

In one scene, the main characters are in their home, when suddenly a knock comes on the door. It's a tense scene and my kids were feeling it. One boy suddenly jumped out his chair and blurted out: "Mrs. Ackroyd, it's like they were all just sitting around having a lovely discussion - then the knock, and they're like, "Who the hell is that??! No one has knocked on our door in 86 years?!"

I just about fell off my chair, hearing this kid blurt out his "who the hell is that?" The school's tech guy was in my classroom at the time and he just giggled and giggled.

The funny thing was the other kids hardly batted an eye. And frankly, the kid was right on the money with his description of what the characters must have been thinking. However, later in the chapter, when one of the characters called another stupid, they were totally up in arms over such offensive words in our story!

It was a delight to read this book with my class. It made me wish we could do more novel studies. I wonder if I could find a way to squish more of that into our school lives, next year?! Hmmmm.....I think I can! :)

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The End of Another Year of Book Club

Today was our last book club meeting for this school year. It has been so fun. We first discussed the book we read this month: Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was a big hit. We had a great discussion. None of them knew anything about Nazis and their hatred of Jews prior to reading the book. They were horrified to hear that this could happen. It is so marvelous to rub shoulders with kids. They are so unaware of the heartache and sadness in the world. That is a good thing! The discussion remained really positive and focused on how good people need to take a stand when bad things are happening. They got the message of the book perfectly.

We also looked at all the book we read this year and gave awards to them. They were amazed to see the list and to realize how many great books they read this year. This was our list:

November: Bridge to Terabithia
December: Ghost Tales for Christmas (Magic Tree House)
January: James and the Giant Peach
February: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
March: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
April: Skellig
May: The Magician's Elephant
June: Number the Stars

We voted on Best Character of the Year (Kirsten, the younger sister in Number the Stars, and Edward in The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane), Best Cliff Hanger of the Year (Chapter 14 of Number the Stars when Kirsten comes running around the corner and runs right into the soldiers), the Best (although we had to change it to worst) Villian of the Year (Hitler from Number the Stars), and then, Best Book of the Year (The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe).

Our numbers really died off at the end of the year. Looking back, perhaps we should have indulged them by picking some of the books they were begging for (Geronimo Stilton, a Magic Treehouse book, or Diary of a Wimpy Kid) We decided, at the time, not to do one of those book because we wanted to introduce them to books they might not normally pick up. We kept the real die hard readers, but the ones who needed more encouragement chose to go outside once the weather was good, rather than stay for book club. We probably could have kept more if we had picked those books - and that wouldn't have been such a bad thing. Live and learn!!

I feel so blessed to be able to have this book club this year. I think it really has been a positive thing. If only every day could be a book club kind of day!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Writing and and Reading and the 2012-2013 School Year

I am still waiting to hear if I will have a position again next year. I am keeping my fingers crossed!! I sure have loved teaching, this school, the kids, and the people I work with. I love the grade I've been working in too. I've felt more confident this year, but I sure am not counting my chicks until they're hatched.

That being said, I have made plans to do things based on the idea that I will be teaching. For example, my principal asked if I wanted to attend a workshop next fall. I was so thrilled when I looked into what it was all about!!

The Kaleidoscope Conference celebrates literature created for children and young adults and the interpretation of this literature through media, performance and illustration. This celebration aims to heighten the awareness and appreciation of the creative processes through interaction with authors, illustrators, publishers, producers and performers. The inspiration received by participants enhances their experience of this literature and in turn that of colleagues and the children with whom they have contact.

Doesn't it just sound heavenly??! And you should see the list of authors!! Yowza!!  It's full days of authors talking about getting kids excited about reading. I decided I am going to read as many books as possible by those authors prior to the conference. Can't wait!! I have a long long list of books to dive into. I have just taken the first one out of the library and it is next on my TBR pile. This summer I plan to do LOTS of reading. Sounds so delightful!!

Also, I found an author who is doing a virtual writing workshop this summer for teachers. It is going to be amazing! It actually started yesterday and I won't be able to participate too much until school is over - but I'm keeping an eye on it. You might say, slowly warming up to the idea. :) She has stuff going on every day and it looks very inspiring. I think it will be good to experience a little of what my student's go through as they learn to write - besides the fact, I just like the idea of trying to immerse myself in more writing. You can read about the workshop here.

If I don't get a position next year and don't get to attend Kaleidoscope.....oh the pain!! It will hurt. Alas though, I know what is best is what will work out. I trust that God has a good plan for me. I just hope it coincides with what I want right now! :)_

Monday, 4 June 2012

Promise of Hope by Autumn Stringham

This is the story behind True Hope vitamins. Allen discovered these a while ago and they have been so great for him. When I read this book it made me feel so much more sympathetic towards people who have struggles with mental health. It also made me want to make sure I pay close attention to stress and depression and to make sure I am getting the nutrients I need. I sometimes take the True Hope vitamins (called Empower) and they make a big difference for me too.

The story is about a woman named Autumn. Her mother committed suicide after years of struggling with bipolar issues. Autumn and one of her brothers had the same issues and so their dad was desperate to try to find an answer to their problems. The story is really quite well written. I totally recommend it!

I read this book on Thursday while Peirce was swimming, and then finished it Friday while Jill and Peirce were having swim practice. It felt so good to have such long stretches to just sit and read. I often use that time to do marking, or grocery shopping, or other errands....but I'm thinking I should look at it as a great time to have a good two hour chunk of reading time! It is very good for my soul.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Back in Biz!!

I am back in business!! I've been kind of a poor blogger of late because of computer issues. Our desktop has some crazy virus or something that doesn't allow us to access anything Google. I don't like blogging on the Ipad that much because I can't seem to figure out how to upload pictures with it (I don't have a newer version of the Ipad and so it doesn't take pictures). We have a laptop, but it has had a broken screen for quite a while (ask Peirce how that happened) if I was going to add any pictures I had to do it at the library or at school and I don't always seem to have time at those places. However, Allen got the screen fixed on the laptop so I am back in business!!! Yahooo!! Looking forward to more regular blogging!!

Friday, 1 June 2012


Our school is 10 years old so we had a carnival to celebrate. Teachers got to be part of the dunk tank. What fun! (???!!!)

Swim cap, rain coat...yup that's me. I got quite wet despite the garb!