Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Scholastic Book Clubs

Well, after some "heated" conversations with my friends at Scholatic Book Clubs, I finally got our order from last month processed and students received their books today. Sorry for the delay. I'll spare you the details, but I will say that I'm sticking with them and sending home new flyers today. (Keep reading for details about ordering online!)
It's not too early to start thinking about summer reading. There are some really good books available at affordable prices that would make great books for reading during the summer months. Here are a few that stood out to me (unless I mention it, they can be found in the Arrow form):
Dear Dumb Diary, It's Not My Fault I Know Everything by Jim Benton
Kids love these books for their sarcasm and hilarious descriptions of every day life. They're easy to relate to AND there's a whole series of them!

Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls: The New Girl by Meg CabotThis author really knows how to write in a language that "speaks" to kids. This series hasn't caught on yet with the 4th/5th grade girls here, but it needs to!

Julian Rodriguez Episode One: Trash Crisis on Earth by Alexander StadlerIf your child likes the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, and they probably do, then he or she will like this new graphic novel. A quick and fun read.

The 39 Clues series (Spring Gift Books) by various authorsThe third of this series was just released and you can get all three books this month through the book order. I am really into this series about a brother and sister trying to solve a puzzle that could make them rich beyond their wildest dreams. Looking for books to interest reluctant readers? These would be perfect. Looking for books to donate to the classroom??? These would be perfect. :)

So, I'll follow those four recommendations with a note about ordering online with a credit card. I tried this earlier in the year and didn't get much interest, but I thought I'd try it again. Here's what to do...

Go to http://scholastic.com/parentordering

Class user name: curran

password: curran

Remember, ordering online with a credit card is completely secure. AND it actually can help us earn more free books for the classroom library than we usually do. Orders are due April 3, 2009.

Happy Reading!

Writing on Reading

I've been giving a lot of thought to reading and writing lately. One thing on my mind has been the struggle to drive the book-in-a-bag program. B.I.B. has been a lot LESS successful than I envisioned and I'm trying to figure out how to make it better. From a teacher's perspective, it seems like a perfect assignment. However, after about 3 months, the number of students not completing their weekly worksheet is troubling. And I think the entire fourth grade teaching team is asking, "Is this really worth it?"

How could this program be improved? I feel the worksheet is quite simple, the books of high quality, and the time and effort requirements are not overwhelming. How am I missing the mark? Is it because I started it mid-year? That's the only thing I can think of.

If you have any thoughts on the matter, I encourage you to email me or (even better as it would create a type of "conversation" among us) leave a comment by clicking on the "comments" link at the end of this post. Just know that when you do that, your comment can be viewed by anyone! I look forward to hearing from you.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Look Ahead

It seems my blogging needs to get more frequent. Not sure what it is that's kept me from updating, but I am going to write much more often as we push forward to the end of the year.

Wanted to give you a sneak preview of the next writing project we'll be doing. It's one that I had tremendous success with last year and am eagerly anticipating.

Starting April 1, we'll be writing mysteries! We'll start by reading several mysteries to become familiar with the genre. We'll talk about special characteristics that only mysteries seem to have: clues, detectives, crimes, red herrings, etc. And then, students will be asked to write their own mystery stories. 

It should be a lot of fun and allow them to be extremely creative. Not only that, but so many students have improved with their writing this year. This project will give them a chance to "show off" their awesome writing skills.

I am really looking forward to this. Things will kick off next week with a special village meeting which will involve 128 kids trying to solve the same mystery and may or may not involve teachers dressing up in costumes. You can be sure that I'll be sharing pictures of this in the near future!!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Good Reason to Write

Wow, I have fallen WAY behind in my blogging. I came across this terrific poster on the web today and decided that it HAD to be shared. (It helps, of course, that it fits my wry sense of humor.) Well, I realized that a blog post would be the perfect way to do this.
One thing that I found myself repeating over and over in learning team meetings was "read more!" I know this is easier said than done, but it is working. I can tell. Students and families that are dedicated to the Book-in-a-Bag program are making huge improvements.
Lots of schools make a big deal out of Reading Month... and we've certainly acknowledged it. But EVERY month is Reading Month around here. Always has been. Always will be. And that's just one of the reasons why I think this is such a great school!