where all things literacy come full circle…


I have been trying to log into my blog for the past few weeks with NO luck. Tonight, I had to log in to comment on one of my friends videos, Colby Sharp, and as I did this, I was logged into my blog. I guess this is telling me that it has been way too long being on here and writing my thoughts about reading. Now that I have figured this out, I will be on here more.


The Book Whisperer and Me

Last year I started following Donalyn on Twitter. I bought her book, learned from her through Twitter, and began to use what I was learning in my classroom. I was surprised how kids were talking about books, reading outside during recess, and recommending books to others. I used book clubs to facilitate talking about books. One group read Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. This group began to talk about how much they loved this book and why they loved it. All of a sudden a wildfire began and spread. Everyone wanted to read this book! It was amazing.
We also began to Skype with authors. On this blog, you will see an read about those experiences. I also connected my readers with authors through Twitter. These connections were special!
One thing that I love about Donalyn is that she remembered ME! She also helped me out when going to the exhibit hall the first time. She’s a great friend and a great mentor!


I am brushing the dust off of this blog! I will be writing about my adventures at NCTE soon!

What I am doing this summer…

I wanted to tell you about some of the things that I am doing this summer. I found a group of teachers that wanted to write this summer online. So, an author, Kate Messner (check out her website) set up an opportunity for teachers to write over the summer and be mentored by authors. It’s going to be a fantastic opportunity for me. Also, I will be reading.


One book I found on Twitter is One for the Murphy’s by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. This is her first book and I was able to connect with her just a few days ago on Twitter. I am a few chapters in the book and so far it’s awesome. This is what the book is about.

About the book: Carley uses humor and street smarts to keep her emotional walls high and thick. But the day she becomes a foster child, and moves in with the Murphys, she’s blindsided. This loving, bustling family shows Carley the stable family life she never thought existed, and she feels like an alien in their cookie-cutter-perfect household. Despite her resistance, the Murphys eventually show her what it feels like to belong–until her mother wants her back and Carley has to decide where and how to live. She’s not really a Murphy, but the gifts they’ve given her have opened up a new future.


I have been hearing great things about this book and I can’t wait to finish it. I will tell you all what I think about it when I am finished. Also, I will be excited to share this book with all of you. If you do get the chance, see if you can check it out at the library. If you want to buy it, you will need to order it (like I had to). Also, the author tweeted me this:


Question: What are you doing this summer and what book are you reading RIGHT now? Tell me about it. What do you like about it so far? What do you not like about it so far? 

It’s Monday: What are you reading?


Here are two books I am going to finish and start this upcoming week!

This is the book I am going to finish:


This is the book I am going to start:



Teacher’s Write Summer Workshop #1

I am going to participate in Teacher’s Write Summer Workshop. I am so lucky to have found such awesome teachers, librarians, and authors/illustrators via Twitter and through various blogs. The first writing prompt is answering the following questions:

  1. What you found that you might be able to cut out of your schedule or cut back on to make time to write.  I am going to spend the night after my children go to sleep to write. Because I work, the time after I get off teaching is important time for my family.
  2. When you’ll be writing each day & for how long. Remember to be realistic. 15 minutes is fine to start. I am going to spend 15-30 minutes a night starting out. This may vary from night to night.
  3. Where you’ll usually write.  This can be different places on different days, depending on your schedule. I will be writing in the living room to start. We will be moving so another place may come about.
  4. Who you told about your plans. Remember, sharing your writing plans with the people in your life helps to make them real and reminds your family & friends to give you that space for writing. I have mentioned this awesome workshop with my wife.

If you haven’t heard about this, follow the hashtag #teacherswrite on Twitter or head to Kate Messner’s blog, Gae Polisner’s blog, or teachmentortexts blog.  This will be a quite exciting time.

The reading year of 2011-2012

Here is a list of best books from the 5th grade class of 2011-2012. We did a lot of reading and found exciting new books to read and love! We also were able to Skype with Lindsey Leavitt, RJ Palacio, and Laurel Snyder. These were awesome experiences that my students won’t ever forget! Two of my students also connected with Laurel Snyder through mail correspondence and one of my students corresponded with Katherine Applegate. She also sent me a signed copy of her book The One and Only Ivan. This was an awesome surprise!

Here is the list:

Wonder by RJ Palacio (One of our favorites! We love this book and will be talking a lot about it in August!)

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (We love this book as well.)

Bigger Than a Breadbox by Laurel Snyder (We love this book!!!)

Best Bad Luck I’ve Ever Had by Kristin Levine

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (Any book by Jerry Spinelli was a favorite this year)

The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, and The Death Cure by James Dashner

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Janitors by Tyler Whitesides

Fablehaven (the series) by Brandon Mull

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis

Fields of Heaven by Steven Bennett (he is a local author in Diamond Valley)

The Kane Chronicles: The Red Pyramid, The Throne of Fire, and The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan (this is a favorite author in the 5th grade)

The Hero’s of Olympus: The Lost Hero, The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

The Clockwork Three by Matthew Kirby

Origami Yoda by Tom Angelberger

Darth Paper by Tom Angelberger

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (series) by Jeff Kinney

Babymouse series by Jennifer and Matt Holmes

Princess for Hire (series) by Lindsey Leavitt

There’s a Boy in a Girls’ Bathroom by Louis Sachar

Are there any books your students loved this year? Send them my way…I would love to add them to my library!


Summer Reading

Okay, I need some suggestions. I am thinking ahead and need some ideas for summer reading initiatives. I have tried giving my students a common book and a reading packet, but then some complained. I am going to try using Edmodo…and make it more voluntary. So, how do you use Edmodo for summer reading?  I need help and ideas!



My class loves Wonder. I love Wonder. We were so excited to have the opportunity to Skype with RJ Palacio about a month ago. (I know, I have neglected my blog, I am going to thank National Boards for that one!)  

My class has been reading Wonder over the past two months. One student bought the book on her KIndle and another student’s mom bought it on her Kindle and LOVED it. I drew some question marks on the date that we were to Skype to really peak their interest. The day before we were to Skype, I dropped the news, and my students gasped in excitement! I then had them think of and write down two questions: one about the book and one about writing or the writing process. 

The next day I though I was ready for our Skype visit. Ms. Palacio and I got mixed up on times since we are in different time zones. Luckily, she has a job in which she can Skype at her office (LUCKY)! I was relieved when the internet worked on my personal laptop. All of a sudden, RJ popped up on our screen. This is what we saw in our class:


Sorry about it being sideways, my readers and Ms. Palacio. 

We were excited…Ms. Palacio talked to us about the background of writing the book and then answered questions. She was very generous with her time. She is quite an awesome author and human being. All of my students and myself will continue to be HUGE fans of hers and her books (Wonder and future books).

Thank you RJ Palacio.




I am so glad that I was introduced to a wonderful novel titled Wonder by RJ Palacio. I have been an evangelist for this book since I heard about it. A book about a boy who has a facial deformity, never gone to school until his 5th grade year. What a wonderful summary!


I was so happy to have this book in my hands before I went to the Utah Valley University Engaged Reading conference. The first day, I was asking librarians and teachers from all over the state of Utah and from other parts of the country if they had heard of this book. All had said, No. I was shocked!  I was surprised!  I couldn’t believe that they hadn’t heard of this book. So, I did my best in selling this book to them. Many wrote down the title.

Donalyn, Me, and Wonder

The next day, I met my new friend Donalyn Miller. After her keynote, I went up and we chatted for a second. She asked me, “What books did the speakers talk about yesterday?”

I said, “Last years, but they didn’t mention any new books from 2012.”

She said, “Okay, that’s where I will start.”

I then said, “No one has heard of Wonder.”

She then said, “I will talk about Wonder, that book is going to win a ton of awards.”

When the cover of the book showed up on her screen, a few of the teachers whom I shared the book with previously looked at me and shook their heads and had a smile on their face. Donalyn then went on and expertly sold the book!

Stampede for Wonder

This past week, I bought another copy of the book for my classroom. I then showed the book trailer, which is awesome, to my class and shared the video of the author reading a chapter out loud. (Find these on youtube) I then held the book up and told the class that I LOVE this book. I told them it is probably one of my favorites of all time. I made a sign-up sheet and placed it on the whiteboard. I asked the class who would want to read this book? All hands shot up instantly! I told the class that they can sign up after lunch. There were a lot of moaning and groaning going on. Before the lunch recess bell rang, I had a line at my door. Once I let them in, there was a literal stampede at the sign-up sheet. One parent couldn’t understand what the kids were doing at the whiteboard. I told her that it was for a book. She couldn’t believe it. I had 17 names on the sign-up sheet (out of 27 kids).

The first name to get the book was a girl and by Friday she was past page 200. She got the book on Wednesday. RJ Palacio mentioned me on her Tumblr, thanking me (among many others) for being such an advocate for her book. You, Ms. Palacio, wrote an awesome book that I LOVE, thank you (and my students thank you) for doing this!


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