Showing posts with label Educational. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Educational. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Advanced Reading Instruction In Middle School: A Novel Approach - Janice I. Robbins, Rh.D.

Genre: Educational
Source: I received a copy from LibraryThing

I received this quite some time ago. I took it to school with me and completely forgot to write my review. So many books I have on my school shelves or have shared with other teachers are all about working with reluctant readers. This book is all about working with those gifted students who read well but don’t respond to the same types of lessons. 
The book starts off with information to help students choose a variety of books. From there it shows you how to help students interact with the books. I have my students keep a notebook. One of the things they use the notebook for is to write down things that pop into their head as they read. They also write down words, phrases or sentences that they find interesting for whatever reason.
There is a section that talks about asking questions about the novel. For those teachers who think that it is ridiculous that someone should talk to them about asking questions, I am here to tell you that after almost thirty years of teaching it is easy to fall into a rut. We need books like this to help remind us of all those great ideas we had when we first started teaching.
For me this book, full of ideas for the gifted reader, but  has ideas that will work for those reluctant readers as well. I loved the sections on different genres. This book is something that every beginning teacher should have.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

When Work Gets in Your Way or How to Forget to Post Reviews You Wrote

Every year I find reviews that I had written and never posted. How does that happen you ask? Well usually it happens when I have had a couple of days of downtime and tell my family that I am going to work on my book stack. My days are finished I go back to work and think to myself, "Well, I have an extra ten minutes of my planning period. I think I'll try to work on reviews for the books I read this weekend. "  Along the way the pages get ripped from my notebook and put into my calendar to be typed up. They get moved from there to any number of places and then forgotten. As I do every year at the end of the year I try to organize and clean up before I leave school.  When I am finally home I begin to do the same thing, clean and organize things on my bookshelves, my notebooks, and folders.
In this case, I was going through my composition notebooks preparing for my writing retreat and came across all types of papers. Some were notes to go into my writing notebook and some were school papers I'd scribbled a valuable writing idea on and kept the whole paper until I could transfer that small idea. In the midst of all of those papers I found not one book review, but ten I had written and never typed up.  So, I might as well get them up now. I have a couple of other books that when I see them on my TBR list I keep searching for their review because I've read the book but can't find where I wrote the review, and I know I wrote it.  Guess I need to just rewrite them and post them, because who knows when or where I will find them?  I hope you enjoy these reviews. These have been some of the most popular books in my classroom or with other teachers in my school.

Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery
Source: Classroom shelves

This series has been one of my favorite. It is also one of the most stolen series in my classroom. I don’t know if they are keeping them, passing them on and they never return or what. I have bought this entire series twice just this year. Desires of the Dead is the second book in the Body Finder series. Violet has always been able to locate dead bodies. That doesn’t mean she can go into a graveyard blind folded and point them out. I’m talking about those bodies that have been disposed of.  Her family has been very supportive as has her boyfriend Jay.  This “gift” has been passed down in her family.  Unfortunately, in this book she has two people after her, the FBI and a creepy stalker. We see her relationship with Jay build, we meet new characters, Rafe and others. We see the toll this “gift” take on her and her relationships.  This is a series I would definitely recommend to more mature readers. On my shelves this one required parental permission because of some of the content and the fact I was teaching 6th graders.  I definitely recommend this book.

Skull Creek Stakeout by Eddie Jones
Genre: Middle Grade, Mystery
Source: Classroom Shelves

This is the second book in the Caden Chronicles and is what I call a clean read. Nick Caden has so many qualities for a reader to like. First and most important to me he loves to solve mysteries. He is trying to discover who murdered a man found dead on a golf course. As a fourteen year-old boy, Nick is a very likeable character for all ages who read this book.  My students will love the fact that he puts himself in danger to solve murders. In this book they will love the creep factor of an old mansion. Who wouldn’t feel creeped out if locked in a creepy old mansion? Dead Low Tied is the third book in this series. I have not yet read it, but it will be purchased for my shelves at school. If you have read any of Max Elliot Anderson’s “Sam Cooper” books you will definitely enjoy this series. Highly recommended and on the to be purchased list for my granddaughter for Christmas.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Source: Classroom Shelves

As so often happens I plan on reading a book, but because of all the hype behind it my students get before me. It doesn’t matter I have four copies of this book on my shelves. That just meant more students would get their hands on it. I will always let a student read it first unless they find it on my desk because I am trying to read it for a requested review from the author. Okay, sometimes I let them read it before me.  This book was awesome. In this conclusion to the trilogy we find those we loved throughout the books coping. They are coping with the devastation of a war that was largely thrust upon them. They are coping with physical and mental loss.  One thing I really loved about this book is that the author didn’t take the easy way out. She lets us see the effects war has on all parties and how each deals with it. She tied everything up neatly, yet for some they will hate the ending. Me, I loved it. Everyone wants a happily ever after ending. But, this is a realistic outcome.  I like that even better. It makes it relatable to everyone. Listening to my students talk about the book before I could read it and seeing the connections they made to real life and how something like this could really happen opened my eyes to how deep some of my students are.  Books like this make them really think about their future. That is why I loved this book and will continue to recommend it to my students.

The Cassini Code – Dom Testa

Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult Science Fiction
Source: Classroom Shelves

The Cassini Code is the third book in The Galahad series. If you haven’t read the first two you must. I’ve had this book on my shelves for quite some time. The problem has been my students have had it checked out so much I’d not gotten to it. I took advantage of it coming in on a Friday to read it. Each book in the series seems to be better than the previous one. That to me is amazing since the first book has long been one of my favorites.  It becomes very obvious why Triana was chosen as leader. We have a new leader emerging. Merit has started a movement to return to Earth.  This discord keeps the tension going throughout the book. We have the same excellence with all of the other characters we’ve come to love, or hate and those who are freshly introduced to us.  My favorite is and probably always will be ROC. If you don’t know who this is then you definitely need to get the series and read it.

The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlit
Genre: Children, Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: Classroom Shelves

I first purchased this book because of the cover. That rarely happens. This is a beautiful book both in story and the pictures within. Flory, a night fairy has lost her wings in a tragic accident. For most fairies this would have caused them to give up. Not so with Flory. She can’t fly, but she can survive and make the best of the situation. She makes friends with a squirrel and goes about life the best she can. Her one dream is to be able to fly again. This is a hopeful book, full of adventure. I am sure it will be loved by all who read it.

The Real Boy  by Anne Ursu

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: Classroom Shelves

Oscar works for the magician Caleb. He works in the basement. He strikes up a friendship with Callie who is an apprentice to the village healer.  He is constantly tormented and put down by Wolf who also works for Caleb and thinks himself so much better than Caleb. One day Caleb disappears and Wolf gets killed. This means that Caleb must leave the basement and wait on the customers. He is shy and backwards, yet he truly has a gift. When the children of the village get very sick, Callie and Caleb set out to find out why, and to solve the problem. I loved the feeling of being vulnerable the author created with Caleb. With the boy ‘Wolf’ she created a perfect bully. One the reader could easily despise. Caleb is happy staying out of everyone’s way in the basement. He reads at night when he’s had nightmares. He waits until everyone is in bed then he sneaks into the Magician’s library and reads.  There is plenty of adventure and suspense in the book to keep you reading. The best part about all of it is the ending you don’t see coming.  This was one book that was consistently checked out of my classroom this last year.  Such an awesome and fun book to read.

Tuesdays at the Castle – Jessica Day George
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: Classroom Shelves

I absolutely loved this book. To me Castle Glower was almost like a character itself.  On Tuesday’s in particular the castle would get bored and create a new and hidden room. For our main character, eleven year old Celie would be off exploring the new addition. When Celie’s oldest brother graduates Wizard school her parents go off for his graduation.  This leaves siblings Celie, Rolf, and Lilah in the castle alone. Their parents are attacked on their journey and word gets back that they have been killed. As people from other lands come to pay their respect it becomes clear they are there also in the hopes of obtaining the kingdom. What they don’t realize is that this magical castle hasn’t changed anything in the king and queen’s suite and this lead the children to believe their parents are not dead. With the castle’s help they will defend their kingdom at all cost. This is a wonderfully, adventurous book to read. I really need to read the other books in the series.

Everyday Editing by Jeff Anderson
Genre: Adult, Informational, Educational
Source: I purchased

Most books I have purchased in the past along this line give students sentences to correct. Jeff on the other hand has taken sentences from great works and used them to teach students.  These are mentor texts.  You can take examples he has there and use them in your classroom.  Great examples to help you with your classroom writer’s workshop.

Polishing the PUGS by Kathy Ide
Genre: Adult, Informational, Educational
Source: I purchased

PUGS, in case you were unfamiliar with this acronym stands for punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling. Kathy Ide has taken information teachers are always searching for and placed in one book to make a great resource.  I have recommended this to other teachers. However, I find this most useful for my own writing. This should be on every writer’s bookshelves.

Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller
Genre: Adult, Educational
Source: I purchased

Donalyn is by far one of my favorite authors when it comes to reading about ways to inspire kids to learn to love reading. I purchased this book and addedbook she makes recommendations about the right way to encourage students to read, the right way to recommend books and genres. The right way to make sure your kids are reading “in the wild”, when they are away from you, instead of only when they are in your class.  This should be a must read for all beginning teachers no matter what subject they teach. In the real world of teaching, no matter what subject you teach, if your student can’t read well then they won’t really do well in any of their classes. All subjects require the ability to read and comprehend.  Put this on your list of must read books for this year.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Nonfiction Recommendations and Something for Teachers

I Survived True Stories: Five Epic Disasters 
by Laruen Tarshis

I have always enjoyed these true stories.  I purchased this book to put on my classroom shelves and had to read it first myself.  This one contained stories about the 2011 Tsunami that took out the power plant in Japan.  I was very familiar with most of that information.  There was a story about the Titanic which we are currently reading about in class.  The Henryville tornado of 2012 was just a couple of years ago.  I was very intrigued with the Children's Blizzard of 1888 since I grew up in Indiana.  I lived in the country and was very familiar with tying ropes from a post on the porch of our house to our wash house, then out to the garage where we kept our chickens, to the barn and finally out to the gate and then the hog houses so we could feed them.  I learned a lot about this blizzard I had never known before. The one I enjoyed the most was the Great Molasses Flood of 1919.  I had heard it mentioned once or twice before but had never read anything about it.  Lauren Tarshis does a fabulous job of making all of the information interesting to the reader.  i also love that after each one she gives information on other similar incidents and gives a list of resources so the reader can do more of their own research.  I really can't wait for my students to read this book.

World's Scariest Prisons by Emma Carlson Berne

This is another wonderful book I purchased for my class. If I know my students and I do, they will look at the title and think this is a book about haunted prisons.  I know I did.  This book describes different prisons from all over the world.  I never thought of teh Roman colosseum as a prison, yet it was.  Each story starts with a fact card at the top. This card lets you know the other names it went by.  It tells you where it is located, the years it was in operation, the number of prisoners and any notable inmates.  I was surprised to learn that social status and money could and often played a role in how a prisoner was treated, what they ate or their accommodations. Just in case you were disappointed about this not being a book about haunted prisons, there are a couple of stories about ghosts in some of the prisons.  I found this to be a very informative book and I'm sure my students will lvoe it as well.

For all of my teacher friends out there I have something for you.

3-Minute Motivators by Kathy Paterson
This book is full of quick little motivators to use when students are lagging. There is a lot of visualization used throughout the book. favorite is found on page 136 "The Unfair Test". Growing up I hated pop quizzes. I considered them to be extremely unfair. I swore I would never do this. In this activity you give a pop quiz and ask questions like "What is H2O", "What is this (hold up a pencil). The reason this test is unfair is because the only correct and acceptable answers are the ridiculous ones such as, H2O is "a home for fish" orthe pencils is "a back scratcher". The different tasks are coded by subjects and whether it is an individual, group or team activity. They also tell you when and why you can use the motivator. There are so many I really want to try with my students.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Teach Children to Read Faster:The Automatic Reading Teacher - Dennis Brooks

Publisher:  Dennis Brooks
Pages:  114
Source:  Review Copy from Author
Genre:  Educational, Reading

Dennis Brooks has come up with something that is not necessarily new, but something that works.  He shows the importance of teaching phonics to kids.  As a former elementary teacher, I remember teaching these to my students. True, this was a private school.  Today kids who don't catch on fast enough get passed over.  I loved the way Mr. Brooks shows the phonetic spelling before the correct spelling.  The progression from vowels to blends, to short sentences makes sense.  The instructions were easy to follow.  There is a section for working with gifted students as well as what parents can do to help them. 

Our math teacher asked for this book since he is working with his daughter.  He said he knows math but he needs all the help he can get with helping his daughter with her reading.  The funny thing is I've had this book review since probably May.  I thought I had posted it.  I found it this weekend in last years school calendar.  I called the math teacher and asked him if he had used the book with his daughter and if so how it had worked.  He said he and another teacher at school have the only two kids in their kindergarten class reading already.  He said it is because they spent this summer working with their kids using this book together.  Their kids are in the same kindergarten class.  I was really glad to hear that he thought the book was the reason the two kids learned to read so early.  It just goes to show that you still can't beat phonics.  I see the effects every day of kids who have not been grounded in phonics.  I have sixth graders who barely read at a second grade level.  I will definitely recommend this book to other teachers and parents.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Is America Dumbing Down Education?

Every year I get more depressed when I see how little we value reading.  I have been a teacher for the past nineteen years.  My passion has always been reading.  In first grade I sat with struggling students during our recess and helped them with their reading.  In middle school I worked with the learning disabled in their classrooms with their reading.  In high school my father moved us from Indiana to Florida.  It was quite the educational shock.  The English books I had used in seventh grade were our tenth grade books.  I had most of my credits so I took every Literature and English course I could.  Imagine my horror when we received a program my senior year called "Individualized College English".  I immediately signed up.  After all I had been taking AP courses so this must be one of those, right?
After the introductory class I learned it was a reading program I'd taken in fourth through sixth grade up north.  It was to help students learn to comprehend what they read and to pick up their speed.  It was an SRA program.  I became the teacher's assistant working with the really low level readers.

 As you can see I have always taught reading.  Both of my younger sisters entered kindergarten reading on a second grade level.  When we lived in the country and had to stay indoors due to bad weather,  we played a multitude of things.  My choice was school.  When our elementary school had burned down, and they placed the smoke damaged text books outside for the taking, I had an entire set of first through sixth grade text books.  I made my sisters and cousins help take them home.  So, we played school.  I was the teacher and taught my sisters before they entered school.

Nineteen years later I still love the idea that I may be able to change one student through teaching.  I dream of inspiring kids to become readers.  However, the longer I teach the more afraid and disillusioned I become.  We as teachers know what we should do to help our students become well rounded, educated, global citizens.  Then we have those above us who tie our hands.

I keep books of all reading levels and genres on my shelves.  I have books for my more mature readers that require parent permission due to subject matter.  These books contain issues that many of my middle schoolers face.  An example book would be Sarah Littman's book, "Want to Go Private".  We live in a technological age where kids are on Facebook talking with total strangers.  This book is the fictional story of one girl who learns through a horrifying lesson how dangerous it is to chat online.  As much as I've been criticized by some parents for having it on my shelves, I've been praised by other parents for having a book that gives them an opening to discuss topics like this with their young teens.

I am not wandering here, there is a point to all of this.  As we near the end of the school year and prepare our summer reading lists I find myself in the same frustrating situations.  We want students to continue to read over the summer so we make up a list of books and some sort of activity or project for them to bring in after school begins.  It sounds like such a lofty idea until told that it has to be simple so parents won't complain or get to frustrated and call the school.  Something as simple as keeping a reading journal with explicit instructions on how to do this, morphed into having the student write a reflective paper about the book, what they liked or didn't like and why.  It also included a collage of words or pictures from the book.

I feel most frustrated because I work in an IB school and feel that we need to up the anti for these future global students.  Why is it that America keeps letting those we are trying to help, the parents, set the rules for how we teach.  We want our students to be able to compete for future jobs on a global scale, yet we continue to dumb down our education.  We can create all kinds of test for our students. We can't continue to listen to parents say, "My child couldn't do their homework last night because they had a football game", and then turn around and complain that their child can't keep up so it must be the teacher's fault.  It is time America wakes up and says, education should be first.  I think we had it right many years ago when we didn't promote a child in a subject until they had mastered it.  Now we promote them so they won't be socially affected, hoping the next teacher will be able to catch them up.  This becomes the snowball affect.  I can't catch catch your child up AND teach them what they need to know for this year at the same time.  At some point parents have to take responsibility for their child's education.  I'm tired of hearing, "I'm a single parent and I have to work two jobs so I can't help my kids with their homework."  I was a single parent, working three part-time jobs and attending college full time and always made sure my kids did their homework.

I've taught international students.  Many of them laugh at our educational system.  In some countries students are all taught the same curriculum.  Those students who fall behind are then put on an educational track to teach them a trade, while those who want to work hard for future college are given that opportunity.  I've taught students who attended classes in an auditorium with 300 students then had to engage a tutor in the evenings so that they could get a good education.

We in America have lost sight of how important an education is.  Our students don't value it.  Many of those higher up evidently don't value it.  If they did they would not advocate dumbing it down to keep from offending parents.

It is time that we take back education, raise the bar and do what is right for our students.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Five Skills Between Confusion and AHA! – Guinevere Durham

Publisher:  Outskirts Press
Pages:  156
Source:  I received a copy from the author in exchange for a review
Genre:  Education

From the press kit:
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.  Teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” (Chinese Proverb) By the same premise, teach children the facts and you prepare them for the test.  Teach them HOW TO LEARN the facts and you prepare them for a lifetime.  In this age of technology, the teacher’s role is no longer that of presenter, lecturer, or the authority on the material.  Today’s teacher is the mentor, guide, facilitator, and supporter.  The educator who teaches the facts isnow obsolete; now in place is the educator who teaches the student HOW TO LEARN THE FACTS.  Teaching methods include the five skills needd in order to LEARN HOW TO LEARN, culminating in being able to access, assess, analyze, and add up all the facts to form a conclusion.  This is accomplished through the many avenues of technology.  Five Skills Between Confusion and AHA! Identifies, explains, and illustrates the competencies needd for this process; Logic, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Investigating, and Experimenting.  The skills may be used either independently of or in collaboration with each other.  The learning style of the child, left-brained/right-brained and visual/auditory/kinesthetic modality, is also explained.  Five Skills Between Confusion and AHA! Is written for both educator and non-educator and provides material to use at home, in a classroom, or in the world.  Educator = everyone in the child’s circle who has a stake in teaching the child HOW TO LEARN for a lifetime.

My Thoughts:
I am so glad I was given the opportunity to read and review this book.  As a teacher I strongly believe every parent should be required to read this book.  It doesn’t matter if their child will be going into a public, private or homeschool situation.  This is valuable information that will give children and parents an edge
Most parents don’t know how their children learn.  They try to help them using their own learning style and then get upset when it doesn’t work for their child.  Another topic she discusses is strategies for learning.  Critical Thinking and Problem Solving skills are what children need today to be successful and the one area they struggle with the most.  The strategies and activities in the book are real life application tools.  They are things every parent can do.  It is time that parents become involved in educating their children.  With all of the learning styles and needs present in schools today it is impossible for teachers to do it all without the help of parents.  Parents don’t usually help because they feel inadequate to help. This book arms them to pick up that slack.  This book is going to be passed on to administration at my school because I feel it is important that they stay in-line with research and methods to help parents.

About the Author:
Dr. Guievere Durham writes “Five Skills Between Confusion and AHA!” from three perspectives, as a parent of six, a teacher and an administrator.  Earning a BS, MS, and Ed.D in education she spent thirty years confronting challenges and reaping blessings, retiring as an elementary principal.  She has been recognized for her teacher workshops and conference presentations in the fields of parenting, school improvement reading, and test-taking skills.  Other published writings include material for the reading textbooks and Sunday school curriculum, and two books, one of which, “Tteaching Test Taking Skills” was her doctoral practicum.  She was nationally acclaimed twice for listing in “Outstanding Teacher of the Year” and once for “Outstanding Administrator of the Year”.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Reviews from my readathon

Saturday was the first full day of Winter Break.  I told my family that I was going to be doing at least two three day readathons.  What follows are reviews for the books I have read since Saturday.  I hope you enjoy them.  This is my attempt to catch up with some of the books and reviews I've gotten so behind on.

The Orphan of Awkward Falls – Keith Graves

Publisher:  Chronicle Books
Pages:  256
Source:  I received the book from LibraryThing in exchange for a review
Genre:  MG Horror

On Amazon this book as listed for ages 8 – 12.  On the author website it states it might not be suitable for anyone under the age of 12.  I will say this.  You must know your child or students reading likes and dislikes, their ability to handle certain material.  The day after I received this book I took it to school and shared part of it with the teacher next door.  She really wanted to read it.
I was intrigued when I read the  first twosentences: “The little town of Awkward Falls was kow for two things:  its canned sauerkraut and its insane asylum.  Both had achieved notoriety for their repulsiveness.”
The asylum is home to the criminally insane, especially one known as Fetid Stenchley.  He is the worst among all of them.  He is in fact a cannibal.  It is he who killed the grandfather of our main character Thaddeus Hibble. Thaddeus lives in a Victorian mansion with only a robot butler and a pieced together, Frankenstein style, talking cat.  Things change when Josephine and her family move  to Awkward Falls and actually move in next door to Thaddeus.  Thaddeus and Josephine meet when she sees something in the fog and goes out to investigate.  She ends up snooping around the place next door and meets Thaddeus.  They become good friends.  Of course this story would not have any tension if the aforementioned cannibal had not escaped.  The problem is he is headed back to where his last crime was.  This puts Josephine, her family and new friend in jeopardy.

There are so many things that I love about this book.  It is a gross, creepy, horrifically humorous book.  Many of the scenes are possibly too frightening for younger children.  Many of my own students read more mature books and more intense horror.   For them this would be a wonderful book.  I still have some who prefer the younger books such as The Magic Tree House series.  For them this would not be an appropriate book.  This is where it is important to know your students or children.  For a book like this I usually send a note home explaining what the book is about and getting parent permission if I think there may be an issue.

The characters were wonderful, the plot moved at a great pace so that I didn’t want to put the book down.  I believe that the majority of children in middle school will love this book.  For those adult who love reading middle grade fiction this is one I recommend to you.  Get the book and find out what happens in Awkward Falls.

Playground – 50 Cent

Publisher:  Razorbill
Pages:  314
Source:  Received a copy from LibraryThing for review
Genre:  Middle Grade/Young Adult Realistic Fiction

Warning:  Although there is mild violence due to the bully issue this book contains some profanity.  Gratefully the author did not feel he needed to use the “F” word.  The language is a part of who the character is and is a part of what makes the character believable.

From Goodreads:
Thirteen-year-old Butterball doesn’t have much going for him. He’s teased mercilessly about his weight. He hates the Long Island suburb his mom moved them to and wishes he still lived with his dad in the city. And now he’s stuck talking to a totally out-of-touch therapist named Liz.
Liz tries to uncover what happened that day on the playground—a day that landed one kid in the hospital and Butterball in detention. Butterball refuses to let her in on the truth, and while he evades her questions, he takes readers on a journey through the moments that made him into the playground bully he is today.
This devastating yet ultimately redemptive story is told in voice-driven prose and accented with drawings and photographs, making it a natural successor to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.
Loosely inspired by 50 Cent’s own adolescence, and written with his fourteen-year-old son in mind, Playground is sure to captivate wide attention— and spark intense discussion.

My Thoughts:
When I was given the opportunity to possibly win a copy of this book I signed up only because I loved the premise of the book.  I honestly knew nothing about the author except I believed he was a rapper.  After getting the book and reading it I decided to look up the author.  I read several articles on him and his reasons for writing the book.  I could not say I expected him to say he was a bully at some point in his life as I knew nothing about him or his music.  I was pleased to realize that the book came about because of a conversation with his son.  That in itself put him high on my list of parents.  We need more parents willing to have conversations with their children about tough topics.   I was glad that he chose to approach this from the bully’s perspective.  It gave me a better look at some of the reasons children bully others.  As a teacher I see bullying many times a week.  Most of it is not the violent type we saw in the book where the main character Butterball bashes in the face of his ex-friend with a sock full of batteries.  The type of bullying I see at school is just as dangerous and harmful.  Physical wounds can often heal.  It is the psychological ones that take time.  Healing has to happen not only for the victim but also for the bully.  I’ve seen a couple of those students who were “thugs” do a complete turn-around.  This book gives hope to those who know they are bullies.  I think in our society we often look at the bully and write them off.  I applaud the author for his work on this issue.  I hope we see more from him regarding tough topics.  I will not only put this on my shelves at school I will make sure our guidance department knows about this book.

Rippler – Cidney Swanson

Pubisher:  Williams Press
Pages:  288
Source:  I received a copy from LibraryThing in exchange for my honest review.
Genre:  Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy

From Goodreads:
Samantha Ruiz has a freak gene that makes her turn invisible, or ripple. She can’t control it, and it’s getting worse. Afraid of becoming a lab-rat, Sam keeps her ability secret, until fellow runner Will Baker sees her vanish into thin air. Will promises secrecy and help, and Sam begins to fall in love. Together, the two discover there are worse things than being a scientific curiosity. Someone’s been killing people who possess Sam's gene. A mysterious man from France sends letters that offer hope for safety, but also reveal a sinister connection with Nazi experiments. The more time Sam spends with Will, the less she can imagine life without him. When Sam uncovers secrets from her past, she must choose between keeping Will in her life or keeping Will safe.

My Thoughts:
Right from the first line this book grabs you and draws you in.  It has something for everyone.  It has a little bit of history, a mystery, some paranormal elements, realism.  What is there not to like about it so far?
Samantha Ruiz, (Sam) is a typical teenager.  She is on a rafting trip with her cross-country team when something strange happens to her.  She disappears.  Everyone believes she has fallen into the water.  That is everyone except teammate Will.  He helps her.  This rippling, has happened to her twice before, but she was alone and thought she had imagined it.  This time there was no denying it was not her imagination.  Will and his sister try to explain things to her about the “rippler gene”.  She begins reading an old Nazi journal that describes horrible tortures conducted on children.  She also learns that the accident that killed her mother might have actually been an attempt on her life.  Throw in a budding romance and you definitely have a teen winner.

There were enough different elements to keep the reader going non-stop.  I didn’t want to stop for anything.  I can’t wait to read the second book in this series.  I’m just sorry I had to take this long to get around to it.

Take Five! For Language Arts: 180 Bell-ringers That Build Critical Thinking Skills  – Kaye Hagler

Publisher:  Maupin House
Pages:  211
Source:  I won a copy
Genre:  Educational

Product Description from Amazon:

Kaye Hagler s unique bell-ringers for language arts help you transform the first chaotic five minutes of class into authentic opportunities to practice critical-thinking skills.
Students in grades 6-12 exercise their mental muscles as they work collaboratively, warming them up to tackle your standards-based lessons.
Whether your students are inventing secret codes, concocting potions, rewriting history, making conjunction paper chains, or thinking like newspaper editors, these diverse and creative prompts will have them looking forward to the part of the day when they re asked to Take Five for critical thinking.
The 180-plus prompts set up your teaching day from the minute that students step into your class.
Each ready-to-use prompt includes: corresponding standards, supply lists, language arts links, teacher tips, assessment options, rubrics, and digital connections that add more than 100 extension lessons.

My Thoughts:  I could not wait to get to school and try this out.  I was able to start with an prompt that went right along with the unit we were working on.  The students loved it.  I get deeper thinking answers and writing from my students.  I also loved the rubric created by the author.  I plan on starting off next year with this book.  I’ve encouraged the rest of the language arts department to look at purchasing this book.  I think this book should be in every Language Arts Classroom.  I am very pleased with it and happy to recommend it to other teachers.

About the Author:
Kaye Hagler is an educational consultant who mentors teachers throughout the Southeast. She has been an educator for more than twenty years, teaching middle school gifted education and high school English as well as working as an elementary library media specialist and college adjunct instructor. A former journalist and freelance writer, Hagler holds a bachelor's degree in education from Georgia State University, a master's degree with a concentration in English from Troy University and postgraduate endorsement in gifted education from the University of Alabama. She lives in Panama City Beach, Florida.