Friday, July 31, 2015

Fiction Friday: Chapter 7 {Graphic Novel Edition}

Happy Fiction Friday from the beach!  I’ve spent the week relaxing to the sound of the waves and feeling the sand between my toes. Pure bliss.

After reading Salem Hyde earlier this summer, I wanted to check out more of the graphic novels available to our elementary readers. The Bone and Amulet series have been favorites in my classroom for years, but I’m looking forward to growing and diversifying my graphic novel classroom collection. 

My first step was to hit the library, grab some books, and get reading.
Here is what I discovered…

El Deafo
by Cece Bell
I requested this graphic novel from the library after reading about it on Julie's Fiction Friday post on Math is Elementary and I'm so glad I picked it up! I devoured it in two sittings and enjoyed the humor, the heart, and the honesty of the story.

You can’t help but love little Miss CeCe Bell as she pulls you into her world of growing up deaf in the 70s.  She openly shares her childhood experiences in a way that helps readers understand the difficulties growing up deaf and being comfortable in your own shoes. 
I loved her imaginary superhero, El Deafo, who was there to set people straight about being deaf. So often (unfortunately) people would try to help CeCe, but it would come across as condescending and unkind. Because they didn’t know any different or understand, their slow speech or increased volume felt very patronizing.  You are filled with empathy, respect, and love for CeCe.  Thank you CeCe Bell for writing a novel that gives us all a peek into your beautiful world filled with your own superpowers! 
I can’t wait to add this book to my classroom library this year. It is an absolute must-have! No wonder it won a Newberry Honor Medal! I would recommend for grades 3 and up.    

Book Information:
  • 248 pages
  • Realistic Fiction
  • 420 lexile
  • Grade Level Equivalent - 3.4
The Great American Dustbowl
by Don Brown

This informational graphic novel made my list because it is one of the Texas Bluebonnet Nominees this year and it was excellent. Putting history in a graphic novel format is one of the best ways to help history come alive for kids, and this book did not disappoint. The book was filled with fascinating information and facts like when a dust storm blew in, the temperature would drop 50 degrees! What?!?

The bold and colorful illustrations clearly demonstrate the devastation and tragedy of the Great American Dustbowl and the will and endurance it took to survive on the plains. The novel captures the essence of the American spirit…to pull one’s self up by your bootstraps and keep on going. Loved it! I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys American history and grades 4 and up.

Book Information:
  • 80 page
  • Informational
  • 860 lexile level
  • Grades 4 and up

Explorer: The Mystery Boxes
Edited by Kazu Kibuishi
The Mystery Boxes was a unique graphic novel because it is actually a collection of short stories in graphic novel format.  Each story is completely different but they all have a mystery box.  This would be a fun one to study closely and compare and contrast the stories. Not only are the illustrations vastly different, but the stories range from mystical to spooky to silly space pranks.  I enjoyed the diversity of each story and cruised through the book.  This graphic novel is a beautiful nod to the genre, showing us how a graphic novel can be so many different kinds of wonderful.

Book Information:
  • 128 pages
  • Fantasy/Science Fiction
  • 370 lexile level
  • Grades 4 and up

Bluffton: My Summers with Buster Keaton
by Matt Phelan

I choose to read Bluffton for the incredible watercolor illustrations alone. I totally judged a book by its cover, and was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the story and the history behind the story.

Set in 1908, a troupe of vaudeville performers come to summer in Bluffton, Michigan.  Henry, the main protagonist of the story, lives a quiet life in a nearby town and becomes fascinated by the exciting life of the vaudeville performers he meets, especially Buster Keaton, a young boy about his age.  Buster has been a star since he was three and part of his family’s big act, “The Three Keatons,” where Buster is referred to as the human-mop. However, Buster clearly yearns for the quiet normal life Henry has. As the years pass and summers come and go, Bluffton becomes a place of freedom and escape from the ordinary for a few fleeting months.

The story then follows the boys to adulthood and although Harry’s character is fictional, Buster Keaton was real and he really did spend his summers in Bluffton. In the Author’s Note, it explains that Buster Keaton ended up going to Hollywood at the start of black and white movies and created some of the most innovative silent films of the age. His film The General made the American Film Institute’s 100 greatest American films list.

The illustrations in this book will mesmerize you, but the story will captivate you.  I couldn’t wait to close the book and google more on Buster Keaton, his fascinating story, and his legendary movies.

Book Information:
  • 240 pages
  • Historical Fiction
  • 370 lexile level
  • Grades 4 and up

Have you read any of these incredible books?  I had so much fun diving into a new genre this week and just exploring. What other graphic novels have you read and loved? What should I add to my library list? 

Don't forget to link up and/or click through all the great links below and check out other awesome reads as we continue to celebrate children's literature (in all it's forms) this summer! :)

Happy Reading!!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Student-Led Absent Work Forms {freebie}

Don’t you love when a student returns from being absent and asks, “Did I miss anything yesterday?”

It takes every ounce of will power for me not to say, “Nope, we wanted to learn, but we couldn’t go forward without you, so we waited. We sat around all day twiddling our thumbs and counting ceiling tiles. Don’t worry, you didn’t miss a thing.” Oh… the sarcasm the scrolls through my head. I'm often very thankful for my filter.

Of course, these are never the words that come out of my mouth. I just smile and give him the highlights of the day and designate a time later in the day to review the work that has been left on the desk.

But, this year… I’m doing things differently. We are going more student-led!

Thank goodness for Pinterest. I found lots of great examples of absent work forms to design my own. I wanted to keep it simple for 4th graders.  And… Ta-da! It turned out like this…

My goal is to have one of my classroom jobs be in charge of work for absent students. I will have my kids briefly summarize what we did (just like they would write in their agendas) and list any assignments from the day on the sheet. Then, they will be in charge of collecting copies of all handouts throughout the day, paper clipping everything together, and returning all the papers to me at the end of the day.  The child in charge of collecting work will also be the go-to student the next day for any questions.  

Looking back on my class last year, I had several students who would have LOVED this job! They were super organized and great at making lists. This would have been such an empowering and important leadership role for them in our classroom. I can’t wait to see how it goes this year.

How do you handle work for absent kiddos?  I find it especially challenging when we work in our interactive notebooks. I’d love to hear your tips and suggestions.

If you are interested in a copy of my absent student form, you can download it at my TPT store for FREE by clicking the image above or clicking hereI hope it makes your life easier this upcoming year too. 

If you download it and find it helpful, please leave feedback.  It absolutely make my day! Suggestions and other great ideas for this or future freebies, let me know?  Thanks y'all!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Get to Know Me: Yes or No?!

Happy Sunday everyone!

So, what am I doing blogging late on a Sunday night? Well, I simply had to join the Assess Me linky party that Rachel from The Tattooed Teacher is hosting.  Blogger icebreakers with fun activities?  Love.

This week is a Yes or No format. Again, love. 
Here's a bit more about me.

#1) Everyone talks to themselves, right? It's totally normal... I hope. My dogs are usually there, so I like to pretend they are listening and often sympathizing.

#2) Not superstitious at all.

#3) The sound of cracking knuckles is like nails on a chalkboard to me. I cringe at the very thought.

#4) Surprising, I'm not hungry at the moment. That being said I did just chomp down three Lemon Oreos. Have you had them??  Oh boy...delicious!!

#5) I turned to TBS just in time to catch Crazy, Stupid. Love.  It has honestly become one of my favorite movies.  The more I watch it, the more I enjoy it. So well done and I often think to myself, "You're better than the Gap." LOL.

#6) No wisdom teeth now. Strangely enough, I only had two which made life so much simpler when it was time to get them pulled.

#7) Yes! I showered! AND... I took the time to blow my hair dry. This is a big deal in the summer.

#8) My last trip to Disney was in 1994. Crazy, huh?  I was 10 and it was a surprise trip from my parents.  Totally awesome, but I've heard it's changed a lot.  :)

#9) I wear glasses but not contacts. The thought of putting anything in my eye totally freaks me out. Have you ever seen the Friends episode where Rachel has to put eye drops in and Monica has to hold her down on the couch to do it. I'm Rachel in this situation for sure.

#10) I was born in Texas, moved to the Seattle area for high-school and college, and then moved back to the Texas five years ago. I'm happy to be back because I love the sun! However, I must confess I miss the mountains and the water. It is just so beautiful there...when it's not raining that is.

That's it for me. Do we have anything in common?  Go link up with The Tattooed Teacher and read about all the other awesome bloggers out there linking up too.

Have a great week!