Tuesday, June 26, 2012

One and Only Ivan

Yesterday, we all went to the Brookfield Zoo.  It is one of two large zoos in the Chicago area.  While trekking through the crowds, we made our way to the final stop - Tropic World.  This is where they house monkeys, apes, mandrils, orangutans, and silverback gorillas.  It is broken up in to three separate buildings - South America, Asia, and Africa.  Normally, I find Tropic World a bit boring as it is long, crowded and humid, and the monkeys don't usually do much.  However, today I must have felt different.  When I reached Africa and saw the male silverback gorillas, the first thing that came to mind was Ivan - the male protagonist from the novel, The One and Only Ivan.

Ivan is a strong silverback stuck in a run-down small-town circus.  The other thing that really stands out for Ivan is that he loves to paint.  He paints everything he can.  But when a new baby elephant shows up, he wishes one thing - for all of them to be free from this horrible place. 

As I sat and stared at the silverback gorillas at the zoo, all I could think about was Ivan and the wish to be free.  The One and Only Ivan is written in a beautiful verse-like style.  It is a very fast read yet it really touches the heart.  I highly recommend it.

Check out the site here:  http://theoneandonlyivan.com/

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Choose Kind

Wonder Part 2:

My last post was a bit of a review of R.J. Palacio's wonderful debut novel - Wonder.  As I was reading the latest post from the Nerdy Book Club, I came across this blog - Watch. Connect. Read.  On Mr. Schu's blog, he had a button that leads you to the Choose Kind website.  This site is an anti-bullying campaign based on the novel, Wonder.  I was amazed by this because of all the recent bullying in the news.  Most recently, the bus monitor bullied by middle school students.  I wish everyone who reads this book will visit this site and Choose Kind.  That is what I instill in my students.  I will show them this site as we read Wonder in the Fall. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wonder is...

I realize that there has already been a lot of amazing reviews of the book - Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  I just want to add my two cents.  This book is a MUST read not just for every classroom teacher but also every parent.  I read Wonder this past school year as a read aloud to 2 of my classes.  (The third class wanted to read Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes which I will save for another post).  Each time I would read the chapters, I would always find new topics to discuss.  My students would beg me to keep reading as they were glued to this wonderful story about Auggie.  I think this book is the perfect book for 6th grade students.  Even though Auggie is a 5th grader, my students could definitely relate to what he was dealing with in school.  My students could not stand Julian.  It was fun to see their reaction and listen to them discuss the relationships in the book.  I also showed them a book trailer which is on R.J. Palacio's site.  It is great to show them because it is true to the story.

I plan to use this book at the beginning of the year as my first novel read aloud.  I say my first novel read aloud because I start every year with a short story read aloud, "Curses, Inc" from the book of short stories, "Curses, Inc."by Vivian Vande Velde.  I like using "Curses, Inc." as my first read aloud because it is great for think-alouds and getting the students used to my reading style.  Once I begin Wonder, I  plan to use some of the creative ideas from this site - Help Readers Love Reading. 

In short, if you are looking for a great book to read now or with your students - check out Wonder! 

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Now that I am off for the summer, I have found myself to be addicted to Pinterest.  What a great site!  I think I am on Pinterest more than Facebook now.  Ha!  Just means I am on the computer way too much.

I have found so many amazing and creative activities I want to try next school year.  I have also found cool websites & blogs to use to assist in my lesson plans.  If you are interested in checking out my boards, here they are.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Book Study & Giveaway

I am very excited to start a book study on the Daily 5 and CAFE.  This book study will be taking place at weread,weblog,weteach..  So, hop on over and take a look.

Also, there is a book giveaway before the book study begins:  Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher

You will definitely want to sign up.

Friday, June 1, 2012


This is my first post to start a new era in my life.  Today, I begin a blogging life.  I hope to share ideas for your classroom and suggestions to help those teachers in need.  There might be a few posts about healthy eating and my side job - DJ.  But for the most part, I will be discussing lessons, activities, and ways to add a spark to a 6th grade classroom.