Sunday, April 26, 2015

Five Chapter Book Read-Alouds My Students Loved

As the school year begins to run down, I am already beginning to think about next year.  I'm a big believer in "notes for next year."  I want to keep the things that are working well, but change those that aren't.  So, I asked my students to rate and review the chapter books we've read this year. Some of them weren't very memorable and some kids didn't even remember that we read them. I won't be reading those again. The others received a variety of ratings and some mixed reviews. I've compiled the results and here is a countdown to our very favorite book. I've included a link to the Scholastic Book Wizard page (click on the title) and the Amazon page (click on the picture).

5.  Horrible Harry in Room 2-B by Suzy Kline

Since I teach second grade, I chose this first Horrible Harry book as my second chapter book read-aloud of the year.  My students related easily to the characters, who are also in second grade.  They were quickly engaged in the story of Horrible Harry as narrated by his best friend, Doug.  Like Doug, my students couldn't wait to find out what "horrible" thing Harry would do next. The book is light, humorous, and realistic.  My kids loved it!

This was our first chapter book read-aloud of the year. My kids instantly related to Keena and how her small mistake led to a big lie. My students quickly made connections between Keena and  Junie B. from Barbara Park's wonderful series of books about a kindergartner and first grader. They enjoyed Keena's capacity for trouble as well as the warm realistic feel of her family relationships. Keena lives with her mother and brother in Washington, DC, but looks forward to time spent with her father in Maryland.  She also enjoys a close friendship with her friend Eric, whose placement in another class leads to yet more misunderstandings. This was a fun, humorous read-aloud and a great way to start off the year.

This book received a rating of 4 to 5 stars from several students.  It had just enough mystery and humor to keep my students engaged and eagerly awaiting the next chapter.  They worried about the fate of poor Hermie and loved the outcome.  After we read this, many of my students became avid Jigsaw Jones fans.

2. Snoop Troop: It Came From Beneath the Playground by Kirk Scroggs

Honestly, this was not among my favorites. I have a feeling that this graphic novel made the list simply because it is the most recent chapter book we've read.  However, many of my kids simply loved it.  One student gave it 5 stars and said it "had a lot of funny chapters and the book was cool."  Another boy said it was his favorite because of the "robotic mole."  One of my girls said "it was funny and 'mustereest' (mysterious)." All of the kids agreed that it was a very funny book. The humor definitely appealed to a second grade audience.

And in a landslide vote, this was our absolute favorite chapter book this year:

 1. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

"'s so nice and cheerful." "Opal and Winn-Dixie are a great team..."
"...because Opal loved Winn-Dixie and because Winn-Dixie is funny."
"It was lovely! It is funny, sad, and lovely! It was full of love!"
"Love it!"
"There was a dog in the book."
"...the beginning is funny."
"...very, very good and similar to the movie."
"...because I get deep in the story."

These are some of the comments my students made when I asked them to tell me why they liked Because of Winn-Dixie best.  If you've never read it, let me tell you that it is the best kind of realistic fiction.  The main character, India Opal Buloni, narrates the story of how a chance encounter with a stray dog in a grocery store changes her life.  The overarching themes of the story are acceptance and friendship.  Parts of it will make you cry and parts will make your class roar with laughter.  Not only is this the favorite book chosen by my class, it's been my favorite read aloud for years!

I hope you find this list helpful. Please share some of your favorite chapter book read-alouds in the comments below.

Until next time,

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday Scoop and an Earth Day FREEBIE

I've missed the last few Sundays, so I'm happy to jump back in and share my Sunday Scoop with Teaching Trio.

Have to do:

Yesterday, I had a great time riding along the Virginia Creeper Trail with friends.  If you've never done this, I highly recommend it!  It's a beautiful trail and the upper portion of the 34 mile trail is an easy ride for beginners and experienced cyclists alike.  Here are a few pictures I took on the trail.

It was a lovely day, but I'm definitely feeling it today.  Hopefully, my muscles will be fully recovered by tomorrow.  Don't you wish weekends were longer than two days?

As usual, my lesson planning for the week is not completed and I have to spend some of my Sunday getting that done.  At least I've got a pretty good idea of what I'm doing. Now I just have to type it up so it makes sense and I can remember what I'm doing each day.  I also need to get a few copies run in the morning.  If only I didn't procrastinate so much!

On Thursday, our second graders will be visiting a botanical garden to learn about pollinators as part of our life cycle unit. It should be a great day.  I always have a lot of anxiety about field trips, though. Last year, I had the lovely experience of having a child get motion sickness.  Frantically finding and holding a paper bag as a student barfs is not something I care to repeat anytime soon.  I'm hoping this trip will be uneventful. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Hope to do:

I'm already taking notes for next year. I'm writing a blog post about our favorite chapter book read alouds from this year.  I gave my students a survey and asked them to rate the books and give me some feedback about their favorites.  I hope to have the post finished and up by Wednesday of this week.

Grading, ugh.  One of my least favorite things to do as a teacher.  I'm trying really hard not to get behind this quarter, so I am making myself a schedule to grade papers three days this week.

Happy to do:

Well, I promised you a FREEBIE, so here it is. I'm working on a new Poem of the Week product. I've been writing a lot of new poems to include in the product and one of them is about Earth Day.  Since Earth Day is this Wednesday, I thought some other teachers might be interested in having a copy.  Click here to download.

That's it for this week. Don't forget to visit the other great bloggers to read about their Sunday Scoop.

Until next time,