Reader Recommendations on Teacher Tip Tuesday

I always love when a book grabs me and pulls me in so much so that I cannot escape it.  Not only that, but when I finish the story I still feel like the characters are living their life and the story continues.  Certainly that is the case with the book I just finished, and I invite you to read it (even if you aren’t a teacher) and share it with your students, family, and friends.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

I downloaded this book from the local library and read it on my Kindle Fire, however it is so powerful that I am going to purchase my own copy.  Wonder was released on February 14, 2012 by author R.J. Palacio.  The story is told from multiple viewpoints and chapters are small snippets that allow the reader to move quickly through the text.

Kindness, courage, friendship, compassion, empathy, and acceptance are just a few of the themes that run throughout the book.  Here are two of my favorite quotes from the story:

If every single person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary – the world really would be a better place.

Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.

Not wanting to give away too much about the story, I am going to tell you to just read it!  And, don’t forget to check out the Choose Kind website for great ideas that stem from the reading of the book. All in all, this book receives a five heart review from me.

Happy Reading!

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Sunday Celebrations

Even though Frankenstorm is headed our way and people are in panic as they scramble around for last minute necessities, life goes on as usual here at our house.

The first celebration is that my daughter passed her driver’s test this morning!  I guess that is a celebration…for her. It leaves me with a ton of mixed feelings, but that’s just part of being a mom. As I sit here and type, she is headed out on her own for her first solo trip.  I really shouldn’t worry; she’s headed to Target, and we have driven there millions of times during the last six months.

Found on Pinterest, of course!
Thanks, Sondra 🙂

The second celebration is that we are celebrating my niece’s birthday this afternoon. She’s my youngest niece and she turned ten last Tuesday.  It’s hard to believe she’s ten already.  Before we know it, she will be driving too!

For the celebration my sister-in-law asked me to bring Mac & Cheese.  Since the only Mac & Cheese I make is Easy Mac, I suggested that I bring this baked ziti dish that:

  • I can actually successfully make on my own…AND
  • Tastes yummy!

If you remember back to my earlier post called Love It or Loathe It?, you will recall the battle that I had with the deviled eggs…and lost!

When I collect recipes I have two requirements. It has to be simple and the final product has to taste yummy!  As soon as I read the words chop, saute, or brown I’m finished.  That recipe will not be added to my collection!  My baked ziti recipe, however, makes the mark.  Here are six ingredients that you need:

Baked Ziti Ingredients

All you need to do is cook the pasta and mix the cheeses and sauce together.  Then place in a 13×9 baking dish.  Before it’s ready to go in the oven, this is how it will look:

Ready for the Oven

Then bake the ziti in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes.  Your ziti is then ready for your enjoyment. Here is the link for the original recipe:  Creamy Italian-Style Ziti

Well, the oven timer is beeping and the garage door is opening.  That means the I didn’t burn the ziti and my daughter returned safely from her first driving adventure. Two more things to celebrate! Life is Good!

I Hope You Enjoy Your Sunday!

Thanks for Visiting My Blog!

Teacher Tip Tuesday: Would You Rather…?

Today’s tip was once again inspired by Lisa Donohue from the Millersville Writing Institute…yep, I’m still blogging about the best grad class ever!

Quite simply it’s called Would You Rather?  And, do not fret, it is a completely acceptable approach to use with your youngsters.  Let’s get the technical gibberish out of the way and then let’s give it a try!

Today’s tip is going focus on comparing and contrasting  by examining  how story elements are similar (the comparing) and how they are different (the contrast).  With the Would You Rather?  technique we are going to be encouraging our students to make connections between texts or ideas and engage in critical thinking skills. This will in turn lead to a students gaining a deeper understanding of the text.  Meet our good friend the Venn Diagram because this will be the graphic organizer that spurs all that wonderful critical thinking:

Good Old Mr. Venn

The lessons are going to be focused on books that can be used during the Read Aloud block of instruction.  They can be used to promote discussion or they can be used as part of a Reader’s Response Notebook.  (By the way, be sure to click on the link for the Reader’s Response.  I think you will find some great ideas.)

Here is a brief overview of how the lesson will work:

  1. Choose book(s) that will promote critical thinking skills and analysis.
  2. Read the book(s) aloud.
  3. Share the Would You Rather? prompt.
  4. Organize thoughts on the Venn Diagram
  5. Respond in the Reader’s Notebook being sure to provide text support as to why.

Sample prompt to promote the analysis of the setting:

Would You Rather…live at Hogwarts or in the land of Narnia?

Harry Potter

Chronicles of Narnia

Sample prompt to promote the analysis of the plot line:

Would You Rather…go on an adventure with Eric, Julie, and Neal from the Secrets of Droon or go on an adventure with Jack and Annie from the Magic Tree House?

Secrets of Droon Series

Magic Tree House Series

Sample prompt to promote character analysis:

Would you rather… be Rose or Ben from the story Wonderstruck?

by Brian Selznick

Sample prompt to promote the theme (frinedship):

Would you rather…be best friends with August Pullman in Wonder or Jessica Feeney in Firegirl?

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Firegirl by Tony Abbott

Let’s not forget about nonfiction!  Here is a sample prompt the requires the analysis on content information:

Would you rather…live on Saturn or Neptune?

Saturn by Seymour Simon

Neptune by Seymour Simon

So, whatever Would You Rather? prompt you choose, it is sure to spark those critical thinking skills in your Langage Arts instruction.  I hope you give it a try, and I hope you let me know how you used it in your classroom!

Happy Reading!

Happy Writing!

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Practice & Passion

All it takes is a lot of practice and the passion to succeed!

The last few days have been very exciting for this Runner, Reader, & Rockin’ Mom.  Not only did my hubby and I achieve a personal best this week, but so did my daughter.

Run & Run Fast!

Tuesday was the County Meet for my daughter’s XC team and she rocked the race!  Her new PR for a 5k is 20:44! She finished 4th for her team and 18th overall. We are definitely on a runner’s high in our house!  I’m one proud mom! 🙂

Way to Go!

1/2 Marathon Recap 2012: Q & A Style

Q: Was this your first 1/2 marathon?

A:  It is actually my second.  Check out my post called  What a Difference a Year Makes to see my recap of the Baltimore Running Festival 2011.

Q: Did you follow a training plan?

A:  I followed Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 training plan.  For the most part I stuck to it.  I never skipped a long run, but I did drop a few mid-week runs (Exercise Log) and I did get in a Runner’s Rut from time to time.  I wish I could have kept up with my cross-training, but I was super happy that I ran completely injury free, unlike my 1/2 marathon last year!

After the race,
My feet were still attached!
My legs still worked!

Q: How many runners were in the race?

A:  There were a total of 10,229 runners in the 1/2 marathon.  I was the 2,048th runner to cross the finish line.  In my age group there were 597 runners and I was the 65th runner to cross the finish line for that category.

Q: Did you have a goal you wanted to reach?

A: Yes, my goal was to run the 1/2 marathon in two hours and run injury free.  I knew in order to reach that goal I could not run slower than a 9:09 pace.  A 9:09 pace was certainly attainable, but I wasn’t sure if I could maintain it for 13.1 miles.  To my surprise, I  surpassed my goal.  Here are my mile splits:

Race Stats

Q:  Did you run the race with any friends?

A:  My hubby ran the full marathon, so I partially trained with him.  I did all my long runs with a new running buddy and we started the race together.  However, it was so CROWDED that we got separated at about mile two.

I also met a friendly runner during the race. I chatted with her at the beginning of the race and we were shocked how CROWDED it was.  I think we were actually quite unnerved.  I saw her several times throughout the race up until about mile marker eight, but then I didn’t see her until we were in the home stretch on Eutaw Street.   When I saw her I told her it was time to wrap this up…LET’S GO!  We crossed the finish line just second apart.  Later I found out she was barking on my heals and following me on those miles when I thought she disappeared.  She was so sweet and thanked me for pacing her through the race.  The marathon photographers got a fantastic shot of us chatting on that home stretch, but I couldn’t pull the trigger on purchasing that photo, $$$$, not yet anyway!

Post Race
Me & My Hubby

My Training Buddy
Yes, it was cold before the race!

My New Friendly Running Pal!

Q: Did you win anything in this race?

A:  Funny you should ask me that!  A few days before race day, I was talking with four of my students about the race and explaining to them what a 1/2 marathon is.  One of them chimed in and asked me if I thought I would come in first place.  Oh my!  I just had to laugh!  🙂   No, I was not going to come in first place and win $25,000, but in my eyes everyone who ran the race was a winner.  I did, however, receive an awesome medal and flowers from my hubby.

Everyone’s a Winner!

Flowers from the Hubby

Q: Do you have another race scheduled in the future?

A:  That depends who you ask.  Pink Runner has been bullying me politely asking me to join her for a 1/2 marathon in December. I’ll keep you posted on that!  I am thinking that I may possibly like to run the Turkey Trot 5k in November. I am mentally exhausted, so right now I am looking forward to a break.

Q:  Did you learn any life lessons because of the race?

A:  At the beginning of the race I saw a spectator holding a sign that said:

“Pain Is Temporary


Pride Lasts Forever”

Yep, that about sums it up.  I pushed through and finished proud.  It was a great day for a run!

My Weekend in Numbers

Homecoming Weekend: Friday, October 12, 2012  

  • Homecoming football game: Central 54, South Western 13.  Yay Panthers!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

  • Woke up at 4:45 am
  • Drove 60 miles to the Baltimore Running Festival
  • At 8:00 am, watched my hubby start his 26.2 mile marathon with 3,020 runners

Baltimore Running Festival

  • At 9:45 am, joined 10,207  runners to get in place to run 13.1 miles

Me & My Running Buddy

  • Ran 13.1 miles in 1:54:05 at an 8:42 pace!
  • Congratulated my hubby on his 26.2 mile personal record of 4:13!
  • Drove 60 miles home
  • At 3:45 pm stepped into Rockin’ Mom mode and joined 2 great kids for 1 great Homecoming celebration

Two Great Kids
One Great Night

Sunday, October 14, 2012

  • Read 50+  pages of Gone Girl
  • Did 5 loads of laundry
  • Watched the Ravens win:  Baltimore Ravens 31, Dallas Cowboys 29

Way to Go, Ravens!

I hope you enjoyed your weekend!

Stay tuned for my race recap!

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Almost There

This Sunday will mark the last long run of my 1/2 marathon training.  Currently, I am in week 11 of my 12 week training program.  The program I am following is the Hal Higdon Novice 2 plan and it has worked splendidly for me, although I did drop a few mid-week runs over the last few weeks.  Needless to say, it has been a challenge for me to keep up with my cross training too.  I can’t remember when the last time was that I went to the gym (check out my Fitness Log)! I am missing Body Pump and CX Worx.

I have been running alone, with my hubby, and my running pal, Sandy.  I even had an impromptu run with Pink Runner for two miles last Sunday! 🙂 I think it is really beneficial to switch it up a bit.  Tonight was a 3.1 mile solo run. Hot and humid once again, but I was pleasantly surprised with my results. I LOVE when I run negative splits! Seriously, I LOVE it!

1/2 Marathon Training Run

This could possibly be due to the fact that I purchased new music.  Unfortunately, I needed to purchase a new iPod too.  If you remember my post a few weeks ago, 1/2 Marathon Must Haves! My Top Ten List, my iPod was from 2007.  For whatever reason, that old sucker decided it didn’t want to sync anymore.  Whatever, I truly didn’t feel like wrestling with it, so I bought a new one.

Tiny Blue iPod Shuffle

Then I loaded these songs onto the Tiny Blue iPod Shuffle:

New Running Playlist

The music really motivates me just to start my run, and once I’m going it pushes me right through to the end.  Speaking of the end, I am almost there because next week at this time all the training runs will be complete.  I will be carb loading and trying to calm my pre-race jitters.  I’m almost there, I’m almost there, I’m almost there!

Hold your head up high

Don’t be fool

You’re the thoughest guy

Stay smart be cool

Do the best you can…