The best way to learn what kids are thinking & feeling is by listening to them, so I am happy to share my students’ voices!
Books That Made Me Realize I’m a Reader by Jacque S., 8th Grade
- So B. It: While reading this book, it put me in an emotional level and game me a reminder of reality.
- Dark Life: I loved reading this book. I really enjoyed reading it.
- Percy Jackson series: While reading this book, it was so good that I needed to talk to someone about it, so I recommended it to a friend so we could talk about it.
- Stung: This book blew my mind, and I just had to read the second one. I could reread this book and never get bored.
- The Eleventh Plague: This was one of the first books I read and enjoyed, and it got me into reading more.
- False Prince: While reading this book, there were many plot twists and it did surprise me.
- Feedback: This book was amazing! I never expected anything that happened. It was very suspenseful.
Top Ten Books for a Book Club by Jacob & Cooper, 6th Grade
- The Honest Truth: Lots of twists that create emotion and conversation.
- Mark of the Thief: Lots of action and plot twists that lead to intensity and conversation.
- The War That Saved My Life: Not predictable plot leads to mystery and entertainment.
- Life on Mars: An emotional book that keeps the reader turning pages and conversations flowing.
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: A bestseller that is very magical and has heart.
- The False Prince: Lovely book about truth and doing the right thing.
- Grenade: Lots of plot twists that keep the book exciting and readers talking.
- Middle School: The Worst Years of my Life: Very fun look at school that middle schoolers can relate to.
- Orphan Island: Very interesting book that leads to questions and mystery.
- Ravenmaster’s Secret: Did this one in class, and it was very fun. Many great conversations and opinions.
Top 10 Fantasy Series We’ve Read (in no particular order) by Maria & Lisa, 6th Grade
- Emily Windsnap series: It is a really exciting and colorful story, but there is also lots of adventures in it.
- Dog Man series: It is a really fun story and is also super funny!
- School for Good and Evil series: You won’t know what will happen next; it’s always a surprise! It’s so detailed and super adventurous. Lastly, you will find out something new each chapter.
- Ever After High series: A great series! It’s all about team work which makes the dream work. It has many books in the series. You will never know what will happen next!
- Phoebe and Her Unicorn series: Super funny and always puts our frown upside down. Lots of books in the series, and I hope there is more to come with Phoebe and her unicorn.
- Hazardous Tales series: Such a good series. It mixes history, fun, and excitement in one story.
- Warriors series: It has a lot of adventure and so many great characters. Such a great series!
- Amulet series: The drawings are super creative just like the story. Each book connects to the next!
- Captain Underpants series: It’s a great series! It is super funny and makes my day happy!
- Percy Jackson series: It makes Greek mythology into a story and an action packed adventure that keeps you on your toes.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events: Super mysterious and adventurous.
Quick Book Talks for 10 Must Read Books by Jordan Klinkbeil, 7th Grade
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan: Percy isn’t expecting to wake up in a magical camp full of Greek demigods, but he does and he has to try and save his mother as well… fun.
- The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen: The prince of Carthya is dead… right?
- Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter: There’s no spy training school! Are you sure about that?
- One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus: Wait…what?! A major gossip-spreader dies in detention. Was it the jock? The brains? The beauty? The criminal?
- Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick: What is up with the kid, Patch Cipriano? And why has Nora’s life spun out of control since he appeared?
- Renegades by Marissa Meyer: Tale of good versus evil, but who is the good and who is the evil?
- War Cross by Marie Lu: Hacking into a broad-casted video game? No problem. Get a call from the game’s creator? Problem.
- The Fault in our Stars by John Green: Cancer brought them together but loves keeps them together. Boring? Not.
- Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones: What will happen when an illness cure gives people superpowers?
- Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard: Mare Barrow is a Red. A normal. However, how come can she control electricity then?
Top 5 Anthropomorphic Books by Alexandra, 8th Grade
- Lone Wolf (Wolves of the Beyond #1): Faolan, a wolf pup, was born with a splayed paw. The laws of the pack say that any pup born with a deformity is to be left to die. This book is a story about how Faolan defied his fate and survived, with help of a grizzly bear. This book is a good story about survival, feeling outcasted, and family.
- The Escape (Horses of the Dawn #1): This book is about a herd of horses who were thrown out to sea. Estrella, a young foal, knows the way to land. Once they reach land, it’s up to her to lead the herd to safety, away from the dangers of humans, and the wilderness. This book is really exciting to read, especially all the adventures the herd goes on and reading about all their new experiences on land.
- The Dragonet Prophecy (Wings of Fire #1): This book is told from the point of view of dragons, which is interesting to read about. The five dragonets are destined to fulfill a prophecy that will stop a war that has lasted 20 years. For now, they’re stuck living under a cave in order to stay hidden, but they want to see the world. Little do they know about the dangers that await them.
- Mez’s Magic (Lost Rainforest #1): In the world of Caldera, animals are separated by who is awake at night and who is awake during the day. Mez, a nightwalker panther, finds herself still awake during the day. Mez begins to discover mysterious powers and learns a big secret when a strange snake appears outside her den. This book is a great story told from the point of view of Mez, and there is a lot of action and mysteries in this book.
- Into the Wild (Warriors #1): Rusty, a housecat, has always been curious about the outside world. One night, he ventures out into the woods despite warning from his friend. There, he finds a few wild cats who invite him to join their clan. Rusty makes the choice to join them and finds it a challenge to fit in and live wild. This is an interesting book told from the point of view of Rusty, and it is a new concept of wild and stray cats forming clans and traditions.
Favorite Books Read this Year by Molly, 7th Grade
- The Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer Nielsen
- The False Prince is a fiction fantasy that puts 4 boys up to the test to be a prince. This book reveals the truth about Sage and everyone shows their true colors.
- Runaway King shows how everyone betrays each other. Sage has to overcome pirates with a few other friends. This book is amazing because the plot twists are brilliant.
- Shadow Throne shows how war is brewing throughout the kingdom.
- The Young Elites trilogy by Marie Lu
- The Young Elites is a dark fantasy fiction. Many people are affected by the blood fever which also comes with supernatural powers.
- The Rose Society is an incredible book because it shows the inner thoughts and voices going through the main character, Adelina.
- Midnight Star definitely is the book that made me love reading. Adelina and her friends show courage, strength, and bravery. This book teaches sacrifice, kindness, bravery, and courageness.
- War Cross dulogy by Marie Lu
- War Cross is a science fiction novel about a virtual reality game where teams play to win it all. There are hackers, team players, romances, and friendships.
- Wild Card has Emika solving the mystery of who is actually the bad guy while she makes new friends along the way.
- Hate List by Jennifer Brown: A traumatic event at school changes everything.
Ten Book Series for 6th Graders (in no order) by Olivia, 6th Grade
- Jedi Academy by Jarrett J. Krosoczka & Jeffery Brown: The first 3 books of the series are about one group of kids and the next ones are about a different group of kids. I like that it is an illustrated novel, so it does have pictures but also a lot of words. It is a very joyful series.
- Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling: I love this sereis because you go through all the books going through Harry’s and his friends’ lives. Also since the series is so long you can grow closer to the characters. Last, it is never boring and is always action-packed.
- Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson: I love this series because I love Diseny, and it talks about Disney but is not kiddish–it has a lot to do with villains. Last, the kids are in middle school, and I can relate to them.
- Smile series by Raina Telgemeier: I like this series because it is a graphic novel about the author’s life. It has one book about her and one about her and her sister.
- The Baby-Sitters Club graphic novels by Ann M. Martin, Raina Telgemeier, and Gale Galligan: I love this series because you can read it as a graphic novel or a standard book. Also, each book is from a point of view of a different character.
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney: I like this series because there are so many books. Also, it is an illustrated novel which I like.
- House Arrest series by K.A. Holt: I think this is a good series because it has action and drama. Also, it has an interesting storyline.
- Who Is/Was series by Various: I like learning about famous people in very fun ways.
- Track series by Jason Reynolds: I like that each book is about a different character. I also like that it is about track.
- I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis: This series is great because it teaches you about important events in history but in very interesting ways by having kids go through the events.
Recommended Books for Middle Schoolers by Damon & Nathan, 6th Grade
Five Books/Series You Should Read by Duda, 7th Grade
- Nyxia series by Scott Reintgen: Nyxia is about Emmett Atwater who is chosen by the Babel company to go to a planet called Eden and mine the strange substance known as nyxia. In return, he gets money to support his family forever; however, Emmett isn’t the only recruit, and they all need to earn their ticket to Eden. But the ship is full of secrets. Is the money worth losing his humanity? A super fun read with a complex, well-developed, and diverse cast. The plot is incredible with plenty of twists and turns.
- Heist Society series by Ally Carter: Many families have family businesses, but Katarina Bishop’s is especially interesting: her family business is pulling heists. But Kat decides she wants out and scams her way into boarding school… that is until her best friend, Hale, shows up with her expulsion. Five paintings have been stolen and her dad is the prime suspect. Will she be able to steal them back and save her dad? An amazing read. You can’t help but fall in love with the characters. Super witty and funny with a well thought out plot.
- War Cross duology by Marie Lu: Emika Chen is a bounty hunter tracking down players who illegally bet on the popular virtual reality game Warcross. She’s in a financial situation where she needs money, so she takes a risk and hacks into the International Warcross Championships and can be seen! She attracts the attention of the creator of the game, Hideo Tanaka. He wants her to spy from the inside to uncover a security issue. But when she discovers a plot that could topple the Warcross empire, what will she do? Not only are the characters wonderful and the plot has an amazing pace plus incredible twists, but the setting adds an amazing element. It’s fascinating how the book completely transports you into another world.
- V is for Villain by Peter Moore: Brad Baron may be a genius but compared to his superhero brother, he’s pretty lame. Especially in a school full of people with superpowers. So when he meets the mysterious Layla, he decides to join her crew of like-minded individuals. He even hones his own power! But with wicked criminals, battles, and family secrets, what side will Brad choose? Complex characters and a completely different world will make you question who the good and bad guys are.
- Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling: Moving to a new school and house is always hard, but it is a little harder when you don’t have arms. But Aven Green doesn’t let that stop her! She can do whatever she wants including making a new friend who knows what it is like to have a disability. He joins her in uncovering a mystery and from there, the sky is the limit. An amazing and sweet read! Aven is an incredible narrator who puts a fun twist on her life when others can’t.
Books I Hope Get a Sequel (and that you should read!) by Elsa, Max, & Kaley, 8th Grade
- Maybe a Fox: Although the story had a great ending, I would have loved to see a story about Jules’s friend and how his brother came back from the war as well as his spirit animal.
- Ghost Boys: I loved how Ghost Boy was made, but I would love to see another book about how one of the Ghost Boys help MLK keep going and eventually make an act that all men are equal.
- Eliza and her Monsters: I loved the way that the plot of this book unfolds, I just wish it lasted longer! A sequel could include Eliza in college with her new-found confidence.
- Everything, Everything: (SPOILERS!) The end of the book purposely left a lot of loose ends, and I’d love to see how Maddy and Olly’s relationship develops in the new setting.
- The Darkest Hour: I’d love for a sequel to this book even though it may not need one. I would like to see how Lucie dealt with the after effects of the war and what job she would pick up after.
- Heartless: Simply because after reading Heartless, I was left heartless and empty. I want more.
Thank you everyone for your great lists!
In-Class Book Clubs are one of my favorite units that I do in my classes. They are my version of lit circles but with the only job of all students is to read, analyze, and discuss. These book clubs build community, stamina, and reading love in my classroom.
I’ve shared a few times about these in-class book clubs. First in April, 2018 where I went over the basic procedures of the book clubs and then in November, 2018 where I shared my students’ choices for this year’s clubs. Now, I am happy to share how this school year’s clubs went!
I did things a little bit differently this year. I had noticed that students were understanding the basics of the narrative and loving the reading but weren’t meeting the standards. I had to make sure to help guide their thinking but also I didn’t want to make the act of reading tedious. It is a slippery slope that I know I am always going to be reflecting about.
Because of this, I went with thought logs this year. A thought log was a strategy I was introduced to by my teacher friend Sarah Krajewski. Thought logs have four boxes for students to take notes while reading. My thought logs had two constant boxes: 1) Important details & 2) Conflict. Important details allowed them to just take notes on anything important that happened and the conflict box had them track the progress of the conflict. The other two boxes changed for each thought log: Confusion, Characters, Setting, My Feelings, Change, & Theme/Impact. Additionally, I added a bottom to my thought log that asked the students to come up with three open-ended discussion questions. Here’s our first thought log, so you can see an example:
Other than the new thought logs, everything else stayed the same: Students chose their books, I made their groups, we came up with class book club norms, they created their schedule, they met once a week, at the end of the unit I gave an individualized standards-focused assessment, and the kids LOVED it.
Well, everyone stayed the same until the end. At NCTE 2018, I went to one of Kelly Gallagher’s sessions and he shared a way he connects nonfiction and fiction when his students are reading novels: He has the students find nonfiction text features that connect to their novel. I decided to try this with my students, and I loved it!
As a book club, my students found two nonfiction elements (maps, graphs, images, etc.) that would help the reader of their book have their experience enhanced. They then said what page they would place the element and explain why it is important.
Here are some of my favorites:
The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart
Rules by Cynthia Lord
Resistance by Jennifer Nielsen
Ravenmaster’s Secret: Escape from the Tower of London by Elvira Woodruff
Reflection: I’m not completely sold on the Thought Logs yet. I don’t want to kill the joy of reading. Ever. But my job is to teach standards, too. Always a conflict within me, and we’ll see what I decide next year! I will say that I loved the nonfiction element, so I think that will stay. Until next year!
I am in the struggle zone, and I’d love your help. Next semester, I am teaching a co-taught college course with a history professor. Students will be examining several social movements and forms of collective action. The history professor is in charge of the historical background and currency of each social […]
I am in the struggle zone, and I’d love your help. Next semester, I am teaching a co-taught college course with a history professor. Students will be examining several social movements and forms of collective action. The history professor is in charge of the historical background and currency of each social movement, and I am in charge of the stories within the movement. Students will then go on to explore a different social movement of their choosing and read a YA text that relates to the movement. I am VERY excited.
For three weeks, we will be considering the #metoo movement. For whatever reason, I seem to read more books related to issues of race, immigration, sexuality, etc. than books about sexual assault. I’ve created a list of the books I am considering, and admittedly, I’ve only read half of them. Now that I know it is a weak spot, I am going to fix it. However, I’d love your help in narrowing this list to the books that you recommend that I read first.
These are the books that I’ve read and plan to include because they offer a lot of opportunities for discussion:
- McCullough, J. (2018). Blood water paint. New York, NY: Dutton.
- Reed, A. (2017). The nowhere girls. New York, NY: Simon Pulse.
(Also, excerpts from Kelly Jensen’s Here We Are.)
I need to decide on three more titles. Listed below are the books that I want to read in the next three weeks to see if they will work well within a discussion of the social movement. I am looking for books that are very well-written and that will give much fodder for discussion:
- Anderson, L. H. (2019). Shout. New York, NY: Penguin.
- Blake, A. H. (2018). Girl made of stars. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
- Hartzler, A. (2015). What we saw. New York, NY: HarperTeen
- Kiely, B. (2018). Tradition. New York, NY: Margaret K. McElderry.
- Mathieu, J. (2017). Moxie. New York, NY: Roaring Brook.
- Russo, M. (2016). If I was your girl. New York, NY: Flatiron.
I have all of these books on my nightstand, so access isn’t an issue. I plan to read them all within the next couple of months, but I’d love your advice of which I should read first! If I am missing a great book, please let me know. I’d like it to be a book published within the last 3-4 years because students tend to have read books older than that range.
Feel free to message me if commenting isn’t your jam. 😉 Thank you in advance!
When I began planning my research unit for my Advanced Reading classes, I took to asking my students what they would be interested in learning more about, and overwhelmingly they asked to learn about the Civil Rights movement and other aspects of Black American history; however, when we began planning, my students took note that there are many other fights for equal rights in American History, and they asked if we could focus on all of them. That is when this idea unfolded.
I teach three classes of Advanced Reading equaling 47 students. I wanted to make sure students were given choice in their topics and also were choosing topics based on their interests and not who is in their group, so I made different topics/time periods they could choose from and asked them to rate their interests. I then grouped them based on this and the students began to work.
The students began by researching their topic/time period independently and brainstorming a list of everything important that they could find that happened during that time period. Then, as a group they decided which ten or more events they were going to expand on and include in our timeline.
Once they had their events, they collaboratively researched the events creating a paragraph about each (with a link to sources) and an image (with a caption and source) to add to the timeline.
They then each added to our timeline creating what I believe is a resource that doesn’t exist anywhere else on the internet. The timeline begins with 1688 Quaker Petition Against Slavery and ends with the 2019 rejection of Trump’s Border Wall touching on events and people who have changed the course of our history.
Please view it on Sutori, and I hope you find a way to utilize and share it.
(Embedding it puts the whole timeline and it is VERY long.)
Also, please note: If you see anything that I missed (and my colleagues who helped vet the timeline missed) that is incorrect or not written in the most progressive way, please feel free to reach out to me at Kellee.Moye@gmail.com with any comments, questions, or concerns.
The Literacy Teachers Vlog is hosted by Leigh Hall, Professor at the University of Wyoming, and I was so honored that she asked me to join her to discuss helping struggling readers succeed.
Thank you again Leigh for having […]
The Literacy Teachers Vlog is hosted by Leigh Hall, Professor at the University of Wyoming, and I was so honored that she asked me to join her to discuss helping struggling readers succeed.
Thank you again Leigh for having me part of your amazing channel promoting literacy to educators!
Jennifer A. Nielsen visited my school on December 4th, 2018, and today her newest book comes out (Deceiver’s Heart, Traitor’s Game #2!!!!), so I thought today would be the best day to share about the amazing experience she brought to my school and the superb person she is!
Jennifer was kind enough to have a very packed day with us! She did an assembly for each grade level where she shared that the secret to being a writer is asking questions:
- Do you have stories? Do you have dreams? If you have dreams, your brain is creating a story. Are you curious? You can be a writer.
- Writers do these things: Collect stupid facts but don’t collect stupid. Ask Questions. Gain knowledge. They write. They work to get better. They keep trying.
- There are two types of people: One who says they are good enough. You’ll be passed by people who won’t quit until it’s great.
She also gave us a sneak peek of the Resistance book trailer that went live the next week!
Every group of students (at over 375 each) were captivated by her stories, her humor, and her truth.
During each grade level’s lunch period, she also was kind enough to eat lunch with students who had read two or more of her books. During this time, they could get their books signed and ask exclusive questions.
This lunchtime experience was so inspiring to these students! They still talk about what she shared and (as you’ll see in the last photo below) they helped write a quite hilarious story with her that was cracking everyone up:
- Story in her head is like an itch that she can’t reach. She is happiest when she is writing because she is reaching the itch.
- Story is everywhere. Everyone carries story with them. Just ask questions and tell the story.
- She starts a story with the character in action. Helps the reader and writer get into the character’s head and puts the character into immediate trouble.
- When she was younger, she didn’t know writing was a choice for something you could do.
Then Jennifer even stayed with us for the evening for another quick presentation, book signing, and cross-curricular events that tied her book into all the subjects.
All in all, the visit was life-changing for our HCMS students.
After the visit, I had my students write letters sharing how the event affected them:
- Thank you so much! You have made a great impact on my life. I have never liked writing but your story about when you were in 6th grade made me realize that I can do what I put my mind to do. -Olivia M, 6th grade
- I love reading your books because when I read your books it is so good that I read for hours without stopping. When I found out you were coming I got excited because I wanted to find out more about the author who wrote my favorite books. You taught me never to give up and to keep going for my dream no matter how long it takes. Your books have inspired me to create my own book and to be a writer in the future. -Jacob K, 6th grade
- The things you said during your visit made me realize I’ll never get better if I don’t try. -Georgia B, 6th grade
- I loved your assembly. Your stories were hilarious and you inspired me to write down my ideas. -Emily B, 7th grade
- Thank you so much for visiting us. It was amazing and super fun. Your presentations were incredible and I loved the stories you told. They were sad but so interesting. Your tips for writing were so helpful and I plan on taking them to heart whenever I write. Your encouragement was inspiring. “All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage and I promise you something great will come of it. (Benjamin Mee)” -Duda V, 7th grade
- Your books are amazing, the plot twists were breath-taking, and your books are meaningful and are powerful. -Molly N, 7th grade
- I’m a huge fan of your books and it was a dream come true to meet you! I enjoyed making a story with you during my lunch time, and I will always remember your visit. -Mariana S, 8th grade
- If you were here to inspire, you hit it on the dot. -Julia R, 8th grade
- Thank you for not quitting and showing us that just because you fail once, or twice, or even hundreds of times, we should keep on trying. -Lorenza M, 8th grade
- Everything that you said just inspired me to do something that would forever make the world better. -Jordan K, 7th grade
- Thank you for all the words of wisdom and encouragement to write, and for that I’ll always be grateful. -Monika A, 7th grade
- You are such a beautiful soul, and I am in denial that I had the chance to meet someone like you. -Amy C, 7th grade
- You were right – stories are everywhere!.. You are funny and kind, and I love how you add little bits of yourself into your books. -Maelynn A, 7th grade
And I’ll end with this beautiful work. My friend, who teaches 8th grade ELA, had her students do a 6 word reflection with a visual to summarize either how they felt or what they learned:
Thank you so much, Jennifer, for coming to HCMS and inspiring my students in ways that are life-changing!
I’ve always loved teacher action research. When I was teaching high school, I applied for a grant to get a laptop in my classroom to integrate technology into my YAL class. I had so much fun exploring the ways this laptop changed my instruction and the learning environment, and I was lucky to have an article published in The ALAN Review. I became more interested in research and engaged with my former college advisor to conduct another study a couple of years later. This kind of research is wildly exciting for me. (I am a dork! I admit it!)
This semester, I am teaching a graduate class called Investigating Classroom Literacies. The students in the class range from preservice teachers to inservice teachers. They are a phenomenal group of students, and I have loved working with them. We are reading two books. One is a textbook that introduces traditional qualitative research, and another is a teacher action research book.
It’s been fun to introduce traditional qualitative research designs to the students, and we’ve had fun playing with their research topics and how they fit into different research designs. That said, we are aiming to be more practical. The idea is that they will see research as more accessible, so we’ve looked carefully at teacher action research and how it differs in its ease of implementation.
Each student has picked a different topic to explore in their classrooms. Generally (so I don’t give away their specific ideas), they are looking at: using tools to help students with anxiety, examining differences in gender perceptions of leadership, mindfulness practices in ELA, flexible vs. teacher-selected grouping, college student responses to identity-based activities, and teacher preparation for health-related issues. Their topics are much more specific than these, but I am genuinely excited by the range in their interests within English Education.
The students have workshopped their research questions with the entire group, and they are currently writing their literature reviews. I am very much looking forward to talking about data collection and analysis next. Yahoo! I have the best job in the universe!
Do you do teacher action research formally or informally in your classroom? What is your favorite part about it?
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