The nice thing about the Common Core Standards is that everyone can use them. Oh, did I say "can"? I mean "will" because they are here--whether you ar...more The nice thing about the Common Core Standards is that everyone can use them. Oh, did I say "can"? I mean "will" because they are here--whether you are ready for them or not. After all, isn't that the essence of "common core"?
I found that this particular book would make a nice addition to your teacher tool kit. Some highlights of the book are:
1. The practical writing practice for both fiction and nonfiction pieces. There are several story starters included to allow students the opportunity to practice using different literary elements.
2. The practice activities for identifying illogical or incomplete content (in a passage), grammar skills, and inconsistent verb tense and voice. Which, any ELA teacher knows is extremely hard for middle school students to master. There are also lessons on eliminating over used words and properly using personification. As a bonus, there are multiple opportunities for practice with each skill, so you are not left scrounging around for remediation/enrichment activities.
3. All of the writing exercises are practical and well grounded in the ELA curriculum. There are pages of student essays that will allow your students hands-on editing practice. I personally love the "show what you know" lessons that let kids practice the skills they have been learning. I seem to get great insight into what my students have learned (and they develop a deeper understanding) when they have the chance to critique their peer's work.
4. There is also an online resource to further enhance instruction. As a bonus. there is a platform that allows (and encourages) students to publish their work. Can you imagine how great your students will feel about publishing their work and getting feedback from other students around the country?
There is also a very detailed answer key included for all of the practice activities that helps to break down the skills. Even novice teachers can use this book to enhance their teaching without the fear of not being able to answer student questions.
The index of CCSS standards-- and the corresponding page numbers for the activities in the book-- make this a very easy reference tool. No need to flip through every page looking for one particular skill. You can quickly find what you are looking for, and save your precious time for teaching.
LumosLearning's Write Better Stories and Essays is a great tool for any ELA and writing teacher. (less)
Mythology is all over the place lately, which makes me pretty happy since it's one of my favorite genres. Hera, Queen of the Gods by T.D. Thomas is an...moreMythology is all over the place lately, which makes me pretty happy since it's one of my favorite genres. Hera, Queen of the Gods by T.D. Thomas is another action packed installment in this genre.
The plot of Hera, Queen of the Gods was quick. It's certainly a page turner. I found myself reading 80+ pages in what felt like minutes. The author did a good job of keeping the reader's interest from start to finish. I really liked the idea of the gods searching for the stolen Fates on earth. Of course that's not the only thing they had to deal with. There was this little thing about an uprising to over throw Zeus and Hera causing a bit of a problem in the background as well. Overall, the plot was solid and well developed.
Unfortunately, there were a few minor things that really hindered me while reading Hera, Queen of the Gods. Hera is supposed to be strong and fearless She's a god afterall. However, this Hera has moments of strength, but overall she comes across as a whiny brat and weak. Now, I know the gods are inhabiting human bodies, which seriously limits their powers on earth, but inner character doesn't change. It took a mortal boy to bring out her inner goddess (pun intended), which contradicts everything I know about Hera. Strike one. Another thing that annoyed me were some of the minor characters. I just couldn't buy into how quickly they accepted the gods and goddesses. It was as if no one questioned their story or anything. I tolerated Justin's quick acceptance, but then there was Beth and Stella. Not buying that as easily. I also didn't like the dialogue in some parts. It felt very stiff, and nothing like what real teenagers would actually say. So that was strike two.
Luckily though, these were minor offenses. The plot was good enough to mask these minor flaws. Overall, I enjoyed the story once I got into it. It was a pleasant addition to the mythology genre. (less)
Calling all paranormal romance fans. (in my taunting sing songy voice) I found a new series for you. I bet even you die-hard Twilight fans would enjoy...moreCalling all paranormal romance fans. (in my taunting sing songy voice) I found a new series for you. I bet even you die-hard Twilight fans would enjoy this one. There is a mortal girl, a swoon worthy vampire, a hot werewolf, and a pack of evil blood thirsty vampires ready to captivate you in Darkride.
But don't think I just described Twilight all over again, because I didn't I can assure you if I had that vibe from Darkride, I would have stopped reading instantly. I am very tired of Twilight knockoffs.
While Darkride had the same human-vampire-werewolf love triangle going on, it was very different. For instant, our human girl was not a whiny baby like Bella. She was pretty hard core. Cicely was conflicted, but she was also very determined. She always had a plan; even if that plan often backfired. The boy toys were also a bit different. They each had different reasons for loving Cicely, and they play very different roles in the outcome of the plot.
What I found a little unfortunate about the book was it's predictability. I don't think that would be a problem for the average reader, but anyone that has read a large number of books will probably be finely tuned to the plot twists long before they occur. With all the hinting about 'change' and the bonds of love, it was easy to guess the direction our characters would take. I really didn't have any surprises, which was a bummer.
I can say, however, that the ending left me intrigued. I am very curious to see what will happen in the next book. I also want to know the role of the new addition to the motley crew of paranormals that are traveling to Maine.
The writing is easy on the eyes and quick. It's very easy to get sucked into the story. Darkride was told in alternating points of view between Cicely, Luke, and Ander. Each chapter offers a fresh insight into the characters telling the tale. I think it's extremely challenging to write alternating points of view and maintaining a sense of uniquess for each character. It could very easily end up sounding like the same story being told by a different "voice." Darkride does not dissapoint. It retains its unique quality and keeps the reader moving on a fast paced paranormal romance rollercoaster. (less)
This one was okay. The message was good, but the delivery needs work.
For starters, the writing is way too mature for younger readers. Some of the sen...moreThis one was okay. The message was good, but the delivery needs work.
For starters, the writing is way too mature for younger readers. Some of the sentences and word choice were far above picture book status. Now, usually I'm a huge fan of using harder words in books for younger readers, but they have to flow. There were times when some of the words seemed stretched and forced to make the end rhyme pattern work. With that being said, it was hard to hold the attention of my 5 year-old because I think he had a hard time understanding what was being said. (and that's not because he isn't a reader. He's a smart little fella.)
The illustrations were different. I think it was something similar to clay-mation? Hard to say, but there was an unique quality to the pictures. They weren't flat and one dimensional like your typical picture book illustrations. They did have a sort of 3D effect to them because they appeared to be clay. Pretty nifty.
Finally, the most important element of picture books is the story itself. There was a nice message for kids hidden in the lofty words. Chloe has to learn that she can't control everything in life, and in turn needs to stop worrying. Don't we all? When she finally learns that lesson, little Chloe can start to enjoy her childhood.
I probably wouldn't buy this one, but I would check it out from the library or download a Kindle version if it was under $3. Is it worth paying the standard hardback price for picture books? Not really. (less)
Ever wonder what it takes to become a YA author? How about learning about the publishing process? Maybe you just want to know more about what it takes...moreEver wonder what it takes to become a YA author? How about learning about the publishing process? Maybe you just want to know more about what it takes to be a better writer. Well, if any of those apply to you-- Wild Ink is for you.
This is not my normal type of book for review, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to read this one. Yes, I was interested into learning more about the publishing process for books. I mean, who doesn't have that dream, right? But what I really wanted was insight into the writing process.
I admit it. I was 100% selfish with my decision to review this book. I am a teacher. In fact, I'm a Language Arts/writing teacher. Naturally, I would want to learn more about the writing process so I could share that information with my kids. Duh.
What I didn't expect though, was for a book to fully cover all the skills that I teach when I teach literature. Not only does Wild Ink spend the first 3 chapters hitting all the elements of great fiction, but it also provides exercises for practice. I love that. I'll even admit that I used some of the practice activities with my students. Great teaching tool.
As a blogger, I even found some of the information applicable to my blogging. Awesome, right? For instance, there is an entire chapter on how to interview authors. Yes, it's something you could figure out on your own, but it's nice to have a guide for the newbies.
Overall, I was impressed with the layout and presentation of the material in Wild Ink. I would certainly be interested in picking up other books by this author to add to my teacher tool kit. (less)
Do not start Hysteria expecting to get warm fuzzies. It's a little gory at times, but it is also super fast-paced. I couldn't put it down.
If I had to...moreDo not start Hysteria expecting to get warm fuzzies. It's a little gory at times, but it is also super fast-paced. I couldn't put it down.
If I had to imagine what "going crazy" was like, I think this book would accurately depict it. Mallory was certainly on the edge of something.
There isn't a whole lot to mention, really other than the concept behind the book. It was different. I don't recall reading (or even knowing about) a book about a character that is on the edge of losing his/her mind from a traumatic event. So of course, that made Hysteria a one of a kind read for me. It was "fresh"-- if something so dark can be described as fresh.
Something worth mentioning that I enjoyed was the mentioning of one of my favorite books of ALL TIME: The Lord of the Flies. There was an interesting reference to the mob mentality of the boys that killed Piggy-- which totally relates to a few scenes in this book. Honestly, doesn't that relate to life in general?
Finally, I guess the characters should be mentioned. I mean, what is a book if not for the characters, right? Mallory was conflicted. Screwed-up actually. She went through a pretty traumatic event that has left her scarred and slightly unstable. Her best friend, Colleen, seemed solid enough eventhough she didn't have much face time in the book until the end. There relationship was different. Maybe a little beyond the standard bestfriend role? I dunno... they seemed connected on a different level. Then there is Reid. Love him. He was the new love interest, but also more. He was a nice solid in the middle of all the crazy. There were some villain types in the book hiding in the form of mean boarding school girls. They sucked. But the most vile of them all (in my opinion) was Dylan. When you read this you'll know why. Douche bag extreme. Everything is his fault! At least I think so.
So go ahead, check out Hysteria. It was interesting and a quick read. It will surprise you with some of the plot twists, which is always a plus in a novel.
I am a huge fan of retellings, especially Shakespeare (or other classics). I just love how a good retelling can make an otherwise intimidating book m...more
I am a huge fan of retellings, especially Shakespeare (or other classics). I just love how a good retelling can make an otherwise intimidating book more accessible to younger readers. However, Exposure just didn't work for me.
As far as things that I like, I was highly impressed with the vocabulary used throughout this book. I am thankful I read this on my Kindle because I had to use the dictionary feature several times. (I really hate admitting that too.) I get giddy when my brain is challenged. What can I say? Total word nerd.
But you aren't reading this to hear me gush about SAT quality vocab words. You want to know what I didn't like about this Macbeth retelling. Well, I can say it was just about everything. (dun dun dun)
This was loosely based on Macbeth-- and when I say loosely, think about a 5 year-old's ability to keep a secret. Loose lips baby. About the only thing that was easily recognized as being from the original tale were the "three witches." It was easy to pick up on their role from the beginning. Ok, I guess Craig's role was easy to figure out too. BUT... how those prophesies panned out-- mmm, not so much.
I guess I was expecting more similarities to the original. Because it didn't deliver in that department, I was disappointed. But to be fair to the book, if a reader was not familiar with Macbeth, then they would probably really enjoy Exposure. It was a nice story that I probably would have enjoyed more if I didn't know it was supposed to be a retelling of Shakespeare play. (less)
I am NOT a fan of contemporary books, but I love this series! Rose never lets me down. The first book, Confessions of an Angry Girl, blew me away and...moreI am NOT a fan of contemporary books, but I love this series! Rose never lets me down. The first book, Confessions of an Angry Girl, blew me away and Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend did not disappoint.
What do I love about these books? That is way too hard to narrow down into a few paragraphs. I can say that I appreciate the content. Dealing with grief is tricky for most people, and I cannot imagine dealing with the kind of loss Rose must cope with on a daily basis. It's nice to see all the angles of grief. It cannot be wrapped up with a nice little bow, and Louise Rozett does not try to do it either. That is much appreciated.
I am also googley-eyed over Rose. She is so flawed it's not even funny, yet she is so real. She has major self-esteem and trust issues, which carries over into just about everything she does. Rose is your normal teenage girl trying to fit in and stand out at the same time without ever really knowing who she is. But of course, just like in Confessions #1, she finds another piece of herself along the way. (and I must say, that piece is turning out to be pretty fierce!)
Finally, I must say that Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend has new characters that keep things pretty interesting. (That's another thing that I love about this book!) While Rose is on her road to self-discovery, there is a whole lot of drama going on in the background. The subplots are all over the place, and they all lead to the same end point. It's brilliant. I am still a bit annoyed by the older guy-younger girl romance(s) that pop up all over the place, but I try to look beyond that. (Is it really normal for a college sophmore to be dating a high school sophmore? That just seems so wrong to me... and illegal.)
If you enjoy contemporaries, you will LOVE Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend (but you need to read Confessions of an Angry Girl first). You may even be like me and not really like contemporaries, but you'll still like this one. There is something for everyone here! (less)
There are some books that you read in an entire sitting. This was one of them. Now, I'm not usually a fan of contemporary reads, but I did enjoy Confe...moreThere are some books that you read in an entire sitting. This was one of them. Now, I'm not usually a fan of contemporary reads, but I did enjoy Confessions of an Angry Girl. That may have had something to do with the type of day I had prior to reading this, but who knows.
First off, I have to say how amazing is it that the main character has a vocabulary that would make any high school English teacher proud? We're talking multisyllabic words, people. Beautiful. Add that to the fiesty nature of Rosie and you have an instant winner. I loved her sarcastic, sometimes explosive personality. It was very believable.
I also liked how real this story felt. It's a delicate subject matter (the loss of the father) and how he was killed. You truly get a glimpse inside the head of a hurting teenager and a family in mourning. Death is ugly. Healing isn't pretty. And sometimes people get hurt along the way. That's life, and that's Rosie.
Along with that underlying subplot of healing and moving on with your life, you have an interesting romance storyline. I'm not certain how I feel about the almost 18 year old boy developing feelings for the fourteen year old girl, but I went with it. Rosie doesn't always seem so young, even if she is very clueless about all things high school. The pseudo love triangle also added a nice flavor to the mix. I can't say much about that, but know that it provided plenty of humor and drama.
Overall, I think many teens are going to be able to relate to this one. The characters are raw and deal with true teenage issues. There is no fluff to the pressures of sex or the loss of a parent. It's in your face and gritty. Confessions of an Angry Girl is a fantastic coming of age story that captures adolescence perfectly. (less)
I decided to switch things up a bit from my normal reading this month, and try Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian . I was expecting a typic...moreI decided to switch things up a bit from my normal reading this month, and try Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian . I was expecting a typical teenage angst filled story full of revenge and back stabbing. What I ended up with was something slightly unexpected.
Yes, there was plenty of revenge seeking and back stabbing. There was also a fair amount of cheeky comments and sass. But the unexpected surprise hiding on these pages is the paranormal/supernatural element with one of the characters. Now, if you're one to avoid books that might lean toward the supernatural, do not fret. It is such a small detail in this book that you might even miss it.
One of the things I found the most interesting about this book was the characters. The three girls that tell their stories in alternating voice/chapters had very differing reasons for seeking revenge. I was worried it would be choppy with that many narrators, but I think the authors pulled it off well. They were able to make each girl's voice unique in the book. I also liked how the three girls (Lillia, Kat, and Mary) were so very different from one another. That really brought an interesting element to this group of revenge seekers.
For the most part this was a contemporary read. It takes place in a high school with typical and expected high school drama. There are some underlying subplots that are important, but don't take center stage in Burn for Burn. I expect they will get more face time in the next book, Fire with Fire.
So, overall, if you want a quick read that appeases your inner scorned teenage self, you'll probably enjoy this one. (less)
Well, well, well... Beautiful Choas got everything right this time around. I guess the saying, "The third time is a charm" has some merit after all.
T...moreWell, well, well... Beautiful Choas got everything right this time around. I guess the saying, "The third time is a charm" has some merit after all.
There was so much going on in this book that it's hard to narrow down one point worth discussing. The plot is complicated, and takes Beautiful Chaos to a whole new level. So I won't spend time pondering that. Instead, I'm going to discuss what I really liked about this book.
The characters--and I'm not talking about Lena and Ethan either. The minor characters are what make Beautiful Chaos so outstanding. Ridley, Link, Macon, Amma, and even John Breed-- a-maze-ing. I love, love, love how the minor characters stole the show. Amma goes dark (waaaaay dark) and makes a deal that cannot be broken. And who would have thought that Macon--the once dark-turned-light Incubus-- would be a hero? Then there is Link and Ridley. There is so much drama and conflict there, that a cast of some second rate reality series would be jealous. I cannot wait to see what happens with Ridley in the final book. I bet it's going to be HUGE. But what was really surprising, is the role John Breed played. I'm not 100% sold that he's some misunderstood good guy type. I think there is more to it than that. Again though, the final book is going to tell his tale.
I think it's pretty safe to say, that Beautiful Choas is my favorite so far in this series. I have very high hopes for the finale. This series certainly appeals to the paranormal romance fan. There are so many supernatural elements at play that I'm surprised someone hasn't petitioned to have this series "banned." (Which I hope doesn't happen.) (less)
The ending of The Darkest Minds left my heart in my stomach. But the ending of Never Fade left me with sweaty palms, a racing heart, and sitting on th...moreThe ending of The Darkest Minds left my heart in my stomach. But the ending of Never Fade left me with sweaty palms, a racing heart, and sitting on the edge of my seat. It was phenomenal! I’ve been saying this since I read The Darkest Minds, and I still stand by my claim—this is my new favorite dystopian. Move over Tris and Four, because Ruby and Liam are stealing the show. It is so hard to find a second book in a series that is better than the first, but found it I have. Never Fade was every bit as good as the first book, if not better. There were surprises and heart aches all along the way. I was sucked into this story almost from the beginning. For all those that said Ruby was the weak link in The Darkest Minds, you won’t be saying that now. She has grown so much. Ruby is now in control of her powers and takes them to a whole new level. Of course, that level comes with horrible consequences. She is strong, determined, and a serious force to be reckoned with. She’s also not alone. Vida is another strong female lead in the book, although my least favorite character. I never really cared for her. She is rough around the edges and foul, which makes me hesitant to recommend this to my school aged students. I’m very disappointed by that, too, since I rave about The Darkest Minds all the time. I could analyze the plot, but it would take away so much. This is a book (series) that you need to experience for yourself. It’s fresh and exciting, and packs a serious punch. (less)