Well it has been a while since I posted one of these, but I have done some reading lately and wanted to share some book love. So, without any further ado, here is my current reading life.
OK, so these were some of my recent favorites from my reading lists.
First up, Restore Me the 4th book in the Shatter Me series. I love, love, love these books. I BINGED the first three last year and couldn't believe my luck when I found out there was going to be an extension to that trilogy. Let me tell you, this book more than lives up to the first three. There are twists, turns, and some VERY unexpected outcomes. Highly recommend.
Next, Truly Devious is a mystery thriller that I was so excited to read. I have a student population who thrives on mysteries and I am always looking for more to add to my collection. This one fit the bill. It works for both upper Middle Grade readers AND YA readers. There are two storylines/mysteries and the ending is a huge cliffhanger. Again, highly recommend.
Third, I read Nyxia, book one in a science fiction trilogy. Think dystopian stories, but now set in space. A group of teenagers from all over Earth have been chosen to compete for the right to travel to a new planet where they will mine a unique substance for a billion dollar company. Of course, what they don't know is how intense the competition will get. Or what exactly the company wants to do with the product. I heard about this book from the amazing @bookfin on Twitter and am so glad I picked it up to add to my collection.
Finally, I was lucky enough to score an eARC of Puddin' by Julie Murphy. This companion to the amazing novel Dumplin' was so good. If you are looking for realistic fiction, that has a strong female cast, with some chill contemporary YA vibes, this is for you. I love Murphy's writing style, her characters, and their voices. They are all people I want to know and I am so glad I got to read more from them.
Working On/Up Next
Right now I am in the middle of Threads by Ami Polonsky. When I picked it up, I didn't realize this was the same author as Gracefully Grayson, which I also loved. This is the story of two girls, one in the states dealing with the recent death of her sister, and one in China who is trapped working in a factory and trying to get help. Their stories intersect. I'm not done yet, but I'm excited to see how it all turns out. This is a quick read that would be perfect for middle grade readers who like dramatic realistic fiction.
Next I am going to read Devils Unto Dust & The Bird and the Blade, two eARCS that I got for review from Edelweiss. I'm looking forward to them and will update with reviews soon.
OER (or Open Educational Resources) is a new term in education. It basically takes the idea of content that has been created for schools and allows others to access it. This includes items such as primary documents, creations that are licensed under creative commons, and educational materials developed using federal grant money.
Great, but why should you care about this? BECAUSE IT IS FREE AND AVAILABLE FOR YOU TO USE. Also, because these are things you AND YOUR STUDENTS can use without worrying about copyright issues. So, today I will cover two main aspects within the #OER discussion.
1. Finding images/graphics for you and your students to use
2. Using #OER resources to develop and supplement your curriculum
While I know that most of you would never send a kid out to just screenshot an image or item they found on a generic google search, that doesn't mean the kids aren't doing it. If you or your students require images for a project, please use the following sources:
This is a site that allows you to choose clip-art style graphics, and also edit them to your needs (changing colors, etc) without requiring a sign-in. There are some paid items, but the VAST majority are free.
The Noun Project
Similar to Flaticon, this is a site where you can get graphics without needing a log in. There are not as many choices as Flaticon, but still plenty of variety. Plus, there are some cool graphics/options. Try searching the "Lego" one for fun.
This is great resource for you to use when finding photographs for class projects. The first line of results is always advertisements, but the rest are great to use with class. Be aware that this site might be blocked for students.
Photos For Class
This is another great resource for students to use. I have this linked/embedded on my Research page as well. It is a fantastic option for kids to use on class projects.
While there are many sites out there that provide OER resources, the main I am going to focus on today is OER Commons.
This site allows users to search by content area, standard, level, and key word. There are also HUBS that have been created by specific educational institutions. Nebraska's Dept of Ed is working on one; it will be available hopefully sometime this summer. Until then, Iowa and Pennsylvania are two good examples that we will look at today.
As with anything, you might have to do a search or two before you find something you want to use. Also, you might find an idea for something that you will still have to remix and recreate, or you might find something that is perfect for you to use "as-is." There are also other sites that have full curriculum already developed-we will look at those more at a later date.
It has been a while since I posted one of these, but I have been reading a ton. So, here's a quick update on what I've recently finished and what I am working on next:
I just finished eARC copies of both of these books (to be published this Spring) and they were VASTLY different. The Summer of Broken Things by Haddix was a sweet, MG read about two girls who aren't friends but discover they both have a family secret that will connect them in unexpected ways. Perfectly acceptable for middle school students, but a little lackluster in my opinion. Monday's Not Coming by Jackson was OUTSTANDING. After reading this and her debut novel Allegedly, she is on my "must-read" author list. Monday has been friends with Claudia since they started school, and now Monday is missing. But only Claudia seems to be worried about it. This was a stunning look at how kids fall through the cracks, and the pain of losing a friend.
I just started this series after seeing Margot, formerly of Epic Reads, talk about it on her YouTube channel. It is AMAZING, but definitely adult in content and nature. Be warned. I can't wait to get my hands on the rest of the series.
I'm working my way through both of these right now. Devils Within is great, and I'm excited to see where it goes. The Innovator's Mindset is our staff book club Professional Read, so I need to get through it to lend my copy to a coworker.
Has anyone out there read anything FANTASTIC recently that they want to send my way. Even if I am drowning in my TBR stacks, I'm always on the hunt for the next great read. Happy reading all!
Today during our staff development, we will be covering two different test prep options. Below is information that we will go over, as well as some links and handouts for future reference.
Most teachers got an email from Violet with this link. This is the PRACTICE test for NSCAS. This is helpful for the kids to get a feel for the software and how the test will look.
Helpful Hint: Use the web browser LINK HERE, instead of using the lockdown browser (in the desktop) for the kids to practice with. The only reason? When your kids take the practice test in the lockdown browser, they CANNOT EXIT until they have finished the test. It is 20 questions. This is the same for you; if you want to just go in to see what it is like, using the lockdown browser forces you to take the entire test. Just FYI.
C4L is no longer an option, but the website/software TestWiz is its replacement. You an access it HERE. When you get to this screen, you will have to log in. Your username should be your gpsne email. Most teachers will have to click the "forgot password" button to reset their password. Once you are in the system, you can create tests and quizzes. There is a significant bank of questions that are aligned to subjects, subsections, and NE standards. HERE IS A DOCUMENT with screenshots that will walk you through the process of setting up a test.
The reason we are using this software is that it would be a great tool to use to create common assessments OR for us to create assessments that we can use for data points.
We will discuss assigning the tests to classes and printing out test tickets next week. :)
Happy Monday! I've been reading some books from my Scholastic Book Fair Preview Pack (here's looking at you Live in Infamy) and trying to catch up on some other middle grade reads.
Current Read: Girl in a Bad Place
This was a book at our fall book fair, and it was fairly popular. I didn't pick it up then, but saw it at my local public library over the weekend and decided to give it a try. I started it last night (during the Super Bowl) and the next thing I knew I was a 100+ pages in. Really good start and interesting premise: Mailee's best friend Cara has been having a hard time lately. So when she wants to go visit The Haven, a compound where people live off the land, Mailee agrees. But now Mailee is worried there is something bad going on, and she needs to try to convince Cara before it's too late.
Recent Reads: I am Alfonso Jones and Overturned
These two VERY DIFFERENT reads were both good in their own ways. I read Overturned because I was hoping to find read-alikes for my students who love the Natural series. This is a good fit; gritty, murder mystery with a feisty main character. Highly recommend. I am Alfonso Jones is a graphic novel that tackles the history of the Black Lives Matter movement. I read this for this month's #yabookchat Twitter chat. It is a good introduction to the topic and does not have any language or sexual content that might be a concern for some collections. Recommend.
This is just a QUICK post to get it in under the wire for #IMWAYR along with some notes about books I read over the weekend/snow days.
Other recent reads:
Not if I Save You First by Ally Carter and Good Dog by DanGemeinhart. I received both of this in the Scholastic Spring 2018 Book Fair Preview Pack and I can NOT wait to book talk them with kids. NIISYF is perfect for fans of April Henry. And Good Dog is a heartwarming story perfect for those who like realistic fiction like Wonder and Rain/Reign. Highly recommend both of them.
I'm not sure which book I'll pick up next. Any suggestions or recommendations? Send them my way!
One of my goals for this year is to try to follow this hashtag more faithfully and contribute at least on a monthly basis. So, here is my post for January. :)
My next pick in my never ending #TBR is a toss-up between Kindness for Weakness, Thunderhead, and Onyx and Ivory. The first is a recent realistic fiction release. The other two are upcoming releases that I got from Edelweiss (Thunderhead is the sequel to Scythe and the other is a first in an upcoming fantasy series).
If you've read any of these, I'd love to hear which ones you liked. If you have other suggestions for me, especially in regards to female fantasy authors, send me a comment on Twitter (@AmyTasich) or leave a comment below. Happy reading!
While there are still a FEW days left in 2017 (which means I might finish 1 or 2 more books), I wanted to pop in and do a quick post on some of my FAVORITE books from this year. Instead of a top 10 list, I decided to list out some of my favorites in various categories. In all, at this time, I read about 170 books this year and only a few were rereads, so I had a chance to get my hands on lots of new (published in 2017) books and new to me books that I had missed earlier.
Favorite Series-The Naturals
Seriously so, so good. Cassie is on the hunt for answers to her mother's murder and gets recruited to join the Naturals, an elite group of 4 other teens who work (unofficially) for the FBI as profilers, lie detectors, and human computers. They can look at cold cases and help them get solved. And now they want to access to live cases to help out and rescue actual victims in time. Part Criminal Minds, part YA, this is a fun, fast, and addictive read. There are currently 4 books, and I am hoping/praying/wishing for more.
Best Graphic Novel-Nimona
Book that made me go "WHAT?":