Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chloe and the Lion book trailer

I read the ARC of Chloe and the Lion to you in class a few days ago. Here is a hilarious book trailer with Adam Rex and Mac Barnett:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Daniel Jennewein's drawings

Mr. Jennewein sent me the digital files of the pictures he drew for us yesterday. I thought I'd share them with you as we anxiously await a package from him in the mail.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Plans for reading over Christmas break

To my dear, lovely 6th graders:

Christmas break is soon upon us, and many of you have visions of sleeping late (except for Christmas morning of course), sledding in the snow, and snuggling up by the fire with a warm mug of hot cocoa.

NOT SO FAST! You need to include reading in those daydreams.

Given that you are expected to read 5 books per quarter - which equates to finishing a book every week and a half - you can't assume that Christmas break is going to be time spent away from books.

So, I want you to take some time in class to peruse the classroom library, the school library, and even Goodreads, and start making some plans for what you want to read over break. I will expect a planned-out list of 2-3 books by Wednesday, which is our first day of reading conferences.

I understand many of you will not finish two or three books over break, but you all should at least finish ONE book. I still want you to give me a list of 2-3 books even if you only plan to finish one. Why? So in case you DO finish one book earlier than expected, you have a plan for what you will read next.

And since you all know that I never make you do something I myself wouldn't do, these are some of the books I have plans for reading over break:

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

In this much-anticipated sequel to the young adult book, Delirium, Lauren Oliver builds a dystopian world where love is considered a disease and you must get a surgical procedure when you are 18 to be cured of it. I received the ARC of this book at NCTE and cannot wait to read it! Publication date: March 6, 2012

Wintertown by Stephen Emond

This is another ARC I received at NCTE and it has been on my to-read list for quite some time. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this book his illustrations, which gives it kind of a "young adult meets Diary of a Wimpy Kid" feel to it.

You might also have noticed that I recently put up a poster in the room of this book cover.

Publication date: December 5, 2011

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn

I have been reading this book on and off since October and I think it's time I just buck up and finish it. I'm enjoying the book, it's not as if it's boring or anything, but there are so many other books that I've been wanting to finish that this one just got pushed by the wayside. I WILL finish this book over break. I can guarantee that. (Famous last words, right?)

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

I got the audiobook of this at the library because I feel like my reading life is sorely lacking in children's classics (and adult classics for that matter). This book is over 100 years old, so I'd definitely say it's a classic.

No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman

Gordon Korman endeared himself to me when I went to one of his sessions at NCTE about humor in writing and in the classroom. His inspiration for writing this book was that he was tired of reading sad books where the dog dies at the end. At the conference, Mr. Korman said (and I'm paraphrasing here), "Whenever a kid picks up a book with an award sticker and a picture of a dog on the cover, the kid pretty much knows that dog is going down." With a pitch like that, how can you not want to read this book?

This is another one I will be tackling on audio thanks to my wonderful neighborhood library.

Now I know what you're thinking: "Mrs. Shuam, that's FIVE books! How are you going to read FIVE books in less than two weeks?!"

Pish posh! I've been known to finish TEN books in two weeks. So, the challenge is on! Who is going to read more books than Mrs. Shaum over Christmas break? (By the way, this is a challenge I will have NO PROBLEM losing. In fact, I wish I could lose this challenge to ALL OF YOU!)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Homeroom illustrations

Next week we will be Skyping with children's book illustrator, Daniel Jennewein. He has agreed to draw some pictures for us, but to keep order in the classroom and prevent him from having to draw 60 individual drawings, we're going to limit it to one per homeroom.

This blog post is to generate some ideas of things we might want him to draw. So in the comments, give suggestions for things you might want him to draw for your homeroom. (I will delete any comments that are inappropriate or people who did not include their name with their comment).

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I apologize...

...for being gone for three days.

Hopefully you can forgive me when you see all the books I'm bringing back from the conference:
These are all the books I got for free!

These are all the books I got signed!
And see the authors I met...
Laurie Halse Anderson
John Green
Jackson Pearce
Kenneth Oppel

So I hope you can all forgive me.

Monday, November 14, 2011

6th graders as picture book authors

In English this week, you're going to be creating your own picture books "inspired by" the mentor texts we've read in class.

Choose one of the following books to inspire you:

The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Renata Liwska
Take your inspiration from Deborah Underwood's The Quiet Book and make your own LOUD BOOK!

Subway Story by Julia Sarcone-Roach
Take your inspiration from this story by personifying a non-human, non-living object and telling its story

Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? and Teach Your Buffalo to Play Drums by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Daniel Jennewein
Take your inspiration from these books by writing your own Is Your ________ Ready for ________? or Teach Your _________ to _________

This assignment is due before Thanksgiving break (meaning, if you're not going to be in school the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, you need to turn it in on Tuesday!)

You need to create a story board before you start creating your final picture book and you also need to turn in the grading sheet with your final project.

"Still Me" Study Guide

Here are the things you need to know for your "Still Me" test:

Literary Terms:
  • autobiography
  • point of view
  • first person point of view
  • third person point of view

Short answer questions:
  • What is now in the horse trailer next to the barn?
  • What did Reeve imagine when he looked at the picture of the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl?
  • What has Reeve not done for his son in over three years?
  • What might have been different if Reeve had fallen with his head turned a little to the left or right?

What is Reeve's definition of a hero today and do you agree?

Monday, October 24, 2011

What is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo, short for National Novel Writing month, is an entire month dedicated to writing your very own novel. November begins this month long endeavor and adults around the world participate in this program for the thrill of attempting to write a novel in only one month. But kids can participate in the Young Writer’s Program of NaNoWriMo and also write their own novels, too. For kids the word count is lower than the adult version, but there is still huge satisfaction in setting a goal and acheiving it. For kids who want to sign up and parents who want to know more, go to the following website:

NaNoWriMo's Young Writers Program

Remember, this is a huge opportunity for extra credit in English for 2nd quarter.

If you're interested in doing this, please sign up on the website and then respond to this post with your user name.

Monday, October 10, 2011

"The Goodness of Matt Kaizer" study guide

Test for The Goodness of Matt Kaizer" is Wednesday, October 13th.

Please make sure you know the following:

Know the following characters and whether they're one-dimensional or three-dimensional
Matt Kaizer
Mr. Bataky
Mary Beth
Rev. Kaizer

Who is the narrator of the story?
The nickname Matt's friends gave to him and why.
What type of conflict is "The Goodness of Matt Kaizer" - internal or external?
Fill out a story map for the story

Friday, September 23, 2011

Literature Extra Credit Opportunity

We talked in class today about two extra credit opportunities for literature.

Way #1
Write more than 6 letters per quarter in your literature journal
This is a fairly easy, straightforward way of boosting your grade: go above and beyond the minimum requirement. Write over six quality letters to classmates or to me and you'll earn one point per extra letter you write.

Way #2
Sign up for and maintain a Goodreads account
Goodreads is one of my favorite Internet websites. It allows you to keep track of the books you've read and the books you want to read. This can be a big help for you this year given your twenty book requirement. In order to earn your extra credit, you must consistently update your account - not just sign up for it and forget about it. Be sure to "friend" me too once you've signed up so I can keep track of your activity and therefore give you your extra credit.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Genre Vocabulary

Look up each term in the Handbook of Literary Terms starting on p. 938 in your literature book. Define each term (only write the definition - not all the extra stuff after the definition!) in your notebook, not your reader response journal.

  1. genre
  2. fiction
  3. realistic fiction*
  4. fantasy
  5. science fiction (leave room for extra info)
  6. historical fiction
  7. mystery*
  8. nonfiction
  9. biography
  10. autobiography
  11. essay
  12. fairy tale
  13. folk tale
  14. legend
  15. oral tradition
  16. fable
  17. memoir
  18. poetry
  19. myth
  20. drama

*These terms are not in the literature book. You need to look them up on your own (e.g., online or in the dictionary)

Due Monday at the end of literature

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Welcome 6th Graders and Parents!

Hello and welcome 6th grade families to my new class blog. I decided to move over to Blogger this year because the interface is much more user-friendly than Edublogs.

I hope this year will be a productive and exciting one for you.

So tell me 6th grade: what was something exciting you did over the summer?

As for me, my husband and I traveled to Europe and we visited Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. Since we used to live in Germany, some of our travels were old favorites (like Salzburg, Austria and our old hometown of Schweinfurt, Germany) and others were new adventures (like Hallstatt, Austria and Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic).

Some pictures of our adventures:
In Salzburg, Austria
Hallstatt, Austria

View from our hotel balcony in Hallstatt

Another view from our balcony

My husband and I in Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
Canoeing the Vltava River right before disaster struck: we tipped over and ruined our camera. Luckily the SD card still worked so we didn't lose our pictures, but the camera was toast.
One of the coolest parts of our trip was that I was able to meet the illustrator of the adorable and wacky duo of picture books Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? and Teach Your Buffalo to Play Drums, Daniel Jennewein. My husband I and actually stayed with him and his wife, Lenore Appelhans, (who is a soon-to-be published author in her own right) in Frankfurt the night before I flew home. I met Lenore through a community of book bloggers and when she found out we'd be in Frankfurt she offered up their spare bed to us. I was touched by their generosity given the fact that I have family members who won't even offer their spare bed to us.

While we were there, Daniel was gracious enough to sign and sketch an impromptu picture of The Buffalo with my dogs in both of my copies of the books:

  Not only that, but he made a watercolor of my dogs for me:
This is definitely one of the best souvenirs I've ever brought home from a trip: a one-of-a-kind piece of art from a children's book illustrator. How cool is that?

So tell me what cool things you did this summer. At the very least I hope everyone read a lot of interesting books! :)