“Wonder”ful New Book Recommendation
Welcome to November! Fall is in full swing and it is an awesome time of year to curl up with a good book! I hope you are modeling great reading practices for your students and perhaps even your own children. Keeping up the classroom reading is important, too. Here is this month’s review.
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
I have seen this novel utilized in so many fantastic ways with upper elementary and middle school students, and now there is a younger student version, too. In today’s day and age of selfie photo perfection and judging all that is “different” as wrong or bad, this book is a needed read for discussion of these issues with your students. The main character Auggie Pullman is about to begin 5th grade in a public school after being homeschooled for years. He has a significant facial deformity that causes others to look away in fear. Even though he looks different on the outside, he feels the same as everyone else on the inside. As one book reviewer from Kirkus Reviews put it, “Auggie may be finding his place in the world, but that world must find a way to make room for him, too. A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder.” For instructional purposes, I love that it is written from various viewpoints! There are many digital resources available to accompany your study of this novel with your students. Check out the publisher’s website to see all of the related texts. This website has many downloadable Wonder teaching resources, too. The author’s page shares some helpful classroom discussion questions, too. There is even a Wonder app! Many teachers use this book at the beginning of the year to foster a classroom as a community environment and have their students take the #choosekind pledge. This month, on November 17, there is even a movie of the book coming out starring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson. It will be all the buzz, I’m sure, so get a head start and read this novel with your students. If I were you and you were me- remember to keep the tissues nearby when reading this book aloud to your class. Just so you know, this book is based on a child with an actual rare genetic condition called treacher collins syndrome. I leave you with this quote: “You can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.” I’m not crying- you’re crying!
Monthly Book Reviews
In the spirit of keeping up with a few new pieces of rich literature for read aloud or to add to your classroom library, I began featuring two new books for you to check out last month. This month we have two additional finds you may or may not have seen before, but I suggest considering them for your classroom needs.
TEK: The Modern Cave Boy by Patrick McDonnell
Is it a phone? Is it a tablet? Is it an iPod? No, look closer. It’s an actual book! This story’s illustrations make it look like one of your favorite handheld technological devices. Maybe this feature alone will draw in some of your reluctant readers during our technology driven times.
The beauty of this story is that it weaves the ideology that technology may not always be all that it’s cracked up to be. In fact, Tek’s obsession with high tech devices leads him to be very disconnected from reality. Think cave man life here. As a lady that still rocks a flip phone, I can really relate to this story’s message. We need to make sure that our students understand both the advantages and disadvantages to being “plugged in” all the time. Use this fun story to help set the notion into motion that everything has it’s time and place, but moderation is key. Hmm. I’m sensing this would be a great text to use with author’s purpose and theme. To avoid irony, I hesitate to mention that this book does have a YouTube video, but it might be an option for your student’s viewing pleasure as well. Just promise me you won’t forgo all actual text for videos, ok?
10 Things I Can Do to Help my World by Melanie Walsh
Not a new book, but new to me. This book was introduced to me this summer as a selection one of the Read to be Ready summer camps had used in their programming. Being the tree hugger that I am- I LOVE it! I loved it so much that the teacher sharing the book with the group gave it to me to keep. One of the best features about this book are the pages- many of them have cut-outs, flaps, and creative ways of displaying the text. It is just an awesome book with an even more awesome message. I think it would be a wonderful option for building fluency since the students will hardly be able to put it down because it is simple in nature and they’ll want to play with the pages. It would also be a great text to use with a follow up writing prompt concerning other ideas students generate about helping our world. Help your world and help your classroom library by checking out this book!
In case you haven’t noticed, Google is beginning to take over the education world. Outdated computers are being replaced by sleek Chrome Bases and clunky laptops are being upgraded to speedy Chrome Books. Microsoft office is being swapped for Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Oh and you know that flash drive you used to carry around? That can be swapped for Google Drive.
With so much to offer, learning “Google” can be an overwhelming task as an educator. Not only do we want to learn how to use it for ourselves but it is also important to learn how we can use the tools to help our students learn and help them become 21st century learners.
I was lucky to grow up using Google Tools because my dad was pretty “techy” and showed me how to use Google Drive and the processing tools in high school. Since starting to use Google Tools I haven’t gone back to Microsoft Office since! But even though I had a basic knowledge of the programs I wanted to learn more! This is why I turned to Google for Education training and certification.
Google for Education training is an interactive training program that teaches you how to use all of the different programs and gives you helpful tips for using them as an educator. The training consists of 13 modules ranging in topics from digital citizenship to building a classroom website using Google Sites. I found that as someone who has used the tools in my personal and professional life, the training was quite easy. There are practice questions and application activities through out the training….don’t skip these!! They are VERY helpful for the certification test. My favorite part of the training was the examples of teachers using the products in their classroom, I gathered a lot of great ideas for my next school year!
After completing the training (which took me about 4 hours) I registered for the Level 1 Certification test. To register for the test it is highly recommended that you complete the modules and you have to pay a $10 fee to take the test. When taking the test you have to sign a non-disclosure agreement stating that you will not share the contents of the test with others. So while legally I am not allowed to share what is on the test I can share a few tips!
- Be familiar with ALL of the Google for Education suite tools. If you haven’t used a tool before, explore the tool before you take the test.
- Read the directions carefully and often. I found that the test took me a long time because I wanted to be very sure that I didn’t miss a step.
- Find a comfortable spot and bring a snack/drink with you. The test is quite long and for security reasons you will be recordered throughout the test so it is not reccomended that you leave your computer for an extended period of time.
After passing the test you will receive a digital certificate stating that you are “Google for Education” certified and this is a great addition to a resume!