These Are a Few of My Favorite Things (To Read To My Students!)

Remember how I told you about EdCampStl?  One of the great people I met (or was actually reintroduced to) was Ms. Ferguson, who had done some work in my school several years ago.  We found out we both teach 5th grade and are both named Jen, which was a funny coincidence.

Well, since we are both 5th grade teachers, the conversations we shared were mostly around comparing what we do and how.  So when she asked about my favorite read-alouds, I figured that both for her and for me (and for you!), I’d write a whole post about it! Here are a few of my favorite things to read to my students!

I have written about read aloud before here and here, and you can probably tell it’s a big deal in our classroom.  I am so excited to share a good book with a group of kids who have never heard of it before, and even more excited when they love it as much as me!  Let me tell you about some of my go-to reads:

1. There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom by Louis Sachar (When I taught 4th grade, I always started our year together with this one.)

2. Crash by Jerry Spinelli (One of my all-time favorites that I read EVERY YEAR! Well except this one, because they heard it last year.  😦 )

3. Clementine by Sara Pennypacker (Even big kids love the antics of Clementine!   It’s a great end-of-the-year fast read, too.)

4. Fig Pudding by Ralph Fletcher (See that note about Crash?  DITTO on this one.  Read it EVERY YEAR and it’s a classic, for sure!)

5. Who’s Stealing the 12 Days of Christmas? by Marsha Freeman

6. Who’s Stealing Halloween? by Marsha Freeman (These are great, easy mysteries that my kiddos always love.)

7. The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White (As a child, I have fond memories of my 3rd grade teacher reading this one aloud to me, and so I had to return the favor to my students!)

8. The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau (I did this one totally backwards and saw the movie first, but once I read the book, I was really sold!)

9. Pleasing the Ghost by Sharon Creech

10. Granny Torrelli Makes Soup by Sharon Creech

11. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (This is another one of my EVERY YEAR reads.  Oh, and can you tell I’m a Sharon Creech fan?)

12. Frindle by Andrew Clements (I’m not usually an Andrew Clements fan (I know–gasp!!), but this is a great first book because it’s fun and easy for everyone to dig into.)

13. Go Big or Go Home by Will Hobbs (I found this book because it was nominated for the Mark Twain award a couple of years ago and it’s on my “good” list now.)

14. Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Also a Mark Twain nominee–what a twisty story!  We were on the edge of our seats the whole time with this one.)

15. I Am David by Anne Holm (This was another saw-the-movie-first one, but I am now so in love with David’s story that this is an EVERY YEAR book now!)

16. The Boys Start the War by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Great beginning of the year read aloud–everyone loves it!)

17. Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson (I found this one last year after a recommendation from my husband, who is also a teacher.  It’s a little graphic, but is an interesting non-fiction read aloud that kept my students riveted!)

18. Marshfield Dreams by Ralph Fletcher (Also a recommendation from my husband, this is Ralph Fletcher’s memoir and is the PERFECT companion to read with Fig Pudding.  Perfect picture of how your writer’s notebook informs your writing!)

19. Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea (This is a brand new one, but will become an EVERY YEAR book next year when I read it again!  What a great beginning-of-the-year read to set the tone for the year.  We learned a lot about how to treat each other well with this one!)

20. Wonder by R.J. Palacio (WE LOVE AUGGIE! This is one of the most heartfelt, meaningful reads I’ve come across in a long time.  Another EVERY YEAR read!)

21. Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham

22. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo (Yet another recommendation from my hubby–man does he know good books!–that will become an EVERY YEAR read for me.  Great, moving story with amazing vocabulary.)

23. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (Just started this one with my class, but I KNOW they’re going to LOVE it!  This one just won the Newbery, which confirms that it’s a great book, but I as already in love.  Moving and life changing.)

Whew!  That’s a lot longer list than I thought it’d be!  There are just so many good ones!

What are your favorite read alouds?  Are any the same as mine?  Share your favorites here–maybe I’ll have to add them to my list! 🙂


EDUC 573: Week 5–I Went to School on a Saturday

Yep, you heard me right.  I got up at 5:45 (which is WAY earlier than a school day), drove my kids 30 minutes to my mom’s house, then drove about 40 minutes in the other direction to go to school on a Saturday.  And it was all by choice.

EdCampStl was the reason.  What’s EdCamp?  Well, it’s honestly just a bunch of teachers who all gather at a school together on a Saturday to learn together, and what that learning is is not decided until we all arrive.  Sessions are planned on the fly, based on what people know and what they want to know.  You’re encouraged to sit in on as many sessions as you can, moving from one to another if it doesn’t end up meeting your needs.  For more about what your brain looks like on EdCamp, check out Krissy Venosdales’ blog where she wrote about it this weekend.

I attended my first EdCamp last year, and this was even more fabulous!  Last time I went alone, which was a little bit daunting, because I am not the most outgoing person.  I had a fine time, but didn’t really talk to anybody or make any new connections.  I did learn more about using social media in the classroom, but didn’t really take away anything I could implement right away.

This time, I was really excited to be able to finally meet some of my online “friends” in person, putting a real face to the avatar I’ve been looking at for the last year!  This was better than I even anticipated, and will make the connection we share online even stronger.  I attended some pretty great sessions, too, where I  learned about a new iPad app, how to use Google forms in the classroom, more about collaborative groups and had a discussion about the impact of ELA Common Core on what we do in our day-to-day teaching lives.

For me, it was the conversations that made this year different.  We’ve been talking alot about PLNs lately, and I definitely have some pretty fabulous people in mine.  Being able to sit in the same room as them and share ideas was a little bit surreal.  Kinda like nerd heaven, really.  And the best part was that since we’re connected on Twitter (which is where I learned about the whole EdCamp experience in the first place), we could keep  the conversation going even after the day was over.  Our learning continues beyond the conference, which is not always something that happens.

I feel really lucky to be a part of a PLN of some really smart, risk-taking, innovative educators from whom I learn something new every time I log on (which is pretty much every day!).  I can truly say that without them, I would not be the teacher I am today. 🙂

Are you a member of a PLN?  Why do you like it?  What do you learn from your PLN?  Have you been to EdCamp?  Tell me about it!