Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

The Underneath-The next Newbery winner? I think so! September 4, 2008

Filed under: books,kidlithosphere,read alouds,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 2:40 am
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The Underneath by Kathi Appelt is an amazing story! As soon as I felt that book in my hands, it FELT like a Newbery. I can’t really explain what that means, but sometimes you can just tell. I have thought that a few other times in the past and been right (kind of) with Elijah of Buxton (runner up) and wrong (Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane).

Currently it is the Best Book I Have Read (at least in a while). I put off reading it at first after seeing the animals under the porch in the cover illustration and reading some review that mentioned The Yearling. I don’t particularly like books that make me cry, and this one did that all right. What a story! I love books that have interwoven stories (Walk Two Moons, Pictures of Hollis Woods) and I was so focused at first on trying to figure out what was going to be sad, that I didn’t pay enough attention to the second story of “the underneath”. I found the story of Grandmother Moccasin and the Alligator King fascinating and well done. I do think it would make a good read aloud so that a teacher can “think aloud” about the two different story lines. Pictures of Hollis Woodswould appear to be a pretty easy read for good fourth grade readers, but the two different story lines confused many a student over the years, and it even has the two different typefaces as a visual hint to get ready for the next part of the story. Gar Face is one disturbed human that is creepy and evil. It doesn’t allow much room for sympathy for GarFace. I’m guessing that there are some readers who will object to the allusion to GarFace being such an evil person, even as a youth, that his mother left.

What an amazing book!

You can read other reviews of The Underneath at:

100 Scope Notes

The Reading Zone

Jen Robinson’s Book Page


Teachers are the best scavengers (in a good way!)

Filed under: school,writing — bestbookihavenotread @ 2:03 am
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I think most of my really successful ideas/lessons are hybrids of lessons/ideas that other people have used both successfully and unsuccessfully. That does make me a scavenger. When is scavenging not“reinventing the wheel” but walking the fine line of plagiarism? Can an idea be copyrighted? As I tried to ask my sleeping husband, he mumbled, “no”, but… If I (or anyone) read your lesson and it gives me an idea to use it or to tweak into my own personalized version, what about that? Most teachers that I work with like to share ideas, lessons, and we learn from each other in that way, but…? Obviously I like to share, or why blog? I will try to always mention what resource or person a lesson or idea came from if I have that information. How does that sound for a disclaimer?


Writing Inservice continued

 Early Release Meeting 

The goal of this early release meeting is to determine the *** Classroom teachers’ definition of writing at the elementary level and to identify strengths and weaknesses within the Reading Streets program. My role as Curriculum Coordinator will help to provide support for staff in this area over the Early Release meetings this year. Specifically, I focused our discussion on writing-our own and the students.   


1.     pick up snack and water

2.    select journal, folder, and pen (pretty new things along with snacks are good for starting teachers off feeling happy!)

3.    staff divided in cross-grade level tables (check chart for table assignment)

4.    small group definition of writing (large group share)

5.    strengths and weaknesses of current writing program (large group share)

6.    My Life in Seven Stories-If you could choose only 7 stories that define/reflect who you are and your life, what would a list of those stories be?

7.    Write one of your stories

8.    Discuss 6 + 1 Traits and how we will revisit our own stories to focus on one of the traits or a revision strategy each session

9.    Voluntary interest groups sign-ups for different book studies (Daily Five and Lucy Calkins Units of Study for Primary Writing)

10.                       Door Prizes


Book Study groups:

Units of Study for Primary Writing by Lucy Calkins

Daily Five: Fostering Literacy Independence in the Elementary Grades

by “the Sisters”  

great resource and very readable-like having a conversation with a friend. They also have a free and subscription website.