Tuesday, November 27, 2012


During conferences, a few parents (and students) asked for a lits of good reads!

Here are a few! I will post more soon!
Have a super Holiday!

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Moon Over Manifest

Winner of the 2011 Newbery Award.

Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was.
Having heard stories about Manifest, Abilene is disappointed to find that it’s just a dried-up, worn-out old town. But her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to “Leave Well Enough Alone.”Abilene throws all caution aside when she heads down the mysterious Path to Perdition to pay a debt to the reclusive Miss Sadie, a diviner who only tells stories from the past. It seems that Manifest’s history is full of colorful and shadowy characters—and long-held secrets. The more Abilene hears, the more determined she is to learn just what role her father played in that history. And as Manifest’s secrets are laid bare one by one, Abilene begins to weave her own story into the fabric of the town.

Powerful in its simplicity and rich in historical detail, Clare Vanderpool’s debut is a gripping story of loss and redemption.

Artemis Fowl (First book, and series!)

Twelve-year-old Artemis Fowl is a millionaire, a genius—and, above all, a criminal mastermind. But even Artemis doesn't know what he's taken on when he kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit. These aren't the fairies of bedtime stories—they're dangerous! Full of unexpected twists and turns, Artemis Fowl is a riveting, magical adventure.


The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

Calpurnia Virginia Tate is eleven years old in 1899 when she wonders why the yellow grasshoppers in her Texas backyard are so much bigger than the green ones.With a little help from her notoriously cantankerous grandfather, an avid naturalist, she figures out that the green grasshoppers are easier to see against the yellow grass, so they are eaten before they can get any larger. As Callie explores the natural world around her, she develops a close relationship with her grandfather, navigates the dangers of living with six brothers, and comes up against just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century.

Debut author Jacqueline Kelly deftly brings Callie and her family to life, capturing a year of growing up with unique sensitivity and a wry wit.


The City of Ember 

Many hundreds of years ago, the city of Ember was created by the Builders to contain everything needed for human survival. It worked…but now the storerooms are almost out of food, crops are blighted, corruption is spreading through the city and worst of all—the lights are failing. Soon Ember could be engulfed by darkness….

But when two children, Lina and Doon, discover fragments of an ancient parchment, they begin to wonder if there could be a way out of Ember. Can they decipher the words from long ago and find a new future for everyone? Will the people of Ember listen to them?


Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Grace Lin, author of the beloved Year of the Dog and Year of the Rat, returns with a wondrous story of happiness, family, and friendship. A fantasy crossed with Chinese folklore, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is a timeless adventure story in the classic tradition of The Wizard of Oz.

In the Valley of Fruitless Mountain, a young girl named Minli spends her days working hard in the fields and her nights listening to her father spin fantastic tales about the Jade Dragon and the Old Man of the Moon. Minli’s mother, tired of their poor life, chides him for filling her head with nonsense. But Minli believes these enchanting stories and embarks on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man of the Moon and ask him how her family can change their fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest.

Eragon (Book 1 of 4) Inheritance Series

When young Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his adopted family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself. Overnight his simple life is shattered, and he is thrust into a perilous new world of inescapable destiny, magical forces, and powerful people. With only an ancient sword and the instruction of an old,mysterious, hermit storyteller for guidance, Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an Empire ruled by a Emperor whose evil and power knows no bounds. Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands….


Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos(Theodosia Throckmorton #1)

Theodosia Throckmorton has her hands full at the Museum of Legends and Antiquities in London. Her father may be head curator, but it is Theo—and only Theo—who is able to see all the black magic and ancient curses that still cling to the artifacts in the museum.

When Theo’s mother returns from her latest archaeological dig bearing the Heart of Egypt—a legendary amulet belonging to an ancient tomb—Theo learns that it comes inscribed with a curse so black and vile that it threatens to crumble the British Empire from within and start a war too terrible to imagine. Intent on returning the malevolent artifact to its rightful place, Theo devises a daring plan to put things right. But even with the help of her younger brother, a wily street urchin, and the secret society known as the Brotherhood of the Chosen Keepers, it won’t be easy . . . she quickly finds herself pursued down dark alleys, across an ocean, through the bustling crowds of Cairo, and straight into the heart of an ancient mystery. Theo will have to call upon everything she’s ever learned in order to prevent the rising chaos from destroying her country—and herself.



Ranger’s Apprentice Ruins of Gorlan Book 1 in Series of 10

By John Flanagan

Will is small for his age, but agile and energetic. All his life, he has longed to be a warrior
and to follow in the footsteps of the father he never knew, so he is devastated when he is
rejected as an apprentice to Castle Redmont's Battleschool. He's no happier when he's
assigned instead to the Ranger Corps, the Kingdom's secret service, as the Rangers are a
mysterious group whose uncanny ability to move about unseen is thought by many to be
the result of black magic. Will begins training under the dour and enigmatic Halt, and
reluctantly learns all the fieldcraft and archery he will need to become a fully-fledged
Ranger. But Will soon finds himself needing all his new-found skills as he and Halt set off
on a desperate mission to prevent the assassination of the King.

The Ruins of Gorlan is an entertaining and exciting quest, the first in a new series
about Will and his friends from Castle Redmont.

We will update with more books soon! These are great reads!! (Ranger's Apprentice is a hot item right now, you will have to fight teachers--namely Mr. Aaby,  and other students for a copy!!)




Friday, November 2, 2012

A Little Bit of Writing

Reading and Writing is such a "workshop". The students proved today that they are capable of working and showing what they have been taught and what they have learned.

We have pressed forward this fall with moving up our instruction for introductions and conclusions in writing. I have to say, the tests today proved that it was a wise choice. We are often pressed for time to get it all "done", however, the students may have struggled a tad with the thesis statement at first, today's writing assessments really proved that they have the foundation. YAY!! Reading the papers has set forth a great platform for the instruction over the next few months.

As 2012 ends, we will shift gears into a more persuasive voice and students will have the chance to really show not only how to "organize" a paper, but include the details, figurative language, and art to writing.

As always, it is a pleasure to share with our students that of which we have such a passion for.

On a reading note, we have been asked for reading suggestions for students. With the blog posts each week, we will try to update popular books, new authors, engaging series, or just "YOU HAVE TO READ THIS" novels.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Mr. Aaby and Ms. McDaniel

Fun book choices for the first week of November:

Ranger's Apprentice Book series and website

Rick Riordan books-including Heroes of Olympus, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and The Kane Chronicles.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Challenge Books

We are mid-swing of our Challenge Novel Reader's Workshop. It has been an interesting year as the students have LOVED reading Maniac Magee. The Challenge Novels are geared to the age group of fifth graders who may or may not experience life challenges. Some of the examples include diabetes in the book Sugar Isn't Everything, or foster families in the book Pinballs.

Other titles include, The Great Gilly Hopkins, The Golden Glove, and Slake's Limbo. The students independently read the titles and will follow up with a discussion to our KidBlog website. Students answer the following questions about the book they have read and respond to another title of a book they have NOT read, and would possibly like to read based on the recommendation.

o  1st Section- Synopsis of book. Tell the audience what the book was about. Give details about the story but do not give away the entire plot. A synopsis is a mix between a summary and a blurb.
o  2nd Section- Your review of the book. Share your opinion about the book. Tell the audience what you liked or did not like about the book- use specific evidence. Make personal connections.
o  3rd Section- Recommendation – Tell us if you recommend this book to others. Give a specific audience you are recommending it too – for example “I would recommend this book to girls in elementary school who like to laugh and have fun.”

Students have enjoyed reading and are surprised to "like" the books that may not have been a first choice novel if given their own chance to select any book. We have encouraged students to find other "Challenge" novels about fifth grade hurdles, obstacles, and opportunities. Some titles include Rules, By Cynthia Lord. It is a novel about a young girl who has an autistic brother and the challenges she faces in finding how important family is, and how everyone is different, including the rules for eveyrone.

We hope that you have chatted with your child about his or her reading choice! It is always exciting to see boys and girls with their noses stuck in books!


Monday, October 15, 2012

Sasquatch and Reader's Choice Awards

AH! The excitement about the upcoming books. The students recieved a long term assignment this week for teh Reader's Choice Award books and the Sasquatch books. We are excited to share these titles with students and can't wait for the response and feedback!!

 Here are the details for the assignment:

Sasquatch Award

Young Reader’s Choice Award

Reading Assignment


You have the opportunity to make a difference in the world of literature.  This assignment enables you to become an official voter for either or both the Sasquatch Award or Young Reader’s Choice Award.  Between now and March 2013, you will read a minimum of two books off of one of these award lists. You may read more than two off of each list or a few from both lists if you want.  You will vote on your favorite book from each list in March.  In January, you will get more details for a project that you will complete to go along with your reading. However, please note, that each book you read will have a blog entry. Details to follow.


This is not an assignment to

wait to complete.

Start reading now!


A few notes on the books: Getting these books will also be your responsibility.

  • We have copies of each in the Rock Creek Library (although there is already a waiting list of some of these). 
  • King County Library Systems have many copies of the books.
  • Purchase these books at a bookstore or online. 
Young Readers Choice Nominee List
If using this list, select a minimum of two titles
13 Treasures by Michelle Harrison
Big Nate: in a Class by Himself by Lincoln Peirce
Fatty Legs by Christy Jordan-Fenton (not owned by SPL)
Lone Wolf by Kathryn Lasky
The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham
Sasquatch Nominee List
If using this list- select a minimum of two titles
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
The PS Brothers by Maribeth Boelts
Crunch by Leslie Connor
Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper (available only as downloadable audio)
Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm
Research for the Social Improvement and General Betterment of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang (The Popularity Papers, Book 1) by Amy Ignatow
Love, Aubrey by Suzanne M. LaFleur
The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
Masters of Disasters by Gary Paulsen (not owned by SPL)
The Shadows (The Books of Elsewhere, Book 1) by Jacqueline West

Friday, October 5, 2012

Maniac Magee

It has been such a great start to the school year in Reading and Writing. Our students have jumped on the Maniac Magee bandwagon. The story is rich with themes of love, homelessness, and family. Students have learned to look for the moral message, as well as the "heart" of the story. It is VERY rewarding to hear students talk about the book and have an eagerness to continue to read each portion of the book in our literature circle. 

Maniac Magee is a tall tale of sorts as we look through Jerry Spinelli's initial warning of not to let the facts get mixed up with the truth.... and the history of the kid is one part legend, two parts fact, and three parts snowball. 

Our adventure has included group discussions with Mr. Aaby and Ms. McDaniel combining the blocks to discuss characters, key points, themes, and vocabulary. It also includes KIDBLOGGER. Students have been addicted to writing their posts about theme. AND as always, we struggle to establish the scholarly responses to use it as a learning tool and not a social networking tool. Ah! The struggle to respond without using LOL or I think you are COOL in every line! 

This week, we will wrap up our discussions on Maniac Magee and begin our final project of book jackets and blurbs and transition to our Challenge Novel Workshop. 

We hope you will follow our Tale of Two Teachers Reading and Writing Blog to keep peeks at your students adventures in reading and writing. 

Mr. Aaby and Ms. McDaniel