Tag Archives: literature

Reading Strategies: Posters for Middle School and High School (that aren’t cheesy!)

One thing I always struggled with in the classroom was finding posters that weren’t too young for my kids.  There are so many resources out there for elementary teachers.  For middle school teachers? Not so much.  Thank goodness my husband is a graphic artist, right?

We made up these strategy posters a few years ago, and I absolutely loved how clean and nice they looked on the wall.  I went for a homey, interior design look in my room, so these helped.



Synthesize Visualize Ask Questions





Determine Ideas Infer Make Connections





I don’t use them anymore (more into the READ posters now, of course!), and I love to share.  I thought it would be a shame for these to go to waste.  They print up nicely on 11×17 paper.  I went to the office store, and I think it cost me like 2 bucks a piece to print them.

I couldn’t figure out how to link the file right to the image, so click below for the PDFs.

Enjoy!  I hope you like them!





Visualize copy

Synthesize copy


Infer copy

Determine Imp Ideas copy




Five Titles I Can’t Wait to Book Talk This Year

With the school year almost upon me, and a lot of free time on my hands (I am sitting in my recliner, recovering from a septoplasty), I am starting to get really excited about all of the great books I have read over the summer. Net Galley has certainly been kind to me.

While I have definitely worn out the new “New Adult” genre this summer (I kinda hate it now), I have also read a ton of great books in my favorite genre- Young Adult. I love reading YA for two reasons- first, the YA authors out there are putting out some really great stuff that isn’t all depressing or pretentious like adult fiction can get. Second, I LOVE being able to bring YA to my middle school readers that is just appropriate for them… that’s the stuff that they really get excited about reading. My eighth grade boys were drooling over titles like World War Z and Rot and Ruin a couple of years ago, and I like to keep it coming.

Without further adieu…

41TzYsSC84L._SY300_Time After Time by Tamara Ireland Stone. So many sequels fall flat or completely lose the tone of the first book, but this is an awesome sequel to Time Between Us. Since I am Bennett’s age, I love reading from his point of view, too. Going back to 1995, in my hometown (Chicago), is pretty cool- and I love the fact that teachers and librarians can talk to kids about when we grew up without sounding stupid.

51ZhFCzTS9L._SY300_The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. This is another sequel, but I have to say- Maggie Stiefvater is probably the best paranormal writer for teens out there right now. The Shiver series sees a ton of circulation every year, and now the Raven Boys has seen the same kind of popularity. I like the fact that Stiefvater’s heroines aren’t weak and her narrative voice doesn’t make kids sound stupid.

41SzknL9faLKindness for Weakness by Shawn Goodman. So many books touch on the insecurities of girls, but not many capture the real emotions that go through boys’ heads these days- and so realistically. I actually felt the dirt under my fingernails as I read this one. The tone of the book is so gritty and the way in which the protagonist interacts with the world will resonate with introverts everywhere- whether down-and-out like this guy, or not.

51xb9EOj5HLThe Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston. I have read a couple of Witness Protection program books lately, and I watched My Name is Earl from start to finish with my son this summer, so I feel like an expert on the genre (insert sarcasm icon here). This one surprised me. I love the fact that this isn’t action- it is a classic mystery. Mystery is a genre that so often gets bogged down by paranormals and sci fi. When I find a good one that is just a good mystery, I hang on to it. I will be hanging on to this one for sure.

51g07mPX-7LBeing Henry David by Cal Armistead. Like number three, this is a “boy book” that isn’t cheesy. Even boys can only handle so many teenage spy books.  I loved this book when I read it a while back, and it stuck with me. Who doesn’t like a good amnesia mystery? The fascinating thing about this book is the fact that it is a mystery and a coming of age story wrapped in one beautiful, lyrical package. When I want boys to read deeper and experience more, I will turn to this one first.

I hope Net Galley keeps em coming, because I get a lot of my best stuff because of them.  I can’t justify buying YA for my middle school library unless I have a chance to read it first, you know?  If you like hearing about YA that is just appropriate for middle schoolers, let me know in the comments or “like” this post and I will keep the suggestions coming.  🙂  Thanks!


Freebie Friday! Reader’s Workshop Minilessons!

Happy Friday!

A couple of years ago, I compiled a number of sources to come up with a minilesson PowerPoint that I knew would last for weeks. I did NOT present this entire PowerPoint in one day. I used a couple of slides each day for weeks.


In order to really understand this PowerPoint, you need to watch Shrek. I know, I know… but really! Shrek is an awesome point of reference for pretty much any literary device you can possibly think of. When I started teaching, I could count on the fact that everyone had seen it. Later on? Not so much! So… I showed Shrek. Early in the year. It was great! For the rest of the year, we all had a common point of reference when talking about literary elements and devices. So, these slides all refer back to Shrek.

It worked. Really. The kids totally, totally got it. Trust me. 🙂

Reader’s Workshop Minilessons

Have a great weekend! Check back next week for another Freebie Friday!


My Top Ten Obsessions Right Now (This Can Change at any Minute)

  1. My Library’s ebook website.  I can’t stop browsing books.  I check them out, I put them on hold, I put them on my wish list… I just can’t stop compiling books.  I absolutely love it.


  2. Netgalley.com.  If you blog about books or you are a librarian, you absolutely need to be a part of this.  I almost don’t want to share this gem with others, but I love it so much that I can’t help it.  It is amazing.  I have gotten to preview so many amazing books- and their concept works.  I have bought many of the titles I have sampled for my library.  Others- books that aren’t appropriate for my middle school library- I have suggested to friends.  Regardless, because I am a blogger and librarian, I get to read them for free.  Score!

  3. I finished my candidacy exam.  For real.  I can’t stop thinking about the fact that I am one- free for the summer, and two- a doctoral candidate rather than a doctoral student.  I don’t think this one is going to go away any time soon.  That candidacy exam was hard!
  4. Metis and Other Alternative Cataloging Systems.  Over the last year, my assistant and I recatalogued our entire fiction section into genres.  Before, we had one huge fiction section.  Now, we have separate genres.  It is so user friendly and in the two days we have been finished with it, my students have been super excited.  It did take us the entire year, however, to get it done.  Next year we will tackle non-fiction.  Right now, I am just basking in the beauty that is my fiction section.  I can’t help staring at it.  It is beautiful.


  5. MMORPGs.  I am doing my dissertation on MMORPGs.  Therefore, I have done a lot of research on them.  BUT, the research has turned into something more.  I absolutely LOVE Tera and Secret World.  For real.  I can’t wait until summer when I can give them more time.  I applied to a guild and they accepted me, but I think they are too big.  I think I need something smaller.  I will work on that this summer.


  6. Weeds.  I just noticed that the last season is now on Netflix.  I am super excited.  However, I can only watch one episode each day- between when I get home from work and when my kids get off of the bus.  The suspense is killing me!
  7. My ceiling fans.  My old house didn’t have them, but there are ceiling fans in the important rooms in my new house, thank god.  I don’t know how we survived without them.  I don’t get it- in the heat of the summer, if we have an 80 degree day, I am cold.  Right now, I have to sleep downstairs with the windows open and the ceiling fan on full blast.
  8. Hot Glue.  Okay.  Funny story.  So I am working on the signs for the library redesign, and I am trying to figure out how to mount them, right?  So I thought that I could hot glue magnets to the back of the signs.  Except, I couldn’t find my hot glue at work.  I searched everywhere.  So, I went to my science teacher to borrow some hot glue, and she made me swear that I would replace the hot glue that I had borrowed.  It worked great, and I only needed two sticks, so I am forever indebted to hot glue, but I had never understood the value of hot glue until I talked to my science teacher.


  9. Adult Contemporary Fiction.  I just read the first two books in Deborah Harkness’s series and I am currently reading The Language of Flowers.  I can’t tell you how awesome it is to read big people books after reading middle school books all year.  I allow myself to read adult books over the summer, but I just felt the need to start a little early this year.  Perhaps it was passing the candidacy exam that did it for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE young adult fiction.  But after nine months of it, it is nice to read some big people books.
  10. My kids.  Okay, I know it is cliche, but I am having fun just being a mom now that the semester is over.  I can see the end of the school year coming, and I am thinking about all of the great things I will be able to do with my kids over the summer.  We are NOT going anywhere this summer, so we will get to jump on the train and go downtown, maybe hit the waterpark at Six Flags, go on picnics, hikes, etc.  Oh- and I am also taking a “Dissertation Boot Camp.” But I digress. 🙂

Happy Reading!

🙂 K