Friday, June 7, 2013

Twerp! Recommending a book BEFORE I finish it...

UPDATE: After finishing this book, I still feel it's a great read, but can get a bit edgy at points - think Judy Blume. For that reason, I highly recommend that you preview it so that you can plan how, or if, you may change some of the wording at some points.
Also, I've seen how some reviews have panned the book for the fact that it treats the bullying incident lightly and that bothers some. I think it opens up a great dialogue for discussion and offers a teachable moment for sure.


 I started reading this book aloud to my class yesterday after finishing the ever-popular book Wonder. We're 20 pages in, and Twerp is already a hit. I have no doubt that its appeal will continue throughout its 280 plus pages.

Surprisingly this is Mark Goldblatt's first book for young readers. It reads more like the effort of a more experienced middle grade author.

So, here's one reason why I'm recommending it before I've even finished... There's a scene at the beginning where the main character Julian is with his friend Lonnie and they've made the unfortunate decision to throw a rock at pigeons in a vacant lot "just to see what happens". My students were riveted. Some were hiding their heads in their hands not wanting, but really wanting, to hear more.  They were scolding the character, shouting out at him. Yeah, this stuff was real people. I won't tell you what happened to the pigeons because, well, you're going to read it, right? 

Twerp is a "journal" written in first person voice of the main character Julian. It's an assignment in response to a teacher's directive after Julian returns from being suspended from school. Goldblatt keeps the reader in suspense as to why Julian was suspended, but the stories he tells keep us so entertained we don't really mind waiting. 

This book not only appeals to its intended audience, as Twerp's 1969 time period is a perfect trip down memory lane for its adult reader. That's assuming your a child of the 60's and 70's like I am :) Even if you're not a middle-aged reader, you will find a sense of familiarity and abandon as the boys are able to navigate their neighborhood unfettered by the chains that bind current young adults. 

On the surface Twerp may appear to be a "boys' only" coming of age story but to  relegate it to that status is really short-changing this wonderful middle-grade literature that crosses gender lines and is sure to please.

Twerp was recently published and is available to purchase or check out from your local library.

I received a complimentary review copy from net in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Teaching Channel - Amazing stuff for, you guessed it, TEACHERS!

Okay teachers (parents too, if you'd like to look at the latest best practices on curriculum and pedagogy) you must visit this site and sign up for their newsletter:

Click here for Teaching Channel website

I have been watching videos on this site for months now. If you are just launching Common Core, visit now! If you are looking to brush up on your skills, visit now! If you would like to watch hour long, high quality programs on teaching using STEM, how to implement math and the core, or reading fundamentals, visit now!

The best part is that the videos are K-12, and there's something for everyone.

I have begun to reflect on my practice so much from watching these videos and the programming on this site. It's very well produced, and the teachers who are showcased are amazing at what they do.

This is one of the best resources that I've found to help teachers perfect their craft.

I hope to offer a drop-in study group in the fall where like-minded colleagues in my building can stop by my room once a month to watch these videos and collaborate.

If you've got a favorite online or print resource that helps you and inspires, leave me a comment and let us know about it!