You Are What You Read.

October 31, 2012

The saying is true. You are, in part, defined by what you read. Every time you read a book, whether you really enjoyed it or not, you carry some of that book with you, whether in the back of your mind orĀ  on the tip of your tongue. Scholastic, being as great as they are, has a really cool link on their site called “Celebrity Bookprints.” First, let me explain what a book print is.

A bookprint is a list of five books that leave an indelible mark on our lives, shaping who we are and who we become. Therefore, a celebrity bookprint is pretty self explanatory. Scholastic has a list of dozens and dozens of celebrities who have provided their top five books that have left impressions on them. I thought that you all might like to check out the celebrity bookprints, because they’re pretty interesting, and I know I’m not a celebrity, but I thought I’d share mine with you. So here they are, in no particular order.

– To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

-Ashes In The Wind by Katherine Woodiwiss

-13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

-Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

-The Holy Bible (sorry it won’t let me insert the link for some reason)

I hope you’re inspired to create your own!!


I must admit that I am not a huge fan of Halloween. Growing up my family didn’t celebrate it like most families did and to this day I’m neither here nor there on the traditions that come with it. I am, however, the biggest fan of the most legendary writer of Gothic fiction and twisted horror stories, and that man is of course, Edgar Allan Poe.

My love for the works of Poe came during my studies in college as an English literature major. I took a course on Gothic fiction and Poe was one of the focuses of our studies. Ever since I have enjoyed reading and re-reading his works. I feel so passionately about his writing style and his unique ability to thread a story and his use of language. I’ve tried to bring Poe into the classroom whenever I had an appropriate opportunity because I believe that his stories are not only gruesome and totally cool, but that educationally, his works are filled with great learning opportunities. I especially like to use his works to show students examples of imagery and figurative language. I’m sure by now you are wondering why I’m going on and on about Poe, and it’s for two reasons.

1.) Tradition. My tradition. Every year around late October (Halloween) I like to read Poe’s tales. I always find myself going back to my favorites; Ligeia, The Cask of Amontillado, Morella, and my favorite- The Black Cat.

2.) Educational Benefits. Just today, I was in a team ELA meeting in a local Middle school and we were reviewing the sample of this years NYS ELA exam. I was noticing the large amount of high-level and truly difficult vocabulary words in one of the fiction passages. The passage was an older work, and true to its nature, many of the words are not commonly used or known by students today. Poe’s works are ripe with challenging words, however the content is engaging and exciting.

When you combine these two reasons, I think it is easy to see how these opportunities are not ones we can pass up! I feel that when we can bring texts into the classroom for a read aloud or a mini-lesson, and we bring relevance and passion or excitement, the students can easily be engaged, not to mention they are working with a more complex and challenging text for a very specific purpose. When I read Poe’s stories I read the originals, for myself, but I own two AWESOME graphic novel versions of his stories that I love to read and share with students. Check out this book, illustrated by Gris Grimly. There is more than one but this one has The Masque of the Red Death, Hop-Frog, Fall of the House of Usher, and my favorite, The Black Cat!


October 11, 2012

First, I have to start by doing a little pondering out loud. In the past, or as a student in grade-school I should say, I never thought much about the term “brainstorming.” We all knew the phrase and could complete the task, but it wasn’t until this post that I really thought about it. I find it fascinating that during a storm, debris and wind fly around in an unorganized mess, and that’s kind of how brainstorming goes. Never the less, I have a really cool resource to share with you all regarding brainstorming. Depending on how your brain works; how you think as you are brainstorming, this might be a new brainstorming format for you.

Wikibrains is a free brainstorming tool used online. In Wikibrains, you start by entering a word or phrase to create your brainstorm web. As you would when brainstorming, you continue to add words or phrases that are connected, thus creating a chain or web of ideas. The cool thing about doing this on a web format, is that the webs generate links to information based on the words you entered. Through a Wikibrains account, you can modify the links that connect the ideas to make more specific paths between ideas. You can also search other Wikibrain accounts for similar webs and use theirs as is or you can modify them to fit what you want. How cool is that?! Go check out Wikibrains to learn more about the possibilities and learning opportunities available through web-based brainstorming. Enjoy!

This was originally posted on the blog: Free Technology for Teachers. And, if you are not following them, you need to be!

Confession Time

October 8, 2012

A very good day!

I feel like it’s time for a confession. I don’t buy books at full price….ever. This does not mean that I don’t buy new books or current titles. Being a twenty-something with tons of school loans and minimal funds I cannot just walk into Barnes and Noble and shop off the shelves and tables for books at $20 a book. I am a thrifty shopper, in all regards. Clothing, books, home-goods, cosmetics, you name it, I rarely pay full price for it. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoy hunting out the best discount stores where I can find great deals on brand new items; books especially.

The above receipt, as you can see, comes from a glorious day shopping at Ollies Bargain Outlet. This is one of my absolute favorite places to shop for books. The store has a large book department filled with everything from children’s books, to spiritual books, cooking, how-to, novels, non-fiction, history, biography, and clearance (as if the rest of the books weren’t cheap already!) I, however, tend to spend 20 minutes in the 8 foot section of Young Adult books. Here, I find all the books that will one day fill my classroom library. After four years in my undergrad studying literature I love going in and looking for authors I know and love, as well as finding titles of new books that have comments and reviews from other trusted authors and sources. This place is the best.

On that particularly wonderful shopping trip, I purchased 11 books at $1.99 and $2.99 a piece! The grand total being $25.73 with tax. As soon as I got in the car I whipped out a calculator (on my phone..) and began figuring out my savings based on the retail value of the books. The sub-total of the 11 books at retail value was $156.89 and the tax on those 11 books would work out to be $12.55 making the grand total $169.44!! Can you imagine?! Like I could afford that! I saved over $140.00. I couldn’t believe my luck. Or so I thought, that it was luck. Ever since this day, I faithfully go in and check out what’s new in the Y.A section at Ollie’s and almost inevitably come home with 4-5 titles.

My latest and greatest single find was a book I was eying on amazon. The Swipe book series by Evan Angler had been on my to-read-immediately list for a few weeks. I had books one and two of the series saved in my amazon wish list and was about to make the purchase any day as I could not stop thinking about the books. Each one was temporarily reduced to $9.99. Not too bad, I thought, until I made a spurr of the moment trip one day to Ollies. There I found Swipe (book one) for $2.99!! I couldn’t believe it. I was so excited! Additionally, I found four other books to purchase and left with (again) 5 new book titles. I’m dissapointed to say that I have not read the book yet. This semester has me going in so many directions there just hasn’t been time, however, I can’t wait to open it, and when I do, I’ll be grinning about my great steal.

As an aside, I also find great book deals at Big Lots! and amazon does run some great deals (you just have to watch for them on specific books.) Also there is a site called which is a good place if you don’t want to go out looking.

Finally, (since I know this is getting winded) check out the book trailer .