Fantabulous Summer Reads!

At North View Middle School we believe that our students education does not end when the school bell rings. Because of this belief, I would like to use this post to recommend books for your middle level learner to engage with over the summer. Please read the information provided by Allison Sirovy, an 8th grade English teacher at North View Middle School, below to put a great book in your students hands.


Hello!

We are about halfway through our summer vacation here in Minnesota, so it’s time to share what I’ve been up to with my reading life! The books are listed in order from most recently finished to least recently finished.

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

First off, let me say that I am not a fan of fantasy. My 14 year old daughter loves fantasy books.  Me? Not so much, so I was hesitant to pick up this book and start reading it even though I purchased it at our local book store (Buffalo Books and Coffee in case you are interested!  Also, support your own local and independent book stores!)  Anyway, the book hooked me from the very beginning with a wonderful and true main character – Sunny – her companions (Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha), her teacher Anatov, and her mentor Sugar Cream (gained her name from a childhood peculiarity).  I also loved the fact that it took place in Nigeria, and, at times, would give a different perspective of America, which we Americans need at times. Plus, it’s book 1 of a series. The second book comes out in October, which I will definitely be buying!
Author Nnedi Okorafor

Here is the Goodreads summary of the book:

Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven. Their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own, or will the future she saw in the flames become reality?

The Inexplicable Logic of my Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
 
Ooooohhhhh, I loved this book!!  For some reason, I have a difficult time choosing books with a male main character.  Books with female main characters usually speak to me, but this book with a male main character is AMAZING!!  I loved Sal – Salvador! He is a real American teenage boy, not the stereotypical American teenage boy we see on television and social media, but a boy who is confused about what his life holds, tries his best, is a good friend and son, and has a good heart.  I loved this book for the fact that what we see on the outside isn’t necessarily what’s inside a person.
Goodreads summary: 
 
The first day of senior year:


Everything is about to change. Until this moment, Sal has always been certain of his place with his adoptive gay father and their loving Mexican-American family. But now his own history unexpectedly haunts him, and life-altering events force him and his best friend, Samantha, to confront issues of faith, loss, and grief.

Suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and discovering that he no longer knows who he really is—but if Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?

Flying Lesson and Other Stories, edited by Ellen Oh
 
This book is a collection of short stories written by famous authors like Kwame Alexander (The Crossover) and Meg Medina (Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass). Ellen Oh, the editor of this book, founded We Need Diverse Books, and this is one of her projects to get books written by diverse authors into the hands of children and teens.  If you don’t like sitting down and reading a whole book with one story at a time, you can read this book story by story.  I promise – you won’t be disappointed!
Summary from Goodreads: 
Whether it is basketball dreams, family fiascos, first crushes, or new neighborhoods, this bold anthology—written by the best children’s authors—celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us.

In a partnership with We Need Diverse Books, industry giants Kwame Alexander, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Peña, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson join newcomer Kelly J. Baptist in a story collection that is as humorous as it is heartfelt. This impressive group of authors has earned among them every major award in children’s publishing and popularity as New York Times bestsellers.

From these distinguished authors come ten distinct and vibrant stories.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill(who by the way lives in Minneapolis and whose daughter attended South High School by Lake Street in Minneapolis – support your local authors!)
This book is a beautiful story, written in beautiful language, with beautiful characters.  I could not put this book down, but I had to because I wanted the book to last forever. It didn’t last forever, and that breaks my heart. I want the story to continue . . . I’m not going to say much about this book except you won’t want to put it down. It will captivate you!
Goodreads summary: 
Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and deliver them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule–but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her–even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known.

The acclaimed author of The Witch’s Boy has created another epic coming-of-age fairy tale destined to become a modern classic.

Enrique’s Journey: The True Story of a Boy Determined to Reunite with His Mother by Sonia Nazario
 
This is a tough book to read, not because it has difficult words or anything, but because it’s a tough topic.  It’s especially important right now with the anti-immigrant feelings and ideas being spoken in our country currently.  What would you do in Enrique’s situation? What would you do in Enrique’s mother’s situation.  This is the young reader’s version of the adult version Nazario wrote after hearing about Enrique’s story and then taking his journey herself.  You won’t be disappointed, and you might have a better understanding of what propels young and old to come to the United States.
Goodreads summary:
 
 An astonishing story that puts a human face on the ongoing debate about immigration reform in the United States, now updated with a new Epilogue and Afterword, photos of Enrique and his family, an author interview, and more—the definitive edition of a classic of contemporary America

 
Based on the Los Angeles Times newspaper series that won two Pulitzer Prizes, one for feature writing and another for feature photography, this page-turner about the power of family is a popular text in classrooms and a touchstone for communities across the country to engage in meaningful discussions about this essential American subject.

Enrique’s Journey recounts the unforgettable quest of a Honduran boy looking for his mother, eleven years after she is forced to leave her starving family to find work in the United States. Braving unimaginable peril, often clinging to the sides and tops of freight trains, Enrique travels through hostile worlds full of thugs, bandits, and corrupt cops. But he pushes forward, relying on his wit, courage, hope, and the kindness of strangers. As Isabel Allende writes: “This is a twenty-first-century Odyssey. If you are going to read only one nonfiction book this year, it has to be this one.”

First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers by Loung Ung
 
There is no easy way to get around this.  This book is heartbreaking.  I knew a little about the war and genocide in Cambodia during the 1970s but not much. Ung’s personal story of destruction and then hope makes this a must-read for everyone. Warning: It can be graphic at times, but I truly believe that is important in understanding what Loung Ung and her family experienced. It breaks my heart that this time in world history is barely mentioned in American schools.
 
Goodreads summary (which doesn’t do the book justice): 
Chronicles the brutality of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, from the author’s forced ”evacuation” of Phnom Penh in 1975 to her family’s subsequent movements from town to town and eventual separation.

You can learn more about great books for middle school students and connect with Alison Sirovy here.

A Highlight on Language Arts

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The week of May 8-12, the 8th grade students at North View Middle School have a special opportunity to work with authors on a Writing Apprenticeship Program.  This program was designed by the students in grade eight. A few months ago they selected three genres of writing that they wanted to learn more about—spoken word, comedy writing, and comics/zine writing.

Now, three local professional writers Levi Weinhagen (comedy),

Fiona Avocado (comics),

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and Tou Saiko Lee (spoken word poetry) 

will work with the eighth grade to learn more about their chosen genres, create new pieces within those genres, and share them with their classmates. Through this authentic writing experience with professional, student-selected writers, students will develop an understanding of concepts and tools used within a specific genre, see author/artist as a viable occupation, and experience writing as a joyful and positive activity. Interested students will share their writing at the One World Many Stories event on May 25. The professional writers will also each select three pieces from the week to be published in the annual COMPAS collection of student writing.

Literacy as a Gateway

Literacy (2)

 

At North View Middle School we recognize the fundamental importance of literacy to expanding life opportunities for our students. As a result of this understanding we work hard to ensure that literacy is alive in our building and in our student’s lives inside and outside of school.

In our building it is the expectation that all core teachers collaborate as a group of learners to ensure that each student achieves their greatest potential as readers and writers of the North View Middle School community. 

The English/Language Arts, Humanities, Science, and Full Service Special Ed teachers meet twice a week with our Literacy Coach and our Differentiation Coach for this work. Work is focused on Common Core literacy standards that are taught across content areas and how teachers can differentiate for the range of needs in their classroom. 

6th Grade – The 6th grade team spent trimester 2 focused on reading standard #6, point of view and author’s purpose.  During this cycle, students engaged in work around the standard by studying the authors and seeing how that shapes their writing in English class, reading about the different perspectives of current events in English class, how to look at the government and Minnesota history through different points of view in Humanities class, analyzing multiple articles for what the author’s purpose was in science class, and looking at how point of view and empathy are related in SEL class.  The post-assessment showed that many students could infer the author’s purpose and provide evidence to support their answers.  It also showed that students need to continue to practice being specific with their answers.  The team also spent time looking at individual students who are struggling and identified ways the team could support them.

6th/7th Grade – The 6/7 team also spent trimester 2 focused on standard #6, point of view and author’s purpose.  During this cycle, students engaged in work around author’s point of view and purpose through mini-debates about genetics in science class, literature circles in English class, and learning about the Civil Rights Movement by reading the book March and identifying how the different characters view the movement.  The 6/7 team will complete the post-assessment for standard 6 next week.  The team also spent time looking at individual students who are struggling and identified ways the team could support them.

7th Grade – The 7th grade team also spent trimester 2 focused on reading standard #6, author’s point of view and purpose.  During this cycle, students engaged in work around author’s point of view and purpose through mini-debates about genetics in science class, A Christmas Carol in ELA, and an enactment of a “dinner party” for World War II leaders during social studies.  The post-assessment showed that 80% of students were proficient on the standard.  The 7th grade team is beginning to work on argument writing by reading a portion of Kelly Gallagher’s book In the Best Interest of Students:  Staying True to What Works in the ELA Classroom.  The team is excited to provide students an opportunity to explore topics for true arguments of interest to them.

8th Grade –The team finished up the cycle on text features and the post assessment showed 64% of students were proficient.  Upon reflection of the post-assessment, the teachers didn’t feel it was written in a way that truly informed the teachers of the students’ understanding.  Based on how they see students interacting with text-features in class, they believe the proficient rate actually is higher.  The team spent time looking at individual students who are struggling with school and identified ways the team could support them.  They also spent time creating common expectations for student use of technology.  The team is now working on identifying arguments and evaluating the evidence and reasoning used to supporting the argument.  They will use the strategies from Non-Fiction Reading: Note & Notice Stances, Signposts, and Strategies by Kylene Beers to create common reading strategies across the content classes.

March Madness!

Hello All,

At North View Middle School(NVMS) we believe that actively engaging with text on a daily basis is key to building strong readers. To reinforce the enjoyment of reading, and continue to build a community of NVMS readers we instituted a “March Madness” reading experience for our students. To highlight the list of our school’s most checked out books and have a little fun, our building’s Library Media Specialist and Literacy Coach narrowed it down to 16 different titles, and 4 different genres

Using QR codes posted in the Media Center students voted for their favorite books. Between Feb. 29 and Mar. 4 students vote on “Sweet 16”. During the week of March 7th students voted on the “Elite 8”. We narrowed it down to the “Final 4” the week of March 14th and the week of March 28th the books went head to head for the final championship.

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March Madness Sweet 16 Bracket

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World Read Aloud is Today!

 

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The purpose of World Read Aloud Day is to reinforce the enjoyment of reading, and continue to build a community of NVMS readers.  In honor of this day, each teacher will be given a portion of a 5 minute mystery.  They are asked to read the first minute or two of the story at the beginning of the hour. You’ll see with picture pictures below that the story is divided by hours 5, 6, 7, and 8. And there is a chunk of text specifically for each hour.  Students are to listen to see if, by the end of the day, they can pull the clues together to make a guess as to “who dunnit”.  Students will then be able to enter their guesses on Thursday in the media center. Students’ names will be drawn from correct guesses to win a book of their choice.

 

 

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A Furry Friend

At North View Middle School we believe that developing a passion for reading is crucial for student success.   To ensure this happens we utilize a multitude of approaches to engage students in the reading process. One of those ways is to encourage reading among our students is the inclusion of a therapy dog program. This program encourages our students to read by providing a non-judgmental listener and furry friend to read to that won’t laugh at them if they make a mistake or stumble over a word, but rather lie next to them and enjoy the story being read.

 

At North View Middle School we are fortunate to have our Media Specialist’s dog Sadie, who is a certified therapy dog, visit us in the Media Center to encourage our struggling readers to come to the Media Center, take time to pick out a book and then hang out with them while they read silently or read to her.

Our hope is that our students learn to associate reading with being with the dog, and begin to view reading in a positive way. Over time our student’s reading ability and confidence will improve as they are practicing reading skills, which will make them enjoy reading even more.

Feel free to stop up and meet Sadie anytime. She’s excited to be part of the North View Knight family!

 

Collaborative Professional Development

At North View Middle School we believe our best work is done collaboratively, including our professional development. As part of the Site Improvement Plan, each week the English/Language Arts, Humanities, Science, and Special Education teachers from each house engage in a collaborative inquiry cycle around literacy standards.  Teams work closely with the Literacy Coordinator and Differentiation Coach.  During this work, teams asses students to find out what they already know about a specific reading standard, share strategies for teaching the standard, plan how they will teach it ensuring that all students are appropriately supported and challenged, carry out the plan, asses students again, and reflect on student learning.

The 8th grade house has been focused on text features.  They began by pre-assessing students’ understanding of what text features are and how they are used.  Both teachers and students analyzed the data.  

Students answered inquiry questions about the pre-assessment data on large sheets of paper around the room.  This is called a Gallery Walk.

The team planned a lesson about how referring to text features helps readers better understand what they are reading. This lesson was taught by the Humanities teacher and reinforced in the other content areas. The lesson included elements of differentiation to provide both support and extension of learning.  For students to apply what they learned, they used an app on their iPads called Adobe Voice to create their own “think aloud” about text features found in their textbook.   The other teachers on the team then followed up with the lesson in their own classes by using the Think Aloud and Text Feature Walk strategies so students could see how text features are used in different content areas.  Students will be given a post-assessment during December to track their growth.

Take a look at the final products created by some of our very own North View middle schoolers.

ADOBE VOICE LINK https://voice.adobe.com/a/YNvze

Contents for this blog posting were provided by Sarah Schmidt, North View Middle School’s Differentiation Coach