Thursday, April 16, 2015

Youtube To MP3

If you would like to convert a song from Youtube to MP3 then follow the directions below...

1. Go to Youtube and select the song you want
2. In a separate tab, go to
3. Copy the URL of the Youtube Video
4. Paste the URL into the designated spot on
5. Once the video is downloaded, drag the file into your itunes account

Happy listening! :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli is another story that I read as part of my preparation for the readers response project. What I liked about this story is how Jerry Spinelli framed the plot of Maniac Magee as a legend because this removes the story from space and time. This then allowed Spinelli to touch upon the issues of race relations and homelessness from a detached point of view. I think that this was a clever move on Spinelli's part because it allowed me to focus more on his message and less on the specificities of a particular place or time in history.

Another thing I really enjoyed about the story was the relationship Maniac shared with Grayson. Their genuine interaction and sweet dependence upon one another was an unexpected bright spot in the novel. It reminded me of the relationship that David and Primrose had in the novel Eggs by Spinelli. I think that these meaningful and important friendships are one of the reasons I love Spinelli books so much. They not only make for a heartwarming read, but they remind me of how lucky I am to have friendships like the ones told in the book. 

Crash by Jerry Spinelli

As part of my preparation for my readers response project, I got to enjoy a few more Spinelli books that I wanted to share with all of you. One of my favorites that I read was Crash by Jerry Spinelli. What I love about this story is that it explores the topic of bullying from a unique perspective. Typically, books about bullying are told from the perspective of the victim, like in Wonder by R.J. Palacio. But in Crash, Spinelli tells the story from the perspective of the bully himself. Although I think that the victim's perspective creates a powerful emotional reaction from the readers, I enjoyed reading from the bully's perspective because it allowed me to get a sense of where the bully was coming from. Furthermore, I liked how the story was told from this perspective because it allowed me to really see how the character, John "Crash" Coogan developed and changed over time. I really liked seeing him mature and grow into a more empathetic and kinder person and to see what kind of things impacted this change. It reminded me a lot of how I felt reading The Julian Chapter. Not only was it a different experience, having to understand who the bully was, but it was so interesting to see their transformation into a more compassionate and gentler individual.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson

While reading If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson, I could not help but think about the similarities between this story and the one told in Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. Both stories are about two unlikely people who end up falling in love and have to face what others in society will say and think about their relationship. Furthermore, they face the struggle of seeking acceptance from one another families and the pain that comes from being so misunderstood.  They are also both heart wrenching reads as their endings are devastating and sad. 

Although there are commonalities between these two books, what I really enjoyed about If You Come Softly is that the book was partly about love, partly about race, and partly about these two characters and the way they relate to the world around them. The issue of race and discrimination is not the focal point in the story, but I appreciate how Woodson does not give a stereotypical portrayal of an interracial relationship. She does not make Jeremiah the spokesman for every young black man in the world and Ellie does not speak for every Jewish girl. Neither of them is a stereotype, they are just who they are. But at the same time, their race is something people are uncomfortable with. I like how the book focused more on who they were than what people thought of them because I was able to really get to know, understand, and empathize with the characters. Not only did this help me to enjoy the book more, but it allowed me to better understand their relationship and their individual situations.

My only criticism of the story is that at times the writing is a little too light. I know that Jeremiah and Ellie mention people giving them weird looks, that Ellie's sister is uncomfortable with the relationship, and that they are not easily accepted as a couple, but I never actually see much of the prejudice that they experience. I would have liked a few more tense confrontations or insensitive remarks so that I could see how Miah and Ellie would react. 

Overall, however, I thought that this was an excellent read and am interested in reading more of Jacqueline Woodson's boooks. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

I have heard great things about Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson so I was very excited that Keara chose this book as one of the texts we would read this week. On page 226, Woodson talks about how she felt about reading and being compared to her sister. She says, 

"But I don't want to read faster or older or
any way else that might
make the story disappear too quickly from where
it's settling
inside my brain,
slowly becoming
a part of me.
A story I will remember
long after I've read it for the second, third,
tenth, hundreth time." 

As I was reading, I felt the same as Woodson did at this moment. I wanted to slow my pace down and soak up the skillful way that Woodson weaves her words into beautiful snapshots of her life in a way that helps to build up to the big picture of how each of these moments shaped her life. I think that slowing myself down is my way of knowing that I am truly enjoying a book. I have found that with books we have read this semester, such as Crank and Reality Boy, and books from my past. As always, I can not turn off my teacher brain, and this makes me think about how kids need opportunities to really enjoy a book. To find what stands out to them. To take the time that they need to appreciate the words on the page, the feelings that it gives them, and the sense of appreciation it helps them to gain for the book. This quote made me reflect on how this has helped me as a reader and to realize I need to carve moments out in my own teaching for students to appreciate their reading in their own way.  

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Loser by Jerry Spinelli

As you all know I am a big Jerry Spinelli fan. I love how quirky his characters are and how I find myself relating to them so easily. Although I am reading him as part of my projects for this course, they are more fun than they are work! I finished Loser by Jerry Spinelli this week and absolutely loved it. It was an extra special read because this is Mikey's all time favorite book. He has begged me to read it for years and I just never got around to it. Now I am trying to avoid him before he wants to talk about the book in depth.

Although I have not read Stargirl yet, I remember how unique and confident you all said she was in your blog posts and during our class discussion. As I read, I found myself thinking the same about Zinkoff. He could probably be Stargirl's little brother. He is so enthusiastic about life, is genuinely kind, and does not hold anything back. I feel like he is someone I should aspire to be like because he is just so self-assured and positive.

In the beginning of the book, Zinkoff is just starting school and he is very excited. On the first day, he runs into school wearing a giraffe hat. I pictured him wearing the hat all proud and ready to learn. But I also knew from that very moment, that he was going to have a hard time being accepted by his peers. This part also made me think about my own first day of school. Although I did not have a giraffe hat, I did have a bright red one hundred and one dalmatians dress, a matching bow in my hair, and a dalmatian print coat. On top of that, I snuck in my favorite dalmatian toys in my dalmatian backpack. It's safe to say I really liked the movie One Hundred and One Dalmatians. However, I never thought about how interesting I looked or what my teacher thought of me when I walked into class. I'm sure she and my classmates were a little surprised by my outfit and obsession.

I'm really excited for you all to read this book! I hope that you will like it as much as I do :)

Sold & Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick

Mikey is a big fan of Patricia McCormick so I was excited that we would be reading two of her books this week since he assured me that I would love them. However, after my preview of Sold a few weeks ago, I was very nervous to read this book. Although the topic is interesting, it is also one that leaves me feeling nauseous and deeply disturbed. I'm not sure why, but I have never been able to handle the subject well. I have a lot of difficulty talking about it, let alone reading about it. I am even having trouble right now trying to write about how it makes me feel. Therefore, I found it hard to read and enjoy Sold. I found myself skimming over parts and somewhat rushing through the book to get it done. I regret this since McCormick's style and language is wonderful and I did not slow down to appreciate this. The subject matter got in the way of me enjoying the book.

On the other hand, I really enjoyed Purple Heart.  What I liked most about this book was that it told about the realities of war and its effects on people without hashing out old politics or the news. McCormick does her best to keep her biases out of the way and instead focuses on telling a story about people. Through some research, I found out that McCormick interviewed soldiers from across the United States to help her write this book. The effects of her efforts are evident as I felt like the story was a realistic representation of a war zone. By making me feel as though I was actually in the trenches with the soldiers, I became more engrossed with the book. Furthermore, this sort of reporting and attention to detail reminded me of the books I used to read for my history courses. In that sense, reading this book was kind of like visiting an old friend.

I am looking forward to our discussion about the books tomorrow and am curious to hear which one you enjoyed more.

Also, Mikey has highly recommended two more Patricia McCormick books for us to add to our list. These are Cut and My Brother's Keeper.