The Power of El Deafo!

A couple months ago I was partaking in a discussion on Facebook about the factuality of the novel Wonder.  Now, I love the book Wonder and feel it has a solid needed place in the classroom, but on the subject of hearing loss which is touched on in the book, I do have definite questions and concerns. I addressed this in my novel study by adding a non-fiction article to help portray the real side of hearing loss so that students reading the novel understand the mistakes made by the author. I understand that Ms. Palacio isn't someone who has walked in the shoes of hearing loss and she did her best and since the rest of the novel is so wonderful I am easily able to overlook it by adding in the non-fiction article while teaching.

While discussing my feelings on Facebook another person asked me if I had read the novel, El Deafo by Cece Bell. She was curious how real and factual it is to a person who walks in the shoes of hearing loss such as myself. She says her students overwhelmingly love the Newbery Honor-winning graphic novel.  I had never heard of the book before so I ordered it to read and I am so happy that I did!



I have been living with hearing loss for almost 25 years. It is a daily struggle to communicate with my family and the world. I have lost many things due to my hearing loss including my teaching career. El Deafo, is the autobiographical story of Cece Bell's struggles with hearing loss told in a graphic novel format that is perfect to get the true feelings across. The book highlights how Cece embraces these struggles and turns them into a superpower! Even though Cece is in elementary school in the book and I am a 46-year-old, I found myself shaking my head in agreement and relating to Cece like I never have before in any other story I have read. It's like so many of the things she was saying I have said or felt so many times!



The message that volume does not equal better hearing was strong in this book and it is a message that the hearing world really fails to understand and yet, really needs to! Talking louder, talking slower, talking more pronounced DOES NOT HELP! It makes it so much more difficult for those like Cece and myself who rely on lip reading to understand.  If the only message that people take away from this story is to not turn up the volume for those with hearing loss the world will be a better place!  That's not the only message though. There are so many I could relate to, the isolation, the feelings of shame, embarrassment, avoidance of situations, putting up with things and people only due to fear, and on and on.  Cece doesn't just focus on the negative though, she embraces some of her differences and turns them into a superpower that draws people to her. I just loved everything about this book.  I also truly believe that you don't have to have a hearing loss to relate to and love this book. It is such a wonderful read for ALL students.

Because I loved this book so much and feel it is important to get this into classrooms I created a novel study.  I have never created a study for a graphic novel before so it was a different process for me, especially with the lack of vocabulary activities. I also wanted to include as much real-world information so that the student walks away with a greater understanding of the factual side of hearing loss and so they can learn to better communicate with those that live with a hearing loss. There is so much great information out there on this subject so I thought  Web Quest activities would be a good way to address this portion of the novel study, especially in the ever more frequent digital classroom!  As with all of my other novel studies, these activities are also available in a Google Drive format for those in a paperless classroom.




If you haven't read this book please do so, even if you don't plan to do a novel study. I just cannot recommend this book enough for everyone!  I hope you will choose to use this in your classrooms to help get the knowledge out there for everyone who lives with a hearing loss or knows someone that does. Knowledge leads to understanding and understanding leads to inclusion and empathy. We never can have enough of that in this world!


The One and Only Ivan in Your Classroom!

Last year my son came home from school and told me, "Mom, I am reading the best book and you really need to make a unit for it!" Not a crazy comment by any means, but from my son it is a bit out of the ordinary because he is a reluctant reader. It takes a really, really good book to hook him into raving about it!  There really isn't higher praise for a book than that!

What is this awesome book you ask? It is The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate. In addition to the highest accolades from Sam, it also won the Newbery Medal in 2013 among many other awards. From Katherine Applegate's You Tube Channel:



I put it on my summer to-do list and I am happy to say I am finally done and my new novel study is published!  I also have to say my son was right, it is a really, really good book! I am a huge animal lover and love animal stories so of course, there's that, but I also really enjoyed the poetic way this story is told through the eyes of Ivan, the shopping mall gorilla.  I was also astonished to learn that this story isn't totally fictitious. There was a real Ivan who lived in a shopping mall in Washington State for 27 years!

While creating this novel study I wanted to incorporate as much of the non-fiction aspects as I could to help the student learn a little about Silverback Gorillas, elephants, living in captivity vs. the wild, and of course the story of the real life Ivan! I hope that your students can walk away from this book with your hearts filled with excitement as much as Sam did!




I want to help you get this story in the hands of your students.  I am offering a giveaway of a classroom set (25) of The One and Only Ivan books, plus a $10 TpT gift certificate!  To enter, please visit The Teaching Bank's Facebook page for the Ivan Giveaway post. Please share the post and leave a comment sharing what you loved most about this book and what you hope your students will walk away with after reading it.  



A winner will be chosen from the Facebook comment section at 10:00 PM CST on Thursday, September 28. I will announce the winner on the Facebook post and contact the winner via Facebook messenger to deliver the electronic $10 TpT gift certificate and to get your mailing address for delivery of your class set of 25 books.

Please check out the completed The One and Only Ivan Novel Study that contains both a printable and Google Drive™ compatible format available in my store. 



I can't wait to read your comments and thoughts! Good luck! :)



Back to School Organization



It's that time of year again, the end of summer and the new beginning of a school year. Mixed feelings are sure to be had with missing the relaxing days of summer, time spent with family, etc.  There are also good feelings to be had with the anticipation of a new year, starting with a fresh slate.

One way to start off on the right foot is to have a classroom organized like a well-oiled machine ready the first day. To help you with this I have collected some ideas to help you save time from tedious hours of web surfing. I have included some web links below and a link to a Pinterest board that is chock full of classroom organization and money saving tips. Hopefully, these tips will help you devote the little bit of free time you have left to fun things and not work! ;)


Organizational Ideas for the Classroom Pinterest Board



Back-to-School Tips and Resources for Teachers











Good luck on a bright new school year! Let it be your best one yet!



Fight for Net Neutrality!






This is true, not just for video, but for all digital materials offered online, including teaching resources from sites such as Teachers Pay Teachers! Fighting for Net Neutrality is fighting for the freedom of what you have access to and how much you can be charged to access it. 

Don't give up that power to the cable companies!
#NetNeutrality



Using Google Lit Trip with Number the Stars

I came across a wonderful discovery recently, Google Lit Trips



This site is amazing to expand the background knowledge of a novel and to add a whole new dimension to the book.  From the Google Lit Trip site:

What is a Google Lit Trip?
Lit Trips are downloadable files that mark the journeys of characters from famous literature on the surface of Google Earth. Along the way, placemarks with pop-up windows contain "just in time" resources including relevant media, thought-provoking discussion starters, and links to supplementary information about "real world" references in that portion of the story. Our focus is on creating engaging and relevant literary experiences for students.


It is free to use for individual educators and classroom teachers. There is an option to sign up for a multi-user registration to use within a classroom. All you'll need on your computer is to download Google Earth. The Google Lit Trip "Getting Started" page explains all you need to do.


One of the available titles for a Google Lit Trip is Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry.




This Google Lit Trip maps the journey Annemarie and her family take between Denmark and Sweden to help their Jewish friends escape the Nazis.






Along the way, you can make a stop and read about the location. This information can tie into the story and/or add background information to the reader to enhance the story using photos, videos, Google Earth visuals, and descriptive information.




If you are using my Number the Stars Novel Study, I highly recommend you check out this accompanying Lit Trip to enhance the learning and enjoyment of the novel for your students.





I can't sing the praises of this Lit Trip highly enough. It is such a fantastic addition to using this novel in the classroom. 




Using Google Lit Trips for Bud, Not Buddy

I came across a wonderful discovery recently, Google Lit Trips



This site is amazing to expand the background knowledge of a novel and to add a whole new dimension to the book.  From the Google Lit Trip site:

What is a Google Lit Trip?
Lit Trips are downloadable files that mark the journeys of characters from famous literature on the surface of Google Earth. Along the way, placemarks with pop-up windows contain "just in time" resources including relevant media, thought-provoking discussion starters, and links to supplementary information about "real world" references in that portion of the story. Our focus is on creating engaging and relevant literary experiences for students.


It is free to use for individual educators and classroom teachers. There is an option to sign up for a multi-user registration to use within a classroom. All you'll need on your computer is to download Google Earth. The Google Lit Trip "Getting Started" page explains all you need to do.





This Google Lit Trip maps Bud's journey to find his father.





Along the way, you can make a stop and read about the location. This information can tie into the story and/or add background information to the reader to enhance the story using photos, videos, Google Earth visuals, and descriptive information.



If you are using my Bud, Not Buddy Novel Study, I highly recommend you check out this accompanying Lit Trip to enhance the learning and enjoyment of the novel for your students.




I can't sing the praises of this Lit Trip highly enough. It is such a fantastic addition to using this novel in the classroom. 




Using Google Lit Trips for Esperanza Rising

I came across a wonderful discovery today, Google Lit Trips



This site is amazing to expand the background knowledge of a novel and to add a whole new dimension to the book.  From the Google Lit Trip site:

What is a Google Lit Trip?
Lit Trips are downloadable files that mark the journeys of characters from famous literature on the surface of Google Earth. Along the way, placemarks with pop-up windows contain "just in time" resources including relevant media, thought-provoking discussion starters, and links to supplementary information about "real world" references in that portion of the story. Our focus is on creating engaging and relevant literary experiences for students.


It is free to use for individual educators and classroom teachers. There is an option to sign up for a multi-user registration to use within a classroom. All you'll need on your computer is to download Google Earth. The Google Lit Trip "Getting Started" page explains all you need to do.



One of the available titles for a Google Lit Trip is Esperanza Rising, by Pam Múnoz Ryan



This Google Lit Trip maps Esperanza's trip from her home in Mexico to California.




Along the way, you can make a stop and read about the location. This information can tie into the story and/or add background information to the reader to enhance the story using photos, videos, Google Earth visuals, and descriptive information.


If you are using my Esperanza Rising Novel Study, I highly recommend you check out this accompanying Lit Trip to enhance the learning and enjoyment of the novel for your students.



I can't sing the praises of this Lit Trip highly enough. It is such a fantastic addition to using this novel in the classroom.