My First Official (Published) Educator’s Guide! – A Teacher’s Guide to Novels by Lisa Graff

The Lisa Graff educator’s guide that I created for Penguin is out! Over the summer, I was excited to be contacted by Penguin to write an educator’s guide to 5 novels by Lisa Graff. I was told that the guide will be printed and distributed by Lisa Graff when she visits schools or attends conferences.

I’ve already been creating and sharing guides and other work on this blog just because I feel it further validates the time I put into my work. I figure if I’m working hard to create it, others mine as well be able to benefit from it too—it’s been great to see that the guides on my website have been viewed and downloaded (and hopefully used) several hundred times. The opportunity to create a guide for Penguin excited me because I’d be able to create something that could reach and help a wider audience. Considering that I also enjoy doing this sort of thing, I readily agreed.

I submitted my work to Penguin a couple months ago, and just received the finalized PDF. Since it took a little while, I’d gotten nervous that maybe something was wrong with what I submitted. BUT, I’m thrilled to see that they kept it exactly as I submitted it…guess that means they were pleased. 🙂

Lisa Graff Teacher Guide

Click HERE to view and print the entire guide. 5 guides, aligned to the Common Core State Standards, are included to the following novels: A Tangle of Knots, The Life and Crimes of Bernetta Wildflower, Double Dog Dare, Lost in the Sun, and Absolutely almost. Each guide includes a short summary, theme listing, vocabulary, and breakdown of questions to ask before, during and after reading the novel. The questions in the “before” section would best be used in a discussion format and include information a child must know before reading the novel in order to best access the story. The “during” questions can be used to guide discussion groups and check grade level understanding throughout the novel. When relevant, page numbers are included to make it easier for you find answers to the discussions questions and enable you to ask questions at a suitable time. The “after” questions engage analysis and are appropriate to utilize after the completion of the novel.

I’ve posted other resources for Absolutely Almost to my blog in the past. Click the links below to access related material.

Absolutely Almost Read Aloud Guide – This guide is a bit more in depth than the one I submitted to Penguin. I completed this guide before reading the book as a read aloud with my class last year. The link to the guide is provided at the bottom of the post.

Resources to Use with Absolutely Almost – Within this post, you will find links to a few resources I created to be used with Absolutely Almost: a protagonist character web, “helpful hints” printable, and supporting character character web.

Students Write About Feeling “Absolutely Almost”

Absolutely Almost Writing Connections Printable

Absolutely Almost Author Skype with Lisa Graff – You can arrange a time and date for Lisa Graff to Skype with your class. My class had a memorable experience!

Student Poetry Activity after the Completion of the Novel

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Because of Mr. Terupt: Free Novel Study Guide

61Ktetz+JQLOverview: Because of Mr. Terupt is a realistic fiction novel written in the first person from the perspective of seven students in Mr. Terupt’s 5th grade class. Mr. Terupt is a new teacher at Snow Hill School, but the students quickly learn that he is a special teacher. The book is separated into two parts. In Part One, we get to know Mr. Terupt through the eyes of seven of his students. Part Two begins after a tragic accident at school. After the accident, the class copes with their teacher’s condition and their role in causing the accident. The accident brings the class together and teaches each of the seven main characters an important lesson.

Themes: change, forgiveness and personal responsibility

This novel can be a great tool to teach narrator’s voice, point of view, figurative language, foreshadowing, and themes of change, forgiveness and personal responsibility.

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This upcoming school year, I’ll be using Because of Mr. Terupt as a novel study in one of my realistic fiction book clubs. Since I didn’t find a guide that met my needs, I created my own. Click HERE to view and download my free guide. This guide contains vocabulary, figurative language, and comprehension and inference questions for each section. Graphic organizers are also included and can be accessed within the pdf.

A suggested sequence is provided with the guide. The assignments in bold show the chapters I’ve intentionally chosen to read with this realistic fiction reading group. When you schedule your guided reading sessions, I recommend you schedule to meet with your students on the bolded assignment days. Areas highlighted in blue indicate that a resource is included within the pdf (blue page numbers refer to the pages in the pdf, not novel pages).

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This novel has been broken up into 10 sections. Each section is limited to one page to keep it easy-to-use. A chapter summary, vocabulary list, list of figurative language, as well as comprehension and inference questions are included in each section. Also, a page number is included for each vocabulary word and sentence of figurative language to make it easy for you to find in context. Page numbers are included for the comprehension and inference questions as well.

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The guide includes several optional assignments that target figurative language, foreshadowing and comprehension.

Mr. Terupt Assignments

Click HERE if you’d like to view or download my guide. I hope you find it helpful!

Wednesday Haiku: The Jump

The Jump

I love tutoring over the summer. This is when I get to work with kiddos who are trying to close the academic gap between themselves and their peers. With the little ones, especially in reading, sometimes little progress seems to be observable. I know that learning is occuring, but the new skills seem to sit and marinate for a while. Prompting is necessary, sometimes for seemingly too long. Then, after a seemingly stagnant period, BAM – a huge leap forward. All the sudden the student is readily using the skills we’ve been practicing and progress is clearly evident.

It seems like it all happened from one day to the next, but I know this is just how emergent and early readers tend to exhibit progress. It’s a trend I frequently have to share with parents, especially those who don’t understand the process of learning and think it’s something we can do to a child. In the classroom, the student and I push on and practice. I can see the tiny steps of growth as we work, but they’re not significant enough for mom or dad to recognize. Then the jump happens. Seeing this jump – this is what I live for.

5th Grade Picture Book Recommendation: Sam and Dave Dig a Hole

imgresMy students loved this book. Most of all, they enjoyed the pictures and making predictions about what happened to the boys and their dog at the end of the novel. We read this book twice; my students requested that it be read again during a visit from the kindergarten class. This book was great for my class and we were able to have wonderful discussions about it. However, I’d say there are many better books for the kindergarten level. They were left thinking, “huh?!”

In 5th grade classrooms, you can use this book to practice making predictions. The pictures in this book are fun, and my kiddos had a blast guessing what would happen next. This is a quick read aloud and well worth the time to share it with your class.

About the Book

imagesThis book just came out in 2014 and has received a lot of positive attention and recognition. It’s about two boys, Sam and Dave, who, along with their dog, head out on an adventure to find something “spectacular”. The illustrations show the boys digging, and the reader has the benefit of seeing what’s hidden in the earth (jewels!). The boys come so close to discovering the jewels but narrowly miss them each time. My kiddos were hollering, “It’s right there!” and, “Don’t change directions!” as we read the book. Throughout the book, you root for Sam and Dave to find the “spectacular” they are after, but they are clueless and continue to dig in different directions before tiring out. imgres-1The dog, who seemed to know about the jewels all along, digs for a bone when the boys rest, and DOWN, DOWN, DOWN they fall. They land in a yard that looks like their own, BUT if you look closely, you will see several differences. Are they back home? Where are they? That’s the fun for you to discuss with your class!

Here is a fun post about 6 theories on the ending of Sam and Dave Dig a Hole.

Click here to read reviews on the author’s website.