Trouble picking books??? Who, me?

Believe it or not, I’m having a hard time judging the appropriate level of books from online blogs and book reviews! Broad naming categories such as YA, middle grade, middle school, intermediate, etc. have left me reading some novels that are either too simplistic or too difficult for the average middle school student. That said, since I’ve always been one to focus on the interest level of students rather than on a published reading level I’ll mention these two recent reads, and hope they aren’t read by most students until high school!  Both books are easy reads, however the topics are mature, sensitive, and probably not developmentally appropriate for students under age 14.

  • Shine, by Lauren Myracle – I love the story of Cat and the young lady she becomes as this novel progresses.  Set in the rural North Carolina, the setting of this story is key to the plot lines and twists, and in truly creating a rich experience for readers.  Shine starts with the story of a hate crime, but expands to explore addiction, poverty, sexual aggression, and family relationships.  If your child is reading this book – you should be too!
  • A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl, by Tanya Lee Stone – I loved this book!  I’m fond of books written in verse, as well as books with multiple narrators, so this was a win-win for my literary senses.  The sexual content and descriptions were necessary to the story, but definitely put it as a high school read on my criteria list!  That said, it’s a perfect book for a teenage girl who is struggling with issues of self-confidence, peer pressure, and fitting in.
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End-of-the-Year Blues!

For those students not leaping with joy about the end of the school year, some web resources to help families work around anxiousness, worrying, and/or sadness:

I found all these sites by “Googling” and I’m sure there are many more!  Allowing your child simply to voice his or her feelings often goes a mile towards improving things, and these websites contain specific suggestions on how to do so.

Manners, Manners, Everywhere!

Students who have Guidance class this trimester have spent the month of September working to improve their manners.  Mrs. Reichard and Mrs. Manganis have focused on six specific words, using the mnemonic “TES Invites Everyone to Practice Your Manners.”   This was created to help remember to use words  like Thank you, I’m sorry, Excuse me, Please, You’re welcome, and May  I.  There are posters and bulletin board displays around the building, and classroom teachers have added to the discussion within classroom meeting times.   Teachers in the cafe each day also provide gentle reminders to apply what students are learning during lunch.

Yesterday students in grades 3-5, and today students in grades preschool-grade 2, attended community building assemblies to reinforce what is going on in guidance, our Go Green program, and to set a positive tone for October.  There were friendly greetings, skits, “Mystery Guests”, and our upper elementary students have been challenged to create a song parody for our school!

As a “Mystery Guest” I spoke with our primary students about growing up and how I remember learning about manners.  My most vivid memories aren’t word specific, but rather action based.  “No elbows on the table” and “No hats inside” were two of the concepts in my house that were equally as important as any Please or Thank You.   It seemed our younger crew were very familiar with the elbow rule, but very few hands went up when I asked if anyone still followed the “No hats” rule.  Interesting.

A quick web search found many helpful articles for parents about reinforcing manners in children, but the best piece of advice I can provide is to practice what you preach.  Parent and adult role modeling helps children to be friendly, kind, and polite, but also creates a social skill set that will be invaluable later in life!