June 18, 2013

Out of My Mind-Book Recommendation

I am quite literally "out of my mind" for the book, Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper.  One part of teaching that I find a bit ironic for myself is that I work with students all school year on developing a passion to read in order to become lifelong readers.  However, I go through stretches of the school year without reading a single book that I want to read for my own reading pleasure because I feel like I'm always reading and preparing for guided reading lessons.  It is definitely a sacrifice that I'm willing to make in order to make students better readers.  There are times though when a book comes along during middle school guided reading groups that I fall absolutely head over heels for right along with the students.

I've blogged previously about how I'm teaching "middle school guided reading" in summer school to students who are reading below grade level.  You can imagine that there are several students who aren't overly enthused about the idea of being part of the reading groups during their summer vacation.  This book has even made these students spark up a bit! :)  Since I can never quite seem to let go of trying to get a double bang for my buck with spending time on something I do enjoy reading popular, newer books to see if I want to add them to our middle school book room.  I thought it would be fun to share about the books that I read over my blog this summer in case there are other teachers out there looking for recommendations for their classroom libraries, school-wide book rooms, guided reading lessons, interactive read alouds, literature circles, etc.  So here is my first try at it with the book, Out of My Mind.

Book Summary/Recommendation:

The main character Melody is an eleven-year-old girl in the fifth grade who has cerebral palsy.  Because of this, she is not able to walk or talk, but her brain functions completely normal.  In fact, she has a photographic memory and is incredibly smart and insightful.  Melody is trapped inside her body where from the outside, many people assume that she is incapable of communication and learning.  From her perspective, she tells us what she remembers from when she was little through her adventures in kindergarten up until fifth grade.  This includes being raised by two loving parents and an amazing neighbor lady named Mrs. V., getting her dog Butterscotch, the arrival of her younger sister Penny, switching to inclusion classes in the fifth grade, making the Whiz Kids team, and much, much more.  In fifth grade Melody gets a Medi-Talker that allows her to communicate with others for the first time besides a very limited communication board that she had on her wheelchair.  Some people don't seem like they're ready to accept that Melody can now share her thoughts with the world.  The author, Sharon Draper, does an amazing job of showing the good as well as the bad with how people treat others who are different than them.  She is very fair and from my personal experience in an education setting, accurate with her portrayal of people.  She does this through Melody's voice alone.  As a reader it makes you think about and question so many things about how our world works and really gets you to see life from a perspective that you've never imagined.

Recommended Uses for the Classroom:

1.  Literature Circles: This book will create so much discussion for a group and really get students to dig deep into a topic that they may have never talked about before with one another.

2.  Guided Reading:  For middle school guided reading this book is gold!  It is a Level S, so it is a relatively low reading level for middle school students.  I always struggle to find high interest, love level books for students below grade level.  This book has mature themes and ideas that would challenge any middle school mind but the words and structure are accessible to students at a lower reading level.

3.  Interactive Read Aloud:  I could see using this book at the beginning of the school year and reading it for 10-15 minutes daily, leaving time for students to turn and talk and have whole-group discussion.  It would be a great lead-in to literature circles or guided reading as it would get students deeply talking about text.

4.  Classroom Libraries:  This would be a solid selection for any middle school classroom library and a book to recommend to readers who like realistic fiction, books told in first person point of view, or even students that are sometimes reluctant to read.

Great for Teaching the Following Concepts:

-Symbolism
-Voice
-Tone/Mood
-First Person Point of View
-Bullying

Age Level Recommended For:

I would recommend this book to be taught at the middle school level (5-8).  Although it is leveled at an "S", it has mature themes that can be dug into deeply. I can see 7th and 8th grade students especially really having a lot to say about this book.  Also, if you are an adult looking for a great book to read over the summer, don't hesitate to pick this book up.

14 comments :

  1. I also love this book, as did many of my students!

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    1. That's awesome to hear that we're on the same page! :)

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  2. Thank you for the recommendation! While I teach in 2nd, I have a 4th and 6th grader. This is going on our summer reading list. I'm so glad I saw this on Pinterest.

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    1. I'm so happy that I was able to add to your summer reading list! That is so awesome to have a summer reading list with your kids! Enjoy the book! :)

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  3. I love Sharon Draper and every one of her books! The Battle of Jericho is my ultimate favorite! Have you heard of The Global Read Aloud? Out of My Mind is one of the book options. I think your teachers would be interested in participating. Here is the wiki link: http://globalreadaloud.wikispaces.com/

    Carla
    Surviving Sixth Grade

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    1. Hi Carla,

      I swear I learn so much from blogging and Pinterest! Thank you so much for the link. I already checked it out and it looks awesome...I will share it with the teachers that I work with! Reading books by an author that I find out that I like is one of my favorite things to do. I definitely am going to put The Battle of Jericho on my summer reading list! :)

      Kasey

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  4. Kasey,

    I'm sure you don't have any idea how much I rely on your blog and respect your advice. I will read this book. I think I checked your blog daily from the 8th until this new post! I am redesigning my "old school" Pennsylvania Junior High 8th grade reading class into your amazing model of a Literacy Collaborative. Tall order since I have no F&P training except what I learn from you, and only 45 minutes. I am making ALL of your anchor charts this summer and starting guided reading groups by diving in with both feet and a book called Stategic Reading Groups by Berne and Degener. Have you heard of it? I have read all of your past blogs and you are truly my idol! Can't wait to follow you all year! Thanks immensely for helping us out there who have archaic literacy models, to learn from the young!

    Laurel

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    1. Hi Laurel,

      When I started this blog I felt like I was doing it to document my own journey of learning and implementing literacy techniques into my classroom. Never in a million years did I dream that I would have people following my blog and loving it. It still baffles me, but I love it and it drives me to think of topics for new blog posts that will most help the awesome teachers like you out there who are flipping around middle school language arts classrooms to differentiate instruction so that learning can take place for ALL students. It inspires ME! I was blessed with the opportunity to be extensively trained in LC under amazing professors working directly for Irene Fountas. It was an unbelievable experience that I do not take for granted. Teachers like you though who are taking the initiative on their own and bravely moving forward without the resources and professional development that I had the luxury to have just simply ROCK! You're doing it because you know it's what's best for your students and are willing to put in the dirty work. I haven't heard about the book but will definitely look up the title to check it out. Thanks for reading my blog and confirming that I am in fact NOT talking to myself when I write these posts :). I think you'll be excited to hear that I've decided to teach 8th grade next year so that I can learn what LC looks like at a different level. As a literacy coach, I think it's important that I see the big picture of how it works 5-8. A lot of my posts for next school year will pertain to my 8th grade classroom :).

      Kasey

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  5. I read this book to my class the past school year because it was one of the nominees for the Mark Twain Book Award which is voted on every year by students in Missouri. The book ended up winning and it is one of my new favorites. My students begged me to read it every day. I just finished reading Wonder this summer on my own and there are quite a few connections to be made between the two books.

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    1. Hi Julie,

      I didn't know that the book won the Mark Twain award! I have purchased the book Wonder, and it is on my summer reading list, so I'm excited that there will be so many parallels between the two books!

      Kasey

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  6. Thanks for the tip. I'm putting it on my to-read list now. :)

    - @newfirewithin

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    1. No problem! Let me know what you think of it!! :)

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  7. Any ideas on some tangible items that could be directly linked to the characters/events of the novel? I'm trying to use them so students can can see their significance to the story. I've thought of a tape recorder or camera (Melody's memory) or a Big Mac from McDonalds, although it may be nasty by the time I present it. I'm open to any other ideas!

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    1. I think both are great ideas, and I love the idea of the tangible items to get students to connect to the story. Something really powerful and symbolic of Melody would be a goldfish in a tank with an open cover, if you're up for having live animals in your room. Other ideas would be building blocks to represent the lead blocks she couldn't tell her mother about or a stuffed animal representing Doodle. Have fun teaching the book!

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