Student Book Review: Winger by Andrew Smith

WingerTitle: Winger

Author: Andrew Smith

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Student Reviewer: London

Summary (From Goodreads):

Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.

With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.

Filled with hand-drawn info-graphics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking.

Student Review:

Winger was the best book I have read this year! I loved the way the author made me feel as if Ryan was a real person. Andrew Smith did this by making the main character Ryan Dean draw doodles and pictures on how he was feeling or what was going on in his life. The doodles were always comical and made me laugh.

I believe that everyone would enjoy reading Winger, it was a quick read. The book had really short chapters which was wonderful, because it made the book easy to pick up and put down. Also, it allowed me to read the book faster because whenever I got spare time I could get in a quick chapter.

Not only did the author do an amazing job of making me feel emotions for these characters, but he made me feel as if I was watching them from afar. Just like a movie. Andrew Smith did an excellent job of describing the setting and made me feel like I actually knew the layout of the boarding school campus, Annie’s house, etc.

Great escape from reality. If you are looking for a light read that will put a smile on you face this is the book for you. The author Andrew takes you inside the mind of a 14 year old boy and it’s extremely entertaining. Winger was a good distraction and didn’t force my brain to have to do a lot of thinking.

Even the ending was eventful and extremely unexpected. I loved this because I thought the book was going to be a typical love story, but then is turned into a tragedy. Although it had me in tears I couldn’t imagine the book ending any other way.

Really loved this book and hope that other people will read it and fall in love with it like I did. I just could relate so easily with the book, because it is about the realities of a high school student. Even though they were at a boarding school most of the conflicts were common and can be found in every high school. I just thought this book was so great and hope others will too.

YA Lit Trimester Project Examples

I’ve written about my YA Lit class plenty of times and discussed it on Twitter even more.  For a while I’ve been meaning to share some of my students’ trimester project examples, in particular their PowerPoints.  I’m finally sharing them!

I’m sharing a few examples of the posters they’ve created for various projects, and I’m also including a link to a post I wrote a couple years ago featuring some of their posters.  When I first started teaching this class I required some kind of a visual, which included the option to create a poster.  This past year (or maybe before this past year?) I tweaked the requirement and required that if a student is using a poster as his/her visual, there must be at least one poster per book (size is up them). The work has been much more thorough since changing that requirement.  The PowerPoints and/or Prezis are completely up to them in terms of how long they are.

One of my students, Jordin, read three of Lisa Schroeder’s books and created a poster for each book.  As you can see, she’s very crafty 🙂

Another student, Jessica, wanted to read mysteries so she read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, Cryer’s Cross, and Bad Girls Don’t Die. I love her posters because they added details from the book and/or made them complementary to the book covers.

I also give my students the option to create book trailers for the books they read.  Here’s a post I wrote a couple years ago which features a few book trailers created by my students.

This is the post I wrote a couple years ago when I first started teaching the class.  These are project posters from my first two sections of YA Lit.  I’ve since told students that I’m over Nicholas Sparks and to choose different books and a different author 😉

And here are some PowerPoints that my students have made for their trimester projects…

These PowerPoints were originally made using Google Drive so unfortunately some of their effects, fonts, etc. didn’t transfer. The Maggie Stiefvater presentation lost the most; it even lost an entire picture on one of the last slides.  Also, the PowerPoint featuring all of the drawings of characters has pictures that are reversed; my student realized that but couldn’t get the pictures to scan normally.

Sophomores, Third Graders, and Picture Books

This past school year one of the third grade teachers in our district, Ms. Dumas, approached my assistant principal about arranging high school students who would read to her class of students.  When I was informed of this, I immediately told my Honors Sophomore Seminar students who were quite excited about the idea.

Ms. Dumas and I started emailing back and forth right away and decided that Mondays and Wednesdays at the end of her school day would work out best.  I organized a sign up sheet for my students, borrowed lots of picture books from the library, and was off and running.  My students are familiar with read alouds since I read aloud to them every day, but they aren’t used to reading to kids.  Every Monday and Wednesday I read them a different picture book and provided them with different read aloud strategies for them to use.

The third graders LOVED it when we visited them.  Ms. Dumas told me that Mondays and Wednesdays became their favorite days 🙂  Something that made me proud is that my students weren’t getting a grade or extra credit for doing this.  Some of them were able to use the hours for community service, but other than that they simply did this because they enjoyed it.  It made them feel good to see the kids so happy and excited.  I truly had some fantastic sophomores this past school year.

Hannah B.Marisa L.Megan T.
Matt P.

Here’s a list of some of my students’ and the third graders’ favorite picture books (I apologize for the goofy cover layout):

Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown (Goodreads)
You Will Be My Friend! by Peter Brown (Goodreads)
Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman (Goodreads)
Boot and Shoe by Marla Frazee (Goodreads)
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen (Goodreads)
When a Dragon Moves In by Jodi Moore (Goodreads)
Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds (Goodreads)
Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin (Goodreads)
Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein (Goodreads)
Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt (Goodreads)
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems (Goodreads)

Children Make Terrible PetsYou Will Be My Friend!Boy + Bot
Boot & ShoeI Want My Hat BackWhen a Dragon Moves In
Creepy Carrots!Dragons Love TacosInterrupting Chicken
Scaredy SquirrelGoldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

My students read to these students for about six weeks or so, and on the last day the third graders read to my students.  They had been working on writing and polishing informational texts for a couple weeks, so they were thrilled to switch roles.  Ms. Dumas also brought in popsicles for all of us to eat when everyone was done reading.  It was a really fun way to celebrate such a positive all-around reading experience.

3rd grade readersReading to MarissaReading to Matt LReading Day Group
Ms. DumasMy Kids @ Reading Day

Next year we’d like to have two groups of students come in to work with Ms. Dumas’s new group of third graders.  She wants her students to be stronger writers too, so we’re thinking about pairing up her students with some of my students as pen pals.  Next year we’d also like to arrange the read alouds to fit more with what she’s teaching her students.  We talked about doing an author/illustrator study, comparing ways of telling fairy tales, etc.

To all of my Twitter friends who suggest titles for us to read–THANK YOU!  I had so much fun sharing the books you recommended with my students and watching them share them with the third graders.

Literacy Lockers

When I was at the Michigan Reading Association a couple weekends ago, I had the privilege to attend Donalyn Miller’s luncheon and listen to her speak about reading communities.  I’ve known Donalyn for a few years now through Twitter and the Nerdy Book Club, and spend quite a bit of time talking with her when we’re at NCTE/ALAN, but this was the first time I’ve listened to her speak in a formal setting.  Anyway, she brought up an important point that she’s also discussed on Twitter before.  She spoke about how many of our students are dependent readers.  They’re dependent on us as readers because they only make/have time to read during our classes, and they only find books through us or with our help.  She discussed how it’s important for us to help our students become independent readers who will read beyond our classroom walls and find books without our help.

As Donalyn was discussing this, my wheels started turning.  Not long before the MRA conference, Jillian Heise pinned this inspiring picture on Pinterest.  I LOVED the idea of sharing my reading life with my students and decided to copy her idea on my classroom door.  Jillian’s idea has been spreading online and now many of us (teachers/librarians) have been sharing our reading life displays on Twitter.  My students are awed by the amount of books on my door (thankfully I’ve added more since taking this picture), and we started discussing reading and which titles we love.  They started sharing with me and their classmates the titles they’ve read this year and how much they love reading. The psychology/health teacher across the hall liked my reading life door as well and asked how he could create one.  He tweaked this idea for his door and has all of his favorite non-fiction books on display.  (I’ll take a picture soon and update this post with it.)

Reading Life Door

So while I was sitting in Donalyn’s session listening to her talk about dependent readers, I got an idea.  How cool would it be if my students were able to publicly display their reading lives?  Thankfully I can text my principal during the weekend with crazy ideas like this, so I did to get his approval before I posed the idea to my students.  On the Monday after MRA I spoke with my Sophomore Seminar students about the luncheon and the idea of “literacy lockers.”  I asked them how they would feel about taping pictures of book covers on their lockers to display the books they love and recommend or the books they’ve read this school year.  They really liked the idea, but some were concerned about other students ruining them or being the only student who participated.  I assured them that this would be a during class activity and that it wasn’t mandatory.  I took a poll and the majority of my students wanted to participate.

That day I had them write down the titles of books they wanted to put on their lockers.  After tallying up the different books, I started saving book cover images and putting them on PowerPoint slides.  My principal told me to send them to his secretary when I was done so we could print them in color 🙂  One of my students helped cut some of the pictures after school, and during the Friday we did this in class my first group of Sophomore Seminar students helped cut the rest and organize them while other students went in the hall to tape them to their lockers.  The covers have been on their lockers for a few days now and none of them have been ruined by other students (that I know of).  I’m going to present this idea to my YA Lit I and II classes to see if they’d like to participate.  Although this time I might limit the amount of book covers they choose because we used quite a bit of paper… Or I’ll just make the book covers smaller.

After taping their covers, my students came back in the room telling me how much they liked the way it looks.  I hope more students will like this idea and want to do it as well.  Maybe some of the other teachers in my department will present the idea to their students.  Ultimately, I hope these literacy lockers will spark discussion amongst the students in the hall.  It’s my hope that a friend of one of my students will see one of the book covers and ask about the book(s) and if he/she should read it.  I’m hoping more of my boys in class will want to do this now because I’ve only had one boy participate so far.  William Brozo was at MRA and spoke about the importance of every school being proud of its reading culture and making it obvious throughout the school.  This is a small step in that direction, but it’s one that I hope will grow.

I took some pictures of my students’ lockers to share with you.  I realized while putting this post together that I forgot a few of their lockers, so I’ll have to go back and take pictures of those so those students don’t feel left out.  Some of my students share lockers, so I had to make the covers smaller so they could all fit.  Also, I apologize about some of the blurry pictures.  The lighting is poor in our hallway, so I didn’t realize the pictures were blurry when I took them.  I really wish their lockers weren’t orange because I think the covers would stand out much better if they were gray.

Allie & Brandi’s lockers, Ana’s locker, and Ariana’s locker (she spread her covers over to her boyfriend’s locker 🙂 ):

Allie and Brandi's lockersAnna's lockerAriana's locker

Brooke H’s locker, Emma & Lindsey’s lockers, and Hallie’s locker:

Brooke H's lockerEmma & Lindsey's lockersHallie's locker

Hannah B’s locker, Jenna’s locker, and Kaelyn & Hannah M’s locker and Kara’s locker:

Hannah B's lockerJenna's lockerKaelyn & Hannah M's locker and Kara's locker

Katie’s locker, Madi’s locker, and Megan & Marissa’s locker next to Morgan T’s locker:

Katie's lockerMadi's lockerMegan & Marissa's locker next to Morgan T's

Morgan F’s and Shaylyn’s lockers:

Morgan F's lockerShaylyn's locker

Trista’s and Tim’s lockers:

Trista's lockerTim's locker

Rhetoric in Famous Speeches

This post has nothing to do with YA, but I do enjoy posting about some of the activities and lessons I teach in my classroom.  Last trimester ended with our Julius Caesar unit.  I didn’t require my class to read the entire play because while we spent time discussing loyalty and betrayal, I wanted a larger part of the unit to focus on ethos, pathos, and logos.  To tie this in beyond Shakespeare’s play, I created a project requiring my students to analyze a famous speech and identify the rhetoric used.

My Honors Sophomore Seminar classes worked on this unit, and since I have two sections I decided to find a famous speech for each individual student (55 speeches).  I went to American Rhetoric, chose a variety of speeches, typed them up and cut into strips of paper, and put them into a bucket for my students to draw from.  I chose famous speeches from movies, graduation ceremonies, presidential speeches, etc.  After the students chose their speeches we went to the lab so they could research the speaker, the time period, and the reason(s) for the speech.  We spent time in class analyzing the speeches and highlighting passages that are examples of ethos, pathos, and logos.  My students were required to write a one page (no more!) analysis of the speech, including examples from the speech to support their analysis.  The second part of this project required them to create a visual representation of the speech that included a picture of the speaker, the rhetoric used, the date and title of the speech, and passages from the speech that serve as examples of the rhetoric.

This was the first time I’ve done this, and it ended up being really fun to teach and grade.  My students did an excellent job breaking down the speeches and creating impressive visuals.  Right now I have them hanging on the wall outside my classroom because I’m so proud of them.  If you want to try this in your classroom, feel free to email me and I’ll share my handouts 🙂 

**NOTE– 3/12/15 Because of the high volume of requests for handouts, I need to decline any further requests. I’m sorry for any inconvenience this may cause you.**

**I wanted to take a picture of all of the visuals, but I forced myself to narrow it down to five**

This visual is missing some requirements, but it's a very cool visual overall.

This visual is missing some requirements, but it’s a very cool visual overall.

Morgan did an excellent job creating this visual. She used newspaper headlines from the event as well.

Morgan did an excellent job creating this visual. She used newspaper headlines from the event as well.

Billy highlighted important lines in this speech in a really creative way.

Billy highlighted important lines in this speech in a really creative way.

Brooke created this for Princess Diana's speech in response to landmines.

Brooke created this for Princess Diana’s speech in response to landmines.

Hallie's visual for Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech.

Hallie’s visual for Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech.

More Fun With Spine Poems

This year my department added a YA unit to our To Kill a Mockingbird unit.  We worked together to find titles that we felt would fit with the different issues and themes present in To Kill a Mockingbird.  We ended up choosing a variety of novels that dealt with issues like racism, homosexuality, maturity, the stigma of teen pregnancy, etc.  I was really impressed by the connections my students made when they read their chosen books.  One of the activities I put together involved them working together with their book group to form spine poems about the book they chose to read.  This activity went over really well with my YA Lit class as well.  For this post I chose a few poems from each class and have them organized by book.

This might look like an “easy” assignment, but it was incredibly engaging and thought-provoking.  Quite a few students created their poems quickly and went on to create more.  Most of my students debated with their groups on how the poems should be “written.”  They discussed which titles to use, which order they should go in, and if they were representing their ideas with enough detail.  It created a disaster in my room, but it’s too much fun to let that stop me from doing this again and again in my classroom.

**Warning–Some of the explanations are spoilers.**

Out of the Pocket by Bill Konigsberg (Goodreads)

Created by: Jimmy, Kylee, & Na-Kiahya

Explanation: He couldn’t help that people found out he was gay after he was exposed.  He realizes how he lied.  He thought he was in love, but he’s unsure.

Created by: Josh S.

Explanation: Bobby realizes he’s gay, which makes him uncomfortable.  He wonders if he should come out to his friends and embrace it.

Created by: Percy, Christian, Hannah

Explanation: He’s trapped in his silence but he’s in love.  He decided not to lie because of football, and consequently most of his team was behind him and his confession.

Make Lemonade by  Virginia Euwer Wolff (Goodreads)

Created by: Chloe

Explanation: It’s crazy if Jolly stays in her house.  She feels trapped between being the best mom she can be and finding a job.  She lets opportunities pass by and then comes back and starts to get her life on track.

Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupula (Goodreads)

Created by: Kayli, Elizabeth, & Marissa

Explanation: The story of a girl,where the girl meets a boy and the rules of attraction make things change.  She ends up lovesick and trapped.  Her life is ruined until something like fate makes it perfect.

Created by: Allie and Alicia

Explanation: We chose That Summer because that’s when everything started.  we chose Things Change because everything starts to change in her life.  We chose Girl Meets Boy because when they met she later got pregnant.  We chose Lying Game because everything in her life–family and friends–gets caught up in lies.  We chose Betrayed because Delaney betrayed Miranda.  We chose The Fault in Our Stars because everyone was putting each other at fault.  We chose Tell Me a Secret because there are many secrets in this book.  We chose Something Like Hope because Lexi gives her hope, and hope for her life being okay and her family.

Luna by Julie Anne Peters (Goodreads)

Created by: Felicia, Kevin, & Tyler

Explanation: We thought that Crazy, Impulse, and Revolution went together as Luna’s way of having her revolution (changing) into a girl permanently.  The Living Dead Girl in her being Luna who has been oppressed and forced to stay quiet since Liam spawned her.  And Exposed meaning that this girl living in secret has come out of the shadows and from now on is going to show her true self.

Created by: Lori, Shaylyn, & Ryan

Explanation: Luna is tormented and marked by being trapped in the wrong body.  When she dresses like a girl it becomes clear.  She switches bodies and becomes perfect.

Created by: Ana

Explanation: Liam feels like he truly should have been a girl, so he’s the king of screw ups.  The girl inside of him is being held hostage then is exposed.

Students’ Spine Poems

Last month was National Poetry Month so quite a few people I follow on Twitter were posting links to everything poetry.  Donalyn Miller tweeted a picture of a spine poem she created while her students created them as well.  Paul Hankins also posted some pictures of spine poems, but his were linked on Facebook.  I instantly knew this was an activity I wanted to try in my classroom, so I did not too long ago with my Young Adult Lit students.

I took pictures of all of their poems and had them write a short piece explaining their poem so I could post these on my blog.  Some wrote more than others explaining their poems, and some also gave their poems titles.  My room was a disaster with books everywhere, but my students had fun and asked to do it again 🙂  I can’t complain about that!  I’m featuring a sampling of the poems created.

Poem #1 created by Wesley and Ethan:

Lost voices (souls) that linger because they’ve fallen away from God.  The white darkness symbolizes the purity and corruption of humans but fade without God, thus fading to wickedness.

Poem #2 created by Alexis K. and Jazzmyn titled “Wonderous Love”:

A guy who is waiting for the girl that is right for him.

Poem #3 created by Brittany and Allison:

You discover that you were cheated on, figured out the lies and the reasons why, left and hoped for something better.

Poem #4 created by Shannon and Torey:

He was in love, but too in love to the point that he was trapped.  It felt like he was trapped forever and there was nothing he could do.  None of this might have happened if he wouldn’t have written his feelings down in the notebook. Perfect (sarcasm).

Poem #5 created by Jessica, Sam, and Morgan:

A girl falling for anything, becoming lovesick, and tricked into leaving with him.  She is sold into prostitution and learning to survive.

Poem #6 created by Ashley and Chris titled “The Cycle of Death”:

We ordered the books in an order that represented the cycle of death.  It starts “Fallen” and “Beautiful Darkness” which symbolize dying and ends with “City of Ashes” which symbolizes the end.  The middle books symbolize what happens after death and how things work out.

Poem #7 created by Merissa:

A romantic comedy about a couple falling in love, the hesitance of trusting someone, and trying to make it work for the long term.

Poem #8 created by Zach:

It’s about a guy in a race who is fast, but he only gets fourth so he failed.

Book Trailer Thursday (23)

Last week I posted a few book trailers my students made as a project in my Young Adult Lit class.  Here are a few more 🙂  I hope you enjoy them!  Most of them were made using JayCut.

Wither by Lauren DeStefano (Trailer created by Allison D.):

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen (Trailer created by Alex M.):

Exposed by Kimberly Marcus (Trailer created by Hanna C.):

Book Trailer Thursday (22)

The trailers I’m showing this week came from my Young Adult Lit students.  We’ve finished all three units for the class early because the seniors graduate a couple weeks before we get out.  To use up the left over time until we start presenting our final projects, I had my students either create a book trailer or start a book blog.  Most of them opted to make a trailer.

**I told them to have someone proofread their trailers, but there are still a couple typos/mistakes here and there.**

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (Trailer created by Jake):

Th1rteen R3asons Why by Jay Asher (Trailer created by Tory):

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (Trailer created by Rachel Y.):

Book Trailer Thursday (13)

So today I’m going to show two trailers.  This first trailer was made by one of my YA Lit students, Zach T.  He did his trimester project on banned books; one of the books he read was 1984.  This trailer was his way of advertising the book 🙂  I hope you enjoy it!

Another one of my YA Lit students read The Maze Runner by James Dashner for his project, and used this trailer he found on YouTube as part of his presentation.  This book has been sitting on my “Mrs. A needs to read shelf” for quite a while.  After watching this trailer I definitely swiped it off that shelf so I can read it soon!

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