Teach and be taught.

(Images of Tavi Gevinson and Ira Glass via WSJ. Magazine.)

As I was browsing through my Google Reader, I saw Simply Lovely (a lovely blog I follow) linked to a Wall Street Journal article. Before I even started reading, I immediately recognized Tavi Gevinson and Ira Glass. I was amazed that they were photographed together, and I was instantly curiously. They are not two people I would place together.

Tavi has a blog called Style Rookie that I started following a couple years ago. She started blogging when she was 13 about things she liked. She likes thrift store finds and taking her own picture. She creatively puts outfits together and really has insightful things to say. I’ve followed her for the past three years, so I feel a little attached. Tavi is precious, and I admire her ferocity. I love any teenager who has the courage and confidence to be themselves. Being a teenager is tough, and to do it with style is just phenomenal.

Ira is the host of This American Life. I listen to the podcast religiously, he makes the mundane sound fascinating. My entire grad school statement of purpose was about my great love for stories. Ira can tell a story, and get others to tell a story in a way very few can.

The WSJ article was wonderful, basically Ira Glass is a mentor for Tavi Gevinson. He helps her navigate an adult media world and gives her advice. As a teacher, as someone who has grown a lot, and as someone who has watched others grow, I truly believe in the power of mentorship. It is so important that we surround ourselves with positive influences and remember to be positive influences for others. Experiences is invaluable and must be shared.

Both these people fascinate me, and I have even more respect for both of them now. Opportunites to teach and be taught are everywhere.

Books Everyone Should Read

This post was done for my classroom website, www.fourthgradesomething.com. I stand by my children’s book selections, so I wanted to share them with anyone interested in a good read!


Summer is approaching, and in my mind, it will be READING SEASON! I’ve compiled a list of some of my absolute favorite books for kids. This list is in no particular order, and I’ve copied and pasted from some of what I’ve written on a few of these books before. After scouring my classroom shelves, my Goodreads.com account (a cool website that allows you to track all the books you have read and want to read), and my brain, I’ve come up with the list below. The titles are all links to Amazon, and a lot of them are $5-$10. The library will have all of these as well!

1. Running Out of Time, By: Margaret Peterson Haddix. I have read this book aloud every year. I still get excited when Jessie finds out the truth about her life. This book starts a lot of dialogue about what we believe about society.

2. Percy Jackson and the Olympians, By: Rick Riordan. The series takes the reader on an adventure in a world where the Greek Gods are real and their family lines still continue. If you find that you are someone who loves to get pulled into a completely new world, then you need to read all the Percy Jackson books!

3. Harry Potter Series, By: JK Rowling. This is one of my all time favorite story lines. Harry Potter is one of the reasons I became a teacher. I wanted to talk about stories this great with kids. I have a hard time believing that there is anyone left who hasn’t read these books. But if you haven’t, you are missing out. 

4. Hatchet, By: Gary Paulsen. The adventure of Brian, a young boy who finds himself alone in the wilderness is absolutely unforgettable. The story hooks in the reader, and I know I find myself wondering if I could be as smart and brave as Brian. The book is great for teaching and thinking about descriptive writing.

5. Island of the Blue Dolphins, By: Soctt O’Dell was one of my favorite books in elementary school. One of our literature circle groups is currently reading it, and I had to take it home and finish it IMMEDIATELY. This is one of those books that just gives you a feeling of a world you would never know, or expect to know. I find it difficult to describe without giving away to much, but the book it phenomenal. I have several copies of this book, so if you have interest in borrowing, let me know.

6. The Invention of Hugo Cabret, By: Brian Selznick. When I first read this book, I was in absolute awe. The story is told through pictures AND words. When you think back on the story, you can’t even remember whether what you are remembering is part of the written story or illustrated story.

7. Wonderstruck, By: Brian Selznick. My mom gave my sister and me a copy of Wonderstruck for Christmas. Emily and I both read it in one day. We couldn’t put it down. Unlike Hugo, this isn’t one story told through pictures and writing. This is two separate stories, told fifty years apart. One story is through the artwork, and the other story is through the writing. The stories do come together, but it seems like they are far too different to ever get together.

8. Chasing Lincoln’s Killer, By James Swanson. This story turns history into an exciting mystery. It is the true story of the hunt for John Wilkes Booth after he assassinates the president.

9. Turtle in Paradise, By Jennifer Holm. Last summer I read Turtle in Paradise, and it turned out to be the perfect summer story. I loved that it had a bit of history to it; it is about a little girl during the Great Depression. Her mother needs work and gets a job as a housekeeper. There is a catch, the lady she works for does not like children. So, Turtle is shipped off to live in Key West with her aunt and cousins. It was a sweet story about making the best of a situation and finding out that things will be okay! The book was a Newberry Honor book last year.

10. The Clockwork Three, By: Matthew J. Kirby. This was a complicated story of three children. The three kids have some problems, big problems. One supports her family financially, and the other two are orphans, eventually their stories intertwine and they solve a mystery… The book is a tough read, but I definitely recommend it for someone looking for an interesting challenge.

11. The Cabinet of Wonders and the rest of the Kronos Chronicles Series, By: Marie Rutkoski. I LOVE this series. It seems a shame that it has not reached the fame of Harry Potter or Percy Jackson. The storyline is a bit more complicated, and it is a bit of a tougher read. The story is magnificent, I have recommended this series to many adults who have loved it as well. In 2011, when the second book came out, our class wound up with an autographed copy. We were curious, so we began corresponding with the author. It was one of the coolest things EVER. If you are curious about it, you can see our correspondence here.

12. James and the Giant Peach, By: Roald Dahl. This is just an absolutely fantastic story. The story has stuck with me since I was in elementary school.

13. Matilda, By: Roald Dahl. The girl who loved books has a tough life. I had some great conversations with my literature circle group this year about how parents help us to be good people. My kids asked some good questions, like, “Do some kids have terrible parents? What do they do?!” Matilda overcame, and that lesson never goes out of style.

14. When You Reach Me, By: Rebecca Stead. This book won the Newbery Award in 2010. It is a science fiction, time travel, set in the 70’s novel. The story line goes from the end of the story, to the beginning. When the threads come together, it is pretty surprising. It is definitely for patient readers, but it is worth it.

15. A Wrinkle in Time, By: Madeleine L’Engle. This book is more of a middle school read, but the blend of science in mystery is magnificent. There is an entire series, that are all a little different, but very, very good.

16. Holes, By: Louis Sachar. Holes is the story of a boy sentenced to a boys work camp for a crime he didn’t commit. As the reader discovers who did do the crime, they will also discover a curse that has run in Stanley’s family for generations.

17. The Giver, By Lois Lowry. This book is for higher readers who love to contemplate societal structures. The book is intense and unforgettable.

18. Where the Sidewalk Ends, By: Shel Silverstein. It may not be a novel, but it is a “must own” book. The poems make you giggle and the cleverness of them makes the reader feel clever themselves.

19. The Hunger Games, By: Suzanne Collins. This is on my list because I think it is an absolutely fascinating series, but make sure you have a parent’s permission before reading it. The series is rather violent, and I’ve noticed some 5th graders starting to read it. The adventure and dystopian society suck you in.

20. The Shadows: The Books of Elsewhere, By: Jacqueline West. This is a newer series, I’ve only read the first two so far. The Shadows is actually a pretty scary story, it gave me the heebie jeebies! I’d like to explain more… but I just don’t want to give anything away. If you liked to be scared just a litte bit, it would be a good fit. The story is an easy read.

If you have any favorites that you think people should read, add them in the comments! I’ll update the list as I find more wonderful books.

Happy summer reading!

Jelly Beans and Fun Song

JMO emailed me this earlier in the week, and I’ve watched it several times since then. 288,000 Jelly Beans were used to make the video. I read all about it here, and watched the making of the video too. Sidenote: Remember when MTV used to do the “Making the Video” show? My brother and I were way into it.


About five years ago, my friend JMO told me that we should date. I told him that was a crazy idea. I told him it would mess up our relationship as good pals. We were great friends, and I always felt comfortable and excited around him. He made me laugh, and we played board games. The first year we dated was my senior year of college. I was 22 and he was 21. We had fun.

(JMO is eating candy bacon in 2006.)
(JMO and I at the CARPOOL Gala in 2007.)

 (JMO and I at Universal Studios in 2007.)

Now I am 27 and he is 26. We still have lots of fun. JMO helps me grow everyday. He pushes me and challenges me to go outside my comfort zone. He reminds me what I am good at when I am down, and he is proud of me when I do well. I am very proud of the person JMO has become in the last five years. He has always known what he wants, and he makes great efforts to make things happen. Love truly does grow and change over time.

Thank you for still being my pal. It turns out that us dating was not a crazy idea at all.

A Family’s Experiment in Extreme Schooling


I have spent the majority of my morning being fascinated with this school and this family. A New York Times reporter, Clifford J. Levy, moved with his family to Russia. He and his wife decided to immerse their children in Russian school. Not just any school, but a progressive Russian school. They came from public schools in Brooklyn, and became the only Americans in their school. Children truly rise to the occasion, and it makes me wonder how I would cope.

The article is lengthy, so if your short on time, do me a favor and at least watch the video.