Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Goodreads Purge Part One: Nonfiction

During my blogging hiatus, I picked up the pace on reading for pleasure! This continued through the first half of my summer, as well. I loved reading when I was in elementary school, but once middle school/high school/college came around, I rarely picked up a book for fun. 

I love my new-found motivation! 

This is going to be a two-part Goodreads purge! I'll start with nonfiction.

A Thousand Lives: The Untold Stories of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown


Goodreads says: In 1954, a pastor named Jim Jones opened a church in Indianapolis called People's Temple Full Gospel Church. He was a charismatic preacher with idealistic beliefs, and he quickly filled his pews with an audience eager to hear his sermons on social justice. After Jones moved his church to Northern California in 1965, he became a major player in Northern California politics; he provided vital support in electing friendly political candidates to office, and they in turn offered him a protective shield that kept stories of abuse and fraud out of the papers. Even as Jones’s behavior became erratic and his message more ominous, his followers found it increasingly difficult to pull away from the church. By the time Jones relocated the Peoples Temple a final time to a remote jungle in Guyana and the U.S. Government decided to investigate allegations of abuse and false imprisonment in Jonestown, it was too late.

Meg says: I became interested in learning more about Jonestown after my friend took an entire course on it in her masters program. I was really interested in how people decided to give up everything, leave their families, and join the mission in Jonestown. This book is well-researched, and it answered a lot of my questions. The text reads like a timeline, and it takes you from the very beginning of the movement to the very end. I learned so much from this book, but it didn't feel like it because it also read as a narrative. I recommend this book if you'd like to learn more about this kind of thing! Very eye opening. [5/5 stars]

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The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head: A Psychiatrist's Stories of His Most Bizarre Cases


Goodreads says: True stories are more bizarre than any fiction, and Dr. Gary Small knows this best. After thirty distinguished years of psychiatry and groundbreaking research on the human brain, Dr. Small has seen it all—now he is ready to open his office doors for the first time and tell all about the most mysterious, intriguing, and bizarre patients of his career. The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head is a spellbinding record of the doctor's most bewildering cases, from naked headstands and hysterical blindness to fainting schoolgirls and self-amputations. It is an illuminating journey into the mind of a practicing psychiatrist and his life in medicine as it evolves over time—a behind-the-scenes look at the field and a variety of mental diseases as they've never been seen or diagnosed before. You'll find yourself exploring the puzzling eccentricities that make us human.

Meg says: A few years ago, I read Weekends at Bellevue, and I really enjoyed putting myself in the shoes of a psychiatrist. Don't let the title scare you away from this book! Although this text kind of leads you through the career of the doctor, the main focus is interesting cases that he has come across in his work (one of which is cited in the title). It reads like a short story anthology, and it was easy to get through. I've always been interested in psychology, and I enjoyed the road to diagnoses in each one of the cases. The book is more for entertainment, not for information, but it was definitely entertaining and worth the read. There are many books out there that follow this sort of template. [3.5/5]

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The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook--What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing


Goodreads says: What happens when a young brain is traumatized? How does terror, abuse, or disaster affect a child's mind--and how can that mind recover? Child psychiatrist Bruce Perry has helped children faced with unimaginable horror: genocide survivors, murder witnesses, kidnapped teenagers, and victims of family violence. In The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog, he tells their stories of trauma and transformation through the lens of science, revealing the brain's astonishing capacity for healing. Deftly combining unforgettable case histories with his own compassionate, insightful strategies for rehabilitation, Perry explains what exactly happens to the brain when a child is exposed to extreme stress-and reveals the unexpected measures that can be taken to ease a child's pain and help him grow into a healthy adult. Through the stories of children who recover-physically, mentally, and emotionally-from the most devastating circumstances, Perry shows how simple things like surroundings, affection, language, and touch can deeply impact the developing brain, for better or for worse. In this deeply informed and moving book, Bruce Perry dramatically demonstrates that only when we understand the science of the mind can we hope to heal the spirit of even the most wounded child.

Meg says: Like the previous book, this is also the story of a psychiatrist and the interesting cases he has seen on his journey. However, I was able to relate to this text much more because it is based on the trauma of children. In my graduate counseling courses, I've learned a lot about how trauma can have a profound impact on children and how its effects can present themselves very differently in each child. To me, this was more informative than the latter book, but it was still entertaining. It was also quite sad to hear how children are mistreated, but that was not really the focus. The focus was more about the effects of trauma, the reasons behind the effects, and treatment.  [4/5]

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Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion


Goodreads says: Scientology, created in 1954 by a prolific sci-fi writer named L. Ron Hubbard, claims to be the world’s fastest growing religion, with millions of members around the world and huge financial holdings. Its celebrity believers keep its profile high, and its teams of “volunteer ministers” offer aid at disaster sites such as Haiti and the World Trade Center. But Scientology is also a notably closed faith, harassing journalists and others through litigation and intimidation, even infiltrating the highest levels of the government to further its goals. Its attacks on psychiatry and its requirement that believers pay as much as tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars for salvation have drawn scrutiny and skepticism. And ex-members use the Internet to share stories of harassment and abuse. Now Janet Reitman offers the first full journalistic history of the Church of Scientology, in an evenhanded account that at last establishes the astonishing truth about the controversial religion. She traces Scientology’s development from the birth of Dianetics to today, following its metamorphosis from a pseudoscientific self-help group to a worldwide spiritual corporation with profound control over its followers and even ex-followers.

Meg says: Let me assure you that I AM NOT interested in joining the Scientology movement! Because as soon as I told my boyfriend I was reading this book, he seemed concerned. No worries. Like my interest in Jonestown, I was intrigued by how seemingly intelligent people get roped into things like this. My questions were definitely answered. This book tells about all angles of Scientology: the history, the scandals, the celebrities, the techniques, etc. And let me tell you, the celebrity side of it is pretty interesting! My only qualm with this book would be that it jumped around a little in terms of time. I understand why it was needed, but I'm the kind of person who likes things in order. Shocker. Like the Jonestown book, I recommend this if you are looking to learn something new. [4/5]

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Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers


Goodreads says: Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers some willingly, some unwittingly have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. In this fascinating account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries and tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.

Meg says: I realize that I've read a lot about pretty bleak topics. Sorry. But this book was both informative and entertaining. Have you ever wondered what happens if you donate your body to science? Have you ever wondered about the history of testing on human cadavers? If not, this book probably isn't for you. Mary Roach visits all kinds of experts in the field to learn about these questions. She asks the tough questions and supplies awkward commentary. I laughed out loud a couple of times. Some of the reviews I read knocked Roach's writing style, but I enjoyed it. [4.5/5]

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I Didn't Come Here to Make Friends: Confessions of a Reality Show Villain


Goodreads says: Courtney Robertson joined season 16 of The Bachelor looking for love. A working model and newly single, Courtney fit the casting call: She was young, beautiful, and a natural in front of the cameras. Although she may have been there for all the right reasons, as the season unfolded and sparks began to fly something else was clear: She was not there to make friends. Courtney quickly became one of the biggest villains in Bachelor franchise history. She unapologetically pursued her man, steamrolled her competition, and broke the rules—including partaking in an illicit skinny-dip that sealed her proposal. Now, after a very public breakup with her Bachelor, Ben Flajnik, Courtney opens up and tells her own story—from her first loves to her first moments in the limo. She dishes on life before, during, and after the Bachelor, including Ben's romantic proposal to her on a Swiss mountaintop and the tabloid frenzy that continued after the cameras stopped rolling. For the first time ever, a former Bachelor contestant takes us along on her journey to find love and reveals that “happily ever after” isn't always what it seems. Complete with stories, tips, tricks, and advice from your favoriteBachelor alumni, and filled with all the juicy details Courtney fans and foes alike want to know, I Didn’t Come Here to Make Friends is a must-read for every member of Bachelor nation.

Meg says: No judging on this last one, okay?! I've been a Bachelor/Bachelorette fan for a few years. [Since Jake Pavelka's season for fellow fans!] The show is ridiculous. We can all admit that. I'm an even bigger fan of Reality Steve, a well-known spoiler site for the show. I probably wouldn't even watch the show if it weren't for this site. Anyway, knowing "behind the scenes" type of info makes this show even more fun to watch. When Courtney was on the show, I hated her (as much as you can hate a TV caricature that you don't really know, of course.) I thought Ben was getting played like a fool. But reading this gave me a new perspective of Ben and Courtney, along with juicy behind the scenes gossip and information. Warning, though, she doesn't hold back in the language department, and it is full of adult content, so it is for adult eyes only. I didn't really care about Courtney's back story, but the rest of the book made up for it! [4/5]

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Do you have any nonfiction books to recommend? I'm not really into biographies; I'm more interested in topics or events. My to-read list is super full, but what's one (or ten) more, right?

Are there any linky parties going on right now about summer reading? I haven't seen any, but just wanted to make sure. I'd be happy to start one if anyone is interested. Let me know in the comments! =)

Edit: Found somewhere to link up! Join Beth by clicking the image below!



I'll be back with my Fiction list soon!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

As mentioned in the last post, this past school year threw me for a loop. If you're interested in the cause of my blogging hiatus, read on. If not, stay tuned for my blogging return in the coming days/weeks. Less than one month until school. Yikes!

The Good..

Let's start with the good, shall we? I was assigned a student teacher for the second year in a row. Another guy! His presence turned out to be my saving grace, as he ended up taking over for my teaching partner when she resigned (more on that later). He grew into a great teacher, and hopefully he lands the job opening in my school!

Another highlight was that I was named Teacher of the Year in my building. It was such a nice honor, and the best part was how excited my kids were. They thought it meant that they were "Class of the Year."

I didn't burst their bubbles on that one.

With only five full years of experience under my belt, I didn't expect to be recognized as District Teacher of the Year, and I was right. But the experience and recognition were nice, even though I'm extremely uncomfortable with being center of attention. Especially when the entire school floods the hallways and forms a human tunnel. Holy panic attack. But, the front row VIP parking spot makes up for that part! :)

One last bit of goodness was that I became an Aunt on May 21st! My sister gave birth to her insanely adorable son, Kiyan William. I could hold that kid all day long. He has brought so much joy to our family in the short two months he's been around. I can't wait to watch him grow!

The Bad..

Well, this is the tough part.

If you've been a reader of my blog for more than a year, you may remember that I was asking for prayers for my co-worker/best friend last summer. Here's the short version of the story.

Toward the end of last school year, my teaching partner/best friend's husband went to the doctor for a couple of lumps that turned up on his body. No other symptoms. On our last day of school last year, he was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic melanoma. At age 28, with two young boys, his own farm, and a full life ahead of him, this wonderful family was hit with this horrible news.

The next six months were filled with doctor appointments at the University of Penn. Sam tried to keep teaching, but ended up resigning in order to care for Brett, her two boys, and the farm full time. There were a couple of times where they thought good news was ahead, but in the end, nothing could be done. Only six months after his diagnosis, cancer took Brett's life.

I encourage you to watch this video of Sam telling her story. Sam is now a spokesperson for the cause in Delaware, and her goal is awareness. Please help her in that goal by viewing the video and educating your friends and family in honor of Brett.



I could write much, much more about this, but I won't preach. In short, I challenge you to educate yourselves about sun safety and life each day to its fullest. As you can imagine, it was extremely difficult watching her go through this, and it still affects me each day. She is an insanely gifted teacher, and I can only hope she finds her way back to the classroom when the time is right.

The (kind of) Ugly..

From January to May, I was teaching full time (with just myself & my student teacher, who took over for Sam for the rest for the year) while also trying to complete my practicum/internship hours for my School Counseling certification. Talk. About. Stress. Every day, during my planning/recess, I would spend time observing/helping/taking over for the school counselor. I was also staying after school to try to log some hours. Which meant that I needed to stay even longer after that to get my actual work finished. I was a hot mess on most days. The hours, the papers, the practicum meetings. Oh my. But, I survived, and I graduated with my Masters in Elementary School Counseling in early May! (My sister actually gave birth two short days after my graduation!)

What's next?

Well, as of early May, I am a certified Elementary School Counselor! But, I've applied to the few counseling jobs that have been posted, have only gotten one interview, and it didn't pan out. So it looks like I'll be continuing to teach third grade in the first state this school year! A slight change, though, will be that I will be teaching the "accelerated" reading and math classes. It will definitely be a change of pace after co-teaching for the past two years.

There you have it. I know that post was all over the place, but I feel better now that it is all out there. Looking forward to getting back into blogging about teaching. =)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Remember me?

Hello, all! 
Long time, no blog!

It has been an extremely trying, roller coaster type of school year, and I can't wait to share the details with all of you in time.

For now, the blog is going to look funky. I'm going to remodel, maybe even change the name. In any event, I will leave the URL the same so that you can find me in the same place. =)

Anyway, hello to my almost 400 (can I just say, wow?!) followers. I can't wait to catch up with you. =)

-Meg

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Rock It!

So, the first few weeks of school have been exhausting to say the least! I'm sure many of you are in agreement. We are closing in on being in school for a whole month. I can't believe it!

At the beginning of the school year, I was contacted by a representative of Rock It! Transform Classroom Learning with Movement, Songs, and Stories, an ebook written by Steve Reifman. I was asked to take a look, try an activity or two, and write a review. As I've said previously, I'm always interested in reviewing things made by teachers! [Steve is a teacher in California.] I also love interactive activities that draw my students in, especially my special education students.



Here is the description from the representative. "This groundbreaking book shows teachers how to incorporate movement, songs, and stories as part of their instructional methods every day. Math and English language arts activities are aligned with Common Core Standards to help teachers meet those requirements using techniques that are lots of fun."

The ebook is 193 pages long, and it included activities for students K-5. As the description above states, the activities are Common Core aligned, so you can easily search the electronic document according to the standard that you are currently working on. There are chapters devoted to math, ELA, and Science/SS. 

There are also chapters with chants, songs, and movement breaks. I teach writing, math, and science, so those were the sections that I focused on. For writing, there are some movements for grammar that will be useful. I was pleasantly surprised that there were a lot of activities for place value in the math section. Place value instruction can be really dry! I am planning on sharing these activities with the paraprofessional who teachers place value during RTI! There are a few science activities, but none that align with the FOSS kits that I teach in third grade. I did see some social studies activities that my partner could use.

A couple chants that I will definitely use this year are the "Rounding Chant" and the "Three Kinds of Angles Chant." I love things that get stuck in the students' heads that offer guidance on a new or tricky concept!

This book would be great for new teachers to use to supplement an existing curriculum. It would also be great for any teacher who is looking to add more movement and song to their classroom climate! The activity pages are super easy to understand, and many do not require very much set up, so they would be great to leave for a substitute!

If you are interested in purchasing or wanting to know more, visit the book's website here, or you can find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble.com, and TPT.

Please note that I was sent a free copy of the text in return for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Free Career Research Resource!

Did you download my Researching Careers Writing Project?

Or, do you do some kind of career project with your students?

Or, are you a school counselor who teaches lessons about career choices?

If so, you need to visit Educents, like NOW!


There is a free resource that would really enhance the project! Not sure how long it will be offered, so run over now!

It is a set of 11 e-books all about different careers. The books look to be written at an upper elementary grade level. They are offered through The Old Schoolhouse and are regularly priced at almost $100 dollars. The careers included are a chef, doctor, farmer, firefighter, police office, military, pilot, veterinarian, video game designer, artist, and a missionary. There are also activities included with the books!

Because this looks to be a religious publication, I will need to blank out some of the religious speak throughout some of the interviews, but the rest is a perfect fit for my project!

     

Because this resource fits SO well with my product, I'll be marking down my research project product to $4! I'll be setting it back to regular price Friday after school. Click above to check it out. Even if you don't grab my product, these free career ebooks are definitely a steal!