Thursday, February 9, 2017

YOU JUST WAIT and a SPECIAL GIVEAWAY!

I haven't participated in Poetry Friday in a while because of the big changes happening in my life. I'll share more about that another time, but I'm just happy to be back, and I'm looking forward to posting on a more regular basis. Today I want to tell you about a book I love and what happened with I shared it with my students.

To begin with, getting my sixth grade reading intervention students excited about reading and writing is CHALLENGING! They would rather eat a big bowl of Brussels sprouts than read. So, I'm always looking for books that they will find engaging and meaningful.  When I heard about JUST YOU WAIT by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, it sounded like the perfect choice.  JUST YOU WAIT is an interactive novel-in-verse with poems from the point of view of the three very relatable main characters: Paz, Lucesita, and Joe.  What makes this novel so different is that it includes activities and writing exercises in response to the poems. I love this feature because it encourages readers to become part of the story. Such a great idea!

My students were surprised to learn they would each have their own copy so they could write in the book. This was definitely motivating for them.  The program I teach is very structured so our time with YOU JUST WAIT was limited. In some ways, I think that worked to an advantage because students were eager to get back to "our book."

After we finished the novel, I gave my students a chance to share their thoughts about the book. Here are a few of their responses.  

What I liked about this book:
  • It had cool activities. 
  • One thing I liked about this book is the poems, and I want to know more about the characters. I hope the authors write another book like this one.
  • I really liked Paz because she reminds me of who I am.
  • I like Joe because he dreams of being in the NBA and so do I.
  • Lucesita, because she likes movies like I do, and she is funny.
  • I like this book because I'm great at it!
  • It's awesome to do the activities and write our poems in the book. 
  • Yay, we're working on our book today!

What I learned: 
  • I learned some things about myself thanks to this book.
  • I can be a creative person when I try.
  • I like reading other people's poems because they are fun.
  • Writing poems is harder than it looks.
  • I learned there are different ways to make a poem.
  • I learned how to write a poem. Thank you.
  • I have a lot of potential writing poetry.
  • Follow your dreams, be nice, and friendship is important.
One reason YOU JUST WAIT was such a hit with my sixth graders is because each of them connected with at least one of the characters.  As one student said, "She's a character in a book, but she's just like me.She loves her family the way I do." My students especially loved the activites because they found them meaningful and helpful in understanding their own lives a little better. 

My Spanish-speaking students loved reading the Spanish words and teaching all of us about some of the foods mentioned in the novel.  Some of my students brought in family photographs and found images online to tell about their favorite cultural foods. We learned many interesting things about each other that day.

Many students liked sharing their poems aloud and using the document camera to show their sketches.  This worked wonderfully for practicing fluency, especially when they took turns reading each other’s poems.

I helped students who were struggling with ideas, but I did not edit their poems. They were so proud of what they wrote, and I didn't want to take that away from them.  Seeing students who in the beginning of the year claimed they hated writing suddenly want to share their words with classmates was huge!  

Here are a few of their poems:

Cheerleading Extreme

I go up high
like I'm in the 
sky in my stunt

I do my dance,
have a chance
to shine

behind me
are other girls 
in crutches
waiting for their time
to shine

no lifts 
no kicks

Is is your time
to shine?
 - G.

Friends

My friend is
so energetic and fast

My friend is
generous and so joyful

My friend is
always there even
in the hardest times
  -E.

My Friend

I like my friend
he is cool
like a pool
in the hot sun.

I like my friend
and he likes me
we watch TV
and play games

We have fun
I'll never give up
our friendship

-K. 

Football

Football is
the noise of 
helmets banging
together

Football is
the smell of
sweat 
in the air

Football is
noisy fans
in the stadium.
-Z.

I love it when a book makes a positive difference in the lives of my students (and mine too). I'm so glad they had the opportunity to read YOU JUST WAIT.   Not only did their attitude toward reading and writing improve, but an added bonus was that our classroom conversations became much more accepting and compassionate. Isn't it amazing how powerful one book can be?

Janet and Sylvia ( Pomelo Books) create books that get readers thinking and doing. They have a wonderful new book, HERE WE GO. This book is sure to inspire readers to change the world.  It should be on every elementary and middle school reading list.  Yes, it's that good!  We all hope to make a difference, HERE WE GO shows us the way!

Now for the GIVEAWAY!   I'm giving 5 lucky folks a copy of YOU JUST WAIT!  To enter the drawing, please leave a comment. Good luck!

A special thank you to Katie for hosting today's Poetry Friday at The Logonauts.  







35 comments:

  1. Thanks for this post. I love the way the book connected with the children and became 'our book and, of course, that they grew more confident in reading poetry. So powerful!

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    1. Sally, seeing their confidence as readers and writers grow was very rewarding. This book really did change their thinking. : )

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  2. Welcome back,Linda! This is wonderful hearing about the excitement your students had through this book. The learning and connections are great, as shown in the poems.

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    1. Thanks, Linda. It's good to be back. I'm hoping to become more involved in the PF community.

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  3. There is something particularly exciting for kids about having their very own book that they can write in, scribble in and make their very own. Thank you for sharing your students' wonderful creations!

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    1. Jane, I really think that having a book they could write in made the difference. It truly became "their" book.

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  4. This is wonderful, Linda. I loved reading your students' responses to reading You Just Wait and writing their own poems, especially this: "Follow your dreams, be nice, and friendship is important." Wise advice for us all!

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    1. Thanks, Catherine. I agree with you. Sometimes I think they see the world much more clearly than we adults do.

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  5. Yea for poetry creating connections between students and their words and their lives--and thanks to the teacher who made it happen. I enjoyed reading your students' poems.

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    1. Thank you, Kay. This project was so much fun!

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  6. I am new to Poetry Friday, and it is nice to "meet" another middle school teacher/writer! I just received Here We Go though a give-away by Margaret Simon. Such a wonderful book. And now I must get You Just Wait. There is nothing so powerful as a book in the hands of a teacher who knows how to use it!

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    1. Welcome, Leigh Anne. Poetry Friday is a wonderful place to be. You will love it, AND you will love YOU JUST WAIT! We need more books like these!

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  7. There are SO MANY things to love about your students' experience with YOU JUST WAIT . . . hard to pick one thing that stands out, but for me it might be your student's line "I have a lot of potential writing poetry." "Potential" is such a loaded word, isn't it? And too often, with kids, it's used in a negative way. But here it seems so clearly to show HOPE--really beautiful. Thank you, Linda, for taking the time to share our book with your students and for sharing your experience here.

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    1. Janet, I think that seeing so many of them become more confident in the writing was one of the most touching things for me. The young man who wrote that "potential" line was one who was the most resistant to writing in the beginning of the year. Through JUST YOU WAIT, he began to view himself as a writer! That is so powerful!

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  8. This is heartwarming that kids connect and write in such immediate ways. Great post. I wish I had had such a book when I was a kid. :-)

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    1. Brenda, I wish the same thing. If I did, maybe it wouldn't have taken me so long to connect with poetry!

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  9. Great testimony for this book and for
    Poetry. Keyword: relatable! Also loved that each student got his/her own book.

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  10. Yes, Jane. I think having their own book let them know that their words are important too. : )

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  11. Loved reading about how your students reacted to the book and what a difference it made! The sample poems were great!

    No need to enter me in the giveaway. I already have a copy. :)

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  12. Hi Linda, thanks for your thorough review of "You Just Wait." Sounds like you hit a goldmine for your students with it, hope it continues!

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    1. I hope so too! Thanks for stopping by, Michelle.

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  13. Linda, this was such a happy post! What a great success. (I also have a copy of the book so don't enter me in the draw.)

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  14. Linda, this is inspiring! Thanks for reviewing "You Just Wait" and sharing the words of your students.

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  15. Linda, how terrific. It's clear that opening this book has opened up your 6th graders. Students, thank you for letting us see and hear your responses to YOU JUST WAIT! One thing I can tell is what good friends you know how to be. Wishing you more poetry adventures!

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  16. Heidi, there was some resistance at first, but they really got into it! I am so proud of them.

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  17. This is the perfect book to use with a small group! Sounds like it was a hit with your students!

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    1. It really was perfect, Mary Lee. I was so happy that they really got into it!

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  18. Wow - so awesome to get a peek behind the curtain into the nuts & bolts of how you used this with your students, and their candid reactions. Thanks to you, and to them, for sharing. Rock on, Young Poets!

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  19. What a great post! Your and your students' enthusiasm was palpable! I loved reading their reactions and thoughts about the book and then the poems that they wrote. Thanks for sharing!

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  20. O.M.G! I LOVE hearing how your students are identifying with this book, claiming it as their own, and finding personal power in expressing themselves through poetry. Such a joy to read this post, Linda. Thank you.

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  21. Awesome! Love the idea of using this as a whole class but every kid having their own personal copy. Thanks for sharing with Poetry Friday!

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