The Missouri Reader Vol. 42, Issue 2 | Page 45

"It (also) benefits students to see and hear the teacher highlighting important data, skimming sections of the text, making connections to past experiences, and taking the time to pause and think about what is being read."


This book is a powerful story that depicts the struggles Vietnamese refugees faced. The author of the book was a refugee who fled Vietnam during the war. Just like Há, the author faced emotional and physical challenges when she fled from her hometown. The author’s purpose of this story is to make readers aware of the trials the Vietnamese civilians faced and the bravery and endurance it took to overcome them.

Inside Out & Back Again is an amazing book about courage, strength, and bravery and I would suggest it to anyone!

Kaitlin Joy Kroese is a Pre-K teacher in Nixa, MO. She graduated from College of the Ozarks and iscurrently working on a masters degree in Literacy from Missouri State University.

A Letter to My Teacher

● Author: Deborah Hopkinson

● Illustrator: Nancy Carpenter

● Grade Level: Pre-K - 3rd

● Independent Reading Level: 2nd - 3rd grades

● Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

● Genre: Fiction/Realistic Fiction

“Dear Teacher -- Whenever I had something to tell you, I tugged on your shirt and whispered in your ear. This time I’m writing a letter.”

In A Letter to My Teacher, a woman writes a letter to her former second teacher in a series of memorable flashbacks. In this first person narrative, readers are able to experience the most unforgettable moments of her second grade year.

The letter begins on her first day of second grade, as she bounded through the rain in her yellow raincoat, already dreading the long days of sitting in a classroom. Instead of scolding her for traipsing in puddles of muddy water, her teacher greeted her with a smile and commented that she reminded her of an explorer named Mary Kingsley coming back from a canoe trip. This sparked her interest and was the start of their special relationship.

The narrator was an energetic and somewhat impulsive child, which put her in a few predicaments, including one with their class pets, the Mouse Brothers. She tested her teacher’s patience on a daily basis, and was considered, what you might call, “exasperating.” Fortunately, her teacher directed that energy into growing their Second-Grade Garden and becoming a more confident reader. The story concludes by showing the lasting influence teachers have on their students.

The author, Deborah Hopkinson, loved her second grade teacher and though she was not an “exasperating” child, she did hide books on her lap to read during class. The illustrator, Nancy Carpenter, did a brilliant a job of bringing the story to life with vibrant colors, highlighting the child and her teacher throughout the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed A Letter to My Teacher, as well as the beautiful illustrations. As a future teacher, this book reminds me of why I chose this career and the important role we play in children’s lives. This book would be a great gift for a teacher and it would also make a wonderful read aloud. This book could be used to discuss the impact our words and actions have on each other or it could be used to discuss careers and how people can change the world around them. I would highly recommend this book to every teacher, but be prepared to have tissues handy as this book will tug at your heartstrings!

Justina Homan is a literacy graduate student at Missouri State University and is from Pleasant Hill, Missouri.

Wonder: New

● Author: R.J. Palacio

● Publisher: Random House: New York, 2012

● Lexile level: 790

● Appropriate Ages: 8-12

● AR level 4.8

● Genre: Fiction

My fourth grade class just finished reading the book Wonder during our read aloud time. I had read this story to my class last year as well and we all loved it so much that I wanted to share it with my current class. The timing was also perfect with the movie that was released on November 17th (2017) that is based on the book. It is a fictional story written by R.J. Palacio but was very much inspired by a child that she encountered that seemed much like the main character in her story, August Pullman.

Wonder is a highly engaging book that is appropriate for grades three and up. It is at a lexile of 790 and has an AR reading level of 4.8. I love books that hook us from the beginning and keep our attention throughout, and ones that have a theme that is applicable to my students. Books that make us laugh and help us have good class discussions is another important element. I am usually very stingy with giving stars, but as far as a read aloud goes, this book meets my requirements so I gladly give it five stars.

The theme of this story is two fold as R.J. Palacio does a fabulous job of portraying her characters and writing the chapters based on their points of view. This is a story of bravery, embracing our inner beauty, and accepting the differences in others. August (nicknamed Auggie), the main character, was born with a facial deformity and has been home schooled his whole life up until his fifth grade year when he begins to attend Beecher Prep. As you can imagine, this transition is not easy considering his peers at his new school are alarmed by his deformity. The story of Auggie, his family and friends, and his life at school will make you and your students laugh, cry, and connect with your own inner self.

You may find resources to support teaching with Wonder at .

Taylor Bacon is a fourth grade teacher in Nixa, Missouri. She is currently completing her graduate degree with a Masters in Teacher Leadership at Missouri State University.



Engaging stud

benefit from this strategy. Students were able to see the benefit of each strategy due to faculty members planning ability during class instruction. One example is shared here, “In the writing break, I also allowed them to share how they would apply what they read. This is important to me as an instructor because I can determine if they are transferring what they are learning and applying it to their future classrooms/career.”

Student Reflections on the Use of Quick Writes

Students in each of the course participated in five different quick writes implemented over a five week period. At the end of the implementation of the quick writes, students reflected on how they would use them in their future career as a classroom teacher. TCs were able to identify practical ways they would use the quick writes with the students in their future classrooms.

In the Communication Arts Integration course, the TCs identified several effective ways they would use some of the quick writes to support their instruction. When looking at the ABC brainstorm quick write, TCs shared how they could use it in their classrooms as a way of brainstorming different topics to write about along with using it to brainstorm descriptive words. A TC wrote,“ I could use this strategy to help students think of topics before beginning to write. Doing it by ABCs helps to create a variety in the ideas that students brainstorm.” A couple of the TCS stated they could use the brainstorm strategy as a means of formative assessment. A TC replied on her reflection that she could use this as a way to activate prior knowledge before introducing a topic. Another TC responded with something very similar, “This could be used as a form of assessment or a check-up….could be used at a beginning of paper to brainstorm all you know about a topic before you begin writing.” The TCs found the benefits of the quick writes and realized not only were the strategies engaging, but most importantly a reflection piece for them to make changes to their instruction.


These quick write strategies allow the teachers across the grade levels and content areas different ways to engage students while gathering formative assessment data in order to reflect and refine their teaching practices. These writing strategies allow classroom teachers to reinforce reading skills, such as summarizing and along with promoting reflection and personal connections. Exploring these quick write strategies allowed the teacher candidates the opportunity to decide which ones they are willing to implement with their students.

Quick writes engage the students in the content before, during, and after teacher led discussions. Additionally, the use of quick writes can be used to measure student learning and allows the instructor to reflect on their own teaching practices to meet the needs of the students in their classroom.


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Dr. Natalie Tye, Dr. Angela Danley, Mrs.Christie Richardson, and Dr. Karen Loman are professors in the School of Teaching and Learning at the University of Central Missouri,

Warrensburg, Missouri.