Yes, This Will Be On the Test

Writing, Reading, Laughing

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

View From the 5th Grade Trenches - November 2010

One of the hats I wear is that of fifth grade teacher.  Yes, I am deep in the middle grade trenches, and there isn’t a better place to be.

In August at the SCBWI, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, summer conference, I had the delight of breaking bread (well actually folding fajitas) with the inspiring author, M.T. Anderson.  I asked which of his books would be a good choice to read aloud to my fifth grade class, winning me the title of “Cool Teacher.”  He suggested the middle grade science fiction adventure, WHALES ON STILTS, from his PALS IN PERIL series, and boy oh boy, was he right.

The class and I LOVED it.  We laughed at his clever voice, bigger than life situations, and delicious craziness.  Best of all, it fired the kids up to read more of his awesome works.  It is a privilege to fill my class library with the works of M.T. Anderson. 

Here are some of the comments from the trenches:  (SPOILER ALERTS)
·      My favorite part was when Larry wrote on a piece of paper, “My mom is a fish.” ASHLEY
·      I was very interested in three amazingly intelligent kids.  KAITLYN
·      Jasper Dash made me laugh, he never made fun of anyone, and his bubble suit was hilarious.  HAZEL, FERNANDA, CALEB, ARYANNA
·      Half whale/half person, what gets more gross than that?  KYLE
·      It kept me hanging in suspense. CARLOS
·      I hope a whale with laser beam eyes never goes after my gramma. MYSTERY STUDENT

Thank you M.T. Anderson for making me a “Cool Teacher.”  


  1. I love the comments from the kids. Those are priceless! I haven't read this book yet, but it sounds like fun.

  2. Thank you Julie. We had a blast with WHALES ON STILTS.

  3. Love it! This will be so fun to follow, thanks so much for your hard work with the kids...PS- so great you are keeping up with technology and helping the kids learn about it too!

  4. Thanks Brittany. The class got a kick out of seeing their comments show up on the blog. I predict it'll motivate them to ramp up their book reviews.

  5. You needed no book to make you a cool teacher. You already ARE the cool teacher. Awesome job picking out a great book. I highly recommend taking "The Mysterious Benedict Society" for a spin, even if just for yourself.

    Check out their cool website!

  6. He was so cool!! It was really fun to meet him. Very inspiring. But you really are a cool teacher!! Wish my kids had you.

  7. I'm blushing. Thank you for all the sweet comments.


    Thanks for reading my book! I'm SO glad the kids liked it! And I love these quotations. This is the kind of thing publishers should use as blurbs! (Especially, "I hope a whale with laser beam eyes never goes after
    my gramma."

    To that student: I promise, promise, PROMISE that it will never happen!)

    I was particularly touched that several students noticed that Jasper Dash
    doesn't make fun of people. He is very firm about that. His friend Katie,
    on the other hand ...

    Please say hello to the kids from me, and tell them I'm thrilled that they enjoyed my book!

    Tobin Anderson

  9. How cool is that?! I am also glad M.T. Anderson wrote the book, you found the book, the class enjoyed the book and the author so enjoyed being read!! Having this kind of response will really sell reading to your class -
    Yay You cool teacher!!!!

  10. whos the mystery student