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Who Cares if You’re a “Loser”?

Who Cares if You’re a “Loser”?

Loser written by Newbery Award-winning author, Jerry Spinelli, is a powerful tale about how not fitting in may lead to an incredible life. This is a wonderful book to use for a novel study, literature circles, book clubs, or individual study in the classroom or home school.

Loser was first published in 2002 and was nominated for the Mark Twain Award. The story is an endearing one about perseverance despite the odds told with humor and heart.

Summary of Loser:

*From the book jacket

Just like other kids, Zinkoff rides his bike, hopes for snow days, and wants to be like his dad when he grows up. But Zinkoff also raises his hand with all the wrong answers, trips over his own feet, and falls down with laughter over a word like “Jabip.”

Other kids have their own word to describe him, but Zinkoff is too busy to hear it. He doesn’t know he’s not like everyone else. And one winter night, Zinkoff’s differences show that any name can someday become “hero.”


This is a great novel to accompany a study of

  • Bullying prevention
  • Research the Vietnam War and the MIA’s.

  • Discuss the culture of winners vs. losers. Pro/cons.

I offer a complete novel study to accompany Loser for use in the classroom or homeschool. The unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.

Loser is a wonderful story exploring a boy’s individuality surpassing the need to fit in and the genuine importance of failure. How, in the end, dancing to your own tune may lead you down the path to hero.

Got Spring Fever?

Got Spring Fever?

Spring is in the air, the weather is changing and I know I am antsy to get outside so I can just imagine how antsy students cooped up in the classroom are feeling! Spring is not a time to sit inside and watch the world through the window! We all want to get out there and smell the lilacs! Alas, school is still in session so how do you keep your students still learning as their focus wanes?


Head Outdoors: 

• Allow students to earn additional free time outside. Join in! Play a class game of kickball and get in there and play with them!

• Take the class outside and find a quiet spot for silent or read aloud time. Some of my favorite teaching memories are sitting under the giant tree on the front lawn of the school and reading with my students.


Add more “get up and move activities” to your day.

These could include review games that allow the children to move.





Have students choose and set a goal for themselves to meet by the end of the school year to give them something individual to focus on and achieve.



Bring a focus on science by creating a community garden for your school.


Based on the resources, especially over the summer, this could consist of spring annuals for beauty or possibly vegetables for nourishment if the resources allow for it.



Some great sites to help come up with outdoor class ideas can be found here:




A community space that they beautify gives the students a sense of pride that they are leaving a legacy behind at their school.



Summer will be here before you know it, but take a little time to smell the spring flowers, enjoy nature, and play with your class to alleviate those antsy spring fever symptoms for all of you.


Who Doesn’t Love Chocolate?

Who Doesn’t Love Chocolate?

One of my favorite (and my students’) theme to explore every year was the Chocolate Theme.  We would read The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling, Chocolate Fever by Richard Kimmel Smith, and for the cherry on top of our dessert, we read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!

Throughout the theme unit, we incorporated geography by mapping the different countries where the different ingredients of candy bars originate. We worked on letter writing by writing to different chocolate and candy companies with questions. This activity was particularly exciting because many of the companies would respond back to the students with offerings of trial samples or coupons to get free candy! Students learned the power they had as a consumer who shares feedback!

I always started the unit out with The Chocolate Touch written by Patrick Skene Catling which was first published in 1952. The story of loving chocolate never ages!  John Midas loves chocolate and sweets more than anything and a wish turns his wildest dreams into a reality. Like King Midas before him, his touch is magic! This book leads to some great comparison activities with the King Midas story. Like King Midas, John soon learns that having too much of a great thing might not be as wonderful as he thought it would be!

I offer a complete novel study to accompany The Chocolate Touch for use in the classroom or homeschool. The unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.




Chocolate Fever written by Richard Kimmel Smith in 1972, is a more humorous and adventurous tale of young Henry Green whose dream of eating nothing but chocolate comes true. Henry soon discovers that his new ability can be dangerous so he escapes and goes on the run!

I offer a complete novel study to accompany Chocolate Fever for use in the classroom or homeschool. The unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.




In my opinion, the best is saved for last, Roald Dahl’s 1964 classic, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This story has everything; a character to empathize with, several characters to learn from, humor, imagination, it really has it all. Singing the Oompa Loompa songs together is always a fun time that ends in fits of giggles!

I offer a complete novel study to accompany Chocolate Fever for use in the classroom or homeschool. The unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.



Tying different areas of the curriculum together, enjoying three wonderful novels together, the Chocolate Theme is a fun learning experience for all. It was truly one of the most favorite times I had with my students and it was something past students brought up as a favorite of their 4th-grade year with me. I encourage you to give it a try!

Save when buying all three novel studies together as a bundle!

The Real-Life Story of Night of the Twisters

The Real-Life Story of Night of the Twisters

Night of the Twisters is the semi-fictionalized novel based on the tornado outbreak in Grand Island, NE in June 1980. The story by Ivy Ruckman published in 1984, is written from the point of view of 12-year-old  Dan Hatch, who – after his home and neighborhood are destroyed by one of the tornadoes – begins a search for his parents as more tornadoes roll through the area. This is a nail-biting book to use for a novel study, literature circles, book clubs, or individual study in the classroom or home school to hook even the most reluctant of readers.

Night of the Twisters has been honored with several awards over the years including the Golden Sower Award, the Iowa Children’s Choice Award, and the Sequoyah Children’s Book Award. This novel has also been honored with the Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children recommendation by the National Science Teachers Association and Children’s Book Council.

Summary of Night of the Twisters:

*From the book jacket

When a tornado watch is issued on a Tuesday evening in June, 12-year-old Dan Hatch and his best friend, Arthur, don’t think much of it.  After all, tornado warnings are a way of life during the summer in Grand Island, Nebraska. But soon enough, the wind begins to howl, and the lights and telephone stop working. Then the emergency siren starts to wail.  

Dan, his baby brother, and Arthur have only seconds to get to the basement before the monstrous twister is on top of them. Little do they know that even if they do survive the storm, their ordeal will have only just begun…

Peak tornado season is March through June so this is a great time to bring this story into your classroom. This book is exciting and hooks reluctant readers with the graphic details of this real-life event.

To be able to tie this story to a real-life event draws student interest in. This event, consisting of 7 tornadoes that touched down that evening in, or near, Grand Island was arguably an unparalleled event in meteorological history. It is likely that never before, or since, have this many slow-moving, damaging and deadly tornadoes affected such a small, but populated geographic area for such a long time-span of 2 hours and 45 minutes…

You can read more about this weather phenomenon from the National Weather Service and The Real Night of the Twisters.

This opens up avenues to tie your reading/language art to science instruction. Not to mention the inevitable discussions that will develop about “what would you do if…”


I offer a complete novel study to accompany Night of the Twisters for use in the classroom or homeschool. The unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.

Night of the Twister is a fast-paced, nail-biter of a story that your students will not want to put down!

Tips for Using Google Drive in Your Classroom

Tips for Using Google Drive in Your Classroom

There are many advantages to using technology in our classrooms today. Along with the pros, there are also the cons of glitches and user frustrations. I offer all of my novel studies and social studies products in a Google Drive format in addition to the printable format to help make it easier for teachers to use the technology that is available to them without having to develop all their own files.

Due to the newness of these formats, I often get technical questions from buyers. I decided to put together this blog post to answer the most frequent questions I get and provide a tutorial for how to manipulate the files to best fit individual needs.

How do I get the file into my Google Drive?

I do offer an instruction guide within each of my products. However, there are still some issues from time to time. The key thing that is missed is that the teacher is not logged into the Google Drive account where they want to house their newly purchased file. If an attempt to click the link within the product is made without being logged in often a message stating that they “need to request access to the file”. You should not need to request access from me at all after you’ve purchased your file, nor should your students need to request access if the directions have been followed. Usually, the fix for this is to simply make sure you are properly logged into your Google Drive and then click the file link. From there you can share via Google Classroom in the normal manner with no access request needed.

Make sure you are logged into your Google Drive and then click the link found in your resource on that page that looks like this:

A new tab will open with the force copy prompt.

Your file will now appear in your Google Drive account. It is named “Copy of File Name”. You can easily change that to whatever you want it to be simply by clicking into the name box.


How can I assign individual chapters or activities to students instead of the whole file?

I strive to create and share this work in the most efficient fashion that I can. For every Google file, I create there is a unique link. If I were to separate these out by chapters or activities you would have a PDF with so many links that it would cause a lot of confusion which is why for each unit there is generally only a single file link or a few for larger files broken into larger sections.

It is understandable that teachers would want the ability to tweak these files to best fit their needs when assigning to students. I get asked a lot about how to share just a single chapter with students for example. There is an easy way for you to create custom pieces to assign to your students from your master file. Below I have included the steps to follow to help guide you in customizing to meet your needs in a quick manner.

Once your master file has been placed into your Google Drive follow these steps:






The size dimensions shared above is for all of my novel study products. My social studies size dimensions can vary with 12×12 being the most common. You can see what dimension your master file is set at(look at page setup) to know the right size for the file you are creating to avoid any distortion.

Hopefully, you will find these clarifications and tips helpful so that you can customize your files to best fit the needs of your students and classroom. If you have additional questions please reach out as I am happy to share tips and clarify anything that may be confusing. You can find my email address on the first page of every file you have downloaded from my store.