Tag Archives: Oregon Battle of the Books

The team to beat

11 Mar

Despite the beautiful Spring-like day outside, four students, their families and I spent the better part of the day inside. It was the Regional Oregon Battle of the Books (OBOB) tournament.

Last year, this same team were the Middle School State Champs!

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This year, we were the team to beat. Maybe you remember that old Avis advertising line, “We try harder”, when they were consistently #2 behind Hertz. Well, we were Hertz. Everybody else was Avis – just a little hungrier than these four.

Our practices the two weeks leading up to the tournament were spotty. One book (Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson) seemed to be their nemesis. It was such a weak point that I kept making a joke out of it as I quizzed them, calling it their favorite book.

They started off a little rocky in their first battle, winning the match, but not with a brilliant score. Fortunately, they had boned up on Rebel Mechanics and got every question about that book.  By the end of the 4 battles of pool play, their mojo had kicked in and we were tied for 5th place and assured a spot on the next “Sweet Sixteen” round. Only Sixteen of the 40+ teams got to continue on.

Their “Sweet Sixteen” battle was probably the hardest fought – a come from behind victory that moved them into the “Elite Eight”. That battle was quick and they were a well-oiled machine again, easily defeating their opponents and jumping into the “Final Four” pool. A nice place to be, but only the top three teams get to go to the State OBOB tournament.

By now, six battles in, they were humming. They took an early lead in their “Final Four”  battle and never really looked back (except for that one answer…).

Their final battle for the day was to determine who got first place and who got second. The pressure was off for both teams. Both would go to State. Across the hall, the two teams battling for the third spot were, perhaps, a little more stressed. Despite the certainty of their place at State, my students did a superb job and triumphed.

The end was almost anticlimactic. Some hurried photos, alone and with the top three teams. Two of my students had also qualified for the next level at tour school Science Fair and had to rush off to take make their presentations.

I’ll give them a break next week. We have parent teacher conferences and only three days of school anyway. But, the following week, we will be back to practicing. There are a few new candidates for nemesis book, I have a brilliant idea on how to comb through each book for details,  and we have a title to defend.

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Moving on up

19 Mar

The three 6th graders and a 7th grader sailed through their four preliminary battles like a well-oiled machine. Winning each of the battles, they had 175 points. That seemed like a good number, but we had to wait until all the other battles finished to see how we’d fared. Teams around us talked,whispered and laughed. We could over hear the team totals of the teams around us. We figured we were almost certainly in the next round, the Sweet 16.

We were shocked and elated to find out we had the 4th most points. Woohoo!

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The  subsequent rounds were elimination rounds. If we won the Sweet 16, we’d go on, if we lost, the tournament was over. The team, two boys and two girls, was ready and played well, handily defeating their competition. We were moving on to the Awesome 8 round, competing against a team in our school district.

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One of the members of that team was a former student, but that didn’t stop me from celebrating when they missed a question. The competition was tight; we were ahead by a bit at the halfway point. In the second half, we missed a few, but never lost our lead. At the end, we were ahead by four points. When ased if they wanted to challenge a question, my team said no, but the other team did. When this happens, teams have two minutes to find their answer in book. Fortunately for us, they could not.

That put us in the Fabulous 4 and that we are going to State!

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So, my 2017 OBOB season isn’t quite over yet, and that is very okay with me.

OBOB 2018

27 Feb

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I am in the last week of 2017 OBOB Battles. By Friday, we will know who the Stoller champions are. The state wide committee recently annuce the “Almost Finished” list of next year’s books. The 6-8 and 9-12 lists have been finalized, the 3-5 have not. You can see all three lists HERE.

I  have some of these in my classroom library already and will start gleaning them so I can figure out which ones I need to order.  Here is the full 6-8 list

 

6-8 Division (Final)

imgres Fallout by Gwenda Bond

imgres-1 Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix

 imgres-2 Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

imgres-3 I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

imgres-4 Kalahari by Jessica Khoury

imgres-5 The Lightning Queen by Laura Resau

imgres-6 Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff

imgres-7 The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson

imgres-9 Popular: A Memoir by Maya Van Wagenen (Paperback title: Popular: How a Geek in Pearls Discovered the Secret to Confidence Hardcover title: Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Ge

imgres-10 Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson

imgres-11 The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

imgres Schooled by Gordon Korman

imgres-1 The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall

imgres-2 The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

imgres-3 The Turn of the Tide by Rosanne Parry

imgres-4 The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Happy Hallow Reads

31 Oct

Last week, I book talked five books with some Halloweenie connection.

The scariest book was the first one, Coraline,  by Neil Gaiman.

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I admitted to the kids that I had never read the book or seen the movie. I told them that Iknew enough about Gaiman and the book to know that it twists reality in a way that seems eerily possible and that seemed to intrigue a few students.

Next up was Raina Telgemeier’s Ghosts, a graphics novel to steer us into safer territory, since I don’t really read scary books.

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Many students had read Telgemeier’s other books and that was enough of a recommendation.

On Wednesday, I told them about My Zombie Hamster, by Havelock McCreely. Zombies and humor seem a perfect combination for sixth graders.

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Thursday, I told them about a new one in our classroom library, The Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden by Emma Trevayne. This book gave me a chance to explain a little of the history of grave robbers.

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The last book I told them about was one of this year’s OBOB books: Zombie Baseball Beatdown  by Paolo Bacigalupi.

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I’m not yet sure what I will book talk today. I think I will decide once I am in my classroom. I will take a few minutes to leaf through the book bins and choose the 5 books of the week.

 

 

Of dogs and adventure

11 May

Fiona went to the Bridge 6 months ago today.

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I don’t cry any more, but I still miss her. Sometimes I call Lucy by the wrong name, or nickname. Not often, but it is the little things that make me remember. Lucy gets a lot more attention these days and I worry about her welfare. She has a better life than many people in the world.

That’s why Dan Gemeinhart’s The Honest Truth  made me so angry.

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Mark, the main character is sick and runs away from home with his dog. He is a hard kid to like because of his anger, but it is his reckless endangerment of his dog that had me throwing the book across the room. I almost didn’t finish it because I was terrified about his dog’s welfare. Fortunately, Mark learns the lesson he needs to learn and that made persevering to the end worthwhile, but it was really touch and go for a while. Honestly, the dog was my favorite character.

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Publisher’s Summary:In all the ways that matter, Mark is a normal kid. He’s got a dog named Beau and a best friend, Jessie. He likes to take photos and write haiku poems in his notebook. He dreams of climbing a mountain one day. But in one important way, Mark is not like other kids at all. Mark is sick. The kind of sick that means hospitals. And treatments. The kind of sick some people never get better from.

So Mark runs away. He leaves home with his camera, his notebook, his dog, and a plan to reach the top of Mount Rainier — even if it’s the last thing he ever does.

The Honest Truth  is a 2017 OBOB book, which is why I am reading it. I’ve started my prep for next year’s OBOB season. I also have an arc of his newer book, Some Kind of Courage, which came out in January. I hope I like that main character better.

Winding down and gearing up

5 May

With only six and half weeks remaining, the school year is gearing down.There is still a lot to do to finish this one well, but my thoughts are straying to summer and the next school year. This will be the first time in 5 years I don’t have to move rooms or buildings. It is almost

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Just this week, the final 2016-17 OBOB book lists were published for all three divisions. The first three quarters were published earlier, but the last four titles were just announced. I am ordering my  book set and starting to think about a new Oregon Battle of the Books bulletin board. I’ve read a few of the titles already, have heard of a few of the others, but there are also a couple I’ve never heard of, making reading them exciting. I like to read the books over the summer, if I can, so I have them all done by the time OBOB season rolls around. I never know them to the degree the kids do, but I like to get the gist of the book, so I can talk intelligently about them.

Here is the 6-8 Division list:

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The Apothecary by Maile Meloy

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Centaur Rising by Jane Yolen

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Courage for Beginners by Karen Harrington

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Dark Life by Kat Falls

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Death by Toilet Paper by Donna Gephart

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Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick

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The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson

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The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart

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The Journal of Curious Letters by James Dashner

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Masterminds by Gordon Korman

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The Menagerie by Tui T. and Kari Sutherland

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A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen

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Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper

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Unfriended by Rachel Vail

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The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

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Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi

Bookmarks 2016!

10 Apr

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Saturday was the Oregon Battle of the Books State Tournament. My team didn’t make it, but my former school’s team did.

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Three of these five started OBOB with me 2 years ago as 3rd graders and leaving them behind was one of the hardest parts of changing jobs. They had worked hard since the regional tournament, almost a month ago and were ready for today’s challenge, along with 23 other elementary teams.

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The first round was the pool play round, just like at the regional meet. Three teams in a room and the 16 teams with the highest point totals would go on to the next round. The William Walker Bookmarks sat out the first round, then played each of the two teams in back to back matches.  A perfect game is 80 points, but extra points can be earned by “stealing” questions the other team misses. However, 80 points probably isn’t enough to get you into the next round at this level of play. The Bookmarks won both battles, ending with 90 points altogether, which was good, but was it good enough?

We went back to the auditorium where the Sweet Sixteen Round was to be announced.My stomach was tight as they announce the teams. Our name wasn’t called sand wasn’t called and wasn’t called. Then, finally, the last pari announced was Ashbrook (11th seed) vs William Walker (6th Seed). We were in!

We went to the room where we discovered that our moderator was none other than the librarian who had preceded me at William Walker. Could it be a good omen?

The play was exciting, but, ultimately, William Walker prevailed, putting us into the Elite 8. We stayed in the same room with the same moderator for the next battle. At the halfway point, they were tied. The next half was tougher and they lost, marking the end of the road for the Bookmarks.

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Some tears ensued, understandable after so many months of hard work and hours of tension and excitement. Within a short time though, jokes were being made, plans for laser tag and ice-cream discussed and they were back to their funny selves.

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I feel like I’ve come full circle with the bookmarks. I’ve left William Walker. Next year the three oldest girls will be off to middle school. They already have a plan for their 6th grade team, but for now, they are loping forward to reading whatever they want.

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