SUNY Geneseo’s Fish In A Tree Activity

This is an activity that the SUNY Geneseo teacher candidates created for chapters 38-40 of Fish In A Tree. This activity would be appropriate for upper elementary students. The activity entails creating a campaign slogan, speech, or poster.

SUNY Geneseo Activity – Fish in a Tree

Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 8.07.15 pm

SUNY Geneseo’s Billy Miller Activity

This is an activity that SUNY Geneseo student candidates created for students working on the book The Year of Billy Miller. This activity would be appropriate for grades 2 and up, and focuses on making text-to-self connections, as well as exploring poetry.

SUNY Geneseo activity – Billy Miller


Fish in a Tree, the Chapter!

If the author chose the name of this chapter (29) to be the title of the book, it had to be an important chapter! We were alert for Reading Signposts from the start!  Here are some that we spotted:

  • Again and Again: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Ally running out of rooms
  • Memory Moment: remembers swinging with grandpa
  • Tough Questions “Why can’t I read?”
  • Kiesha’s Words of the Wiser: “Hunched over and silent is no way to meet the world.”
  • Albert Einstein’s Words of the Wiser:  “Everyone is smart in different ways.  But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life thinking that it’s stupid.”

Character Hot Seat gave us a chance to ask these characters the hard questions we have been wondering about.  After making a Character Wheel, texting in character for a couple of weeks, and much discussion as we read, we were ready to become Ally or Shay or Albert…or a Halloween character, perhaps!

Character Hot Seat!
Character Hot Seat!
Questions for the Characters


“Texting” in Character!

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 2.28.01 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 2.19.00 PMScreen Shot 2015-10-22 at 2.27.42 PM

This week, we paired up with some students in New York to “text” back and forth in the role of some of the characters. We had a Mystery Skype with them earlier.  Now our students are matched up with assigned characters, in groups of three.  Each one has to imagine actually being the character and “texting” (on a Padlet) about what is going on in the story.  We plan to continue this throughout the rest of the book.

GRA First Week!

So many choices, so much excitement!  Galloway 5th graders loved making such a strong connection with the author through her videos as she read and answered questions. The book is already touching hearts as Ally’s story becomes more and more real to us.  We were able to begin several connections with other classes around the world, through Edmodo, Edublog, and Skype. The Mystery Skypes were a great team-building kick-off!

Two Weeks In!

IMG_1933 IMG_2385


After last week’s Mystery Skypes, we began exploring what other classes were doing on Edmodo and Edublog.  We also sketch and take notes as Mrs. Hunter reads.  One morning, students decorated wooden nickels during the story!  We are having great discussions about the characters in this story. Thinking about Dyslexia has created some interesting new understandings, too.


Poem by Colin M.

IMG_7230Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 8.43.43 AM




Fish in a Tree: Learning about Dyslexia

Mrs. Heffler’s 6th grade LA class have started to learn about dyslexia:

We read this article ‘Understanding Dyslexia‘  from Kids Health and were surprised about the facts and misconceptions about dyslexia. Dyslexia has nothing to do with being smart! There are so many brilliant and creative famous people (like Ally) that are plagued by dyslexia.


We also watched a Ted Talks video to gain more knowledge.


Then we reflected on how it difficult it would be to read (the yellow picture) for someone with dyslexia.



Activity: Based on the article “Understanding Dyslexia” as well as the video and picture above, do you think that dyslexia is misunderstood? Use evidence to support your response.

Let’s include our voices this week in our responses. You can use one of the following apps or introduce the participants to one of your favourites.

Suggested apps:  Write About This, Explain Everything,


Mrs. Wendy Heffler

6th Grade Language Arts
Demarest Middle School

Phillip Brooks’ Inspired Learners


Hello from California!

Hello! We are the Phillips Brooks School. We have six classrooms participating in the Global Read Aloud. The 4th and 5th graders will be reading Fish in a Tree, and the 3rd graders will be reading The Year of Billy Miller. We are so excited be a part of the Global Read Aloud. Phillips Brooks is located in Northern California, not far from beautiful sunny beaches and mesmerizing snowy mountains. Here are the top five things we love about our school.

1. The kind students and faculty

2. The technology we get to use

3. Fun specialist classes we have like music and art.

4. After- school activities such as cooking, art, and chess.

5. Our core values – kindness, community, love of learning, and courage.

Written by Emma and Rhea

DND 2nd Graders

We are excited to be reading The Year of Billy Miller for the 2015 Global Read Aloud.  We are the DND 2nd Graders and are part of K-1-2 multi-age classroom. The K-1 members of our classroom will be participating in the Amy Krouse Rosenthal Global Read Aloud Author Study.

Billy Miller

Our school is located in Oak Park, IL, which borders the western edge of Chicago. Illinois is situated on Lake Michigan, one of the five Great Lakes.  Approximately 430 students attend Whittier, which is a K-5 building, and our classroom has 20 students. We have art, gym, music, library and Spanish in addition to our core subjects of reading, writing, math, science, and social studies.

US Map OP Map


Our town has visitors from around the world because a famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, lived and worked here.  Ernest Hemingway was also born here.  Students enjoy our beautiful parks, fun extracurricular activities that include ice skating, playing sports such as soccer or t-ball, break dancing, ballet, hip-hop, and swimming.  We also enjoy the proximity to Chicago and can take a Metra train or elevated  “El” ride into Chicago to enjoy the Lake Michigan beaches and many museums.