Monday, February 7, 2011


By Rob Buyea
Publisher: Delacorte Press
ISBN: 978-0-385-73882-8

FROM THE FLAP: It’s the start of fifth grade for seven kids at Snow Hill School. There’s Jessica, the new girl, smart, perceptive, who’s having a hard time trying to fit in; Alexia, a bully, your friend one second, your enemy the next; Peter, class prankster and troublemaker; Luke, the brain; Danielle, who never stands up for herself; shy Anna, whose home situation makes her an outcast; and Jeffrey, who hates school.

Only Mr. Terupt, their new and energetic teacher, seems to know how to deal with them all. He makes the classroom a fun place, even if he doesn’t let them get away with much… until the snowy winter day when an accident changes everything—and everyone.

Rob Buyea’s engaging first novel features seven narrators, each with a unique story, and each with a different perspective on what makes their teacher special.

KATE’S TAKE: This book is a must read because it’s heartbreaking, heartwarming, and inspirational in every way.

Mr. Terupt’s students read The Summer of the Swans, by Betsy Byars, and then they regularly visit their school’s collaborative classroom in small groups. This is a great way to develop community, enhance self-esteem, increase communication, and eradicate stereotypes.

DOLLAR WORDS Logical/Mathematical and Verbal/Linguistic
Mr. Terupt assigns each letter a value, and challenges his students to make as many dollar words as possible. Here’s a sheet you can copy and paste, to have a ready-made activity for your class:

Name: ________________________________ Date: ___________
Each letter of the alphabet is worth a certain amount of cents. A is worth one cent, B is worth 2 cents, C is worth three cents and so on. First, fill in the value of each letter. Then, create as many dollar words as you can. Who will be the first person to find a dollar word? Who will create the most dollar words? All words need to be spelled correctly and be school appropriate.
A=1 B=2 C=3 D=__ E=__ F=__ G=__ H=__ I=__ J=__ K=__ L=__ M=__
N=__ O=__ P=__ Q=__ R=__ S=__ T=__ U=__ V=__ W=__ X=__ Y=__ Z=__
This activity comes from Rob Buyea’s novel, Because of Mr. Terupt.

PLANT POWER Naturalist
Mr. Terupt’s students learn about phototropism, the direction of plant growth is determined by light source, geotropism, roots grow downward and plants grow upward even if a plant is turned sideways or upside down, and then concocted their own mixtures to see which ones would make their plants grow best. Pair up your kids in partners, and make sure you have a class control plant, one that gets to sit on the windowsill, right side up, and receives water every day. Each pair can plant a seed. Then, to study phototropism, put the plant in a box and punch a hole in the box. How does the plant grow? For geotropism, have students place their plants on their sides and watch what happens. As for students creating their own concoctions, ask them to bring in a list of ingredients they plan to use, a few days ahead of time. That way you won’t end up with a visit from the fire department. Poor Mr. Terupt!

SHAPE POEMS Visual/Spatial and Verbal/Linguistic
Because of Mr. Terupt celebrates each child’s individuality, and so does this activity. Have students sketch a full-body, self-portrait of themselves, on an 8x11 sheet of white paper. Next, ask each student to brainstorm twenty descriptive words that describe themselves and write them around their silhouette. After you’ve checked the spelling in pencil, have them trace their work with a Sharpie.

WORRY DOLLS Visual/Spatial
Some of the students make worry dolls in Mr. Buyea’s book, and your students can too, with these easy directions:

-Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
-Rules by Cynthia Lord
-The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
-The Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars
-Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

1 comment:

  1. I know a lot of teachers have liked this, but I can't get my students to read it. Maybe when winter comes!