Friday, October 9, 2015

CIS Parent Book Club - Final Week

Image result for airplane

Welcome to the last week of the Out of My Mind Parent Book Club blog discussion!  Thank you so much to those who have been participating in the conversations.  This week we are finishing up the book (chapters 21-33).  As with the previous weeks, choose one, several, or all of the questions to think about and comment on, replying to others' comments as well.

Also, feel free to go back to previous blog posts and join in on the conversations!

The face-to-face Parent Book Club will be at Columbia Intermediate on Monday, October 26th at 7:00 in the cafe. Your fifth grade children are welcome to join us.  Bring your books and be ready to talk about this fabulous story!

Let the final discussions begin...

1.  Connor always makes our students laugh.  Describe Connor.  Who is your favorite of the kids in book besides Melody?  Why?

2.  Do you think Mr. Dimming redeems himself in chapter 21 when he says, "'I regret I underestimated her, and I'm glad to have her on our team'"?

3.  Melody is excited to be on the team, but she still has reservations.  What are some of the things that still separate her from the others?  

4.  In chapter 23, Paul, the stage manager, has special accommodations made for Melody.  Why was he able to set things up for her so perfectly?  Empathy is sometimes developed when we have experienced something difficult.  What are your thoughts on that?

5.  Chapter 25 stirs up a lot of indignation in students when they hear what Claire says about her relationship with Melody.  What do you think Claire's motivations are?  What do you think her background story is?

6.  Melody is concerned when the newspaper features just her in the picture.  Even though her family is proud, the other team members react just as Melody expected.  Do you think they're justified in their feelings?  Why or why not?

7.  Chapter 28 is arguably the most heartbreaking part of the book.  WHY did Sharon Draper choose this plot twist?!  Explain why you think she made this happen in the story.  How did it make you feel?

8.  Mr. Dimming tries to explain what happened in chapter 29 to Melody's mother, and then in 32, the whole team tries to make it up to her by giving her the ninth-place trophy.  As a parent, how would you have handled the situation?  Do you think the team and Mr. Dimming were justified in their actions?  Why or why not?  Describe how Melody handles it.  

9.  Chapter 30 brings another traumatic event into Melody's family's lives.  What was the accident a result of?  What scene foreshadowed this event earlier in the book?

10.  Mrs. V and Melody argue about "normal" in chapter 31.  What are your thoughts on "normal"?

11.  Have you ever felt like Melody when she says, "It's like somebody gave me a puzzle, but I don't have the box with the picture on it.  So I don't know what the final thing is supposed to look like.  I'm not even sure if I have all the pieces"?  Explain.

12.  Do you think Rose changed throughout the story?  Explain.

13.  Students aren't always happy about how the book concludes.  Things are not exactly "tied up in a neat bow".  What are your thoughts on the way the book ends?

14.  Any final thoughts on Out of My Mind?  Your impressions of the novel as a whole?  We read this book as part of a Diversity/Empathy unit in 5th grade.  How do think it represents those theme topics?

15.  Please include any feedback on the blog portion of our Parent Book Club.

Thanks again for participating in the blog portion of our 1st ever CIS Parent Book Club!  We look forward to seeing you on October 26th if you are able to attend!

Friday, October 2, 2015


Image result for aquarium

Welcome back for the second week of the blogging portion of our CIS Parent Book Club!  We loved following the discussion last week and look forward to more good conversation this week.  The students are hanging on to every word of what is happening in Out of My Mind and are anxious to find out what happens with Melody and the Whiz Kids quiz team.  Again, we encourage you to find time to bring these topics up with your children.  Just make sure you don't give away any spoilers if their classes are behind you in the reading!  Like last week, choose one, a few, or all of the questions to address in the comment section.  Let's begin!


1.  In chapter 11, Melody starts inclusion classes.  We are also introduced to H-5's fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Shannon, the music teacher, Mrs. Lovelace, and to Molly and Claire, a couple of "mean girls".  How is Mrs. Shannon different from some of the teachers Melody and her H-5 classmates had in earlier grades?  What are your feelings about Molly and Claire?  How does Mrs. Lovelace respond to some of the bullying that is going on?  How is Melody responding to inclusion?  

2.   Melody is assigned a new aide, Catherine, in chapter 12.  Describe Catherine.  What are the positives and negatives of having Catherine by her side?  We also meet Miss Gordon and Mr. Dimming.  How does Melody feel about the two of them?

3.  Chapter 13 is an important chapter.  Melody desires a true friend in her life.   How do you define a true friend?  How important are friendships in our lives?  Is Rose going to be a true friend?  

4.  Rose shows off a new laptop in chapter 14.  What does Rose's laptop inspire in Melody?

5.  Melody is thrilled with her new Medi-Talker.  What must have it been like for her to be able to communicate more using this new device?  Melody's dad videotapes her, and she's thrilled.   Why do you think she's happy about him recording her "first words"?  What would it have been like for Melody's parents when they heard her say, "I love you"?

6.  In chapter 16, Claire is amazed that Melody "had thoughts in her head".  Do we discount certain people as having less of a voice?  What are the consequences of not valuing everyone's voice?

7.  What do we find out about Mr. Dimming in chapter 17?

8.  Melody wants Mrs. V to feel sorry for her in chapter 18.  It would have been easy for Mrs. V to respond by sympathizing with Melody, but Mrs. V responds in a different way.   What are your thoughts about her response?  Is she too harsh on Melody?  When is "tough love" appropriate?

9.  The conversation at the bottom of page 170 between Mrs. V and Melody's mom reveals a lot about each of their attitudes toward Melody.   Discuss what you think of their exchange.  Sharon Draper ends many chapters in a bittersweet way.  Just when something good happens to Melody, there is something sad that happens or that creeps into her mind.  Why do you think Sharon Draper chooses to write the story in this way?

10.  What are your hopes for Melody and the Whiz Kids quiz team?

Start the conversation!  Be sure to reply to others' comments, also, to keep the discussions going.  If there is something you wanted to discuss, but it wasn't in the questions, feel free to bring it up!  We're looking forward to reading your thoughts...

Friday, September 25, 2015

CIS Parent Book Club - Week One

     Welcome to the first CIS Parent Book Club over Sharon Draper's Out of My Mind!  We're excited you're here to talk about this fantastic book and to read along with your fifth grader.  This is the first part of the club.  Each week we will post the chapters we'll be reading and discussing along with discussion questions on this blog.  We'd love to hear your thoughts below in the comments. Commenting and replying to others' comments is a great way to keep the discussion going. You may choose to comment on one or all of the questions. If you'd like to comment on something in the reading that isn't part of the questions, feel free to bring up the topic. Comments will be moderated, so if they don't show up right away, do not be concerned.  We will culminate the club on Monday, October 26th at CIS.  More details to follow about that. For now, let's get started!


1.  In chapter one, Melody describes her love of words.  The power of language is strong.  Describe how you feel about words and language.  What role has reading, writing, storytelling, conversation, etc. played in your life?  What would it be like if verbal language was taken away from you?

2.  We've been talking about point of view and perspective in fifth grade.  Why is the choice of narrator so important in Sharon Draper's book?  Why do you think we decided to start fifth grade with this common text?

3.  Melody loves music, especially country.  Music has been called a universal language.  How has music impacted you and your family?

4.  Melody expresses frustration at not being able to communicate.  The story she tells about how her mother misunderstood her "temper tantrum" in the toy section at the store is heartbreaking.  What is it like to be misunderstood?  How is it frustrating when your intentions are misinterpreted?

5.  Compare and contrast how Melody's mom and dad interact with her.  With whom do you identify most and why?  What would it be like to be Melody's parent?

6.  In chapter 6, we learn about one of Melody's doctors in a flashback.  Our students get infuriated with Dr. Hugely and cheer when Melody's mom stands up to him.  How does that scene change the trajectory of the plot?

7.  In chapter five, Melody describes her years at Spaulding Street Elementary School.  She describes each of her classmates.  What do her descriptions of them tell us about Melody?  She also describes her early teachers.  What are their attitudes toward children with special needs?  

8. Then there's Mrs. V!  We've been talking about characterization with our fifth graders.  How did Sharon Draper develop Mrs. V's character?  What traits does she have and how does she influence Melody?

9.  What is the difference between empathy and sympathy?  What characters in Melody's life show her sympathy and what characters show her empathy? 

10.  Chapter 8 gives us a perfect opportunity to talk about symbolism and metaphor with our fifth graders.  How does the goldfish leaping out of the bowl represent Melody?  Does it apply to any situations in your life?  Was there a time when you needed to leave your comfort zone and "leap" into the unknown in order to reach a goal or pursue a dream?

11.  Our fifth graders love Butterscotch.  What makes Butterscotch so important to Melody?  If your family has a pet, describe what he/she means to you all.

12.  What would YOU ask for from the Great Oz?  Why?

13.  In chapter 9, Melody overhears her mother blaming herself for Melody's condition.  Parents feel so much responsibility for their children!  Describe what being a parent means to you.

14.  How does a new child change Melody's family's dynamics?   Describe Penny's impact on each family member.

15.  More about Melody's relationship with her parents is revealed in chapter 10.  What new things do we learn?

     Thank you for joining us this week.  We'd love for you to choose some of these questions to discuss not only here, but with your children - maybe around the dinner table, to and from sports activities, or anytime you get a chance to talk books!

     Remember to choose a "Comment as..." option.  If you have a Google or WordPress account, you can choose that, and it will automatically identify you.  You can also choose Name/URL and just put your name in the Name section, leaving the URL blank.  We'd love to know who you are if you are contributing to discussions!

     Now....let the discussions begin!