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Thinking back, Paula remembers just how shy and insecure she was, even before kindergarten. Mom and Dad were always hovering over her to protect her, it seemed, so she really had no idea how to make friends or face new challenges. Kindergarten was a little scary and it didn’t seem to get much better in first grade either. Second and third grades brought out their own challenges, but Paula also remembered that was when she began learning about making friends. As she writes her autobiography for Ms. Rudnick, Paula begins to realize just how far she’s come.

This first book in the What Makes Me… series is all about Paula, a shy and insecure elementary school student who describes how she had to learn what friendship is and how to “come out of her shell” and take chances in order to make friends. Paula blames her parents for being overprotective when she was little and how they prevented her from trying new things and making friends. Paula’s classmates include the really popular kids with lots of friends, other kids who appear to be shy and insecure like her, and a few others who liked to tease or even cause trouble in class. Her teachers in those earlier grades are each different in their own way and are part of Paula’s journey. The turning point for Paula is when she begins to realize what friendship is and how to take the next steps towards making friends and fitting in.


Rory has been in trouble as far back as he can remember. His Mom said it started in pre-school when he was asked to leave one school and it continued throughout first grade, second grade, and third grade. Now, as a fourth grader, the kids in his class still wait for him to do something so the teacher can get mad and send him to the principal. Rory just has to figure out a way to get rid of his long standing reputation as the class troublemaker.

In this second book in the What Makes Me… series, Rory is that kid that most of us knew either when we went to school or is in the same class as one of our own kids. Most of us can even see a little bit of Rory in ourselves. Now, though, it’s up to Rory and some very caring adults to get rid of the reputation that has followed him since pre-school. The question is, can Rory do it?


Keisha truly believes that she is the best at everything, whether it’s gymnastics, ballet, soccer, reading, or just about anything! All of the other kids must see her talent also because they listen to her when she tells them what to do or where to go. Why, even the teachers know how smart and talented she is and love having her and her friends share their abilities with the rest of the students!

It takes a heart to heart talk with Mom for Keisha to realize that just maybe she isn’t as popular as she thinks she is. Maybe other kids aren’t in awe of her. Maybe they don’t even want to be her friend. It takes that talk with Mom, seeing what Dad is doing with her little brother, and an injury for Keisha to realize that the world doesn’t really revolve around her. The question is, what happens now?


Aaron just can’t seem to win! On one hand his Grandparents think he’s a perfect kid who behaves like an angel and gets excellent grades. On the other hand, Drew and Zack, his twin brothers, think he’s a goody two shoes because of those same things. All they ever hear from their Grandparents is “Aaron did this” and “Aaron did that”! “Why can’t you be more like Aaron?”


Even in school Aaron feels caught in the middle. He’s a really smart kid- a good reader, good at math, good at- well everything! The only problem is that he doesn’t know if he wants everyone else to know just how smart he is, so he doesn’t usually raise his hand to answer questions even when he knows the answer. Not only that, but to get his brothers to leave him alone, he makes up nicknames for kids in order to tease them and tells Zack and Drew about it. He even tries to get in trouble with his teachers on purpose!




The Real Classroom is about real teaching in a real classroom in a real school. This isn’t a book filled with educational theory or research. Instead, Jim Sack shares stories and lessons from a long career in teaching so the reader will have a much better understanding of what school is really like.


The Real Classroom is for teachers, those considering a career in education, adults with school-age children, and veteran and retired teachers who will relate to these stories. It’s practical and realistic, with true stories and lessons learned from a career classroom teacher and will serve as a guide for teachers as they navigate through the school year from the first day setting up their classroom until the last day when they’ve packed everything up, along with what should be done over the summer.


The Real Classroom will also help you to decide if teaching is the right choice for you and, if so, what kind of teacher you want to be. It includes stories from the author, but also from other teachers, parents, school personnel, and students, as well as including quotes from students that are funny, perceptive, and informative- with a few “pet peeves” thrown in!

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