Fish in a Tree: Chapters 1-12

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Prof. Amy Lupin
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Fish in a Tree: Chapters 1-12

Post by Prof. Amy Lupin » Thu Feb 01, 2018 5:17 am

In this thread we'll be discussing chapters 1 through 12 of Fish in a Tree.

We'll be including a short prompt in every post to get you thinking but you are more than welcome to ignore or adapt them. We'd love to hear absolutely anything that occurs to you while reading (however small) just so long as it's HOL-appropriate.

To begin with, what do you think of Ally so far? What are some of her strengths?

Please remember to include spoiler tags when discussing specifics.
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"I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do."
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Prof. Tarma Amelia Black
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Re: Fish in a Tree: Chapters 1-12

Post by Prof. Tarma Amelia Black » Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:53 pm

This book starts out very different for me. First off, the chapters have titles, which many books do, but the titles are written in a sort of plain font but they have different textures to their lettering. (Attempted to show the 'difference' using the font play available here and made larger so folks can more easily see it.)

The story starts. We meet a person who is being asked to do something in a class situation, and she attempts to evade an issue by making smart remarks.I'm really unimpressed by Mrs. Hall and Mrs. Silver who are allegedly people in charge and who look at the surface behaviors and don't even try to look at what the real issue is. They also allow a class bully, Shay, who continually shows herself to be a bully all the time, to get away with making mean, sarcastic, judgmental and toxic remarks.

We meet a person, Keisha, who befriends Ally. Later on, we meet Ally's mom, who loves her but hasn't got a clue. Later on, another person adds himself to the little group of 'outcasts' - Albert. Everyone of this little group has their own difficulties and somehow that ties them together. Gradually all the persons who will star in the rest of the book get on board -- and we meet Mr. Daniels. Mr. Daniels has a clue ... and acts upon it. Thing is, will Ally act upon it with him?


I started reading this book because, hey, it's our monthly book discussion book. Enticed into being curious because of the different kind of font for the chapter titles, somehow I'm immersed in the story before I know it. These chapters whizzed by. It's a good thing, though, that Mr. Daniels showed up. The constant appearance of puzzles and problems was wearing. The cluelessness of people who supposedly are in charge and who allow all kinds of toxic behaviors on the part of the those who are 'favored' people at the school was getting very old.
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Kendra Givens
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Re: Fish in a Tree: Chapters 1-12

Post by Kendra Givens » Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:55 am

Okay, so first I have to say...as an educator, I am in love with this book.

As I think about Ally, she reminds me of one of my students. She seems to have a bad attitude and doesn't open up to many people, but that's likely due to the fact that she doesn't feel that anyone will understand or appreciate what life is like for her with a disability.The I took a picture of in this section was where she says"I wonder what it would be like to be able to relax at school and not have to worry every second of every minute." This reminds me of my Carlos, who was not formally identified as having a learning disability until last year, when he was supposed to be a junior but only had freshman credits. I saw the frustration in him and people were angry with him for his constant attitude and ditching school, but when he was evaluated it was determined that he needed to be in the smallest classes we offer for intensive support. He had gone literally his ENTIRE education with no one realizing he was significantly behind his peers and needed support. He never said that for himself because 1. he didn't know how and 2. he probably didn't think anyone would understand him without judging him.

As far as Ally's strengths, I do think she seems motivated given the right supports. She aims to please and is crushed when she realizes the error she made with the card, and she's willing to work with the substitute teacher who notices her, asks her about her work and her life, and seems to genuinely care about her. She takes out the coin and talks about it when he notices her hand in her pocket, and she explains a little bit about her drawing when he asks her what it's about. She does that because she feels like he acknowledges her as a human being My Carlos still struggles in school, but comes to me most mornings or at lunch to tell me that he made it to school, looking for my "good job" recognition of his effort. He's going to be 18 in April and still has freshman credits, but his checking in with me and his growing ability to advocate for himself gives me hope that he'll push through and make it through. I can't even begin to imagine what it felt like for him to go 12 years in education struggling and having no one recognize your need for help.
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Prof. Scarlet Leslie-Lewis
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Re: Fish in a Tree: Chapters 1-12

Post by Prof. Scarlet Leslie-Lewis » Wed Feb 14, 2018 4:28 pm

Ally is very sweet and genuine, but misunderstood by her current teacher, Mrs. Hall. Being forced to write makes Ally act out and sent to the principal. She thinks all the other students view her as a dummy or a freak. At this point, no one knows the real issue with Ally. She herself doesn’t really know, except that she has a lot of difficulty with reading and writing.

Ally does have strengths. She is a talented artist. She also comes from a loving family and has a close relationship with her older brother Travis. I love the idea of silver dollar or wooden nickel days, passed on by their grandfather.

Mr. Daniels comes to fill in for Mrs. Hall while she is out on maternity leave. He reminds me of my high school art teacher. He had a booming laugh and was a little goofy. But he made class fun, just like Mr. Daniels. It was a little sad to see the new mnemonic that is now used to teach the order of the planets: “My very excellent mother just served us nachos.” Poor Pluto.
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Katelin Ross
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Re: Fish in a Tree: Chapters 1-12

Post by Katelin Ross » Sun Feb 18, 2018 12:47 am

When I first began this story, Ally reminded me of several of the students I work with on a daily basis. Ally puts me into the mind of them. How hard it must be for them to fit into a classroom where they don't fit into the "norm."

I can't help to think that if we all stopped to think about our students actions, and why they behave the way they do, we would all be the Mr. Daniel's.
He knows that there is a way to get to Ally in a way that no other teacher has been able to do in the past.


Where Ally struggles with reading, her strengths are in math computation and art. She is a numbers person. I can see her growing up to be an artist for books!

I just started reading this book today, and I can't wait to see how all of the characters develop throughout the book!
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