Thursday, May 28, 2009

spelling bee!

Go Spellers!  (Tune in tonight, 8:00 Eastern Time, ABC)  I now realize why some of these champion spellers behave oddly..... THEY ARE MIDDLE SCHOOLERS!  Yes, it only took me 6 years of teaching middle school students to make the connection :p

As I continue to watch this, I can't help point out details to support the claim above:

* Put several 13 year old in the same room, some look like "teenagers", and some clearly have not hit puberty
* Social skills are ... QUIRKY at best, WEIRD is the most neutral and common term that comes to my mind, and use your imagination for all the terrible words 13 year olds use to describe each other
* Despite the range of social skills I've seen displayed, the spellers have highly developed verbal skills. DUH, I know!  But I have to state the obvious because I teach students on the other end of the spectrum.
* When you realize the tricky developmental hurdles over which they are navigating and consider all the 13 year olds you've ever known including yourself, don't you just want to give them high 5's and wish them the very very very best?!?!?!?!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

Our Memorial Day started with cemetery visit to place freshly potted geraniums at my father-in-law's grave.  (He was a Korean War veteran.)  Then we scored prime seats to view and cheer on our local town parade.  I'm really glad we're enjoying this "small town" environment, where we greeted many friends among parade folks and spectators.  Even though I'm proud of growing up tough in NYC where I remember pushing and shoving our way through spectating crowds and trying not to be pickpocketed or abducted, I'm happy that my daughter has THIS scene to remember...  She can choose a tough city to grow and test her street smarts when she's older!

I hope you all enjoyed the holiday :)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

reading frenzy

I think I tend to start "summer reading" when summer vacation is soooo close that my mind is already there, even if my body is still working the school year.  This was the "summer reading" post I wrote May 31, 2008, in anticipation of summer vacation.  I then blogged about my Twilight reading marathon in subsequent weeks while I taught the year-end portfolio project.  But I read very little during that ACTUAL summer vacation.

So I have started "summer reading" frenzy - Percy Jackson and the Olympians series a few weeks ago, then read and wrote review for The Picnic Basket about The Baseball Card Kid (my review is in the comment section) last week, and (drumroll please) my latest obsession, Nancy Farmer's The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm.  It's awesome young adult science fiction, reading and content level probably grade 9 and above, in my opinion.  (I can see more mature 8th graders reading and enjoying it.  More on appropriateness later in this post.)  Farmer's web site has interesting autobiographical information related to the author's background and writing career.  I'm going to try to read more of her books, like The House of the Scorpion.

Literally, for 2 days, I could not stop talking about The Eye, the Ear, and the Arm to anyone who paused to listen.  Past few years, I've know about the book, but I had a hard time saying the title all in one breath and in the right order.  Apparently, when I think about something for 48 hours, I say it pretty well!  The story is set 200 years in the future, in Zimbabwe, when robots serve those who have money.  The title characters suffered mutations from plutonium waste near a nuclear facility, and they use their "special" skills to form a detective agency.  They are good-hearted and intelligent people but professional inept detectives who consistently fall steps behind 3 kidnapped children.  Farmer's focus on children (and adults) who persevere through hard times shines through the 3 children's ingenuity, resourcefulness, and devotion to each other.

My school librarian friend (also my carpool buddy - aren't I lucky?!) and I have discussed whether to include this or other Farmer titles in next year's Battle of the Books at our school (grades 6, 7 & 8).  Eye, Ear, Arm incorporates traditional Zimbabwe history and cultural (fascinating) and explores good vs. evil themes (with kidnapping, implied animal/human sacrifice, spiritual possession, etc. that may be more appropriate for more mature young adult readers).  Librarian friend and I concluded that we're not interested in including Ear in the Battle.  This book reminded me of how I gorged science fiction and fantasy novels as a teenager, some of which were probably over and above my "maturity" level (i.e. Dune series, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, Piers Anthony), haha.  (I'm a classic example of the "underground reader" as per The Book Whisper Donalyn Miller's classification.)

I might as well read as much as I can while I'm living the "summer reading" dream!  The good news is I'll never run out of material :)  I wish y'all happy reading anytime!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Bittersweet Monday - I learned the hard way today that a journal writing topic of "Mother's Day" is loaded.

Fun Monday - I received my first free "reviewer's copy" of a book The Baseball Card Kid today, thanks to terrific blog The Picnic Basket.  Just request a free reviewer's copy and then read and write a review on the blog within 2 weeks!

Also Fun Monday - I just started book 4 of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, The Battle of the Labyrinth.  Book 5 is the final one in the series and just hit the stores last week - can't wait!!!  It's super addicting...  Ok, I promise not to neglect my Picnic Basket duty as indicated above :)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mom's Day

May our best and brightest dreams for children come true!

Friday, May 1, 2009

free comic book day

Saturday, May 2, 2009 - check out the web site to find a participating store near you!  Happy reading :)