Tuesday, January 15, 2013

British Literature Tour

     Coming this summer - it's going to be all about British Literature coming to life!  I am so looking forward to blogging next summer about the study abroad course I'm taking in the late spring/early summer. My children's lit instructor has opened her overseas British Children's Lit course and we will be heading for Paris. As a bonus - an art expert will be coming along to help us appreciate what we'll be seeing in the Louvre.
     So far I have a list of about twenty stops we will be making: C.S. Lewis's house, Beatrix Potter's farm, Oxford (Harry Potter), Stonehenge, the Louvre - even the Crown Jewels. I just have to get through the my Spring 2013 semester and we will be on our way. So if you'll hang in there with me while I study in all things "teacher-ly"  and blog in between writing papers and cramming for tests, we are going to have a great 2013 summer on Reading, Writing, Raisin' Boys.

Thursday, January 10, 2013
You are in for a treat today!  Author Susan Kaye Quinn has given me the honor of sharing ..........

The Live-Action Mindjack Book Trailer Reveal
(from the bestselling Mindjack series by Susan Kaye Quinn)

With the help of over 20 cast and crew members, award-winning director Beth Spitalny has brought the concept of the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy to life on the screen.

When everyone reads minds,
a secret is a dangerous thing to keep.
Please share!

It's no secret that I love Open Minds
To celebrate the release of the trailer, Susan is putting Open Minds and the Mindjack Trilogy on sale
$2.99 now $0.99
for one week only

$9.99 now $7.99
for one week only
That's Open Minds, Closed Hearts AND Free Souls - three amazing reads for the price of a half-caff/decaff with a shot of espresso!

Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling Mindjack Series, which includes three novels, three novellas, and a trailer. She's currently writing a steampunk fantasy romance, just for kicks. When that's out of her system, she has ambitious plans to embark on a series about the Singularity (the time when computers become more intelligent than humans) that should appeal to fans of the Mindjack novels. Or possibly play on Facebook all day. Could go either way.

Can't get enough of the characters? Susan has lots of Mindjack extras on her author website.
For the making-of the trailer, see the Mindjack Trilogy website
To read my rockin' review of Open Minds, click here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

More Techy-Stuff

I have one more thing I learned from Mrs. Fleming at the Montana Teachers' Conference - 

Augmented Reality - ooooooo makes me think of Total Recall! 

No really, like the Morris Lessmore book app I posted on, you can mix what you are seeing with digital enhancement. Why? Why not?!

If you are fortunate enough to have a $20 bill, you can download Aurasma for free to your Smartphone or iPad and use it to scan in the image on the back of the bill and watch it come to life!  You have got to see this technology.

 Someday, you'll be at a national monument and see the 
and wonder what it's all about. You'll be thinking, okay - I see a statue of a guy but don't want anyone around me to know that I don't know my history. Hmmm, what if I grab the free Aurasma app and scan in this A real quick while everyone is taking pictures and maybe it will tell me. It will not only tell you - it will make it happen in 3-d and everyone around you will be begging for a turn with your phone. Apparently you can even be the one to create one - wouldn't THAT be fun?!

Thanks Mrs. Fleming
Monday, January 7, 2013

Mom Monday - the emergence of a literary expert

     Last November, I blogged about spending the day at the Children's Festival of the Book in Bozeman. My 10 year old Wyatt's favorite writer was Jeanne DuPrau - especially since she signed his books. Even though he was laying on the floor when she was giving her presentation about how City of Ember came to be, I knew he was taking it all in.

sample Paper Bag Report
     Fast forward six weeks and he's about to turn in his quarterly project in language - the "Paper Bag Book Report". For 4th graders it helps if they break a book report down into section cards and tape it to something that they can decorate. The fun part is filling with things that relate to the character. Sometimes it's a box or a coffee can that becomes Tony Hawk (his project from 3rd grade).  Over the Christmas break he agonized over building his paragraphs - even asking for a thesaurus to find the right words. So exciting and excruciating it was watching this young writer at work!

     When he finished he was on top of the world. We took a minute to talk over the steps he took in making it and when we looked at the big picture, this is what HE ended up accomplishing (not me, he was in charge of this whole endeavor):

  • met the author and got signed books
  • listened to the author present on how the book came about
  • read the whole book (which is a selection more than double the AR reading level for 4th grade)
  • read the graphic novel
  • watched the movie (he had seen it when he was 7 so it was a faint memory)
  • compared the three and found the differences
He has become an EXPERT on City of Ember and I am SO proud of him!  
What other ways can you help kids make that connection?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Techy Stuff

Takes you to my blog
     Here's a fun techy-thing I learned at the Montana Teacher's Conference from Mrs. Fleming from Billings Public Schools: 

Making QR codes. 

     What's a QR Code? It's those square dot-boxes we are seeing on packaging. What do they do? If you have a Smartphone, you can load an app that is a Scan reader and instead of typing long web addresses like mine, you can just scan it in and BOOM! You are on the page. Kids are so fast at picking this up, teachers use it to get their attention during lessons. I used it to make a "techy" birthday card for my husband. I had him scan in one and it played a funny birthday song from Hoops and Yoyo, another took him to a page I made that looked like a birthday card (you have to make a page in a "public" folder for this one).  Mrs. Fleming had a great idea to  print these out and hang them around the school for a fun scavenger hunt. 

To make your own - You can go onto , copy a web-page address and paste it into the box that starts with http:// and click download QR code. It will go into your downloads folder on your computer or iPad and then you can print it out. To read it, I use the ATT Code Scanner for my phone, but here's one for anything starting with an "i" . (iPad/iPhone). You can even scan the QR code that's on this screen!

What other ways can you think of using these?  Contests at work? Sharing Skype addresses? 


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Making the case for graphic novels

     You either love them, hate them, or love to hate them. So many people just assume reading a graphic novel is like reading the comics. BUT, could there be more to it?  

     My young adult lit class started off with a doozey - Zahra's Paradise  by Amir and Khalil

     Like most people I started off thinking - oh, quick read - likely little real content and probably just a cultural interest book. Then a few chapters in I was mortified!  Foul language, disgusting pictures, immoral situations - how could this be in a young adult class?

     Since it was going to be for our first class discussion, I hung in there and finished it, but by the time I was done - it had won me over. I see a huge shift in graphic novels - they are more like art.

     How many people try to impress you by interpreting art? How it gives you a feeling about something - that's what I saw in Zahra's Paradise. You could feel the character's fear through what you hope are over-exaggerated drawings, but then you have to process that the torture that Iranian's went through for challenging their government was real. Also it was easy to see the characters as representations of Iran and their government- like impressionist art.

(Still, I would not recommend this book to any young people unless I was certain they were emotionally mature and would have to be sure their parents were okay with it.)

     I also bought Outlander- The Exile  graphic novel version. When I first heard it was going to be a graphic novel I was horrified. Then I found one in a bargain bin and have to admit, it was fun to read, but to my disappointment, still had the characters drawn like barbie on steroids.As an Outlander fan, it lost so much of its character depth, it really is more just for a change.

       Our class wrapped up with another graphic novel with a much lighter tone Middle School - The Worst Years of my Life by James Patterson. This might make you think Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but it's a got a plot and deeper topic. It was fun to read, but you still got a better feeling for how a middle school-er sees his world - especially the dragon-lady detention teacher.

Anyone else recently converted to graphic novels?  Any recommendations? Love them? Hate them?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Anyone read Chinese or Arabic?

We found this at work in a box of cloth wine bags. The box says "Made in China", but by the curves of some of these symbols I keep thinking this is Arabic. The double underline makes me think it was important. Does anyone know what it says?

How about....

Save me, I want to go back to my homeland in Saudi - I can't understand these people and it's been 14 months!


The mother ship will be landing at 14-hundred.