Archive for September, 2009

Scene It? Twilight

September 24th, 2009

You know how there’s a game called Scene It? where you watch clips from movies/TV shows and answer questions?

They now have one for the Twilight series. It will be in board game form as well as on the Wii.

Combine that with the Edward Cullen Barbie doll and the Twilight SAT/GED/ACT study guide into one mega piece of merchandise called Twilight: I Like to Make Money.

It should be understood that I would buy a Haymitch Abernathy action figure (complete with bouncing axe), but I will rent the Daniel X video game.


September 22nd, 2009

One of the key people who modeled to me how to be a librarian, Ms. Karlene Edwards, is being recognized as the Follett Librarian of the Year. Woo and hoo!

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

September 21st, 2009

I started this book at the end of the previous school year and continued into the summer, but I had to stop for a while. The book was stressing me out.

Life As We Knew It involves the moon getting hit by an asteroid. At first everyone goes out to celebrate the event but then people start to realize that life is going to change.

The moon gets knocked out of its current orbit. It’s still going around the Earth but is now a little closer. That shift in gravity affects the weather, tides, and even volcanoes. The first part of the book has the feel of a disaster movie.

The second half, though, surprised me. Shops start shutting down, food starts running out, and protagonist Miranda must work hard at collecting enough supplies to last an indefinite winter.

It shares some similarities to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House books, gathering firewood and tending to the stove, all apart from the rest of the world.

During the scenes where characters are limited to one small section of the house, the story resembles the Diary of Anne Frank. Sickness, starvation, and an insane frustration with others threatens Miranda’s family at each turn.

It’s a good story that stands on its own, but it especially works as a bridge to other novels for the Language Arts/English classroom.

Scott Westerfeld at Changing Hands

September 18th, 2009

On October 14, Scott Westerfeld will be at Changing Hands at 7pm.

I know I’m excited for the release of Leviathan on October 6. He has a way for naming things – I’ve been saying “clanker” ever since I saw the trailer.

Science Limericks

September 10th, 2009

To set up your hypothesis
Make an informative guess
For what you will try
To be like Bill Nye
And live a life of success.

Limericks have a specific structure for rhyme scheme and rhythm.

The rhyme scheme is
A – hypothesis
A – guess
B – try
B – Nye
A – success

So in the sample above, notice that hypothesis and guess rhyme, try and Nye rhyme, and then I bring the rhyme back to success, rhyming with hypothesis and guess. Limericks need to stick to the AABBA rhyme scheme to be a traditional limerick.

For the rhythm part, to keep it simple let’s just say that lines 1,2, and 5 are the longer rhythms and 3 and 4 are the quicker rhythms.

Tradition has it that limericks started out in Limerick, Ireland (sounds believable enough) and that the poems have their roots in a certain type of song.

Here’s a brain-teaser limerick from Kay DeVicci and

The sum of 3 numbers is 4;
The product is (-2) more;
The sum of their squares,
If anyone cares,
Is just 14 less than a score.

Philosophy of Revolution

September 10th, 2009

For 8th grade Social Studies

What are some of the thoughts that influenced the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the American Revolution?

Here are some sites that provide a great jumping off point:

First, you might check out AP Study Notes for an overview of the philosophies. (not an official government site, though) gives an overview, as well.

Here are some documents:
The Magna Carta
The Mayflower Compact
The Articles of Confederation
The English Bill of Rights

You can also look at this site for some specifics about how the Enlightenment helped shape some of the thoughts.

Once you know who you are looking for, you can check out sites like for more information about the specific philosopher. infoplease also has some great biographies, collected from different encyclopedias.

The National Archives has a history of the U.S. Constitution and a section for questions and answers about the document.

Switch Zoo

September 8th, 2009

Have you seen Switch Zoo? It’s a great place for a quick writing assignment. Think about focusing on Ideas and Content from the Six Traits. You can have the students create encyclopedia entries for their created animals. It would also be a useful prompt for a diamonte poem, with one creature being the top of the poem and the other creature being the bottom.

The site has some fun games to teach science, as well. I can see students having to provide a rationale for why their animal would reside in a specific biome.

And who doesn’t like learning how to make balloon animals?

Ghost in the Machine by Patrick Carman

September 3rd, 2009

I must be honest and admit that I am a huge fan of Skeleton Creek and, as such, have high expectations for the sequel.

To talk about the sequel, though, I’m going to need to talk about some details from Skeleton Creek. To avoid ruining the surprises, I’m going to place a giant picture of a crow here to warn you of spoilers.

Spoiler Alert!
I see Ghost in the Machine by Patrick Carman as an alternate ending to the first book.

Carman gained a huge amount of respect from me by how he left Ryan and Sarah in the dredge in the first book. To think that they would be trapped there forever left me in the same level of awe as when Anthony Horowitz shot Alex Rider at the end of Scorpia (and we knew that he was moving on to the Raven’s Gate series, so we thought that was the end of Alex…Ark Angel and Snakehead took some effort to exceed that feeling of “wow”).
Update: I just talked with a teacher at lunch. She laughed with excitement to hear that Ryan and Sarah had made it. I guess I have too much English teacher running through my blood; I enjoy it when characters die.

Frankly, I was disappointed to see Ryan’s name on the journal.

But then I realized that there were so many questions left unanswered: who’s left of the Crossbones, what’s up with the alchemy, and will Ryan and Sarah ever hook up?

It was in the quest to find those answers that I really enjoyed Ghost in the Machine. This book takes on more of a murder mystery/conspiracy theory style to it.

There are still the suspenseful videos. In fact, I don’t think I learned from my experience of sitting alone in the dark with my MacBook watching the videos for the first book. One in particular, where a character is breaking into someone’s house in the middle of the night, has the whole Rear Window/Disturbia “No! Get out of the house!” vibe to it.

What makes the experience work is that Patrick Carman is a talented screenwriter on top of novel author. His choice of director doesn’t hurt, either.

One part that I liked is a scene where they parody the creepy videos (and an Internet trend) to release some stress during the investigation. Even though I saw the joke coming, it still made me crack up.

It’s a great book that students will enjoy. I don’t see anything wrong with students watching the book’s videos during lunch in the library. The screaming heads may be disruptive to a silent reading program, but I have seen groups of students get behind the first book and catch up on the videos during their off hours. (And I think that’s one of the concepts that I appreciate about Patrick Carman’s experiment. These students are using their own free time to explore more of the story.)

I’m an official fan now. We have a Patrick Carman category on the site.

100 Cupboards by N. D. Wilson

September 3rd, 2009

I will warn you ahead of time that this is book one to a series.

The pacing to the book is a little different. It’s the story of a young, sheltered boy who goes to live on a farm after his parents have been kidnapped. You with quite a bit of scenes of lazing around the farm slowly at the beginning, including pick-up baseball games in the middle of fields. Then you jump to cold arms reaching out of the wall grabbing at people.

That was what caught my attention. The start was awkward and I personally could have done away with it. There’s one piece of dialogue between Henry and his uncle, where his uncle is very nonchalant/aloof to Henry’s troubles. It’s like he says, “Meh. Your parents are being held in South America. Whatever.”

But some of the awkwardness adds to the quirky tone of the book. Things like the protagonists being named Henry and Henrietta living in the town of Henry.

Once the plaster is off the wall, though, it’s a very enjoyable tale of tracking down an ancient evil that has been released through different worlds with some fun literary references.

Final verdict: Stick with it because the second half of the book is worth your time investment.

Leviathan Book Trailer

September 1st, 2009

Check out the crazy alternate reality version of World War I in Leviathan: