Archive for September, 2010

Tween Tribune

September 30th, 2010

If you’re looking for ways to incorporate current events/informational reading into your classroom, check out the Tween Tribune. Many of the stories are student-generated and are high interest for the teen demographic.

Hero by Mike Lupica

September 28th, 2010

Mike Lupica is known for his sports books, so it’s interesting that sports take a back seat in Hero. Main character Billy is a basketball player, but the big challenge for him is figuring out what happened to his dad and the powers that he had.

I’m a big superhero fan, so I have high expectations for a superpowered book. Stories like the Quantum Prophecy series and Powerless find new ways to spin old tropes. It’s so tough to break new ground in a superhero book considering how many comics are published each month (each day, if you count webcomics (which you should)).

Hero does not do anything new. I really, really wanted it to, but it doesn’t. Maybe I’ve just read a lot of superhero stories, which is a very possible reality. The only thing I found different was that a lot of the metaphors are sports-related, which makes sense since it’s Lupica, but felt kinda weird in the narrative.

You’ve got the boy who loses a parent, finds a mentor, and discovers his special talent to use for the betterment of society. [Insert your Luke Skywalker/Harry Potter/Eragon/King Arthur comparisons here to make Joseph Campbell giggle with delight.]

This isn’t a bad book; it’s simply one that had potential that it didn’t fulfill. Check it out and see if I had too high of expectations.

Griggs Note: I chatted with Mike Lupica today. After hearing about his kids’ experiences in sports, I have a better understanding of his plotlines. In his words, sports teaches you that when you get knocked down, you get back up. It makes sense that you see that thread in all of his books if that’s what he’s passionate about.

Citing the Career Opportunities book

September 28th, 2010

Field, Shelly. “Sportscaster/Radio”. Career Opportunities in the Sports Industry. New York: Checkmark Books. 1999

Another reason why I enjoy my job

September 27th, 2010

click to zoom in

I dressed up for a student’s book report today. I think I make a pretty decent Gandalf from The Hobbit.

Careers in Sports and Fitness

September 21st, 2010

This is a collection of websites for Ms. Cuppage’s career research unit.

Here’s a link to how to cite the Career Opportunities book.
Field, Shelly. “Sportscaster/Radio”. Career Opportunities in the Sports Industry. New York: Checkmark Books. 1999

Here’s information from the government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Athletic Trainer

Dietitian and Nutritionist
News Analyst, Reporter, and Correspondent
Professional Athlete
Recreation and Fitness Worker
Recreational Therapist

Sports Business and Administration

Professional Sports Agent

Sports Statistician

Sports Industry Publicist

Account Exec for Special – Risk Insurance – Sports

Athletics, and Recreation

Sports Event Coordinator

Coaching and Education

Coach or Manage – Professional Sports Team

Coach – College, University

Coach – High School

Athletic Director – Education

Physical Education (PE) Teacher – College, HS, JHS, Ele.

Officiating Sports Teams

Umpire/ Referee-Pro, college, HS, JHS, Rec Leagues

Sports Journalism

Sports Writer

Sports Columnist

Sportscaster – Television

Sportscaster – Radio

Sports Photographer

Recreation and Fitness

Sports and Fitness Program Coordinator

Personal Trainer

Aerobics Instructor

Health Club Manager, Assistant Manager

Tennis Director

Tennis Teaching Professional

Golf Pro


Horse Racing


Harness Driver (pull carts behind horses competitively)

Harness Racing Judge

Racing Secretary

Racetrack Announcer

Sports Medicine

Athletic Trainer

Physical Therapist

Physical Therapy Assistant

Sports and Fitness Nutritionist

Sports Physician

Massage Therapist


Orthotics and Prosthetics


Sports vision careers

Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Sports Acupuncture and related therapy

Sports Psychologist

And all the assistants to these positions.

Medical Imaging Careers

Wholesaling and Retailing

Manufacturer’s Representative – Sporting Goods

Sports Store Manager

Sporting Goods Salesperson

Boxing and Wrestling


Boxing Referee

Professional Boxing Judge

Boxing Trainer

Boxing Manager

Boxing Trainer

Ring Announcer

Professional Wrestling Referee

Obama’s STEM Video Game Challenge

September 20th, 2010

This past week President Obama announced the STEM Video Game Challenge to encourage students to pursue math and science through engaging activities. The contest will be accepting submissions from October 12 to January 5. The entries can either be a game design on paper or a playable game. There is a $50,000 prize pool for students and it provides some great opportunities for careers in video game design.

Future Professionals, this is what we’re going to tackle first. Check out Scratch from MIT. It’s like an intro program to Flash and actually has some pretty decent scripting. (It’s free, too, which is always nice.)

Here’s how the judges will be determining the winners:

Submissions will be judged on a combination of fun and balanced gameplay, creative vision and incorporation of Science TEchnology and Math (STEM) concepts in game design and play experience.

Click here for a game that took me ten minutes to create. In no way does it meet the STEM requirements but it does illustrate a tiny bit of what Scratch does (that would take me much longer to do in Flash ActionScript.)

Try and get the face to the flower. Click on the green flag to get the party started. Arrow keys move the smiley.

The Crossbones by Patrick Carman

September 15th, 2010

Sarah Fincher goes on a road trip.

The characters from Skeleton Creek get to branch out from their small town and explore some of the haunted places around the United States. Ryan has found a piece of paper with a series of clues on it and he sends Sarah thousands of miles to go find out more information about the different locations.

The Crossbones is different than the first book. Students, let’s make that clear. There are videos and the journal, but the focus in book three is more on uncovering The Crossbones’ secrets. There is one part where I did jump, even though I was sitting in the library, but the action here is more of a National Treasure variety. (Although being stuck in an underground tunnel with a potential killer is right up there with being stuck underground with a ghost. Both are situations I’d rather not be in.)

Book three is also different because they have a new person playing the part of Sarah. That’s my guess, since she’s no longer on camera and her voice is different. The videos are also more professional looking, which I think takes away from the realism. Sarah’s talented, but I liked it when she was dropping the camera on the dredge floor. That’s no knock on Jeffrey Townsend – the videos look great; it’s just a style thing for me. Most of the passwords on the site now link to three types of video: footage from Sarah, a polished documentary, and rough reel-to-reel film from a member of the Crossbones.

The places that Sarah visits are real, which is great because students can research the history if they want to learn more. There’s even a map of the trip that she takes, in case you want to plan a family vacation around centuries-old conspiracies.

The main mystery, when solved, was an, “Oh. I didn’t know that.” moment for me. The real kicker was discovering the hierarchy of the secret society and wondering how involved Ryan’s family is in it.

The Crossbones is different, but it’s still a good read. It could be read as a standalone novel, but I think you need the first two books to truly connect with the characters.

Personal note: Ryan has to drive a minivan that leaks oil and has bad tires. I’ve done that and can relate. A funny comment in one of the videos is a Crossbones member talking about how it wasn’t until Andrew Jackson that they found a president they liked.

Leadership qualities in Girl Who Owned a City [re-posted]

September 14th, 2010

This is a re-posting of an activity we did last year. It has been updated to include the 2010 Time List.

This is for Ms. Redden’s 7th grade Language Arts class. We’ll be looking at leadership characteristics in both a modern day setting and in the novel The Girl Who Owned a City.

The first site to look at is the Time Magazine Top 100 Influential People of 2010. You can find the site by clicking here.

Click on a person’s name from the list. Read through the person’s description looking specifically for leadership qualities.

Look at the Venn diagram side of your handout. In the middle of the diagram, write down qualities that Lisa and your person share.

On the left-hand side of the diagram, write down qualities that Lisa has as a leader that your person does not have.

On the right-hand side of the diagram, write down qualities that your person has that Lisa does not have.

The next site you’ll look at is the Top 10 Leadership Qualities from HR World. You can get to the site by clicking here.

On your own, answer the three questions on your handout in complete sentences.

All the Broken Pieces by Ann Burg

September 13th, 2010

I will be honest: I judged All the Broken Pieces by its cover. It has a baseball on the cover and a Language Arts teacher told me it was a good book, especially for boys. I was skeptical because I knew it was a verse book and, even though I love verse books, I know that the direct market for verse books is girls.

All the Broken Pieces challenges that. Yes, baseball is not much of the story; protagonist Matthew must confront his memories of fleeing a war-torn Vietnam, so emotions and the conflict versus self are the main focus of the story. But how is that different from March Toward the Thunder? That one is marketed to both genders, but I know more boys check it out.

Burg’s verse format actually helps the narrative. One characteristic of verse novels is that, when written well, you can finish them in one sitting. That’s the case here. I kept turning pages, just one more segment of poems, wanting to know more. That process repeated all the way to the end.

This is a well-told story about the effects of the Vietnam War on the soldiers, on the US homefront, and on the people of Vietnam. If you’re looking for something like The Journal of Patrick Seamus Flaherty, this is not it and you won’t hear much about squad combat. You will, on the other hand, hear what it’s like to have napalm dropped on your village. The thing I appreciate, though, is that Burg does not take sides. She presents the effects and lets you draw your own conclusions without being preachy.

This is a great debut novel from Ann Burg and I’m excited to see more.

Amulet Book Three: The Cloud Searchers by Kazu Kibuishi

September 10th, 2010

The Amulet series stands out as a graphic novel that tells a great story and is also school appropriate. Book one grabbed the emotions of many adult readers as well as students and was a great transition into the weird world Emily and Navin are thrown into. In book two we got to see a big location and gained perspective into why the elves are fighting.

Book three introduces new characters, as expected, but what’s nice is that these new characters stand out and will be remembered. An airship crew has been hired to find Cielis, a missing city that was either ravaged by fire or is now floating in the clouds. It makes sense in the world of Alledia.

Again Kibuishi handles characterization balanced with action masterfully. My same complaint stands: the books are too short. I understand that it takes time to make art, but you can’t force me to be patient.