11.16 Whatever Wednesday: Honoring Student Bloggers

Whatever Wednesday

a chance to post something cool: a cool quote or poster, a video, or simply a picture.

Enjoy!… and consider posting your own Whatever.


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Last night I had the honor of recognizing four students in front of the school board. These students were highlighted for their above-and-beyond writing that they contributed to this blog. All of these writings were done digitally and collaboratively via email and Google Docs. I’m quite proud of these four: Julianna, Adam, Angela, and Gowtham.

I found a couple cool blogging pics to inspire these students and some teachers… and possibly some more students. SO: Who will be next?



Look! An infographic!


11.18 {Whatever Wednesday}: Student Guest Blogger—Gowtham waxes poetic

Whatever Wednesday

a chance to post something I’ve seen that I’m diggin’: a cool quote or poster, a video, or simply a picture.

Enjoy!… and consider posting your own Whatever.


{Eat the Book: I never know what my students are going to come up with. Book reviews? Check and check. Dancing? Check.

This week, Gowtham shares with us how a poem he read in fifth grade inspired his own poetry. Here he is to tell you more.}   

Gowtham: At the end of fifth grade in June we had a unit where we could write anything we wanted and I chose poetry because I thought poems sometimes had really deep meanings to them. I wrote my first copy, then improved it more on the final copy.

When your body fell to the ground you tried to hold on
When you couldn’t hold on you used your heart
When your heart stopped beating
You hung on to your soul
When your soul was destroyed
You were lifeless
but alive

You let go
but held on,
to your life


My poem meant to me to keep trying and never give no matter what happens. My poem turned out better than I expected it to be.   This poem was inspired by an Emily Dickinson poem. I found it by searching up poetry pieces on Google and the second image I saw was the poem.


“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.


{Eat the Book: Thank you for sharing your writing with us, Gowtham. It is a fascinating poem. I like that a well-known poem inspired you to write your own very different poem. I hope you keep writing!}







10.27 Whatever Wednesday: Student Guest Blogger—Angela C. Dances!

Whatever Wednesday

a chance to post something I’ve seen that I’m diggin’: a cool quote or poster, a video, or simply a picture.

Enjoy!… and consider posting your own Whatever.


{Eat the Book: Angela C., one of my students this year, started telling me last week that a music video that she danced in was just released. “Can we show the class today?” she asked.

I paused, thinking teachery thoughts… “How about we show it next Wednesday on the blog—and you can do a write up that goes along with it?”

It didn’t take too much to sell her on that idea. With the beauty of Google Docs, we did a little collaborating—and voila! A masterpiece. ENJOY.}   

Angela Dancing2      Over the summer I had a chance to be a part of the making of a music video in the city of Buffalo.  The song is written and performed by a local artist named Drea D’Nur.  Her song is called “Break me Down” and I am so glad that I got to be a part of it. But before we get into that let’s talk about how I got into the video. It’s a very interesting story.
Drea D’nur knew a dance teacher at my dance school, Miss Robin, who she asked to be the dance director. She also asked to pick some dancers  to be in it. People got picked by dance categories— there was modern, African, crump, ballet, and hip-hop, which I was in.

            It was a lot of work and there was a lot of footage.  Angela3Not all of it made it into the video which is sad but true.

         Alongside the music video I got to perform live with her at the Tralf Music Hall. The places we shot the video were very local. One of them was the Japanese Gardens at the Buffalo History Museum. Another one was a bridge and just roaming through the trees and screaming chants.

         There were also a lot of extras. My dad got to be in the video just because he
was there. My friend’s mom also got to be in it. It was so official that I had to sign a contract. I’ve never done anything like this before but it was really cool. If I could, I would want the chance to do it again. Now that we’ve done all this talking about how it began let’s’ actually see it!


(See the bullets below the video that tell where to find me in the music video.)

I can be seen in the video…

  • There’s a glimpse of me at 30 seconds
  • There’s another glimpse at 54 seconds
  • There’s another glimpse at 2minutes and 30 seconds and 3 mins
  • You can clearly  see me at 4 mins
  • You can also clearly see me at 4 minutes and 11 seconds
  • You can also see me at 4 minutes and 26 seconds

This song and video expresses the struggle and minds of African Americans who have been targeted by police for a long time—specifically the past two years. A lot of African Americans have died or gotten hurt by the police because of race including MIKE BROWN, TAMIR RICE, FREDDIE GRAY, SEAN BELL, OSCAR GRANT, RESHISKA BOYD, and a lot more. Drea D’nur wanted to show how they thought and acted through the power of dance and song. Hip hop and African represent not being able to break them down, crump represents the anger they have, modern  represents the fear and lost hope of those people, and ballet represents the people’s soul.

Drea D’nur did not only want you to like her song, she wanted you to experience what they experienced and feel what they felt. Drea’s lyrics “can not break me down” are showing and expressing not only how they should feel but how we should as well. No one can break us down. We need to be strong and stand tall because nobody can “break me down”.

{Eat the Book: Thank you, Angela, for taking the time to not only share the video with us, but to explain how you got involved and what it means to you. Powerful stuff. And now your words and video will be “out there” to be seen by many. Congratulations.}







{Whatever Wednesday} Happier than a camel on Wednesday

Whatever Wednesday — a chance to post something I’ve seen that I’m diggin’. Though often a cool quote or poster, it might simply be a picture.

Enjoy!… and consider posting your own Whatever.

This commercial has been playing for a few weeks at least, but my family loves it—my MOM loves it—my daughter’s classmates love it… So on Humpday, it only makes sense to pop it on here to appreciate it together.

You know, sometimes we just need to give a person a little attention and let him have his moment in the sun. There’s nothing wrong with that. How do we respond to these camels in our own lives?


{Whatever Wednesday} Kids playing library

Whatever Wednesday — a chance to post something I’ve seen that I’m diggin’. Though often a cool quote or poster, it might simply be a picture.

Enjoy!… and consider posting your own Whatever.

I dare you to watch this video just once—Kids playing library being acted out by grownups:

Thanks to Niki Ohs Barnes (@daydreamreader) for posting this on Facebook the other day.

Summer Reading Postcard #10—from an INCOMING student

If you’ve been following along, you know that students have been mailing back their Summer Vacation is for READING postcards that I passed out at the end of the year.

I went in to my classroom last week and started the getting ready process. I found a stack of Summer Vacation is for Reading postcards that were left over, so hung them outside my door with a note for this year’s students to take one and mail it in. I was pleasantly surprised to receive this one from my incoming student, Todd N.

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Twelve-year-old Henry York wakes up one night to find bits of plaster in his hair. Two knobs have broken through the wall above his bed and one of them is slowly turning . . .Henry scrapes the plaster off the wall and discovers cupboards of all different sizes and shapes. Through one he can hear the sound of falling rain. Through another he sees a glowing room–with a man pacing back and forth! Henry soon understands that these are not just cupboards, but portals to other worlds.

100 Cupboards is the first book of a new fantasy adventure, written in the best world-hopping tradition and reinvented in N. D. Wilson’s inimitable style.


No, this isn’t a book about joining some fringe cult. It’s a book by LEGO® fans, for LEGO fans, and you and your kids will love it.

In The Cult of LEGOWired‘s GeekDad blogger John Baichtal and BrickJournal founder Joe Meno take you on a magnificent, illustrated tour of the LEGO community, its people, and their creations.

The Cult of LEGO introduces us to fans and builders from all walks of life. People like professional LEGO artist Nathan Sawaya; enigmatic Dutch painter Ego Leonard (who maintains that he is, in fact, a LEGO minifig); Angus MacLane, a Pixar animator who builds CubeDudes, instantly recognizable likenesses of fictional characters; Brick Testament creator Brendan Powell Smith, who uses LEGO to illustrate biblical stories; and Henry Lim, whose work includes a series of models recreating M.C. Escher lithographs and a full-scale, functioning LEGO harpsichord.

Marvel at spectacular LEGO creations like:

  • A life-sized Stegosaurus and an 80,000-brick T. Rex skeleton
  • Detailed microscale versions of landmarks like the Acropolis and Yankee Stadium
  • A 22-foot long, 350-pound re-creation of the World War II battleship Yamato
  • A robotic, giant chess set that can replay historical matches or take on an opponent
  • A three-level, remote-controlled Jawa Sandcrawler, complete with moving conveyor belt

Whether you’re a card-carrying LEGO fanatic or just thinking fondly about that dusty box of LEGO in storage, The Cult of LEGO will inspire you to take out your bricks and build something amazing.

Gold Medal, Independent Publisher Book Award, “IPPY” for Pop Culture

Silver Medal, 2012 ForeWord Book of the Year Awards for Crafts and Hobbies

Grand Prize, 2012 San Francisco Book Festival

Selected for the Communication Arts 2012 Design Annual


Click here for the Magazine site.

Isn’t this FUN? I can’t wait to meet Todd… on WEDNESDAY. It’s not too late to mail your card in. And don’t forget to send me your summer picture of you reading a book. Mail to: SummerReadingPic@gmail.com.

Summer Whatever Wednesday= Summer Reading Postcards #9 & 10

Whatever Wednesday — a chance to post something I’ve seen that I’m diggin’. Though often a cool quote or poster, it might simply be a picture.

Enjoy!… and consider posting your own Whatever.

If you’ve been following along, you know that students have started mailing back their Summer Vacation is for READING postcards that I passed out to them at the end of the year. Now that summer is almost at an end, I’m hoping for an influx of cards. 

I recently received my 9th and 10th postcards. Thank you, Andrew T. and Mr. Peterson.

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Photo on 8-27-13 at 11.52 PM


From IndieBound:


In the tradition of Robert Heinlein and Ray Bradbury, million-copy bestselling Halo author and game developer Eric Nylund brings action-packed science fiction to a young audience with this riveting children’s debut. Twelve-year-old Ethan Blackwood has always known exactly what he wanted—to win the state soccer championship, get into the best high school, and become an astronaut. Then he meets Madison and Felix, who tell him something . . . insane. They claim that 50 years ago, aliens took over the earth, and everyone past puberty is under their mind control. Ethan doesn’t believe it. But then he sees for himself the aliens’ monster bug robots and the incredible way that Madison and Felix have learned to fight them. So Ethan Blackwood has a choice: he can go back to his normal, suburban, protected lie of a life—or he can become a Resister. This is science fiction on the lines of Scott Westerfield and Cory Doctorow for middle graders.



From Indiebound:


Daniel Corrigan is as regular as can be, especially when compared to the Supers: kids in his new hometown with actual powers like flight and super strength. But Daniel’s not powerless. Only he was able to stop the Shroud, a supervillian bent on stealing his newfound friends’ powers. And thanks to him, his friends got to keep those powers.

Now Daniel himself is starting to display powers, while at the same time, his friends are losing theirs. His friend Eric thinks Daniel is just becoming a Super himself, a late-blooming one. But Daniel worries there may be something more sinister at work, since his power-stealing ability is uncomfortably like the Shroud’s. Of course, the Shroud is gone now . . . or is he? And could Daniel himself be his new vessel?


{I also happen to know that Andrew is reading Zadoff’s Boy Nobody. I can’t wait to hear about it…

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•     •     •

And my dear ELA colleague, Mr. Peterson… What did he read? (Notice the note below line 3.)

Photo on 8-27-13 at 11.53 PM #2


From IndieBound:

Selected by Indie Booksellers for the Fall ’12 Kids List
“Mr. Jelliby, a member of Parliament, was too nice a young man to make a good politician. One day, he overheard the powerful Mr. Lickerish order the death of the tenth changeling — a ‘peculiar,’ so named because they have the blood of both men and faery. Mr. Lickerish is planning to open a door to the faery world that would destroy London, and only Mr. Jelliby and Bartholomew, a changeling himself, can hope to stop him. Bachman has succeeded in creating a murder mystery, a faery fantasy, and an action adventure that middle-graders and older readers will devour.”
— Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books and Hobbies, Oscoda, MI


Don’t get yourself noticed and you won’t get yourself hanged.

In the faery slums of Bath, Bartholomew Kettle and his sister Hettie live by these words. Bartholomew and Hettie are changelings—Peculiars—and neither faeries nor humans want anything to do with them.

One day a mysterious lady in a plum-colored dress comes gliding down Old Crow Alley. Bartholomew watches her through his window. Who is she? What does she want? And when Bartholomew witnesses the lady whisking away, in a whirling ring of feathers, the boy who lives across the alley—Bartholomew forgets the rules and gets himself noticed.

First he’s noticed by the lady in plum herself, then by something darkly magical and mysterious, by Jack Box and the Raggedy Man, by the powerful Mr. Lickerish . . . and by Arthur Jelliby, a young man trying to slip through the world unnoticed, too, and who, against all odds, offers Bartholomew friendship and a way to belong.

Part murder mystery, part gothic fantasy, part steampunk adventure, The Peculiar is Stefan Bachmann’s riveting, inventive, and unforgettable debut novel.


From IndieBound:


In this mischievous and utterly original debut, Hansel and Gretel walk out of their own story and into eight other classic Grimm-inspired tales. As readers follow the siblings through a forest brimming with menacing foes, they learn the true story behind (and beyond) the bread crumbs, edible houses, and outwitted witches.

Fairy tales have never been more irreverent or subversive as Hansel and Gretel learn to take charge of their destinies and become the clever architects of their own happily ever after.


From IndieBound:


From two-time Carnegie Medal winner Patrick Ness comes an enthralling and provocative new novel chronicling the life — or perhaps afterlife — of a teen trapped in a crumbling, abandoned world.

A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this. . . .


Isn’t this FUN? Keep those postcards coming. And don’t forget to send me your summer picture of you reading a book. Mail to: SummerReadingPic@gmail.com.

Summer Whatever Wednesday = Librarian “Sabotage”

Whatever Wednesday — a chance to post something I’ve seen that I’m diggin’. A cool quote or poster, a picture, student work, a video—you know, Whatever.

Enjoy!… and consider posting your own Whatever.

Saw this posted on Twitter the other day and had to share it on my own Facebook page.

And now I have to share it with you.

I just did the math… and almost choked on my eggs when I realized that this song is NINETEEN years old. Really?

In order to appreciate the parody, you need to watch some of the original (though I do confess it made my daughters run from the room). Check this:

Pretty awesome, right? Now watch this sweet parody:

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/66169135″>M&D 2013 Sabotage</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user3892124″>Mike and Duane Show</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

My favorite moment (and @LibraryFanatic’s/Sherry Gick’s) is at 2:30 when the Librarian whips a book Frisbee-style at the thief. Awesome stuff.

Let me know what you think. After you watch it a few more times…