Do you want to try out an Hour of Code? Computer Science Education Week Starts Today! Get inspired to try an Hour of Code at this link:
I’m excited to give it a try!
Here are links to the tutorials you can try out:
Write Your First Computer Program from Code.com
An Introduction to Java Script from The Khan Academy
A Taste of Python Programming from Grok Learning
Build an iPhone game in your browser! from MakeGamesWithUs
There are no sparkly vampires here! This one is not for the faint of heart. In this world, Coldtowns have been established enclosed by walls where vampires and those in the intermediary stage before turning; those who have turned “cold” must stay forever. Holly Black chilled me to the bone with this one. Tana has gone to Coldtown to try to save her ex-boyfriend who has been bitten, but has not yet turned. There she meets some terrifying vampires as she struggles to survive. Holly Black’s writing is sophisticated and chilling. It takes a lot to turn my stomach, but this one did it. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a different twist on the vampire tale!
And the Mountains Echoed is a picture of lives in Afghanistan spanning from the 1950s to the present. Hosseini tells us of these lives in linked stories focusing on one or two main characters yet weaving in more details of the other characters lives we have met in previous stories as he moves us back and forth in time. I had the wonderful experience of hearing Hosseini talk about this book at the American Library Association Conference last summer. He said that he worked harder on And the Mountains Echoed than he had worked on his other books. It is more textured and has complex, interconnected characters. In addition, other formats are used throughout the book: fable, epistolary, and interview are alternate ways in which Hosseini tells his tale. He tells of what it’s like to be an Afghan in exile and said that class is “at the heart” of all three of his books and is unavoidable because 8 million Afghans lived in exile but when the Taliban fell, they returned to their country by the millions becoming an enormous burden to an already poor country. All of these themes came through clearly throughout the book and added to my enjoyment of the reading. Because the wars were not the major focus of this book, the horrific things the reader knows happened were left in the background and not described in detail. I think that Hosseini’s writing matured in this book and highly recommend it.
Here is a video of Hosseini talking about The Kite Runner and why he does not feel it should be banned as it has been in some schools across the nation.
Ah, a “masked avenger” story with all the best aspects of the genre, but not so different from others I’ve read ——– oh wait, this is the original and it’s so much fun! The Scarlet Pimpernel has intrigue, betrayals, passion, misconceptions, disguise and adventure. The 1905 copyright date does give itself away as many of the characters are pretty stereotypical, and the romance is quite “male as hero”, “woman as gullible” based, but, for me, that was part of the classical nature of the book and part of the way the genre was defined in the time it was written. The 1792 setting and all the trials and tribulations of the French Revolution and those caught between countries added to my absorption into the story as well. I recommend The Scarlet Pimpernel to anyone who enjoys romance and adventure of the traditional, but exciting kind!
Seraphina is a different kind of a dragon story. It is full of music, intrigue and battle. In this world, dragons are hated and valued at the same time. They are the intellectuals and serve the humans in that capacity. Seraphina belongs to both worlds and because dragons are able to fold up their wings and look completely human, her secret remains undiscovered. She is the music instructor in the palace and it is a prized position. You can read the excellent short story, The Audition, online to find out more about how she got the job. She works for the royal family and when someone in the family is murdered she tries to help find out what happened. Her real journey, though, is about believing in herself and her heritage. I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment!
I thoroughly enjoyed this science fiction story,The Mars Project, by former student Dirk Beck. the book has a fast-paced plot with just the right amount of foreshadowing to keep the reader guessing until the answers are revealed. Joe has been kidnapped and whisked away to a secret place and is now a part of The Mars Project. He is forced to play a battle game and train on weights, eat strange soups and, above all, comply with the wishes of Commander K. The reader experiences Joe’s trials, friendships and fears as he rebels against this attempted brainwashing. The prose is simple and sparse for the targeted younger reader audience, but engaging for the adult reader, too.
Jasper Fforde’s books are always a lot of fun. The Fourth Bear had me in stitches over and over again. Jack Spratt of The Nursery Crime Division is out to solve another mysterious death. The Gingerbreadman, a vicious killer has escaped. The book is full of word play and coincidences. For example, Dorian Gray sells Jack a car that fixes itself right back to new condition, but the picture of the car in Dorian Gray’s office shows all of the damage. My hands-down favorite scene was about illegal substances for bears: porridge and honey. It had me laughing out loud it was so clever. I love Fforde’s Thursday Next series, but the Nursery Crimes are a close second!
I have just created a new page category on the blog called Digital Citizenship. Right now I have posted some infographics on how to scrub your digital footprint, what college admissions officers want to see on your digital footprint and manners online. Look for more resources in that category and also check out my Pinterest Boards for more information.
Mrs. Zanutti’s 6th Period Class shared the posters they created about creating a positive digital footprint during our all-school lesson. Here are some examples posted with their permission.
Every time I tried to read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, it was checked out! I finally got my chance and I am so glad to have read this classic coming of age tale. The book is made up of a series of letters telling the story and you really feel that you get to know Charlie and his friends by the end of the book. Charlie is a wallflower and his confusions, joys and sorrows all come through loud and clear. I am eager to see the movie now. If you have seen it, let me know what you thought.
A Moment Comes by Jennifer Bradbury takes place as the British are leaving India in 1947 and it is being divided into the free states of India for the Sikh religion and Pakistan for the Muslim religion. I knew a little bit about this time period, but certainly learned more about it from this wonderful piece of historical fiction. Three characters tell the story: Tariq, a Muslim teenager, Anupreet, a Sikh girl(both work in the British household), and Margaret who is living in India with her father as he draws up maps for the partition. Tariq dreams of going to England to study at Oxford and hopes for help from Margaret’s family, but many misunderstandings of the culture: it’s beauties, family bonds and dangers, add intrigue and excitement to the story. There is a touch of romance, but the main themes of the book are about clashes of culture and the misunderstandings among the three groups portrayed. Bradbury’s writing kept me engaged from the beginning and I recommend A Moment Comes to any of you who enjoy historical fiction and to the freshmen taking World Cultures and learning about India.