Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Caudill and Lincoln Program 2011

The Readers' Choice Program at Highland is underway for this school year. While many of the eighth grade students have reading requirements from these book lists, there is enthusiasm and wide-spread participation among many other students in the school as well.

The Caudill Award is an annual award given to a book by 4th - 8th grade students from around the state of Illinois. Each year there is a new list of twenty Caudill nominated books. We've also added ten of the books from this year's Lincoln list into the mix of the program at Highland.

In order to be eligible to vote for the award, students must read three of the nominated Caudill titles before the end of February.

We have some extra rewards students can earn at Highland. For reading ten of the books on the list, students will earn a free lunch. And for reading twenty of the books on the list, students will earn the grand prize.

Happy Reading!

Hunger Games Fever

I just had a conversation with a couple eighth grade guys who were wondering about the length of the hold list for Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. (Currently, there are 22 students waiting for one of the four library copies of Mockingjay.) Her trilogy, which begins with The Hunger Games, is definitely the hottest series at Highland this fall. It appeals across grade levels and genders. It really does have something for everyone action, adventure, violence, romance, psychological struggle.

I first read Hunger Games several years ago (long enough that I had to wait a year for book #2, Catching Fire, to be released), and I was hooked. I've read lots of dystopian fiction since then. I thought I'd share a couple favorites. We've also got a read-alike list in the library's catalog if you are looking for some suggestions.

Here are some standouts if you are looking for a series after Hunger Games or while you wait for one of the books:
  • The Maze Runner by James Dashner  - finished it last night and am now anxiously awaiting The Scorch Trials (out October 12)
  • Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
  • Gone by Michael Grant  - I read book three this summer and was suprised the series stayed fresh and took some interesting turns
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness - I'm anxiously awaiting book three
If you have suggestions of other books I should pick up, I welcome them!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Summer Reading

My summer reading is off to a slow start, but I'm ready to really dive in after finishing a major project.
I kicked the summer off with a book I was assigned to review, The Not-So-Great Depression by Amy Goldman Koss. It was a fun way to get started.

Next I treated myself to two chick lit reads. I loved Shug by Jenny Han and her book, The Summer I Turned Pretty, would be a great book to take to the beach and read. After all, it is about a girl who spends her summers at the ocean and the boys she grows to love.

Then I turned back to a Sci Fi selection. I've read a lot of sci fi and dystopia this school year, and it seems that trend is continuing into the summer. I liked the premise of The Roar by Emma Clayton. However, the book kind of left me hanging. It really got good in the last third and then kind of abruptly ended. Can you say sequel?

What have you been reading this summer? What should I pick up next?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What Does Your America Look Like? Exhibit

This week there is an exhibit of art, music, and literature of the 1930s in the Learning Center. All of the works include artists' representations of American life. The exhibit is organized into eight stations that include podcasts or audio to accompany the works of art. All Highland students will have a chance to visit the exhibit in one of their classes.

As a response to the exhibit, students are invited to contribute to a mural and a blog as a way to reflect on American life today.

A movie made up of newsreels from the 1930s include bits of news, sports, entertainment, and daily life.

Students list to the podcast about the works of Grant Wood, including American Gothic.

Students look at images of Jacob Lawrence and the Great Migration.

One of the Spanish courses in the school created podcasts to help explain what they found in a mural by Diego Rivera and then created artwork of their own.

So far the exhibit has been well received. I think it'll be a great week!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Earth Day Book Swap

The second annual earth day book swap will be held in the Learning Center on Wednesday, April 21. Students are invited to bring books they no longer need and other middle schoolers might enjoy, in exchange participants can choose books that are new to them.

It looks like we have a great selection of items from which to choose!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Nonfiction Reading

As I've posted, during March we're doing a project called Reality Rocks! The idea is to challenge everyone at Highland to read a nonfiction book of their choice during the month.

It's going well so far. Many students are participating and most of the staff members. It is great to walk around the school and see which books teachers are reading. Teachers have posted the titles of the books which they are reading outside of their rooms.

I've read two nonfiction books so far this month, started listening to a third on audio, and all the book clubs this week will be discussing nonfiction titles. Right now I'm listening to Chris Crutcher's memoir, King of the Mild Frontier: An Ill-Advised Autobiography.

I challenge you to pick up a nonfiction book that interests you and join us!

Works Cited
King of the Mild Frontier Cover. LibraryThing. 21 March 2010. Web. http://www.librarything.com/work/117271

Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore

I don't consider myself a fan of fantasy. In my quest to stretch myself as a reader, I regularly try to read a wide range of genre. I had heard a lot of good things about Graceling by Kristin Cashore from both students and other librarians. I grabbed the audio book and thought I'd have a listen.

I loved it! Frequently, I found myself fighting the temptation to grab a print copy of the book so I could get through the story more quickly to find out what happened. Although sometimes the romantic dialog felt a bit stilted, there were great action sequences and the characters were very interesting. Katsa is graced, her specialty is fighting. When she tires of being King Randa's heavy, Katsa and Po embark on a journey to get to the bottom of a kidnapping and save a little girl.

After finishing Graceling, I was anxious to read Fire. It is a companion book, with only one character from Graceling appearing. I think it was good I read Graceling first because the second book took me farther into the realm of fantasy. But being previously introduced to Cashore's writing and the world of the seven kindgoms, I was ready to slip through the mountains to the Dells. The world of the Dells is a world of monsters and humans and a world at war. Fire is a human monster (the one and only) with bright red hair, breathtaking beauty, and the ability to influence the minds of those around her.

There is another book planned called Bitter Blue. I'll be anxious to read that one when it is published!

Works Cited
Fire. LibraryThing. 20 March 2010. Web. http://www.librarything.com/work/8744927
Graceling. LibraryThing. 20 March 2010. Web. http://www.librarything.com/work/5246849

Monday, March 15, 2010

And the 2010 Caudill Winner Is...

1. All The Lovely Bad Ones by Mary Downing Hahn
2. Someone Named Eva by Joan M. Wolf
3, Elephant Run by Roland Smith

At Highland the top three were:
1. Someone Named Eva by Joan M. Wolf
2. Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George
3. Elephant Run by Roland Smith

Work Cited
All the Lovely Bad Ones. LibraryThing. Web. 15 March 2010. http://www.librarything.com/work/4954038

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Highland Team Competes in the Lake County Battle of the Books

On Thursday, March 4, a team from Highland traveled to Woodland Middle School to face off in the Lake County Battle of the Books. The competition is based on knowledge of the Caudill nominated books for the current school year.

Four schools participated, Woodland Middle, Deerpath Middle in Lake Forest, Beach Park Middle School had teams in addition to Highland. Highland's team finished in fourth place. A good time was had by all!

Pictured: Ms. Perrin, librarian at Woodland Middle School, explains how the event will work to the participants. The Highland team takes a moment to relax after the competition.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Highland's 2010 Caudill Results

Most years it is fairly clear which of the twenty nominated Caudill books will garner most of the Highland students' votes. This year, I didn't have a clue about which book would win. When I asked students about their favorite book from the list, I got a wide range of answers too.

We had around 225 students vote for the Caudill Award this year, about 1/4 of the students at Highland. Eleven of the titles on the list got more than ten votes.
The top three vote getters at Highland were:
  1. Someone Named Eva - 25 votes
  2. Dragon Slippers - 21 votes
  3. Elephant Run - 20 votes
Here's the complete breakdown of votes by title:

I'm anxious to see which book will win the statewide voting and which author will receive the 2010 Caudill Award.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Reality Rocks in District 70

I'm so excited to get started with the Reality Rocks project. The Learning Center staff members in District #70 are leading the way in challenging all the students and staff members in the district to read a nonfiction book of their choice during March.

At Highland, students and staff will be able to track their participation, enter a raffle with each book they finish, and get their picture taken with the book that is read to be part of a digital slideshow.

Why are we doing this? Here are just a couple of the many reasons:

1. Effectively reading informational texts is an essential skill.

2. Reading an informational book (aka nonfiction) may lead to learning and be a satisfying reading experience!

3. Many students prefer reading nonfiction. This is an opportunity to encourage that habit.

4. Choosing what you want to learn about and then reading up on the topic IS self-directed learning.

I had a fun time this afternoon roaming the shelves and choosing some of the nonfiction books I'm going to read this month. I hope a lot of students and staff at Highland participate! Please leave a comment about the nonfiction book you choose to read.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The National Science Foundation along with NBC has posted a series of short videos about the science of some of the sports in the Winter Olympics. The series is called Science of the Olympic Games. I'm a big fan of the Olympics, and I'm always interested in knowing more about how things work.

I just learned about the impact of acceleration and drag on bobsledding by watching this video:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Caudill News

We are in the last few weeks of the 2010 Caudill program. Students who have read at least three books from this year's list are eligible to cast a vote for the book they believe should win the award. Voting will take place at Highland from 2/19 - 2/25.

A team of Highland students will represent our school to compete in the Lake County Battle of the Books. The game-show style competition will take place after school on March 4, 2010 at Woodland Middle School. If you are interested in participating, please see Ms. Wyatt for a permission slip.

In other Caudill news, the 2011 Caudill List has just been announced.
Drum roll please...Here it is:
  • Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
  • Scarlett by Cathy Cassidy
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor
  • Diamond Willow by Helen Frost
  • Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • The Great Wide Sea by M.H. Herlong
  • Scat by Carl Hiassen
  • Schooled by Gordon Korman
  • Savvy by Ingrid Law
  • 11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass
  • A Friendship for Today by Patricia C. McKissack
  • Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
  • All Shook Up by Shelley Pearsall
  • Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy
  • Trouble by Gary D. Schmidt
  • The Alchemyst by Michael Scott
  • The Mailbox by Audrey Shafer
  • Notes from a Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Retelling of Greek Myths

A few weeks ago Mr. Weiland's six grade language arts and literature classes studied Greek Myths in preparation for their novel studies of The Lightning Thief and The Adventures of Ulysses. Each group read online and print versions of their stories. Then they worked with their groups to write their own version of the myth. Finally they created illustrations and made VoiceThreads with their versions of the tales.

Here's the story, Orpheus and Eurydice, retold by Maddie, Catherine, and Kasey:

Here's the story, Pandora, retold by Tim, Jesse, and Stefani:

Here's the story, Hercules, by Natalie, Andrew, Drew, and Henry:

Here's links to some of the other projects:

Check out some of these stories! Any comments?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Write in the Middle

Highland's Literary Magazine, Write in the Middle, is looking for submissions for its second issue. Last year we had a really successful publication. This year the magazine will include artwork as well. Highland students and staff members are invited to submit poetry, short stories, essays, and artwork for consideration.

All work must be submitted to Ms. Wyatt by Friday, February 5.
We have some amazing talent at Highland. Please consider participating!

You can check out last year's publication online at http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/write-in-the-middle/7174941

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What I've Been Reading

It's been so great to be able to choose my own reading materials lately. In the fall I was teaching a young adult literature class. It was really fun but very intense. I may have overdone it on the reading list with the six to seven young adult books per week. Needless to say, I didn't have much recreational reading time despite reading A LOT of books.

This past weekend I treated myself. I read three books of my choosing for fun!
First, I read Whirlwind by David Klass. It was a sequel to Firestorm, a book that I listened to during winter break. While I thought this book was just ok, it had lots of action and kept me turning the pages. A combination of action, scifi, and adventure, the characters from the book (some of whom were from 1000 years in the future) worked to try to save the Amazon from the Dark Lord.

It was a weekend for sequels. I've really been looking forward to the release of Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. I loved the first two books about DJ and the folks in Red Bend, WI (Dairy Queen and The Off Season). It was great to catch up with the characters and see what was happening in their lives during DJ's junior year basketball season. This is realistic fiction with sports, family stuff, and romance all mixed in.

Finally, I read the next 7th Grade Lunch Bunch Book Club Book. The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series is all the rage at Highland (like everywhere else, I'm guessing). For book club we chose another mythology inspired story, The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh. Jack has a near-death experience which has left him with the ability to visit the New York City underworld. He's looking for his dead mother and ends up having quite an adventure with Euri. It was a fun read, but it didn't knock my socks off. I'm looking forward to hearing what the book club members have to say.

Since I can choose my own books now, I'm looking for some recommendations!

Works Cited
Front and Center Cover. Library Thing. Web. 22 Jan. 2010. http://www.librarything.com/work/8187861
The Night Tourist Cover. LibraryThing. Web.
22 Jan. 2010. http://www.librarything.com/work/3931039
Whirlwind Cover. LibraryThing. Web.
22 Jan. 2010. http://www.librarything.com/work/3941396

Monday, January 11, 2010

Fractured Fairy Tales

Before break, Mrs. O'Connell's classes created fractured fairy tales. After the students studied different types of tales like folk tales, fables, and fairy tales. They wrote and illustrated a story of their own working in small groups. Students created the images using Tux Paint and then recorded their stories using VoiceThread.

Here's an example that was created by Katie and Emma called "Rapunzel Twist".

Here are links to some of the other projects: