1. You can move the keyboard on an iPad to the middle of the screen by holding down the keyboard button and clicking "Undock".
When I was showing students how to split the keyboard on their iPads to better facilitate typing to the "Text" Generation, one of them chimed in, "You can move it up the screen too!" We hooked his iPad up to the SmartBoard and he did a demonstration for the class
2. There several teachers in our school who are familiar with Gilbert and Sullivan tunes.
The Elements app by Touch Press has a feature you can use to listen to Tom Lehrer's Element Song. The science teacher and I found that if we played it for the group at the beginning of class it saved a lot of time and cacophony. We had several teachers who walked by our open space media center as we were playing the song and ask "Gilbert and Sullivan?" The kids thought that Gilbert and Sullivan were scientists. Next year we'll have to get the music department involved with the 8th grade chemistry unit!
3. Children are shocked that the names of chemical elements are much the same in Japanese as they are in English.
The Elements app has the option to listen to the Element Song in either English or Japanese. The science teacher told our students that if they worked hard, we would play the Japanese version for them at the end of class. Burning question from all 6 classes: "Why are the words mostly the same in Japanese?" Next year we'll have to get the Language Arts teachers involved with the 8th grade chemistry unit!
4. The Preamble song is forever.
Received an email from a student I taught 15 years ago when I was still teaching U.S. history. Apparently learning The Preamble Song in my class something that has stuck with him and he had the chance to demonstrate his Preamble prowess last week. The idea that he then thought to track down my email and share with me made my day.
5. Middle School children love trivia questions. Middle school teachers, administrators, instructional assistants, secretaries and substitutes also love trivia questions.
Last Monday, on a whim, I posted a trivia question on an easel outside of the Media Center. Most of the school population walks by there each day and I thought a few of the kids might think it was fun. I had the answer read on the afternoon announcements.
WOW! I had no idea the response this would generate. I posted a new question each morning and by Friday there were an increasing number of traffic jams in the hallway that included both children and adults. People were stopping in to guess the answer and a certain competitiveness has emerged among staff members. I had one student tell me that students in his technology class tried researching the answer
Winter Doldrums at LMS? I think not.
We often talk about favorite books - favorite books of all time, favorite books of the year, favorite books of the century, favorite children's books, etc. Go to a search engine, type in the words "favorite" and "books" and you will get upwards of 1,000,000,000 results. But what we won't necessarily find are the personal lists - the favorite books of the people who love us, teach us, and help shape us into the beings that we are.
My mother was a reader. I know that my love of the written word is a legacy from her. Mom had degrees in English education and journalism; she worked as both an editor and a writer. Many of my strongest memories of her include books. I don't remember a time when she did not read to me, recommend books to me, discuss books with me. Everywhere she went, Mom took a book; there were shelves and stacks of them in our house and the library was a weekly event. All of this and I have no idea what her favorite books were. None. I never asked.
It is amazing how much you can learn about a person by simply asking them about their favorite books. Usually, the picks are inspired by strong memories and/or intellectual passions. When I consider my own favorites, I realize that these titles contain more information about me than my Facebook profile. They are a window into my life, who I am, and what I love.
This week, I challenge you to share your favorite books with someone important to you. More importantly, ask them about their favorites and see what you learn.
My favorite books:
I didn't get to tackle my reading wish list over break as I had read from the wrong list in preparation for my book committee meeting. Here is a list of what I did read both for pleasure and the committee, with a brief synopsis and impression of each. I might add that I am pleasantly surprised that I truly enjoyed all of them, not always the case.
Steve Jobs: Genius by Design by Jason Quinn - Graphic biography of Steve Jobs aimed at middle grade readers. Tackles the subject well without sugar-coating his personality. Well done.
Zero Tolerance by Claudia Mills - Thoroughly enjoyed this book. The voice rang so true, I felt as though one of my middle-school student had dictated this to the author. A good example of why one should avoid absolutes and how we sometimes teach students to not do the right thing by punishing the messenger. My only criticisms would be that children would never be left to their own devices in in-school suspension and the sub-plot with the secretary tied up a bit too neatly for me.
Never Say Die by Will Hobbs - Action and adventure in the Arctic Circle. I have a slew of students who are hunters that will devour this book. This would be great to add to the study of climate change in science classes as well.
Wake Up Missing by Kate Messner - Sci-fi thriller combines the current concern with head trauma with a modern day Manhattan Project. I kept turning the pages to find out where the story would turn and was not disappointed. Loved the references to Bigger Than a Bread Box by Laurel Snyder which gives me a wonderfully sneaky way to book talk two books at once!
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan - Haunting and beautifully crafted story of one girl's journey through grief. Gritty and uplifting though heartbreaking. I read straight through with no breaks as I was invested in all the interesting characters and how they all reacted/changed/grew through their relationships with one child and her misfortune.
The Girl from Felony Bay by J.E. Thompson - Intriguing mystery set in the Carolina swamp. The characters were well-drawn and engaging. I loved Abbey Force the intrepid main character. What a fun read with twists and turns. Definitely sharing this as soon as we return to school!
The Final Four by Paul Volponi - I started this book with supposition that it was a "boy book" and that it would be so technical about the game that I would be bored. Boy was I wrong! Two chapters in I was totally hooked by the characters, the drama and the suspense. There were characters I was not sure whether to love or hate and I was impatient to find out what happened as the story unfolded. Wow!
Jump Into the Sky by Shelley Pearsall - Truly enjoyed this book. World War II historical fiction including the Triple Nickels, Jim Crow, racism and family dynamics. Levi Battle has a wonderful narrative voice and is the type of character that you truly care about. Recommend reading Courage Has No Color, The True Story of the Triple Nickles: America's First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone as a non-fiction partner. I had read it already and the background knowledge of the Triple Nickels made the story even more compelling.
Four Secrets by Margaret Willey - Secrets are power. Power over ourselves and power over others. In the wrong hands, secrets can be wielded as weapons. Set in a middle school, a place where social heirarchy reins supreme, Four Secrets is the story of how secrets can bind together or imprison their holders.
2-Minute Biographies for Kids by Steve Reifman - Very cool format. Information on famous peoples' lives, with the names withheld until the end. Well-written and interesting. Would be great for a research activity in the library. Can't wait to use it.
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