Happy Friday! It’s a beautiful day and I have a book review.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
First I loved it. This is a story of two young high school students who are in a way out casts. Eleanor comes from a home that is as dysfunctional as dysfunctional can get. She is new to a school where if you don’t look like the rest you stand out big time. Park is from a what many would consider a typical home, but behind the walls feels as though he is a disappointment to his father. When the two meet sparks do not fly. But soon bonded by a love of comics, music and the need to feel normal the two find each other and love that neither one expected. Dealing with the trials of high school and family Eleanor and Park become the couple you root for and the one you want to be. It is a story that has been told many times but some how feels now and fresh. Rowell has a unique voice and a great sense of what it feels like to live the high school experience. I highly recommend this book and suggest you read this with a friend.
My school year is done, but here I sit in a meeting for our last professional development day of the year. Already we have people speak to us on The Common Core. And currently we are listening to a presenter speak about Digital Footprints. After lunch we have our break out sessions with our small groups and then we are free to go. Now both presentations have been going well but let’s face it this is a time for the teachers to catch up, talk about plans for the summer.
However I have discovered one thing I have been able to talk with the teachers who want to incorporate more of the technology based applications I use in the library (and have talked about here) in their classroom. I have already spoke with several teachers wanting to create a video for a concept in their lessons and post to my YouTube channel for the students to access. I also have been able to talk with a teacher about different authors and topics that’s will work for their LA lessons on social issues.
So while I sit here listening and learning about digital footprints (a topic I will be talking about next week here) I wanted to let you know that my school year is done but my collaboration with my fellow teachers is not.
Okay I just dated myself, I know it and I embrace it. But it helps me with this post. When I hear this phrase I think of girls who are rich, popular, and oh yea SPOILED!!! It is Friday, my last full day of school before the summer (woohoo) and I have a book to review. This book was given to me by one of my students who eats books up. I can’t give her enough. Seriously. She takes a few at a time, returns them within 3 days and has more sitting at home. Its crazy. But anyway…so my student gave this book and I promised her I would finish it before the end of the year. I finished it in 4 days.
Spoiled by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
Spoiled tells the story of a young girl, Molly, who finds out that her biological father is actually a famous movie star. Molly is interested in learning about her father and moves to LA to live with him and get to know him. Just as she is adjusting to the red carpet lifestyle she meets her half-sister Brooke, who is as Beverly Hills as you can get. But in a town where image is everything, and the smoke and mirrors cover more than eye can see, Molly gets a dose of reality and learns that everything is not what is seems. I enjoyed this book for many reasons. The tongue in cheek manner in which the authors wrote the book is wonderful, they take what we as non-celebrities observe to be true and run with it. We all know that celebrities are just like us we read it in US Weekly and In Touch every week (wink wink), but they write this world in a way that allows us to feast on that lifestyle. Plus this story is not told only through Molly’s eyes. Brooke is also a narrator, and this is key, because if you only read from Molly’s eyes you would get a one sided view of a character that though is a mean girl on the outside does have some redeeming qualities. This is a great book for YA readers and for middle school. This shines a new light on the mean girls, and celebrity story, by adding that small touch of heart to it.
Apps are a great way to express yourself creatively. They allow you try different means of artistic expression in both photography, music, painting, sketching and now 3D building and design. I wanted to share with some apps that are great ways to get your artistic juices flowing.
PocketBand allows you to create high quality tracks by mixing, looping, and sampling. For Androids only.
Music Pro allows you to learn how to play the piano with instruments, games, and metronome. For Androids only.
Both of these apps help to edit photos from your library.
Pics Art for iOS and Android.
Photo Editor for Android only.
Redesigning your house? Use 3D Interior Room Design to help you create the room you always wanted with out trying to figure out the the color is right. For Android only.
So go on, express yourself
I was lucky to see the play God of Carnage when it was playing in New York starring the late James Gandolfini, Jeff Daniels, Marcia Gay Harden and Hope Davis, and I loved it. I also enjoyed the movie version (simply called Carnage) which starred Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz and was pleasantly surprised. The sheer fact that you could not get over how uncomfortably each character was during the scene was brilliant. I cringed during the awkward silences, the passive aggressive looks, and the final moments when they confronted each other about views on life, marriage, and parenting styles. If you never got a chance to see either please check out the movie.
This brings me to the meaning of my post today. I recently finished (finished I tore through it) the book The Dinner by Dutch writer Herman Koch. I have never read anything by him before but I promise you will be picking up some more items now. This book reminded me so much of the play and movie that I wanted to see how the characters would deal with the situation they find themselves in.
In the book, two couples come together to have what else Dinner. The men are brothers, one is an ex-teacher, the other the shinning star of a political party who looks to be next prime minster. The wives, are supportive and loving towards their husbands and each other, but they are especially devoted to their children. Primarily their sons, who are the same age. The boys become involved in a crime that shocks the country, but they are never identified. Each parent finds out in their own way and has their own views on how to handle the situation that will be beneficial to all parties. The book is told from the point of view of Paul, the ex-teacher, and you see how he handled his own personal struggles, how he feels about his brother and his political aspirations, and how he interacts with his son, and wife. During the course of the dinner you can feel the tension building during each course, as the small chit-chat and pleasantries make way for the discussion that brought them all together. The situation involving their sons. It was a book that grabbed right away. I couldn’t put it down and wanted to learn more about each character. Koch did a phenomenal job of creating the sort of tension one feels with family when dealing with a crisis with such ease that you feel you are at the table next to them spying on their conversation. It is a great book and I highly recommend it.
We are coming to the close of another school year. I can’t believe it. This year went by too quickly. I went to a retirement dinner yesterday to celebrate the careers of four amazing educators. Women who inspired not only their students but the faculty and administrators they taught next too. As I heard the stories of stellar careers, I thought about two things. (1) I hope that I leave a lasting impression on students they way they did (2) I wonder what ever happened to Mrs. Murphy, one of my favorite English teachers in high school.
Mrs. Murphy was one of the those teachers who challenged you to strive to be better than you were the day before. She made us not only look at what we can do, but what we can’t and figure out how to overcome the challenge. She really stayed with me all of these years. I had Mrs. Murphy my junior and senior year. And senior year was the best one. She was certified to teach a college level course, and we were given the opportunity to take it if we chose to. Well I chose to, and it was a great experience. We read college level books, worked on poetry beyond the standard practices, and collaborated on projects that many freshman college students don’t get to do.
The one project though that Mrs. Murphy had us do was the last project of our high school careers. We had to write a letter to ourselves. We had to write the letter and talk to ourselves, 5 years from now. Basically, write to our future self and talk about we hope to accomplish and where we hope we were at that moment in our life. We all wrote standard things like I want to be a millionaire, I want a good job, I want this and that. But then she had us write about where we hope were with ourselves. Meaning, were we happy with how we turned out. Did we feel we deserve what we have been given? 5 years after I wrote that letter, my mother says I received some mail at my old address. It was my letter. and WOW! is all I can say.
So as the end of the year comes, think about doing this with your students. You might just hit them in a way you never reached all year.