February 17

Book Review: Ever Alice by HJ Ramsay

Ever Alice

HJ Ramsay

Red Rogue Press

Published: August 1, 2019

Fantasy, Young Adult/Teen

ISBN: 9780996923941

Amazon Goodreads

 

What really happens to Alice after she comes back from Wonderland? According to Ever Alice by HJ Ramsay, poor Alice’s life is never the same. This tale takes readers on a journey with Alice back to the “curiouser and curiouser” world of Wonderland, reuniting us with favorite (and not-so-favorite) characters, and putting a whole new spin on this beloved tale

 

When Alice returned from Wonderland in the original Lewis Carroll tale, life was supposed to return to normal for the silly blond girl. However, with no one believing her stories of talking animals and the Queen of Hearts, Alice found herself torn from her family and place in an asylum. There was only one way out of this situation, and that was a return to Wonderland, to the Queen of Heart’s palace, and to a whole new adventure.

Alice is reunited with her beloved White Rabbit (real name, Ralph), who has a new mission for Alice – kill the Queen of Hearts. Then she will be able to return home and all will be well. What Alice doesn’t expect, is to make friends in the Queen’s court, and maybe even fall in love?

Ever Alice was an  exciting and unique twist on the typical Alice in Wonderland tale. HJ Ramsay takes us deeper into the land we became familiar with in Lewis Carroll’s original works and leads down a dark and sinister path of plots and intrigue. At times the story seems to be heading off a cliff, but Alice always finds a way to solve the problems and come out on top, even when it seems impossible. She is a beloved heroine and Ramsay does an excellent job of staying true to the whimsy and wackiness of the original Wonderland, while taking us on a whole new journey. Any teen, young adult, or even adult who enjoys the original Alice tale should definitely pick up a copy of Ever Alice.

I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book so I could give an honest review.

February 15

Valentine’s Day STEM Cards Round Up


A day late and a dollar (or more) short, but what can I say? It has been crazy rounding up materials for over-the-top Valentines Day boxes and creative ideas for cards for my elementary kids to pass out.

*Note to teachers: parents, especially those with multiple children, do not always appreciate having to “help” create a Valentines box based on a Greek myth, or shaped like an animal, or with specific parameters outlawing glue, tape, cardboard and paper. I get it, I do! You want to foster creativity and don’t have time to work it in to the curriculum. But let’s be real here. Between ballet class, church groups, my work, my husband’s work, two scout groups, and the kids expecting to be fed, we barely have time to do the “normal” homework. Then we are assigned to make an over the top creation (like the one pictured above – not mine, BTW. Someday I’ll dig out a pic of Poseidon’s ship…) Did we get it done? Yes. Did we enjoy the process? No. Did it serve a purpose other than proving which kid’s parent has the most crafting skills? Not really. OK. Stepping off my soap box now.*

Different schools do different things for Valentines Day. Our elementary has the big class party with boxes and cards for everyone (but no candy!) and games. The junior high I was subbing at yesterday allowed kids, or teachers, to purchase candy-grams with heart-shaped suckers and send them to friends. My kid’s junior high basically ignored the fact that it was happening. It all got me thinking about my future class. Even 12-14 year olds like Valentines – even though the boys roll their eyes and act like they are too cool. Or maybe that’s just when they come from mom. So I put together some fun (and appropriate) Valentines card ideas for science and math teachers on my Pinterest board:

February 11

Book Review: Hieroglyph by WJ Scott

Hieroglyph

Series: TC’s Adventures – Book 1

WJ Scott

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Published: September 30, 2016

Ages 9-12

ISBN: 978-1539151111

Amazon Goodreads

 

A fast-paced, intriguing journey bridging the ancient and modern worlds, Hieroglyphs was a fun book that I would recommend to any reader interested in adventure, ancient Egypt, or archaeology.  It was a quick read that kept me interested throughout and left me wanting to hear more about TC’s adventures.

TC is a 13-year-old living with her aunt in New Zealand when she finds herself on an adventure to the past. After being sent to Sydney, Australia, to visit her archeologist uncle, TC fears that she is destined to be bored to tears sitting through seminars while Uncle Max attempts to persuade investors to back his most recent project. When TC accompanies Uncle Max to the dig site, her world changes and she finds herself in the midst of an ancient expedition.

TC had a secret; one that she hadn’t shared with anyone, even the aunt with whom she lived.  Due to this secret, TC was an outcast, considered a “weirdo” at school. She is a relatable character for any teenager who likes a bit of adventure or has ever felt different from their classmates.

I really enjoyed Hieroglyph, and recommend it to any middle grade, preteen reader.  The only downside to the book was that the climax of the story was so close to the end of the book that it ended too suddenly.  I would have loved to hear more about TC’s adventures, and I hope that WJ Scott writes a second book in the series soon.

I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book so I could give an honest review.

February 9

National Pizza Day Ideas Round-Up

Did someone say PizzA?

One of my favorite foods is pizza. I know pizza is different all across the country: from big, thin, floppy slices in New York to thick, deep-dish in Chicago. Even where I live, the Quad Cities, has our own style of pizza with malt in the crust and super-finely ground sausage.  How ever you slice it (pun intended), pizza is a part of American food culture. We even have a day to celebrate this food marvel: National Pizza Day, February 9.

Pizza in the Classroom

I love when teachers find ways to incorporate special days into the classroom. I realize that with crack-downs on food in classrooms it may not be feasible to have a pizza party in the class. However, there are fun ways you can play with your food!  I’ve put together a few ways to teach math or science using pizza. These are mostly middle grade (4-8) ideas since that is what I plan to teach, but there are tons more out there. These can just get you started.  Check them out on my National Pizza Day Pinterest board, and feel free to follow me while you are there.

Do you celebrate fun days like this in your classroom? If so, drop me a comment and tell me how! I’d love to hear your ideas!

Now I’m off to grab a slice…

February 7

Building my PLN with Twitter

I have succumbed to the Twitterverse.  I’ve had a personal Twitter account for years which I basically used to enter sweepstakes and didn’t have any real interest in otherwise.  However, with one of my classes this semester requiring us to tweet (#unietd), I made myself a professional account and have attempted to embrace this new world.

What’s the Word?

Mostly, it’s been information related to my Educational Technology Class, after all, that’s why I started it in the first place.  I’ve also used it to promote National Burn Awareness Week (a cause important to me), and to retweet some things I’ve found interesting.  I’m off to a slow start, but in a month, having 37 new followers isn’t bad.

Who to Follow?

I’ve found some really great people to follow. I started with all of my classmates and added some of the teachers I work with. In addition, I follow @edublogs and @kathleen_morris from Edublogs.  I’ve started adding some people I’ve been “introduced to” through other blogs like: @shannonmiller, @townsleyaj from #IAEdChat, and some various school districts.  There are companies like @GoogleForEdu and @Eduporium that tweet out good information as well.  My favorites may be some authors who I’ve connected with like @johngreen and @CGrabenstein.  There are tons of options, depending on what you want to learn about.

But how does this grow my PLN?

The best thing about Twitter for my PLN has just been connecting with other people who are interested in the same things as me. I’ve discovered new blogs and podcasts to listen to. I’ve learned a lot of new ideas for how to use tech in the classroom. I’ve met new people and gotten my name out there to increase my “social media footprint”.

So, who do you follow on Twitter that has made a big difference for you?

February 2

Groundhog Day Ideas Round-Up

Since today is Groundhog Day, I decided to start a little collection of fun activities for my classroom relating to the holiday. There are tons of ideas out there for younger elementary, but my goal is to teach upper elementary/middle school, particularly math. There isn’t as much out there, but here are a few things I found:

What other fun ideas do you have for older kids on Groundhog Day?

February 1

World Read Aloud Day 2019

Today (February 1, 2019) is World Read Aloud Day. Teachers, librarians, authors, random people on the street were encouraged to read a book or story out loud to spread the joy of reading.

I found myself substituting in 7th grade English today, so of course that was perfect for reading. I asked my own 8th grader to pick a picture book from his childhood stash that wouldn’t be too awful for junior high kids and took that along with me.  While I didn’t get to read to my actual classes (not enough time), I did make a video of myself reading it to share with the rest of the world.

And so, I present to you…The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith (excerpt: The Really Ugly Duckling).

 

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January 31

What I’ve Been Reading: January 2019

I LOVE BOOKS!  Sleep does not happen for me without absorbing at least a chapter of my newest literary find.  It is so important to find books that you love, and inspiring young people to continue reading later in life is one of my goals. To accomplish this, I want to share 2 “types” of book posts with you.

Stories Inside

Abraham Arthemius via Compfight

Monthly Reading List:

These posts will come out the end of each month, just to show you what I’ve read. I won’t be extensively reviewing these books on my blog, but you can definitely hop over to goodreads and see what I’ve said about them over there.  These will mostly be adult books, but I do really enjoy YA fiction and fantasy, so I’ll throw those in as well occasionally.

How do I pick my books?

I participate in the ATY Book Challenge, which stands for Around the Year Book Challenge.  It’s 52 categories of books, with the idea of reading one category each week.  This is a great way to try out some new things I might not have read otherwise.

Youth Book Reviews:

I like to keep up on books that will be interesting to the students I am (or will be) teaching, so I’ll try to sneak in an occasional book review for middle grade/young adult books as well.  These will be linked on the page Read, Review, Recommend as well so you can always look there for books you might want to check out!  Right now I have a couple of advanced reading copies that I am super excited to finish and share with you soon!

My January 2019 Reading List:

Juliet
it was ok
ATY Category: Book based on a Shakespeare play – Juliet was based on Romeo and Juliet.
The Lost Symbol
really liked it
ATY Category: Book with a criminal main character.
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
liked it
ATY Category: Book featuring a historical character, in this case J. Edgar Hoover
Shanghai Girls
liked it
ATY Category: Book nominated for an award in your favorite genre – Historical Fiction
The Shining
really liked it
ATY Category: Book with an author or writer as the main character

So…what are you reading? Leave me a comment to let me know what books you’ve been hooked on lately so I can add them to my list!

January 28

Growing My PLN: Blogroll Building

218/365 : Depressed

Henti Smith via Compfight

This week has been a whirlwind of learning as I have thought about blogs, PLNs, twitter, and all of the things involved in a social media footprint. It’s been eye-opening and a bit overwhelming; however, I have had some fun making some new connections in the great wide world! I hope to share some of what I’ve learned through my own blog, starting with what I’m learning from others.

Blogs I’ve Discovered:

Most of these blogs were recommended to me by colleagues on Twitter on in response to my own post.  I’ve  spent some time perusing them and am excited to dive in deeper to each of these.

Made with Padlet

What other blogs for teachers or aspiring teachers do you recommend?

January 26

PLN – Learning How I Learn

Have you ever really sat down and thought about how you learn? Where do you get your information? What sources do you trust? Who do you talk to? Do you have a “go-to” team of collaborators?

PLN? What is That??

One of the classes I am enrolled in this semester is Educational Technology. Right away in the first week of class we were asked to begin thinking about and beginning to expand our PLN. My first question was “What in the world is a PLN?” As I soon learned, a PLN is a Personal (or Professional) Learning Network. A network of people, places, sources, etc. where you get ideas, learn new things, or just talk about what you are doing. Since I’m just getting started, I didn’t really think I had much of a PLN, until I sat down to make out a map of where I am at now. Here is what that map looks like:

I have a lot more branches on here than I thought I would for just starting out! Over the course of this semester, I am going to be working on expanding this map. I’ve been doing some thinking about where to expand and over the next few months.

What Now?

Here are my plans for the next few months

  1. Grow my Twitter account – I just started a twitter feed for my classroom.  Feel free to follow me @AngieBrand12
  2. Find and follow some great education themed blogs.  Have some suggestions? I’d love to know what blogs you find useful! Feel free to leave me a comment!
  3. Start my own blog and get some people interacting with me on here. That’s what you are reading right now!
  4. Find and subscribe to some great teaching podcasts. What podcasts do you listen to?
  5. Start filling up my Pinterest account with some ideas for my future classroom.

Your Thoughts:

What does your PLN look like? I would love to hear from other educators on what your favorite blogs and podcasts are – where do you go for information?