February 19

Book Review: The Flooded Earth by Mardi McConnochie

The Flooded Earth

Mardi McConnochie

Series: The Flooded Earth – Book 1

Pajama Press

Published: September 28, 2018

Fiction, Middle Grade

ISBN: 9781772780499

Amazon Goodreads


When the Flood hit, the world changed. The Admiralty took over, people moved inland, coastal cities were abandoned and became run-down slums. One of these abandoned cities was home to Will and Annalie. That is, until the Admiralty came looking for their father and they found themselves on a high-seas adventure to find him.

Will and Annalie set out to find Spinner, their father, with no idea where he could be. All they have is his old boat, some ancient tech, and his talking parrot Graham. When Annalie’s school fried, Essie, ends up tagging along by accident, she ends up learning a lot of lessons: about the sea, herself, and what it means to be a family. Along the way, the trio becomes a quartet, picking up a stranded former slave named Pod. The four of them survive almost ever type of disaster you can imagine: storms, pirates, run-ins with the Admiralty. Eventually, making it to their destination, the only place they thought Spinner might have gone, the kids discover that you don’t always know who you can trust.

This intriguing story of friendship, family, and adventure is perfect for middle grade students, both boys and girls. Some may relate to Will, a boy who doubts himself but feels responsible for the outcome of everything around him. Annalie is an intelligent girl, who is compassionate and would rather let Will think he’s running the show than step in and take over even when she knows he’s wrong. Essie is in the midst of family turmoil, but would do anything for her best friend. Finally, Pod has never known family, happiness, or security, and when he finds these three things in his new friends he shows true loyalty and love.

The only downside to the book was that I was unsatisfied with the ending. No spoilers here, but I was left wanting more. Thankfully, the next book in the series (The Castle in the Sea) comes out in June, and it is already on my to-read list!

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

February 18

E-Week Ideas Round Up

Today starts E-Week. What is E-Week? Elephant Appreciation week? While that would be awesome, no. Eleven week? Nope, the eleventh week of the year isn’t until the first week of March – 2 weeks away.  No, E-Week stands for Engineer Week – a week to:

  • Celebrate how engineers make a difference in our world
  • Increase public dialogue about the need for engineers
  • Bring engineering to life for kids, educators, and parents

You can learn more about E-Week at DiscoverE.org.

As a future teacher who wants to focus on Science and Math, engineering specifically and STEM in general are going to be essential topics in my classroom. I also want to be involved in activities outside of the classroom like First Lego League and MathCounts to get my students excited about STEM careers. I hope to celebrate E-Week in my classroom. There are a ton of ideas and resources out there, but here are a few I’ve collected:

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


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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