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Showing posts from April, 2018

Wow, it’s been awhile since I read something that I stayed up all night to finish. Full review soon, but this book was intense.

EdCamp Lancaster - 4/21/18

I love EdCamp! On Saturday I got to experience my fourth EdCamp, and this time I was on the organizing committee. If you've never attended, check out the EdCamp website. Basically, EdCamps are free, fluid, teacher-led PD opportunities where you hang out with other teachers and talk about topics that interest you.

The day started with an awesome Panera breakfast, and then teachers sat around and wrote their topics of interest or questions on Post-it notes. These were organized on a large grid and then were moved over to create our working schedule.

The large grid was then converted into a digital schedule that was embedded into the EdCamp Weebly.

Then it was time to make our choices and move to our sessions! The great thing about EdCamp is the "Rule of Two Feet". If a session doesn't work for you, you are totally free to get up and move to another session. Since no one prepared anything in advance, you aren't hurting anyone's feelings. It's all about you …

Review: Refugee

Refugee by Alan Gratz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Refugee is the story of three children caught up in completely separate events in totally different time periods that force them to flee their homes and become refugees in search of safety. Josef and his family flee the Nazis in 1930. Isabel flees Castro in Cuba in 1994. Mahmoud flees war in Syria in 2015. All three children face terrible dangers, including the loss of family and friends. This is an important book that has so many teachable moments. Gratz himself stated that his purpose in writing Refugee was to teach empathy. He calls it the seeing of the unseen and caring for others.

I almost never give five stars. Gratz hit a home run with this one. It's truly an amazing book.

Grades 6+ (thematic elements, some violence)

View all my reviews

Review: The Living

The Living by Matt de la Pena
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reader's Annotation:
A teen joins the crew of a cruise ship hoping to make some money over the summer, but experiences more than he bargained for when a tsunami sinks his ship and he has to survive shark-infested waters. He makes it to an island, but instead of safety, he is confronted with secrets and dangers that could potentially wipe out the world's population.

My Thoughts:
This is a fun, fast read. It started a little slow, and I had a hard time connecting with the main characters. But the action picks up a few chapters in and then I was hooked. The themes in the book are survival, friendship, and overcoming adversity.

My Recommendation:
4.5/5 stars
Grades 9+ (this is a tricky one, because my middle school students would love this story. There is some language and some romantic situations (not too graphic), but I was more concerned with the intensity of the violence with the shark attacks and the violent deaths …

Review: Station Eleven

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reader's Annotation:
A virus ends the world as we know it, killing 99% of the population within 48 hours. A small group of seemingly unconnected characters forges through the following 20 years, trying to make their way and find meaning in the new world.

My Thoughts:
A colleague referred to this as a "quiet dystopian novel", and I completely agree. I am a huge fan of dystopia, but the zombie apocalypse has been done and redone so many times. I found this novel to be a refreshing change. The focus really wasn't on the end itself, but rather the rising of the survivors. It emphasized relationships that connected those survivors and how we lean on each other in times of hardship. I can't say that I understood all of Mandel's devices or plot lines, though. I was confused by the interjections of the comic book plot. I know that somehow the comic book tied everything together, but that was a bit over m…