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  • Archive for the ‘Nonsense’ Category

    Great Sites for Teachers (Part 1)


    2014 - 07.18

    When school starts in August, my high school will be pushing out the 1:1 Initiative. For you folks out there that don’t know what that is, it’s basically where our school got a grant to give every student in the junior high and high school their very own MacBook Air laptops. Last year was our junior high’s first year with the MacBooks, and this year, it’s our turn. Some of us are looking forward to the change, some are iffy, but the majority of us are pretty darn nervous.

    Anywho, I’ve been going through trainings throughout the school year and the summer, and my colleagues have provided us with some amazing resources for use in our classroom. Now, mind you, some of these sources are in no way a replacement for any true classroom instruction, but they can certainly be utilized as tools to better engage our students in our lessons. It’s a proven fact that when students are actively engaged in a lesson, they learn much more than students who spend an hour (or 47 minutes in my case) at their desk listening to lectures. Below are some resources I’ve collected and saved for everyone to find. The headers are clickable links so you can view the sites. I have collected so many resources that I will probably have to make more than one entry here to show them all. Here are ones I’ve collected so far.

    Schoology

    Schoology.Learn.Together.logo whiteThis is the site we will be using during the upcoming school year to implement our classes. For the record, the word is pronounced just as it is spelled, not ‘School-OL-ogy.’ The thing that I love about this so far is that it combines the aspects of Facebook with platforms like Moodle and Blackboard. It’s user friendly so that even veteran teachers can manipulate it pretty easily. You can set up groups for your separate classes, and you give those classes a special code to join. On my Schoology, I also created a group for my advisory as a place to post announcements and a group for my Anime Club so that if I have students miss due to other obligations, they can view our discussions and get information on what anime to view or manga to read for the next meeting. What’s even better is that absent students can look up assignments posted for that day and stay caught up. You can make your own tests and quizzes, and the students have instant feedback with the exception of essay/short answer, which you will have to grade yourself. It still cuts down the grading, and with 120-130 students per teacher, that can be a real time-saver. And what makes this even better? Schoology offers a free app that you can download for your smartphone, so if you’re like me and you forget to tell your class something important, you can post it via the app or you can grade your homework turn ins while waiting for your turn at the doctor’s office.

    Discovery Education

    We had a training on this last week, and honestly, there was so much to it that I am not sure I remember hardly anything, to be honest. I can say, however, that there’s a good number of resources on here that teachers can use in conjunction with lessons. As an English teacher, Romeo and Juliet is a big unit for me, so the students have to learn about Shakespeare himself as well as Elizabethan theater and the Elizabethan era as a whole. Right now, this site is probably better for science and social studies, but the trainer said they were working on sources for math and ELA, so I’m hopeful that once I use this source, I’ll be able to gather some good videos and other sources to use with my units. You can create folders in which you can save any useful sources you find, and you can post your sources on Schoology for your classes, and you can create boards (or have students create them). Honestly, I have yet to play around more with this, but I thought I would throw this in.

    Grammar Bytes

    Here’s a site we English teachers discovered where students can log in and do grammar lessons. I would probably recommend students do Grammar Bytes as a supplement to a teacher-led grammar lesson as either independent practice or bell work. I haven’t played much with this site, but it is free to join!

     

     

     

     

     

    English Grammar 101

    This is a site that I stumbled upon while looking for free online grammar lessons, so I haven’t had a chance to share with my department. There’s all sorts of advanced grammar lessons in here under the free modules that even include tests at the end of each module. In Module 1, for example, students can take lessons that dabble in the eight parts of speech such as noun identification, verb identification, etc. There’s even lessons that show prepositions acting out as verbs and adverbs modifying adjectives. The other modules contain subjects and predicates, appositives, clauses, participle phrases…I mean this site has an entire grammar textbook right here! Now you do have to pay for your printables, which come in the form of an e-mailable PDF, but we teachers are resourceful enough that we can find plenty of free worksheets.

     

    Spider Scribe

    Do your students need help with brainstorming a paper? Or maybe they want to present a mind map to the class? Spider Scribe is a good site just for that. It’s free to join, and even companies use it for presentations. I haven’t messed with this one too much, but as far as I can tell, it’s quite easy to use, and I am not yet sure whether I like this better or Padlet. It’s also free to join.

     

    Padlet

    This site is very similar  to Spider Scribe, and again, I am not sure which one I like better. I do know that Padlet has a feature where you can have students in your classroom collaborate in groups on an assigned topic for presentation where I am unsure whether Spider Scribe has a similar feature. It’s fairly easy to use, in my opinion, and the bubbles are colorful, which is a bonus for me since I enjoy color. Like Spider Scribe, it’s free to join.

     

     

     

     

    Jeopardy Labs

    Everyone probably remembers the classic game show hosted by Alec Trebek, and everyone enjoys playing a good round of Jeopardy. My first experience with Jeopardy in a classroom was when my band teacher taught a music appreciation class and he would play Jeopardy with us as review for tests over music time periods and their composers. Of course that was back before the World Wide Web and handy dandy sites like these. At Jeopardy labs, you can build your own Jeopardy game and have up to six teams (beneficial if you have a big class), and it is G-R-E-A-T for reviews. I built a Julius Caesar game for my sophomores last year, and it was a bloodbath of epic proportions — but in a good and extremely comical way. This can be displayed on a Smartboard or Promethean board and with the students playing in teams (computer free), it’s a great way to get them out of their seats and collaborating with one another for correct answers, or you can have each person in a team line up and take turns answering.

    These are only a few of the resources I’ve saved and collected. I’ll be putting up another post of more resources soon, so stay tuned! If anyone has any resources they would like to share, please leave it in the comment section and I will do my best to check it out. If I think it can be useful, I’ll feature it in one of my entries!

    My Friends Are Published Authors!


    2014 - 07.17

    Just a quick post to let people know that my two good friends Rachel Stiber and Charles Gearhart are releasing their books soon! Rachel’s new book, Elise’s Choice will be released August 25, and Charles’ children’s book, Never Nurse a Grudge will be released sometime in September.

    Rachel got her edits back and has been working on them tirelessly this past week, but she did send me her cover reveal, and if you will direct your attention to my Blogroll, I have added her website to help promote her. Charles and I were personally a part of Rachel’s writing process back when she still worked with us at the elementary school, and we helped with much of the initial proofreading. I can tell you that Rachel also has many, many ideas for upcoming stories relating to Elise’s Choice, which is why I hope this initial book does well for her. The ideas she has are really great, and I can hardly wait until she starts kicking around with plotting. I wish I could say more, but I can’t. It would be like telling your kids they’re getting bicycles for Christmas when Christmas hasn’t arrived, yet.

    I couldn’t get the html code to work so I could embed the cover reveal, so instead, you can find the website for the reveal here. Again, the book will be out August 25, and to support my friend, I will most definitely buy a copy.

    Charles’ book was supposed to come out in June, but because the end of the school year did not afford him time to work on his illustrations, the publishing company pushed his release back to sometime in September. The publishing website on which he is featured is here.

    Well I guess that just leaves me to get on the ball about rewriting the rest of my poems from high school and finally getting to be a published author myself!

    Book Critique: Betrayed


    2012 - 12.06


    Summary: Fledgling vampyre Zoey Redbird has managed to settle in at the House of Night.  She’s come to terms with the vast powers the vampyre goddess, Nyx, has given her, and is getting a handle on being the new Leader of the Dark Daughters. Best of all, Zoey finally feels like she belongs–like she really fits in. She actually has a boyfriend…or two. Then the unthinkable happens: Human teenagers are being killed, and all the evidence points to the House of Night. While danger stalks the humans from Zoey’s old life, she begins to realize that the very powers that make her so unique might also threaten those she loves. Then, when she needs her new friends the most, death strikes the House of Night, and Zoey must find the courage to face a betrayal that could break her heart, her soul, and jeopardize the very fabric of her world.

    Setting: Tulsa, Oklahoma

    Critique: Another awesome book by the mother-daughter duo, P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast. Zoey Redbird is finally fitting in at the House of Night. In the previous book, Marked, Zoey really didn’t fit in at her human high school. Pretty much anyone can agree that being a teenager can suck sometimes, especially when your body is filled with raging hormones and drama seems to follow you everywhere you go, as is the case with Zoey. Although she does strike me at times as a Mary Sue, I ought to say that she really is the kind of character I can identify with. She drives a vintage Volkswagen Beetle, which is actually what I had wanted when my dad had one. She’s from a broken home with a non-existent biological father and a mother who seemed to have lost her identity when she married a jerk of a stepfather. With so many kids coming from single-parent families and blended families, most teenage readers can certainly identify with Zoey in this sense. Incidentally, the said stepfather that Zoey hates is one of the Elders of the People of Faith, and he believes Zoey and her kind are evil. Her family…wow…what a joke. They basically disown her in the story, but the one person to whom she is close is her grandmother, Silvia, who owns a lavender farm and brought Zoey up to respect the ways of the Cherokee. Silvia has become one of my favorite characters because she’s the kind of grandmother every kid would want, not that mine wasn’t amazing herself when she was alive. But probably the thing that makes me really like Zoey as a character is simply the fact that she’s nerdy. She likes Star Wars, and at one point in the story, she mentioned her ‘Borg Invasion’ hoodie pullover. Being a Trekkie, that earned some major brownie points for me.

    In the first book, Zoey was taken under the wing of the school’s headmaster, the High Priestess, Neferet, whom Zoey saw as the motherly figure she has wanted since her own mother had fallen victim to her marriage to John, the ‘steploser’, as Zoey calls him. In this story, Zoey’s view changes about Neferet when she finds out that Neferet is not who she appears to be. Meanwhile, Zoey seems to have formed a tentative alliance with a very unexpected person: Aphrodite, the recently deposed High Priestess in training and ‘hag bitch from hell’ who picked on Zoey for her colored in mark when she had first arrived at the House of Night a month prior. Zoey is also still struggling to find a way to break her accidental imprint with Heath, her human ex-boyfriend who can’t seem to get a clue that Zoey can no longer be his. It seems that each time she tries to tell Heath that it’s over for good between them, it fails miserably and ends with her ‘feeding’ from him (which is actually supposed to be sexually stimulating for both the vamp and the host).

    These books have a little bit of everything, overall good characters, and I especially like the wholesome Stevie Rae, who is Zoey’s best friend and roommate in the story. I also like how Damien, Zoey’s gay friend is written; he is not stereotypical! He doesn’t wave around his hands and talk like a valley girl. He’s good at fencing and academics, and he was gifted with an affinity for air. He tends to be on the same side as the boys rather than girls, and he is often to group’s voice when they are thinking the same thing. Damien sometimes endures intolerant behavior directed at him such as when a boy refused to be roommates with a ‘fag’, and as a writer, I believe it’s realistic to face characters with intolerant behavior directed toward them because it makes them grow as characters.

    Toward the end of the book, however, death strikes the House of Night as a very important fledgling dies in Zoey’s arms, and while I can’t give spoilers, I will say that it was a devastating blow to Zoey and her friends.

    Rating: I give this one another four out of five stars. Overall, I loved it!

    I am nearly finished with the fourth book, but stay tuned for a critique on Book Three in the H.O.N. series, Chosen.