Book of the Week: Alanna: The First Adventure, by Tamora Pierce

Alanna: The First Adventure, by Tamora Pierce
Fantasy

Alanna and Thom are twins, but they don’t have very much in common. Alanna loves sword fighting and horseback riding, while Thom is quiet, studious, and dreams of becoming a sorcerer. Unfortunately their father has other plans: he thinks Alanna needs to learn needlework and manners so she can be a proper lady, and he wants to send Thom to become a knight. Continue reading “Book of the Week: Alanna: The First Adventure, by Tamora Pierce”

Book of the Week: Codename Zero, by Chris Rylander

Codename Zero, by Chris Rylander
Action/Adventure

Seventh grader Carson Fender has lived in North Dakota his entire life. It’s pretty much empty, so he has to liven things up a little – for example, by executing epic pranks. Like, um, releasing hundreds of goats on school property. And then, while everyone’s trying to round up the goats, super-gluing everything in the building. Every stapler to every desk. Gluing all the doors shut. Et cetera. Continue reading “Book of the Week: Codename Zero, by Chris Rylander”

Go Phish

So I fell prey to that Google phishing scam yesterday.

…yeah.

Now I’m going to make a bunch of excuses: I got the email before it became big news (it hadn’t even shown up on Twitter yet!), it was from a guy I volunteer with who was supposed to send me a Google Doc this week (and who usually BCCs the other volunteers), it was after lunch and I’d hit a blood sugar lull…

But I knew. In my heart of hearts, I was like, “this looks kind of weird, what’s the deal with this hhhhhh email address” – but I clicked it anyway. And now I have to live with the shame. I mean, I teach kids about internet safety, and I fell for a phishing scam?!

And then I thought: oh man, what an opportunity.

Continue reading “Go Phish”

Book of the Week: The Bitter Side of Sweet, by Tara Sullivan

The Bitter Side of Sweet, by Tara Sullivan
Realistic fiction

Fifteen-year-old Amadou and his eight-year-old brother are trapped. Two years ago they left their village in search of work. What they found instead was a life of forced labor, near starvation, and beatings on a cacao plantation in a neighboring country. Despite their hardships, Amadou is determined to earn his way back home – the plantation owners told him that he and his brother could leave once they worked enough. So he spends his days trying to protect his little brother while working a dangerous job in the middle of nowhere. Continue reading “Book of the Week: The Bitter Side of Sweet, by Tara Sullivan”

Book of the Week: Undefeated, by Steve Sheinkin

Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team, by Steve Sheinkin
Nonfiction

Back in the early 1900s, football was just getting started. And if you think football is violent and dangerous now, imagine how much crazier it was back when helmets were optional, nobody wore pads, and passing wasn’t allowed, so every play ended up in a giant pile of players on the ground. Continue reading “Book of the Week: Undefeated, by Steve Sheinkin”

Book of the Week: The Doll’s Eye, by Marina Cohen

The Doll’s Eye, by Marina Cohen
Horror

Hadley’s life has been totally upended. It’s always been just her and her mom, living in their Pittsburgh apartment. Then her mom met Ed, and in the blink of an eye she and Ed got married, and they became a family of four, with Ed’s six-year-old son Isaac. Now they’re moving to a weird old house in the country, far away from Hadley’s school and her friends and the only life she’s ever known. Continue reading “Book of the Week: The Doll’s Eye, by Marina Cohen”

Book of the Week: The Wild Robot, by Peter Brown

The Wild Robot, by Peter Brown
Fantasy/Science fiction

In the middle of the ocean, a cargo ship is carrying five hundred brand-new robots when a hurricane strikes. It’s chaos: most of the robots sink to the ocean floor, but five are thrown to the winds. Wooden boxes are dashed against the rocky shore of a small island, and the robots inside are destroyed. Continue reading “Book of the Week: The Wild Robot, by Peter Brown”

Book of the Week: See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

See You in the Cosmos, Jack Cheng
Realistic fiction

Alex Petroski has big plans. He’s going to take an Amtrak to New Mexico to go to a rocket launching convention. He’s going to launch his homemade rocket all the way into space. And he’s going to attach the Golden iPod: a recording he’s been working on. When aliens find his rocket – and Alex is sure they will – they’ll be able to find out what life was like on Earth from listening to Alex’s recorded conversations. Continue reading “Book of the Week: See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng”

The Great Greek Debates

Over the course of this weeklong project, students work in groups to learn about the different types of government in Ancient Greece. They conduct research and do a LOT of critical thinking, and they get to face the challenge – often for the first time! – of having to defend an idea they disagree with. Let’s be real: lots of grown-ups struggle with that. Continue reading “The Great Greek Debates”