Novel Madness 2017–SEMIFINALS

The excitement is building in my classroom as we near the end of our favorite novel of all time competition. Today we heard speeches from the last four books and chose two for the final competition. Are these the two you would have chosen? Our final two novels will compete on Tuesday, March 21. They are:... Continue Reading →

Novel Madness 2017–Round Two

Half the books in our novel tournament were eliminated today in a hotly contested competition. Eight novels are left. Did your favorites make it through to the next round? Stay tuned as we narrow down our favorites. Round Two is on Wednesday, 3/15.   Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson vs. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine... Continue Reading →

Novel Madness 2017

March means Madness! Coinciding with the college basketball tournament, my class has a novel tournament each year. They brainstorm their favorite all-time novels and narrow it down to sixteen titles. Then the fun begins! They pair off and write a persuasive argument to convince their classmates to vote for their novel. Each week, half the... Continue Reading →

Daily Arguments

When teaching students to write persuasively (which Common Core now calls Argument), it's important for them to realize that they encounter the art of persuasion every day. After all, persuasion is nothing more than influencing someone else. In ancient Greece, Aristotle wrote abut how to persuade others. Three hundred years later, in Rome, Cicero wrote... Continue Reading →

The End is a New Beginning

I'm excited to announce that I have finished the first draft of my newest novel, Aloha Spirit! It begins in Honolulu in 1922 and follows the main character to California through 1960. Inspired by the life of my husband's grandmother, Carmen Dolores Medeiros, the novel shows how one woman overcomes difficulties to find her own aloha... Continue Reading →

When I Say Merry Christmas

Every year at this time, I hear cheery calls of "Happy Holidays!" I say, "Merry Christmas." People say that Happy Holidays doesn't offend non-Christians or others who don't celebrate Christmas. I understand that, and I certainly don't want to discourage friendly greetings of any kind. I, however, will continue to say Merry Christmas, and you... Continue Reading →

What is a 21st Century Learner?

What is a 21st century learner? Equally important, what does a 21st century classroom look like? It’s important that students learn the same content they always have. They will need reading and writing, math, science, and social studies. They will also need interpersonal skills like teamwork and collaboration, as well as skills learned on the playground like... Continue Reading →

I’ll Give You the Sun

 I'll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson, is one of the best magical realism books I've read for Young Adults. It features twins, a boy and a girl, named Noah and Jude. They are coming of age in a world where Jude regularly sees and receives advice from her dead grandmother, and Noah sees... Continue Reading →

Okay For Now

Okay For Now, by Gary Schmidt, is the story of a boy who discovers a love of beauty and of himself by learning to appreciate plates from a book of Audubon's birds. Doug is fourteen years old. He is new to town and has no friends. His father abuses him and his brother is a jerk.... Continue Reading →

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