Visit Me at my New Site!

Hello, everyone!

This website is still getting a lot of hits….I think because of that really awesome pin I have about interview tips.

To get up-to-date information about what is happening in my classroom and book reviews, please visit me at:

theliteraryowlblog.wordpress.com

Thanks!

Book Review: In the After by Demitria Lunetta

Have you ever been really curious as to what would happen if aliens invaded Earth? I can’t say I was until I read this book. It was recommended to me by a co-worker that I trust in her book taste and then again by my school’s librarian. Set in the not-so-far-off future of the United States, Lunetta’s debut novel, In the After, is a strong introduction into life after the apocalypse.

The main character, Amy, splits her life into two separate parts–The Before and The After. The book jumps pretty quickly into the After portion. We get a glimpse into her life before–Mom has a max-security clearance job with the government and Dad is an environmentalist hippie. Amy is just your run of the mill everyday, average teen. Until They show up one day while she’s watching the news.

As I was reading the beginning of this book, I kept thinking “There is no way this is going to be like, 400 and some pages. All the action is happening now!” Within the first 50 pages, we meet Them (the pea green, human flesh craving aliens that have come to Earth), Amy finds a baby she names Baby in a supermarket, and there are some pretty near death experiences. Initially, this instant set up with jarring to me—I felt like the climax of the story happened every couple of pages, but as I neared the end of section 1, it made more sense.

Commence section two–Amy and Baby have been living for three years together in the dark, in silence. It was pretty convenient, in terms of alien attacks, that Amy’s dad had built a rooftop garden, installed solar panels, and constructed a rainwater shed water system so the girls had power, food, and running water the whole time. This is the only major detail I disliked in the book. Amy and Baby are forced to leave their home (I cannot tell you why, but it does contribute to a major twist ending) and are picked up by black clad figures that initially seem to be more aliens. The girls learn that they are not and are taken to a place called New Hope, a university that survived the alien attacks formerly known as Husten-Prime.

In my humble opinion, this is where things got a wee bit hairy for me. Things start to pick up at bit in this section. Amy meets a strapping young lad that, despite any major romantic gestures or relationship development on Lunetta’s part, is taken by Amy within 50 pages of meeting her even though she has an ugly hair cut. There are also a set of doctor’s that are out to protect the community at any cost and there is a weird group of teenagers that are allowed to sit all day and think about ways to make New Hope better.

Then…..in my opinion, it happens. The story magically shifts to italic fonts. It’s clearly Amy speaking, but readers do not know where she is or what she is doing. Then it switches back. It does this for a lot of the section. It gets pretty old after a while, I will admit. At first it’s intriguing–Amy is going on about doctors testing her brain, she is drugged, etc. After a while though, I got to the point where I’m like JUST FREAKING TELL ME ALREADY WHERE SHE IS! It does tell you (in section 3).

The book goes on to follow Amy in her discovery of the mysteries of New Hope and her decision to become a guardian, which ultimately separates her from Baby. I haven’t spent much time on the relationship between Amy and Baby, but it’s really important to both this book and the next book. Amy would die to save Baby or kill anyone to save her. As her only companion for 3 years in silence during the apocalypse, I understand the attachment complete. Lunetta really established this and you come to love Baby. She’s innocent and sweet, but smart and has really uncanny hearing. Amy is painstakingly pulled away from Baby as she becomes a Guardian, a position that allows her to fight Floraes and avoid the law that states all women are to have babies every three years until they are 40—ew, gross, I know.

I can’t reveal too many details about section three, but this is where the weird narration and the regular story meet back up. You really are going to hate Doctor Reynolds here. There are also three pretty major twists in this section and some guests to New Hope. Despite how annoying the whole Ward situation is, this section was really awesome. I was reading during class and I kept gasping as each twist happened. They are so stinking major it hurts! I think that is what got all my kids wanting to read it. I pose the question as I leave you—Is it really an alien novel?

Rating: 5 Owls
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Why I liked it:
It’s a good book for the simple fact that it is different from anything I have read before. Some how though, it pulled back around to YA lit’s dystopian trend and that really worked for me. I’m also impressed that this was Lunetta’s debut book. It was a really strong entry into the world of author-ness(?). It was a can’t-put-down novel in a lot of respects.

Why my kids liked it:
Well, they are still reading it, so I can’t tell you right now. But I’m sure it will be for same reasons I did.

Quick and Dirty, 160 Character Review:
Great debut from Lunetta. Book is interesting and packed with lots of twists. With 3 sections and instant action, it keeps you sucked in!

Image from Barnes & Noble

Click to Buy

Happy Reading!

-Miss Wyoming

Getting Back in the Swing

I feel like I go through really energetic blogging periods and then periods where I do not write much.

Right now I am feeling like getting back in the swing of things, but in a different way. I am currently in the process of creating a new domain to focus my blogging on. I have a hard time with “teaching blogs” because I don’t feel like taking pictures, uploading all of my assignments, etc. Instead, I am switching to a “Reading Centered” blog, because in all honesty, my life is reading centered.

Plan to see Book Reviews, ideas to get kids engaged in reading, guest posts from my students, etc. I am planning on leaving “The First Time Round” blog up simply because my interview tips are awesome (: (Toot toot…I did just toot my own horn), but in terms of passion, teaching blogging is not one of my passions. BOOKS ARE!!

My new URL is theliteraryowlblog.wordpress.com

Come visit!! (:

–Miss Wyoming

Story Elements–Setting

I think I win the award for worst blogger ever! Haha Oh well! I am currently in over my head again (though not nearly as bad as with cheerleading last year). I was appointed Technology Committee Chairman in a school year when we have brand new Chromebooks for students to use. My principal is advocating “use them differently than a regular computer” but in actuality—you can’t. I think my school thinks technology is going to change the face of education forever, but in reality, the kids are already using these things on a daily basis. We are just bringing them more.

 

We are currently in a unit on Short Story Elements. This is a long unit. I want it to take a good while (hopefully well into October) because I am focusing on key reading and writing skills on top of learning the parts of a short story. My focus is…..

Content: Short Story Elements (Character, Setting, Conflict, Plot, and Theme)

Writing: Composing in complete sentences, Composing on the computer, Revising on the computer, Writing using evidence from the text

Skill: Inferring and Concluding

 

I will post on character later, because I have a ton of fun resources for that. We are working on setting. Their notes include the definition of setting, how the author includes or shows you the setting, the impact setting can have on a story, and mood/atmosphere.

Day 1….We took a lot of notes and talked about those notes. I also introduced setting by showing them 6 pictures and having them guess where the picture was taken, when it was taken, and one word to describe the feeling they got when they looked at those pictures. They ranged from a run down mental hospital to the Jetsons to people playing the rain. I wanted to quickly expose them to a lot of “feelings”. This helped the ideas be fresh when we talked about mood.

Day 2….Student place “stickies” in their book when the author describes setting or the students can infer mood. We talk about these stickies as a class.

Day 3/4…Students use computer to make a Facebook page I designed for their character. This focuses on our last sub-unit of Characters/Characterization and our new sub-unit of Setting. They had to write status updates that focused on their character’s dynamicness (new word I just invented), about their setting, about their conflict (a little intro to this), and had to find cover photos of their setting. This made them think of places they could “connect” it to in their actual life.

Day 5….Warm-Up on Inferring Mood from teacher.depaul.edu (great resource if you have never used it before!) where students have to highlight their evidence they used to make an inference. We will then talk about and check the passage. After that, I am showing them  4 short video clips. In the first two, they have to infer setting. In the second two, they have to infer mood. I also give them a worksheet where they write their inference and then their evidence.

Day 6….They are doing a personal book application to show where they infer mood. In this,I make them write a focus sentence to introduce their book and the mood of that particular scene. They then have to give me background information on the mood of their story, a quote from the text to support it, an analysis of that quote, and a return to their focus statement. They hate doing this because thy don’t like to read directions, but it’s helpful for me to see who gets it and who doesn’t.

After that, they are going to do some whole class activities and take  a quiz being moving onto conflict.

Here are some of the anchor charts I have up in my room right now…Displaying photo.JPGDisplaying photo.JPG

 

Below are also the links to the videos I used for our video lesson. I like to do this to give them videos to watch so they can relate the skills to another media.

http://safeshare.tv/w/zjndrQyjuE (Titanic–Infer Setting: Early 1900’s and Loading Dock for the Ship. Evidence is the clothes, the cars, the ship right next to them, and the things they talk about)

http://safeshare.tv/w/TWXAAoiLwf (Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters–Infer Setting: In a cave in a magical realm in present day. Evidence: Cyclops, Looks like a Cave, Cell Phone and “Going Viral”)

http://safeshare.tv/w/iMEDqocQVl (Because of Winn Dixie–Infer Mood: Sad, Opal talks about being sad)

http://safeshare.tv/w/hHQbrpiidR (Twilight: Eclipse–Infer Mood: Serious, Confident, Important. Evidence: They are fighting and receiving instruction. Everyone is serious and doesn’t laugh. They hop right into the fight.)

 

 

Have a fabulous Tuesday!

 

–Miss Wyoming (:

 

 

Establishing the Rules–The 5 P’sthe

 I survived my first day!! I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it went—it didn’t go without a nap, but it went.

Part of what I did today included playing ice breaker games and going over the rules. I have a whole slue of rules, but one of my main points today was The 5 P’s. I found when I was interviewing it was best to keep your rules short and sweet. I had 3 P’s last year—it didn’t quite incorporate enough so I added two more. I found the 5 P’s encompassed more of what we do in class. As I am walking through the 5 P’s, the students were able to get a picture of what my class is like on a daily basis.

Last Year: Prepared, Punctual, and Polite.

This Year: Prompt, Prepared, Polite, Patient, and Productive. 

5 ps blog

1. Be Prompt–I expect all students to be on time to class. In 7th grade, they tend to get social. I use this as a time to tell them that I don’t care who they are talking to in the hall, they need to be to class on time!

2. Be Prepared–I expect them to have their materials at all times. I require them to have a book every class period. If they do not have it, they automatically have silent lunch. In addition to that, I watched about 300 pencils walk off last year. I have a strict borrowing system this year that requires them to give up 2 bathroom passes per missing pencil. 

3. Be Polite–My main point with this is that your partner in class is not your life partner. I explained to them that even though it is a social time in their life, sometimes being partners with your best friend is bad for your grade. I also have a strict no throwing rule. If anything leaves their hand, it’s instant silent lunch.

4. Be Productive–Get something done! ‘Nuff said!

5. Be Patient–This was just a time to discuss book conferences and unless you are “bleeding or vomiting” I don’t want to talk to you.  Reading conferences are 3-5 minutes and they can wait that long. I did not establish that off the bat last year and it was detrimental to my class productivity. This year, right off the bat, don’t interrupt.

I am really going to be a stickler for the rules this year. Last year, I was a little soft and it worked against me. I hate to be the mean teacher, but to get anything done, they can’t see me smile until Christmas. Just kidding–but I will give them silent lunch without cutting them any slack.

FirstieTip

FIrstie Tip:

It’s better to start the year with an iron fist and let up at the end of the year than vice versa. I say this from experience, students will talk advantage of your newness. You need to run your classroom like you have been there for 800 years even if the rules change daily. Cut no slack for slackers.

That’s all for tonight folks!

This teacher needs to get to sleep. Big day tomorrow!

–Miss Wyoming