1.28.2012

Random Classroom Images

Sometimes it's just easier to let the pictures do the talking instead of trying to write a lengthy post about each activity. So, I may try to do this more often, especially since I already find myself behind this year. I don't know about you, but I have so much to teach yet and the time seems to be slipping away!


So, here's some recent glimpses from my classroom. Most of these, by the way, are not necessarily educational activities, nor are some related to The Hunger Games. Just fun or random things I wanted to share:

"The Hunger Games" movie character posters: 
I have been able to fit 5 of the 8 posters so far (they are 27"x40"). The characters not shown are Effie, Cinna, and Cato. I'll either switch them out, or try to squeeze all eight of them on my board...though I do love to post student work up there. (I use it more as a bulletin board than to write on, since I mainly use my computer/projector for that purpose.) Sorry about the glare. That's why I posted three slightly different angles. 
I just had my little portable camera that does not take as good of pictures as my big honkin' Nikon D70.




Students were excited to read The Hunger But Mainly Death Games parody books. 
One even wanted to "double-fist" read. Oh my...


The Hunger Games movie tie-in edition was delivered this week. 
Yippee!!! Love this cover, but I am partial to the original.

Doodles on student work...I love these. 
I have one student, in particular, who is an awesome artist. His doodles are little works of art that always make me smile. 
(Actually, I have a few great artists this year; this student just seems to doodle more than the others.)

Like or Dislike???
I saw these stampers on Pinterest.com and ordered them from Amazon.com.
I was a little disappointed that the ink leaked out of the "Like" stamper. But after a few days, it seemed to have dried some and does not leak as much. The students got a kick out of seeing them. I just hate using the "Dislike" unless I think a student will laugh. Or if they just leave it blank. That is a big "DISLIKE" when they don't even try.
By the way, you can follow my pin boards here: Mrs. Orman's Pinterest


This shows the leakage from the stamp. It was quite a mess when I opened the package (which had been opened previously, by the way). But it is dried up and doesn't seem to leak anymore.
I will be posting a review about this product soon: It's the world's quietest pencil sharpener. 
My students have also been getting a kick out of using this. Yes, even high school students can be fascinated by little things like a pencil sharpener. I guess in some ways, we never grow up. :)

Feel free to post links (below in comments) to your classroom pics!

1.26.2012

So Many Great Contests for The Hunger Games



From Scholastic.com


  As March 23rd nears, the excitement surrounding The Hunger Games continues to build. And this is especially great for teachers and students.
  Because this is a popular young-adult novel published by Scholastic Books, it's safe to say that the publishers would be especially supportive of teachers. But the latest contests, websites, and marketing has been beyond my wildest dreams. It truly is a great time to share The Hunger Games with your students. Here's a list of the latest contests:

  Scholastic's Book Clubs is sponsoring two great contests right now:
  TAB/TRC Dystopian Writing Contest - Students write a dystopian short story for a chance to win a trip to "The Hunger Games" movie premiere. {Contest Rules}
  Hunger Games Skype Sweepstakes - Teachers can win a chance to Skype with one of the members of the cast of "The Hunger Games" movie, along with a classroom set of The Hunger Games trilogy books, Mockingjay pin, and web cam. {Contest Rules}

  Down With the Capitol is sponsoring a great writing contest for your students:
  Tribute Survival Guide Fan Fiction Contest - Inspired by Josh Hutcherson's call to fans to plan out how they would survive if reaped in the Games, our friends at DWTC created a 500-word writing challenge to explain your strategy and survival plan. The winner receives a copy of The Hunger Games Tribute Guide. {Contest Rules}

  Teen Vogue is sponsoring a giveaway for a trip for two to "The Hunger Games" movie premiere. {Details via DWTC and Official Rules}
Image from Hunger Games DWTC

  MovieWeb.com is giving away a free The Hunger Games book and poster to fans who like their post and leave a comment on the page.

Share these contests with your students (and make sure to enter the teacher contest through Scholastic if you teach grades 6-12) to generate your own classroom excitement for the novel.


1.25.2012

Things That Make Me Go Hmmm...Am I a Capitol Girl and Is That Bad?



The Capitol.PN's new website: Capitol Couture - for the fashionista in all of us.
  As I write this, Madonna's "Material Girl" is playing in my head.
  ...we are living in a material world, and I am a material girl...
  Yes, I am a "material girl." Or, I was. I did spend my teenage years in the 80s, so big hair, loud clothes, gaudy jewelry: all of these things defined me. But somewhere in the 90s, I realized material things really didn't matter as much to me.
  Of course, that's what will happen to you when you are poor.
  We had to give up material things to make sure we could afford the essentials like food and diapers. I'll admit, it was tough being frugal. But eventually, I grew into that person. And even though we both have established careers and make decent livings, I've never desired to go back to my material ways of the 80s...until Effie Trinket and her darned Capitol Couture website came along.
  I've been addicted to it before there was even anything but a login prompt. (You know you have a problem when you spend over an hour guessing passwords for a website that may or may not have anything posted on it.)
  Then, there was just a picture of Effie with the hashtag #lookyourbest. Still, it was mesmerizing. Her hair (so retro with the huge flower), her clothes (like a kimono that got a makeover from the 80s Madonna), her makeup. And now...her shoes.
  As the site went live this week, not only did we get a sneak peek at Effie escorting Katniss and Peeta to their 12th floor quarters in the Training Center, but we also get a peek at the shoes in "The Hunger Games" movie. And they are something else.
Effie's shoes from www.capitolcouture.pn
  But, here is my problem: I love reading Capitol Couture and looking at the amazing pictures. Does this make me as superficial as the Capitol citizens in The Hunger Games? Shouldn't I be shaming those who are so into the Games they don't see how barbaric their actions are? Are we supposed to be feeding into this consumerist behavior, or should we shun it, as Katniss would? Is Lionsgate sitting back and laughing at us, just waiting to tell us we ARE the Capitol? Will there be a message in this in the end? A lesson to be learned?
  Or, is it all about making money? Is this our bread and circus? Are we just as superficial as the Capitol citizens?
  I want to say, "No! Of course I'm not."
  But...I am.
  I've already purchased every edition to the series, including the collector's edition, the box set in hardbacks, the box set in paperbacks, and the newest: the movie tie-in edition; plus, I have every future edition of every book related to The Hunger Games on my Amazon and Scholastic pre-orders. I have the limited edition character posters. And I am contemplating buying the action figures, but at $17.99 a pop (with 27 to collect), it's a little hard to swallow. But I want them.
  I want all of it. I am a Capitol girl.
  So what does this say about me? Have I learned nothing from Katniss? Shouldn't I spend this money instead on helping those in need rather than feeding my material wants? Does it help that I share my posters and books with my students, so they can enjoy reading and looking at them?
  To try to offset my desire for the couture, I've decided that for every dollar I spend on "Capitol" goods, I'm going to donate a dollar (or more) to a charitable cause. I tend to favor those that my friend Shylah supports on her Literacy Revolution page, so here's a link to all the teachers/schools who are in need of classroom sets of The Hunger Games on DonorsChoose.org: The Hunger Games Classroom Projects Every time I purchase, pre-order, or receive an item I had previously pre-ordered, I'm heading to this link and randomly choosing a classroom in which to donate.
  What do you think? 
  Are you a material girl or guy? How do you feel about the Capitol Couture website? If you, too, have "Capitol" desires, will you help me in this cause to give to others?

1.20.2012

Have You Visited Down With the Capitol This Week?

If you haven't checked out the Hunger Games Down With the Capitol website this week, you've been missing out on some fabulous prizes, such as "The Hunger Games" movie posters, mockingjay pins, jewelery, and more. They are celebrating 10,000 followers on Twitter (amazing!) and have had a great time giving away lots of swag this week. But the good news is, it's not too late for you to win some of it!

You can enter today's to win the prizes pictured above (I made the magnets & they are great for white boards...I use the stronger magnets to hold heavier paper like posters).

Enter today's contest here: {DAY 5} and stay tuned for more fantastic prizes this weekend!

1.13.2012

Things That Make Me Go Hmmm...What's With All the Numbers in Mockingjay?



Warning: This post will have spoilers.
Today is Friday the 13th--a day that so many associate with bad luck or a hockey-masked killer. But it got me to thinking about the use of numbers in Suzanne Collins's novel Mockingjay.

As an English teacher, I like to believe that authors write with purpose. I mean, it is our job to teach students to find meaning. And, yes, I am sure there are times we go a little overboard.

But I was immediately blown away by the mention of all the numbers in Mockingjay when I first read it. Then, when I started to do a little research, I was amazed at some of the connections I came across.  

The first number that stood out to me was Katniss's compartment assignment in district 13: 307. It seemed odd that the number was mentioned. At first I just assumed because district 13 was so structured, it would make sense to have room numbers, like a hotel. But why "307"? I typed in "Room 307" in a Google search just to see what might pop up, and came across this: http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/wwIIbayarea/307.HTM

What's so special about this Gilman Hall? According to the site, it is where scientists identified plutonium in 1941. In 1942, the room was “fenced off” and utilized for nuclear chemistry study as part of the war effort. The room was also part of the “Manhattan Project,” which developed the first atomic bomb.

This is the point where I had one of those English-teacher moments and thought surely this can't be coincidental, can it? The significance of Katniss being the symbol for the rebellion is assigned to a room whose number is symbolic for its contribution to nuclear warfare. This had to be intentional, right? Then there's the irony that it was bombs that destroyed her home district and here she is in a room that symbolizes the invention of a nuclear bomb meant to destroy a city. What did this all mean? Is this foreshadowing?

Of course, my excitement grew with this finding, so I paid close attention to all the numbers I came across in Mockingjay. I figured if Suzanne Collins was going to number all the rooms and compartments, she probably did so with intent and purpose, and of course symbolism. (I can't help it, people! I'm an English teacher. I live for this stuff.)

One of the most obvious of the symbolic numbers was for the Star Squad 451. Immediately I thought of the Ray Bradbury novel Fahrenheit 451. Both novels are set in a dystopian future and Katniss has many qualities similar to Bradbury's protagonist Guy Montag (which I'm not going to list here so my students--and perhaps yours--will look to the books for answers).


Other numbers mentioned in Mockinjay included:
Room (or Compartment) 3908 - the room Katniss's prep team was held hostage
Compartment E - the compartment Katniss, her mother, and Prim were assigned in the district 13 bunker
Space 47 - Gale's assignment in the bunker
Room 2212 - The next room assignment for Katniss, her mother, and Prim

Have your students research these numbers, looking at what they may symbolize in science or history. Have them try to make connections to the novel. Sure, some of it may be a stretch, and perhaps it is all accidental. But I still find it to be a fun activity and a great way to make connections with other content areas.

Teaching Materials:
If you would like a formal handout and teacher's guide for this, I do have a packet of supplemental activities for Mockingjay. These are included in the Mockingjay novel unit in digital download and on CD; it is also found in the trilogy 3-pack unit.





1.04.2012

Using Parodies to Enhance Student Learning


The Hunger But Mainly Death Games A Parody by Bratniss Everclean

  Perhaps you've caught WinterSpringPro's music video parody "I Wanna Go" or read The Hunger Games Parody's book The Hunger But Mostly Death Games. Whether or not you find them funny, your students surely will.
  I've used parodies to enhance my curriculum since I started teaching. Why? First, they add humor to my lesson. I may not be the funniest teacher (in fact, I know I'm not--my husband would be in the running for that title at our school), but I will try to incorporate humor somehow. Students like to laugh. And they are more attentive when the teacher adds a little humor to the lesson.
  Second, students must be familiar with the original work in order to "get" the parody. That might be incentive enough for them to pay attention in class.

  And third, having students write their own parodies gives them critical- and creative-thinking practice. Again, they have to be familiar with the material in order to write a parody. Then they have to make it funny. Writing humor is difficult. Jokes don't always pan out on the page like they would if they were acted out. Which is why I do encourage them to try acting them out (or at least reading them aloud) to practice that humor. When they write dialogue they need to ask themselves, "Is that what the character would say?" This helps with editing in any type of writing, of course.
  Normally I have my students do an end-of-the-unit parody with our Tragedy of Julius Caesar by Shakespeare unit. I choose this one because it's usually the hardest unit for them to understand so creating a parody helps them "get it". Plus, it tends to be not the most exciting units (even though there's plenty of what they love in it: Betrayal! Murder! Revenge!), so bringing in as much humor as I can really helps.
But you can assign a parody for any unit. I would limit it to one or two per year (or course). Great ideas can be spoiled by overuse. I only assign the parody once and it does tend to be memorable for my students. If I assigned it for other units, I think it would lose its appeal.
Once I get my parody handout ready, I'll post a link to it on this post. It's just a simple one-pager that gives students guidelines for their parody. (And mine is specific to Caesar, but I'll edit it and make it generic so you can use it for any unit.)
  I have my students present their parodies as a class (yes, they work in groups). I've had some that made complete iMovies, others who used their favorite video game and did voice-overs, some who did it in Spanish, and still others who did the red-neck version of Julius Caesar.  After completing the project and sharing with their classmates, they have a new understanding for the material, they realize it's a lot of work to write satire, and they realize that being funny is not as easy as it looks.

Special Thanks to the Authors of The Hunger But Mainly Death Games


The Hunger But Mainly Death Games by Bratniss Everclean; with a message from Bratniss from the arena.


  A funny thing happened when I stopped in to school to water my plants over holiday break. I checked my mail and, lo and behold, I had a package from the authors of The Hunger But Mainly Death Games.
  Inside was a message to my students from none other than Bratniss Everclean. Writing from the arena on a leaf (because they don't provide the tributes with paper, of course), she provided them with some valuable advice: "Never volunteer for a teenage death tournament." Well, there was a little more to the message. But in my excitement for finding a package in my school mailbox instead of the never ending prom favors/decorations catalogs, I ripped open the package hastily and part of the leaf crumbled before I realized what it was (see picture below). When my students return from break on the 10th, I will share the leaf and see if they can figure out what else Bratniss wanted them to know.

  My sincerest thanks goes out to the authors for providing a few extra copies of their awesome book for my students. But finding the note inside the package was like getting an extra scoop of ice cream with a hot fudge sundae.

  You see, I've been stalking following the authors on Twitter (@HungerGameSpoof) because, not only is their parody of Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games over-the-top funny, their tweets are, as well. For example, they decided to tweet the characters' New Year resolutions. (Great lesson idea, teachers!) Here's what they wrote:
 (And for those that say she volunteered, [spoiler alert] she was, in fact, picked/reaped for Catching Fire.) And they also tweet funny things like:

  Anyway, a few weeks ago I had mentioned in a tweet that I should have ordered more of the print books because I had some boys that would probably fight over who got to check out the book first from my classroom library. Well, receiving these extra books from the authors completely made my day! I know my students will love them and they are sure to find the note hilarious and intriguing. And they will certainly lecture me on opening packages more carefully so when we get another message written on a dead leaf from a character in a book, they'll be able to read what that character wanted them to do (or not do), instead of leaving the character high and dry in the arena somewhere.

  OK, so that's probably not likely to happen again. But I will open the packages more carefully from now on. I promise.
The message to my students from Bratniss Everclean.

The...um...rest of the message to my students from Bratniss Everclean.

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